19th > January > 2007 Archive

Stuffed investors refuse IBM's chipper Q4

A thunderous performance from IBM's software group could not save the company's fourth quarter - at least in the eyes of demanding investors. Shareholders today appeared to show their displeasure with IBM's fourth quarter results, even though revenue rose four per cent (adjusted for currency) to $26.3bn and net income rose to $3.54bn from $3.19bn in the same period last year.
Ashlee Vance, 19 Jan 2007

For Sale: p2pnet.net

Time and money has run out for Jon Newton, the owner of p2pnet.net, who has put the site up for sale. He is inviting offers in excess of $30,000 and would prefer to sell the pro- fileswapping site as a going concern, or team up with "a collaborator(s) or partner(s) and/or someone willing to hire me as a writer, editor, or whatever, (so) p2pnet will stay online". But if push comes to shove he will sell the domain name "sans content, outright to the highest bidder, in the hope that the new domain name owner will treat it and its readers well". In that case, he will hand over the site's content to a "responsible person" for archiving. Newton blames his cash crunch on Big Music for shutting down two advertisers and for causing his other two advertisers to scale back. And Google doesn't want him as an AdSense affiliate, he says. Newton says he never intended to make a business of p2pnet.net, but of course he has to pay the bills. And that is the trouble about publishing. Someone, somewhere has to pay - either the advertiser, or the readers. p2pnet.net's readers have donated $2,000 to the site since 2003, which is not going to wash too many faces. Wanna buy p2pnet.net. Contact Jon Newton through this page. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Jan 2007

California pitches plea at accused HP probers

After publicly flogging former HP executives and investigators, California looks set to let off those charged in the company's spy scandal with nothing more than misdemeanors.
Ashlee Vance, 19 Jan 2007
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Virgin Lobster fails to spawn

Virgin mobile has sold "considerably less" than 10,000 of their mobile-TV-enabled Lobster handsets, despite Pamela Anderson’s advertising and cutting the price to below a hundred quid, according to The Guardian.
Bill Ray, 19 Jan 2007
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Five-day strike to hit Fujitsu

Members of the Amicus union have balloted for a five-day strike Fujitsu's Manchester office, which supports its government customers.
Mark Ballard, 19 Jan 2007

Signs that Sky will go mobile?

Why would Sky suddenly get aggressive about letting UK cable viewers take Sky TV programs? Could it be something to do with a plan to go quad-play? The report which causes this alarm comes from Media Week, which reports that although Sky is obliged (by UK regulations) to make its programming available to cable operators, it is suddenly setting a higher bar on the price to be paid. Media Week reports: "Whereas Sky normally goes into negotiations to win, it’s now going in to kill." And it adds: "There is speculation that Sky may threaten to withdraw channels such as Sky One from the cable platform if it does not get what it wants from negotiations." However, as Media Week quickly added: "Sky would lose three million potential viewers to its ad sales efforts if it did." Speculation about a Sky Mobile Phone MVNO has been rumbling on for some time; Big Picture On Advertising, for example, ran a forecast back in April 2005, when Dawn Airey previewed Sky Mobile, broadcasting Sky programs to mobile phones: We can expect to see Sky on a phone soon. But we wonder whether we’ll see Sky as a major player in mobile – why shouldn't’t they be an MVNO? They have a huge customer base and a strong brand - and given the profits to be made from discount telephony they should be able to make a few dollars too. One huge advantage of having a Sky mobile brand would be the opportunity to use the mobile as the back channel - just by linking the mobile number with a subscribers set top box - to respond to votes, request information from advertisers etc. Much faster than the red button and much more flexible. Easynet -before it was taken over by Sky - was well aware of the value of mobile in advertising, as this extract from its corporate newsletter shows, quoting market research chief Martyn Cole at Microsoft: "The 17 per cent of retailers which are not planning to invest should consider how long they can remain competitive, in a market where use of mobile technology is now the norm," Cole said. The latest smoke-signals show that Sky has just launched what Media Week described as "a massive marketing campaign to promote its triple-play bundle of broadband, TV and telephony." Its so-called See, Speak, Surf, claims to undercut NTL on similar products by £10 per month. Against that, conventional mobile operators aren't inspired by business in the UK, where everybody who wants a phone already has one. However, the market is diffusing. Everybody in one corner of the telco field wants to be in the other three; voice, broadband, mobile and TV, and the last year has seen expansion by all the major players. The question holding Sky back will be a simple one: will it get more leverage from having its own mobile phone brand, or from working through all the others? Copyright © Newswireless.net
Guy Kewney, 19 Jan 2007

Minister warns against IT defeatism

Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden said there is still a strong case for government investment in IT. McFadden, who is the lead minister for transformational government, said in a speech on Wednesday that problems with major projects should not deter the government from continuing to look for new ways to use technology to improve service delivery. "If things go wrong with government IT we should hold our hands up, fix the problem or learn the lessons," he said. "But it would not only be factually wrong to say this was the case for all government investment in technology; it would also represent a damaging national defeatism about the future. "People's empowerment is not going to go backwards. We cannot allow the belief to take hold that somehow government cannot be part of this change, that we should be frozen in time, that creative people can never suggest ideas or drive through projects to improve the quality of service to the public or make their lives better because someone says it won't work. "That would be an appalling national judgement to make and would hold us back as a country." McFadden added that it is fair to criticise the government when it gets things wrong, but that it would be a mistake to adopt a "default nostalgia" and shy away from trying to do things better. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 19 Jan 2007

ID theft nets £85,000 a head: study

Identity fraud can net criminals £85,000 for each identity stolen, research has found. That is the average amount criminals can expect to gain from impersonating someone in the UK, according to anti-ID theft company Garlik. Garlik was founded by Tom Ilube and Mike Harris, who founded internet bank Egg, and it commissioned research from consultancy 1871 Ltd which uncovered the value of a single fake identity. It also discovered that lawyers are a main target of ID fraudsters. The research found that most people's perceptions of how identity fraud works are wrong. The fraudster commonly does not empty bank accounts but applies for new credit as another person so that that person may not discover for some time they are being impersonated. "The industry of identity theft is much more organised than you might think, it is actually quite structured," Ilube told OUT-LAW Radio, the weekly technology law podcast. "There are people who focus their attention on collecting information, they then sell that information on to people who are then going to go on and exploit it." 1871 interviewed a number of fraudsters to investigate their methods and uncovered the £85,000 figure. "It is possible to quantify how much the average UK citizen is worth to an identity fraudster," said Ilube. The Home Office has estimated that ID theft and fraud costs the UK economy £1.7bn a year, while Sainsbury's Bank found that 4m people in the UK have had some experience of ID fraud. A number of financial services products are emerging which are designed to deal with the problem. Garlik's first product, Data Patrol, monitors the web for financial information relating to customers. Sainsbury's Bank, which is a joint venture between the supermarket chain and Halifax Bank of Scotland, provides credit application alerts so that you know if someone other than you is applying for credit in your name. It also operates a case management team service to help you prove that you were not behind any fraudulent transactions. "The fraud is really against the bank, it's not against you, which causes all sorts of problems for you if you're the victim of ID fraud because it's a very ambiguous position for the police to be in because the level of support that they can provide you with is fairly limited because there's been no crime committed against you," said Don McLeod, credit manager with Sainsbury's Bank. "We would direct you to our victims of fraud team which is a dedicated case management team," said McLeod. "They would take your case on and look to have your file cleared and get your credit history restored and ensure that all these other loans and applications that have been made in your name are all cleared and everything is restored to the position it should be." Ilube said lawyers are a particular target for fraudsters because so much information about them is in the public domain. "The types of people that are particularly attractive to credit card fraudsters are lawyers because they tend to be high earning, they tend to have quite a lot of information about themselves in the public domain [and] it's very easy to find names and addresses and phone numbers," he said. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Jan 2007
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Phoenix IT confirms talks to buy ICM Computer

Managed services group Phoenix IT has confirmed it is in talks with the board of ICM Computer about acquiring the firm. In a statement to investors on Friday, Phoenix said: "There can be no certainty that these discussions will lead to an offer being made by Phoenix for ICM."
Christopher Williams, 19 Jan 2007
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China rattles America's cage with satellite shot

China is reported to have shot down one of its own satellites, sparking international criticism and concern over the strength and sophistication of the nation's military. Although there is nothing to suggest the test was carried out with hostile intentions, the fact that China feels able to demonstrate the capability to destroy orbiting technology satellites does cause eyebrows to raise in global political circles. According to reports in the magazine American Aviation Week and Space Technology last week, China used a medium range ballistic missile to take down an old weather satellite. The US confirmed that the test had taken place, adding its voice to international concerns. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that satellite interception tests - the first to have taken place for 20 years - were "inconsistent with the spirit of co-operation" in the civil space arena. Australia and Japan have both expressed concern, according to the BBC. Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, said his government had asked China for an explanation, adding that Japan is concerned about the peaceful use of space, and the safety aspect of shooting down satellites. Meanwhile, Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said he did not want to see the incident spark "an arms race in outer space". The test comes mere months after the US revamped its space policy, taking a more militaristic tone than in the past. The policy scrupulously avoided any commitment not to develop space-based weapons. It doesn't take much imagination to see China's missile launch, which it has yet to confirm, as a reply to the US's new policy. Both the US and the old USSR shot down satellites in the 1980s, but they curtailed their fun over concerns about where the debris might land. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Jan 2007
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Spam on IP telephony

Spam filters can easily be trained to give better than 90 per cent effectiveness with zero false positives, and for those who still suffer from a lot of spam in their inboxes, they are either not updating their spam databases often enough, or they just do not see the value of getting 90 per cent fewer email messages.
Clive Longbottom, 19 Jan 2007

Net wags pile into Jade Goody

NSFWNSFW With a certain terrible inevitability, internet wags have wasted no time making plain their opinion of Celebrity Big Brother contestant Jade Goody - currently making press worldwide for her alleged racist treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty. For starters, try Jade's MySpace page, packed with fascinating insights: SORRY EVERYONE I CAN'T STOP - I'M IN THE CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER HOUSE DESTROYING MY CAREER BY BEING A DUMB RACIST FUCK. WISH ME LUCK! to all the people going on about my Marathon - I did honestly train for weeks before it - honestly - and I hardly did anything like Chinese Takeaways, Curries, Drinking or smoking.Plus, I jogged loads and the only time I had a treat like a Chinese the press took photos. Like I said, I didnt know what miles were and nobody bothered telling me, so that was why I had to give up. Loads of people have given up as well as me so I don't see why I should get all the blame. ANYWAYS AT LEAST I DIDNT GO TO THE TOILET IN ME PANTS LIKE THAT DIRTY ROTTEn PAULINE RATCLIFFE - MINGER! My book is doing really well. I didnt write it but all the stories are true and yeah I've had a hard life but at least my storie proofs if you can do it anyone can do it. "Jade" adds: I'd like to meet any philostorical caracter from history - maybe they could teach me to be brainy (hahaha) so I think maybe Jesus, Winston Mandela, Steinstein and that wheelchair bloke (not Superman ) would all be definitly worth talking to. And eskimos. And I love Enoch Powell. Down at JadeGoodyOnline.com, meanwhile, the fan forums are packed with praise for the battling Brit, including this post entitled "I just want to say about Jade Goody she is amazing": When I got anorexxia last yeer she helped me froo it and for that I is tocally greatfull. I lost my Mum as well last yeer, in Tescos, but fownd her agen cos of Jades strengf and dignitty. She was by the tampax aisle. Should have nown, she love fanny rags my Mum. God bless jade and dont let the white b*stards get you down Shilpa And in case you're wondering what the picture on the above is all about, we should explain it's of Jade "posing with fans at the Oxford launch of her new piss in a bottle range..." More here. We'd like to say at this point that we at Vulture Central in no way condone this kind of behaviour, and urge netizens to show tolerance and constraint until a proper show trial and Iranian-style execution (Celebrity Come Dance the Tyburn Jig - live on Channel 4, Saturday, 9pm) can be arranged. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Jan 2007

Apple confirms $2 fee for 802.11n upgrade

Apple has decided it's not going to charge $5 to enable owners of Macs with 802.11n-capable Wi-Fi adaptors to use the new wireless technology, it's going ask they cough up $2 instead, the company has confirmed.
Tony Smith, 19 Jan 2007

Apple iPhone costs $246-$281 to make, analyst claims

Apple's margins on the iPhone will be almost 50 per cent, market watcher iSuppli has forecast after being given a glance an an early list of components the Mac OS X-based smart phone will contain.
Tony Smith, 19 Jan 2007

Motorola makes Linux breakthrough with RIZR Z6

Motorola's first Linux handset for the US market, the RIZR Z6, is also likely to be the first in the industry to run an "open" operating system - Linux, Symbian OS or Windows on a single- rather than dual-processor architecture.
Faultline, 19 Jan 2007

Slow road to online film service at an end for Netflix

CommentComment It was in 2004 that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings first talked about its film download service, and back in July 2005 when beta trials were first leaked and the system was taken a look at, but it is only now that a truncated, half hearted movie on demand system is finally emerging from the US online DVD rental leader. And in the end the company has fumbled the ball entirely and delivered it purely as a free service in order to drive down churn in its online DVD rentals, rather than give it a serious shot at changing its business model. And with Netflix's last revealed quarter showing just a 4.9 per cent margin, with net income of $12.7m on $255m of revenues, it needs the vastly improved margin that it could get by having an online film rental service, because then it wouldn't have to maintain a DVD ownership base of around $429m (amortised down to $92m) on its books at any given time. But at the same time the company has a lot to gain by bringing down churn in the short term, as it lost 4.2 per cent of its customers last quarter, and 4.3 per cent the previous quarter. It hopes that by giving away a few films to a few loyal subscribers it will save on customer acquisition costs, which have been growing every quarter and are often more than three months' income from the customer. Netflix says just 1,000 movies will be on its online database, as opposed to the 70,000 physical DVD titles it holds, and initially these would be available to a small subset of its five million subscribers, gradually growing out to most of them by this June. If an existing online DVD rental customer has the entry level $5.99 plan they will get six hours of free online movie watching per month, while subscribers on Netflix's $17.99 unlimited plan will have 18 hours of online movie watching per month. In the end, if you believe that online DVD rental will one day be replaced by online downloads, then it's clear the models need to be separate. However, this is the typical approach of online DVD rental firms, and it's the reason why they will never make the effort to digitise enough films and create a genuinely high value online film experience, because all they are really interested in is their old business model. Company CEO Reed Hastings CEO said: "While mainstream consumer adoption of online movie watching will take a number of years, due to content and technology hurdles, the time is right for Netflix to take the first step. Over the coming years we'll expand our selection of films, and we'll work to get to every internet-connected screen, from cell phones to PCs to plasma screens. The PC screen is the best internet-connected screen today, so we are starting there. " Netflix says it has no plans to offer download-to-own online film services, and will stick to download to rent. Netflix also says its new online service differs from current services in that it does not require a lengthy downloading period, but instead uses real-time playback technology allowing the video to be viewed at virtually the same time it is being delivered to a user's computer. It requires a one-time, one minute installation of a simple browser applet, and then movie selections will begin playing in the web browser of a PC in as little as 10 to 15 seconds after streaming is initiated. It needs 1 Mbps of bandwidth and if you break the connection from your PC to the Netflix website, the film stops showing. Movies can be paused, fast forwarded and rewound just like most internet streams, and are sensitive to the total end to end bandwidth. The more bandwidth someone has, the better quality the film will play at, Netflix says, and it achieves DVD quality at 3 Mbps. Netflix says most of the major and many independent studios are supporting the introduction of the new feature, including NBC Universal, Sony, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, and Lionsgate. In addition, content is being provided by A&E Television Networks, Anime Network, Allumination FilmWorks, BBC Worldwide, Cinema Libre Studios, Egami Media, Film Movement, Hart Sharp Video, The Independent Film Channel, Magnolia Pictures, New Video Group, New Yorker Films, Palm Pictures, Seventh Art, Silvernitrate Entertainment, Starz Digital, ThinkFilm, Video Action Sports, WMG Productions and Wolfe Video, among others. The new system will be integrated into the existing Netflix website as a "Watch Now" tab on a DVD order. Copyright © 2007, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 19 Jan 2007

AMD begins to ship ATI Radeon Uber Edition bundle

AMD's ATI Radeon X1950 Uber Edition - a pair of overclocked graphics cards shipped in a lockable James Bond-style attaché case - have started to appear in appear in the wild.
Tony Smith, 19 Jan 2007

Spice Girls movie voted worst ever

Spice World The Movie has been voted the worst movie ever in a poll of 12,000 discerning Brit moviegoers. The MSN Movies survey also honoured Titanic* with a second spot, while Grease 2 mounted the podium in third place. MSN spokesman Mike Lok said: "I'm sure most viewers would admit to getting guilty pleasure from at least one film on the list. Some movies are just so bad, they're good." Here's the Top Ten in full: Spice World The Movie Titanic Grease 2 Waterworld Hostel Anaconda Batman & Robin Gigli Catwoman Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Bootnote *I'm with the poll on this one. I'd also like to buy a pint for the critic at a preview of the movie who stood up after about two hours and shouted: "Sink, for f**k's sake!" - or words to that effect.
Lester Haines, 19 Jan 2007
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BOFH: The mystery of the vandalised office

Episode 3Episode 3 It is a cold morning when my assistant and I arrive at our rooms to commence yet another day of solving the problems of the masses. "Good Lord," Watson cries upon entering Mission Control. "Whatever has happened?!?" Entering after him I note overturned chairs, upended drawers and tabletops cleared to the floor... "Curious," I respond. "It's as if the room has been struck by person or persons engaged in a senseless act of vandalism and bears all the hallmarks of a random disorganised attack." "I suppose so," my assistant nods thoughtfully, "but...?" "But first impressions are often deceiving. The casual observer might immediately think vandalism, however, I see a pattern to the damage." "Which is Sherlock?" Watson asks. "You will note the contents of my desktop have landed on the floor prior the contents of yours, evidenced by the number of items of yours laying on top of mine." "Yes, yes, now you mention it, I do," my assistant responds. "And note also that a path appears to be cleared between the two desks subsequent to the damage which in turn suggests that the culprit started at my desk, went to yours, then returned to mine - which goes to prove my longstanding truth that a criminal will always return to the scene of the crime." "Ah, isn't that supposed to be much LATER?" "Could be later, could be sooner - who can tell the mind of a disorganised criminal? And look, over here on my display, an unsent email message of some sort, the text of which would appear to be in some code..." "Yes, I see - but what does the code say?" "It's a mystery to me, but could be something simple like a random substitution cipher - note how there are word boundaries and differently sized words - In fact it could be a simple key registration shift cipher." "A key register shift cipher?" "Yes, where the letter Q is replaced by W, W is replaced by E, E by R and so on, wrapping around at the end of the keypad. You will recall my case of the dancing men?" "Ah yes, where we encountered strange drawings of figures which was in fact a simple semaphore based code?" "No, I mean the time we encountered those men Morris dancing." "What's the mystery in that?" "Why they'd do it, how they keep their disgusting pastime secret from their friends, why it's not illegal, er, etc." "No, I don't recall that, but what has it to do with our current case?" my assistant asks. "Nothing, I just like recalling my triumphs from time to time - like the mystery of the Rubenesque maiden." "The time you couldn't figure out how the large barmaid from the plough ended up in your bed?" "Yes." "After a night of heavy drinking with some vendors at the pub?" "Yes." "Some mysteries are just unexplainable," my assistant responds - and do my delicate senses detect a hint of sarcasm?? "However, back to the case in hand. First, eliminate suspects - where were you last night?" "At a vendor bash with you?" my assistant answers. "Indeed you were, and I can corroborate that myself - for part of the night at least. And what time did you leave?" "About 10 - and you were leaving shortly thereafter to get to the station well before the last tube ran in case you mislaid your tube pass again." "Indeed I was - which leaves only one possible culprit!" I cry. "Who?" "Martians!" "Martians?!" "Yes, living for years below the surface of the planet to avoid detection they have finally broken cover to come here and steal our advanced technology." "Ridiculous!" "Not so! As I have often said, when you eliminate all possible solutions what remains - however improbable - must be the solution!" "If Martians had the technology to get here surely they'd have more advanced technology than us earthlings - who can't even land on the moon?" "You're suggesting we haven't reached the moon?" "If we HAVE reached the moon, why don't we ever see pictures of the lunar rover from telescopes?" "Simple! They parked it on the Dark Side of the moon so as not to attract undue attention from the wrong people. Dodgy neighborhoods and all that." "I think it's all a little far fetched Holmes," my assistant says dubiously. "And there simply must be a more reasonable explanation that doesn't involve extra terrestrials, which we could uncover with a bit more legwork." "And that explanation is?" "I'm not sure, but I'm positive we could find something which would shed a littl...But wait! I think I've uncovered a clue!!!" "What?" "In the bin, four empty cans of Tennants Extra!!!" "TRAMPJUICE!" I cry. "So you're suggesting tramps broke into our offices to steal our advanced technology?" "No." "They broke in to use our bin?" "No." "So they broke in for no reason at all? I suppose it's plausible..." "How about something a little more plausible?" my assistant suggests. "Yes?" "The culprit was attending a vendor drinking session and left without the accompaniment a barmaid. Feeling lowly he stopped in at a friendly off license for a couple of cans of cheap booze to take the edge off the tube ride home. Realising he left his tube pass in his office, the culprit returned to search the office for it, making a mess in the process. Ring any bells?" "What, you're suggesting I did this?" "Of course. You do it every six months or so Holmes." "Really." "Yes, and remember, you always have vague memories of being in a large waiting room filled with computer equipment?" "Oh yes, it's all becoming clear to me now!" I sigh. "But how do you explained the coded message." "I checked the keyboard registration thingy," the PFY replies. "It's you trying to tell me you'll probably be in late." "Ah!" "Case closed?" the PFY asks. "Yes, I think you're right - although I wouldn't open your top drawer if I were you?" "Why not?" "I seem to recall using the bathroom. Number twos" >Sigh< BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 19 Jan 2007

1and1: readers stick the boot in

LettersLetters A quick recap: This week unfortunate souls in the UK have suffered at the hands of an email snafu at hosting provider 1and1.
Christopher Williams, 19 Jan 2007
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Clarins unveils anti-aging satellite defender

Worried about the ageing effects of electromagnetic radiation? Fear no longer. Youthful looking skin is just a spray away...apparently. Cosmetics company Clarins has launched Expertise 3P, a product that claims to protect you from indoor and outdoor pollution, as well as nasty electromagnetic waves, by creating an "imperceptible physical film to reinforce the skin's own natural protective barrier". It achieves a "magnetic defense complex" by combining Thermos Thermophillus and Rhodiola Rosea. The former is a bacteria which thrives at around 85°C, the latter a high-altitude plant known for improving mood and alleviating depression. Quite how this duo can protect the skin from electromagnetic waves isn't known. But somebody should call NASA. They'll be wanting this stuff to protect their satellites from solar storms - at £30 a pop, it is a lot cheaper that all that heavy and difficult electromagnetic shielding they've been lugging into space up until now. The enterprising Alok Jha at The Guardian rang Clarins to ask just how this wonderful spray works. Unfortunately for NASA, the Clarins press office wasn't sure when or where the ground breaking scientific research would be published, Jha reports, but it was able to put the reporter in touch with Clarin's head of R&D, Lionel de Benetti,. "We exposed our cell cultures [of Thermos Thermophillus and Rhodiola Rosea] to a frequency of 900 MHz in the presence of these two plant extracts and found that their structures hardly changed!" an excited de Benetti told the Graun. Well, that solves it then. All comms satellites should henceforth be dunked in algae. Perfect. But wait, there could be a catch. The method of use on the company's website helpfully explains: You can spritz it over bare skin, over moisturiser and make-up, at any time and as often as you like. But if you're going to apply it just once in the day, make it first thing. Remember Artificial Electromagnetic Waves are present 24 hours a day and effect men's skin as well as women's! Artificial electromagnetic waves. Of course. The real ones will just pass straight through, so it'll be no use in orbit at all. Too bad. ®
Bill Ray, 19 Jan 2007

Palm patches Treo 680 camera power bug

Palm has uncovered a battery-depleting glitch in the camera code installed on its latest Palm OS-based smart phone, the Treo 680, the company confirmed today. The camera may continue to draw power even when the handset's in stand-by mode.
Tony Smith, 19 Jan 2007

AMD rolls out low-end Vista-friendly GPUs

AMD has quietly rolled out the ATI Radeon X1050, an entry-level graphics chip intended for board makers to offer as a minimum-specification Windows Vista Aero Glass-friendly upgrade.
Tony Smith, 19 Jan 2007

California blaze probe clears mobile phone

The mobile phone which appeared to have caused a fire in which a California man suffered serious burns has been cleared of blame for the blaze. Despite previous claims by Vallejo Fire Department investigator and spokesman Bill Tweedy that the Nokia 2125i could have been the only possible source of the fire, tests subsequently proved the phone was malfunction-free. The incident occurred last Saturday night, when 59-year-old Vallejo resident Luis Picaso, who had been sleeping in his house on a white plastic lawn chair, was rudely awoken by a fire which melted the plastic chair, ignited his "polyester-blend slacks" and nylon soccer jersey and caused "second and third-degree burns across at least half his body". His phone had been in his right trouser pocket, prompting Tweedy to conclude: "There were no matches. There were no lighters. He wasn't smoking. The only source was the phone that was in his pocket. I know he didn't spontaneously combust." Following the fire, Nokia engineers flew to Vallejo to test the device. They found that the phone's circuitry was undamaged and the battery still in working order. Tweedy said: "When we reinstalled the battery, the phone still booted up. If the battery had malfunctioned or the phone had short-circuited, it wouldn't have worked anymore. And it did, so we could rule out the phone as an ignition source." What exactly did provoke the combustion remains a mystery. Tweedy admitted that the fire had been so intense, any evidence had probably been destroyed. The victim, meanwhile, is currently in a "critical but stable" condition at in Sacramento's U.C. Davis Medical Centre. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Jan 2007

Intel next target as Opti sues Apple over CPUs?

Apple has become the latest target of technology holding company Opti, two months after AMD also found itself on the recieving end of an Opti lawsuit alleging infringement.
Tony Smith, 19 Jan 2007

Mobile phone bacteria threat uncovered

Most Brits carry vile harbours of pestilence with them everywhere they go according to a shocking investigation by a portable telephone seller. The study compared swabbed bacterial cultures taken from mobiles with those taken from other everyday objects. Joanne Verran, Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University said: "Being 'mobile', they are stored in bags or pockets, are handled frequently, and held close to the face. In other words, they come into contact with more parts of our body and a wider range of bacteria than toilet seats!" There's an advert for a kitchen cleaner on TV at the moment which tells us our toilet seat carries less bacteria than our chopping board. In 2004 the University of Arizona told us it's cleaner than our desk . We've just commissioned a set of office furniture with built in mobile phone holders made entirely from reclaimed oaken lavatory accessories. The esteemed Professor continued: "The phones contained more skin bacteria than the any other object; this could be due to the fact that this type of bacteria increases in high temperatures and our phones are perfect for breeding these germs as they're kept warm and cozy in our pockets, handbags and brief cases. These bacteria are toxic to humans, and can cause infections if they have the opportunity to enter the body." Dial-a-Phone, the mobile retailer behind the groundbreaking public health initiative, presumably hopes consumers will be panicked into a new purchase to rid them of their disease-riddled handset. In The Register offices, the powers that be have instead decided to deploy a sterile, disposable, machine washable new mobile network. CIOs can see here for our exclusive whitepaper on deploying this bleeding-edge technology. As part of our new belt and braces approach to workplace hygiene we've also smashed up all our pre-release iPhones, thrown them in the bin, and then set it on fire. ®
Christopher Williams, 19 Jan 2007
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10GBase-T server NICs go on sale

The first 10Gig PCI-Express cards for the new 10GBase-T Ethernet standard are out, even though there's not yet any commercially-available switches to connect them to.
Bryan Betts, 19 Jan 2007
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Inboxes battered by Trojan spam deluge

Virus writers are taking advantage of the winter storms ravaging Northern Europe to launch a malware blitz of their own.
John Leyden, 19 Jan 2007
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Phishers haul in money from Nordic bank

Phishing gangs have managed to steal about €900,000 from accounts at Swedish bank Nordea since last autumn using a Trojan horse, according to Computer Sweden.
Jan Libbenga, 19 Jan 2007
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Tesco USA to deploy 'world's biggest' solar roof

Los Angeles-based Solar Integrated Technologies today announced it had signed a deal with British supermarket chain Tesco to install the "world's biggest" roof-top solar panel set-up. The $13m contract will provide eco-friendly juice for Tesco USA's new distribution center in Riverside, California. According to Solar Integrated supremo R. Randall MacEwen, the panels will "provide a fifth of the depot's power supply" while saving "1,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year". The installation, covering 500,000 square feet on two buildings, will generate 2.6 million kilowatt hours per year. It's expected to be up and running this year. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Jan 2007

Amsterdam claims net data record

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) is claiming to be the world's largest public Internet exchange, after setting a new traffic record earlier this month of 233Gbit/s. It says it now shifts more than 1.5 Petabytes a day, on behalf of over 250 ISPs and carriers. To support that load, AMS-IX has had to invest in yet more switching capacity. It has built up its duplicated core network, which now comprises six BigIron RX-16 switches from Foundry Networks. These are installed in two of its four co-location sites, and once fully configured, the core switches will have 64 10Gig ports each for connection to edge switches and 10Gig customers. "AMS-IX hit a historical milestone in November when traffic flowing across our infrastructure exceeded 200Gbit/s," said Henk Steenman, the exchange's CTO. Traffic volumes continue to increase at around 3 percent a month, he added. ®
Bryan Betts, 19 Jan 2007

NY antique shop sues bums for $1m

The owner of an upmarket New York antiques shop has filed a lawsuit aimed at keeping four down-and-outs at least 100 yards from his emporium, the Daily Telegraph reports. The lawsuit is also claiming $1m a pop from the booze-swilling bums, although this has been included purely for "technical reasons". According to the court papers, the drunken quartet have spent "significant amounts of time" outside Karl Kemp Antiques on Madison Avenue, "consuming alcoholic beverages from open bottles, performing various bodily functions such as urinating or spitting on the sidewalk". They have further vebally harassed and intimidated would-be customers while dressed in "old, warn [sic], and unsanitary clothing" and bed down for the night in "cardboard boxes and old blankets which they convert into sleeping accommodations". Kemp told the Telegraph that the New York Police Department "had not made his complaints to them a priority". As well as applying for the order, he's "also contacted the local merchant association and asked the owner of the building where he rents his space to re-route the heating pipes outside the building so the homeless people can not benefit from their warmth". Kemp says his actions are primarily out of concern for the homeless foursome, rather than his bank balance. He said of one of the down-and-outs: "My concern is the health of the man. Sometimes he's out there in blizzard conditions, and you and I pay taxes in New York City and some of that is to maintain decent shelters. And he should take advantage of that. It's nothing against him. I want him to be safe and not to be an obstruction to us." New York's homeless organisations are having none of it. A spokesman for the Coalition for the Homeless slammed the lawsuit as "preposterous". ®
Lester Haines, 19 Jan 2007
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Salesforce polishes developer shop window

Salesforce.com wants application developers. But instead of recruiting them in the traditional way it is making its on-demand platform available as a free service to aspiring Software as a Service (SaaS) developers. It even sees this as a developer "shop window" aimed at venture capitalists. The approach is straight forward: you develop the applications and salesforce.com will list them in its on-line application directory AppExchange and host them - free. If someone selects your application and starts to use it you get a rental fee - and salesforce.com takes a slice to cover its operational costs.
Phil Manchester, 19 Jan 2007

IT firms blown over by leaves on the bottom line

As teenagers quake in their boots at the thought of exam results, the same is true of big companies when quarterly earnings are announced. This week we've seen some of the tech industry's A students sent to the back of the class for failing to hit earnings targets, while shareholders have praised other boffin blue chips for doing well. IBM, for example, thought it had done well in its quarterly results - revenue had risen four per cent since last year. But there's no pleasing some shareholders, who slashed more than five per cent off IBM shares in after-hours trading. Ouch. Shareholders in server and storage maker Rackable Systems were also blasted by bad tidings when the company's low figures forced shares to spiral downward. Earlier in the week Rackable warned its figures would come in well below analyst expectations. Security company Symantec also failed to meet expectations with its data centre products not shipping as well as hoped. Sales for the end of the year were in the range of $1.29bn to $1.31bn, lower than a forecast of $1.315 bn to $1.345bn. But there's always one swot in the class who never fails to get straight As, despite the bullying. Apple sold $7.1bn worth of goods in the first quarter compared to $5.7bn in the same period last year. Strong iPod sales were said to be responsible for this as the "think-different" firm shipped 21 million of the little boxes in just one quarter - a 50 per cent rise in sales. Carphone Warehouse says 'my way or the highway' to Big Brother Bullying doesn't stop when you leave school. This week, Jade Goody and her Big Brother friends have been in the spotlight after a flurry of complaints were sent into TV regulator Ofcom accusing the gang of racism toward a fellow housemate. While Big Brother is probably further from most techies' minds than going outdoors, the stir has caused Carphone Warehouse to pull out of the sponsorship deal for the program. Government: 'What data protection?' Speaking of Big Brother, the government has launched a bill that would allow more organisations in the public and private sector to share people's personal information. While the Data Protection Act seems to be taking a hammering at the moment, the government believes data can be shared if it is in the public interest, such as preventing fraud. This would essentially mean the powers that be can legally link up data between a person's tax, employment, and benefits status, as well as any pensions and other personal financial information. There's more data sharing hoo hah about schools taking fingerprints of children without their consent. Campaign groups have asked for a public debate over accusations the government has allowed schools to take children's fingerprints and paid for the fingerprint systems using e-Learning credits. Yet optimism for IT reigns somewhere in Parliament, as Cabinet Office Minister Pat McFadden argued there is "still a strong case for government investment in IT". Wow. McFadden, the lead minister for transformational government, said problems with major projects should not deter the government from continuing to look for new ways to use technology to improve service delivery – so that was a speech of inspiration and foresight then. Connection charges for Skype users Skype has introduced a connection charge of €3.9 cents for all calls outside the Skype network. The company, which was acquired by auction giant eBay in 2005, has changed its tariff scheme and launched a Skype Pro service which will cost €2 a month and remove any per-minute charges for national calls to landlines. Storms force train operators off rails London lost rail networks and station roofs yesterday as high winds and stormy weather battered the capital. And yes, you've guessed it, the inclement weather blew over websites as well. While it is unclear whether leaves on the server were to blame, Southern Railways said it was unable to give out service information on specific trains at this time and apologised. So that's all right then. Man burned by exploding mobile phone...or not? A US man was badly burned in a fire that started spontaneously in the "right front pocket of his polyester-blend slacks" while he slept, leading investigators to point the finger at a supposedly spontaneously combusting mobile phone that was residing in said pocket. However, the Nokia 2125i has been let off the hook, and what exactly provoked the combustion remains a mystery. ID theft from hospital Thieves have swiped 30 computers containing patient data from a disused hospital site in Hampshire. The theft of the computers, worth an estimated £15,000, has sparked ID theft fears in the community. HP with your chips? HP says it has made a "design breakthrough" that could result in integrated circuits in chips (the computer sort) up to eight times denser than those currently in production. The new technology would also use less energy per transaction than today's chips, if HP's computer models are correct. At the same time, Seagate claims it has produced the world's fastest hard drive - a 15,000rpm, 2.5in 3Gbps Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) job designed for servers and enterprise-oriented storage systems. Cisco to lose grip on iPhone? A US lawyer has found a loophole in American law that could leave Cisco without the copyright for the term "iPhone". Reports last week said the company could also be in danger of losing the European trademark. Joost up? This week the Reg made its way down to the West End for a demonstration of the much discussed Venice Project, which revealed itself to the world as Joost - an interactive, IP-based TV software system from the people who brought you Kazaa and Skype. Can you imagine TV for everyone at work? It would be like being a student again... Security holes...patch 'em fast or peril No less than 51 fixes for Oracle products were released this week. This quarter's patch sorted out vulnerabilities in Oracle Database, Application Server, Enterprise Manager, Identity Management, E-Business Suite, Developer Suite, and the PeopleSoft software packages. Symantec's customers have also been plagued with problems as they face attacks that target a vulnerability the company patched more than seven months ago - yet more proof that IT professionals, not just mums and pops running their first PC, are dangerously lax about installing crucial security patches. Free 3 roaming? Customers of mobile phone firm 3 will no longer pay to receive calls and will be able to use their bundled minutes, text, and data when roaming abroad. The catch is this only applies if you use a 3 network in another country, which is only a handful. Still, better than nothing – participating countries include Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Hong Kong, and Australia . Shoe camera lands man in hot water An Australian man has been accused of using a tiny video camera embedded in the toe of his shoe to look up women's skirts on buses, trains and trams. The 20-year-old man was snapped on a tram after police received complaints from a female passenger who'd spotted his hand-held video recorder. Giant rabbits to be sold as meat in North Korea And finally... You couldn't make this up. A German has sold 12 giant rabbits to North Korea to help boost meat supplies. Korean officials travelled to see the man and his 23lb bunny, offering a him a supply contract on the spot. Supplier Mr Szmolinsky reportedly said: "They want to boost meat production. They've arranged for me to go to Pyongyang in April to advise them on setting up a breeding farm." And on that note, thanks for reading. Same time next week. ®
Dan Ilett, 19 Jan 2007

HP snooping team offered plea bargain

California state prosecutors have offered to drop felony charges against former chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four others accused in the HP spying scandal if they plead guilty to lesser misdemeanour charges. Stephen Naratil, the lawyer for private investigator Bryan Wagner, told Associated Press that Deputy Attorney General Robert Morgester made him the offer. He said the same deal was on the table to Dunn, former HP ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker, and Wagner's fellow gumshoes Ronald DeLia and Matthew DePante. The Attorney General's office is staying schtum on the bargain. Hunsaker's lawyer Thomas Nolan denied his client would be cutting a deal. He said: "We're not involved in the plea negotiations because Kevin didn't do anything wrong and didn't do anything illegal." The five face felony charges of identity theft, conspiracy, fraud and illegal use of computer data for their part in the reporter pretexting saga which emerged last year. Dunn and Hunsaker's lawyers are due back in court on 28 February to set dates for preliminary hearings. More here from the San Francisco Chronicle. Last week, the first federal charges in the case were made against Bryan Wagner. ®
Christopher Williams, 19 Jan 2007

Camelot investigated over 'underhand' emails

Regulators have tough questions for Camelot, operator of the UK's National Lottery, over allegations of underhand conduct just weeks before bidding for the next lottery franchise closes. The National Lottery Commission (NLC) is looking into a complaint that a member of its PR team posed as a business student in order to extract intelligence from an Australian lottery consultant about potential rival bidder, Indian firm Sugal & Dumani. A Camelot worker has resigned after being confronted with allegations that she posed under an assumed name to use a GMail account in order to quiz Glenn Barry, a semi-retired lottery consultant and noted anti-spam activist. Camelot said its staffer acted on her own initiative, without the knowledge or approval of managers. It condemned her actions and denied any suggestions of impropriety. A spokesman for the National Lottery Commission confirmed it had received a complaint from Barry. "We have received a complaint from an individual and we are looking into the allegations and the response from Camelot. We can make no further comment until we have considered this matter thoroughly," it said. It's unclear how long the investigation will take. The affair kicked off in late November when the Camelot staffer, posing as a business student called Karen Dickens, first contacted Barry. He responded to her questions about lottery bidding and a discussion developed where questions increasingly focused on Indian firm Sugal & Dumani. Barry grew increasingly suspicious that he was dealing with a supplier and not a bona-fide student. When "Dickens" asked him questions about an interview with the chief exec of the Indian lottery operator published in the £1,000 a year subscription-only magazine Lottery Insider, his suspicions were confirmed. When Barry asked his interlocutor to own up by email, he received an out of office response from a Camelot email address in response. At this point it became apparent to Barry that "Dickens" was forwarding email from her GMail account to a Camelot address. But when he confronted Camelot bosses over this they claimed that his conclusions were based on a misunderstanding of how GMail worked, allegations that riled the experienced anti-spam activist and Vietnam vet. "If Camelot had rolled over and let me tickle them at that point nothing more would have come of it," Barry told El Reg. As it was, Camelot's defensive attitude prompted Barry to submit a formal complaint to the regulator. Camelot denies allegations of dirty tricks. "The member of staff was alleged to have contacted the freelance journalist under an assumed name, asking his opinion about the UK National Lottery Licence competition and specifically who might be bidding. The information that was asked for was either in the public domain – or so subjective as to be no use to any bidder," it said in a statement. "The employee concerned had previously denied the allegation – but following contact from the NLC, Camelot launched an investigation into the claims. The member of staff later admitted that – without any reference to her line manager or other senior managers, and acting alone – she had set up an email account under an assumed name. The member of staff concerned conceded that she had made a serious error – and offered to resign. Camelot has accepted the employee's resignation." "Camelot's commitment to the highest standards of probity means that it cannot and will not condone this type of behaviour," it added. Under an extended deadline, operators are allowed to submit bids for the UK National Lottery contract until 9 February. Thus far, only Sugal & Dumani has thrown its hat into the ring as a possible rival to Camelot. Camelot's main rival during the last bidding process, Richard Branson, has ruled himself out of this race and Australian lottery giant Tattersalls has withdrawn its application. The next lottery franchise runs for 10 years, starting February 2009. ®
John Leyden, 19 Jan 2007

Pluto probe closing in on Jupiter

The New Horizons space probe, hurtling through our solar system towards Pluto, is about to slingshot around Jupiter. As it passes by our largest planet, NASA mission managers are planning to test all its systems with a series of detailed observations of Jupiter's ring and moon system and scans of its turbulent atmosphere. The probe, which NASA expects to reach the Pluto system by 2015, is already the fastest spacecraft in history, and has (almost) reached the giant planet in less time than any craft ever launched. At the end of February, it will use its close pass of Jupiter to gain an additional 9,000mph taking its velocity past 52,000mph. "Our highest priority is to get the spacecraft safely through the gravity assist and on its way to Pluto," says New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute. "We also have an incredible opportunity to conduct a real-world encounter stress test to wring out our procedures and techniques, and to collect some valuable science data." NASA says the probe will collect more than 700 images of Jupiter, its four largest moons, and its ring system. It will also take the first close-up images of the "Little Spot", a brewing storm close to the famous giant red spot. The space craft will also be the first ever to travel down the long tail of Jupiter's magnetopause - the side of its magnetic field that streams away from the sun, shaped by the solar wind. The on-board computer systems will not stream the data back to Earth in real-time, rather they will store the data and transmit it all in one go, once the gravity assist manoeuvres have been accomplished. By eary March, New Horizons will turn its antenna back to Earth and transmit its precious data back to mission control before continuing its long journey to the ex-planet Pluto. Once it reaches Pluto, New Horizons will have five months to study the little world and its system of moons. After that, it will continue hurtling through the Kuiper Belt, where it may carry out additional observations of other worldlets. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Jan 2007
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Hacked to the TK Maxx

TJX, the multi-national which operates the popular clothing store TK Maxx in the UK, is warning its customers that computer systems involved in processing credit card transactions have been broken into by hackers.
John Leyden, 19 Jan 2007

Network analyser gets trigger happy

Fluke Networks says it has added security features to the latest version of its OptiView handheld network analyser, including the ability to use string matching to trigger the capturing of network traffic.
Bryan Betts, 19 Jan 2007

Goodbye YourWAP, I'm glad I knew you

CommentComment I recently got an email telling me that YourWAP is closing at the end of this month, and that if I've got anything important stored there I need to retrieve it before it goes.
Bryan Betts, 19 Jan 2007

US court withdraws 'legal child porn' opinion

A US court has withdrawn its controversial recent opinion that viewing child pornography is legal as long as it is not intentionally saved. The judge had said there was ambiguity in the law over what constitutes "knowing possession" of material. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has withdrawn the opinion issued in November of last year by Judge Richard Klein. The court has now granted a prosecution request for a hearing of the full court in the case. Defendant Anthony Diodoro admitted viewing 370 images of child pornography on his computer. The images were on websites which he intentionally visited for that purpose, said Klein's original opinion. Klein ruled that the law related to possession and not viewing, and that there was no evidence that Diodoro sought to retain the images. Pennsylvania state law makes a crime of "knowing possession" of such images. "We note that it is well within the power of the Legislature to criminalize the act of viewing child pornography on a web site without saving the image," Klein said in his opinion. "The language used, however, is simply 'possession.' Because this is a penal statute with an ambiguous term when it comes to computer technology, it must be construed strictly and in favour of the defendant." Klein had said that although the pictures were saved in the cache of Diodoro's computer, he could not have been expected to know that and could not be said to have knowingly downloaded them. Klein said that the accused had a right to advanced notice that certain acts are illegal. "A defendant must have fair notice that his conduct is criminal," he said. "Because of the ambiguity, sufficient notice was not provided here. For this reason, we are constrained to leave it to the Legislature to clarify the language if it intends to make the mere 'viewing' of child pornography a crime." A District Attorney argued, though, that the Crimes and Offences Code outlaws the control of any kind of media to view pictures of people under 18 engaged in sexual acts. He argued that using a computer is illegal under that Code. The Court has now withdrawn Klein's statement and granted the prosecution the right to an en banc hearing, which is a hearing of the full court. "The Opinion by Judge Klein has been withdrawn," said the court's website. "The Petition for Reargument was granted on January 19, 2006." Such a ruling could not given in the UK. The Protection of Children Act criminalises the viewing of child pornography irrespective of whether or not images are saved on a computer. See: The original judgment (8-page / 84KB PDF) Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Jan 2007

Would you rather watch Titanic or Celebrity Big Brother?

LettersLetters The biggest fuss (we would say story, but it'd be hard to keep a straight face) of the week has undoubtedly been the mess that is Big Brother. It could be argued that when a reality TV show manages to take up time in the Houses of Parliament, you know something is slightly out of kilter in your country. Nevertheless, rubbish bullying and allegations of racism prompted Carphone Warehouse to pull its sponsorship of the whole sorry mess:
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Jan 2007
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When is seeing not seeing?

Also in this week's column: Are women who are forty, fat and fair more likely to get gallstones? Why is the human face hairless? Is the human skull made up of one bone or two? When is seeing not seeing? Do you ever wonder how a magician is able to fool you with a trick, as they say, “right before your very eyes”? Concentrate as much as you want, you cannot see the sleight of hand. Most of us believe that when we are looking at something, especially when we are really concentrating, we see everything important to see. But this is not true. And we have many behavioral studies to prove this. As Dr. Daniel J. Simons, from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University writes in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (April, 2000), “Although we intuitively believe that salient or distinctive objects will capture our attention, surprisingly often they do not. For example, drivers may fail to notice another car when trying to turn or a person may fail to see a friend in a cinema when looking for an empty seat, even if the friend is waving.” This behavioral phenomenon is called “inattentional blindness”. Some of the experiments with inattentional blindness have been fascinating: When subjects are watching the movement of blue balls across the screen and trying to predict their direction, and then the balls suddenly change to green, 88 per cent of subjects fail to notice the color change. When subjects are watching a video tape of two basketball teams passing the ball back and forth and then the uniforms of the one of the teams suddenly change color, one out of four subjects fails to notice the change. When subjects are watching a video tape of a basketball game and a woman carrying an umbrella suddenly appears on the court amidst the players and the action and remains for as long as 4 seconds, again, one out of four subjects fails to notice her. When subjects are viewing two crosses on a screen while trying to judge which is longer over several trials, and on the fourth trial one of the crosses suddenly becomes a rectangle, yet again, one out of four subjects fails to notice the change. Some theories about inattentional blindness include: Dr. S.B. Most and colleagues from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University write in Psychological Review (January 2005) that “the most influential factor” that affects how well one notices is “a person’s own attentional goals.” So, as the theory goes, when you are watching a football game and vitally interested in the game’s outcome, you are less likely to notice the bikini clad girl standing on the sidelines holding a big sign in the shape of a heart. Based on their experiments, Drs. Mika Koivisto and Antti Revonsuo from the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Turku in Finland theorize in Psychological Research (Epub July 2006) that the closer the change is to what we are already seeing the more we will notice the change. It would seem that this is counter-intuitive and it would be just the opposite. But presto! There it is. That’s what subjects reveal. Unlike magicians, nothing up their sleeve! Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au
Stephen Juan, 19 Jan 2007

Moto's profits plummet in Q4

Motorola, the world's second largest mobile phone maker, is cutting 3,500 jobs, following a drastic fall in profits for the fourth quarter. The company released its results for the three-month period ending 31 December and the full year, on Friday. Profits for the quarter dropped 48 percent compared with the same period in 2005. The Illinois-based company recorded profits of $624m for the quarter, down from $1.2bn the previous year. This represents earnings per share of $0.25, compared with $0.47 for the fourth quarter of 2005. The performance of the mobile phone unit was a particular cause for concern with profit margin dropping to 4.4 per cent, down from 12 per cent in the third quarter. The poor showing comes on the back of a quarter that's seen Motorola's share price drop 28 per cent, as the firm cut prices to remain competitive. "We are disappointed with our fourth quarter operating earnings performance. However, the company generated strong revenue growth and met or exceeded our goals in many areas during the quarter. I am confident that we remain well positioned for continued growth and success," said Ed Zander, chairman and chief executive of Motorola. Earlier this month the firm's management had warned investors that fourth quarter results would not meet analysts' estimates. Motorola's full year results paint a prettier picture for shareholders with sales of $42.9bn, representing a 22 per cent increase on 2005. The mobile phone giant shipped 217.4 million handsets in 2006, a 49 per cent increase on the previous year. "Looking at the full year, I am pleased with our progress. Our business remains solid, and we will continue to execute on our focused, strategic plan to create value for our shareholders. We remain committed to increasing our profitability, while delivering compelling new products and solutions to our customers in 2007," said Zander. With Nokia comfortably out in front as market leader in the mobile phone market, second-placed Motorola is feeling the heat from the chasing pack. Sony Ericsson's latest results, which were announced Wednesday, have seen it close in on Samsung in third place. Sony Ericsson announced a fourth quarter profit of €502 million, its best performance in this period since the companies began the venture in 2001. Copyright © 2007, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 19 Jan 2007
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NY GPS thieves tracked and cuffed

Three master criminals who stole 14 GPS units from cars in a New York garage hadn't considered the possibility of a satellite-guided police bust, Tom's Guide reports. In mitigation, we should note that the trio thought they were stealing mobile phones from the Town of Babylon Public Works in Lindenhurst when they lifted 14 devices. Kurt Husfeldt, 46, his 13-year-old son and 20-year-old Steven Mangiapanella were soon put straight when officers busted the former on his doorstep. Husfeldt senior was arrested on a criminal possession of stolen property rap. The other two perps were cuffed on grand larceny charges. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Jan 2007
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SCO faces new setback in IBM case

Things have not been going well for SCO of late, and yesterday the provider of Unix products and services faced another body blow when a magistrate judge hearing its copyright case against IBM again ruled in favor of Big Blue, rejecting claims it had destroyed damning evidence.
Dan Goodin, 19 Jan 2007