World chip sales hit $22.7bn in November 2006, the US-centric Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said yesterday. The figure marks an 11.3 per cent increase over November 2005's $20.4bn total and is 3.1 per cent higher than the previous month yielded.
HP is leading the way in the laptops league, with 17.7 per cent of the world notebook market, new figures have revealed.
Orange is expanding its popular Orange Wednesdays service to their broadband customers, who will be able to access the same 2-for-1-cinema-ticket offer through the Orange web site. The service has provide very popular with Orange mobile users, who can send a text to an SMS shortcode to receive a number which can be presented at 94% of UK cinemas to get the 2-for-1 offer. Extending the offer to broadband customers makes sense in a converged world, though it does reveal that Orange still has 2 million broadband customers they’ve not managed to migrate Orange mobile. The mobile service has certainly been popular: Orange are claiming 2 million additional cinema seats filled as well as enhanced customer loyalty. Of course, the films you watch also reveal a great deal about your character and the kinds of products you’re likely to buy. Right now Orange collects that information, but hasn’t decided what to do with it so it’s just sitting around in their customer database looking for an application.
Hitachi's Global Storage Technologies (HGST) division today said it has begun shipping its latest 1.8in hard drives, a line offering unformatted storage capacities of up to 80GB and based on the company's "second generation" perpendicular recording technology.
British prisoners could get email access if a limited Home Office trial proves successful. Inmates will be able to send and receive emails from pre-approved addresses. All messages will be stored and monitored and will be plain text only with no attachments or pictures. A spokeswoman for the Home Office told the Reg: "This will only go ahead when we are sure there are mechanisms in place to stop abuses." She would not comment on which prisons will trial the service because the idea is still in the planning stage. Prisoners already have controlled access to telephones by using a PIN system which allows them to call a limited set of numbers.®
HP is leading the way in the laptops league, with 17.7 per cent of the world notebook market, new figures have revealed. According to market research firm DisplaySearch, HP exceeded its nearest rival Dell's shipments by 50,000 units in Q3 2006, reclaiming the top title. This is the first time the company has been at the top of the table since Q3 2005, with a quarter-on-quarter growth of 36 per cent ensuring its lead.
The good burghers of Gavle in Sweden are celebrating the survival of their traditional Xmas straw goat - habitually targeted by arsonists. According to the BBC, the 13m caprine giant has in the past been torched on 22 occasions, as well as succumbing to ram-raid attack and general assault. In 2005, for example, "arsonists dressed as Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man burned the goat to the ground". Last year, however, the authorities applied a flame-retardant coating which seems to have done the trick. Anna Oestman of the city's aptly-named goat committee explained: "If the Gavle goat hadn't been impregnated with flame-resistant chemicals, we would have been left with a black skeleton." The Gavle goat tradition dates back to 1966 when the first monster was wheeled into the central square. Goats are apparently close to Swedes' hearts, since they used to deliver presents before Santa Claus muscled in on their territory. The flameproof goat has now been put into storage at a secret location for redeployment in 2007. ®
A company spun out of Cambridge University has raised $100m to start commercial production of its "plastic electronics". Plastic Logic will open a factory in Dresden, Germany to produce electronic reader displays. The flexible screens claim 150 pixels per inch. The cunning thing about the technology is that it effectively prints electronic circuits using plastic rather than silicon. This means circuits can be produced much more cheaply than by using silicon. The process is used to create a thin, flexible display which can be rolled up so it can be used more easily on the move. The company was spun out of Cambridge University in 2000 with backing from Amadeus , Bank of America, Intel and Merifin Capital. Tudor Investment Corporation and Oak Investment Partners have joined existing partners in providing the funding. Hermann Hauser, Cambridge tech legend and Amadeus director, said: "Having backed Plastic Logic from day one, I am delighted that the first full commercialization of plastic electronics is now firmly in our sights. With this investment we are not only scaling up a great company - we are also creating a new electronics industry that will become a significant addition to silicon." With this backing the company predicts production of more than a million displays a year starting in 2008. Hauser told the FT that Plastic Logic could bring in annual sales of $1bn within five to ten years. Go here for the press release.®
Scotland Yard's specialist firearms unit is offering the public the chance to check out just how difficult its job can be, the BBC reports. Participants will not, mercifully, be asked to chase Brazilians into London Tube stations, but rather to "test how they would respond in a typical firearms scenario by using laser guns in a video simulation". Pairs of amateur CO19 sharpshooters will have to decide whether or not to pop a cap in an armed suspect - a scenario designed to "replicate the split-second decision making process firearms officers go through when confronted by someone wielding a gun". If they decide not to open fire, the video will sometimes continue to "show the suspect shooting an innocent member of the public". After the shoot-em-up experience, the team will be asked to "recall information about the scenario to show how difficult it is to accurately remember simple details in such a fast-paced and stressful environment". Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghafur said it was "important for people to experience a realistic scenario, rather than one fuelled by TV and film images". ®
Sony's PlayStation 3 may have lost the battle for pre-Christmas sales, but the machine is forecast to win the next-generation console war, beating Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii hands down by 2010.
The UK's Highways Agency is investigating the possibility that a new breed of LED cat's eye might provoke epileptic fits, the BBC reports. The agency was alerted to the possible problem by Rebecca Jasiczak who says that while driving along a stretch of the A12 near Witham in Essex, she "narrowly avoided a seizure" prompted by the solar-powered cat's eyes. The offending devices flash at 100 times a second, which created "a strobe-like effect which nearly triggered an epileptic fit", according to Jasiczak. Her dad Martin Jasiczak said: "I'm very concerned for my daughter's sake and for other drivers." The Highways agency confirmed it won't install any more LED cat's eyes until "the effect on people with epilepsy had been fully evaluated". A spokesman said: "We are keen to investigate why this problem has occurred." He added that the agency was considering the possibility that "the lights needed to be spaced differently". ®
World's slimmest MP3 player, anyone? Wallet-friendly Flash disk maker Walletex is preparing to launch a version of its slimline storage product, this time with music playback, website Krunker.com claims, a fact (tacitly at least) confirmed by the company when it sent over some pics of the product. There's no screen, but the player is said to be water- and dust-proof, and can take custom front-panel labels. But there's a wait: the player's said to be scheduled to ship in June. ®
Site offerSite offer Christmas is over, New Year has come and gone (we think! Rather too much of the merry juice to remember exactly - hic!) and now you’re facing up to the prospect of a long, cold winter with nothing in sight to ease the pain. So this must be the perfect time to take stock of your life, work out where your career is going and make those choices that will ensure you get ahead in 2007! We have a selection of official Microsoft E-Learning products, all 25 per cent off, that will help you to get the qualifications required to further your career. If E-Learning is not your thing, why not try a few of Microsoft Press’ certification study guides (selected titles 40 per cent off ) instead – training written by the people who produce the software. All of these titles can be found on Register Books at a great New Year price. E-Learning Course 2261: Supporting Users Running the Microsoft Windows XP Operating System This introductory course provides individuals who are new to Microsoft Windows XP with the knowledge and skills necessary to troubleshoot basic problems end users will face while running Microsoft Windows XP Professional in an Active Directory network environment, or Windows XP Home edition in a workgroup environment. This is the first course in the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician curriculum and helps students prepare for the MCDST exam 70-271: Supporting Users Running the Microsoft Windows XP Operating System. E-Learning Course 2262: Supporting Users Running Applications on the Microsoft Windows XP Operating System This introductory course provides individuals who are new to Microsoft Windows XP with the knowledge and skills necessary to troubleshoot basic problems end users will face related to configuring and maintaining applications such as Microsoft Office, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer and other applications that run on a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System. This is the second course in the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician curriculum and will prepare individuals for MCP exam 70-272: Supporting Users Running Applications on the Microsoft Windows XP Operating System. E-Learning Course 2274: Managing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment This is the first course in the core Windows Server 2003 Systems Administrator/Systems Engineer curriculum, the most effective and relevant skills path for students new to Windows Server. It is targeted at a systems administrator with basic server management skills who wants to be able to maintain a Windows Server 2003 domain environment, or who is preparing for the Microsoft Certification exam 70-290: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment. See the other Microsoft E-Learning titles here MCSE Implementing, Managing & Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure Training Kit 2nd Edition This kit packs the tools and features that exam candidates want most - including in-depth, self-paced training based on final exam content; rigorous, objective-by-objective review; exam tips from expert, exam-certified authors; and a robust testing suite. It also provides real-world scenarios, case study examples, and troubleshooting labs for skills and expertise that you can apply to the job. MCAD/MCSD Self Paced Training Kit: .NET Core Requirements Book/CD/DVD Package Great resources, excellent value. Get in-depth training and practice with the skills measured by the core exams for MCAD or MCSD certification - all in one box. Covering Exams 70-300, 70-305/70-315, 70-306/70-316, and 70-310/70-320, these four official Microsoft study guides encompass both language specialties - Microsoft Visual Basic® .NET and Microsoft Visual C# .NET - for both the MCAD and MCSD exam tracks. MCSA/MCSE Implementing Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2004 Training Kit Book/CD Package Ace your preparation for the skills measured by MCP Exam 70-350 - and on the job - with this official Microsoft study guide. Work at your own pace through a system of lessons, hands-on exercises, troubleshooting labs, and review questions. The Readiness Review Suite on CD, featuring advanced technology from MeasureUp, provides 300 challenging questions for in-depth self-assessment and practice. MCTS Training Kit: Implementing & Maintaining SQL Server 2005 Book/CD Package Maximize your performance on the exam by learning to: install and configure SQL Server; create tables and indexes, define columns, and implement constraints; implement functions, stored procedures, and triggers by using Transact-SQL; work with relational and XML data; monitor, troubleshoot and tune queries; maintain database availability with log shipping, database mirroring, and replication; prepare a backup strategy and restore a database; practice tests; assess your skills with practice tests on CD. MCTS Self Paced Training Kit: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Application Development Foundation Book/CD Package Maximize your performance on the exam by learning to: use system types, collections, and generics to help manage data; validate input, reformat text, and extract data with regular expressions; develop services, application domains, and multithreaded applications; enhance your application by adding graphics and images; implement code access security, role-based security, and data encryption; work with serialization and reflection techniques; instrument your applications with logging and tracing; interact with legacy code using COM Interop and PInvoke; practice tests; assess your skills with practice tests on CD. MCDST Self Paced Training Kit: Supporting Users & Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on Windows Book/CD 2nd Edition Work at your own pace through a system of lessons, hands-on exercises, troubleshooting labs, and review questions. The Readiness Review Suite on CD, featuring advanced technology from MeasureUp, provides 425 challenging questions for in-depth self-assessment and practice. You can choose timed or untimed testing mode, generate random tests, or focus on specific objectives. ®
Dutch police have banned Segways from all "public roads, bike paths and walkways", AP reports. The ban, which came into force on New Year's Day, was provoked by the country's Royal Traffic Agency's classification of the Segway as a moped and its refusal to approve the vehicle due to its lack of a brake. Agency spokesman Hans van Geenhuizen explained: "It doesn't have a brake, you brake by leaning back, and that's clearly not permissible." The clampdown came as a bit of a shock to the Netherland's Segway importer, Piet Kruijt, who admitted he's been "completely ambushed" by the decision. He reckons he's sold "a number of hundreds" of Segways, and added: "We're working on all fronts to get this resolved." Leo Maats, a spokesman for the traffic enforcement division of the national prosecutor's office, "confirmed the rule would be enforced, but with so few Segways in operation it may take some time for the message to trickle down". Indeed, an Amsterdam police spokeswoman admitted she was "not aware of the policy change". Furthermore, she rather splendidly confessed complete ignorance as to what a Segway is*. Dutch Segway vendors, meanwhile, are adamant that the matter can be satisfactorily resolved. Distributor Hans de Jong declared: "This is definitely not the end of the Segway in the Netherlands." ® Update Thanks to all those readers who wrote in to say that the Dutch use Segways at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Tis true, but apparently that counts as private property, so the new law doesn't apply. Bootnote *Truly an example of where ignorance is indeed bliss.
Details of smart-phone maker HTC's 2007 roadmap published on the web point to a year of improvements to the company's current line-up rather than a new range of radically redesigned products.
Internet television system The Venice Project could break users' monthly internet bandwith limits in hours, according to the team behind it. It downloads 320 megabytes (MB) per hour from users' computers, meaning that users could reach their monthly download limits in hours and that it could be unusable for bandwidth-capped users. The Venice Project is the new system being developed by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström, the Scandinavian entrepreneurs behind the revolutionary services Kazaa and Skype. It is currently being used by 6,000 beta testers and is due to be launched next year. The data transfer rate is revealed in the documentation sent to beta testers and the instructions make it very clear what the bandwidth requirements are so that users are not caught out. Under a banner saying "Important notice for users with limits on their internet usage", the document says: "The Venice Project is a streaming video application, and so uses a relatively high amount of bandwidth per hour. One hour of viewing is 320MB downloaded and 105 Megabytes uploaded, which means that it will exhaust a 1 Gigabyte cap in 10 hours. Also, the application continues to run in the background after you close the main window." "For this reason, if you pay for your bandwidth usage per megabyte or have your usage capped by your ISP, you should be careful to always exit the Venice Project client completely when you are finished watching it," says the document Many internet service providers (ISPs) offer broadband connections which are unlimited to use by time, but have limits on the amount of data that can be transferred over the connection each month. Though limits are "advisory" and not strict, users who regularly far exceed the limits break the terms of their deals. BT's most basic broadband package BT Total Broadband Package 1, for example, has a 2GB monthly "usage guideline". This would be reached after only 20 hours of viewing. The software is also likely to transfer data even when not being used. The Venice system is going to run on a peer to peer network, which means that users host and send the programmes to other users in an automated system. OUT-LAW has seen screenshots from the system and talked to one of the testers of it, who reports very favourably on its use. "This is going to be the one. I've used some of the other software out there and it's fine, but my dad could use this, they've just got it right," he said. "It looks great, you fire it up and in two minutes you're live, you're watching television." The source said that claims being made for the system being "near high definition" in terms of picture quality are wide of the mark. "It's not high definition. It's the same as normal television," he said. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Samsung will put the first 50nm 16Gb NAND Flash chip into mass production later this quarter, the South Korean giant said today, having just begun sending samples to its customers.
Security researchers have uncovered a buffer overflow flaw in Apple's QuickTime media player software that creates a means for hackers to load malware onto vulnerable systems.
A UK charity is offering free support to celelebrities who back "scientific research and campaigns" - often to the detriment of good, solid fact. Sense About Science is distributing a pamphlet to 'VIP clubs and restaurants' across Britain which contains a number A-listers can ring if "they want to discuss anything with experts" before backing possibly misleading campaigns. The hand-out lists "statements made by stars on topics such as organic food, pesticides and ways to avoid cancer", and gives the specific example of actress Juliet Stevenson, who said of the MMR jab: "I was alarmed at the idea of three diseases being injected into her system in one go. I thought, bloody hell, that's an awful lot for this tiny thing." Professor Adam Finn, a paediatrician at the University of Bristol, sets Stevenson straight with: The worst fallacies are ones that sound as if they ought to be true. Ms Stevenson's concerns are shared by many parents because they seem like common sense. But sometimes common sense is nonsense. Even tiny babies' immune systems handle many new infections at once, no problem. The best advice is: avoid needless risk by protecting children with full, prompt immunisation. Sense About Science director Tracey Brown told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is a real problem when people present things as though they are scientifically grounded. There is always going to be a fair bit of nonsense around, and particularly with the big interest in lifestyle." Brown implored celebrities: "We are saying, 'Before you go public, check your facts'. All it takes is a phone call to us. We have over 1,400 scientists who are committed to helping improve public debate." The Sense About Science initiative is backed by illusionist Derren Brown, who said: "We are more than aware that the media prefer a shocking story over delicate fact. In areas like food, environment and medicine, this can have serious results. "Scientists, traditionally a quiet bunch, are now trying to redress the balance and finding ways of promoting fact over misinformation." Bootnote Sense About Science has some interesting reading regarding nuclear energy. We note the information was compiled from a number of sources, including the Nuclear Industry Association.
Computer products distributor Fayrewood plc completed the sale of UMD, part of its Niche Distribution division, to Esprinet for €53.5m on 22 December.
Two Florida adventurers who died after deciding it was a bright idea to climb inside a helium balloon have secured the 2006 Darwin Award - the ultimate accolade for those who have contributed to the "improvement of the human genome by accidentally removing themselves from it". The full citation reads: Two more candidates have thrown themselves into the running for a Darwin Award. The feet of Jason and Sara, both 21, were found protruding from a deflated, huge helium advertising balloon. Jason was a college student, and Sara attended community college, but apparently their education had glossed over the importance of oxygen. When one breathes helium, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream causes a rapid loss of consciousness. Some euthanasia experts advocate the use of helium to painlessly end one's life. The pair pulled down the 8' balloon, and climbed inside. Their last words consisted of high-pitched, incoherent giggling as they slowly passed out and passed into the hereafter. Sheriff's deputies said the two were not victims of foul play. No drugs or alcohol were found. The medical examiner reported that helium inhalation was a significant factor in their deaths. A family member said "Sara was mischievous, to be honest. She liked fun and it cost her." Also honoured is the chap from Belize who, well, read on in wonder: Benjamin Franklin reputedly flew his kite in a lightning storm, going on to discover that lightning equals electricity. However, certain precautions must be taken to avoid sudden electrocution. Kennon, 26, replicated the conditions of Ben Franklin's experiment, but without Ben's sensible safety precautions. Kennon was flying a kite with a short string that he had extended with a length of thin copper wire. The copper made contact with a high-tension line, sending a bolt of electrical lightning towards the man. Just bad luck? Kennon's father told listeners his son was an electrician, and "should have known better." Kennon is survived by his parents, six sisters, and five brothers. And finally, a round of applause for the Brazilian who "tried to disassemble a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) by driving back and forth over it with a car". The citation continues: "This technique was ineffective, so he escalated to pounding the RPG with a sledgehammer. The second try worked - in a sense. The explosion proved fatal to one man, six cars, and the repair shop wherein the efforts took place." ®
Updated Small form-factor PC specialist Shuttle has launched the successor to its XPC Mini X100 slimline media centre-oriented computer chassis. The box takes up no more desk space than a sheet of A4 paper and is a mere 5cm high.
Channel 4 has announced two new services; one providing access to current and old TV shows for downloading onto a PC, the other providing 4Radio content over The Cloud’s Wi-Fi network. The deal with The Cloud will place a link to 4Radio in the home page of users connecting though a Cloud Wi-Fi hotspot. The content is optimised for the Playstation Portable, but users of other devices will see the same short-cut to 4Radio content, including Celebrity Big Brother coverage, from the January 3. The content will be free for the next couple of months, to test customer demand and establish what people might pay for it. 4 On Demand (4OD) is a download service offering access to films and Channel-4 TV shows to a Windows PC using Microsoft’s Media Player DRM. Individual episodes will set you back around a quid, while films start at £3. Celebrity Big Brother will be available for free, along with some episodes of popular series to get users comfortable with the system. You get a month to watch downloaded content, and 48 hours to finish watching once you’ve started. The range of shows on 4OD is impressive, and we’d like to be able to tell you how well the service works; but with Drop The Dead Donkey only 1 per cent downloaded after 2 hours we’re concerned that the content might not arrive within the 1 month we have available to watch it.®
Compel has announced the appointment of David Clive Kirby as managing director of its business solutions division and as a main board director with effect from 2 January.
Car manufacturer Toyota is developing a drunk-busting car system which will, in the event of excess consumption on the part of the driver, shut down the vehicle. According to Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, cars kitted out with the system won't start if sweat sensors incorporated into the steering wheel detect an over-the-limit level of blood alcohol. It may also slow the car to a halt if sensors pick up erratic steering, or even if a camera spies unfocused pupils. The plan is to fit Toyota cars with the device by 2009. The idea is not, of course, new. Back in 2005, we reported on the US man who'd developed a similar system relying on "sensors either in gloves or on the steering wheel". This avoids the pitfall of the immobilising breathalyser, which relies on the willing participation of the half-cut driver. ®
Two article formats inevitably get rolled out at this time of year: the list of predictions for the next twelve months, and the answers to the seasonal topical quiz (which was printed in late December as a filler in the absence of any news and to enable us journalists to spend a few precious Yuletide days in the environs of the Rat and Rootkit).
A spokesman for Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed today that "an official who supervised the hanging" of Saddam Hussein was being held over a graphic execution video, shot on a mobile phone and later released onto the internet. The film, as we reported yesterday, has caused a bit of a rumpus, with the UK's deputy prime minister John Prescott slamming it as "deplorable". The two-and-a-half minute clip shows Hussein being taunted by witnesses, with one onlooker shouting "go to hell". Iraqi prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon, who was present at the hanging, told AP he'd seen "two government officials taking video of the execution", the Guardian explains. He said: "They used mobile phone cameras. I do not know their names, but I would remember their faces." ®
AMD will this month ship 'Lima', the 65nm version of its single-core Athlon 64 processor, it has been claimed by motherboard-maker moles. They allege recent AMD roadmaps show the 65nm Athlon 64 3500+ and 3800+ will appear "mid-January".
Satellite broadcaster Sky is intending to add video-on-demand capabilities to its Sky+ boxes over the next year, allowing subscribers to pay more to record shows they failed to record first time round.
LettersLetters Re: Whilst I enjoyed reading your articles and generally find myself sharing your opinion, I was rather disappointed today. Not with the article itself, but with your choice to display a rather gruesome image of an execution without warning. The Register is usually very careful to mark articles as 'Not safe for work', but has most definitely failed in this case. (name withheld on request) Putting a photo of saddam dead, right in the middle of your article, and without warning, is pretty fucking tasteless. Alvaro Reading your article "Saddam's YouTube smash", it was disturbing to see an image of Saddam dead with the noose still around his neck. Whether you or I agree with Capital Punishment, surely it is in the realms of editorial "good taste" to warn your readers that you are including images that may be disturbing. I believe your article to have a good intent in highlighting the role "User Generated (video or still) Content", has established over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, your article for me lost its impact in including an image clearly intended to shock or titillate without any warning. Your readers should be more than capable of accessing YouTube and searching for the video without The Register having to host and include a screenshot of YouTube showing images of Saddam's actual death. There is such a thing as “too much information”… Andy "Thanks, Web 2.0 - but there is such a thing as "too much information". Indeed - which is exactly what I felt, along with sickness and revulsion, at the embedded image of saddam hanging in the middle of the article. Whatever the politics of the situation there's absolutely no way you can justify putting that image on the first page of text of the article and with absolutely no warning whatsoever. I am disgusted. The Register just lost a loyal reader. Regards Duncan I find your use of an image of Saddam hanging offensive . I do not seek to argue about if I should or should not find it offensive or to discuss the reasons why I find it so . I see no defence in the argument that I could see it elsewhere, I can see child porn elsewhere should I choose , I choose not to . It fails to live up to the normal standards I expect from The Register where you provide a link to certain images should anyone want to go there. By viewing your article I risked getting sacked since I am fairly sure that watching people die , be it in video or a still , probably breaches my companies internet useage policy . Should I get sacked I will seek redress from you and your employers. Andrew Mr. Orlowski, Well said. (name withheld on request) Err... Since when do w***ers on the American government's payroll manage to get this right? That has never happened so far. This is something they fail year after year, conflict after conflict and their puppet masters never learn to manage their puppets right (possibly comes to the selection of wrong puppets in the first place). Opinions about Salvador Allende may differ, but he died with an AK47 in his hand and the microphone of Radio Magallanes in his other. And his last words are all over the web, the media and will be remembered for a very long time. That is just one example how a bunch of puppets on american payroll botch the job. Plenty of lesser examples from other places around the world. Every single one of them not dissimilar from Saddam. Nothing really new and surprising actually. The masters have once again chosen a lame puppet, have failed to guide it properly and just to add insult to injury, the puppet is starting to exibit a bit too much selfconciousness for everyone's liking. Anton "The footage records a preternaturally calm dictator facing a braying mob of hooded executioners - proof enough that in Iraqi, a police or army uniform is daywear for sectarian militias." That's not the video I saw. But there again I am comparing it with the truly horrific videos that were doing the rounds in Iraq just after the liberation. You must have missed them. The ones showing Saddams sons, cronies and goons torturing and executing men, women and children in cold blood and showing deep sadistic pleasure in the suffering they were causing. Or maybe you missed the videos of Saddams Baathist "insurgents" torturing and murdering Shia civilians and Sunni "collaborators". Lots of those beheading videos doing the rounds at the moment. I saw nothing too shocking in the Saddam hanging video. But there again I do not depend on the Guardian for my Arabic translations of what was actually said in the execution chamber. Or I do not depend on one of the chattering classes from Islington (or is it Hoxton) to interpret for me the true meaning of the events shown in the video. I saw a vicious bully shitting bricks in the chamber, trying desperately hard not to show how terrified he was by hurling insults at all those around him. Pretty much par for the course for a vicious torturer and mass-murderer. J.McConnell
UK stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr will next month appear on stage in Second Life, the BBC reports. Carr's 3 February gig in London will be simultaneously delivered to Sadville, with "performers tracing his movements in real-life so they can be replicated" via his avatar. Only fifty flesh-and-blood punters will enjoy the live performance, and Carr will be giving away tickets for both that and the Second Life show on his MySpace page later this month. The announcement cements Second Life's reputation as the happening place to be, if you happen not to have a sufficiently-stimulating place to hang out in the real world. The BBC notes that Duran Duran have already wowed the fans in the virtual world, while Reuters recently opened a virtual bureau there. It's not all peace and love, however: one CNET hack was last month attacked by flying penises during a brutal, 15-minute assault on the company's Second Life office. We hope Carr doesn't suffer the same winged wang treatment. ®
A US class-action lawsuit has been launched against Apple over links between its iTunes music store and iPod music players. The action follows similar charges in Europe, brought by a French consumer rights group.
Borland Software has placed its vice president for the Americas and Asia Pacific region in charge of sales as incumbent Matthew Thompson quits for Adobe Systems.
If the internet has done nothing else, it has made the parochial world of proprietary systems appear outdated. Software architecture "A" now had better interoperate with software architecture "B", or risk rejection as now being unfit for purpose. And all of them need to interoperate with language "X" and application "Z". But in practice, this is also the case when the languages and applications are ancient and venerable, because they are still running tasks critical to the survival of the business.
The Church of the Algorithm, Google, is employing a robot to select the faithful. According to the New York Times today, an algorithm scans job applications and ranks candidates on a score from 0 to 100. From next month, it will be used to screen all applications. The Times quotes Google's "Vice President of People Operations" (as opposed to Machine Operations) , who explains - "With traditional hiring methods, we were worried we will overlook some of the best candidates." That's one way of putting it. Because the demand for jobs at Google outstrips the supply of vacancies, it's more accurate to say that the robot is simply accelerating the rejection process. Google is famous for its faith in reductionist, functional solutions. It even likes to suggest that such algorithms emerge spontaneously, full of natural goodness - and without apparent intervention by imperfect humans. Answering accusations of bias in Google News, the manager responsible for the service is on the record as explaining - "The truth is, Google News doesn't have a point of view...It's a computer, and computers do not understand these topics the way humans do and can't be systematically biased in any direction." [see Google News' chief robot speaks out ] (And they don't taste of bacon, either.) However, as we discovered when we interviewed the creator of an "Artificial Intelligence Chat-bot", programmers who develop algorithms tend to encode their own shortcomings into the systems they create. [see Do Artificial Intelligence Chatbots look like their programmers? ] And the Times confirms that the job-bot's selection criteria is based on surveys from existing staff. One of the indicators is ominously called "organizational citizenship". No square pegs in those round holes, then. In Douglas Coupland's Microserfs, the company's monoculture is enforced by obedience to the cult of personality - top down. By contrast, Google appears to be developing its monoculture from the bottom-up. But it's still a monoculture - and one only likely to be reinforced by algorithmic rejection of "unsuitable" candidates. As we discussed here recently, an algorithmically-minded corporation is ill-equipped likely to miss problems that can't be solved algorithmically. No robot can wish them away. If you have an amusing experience of Google's recruitment practices - successful or otherwise - share it with us here. We'll set our own robot on the replies, and pick out the ones whose opinions most closely resemble our own. (Just kidding). ® Related link Google Answer to Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm - NY Times
A US University has filed a patent suit against Nokia, Samsung and Matsushita over the Bluetooth chips in their mobile phones. CSR, the Cambridge, UK supplier of the Bluetooth chips used in the phones, promised to defend its products "vigorously", slamming the legal suit as "without merit in relation to CSR's Bluetooth chips".