23rd > January > 2007 Archive

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McAfee upgrade plays nasty with Lotus Notes

Admins who took the time to upgrade to the latest version of McAfee's VirusScan Enterprise are reporting problems with client applications of Lotus Notes, in some cases requiring IT administrators to reinstall the email program.
Dan Goodin, 23 Jan 2007
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EJB 3.0 Based Web Services

TutorialTutorial You cannot have failed to notice Web Services and the prominence that they have achieved within the current computing world. However, at least within Java, there have been a number of differing ways in which you could implement a Java-based Web Service. You could use the Java Web Services toolkit from Sun, or the Apache Axis tool kit, even an Application Servers’ own facilities (such as those provided by WebSphere) – and, of course, you can “roll your own”.
John Hunt, 23 Jan 2007

Galileo turns to Accept for requirements planning

Considering what can be involved, we all assume buying an airline ticket is a straight forward process. But for businesses like Galileo, which provides the service behind some 44,000 sale outlets worldwide, making sure that all those outlets have the latest version of the applications suite, together with any specific variations required by an individual outlet’s local market needs, can be an interesting problem, particularly in terms of managing the requirements and subsequent applications roll-out for that many sales outlets.
Martin Banks, 23 Jan 2007

Google, Yahoo! commit to ethical code

Some of technology's biggest names are joining together to create a code of conduct to protect freedom of expression online. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Vodafone will create a human rights charter along with academics and social groups. The move may counter the heavy criticism which Yahoo! and Google in particular have faced over their practices in politically oppressive regimes such as China. Yahoo! helped to identify a journalist in China who was later arrested and convicted for emailing dissident comments to the US, according to the court papers in that man's trial. Google has also faced opposition to its practices in China. The company, whose famous corporate motto is "don't be evil", has provided China with a search engine which is censored in line with Chinese political policy. Those two companies are now working with the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, Human Rights Watch and the Centre for Democracy and Technology (CDT) in Washington on a code of conduct. The companies announced their "intention to seek solutions to the free expression and privacy challenges faced by technology and communications companies doing business internationally", according to a joint statement. Later this year the group of companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will produce "a set of principles guiding company behaviour when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with the achievement of human rights", said the statement. Those that commit to those principles will be held accountable to them, it said. "Technology companies have played a vital role building the economy and providing tools important for democratic reform in developing countries," said CDT executive director Leslie Harris. "But many governments have found ways to turn technology against their citizens – monitoring legitimate online activities and censoring democratic material." "It is vital that we identify solutions that preserve the enormous democratic value provided by technological development, while at the same time protecting the human rights and civil liberties of those who stand to benefit from that expansion," said Harris. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Jan 2007

How to have an 'iPhone' right now... well, sort of

Want an Apple iPhone? Want it now? Well, we can't promise the real thing, but you can whip yourself up an almost perfect facsimile of the highly desirable handset. All you need is a colour printer, some glossy photo paper, a knife, a steel rule and a downloadable iPhone template.
Tony Smith, 23 Jan 2007

MySpace faces barrage of sexual assault suits

Social networking market leader MySpace has been hit with four lawsuits in the US separately alleging that site users were guilty of sexual assault. The families behind the suits are seeking damages of millions of dollars. Each of the four instances involves sexual assaults which took place between young girls and men that the families say they met on the California-based social networking giant. The company is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The cases join a year-old Texas suit in which a girl's family is suing MySpace over an alleged sexual assault by a man she is said to have met on the site. The cases involve teenaged girls from New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and two sisters from South Carolina. None is above the age of consent in her state. The suits allege negligence, recklessness, fraud and negligent misrepresentation by MySpace. "In our view, MySpace waited entirely too long to attempt to institute meaningful security measures that effectively increase the safety of their underage users," said Jason Itkin, a lawyer representing some of the families. "Hopefully these lawsuits can spur MySpace into action and prevent this from happening to another child somewhere." MySpace last week introduced monitoring software to help parents keep an eye their children's activities on the site. It said it would release software called Zephyr which will enable parents to see the name, age and location which children claim as their own. It had previously appointed a security chief to oversee site security. That security officer, Hemanshu Nigam, said the company takes security very seriously. "MySpace serves as an industry leader on internet safety and we take proactive measures to protect our members," he said. "We provide users with a range of tools to enable a safer online experience." Nigam said that families must share responsibility for the actions of children on the site. He said that users should apply "offline safety lessons in their online experiences and engage in open family dialogue". MySpace's Zephyr software will not be available until this summer, the company said. It restricts activities according to the age of a user, not allowing under 14s to have an account and anyone under 16 can only display their profiles to listed friends for example, but it relies on people to be honest about their age in the first place. Zephyr will at least allow parents to see what age their children are claiming to be, said MySpace. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Jan 2007

Academics compile 'encyclopaedia of concerns' about NPfIT

A group of academics have issued a "dossier of concerns" calling for a technical review of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) Brian Randell, Emeritus professor of Computing Science at Newcastle University, told GC News that the 200 page dossier containing "everything said about the NPfIT over the last few years" will help Parliament's Health Select Committee with its pending inquiry. The committee is due to start its inquiry into the progress of the NPfIT this month, Randell said, and the dossier, containing a selection of media reports, select committee responses and supplier issues from the past few years, is to be used as an "encyclopaedia" of concerns. However, the 23 academics' ultimate campaign is for the government to instigate a wider review of the programme's objectives, technical architecture and implementation. Randell said: "We are pleased that the committee has recently stated that our dossier will prove helpful in their planned inquiry, as well as to the detailed technical review, which we hope will ensue." The dossier states: "It (the dossier) brings together a host of evidence, covering a very wide range of issues that in combination suggest the project is in serious trouble. Given the scale of the project, one of the largest ever attempted…reinforces the need for a careful, open, honest and independent examination of the situation." The dossier follows the released late last year of the British Computer Society Health Informatics Forum (BCS HIF) report, The Way Forward for NHS Health Informatics. It acknowledges the successes of the programme, but says Connecting for Health has placed too much emphasis on central decision making. Its forward refers to the "top down nature" of the programme and lack of local ownership, and says this is one reason why many NHS staff have yet to see its potential for positive change. The Department of Health is reportedly holding a meeting on 26 January 2007 to discuss, among other things, the progression of the programme. 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, 23 Jan 2007

Sharon Stone dominates 27th Razzie nominations

Sharon Stone and Basic Instinct 2 look set to sweep the board at the 27th Razzies - the annual celebration of all that is truly dire in the wonderful world of moviemaking. The film has attracted no less than seven nominations: Worst Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor (David Thewlis), Director (Michael Caton-Jones), Sequel, Screenplay (Leora Barish and Henry Bean), and Screen Couple. The latter is for Stone's "lopsided breasts", which will face strong competition from Tim Allen and Martin Short (Santa Clause 3), Nicolas Cage and his bear suit (Wicker Man) and Hilary and Haylie Duff (Material Girls). In fact, Hilary and Haylie Duff are also jointly nominated in the "Worst Actress" category because, as Razzies founder John Wilson explained: "We stuck the siblings together to allow room for more dreck." Other notable inclusions in the 2007 line-up include: Lady In The Water and Wicker Man (Worst Picture); Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson (Worst Actress for Just My Luck and Employee Of The Month, respectively; and Poseidon (Worst Remake or Rip-Off). One star is, however, notable by his absence. Sly Stallone - who has enjoyed 30 Razzie nominations and 10 wins - did not make the cut despite widespread expectation that Rocky Balboa would be consigned to the dustbin of cinematic history. Wilson admitted: "At the first of the year, you could not have convinced me it wasn't going to be a Razzie contender. I would like to publicly say that Stallone has made a good movie." The 27th Razzie winners will be announced on 24 February; the day before the Oscars. It remains to be seen if Ms Stone accepts the seemingly inevitable honour with the same good grace as previous laureat Halle Berry. Back in 2005, she romped to a Razzie for her stunning portrayal of Catwoman, and rather splendidly turned up to accept the honour in person. ®
Lester Haines, 23 Jan 2007

Intel set to back VIA's Mini-ITX for SFF PCs?

Intel may be set to promote a motherboard form-factor developed by rival chip maker VIA, it has been claimed, in a bid to beat AMD's recently announced would-be small form-factor PC standard, DTX.
Tony Smith, 23 Jan 2007

Apple pounds e-wallet firm in trademark tiff

Apple has been accused of applying double standards to trademark disputes by a UK security developer. The launch of Apple's much-anticipated iPhone device last week kicked off a trade-mark dispute between the firm and Cisco, which secured trademark in 2000 when it bought Infogear, the original maker of iPhone-branded products. In response, Apple has said that the word iPhone should be considered generic, by which reckoning both Apple and Cisco should be able to use the name without confusion. Over recent months Apple has been sending cease and desist letters to firms applying for trade mark registration with names containing the phrases "pod"and "ipod" in their monikers, such as Watford-based security developer Securipod. The UK firm, which is developing products designed to frustrate identity theft and credit card fraud, accuses Apple of applying different standards in its wrangle with Cisco than its lawyers have argued in its disputes with smaller firms. Securipod said it is "bemused" about how the biometric wallets it's developing might be confused with an iPodMP3 player but an Apple iPhone mobile device could not be confused with Cisco's iPhone. Apple's conduct amounts to bullying tactics in laying claim to the name Securipod, the UK security product developer alleges. The firm said the wrangle is diverting management resources at Securipod away from plans to release its first product this summer, a biometric wallet designed to help combat ID theft and credit card fraud called 'biouno'. Securipod's design and marketing manager Mark Watson described Apple's behaviour as an attempt "write its own rules for trademarks". We asked Apple to address Securipod's criticism of its trademark practices but the consumer electronics giant said it would rather not comment on pending litigation. ®
John Leyden, 23 Jan 2007

France and Germany join anti-iTunes crusade

France and Germany are joining the Scandinavian campaign to make content from iTunes work with players from companies other than Apple. In a statement released yesterday by the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, France and Germany joined Finland in calling for changes to iTunes.
John Oates, 23 Jan 2007
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Expert KOs Rocky's artificial intelligence

The latest Rocky film has posed questions about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). Rocky Balboa, the sixth instalment in the long running franchise, features a computer simulation of a boxing match between fighters from different eras. Characters in the film argue over the ability of a computer to decide whether the title character could beat the fictitious current champion, Mason Dixon, in his prime. "The fact that a computer fight is a central plot point to the movie makes it a work of sci-fi [science fiction]," said Bernard Gorman, a researcher on AI in Dublin City University, speaking with ENN. "[The computer simulation] is significantly ahead of what is possible at present." Gorman said it is impossible to accurately judge such a contest using artificial intelligence. "A computer could certainly give the illusion of intelligence by using visual representations like in the film. As for a deeper intelligence, where it would know why it's doing what it's doing, that isn't possible at present and won't be for the foreseeable future." The idea for a computer-simulated fight in Rocky Balboa was inspired by an actual simulation that measured Muhammad Ali against Rocky Marciano in 1970, in what was known as "The Superfight". Marciano was declared the winner by knockout in the original simulation, which saw the NCR 315 computer use deterministic statistics, such as the number of punches thrown in past fights, to deduce the likely outcome. "As this decision was derived from hard statistics, it removed the element of dynamism," said Gorman. He explained that as all the information was based on past performance it was unable to account for how the participants would deal with a new opponent. While modern AI may not be able to give a completely accurate interpretation of what would happen, the technology's ability to estimate probabilities has improved. AI now uses stochastic processes, which means there is a degree of randomness in determining an outcome. "With stochastic processes different results are possible despite having the same starting point each time; it examines more probabilities. Deterministic formats guarantee the same outcome every time," said Gorman. The speed at which AI operates has also increased considerably since The Superfight. Real time calculations are now possible, where as the NCR 315 took 18 months to calculate each round. Gorman said the greater focus on AI at present is looking to the future rather than comparing champions of the past. "There are groups that hope to have a robot soccer team capable of beating the world champions by 2050," he said. "Like Rocky it's a long shot but the goal is there and people are working towards it all the time." Rocky Balboa has gross taking of $75m to date worldwide. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Emmet Ryan, 23 Jan 2007

Google Germany goes kaput

UpdatedUpdated Google apologised on Tuesday after its German site disappeared overnight and was replaced by a page from domain holding company Goneo. The search engine was resurrected at about 7.30am German time, though users still report some problems. The message on the Goneo page translates as: "There are is no content at this domain. Please try again later." A Google spokesman told The Register: "For a short period of time after midnight on January 23rd, the Google Germany homepage (the page hosted at google.de) was unavailable for some users. We would like to apologize to our German users who have had issues accessing google.de. Auf wiedersehen net "We have since corrected the problem and, while due to internet caching some problems may persist, we anticipate that all users will experience normal functionality of google.de soon, the latest by January 24th." The firm refused to offer any further explaination for the vanishing act. It appears, however, that someone forgot to renew the domain registration, causing the site drop off the web. The same fate famously befell Microsoft's hotmail.com in 2003 and washingtonpost.com in 2004. At time of writing Goneo's spokesman was unavailable for comment. ® Update Goneo called us with the full story from its end. The google.de domain changed hand three times last night, a spokesman said. A request to take over the domain was placed with Goneo about a week ago. The firm automatically placed a request with German domain registry DENIC (the equivalent of Nominet), which put the request to Google's German provider. The provider did not respond in the first instance, and ignored a second approach from DENIC. According to procedure, DENIC then approved the request on Monday evening. Goneo became aware of the registration, and arranged with Google and DENIC to have it transferred back. Unfortunately, somebody else had made an application to register it too, through another domain company, which had also been ignored, so it was transferred to them first. Google finally took possession its German digs this morning. Update 2 Looks like we've nailed the culprit. We received this frank confession via email: Hello Chris, I am the person in question registering the domain with Goneo, although it did happen inadvertently. I showed my girlfriend how one of my domains had been taken over by somebody else with the Goneo ordering system - but before entering my contact details, I went back in the ordering process and registered a different domain. Somehow, the Goneo system must have received both domains to register... Greetings, - The accidental few-hours owner of google.de
Christopher Williams, 23 Jan 2007

Intel to return to discrete GPU arena

Intel has committed itself to developing a discrete graphics product. It's been suggested for some time that it might have such a scheme in mind given the success of its integrated graphics products, and the fact that arch-rival AMD now owns ATI.
Tony Smith, 23 Jan 2007
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China confirms satellite-killing test

China has confirmed it recently used a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile to destroy an old weather satellite, the BBC reports. A statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao backed up initial claims in American Aviation Week and Space Technology which reported that a Feng Yun 1C polar orbit weather satellite had been targeted at an altitude in excess of 537 miles (865km) above the Earth by "an anti-satellite system" launched on 11 January "from or near" the Xichang Space Centre. Unsurprisingly, the report caused a certain amount of consternation worldwide, with US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe declaring last Thursday that the US believes "China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of co-operation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area". Liu, however, told reporters that China had notified "other parties and... the American side" of its test. He continued: "China stresses that it has consistently advocated the peaceful development of outer space and it opposes the arming of space and military competition in space. China has never, and will never, participate in any form of space arms race." The US objection to China's latest piece of sabre-rattling is consistent with its "do as I say, don't do as I do" stance. Back in October 2006, president Bush unveiled the country's new space policy, in which it "allocated itself rights to access and use space without anyone else getting in its way", as we put it at the time. It also "set security at the heart of the space agenda, frequently citing its right to use space as part of its national defence". ®
Lester Haines, 23 Jan 2007

Packed trains 'safer', claim UK rail bosses

Those among you who are accustomed to the daily cattle-class commute on Britain's world-class rail network are advised to do some deep-breathing exercises and pour yourselves a stiff brandy before reading on. And here's why: according to the Evening Standard, bosses of said network have declared that - contrary to what the uninformed man on the street might think - packed trains are actually safer in the event of a crash. The claim comes from the rail safety watchdog the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), in response to a letter from Newbury Tory MP Richard Benyon asking for action against First Great Western for the "appalling" service from West Berkshire to London. An ORR spokesman replied: "Research in the late Nineties...found that where there was a crowded or overcrowded train carriage there was no detrimental effect to people involved in crashes. In a lot of cases people were better off in train carriages where there was overcrowding." He continued: "Service levels are set by the Department for Transport. We are the safety regulator for the industry. However, there is no legal limit on the number of passengers that can travel in any given train. There is no safety law regarding the maximum number of people in a train carriage." Cue general outrage. Conservative MP for Didcot Ed Vaizey thundered: "That's got to be the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard. It's like arguing you should pack a family saloon with 12 people as a road safety measure. People have got to stop passing the buck." Shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling weighed in with: "Given the scale of the problem of overcrowding, it's insensitive and crass, to say the least, to say people are better off in packed trains." A Department for Transport spokesman, meanwhile, sought to assure MPs and commuters alike that "action was being taken to deal with overcrowding and claimed £88m was being spent every week for five years to improve the network". He added: "We are already increasing capacity on Britain's busiest rail routes, and this will continue. Investment is at record levels and we're also working to make best use of existing capacity. "Major projects which will deliver more services include the high speed line between London and the South-East which will provide 10,000 extra seats in the peak, and the West Coast Main Line modernisation which has already delivered longer trains into Euston. "We're seeing more peak services, for example on Chiltern Railways, and South West Trains will deliver longer trains on key commuter lines. This month, First Great Western started introducing refurbished high speed trains, which increase capacity by 35,000 seats a day." It remains to be seen whether commuters will warm to the idea of actually sitting down on a train, or will opt for the comparative safety of being packed like sardines in a can. ®
Lester Haines, 23 Jan 2007
channel

Alcatel-Lucent merger results disappoint

Alcatel-Lucent said today it expects revenues for the fourth quarter of 2006, ended 31 December, to be about €3.87bn - essentially flat on last year. The firm blamed spending shifts in north America, expecially in the last quarter, for the shortfall.
John Oates, 23 Jan 2007

Microsoft: yes, we have no incompatibilities

AnalysisAnalysis Savour this irony. Last week, we learned that incompatibilities Microsoft hadn't written into its operating system posed a grave threat to users. Last week, we also learned that genuine incompatibilities Microsoft had deliberately written into its operating system posed no threat at all.
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jan 2007

Footie-mad tattooist inscribes penis on rival fan's back

A young Argentinian footie fan who decided to celebrate his love for Boca Juniors by having the team's logo tattooed on his back paid the price for not adequately researching the body artist's own allegiances. The tattooist was, unknown to the unnamed teen, a follower of rival club River Plate, and accordingly substituted a penis for the Boca Juniors' crest. The victim - who is now suing the tattooist - lamented: "I could not see what he was tattooing because he didn't have a mirror. I only saw it when I got home and showed it to my parents." ®
Lester Haines, 23 Jan 2007

Apple may offer Wi-Fi update for free, says former chief beancounter

There's one flaw with Apple's excuse for planning to charge $2 to enable 802.11n next-generation Wi-Fi on Macs that have the hardware to support the technology: it's bollocks. So says the one-time most senior accountant in the US, Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tony Smith, 23 Jan 2007
channel

Defacement archive Zone-h gets defaced

NSFWNSFW Defacement archive Zone-h.org has become the victim of a domain hijack attack. Initially we thought the site had been defaced, however Zone-h co-founder Roberto Preatoni has been in touch to explain that its DNS settings were illicitly changed to point at a site carrying a "screw you" message, posted by a gang of defacers from Saudi Arabia.
John Leyden, 23 Jan 2007

Programming classics - the sequel

Site offerSite offer You've done it again. Our programming classics article went down a storm and prompted several emails back to Register Books, both praising and suggesting.
Register Books, 23 Jan 2007

Porn industry finds hi-def too graphic

High definition video can reveal more than was intended, as the porn industry, in its rush to embrace the new technology, is finding out. Sets and scenery for shows made in HD need a much higher level of finish, but in most cases the actors' bodies are sufficiently covered for imperfections not to matter. Not so in the porn industry, where some "stars" are having to go to new lengths to deal with the imperfections highlighted by the new formats, as the New York Times reports. Apparently, "Jesse Jane, one of the industry's biggest stars, plans to go under the knife next month to deal with one side effect of high-definition. The images are so clear that Ms Jane's breast implants, from an operation six years ago, can be seen bulging oddly on screen." Anyone who has seen before and after photographs of magazine models will know the value of a Photoshop makeover, but applying the same techniques to video is more difficult; requiring more inventive approaches from porn producers: "Some shots are lit differently, while some actors simply are not shot at certain angles, or are getting cosmetic surgery, or seeking expert grooming." This is clearly going to lead to more expensive porn; a hidden tax which consumers will be forced to pay if they want to avoid being reminded that the performers were constructed from a kit of parts glued together. And the BBC thought it had problems negotiating the digital changeover.®
Bill Ray, 23 Jan 2007
graph up

MSN password stealer released as torrent

Malware designed to steal users' Windows Live Messenger password has been released onto the net. The password stealer was released for download via BitTorrent earlier this week by a hacker using the handle "Our Godfather".
John Leyden, 23 Jan 2007
Palm's new logo

StyleTap brings Palm apps to Windows mobiles

StyleTap has expanded its Palm-emulation software to include Windows Mobile devices lacking a touch screen, utilising the four-way rocker to emulate on-screen clicks. Palm OS advocates still cite the breadth and quantity of software available for the platform as its principle advantage, though as development for that platform grinds to a halt that argument is less convincing each day.
Bill Ray, 23 Jan 2007

B3ta man victorious over Coca-Cola in music dispute

Coca-Cola has agreed to settle with an unsigned London band over a dispute that the soft drink's Argentinian subsidiary ripped off one of their songs and animated videos. Band 7 Seconds of Love and their lead singer Joel Veitch - a regular contributor to animation site B3ta.com - were told by fans that an Argentinian coke advert was spookily similar to their song and video. Rob Manuel, another B3ta regular, put a video complaint up on his blog showing the similarities between the two - see here. A large proportion of the money from the settlement will go to two charities supported by the band - baby charity Tommy's and Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society. The rest will go to getting the song properly recorded in a studio. ®
John Oates, 23 Jan 2007

Branscombe shipwreck: eBay flogfest begins

Anyone hoping to buy a piece of the great 2007 Devon lootathon should head over to online tat bazaar eBay, where all manner of waterlogged debris from the listing cargo ship MSC Napoli is available. There's an excellent Motorola Razr auction, offering bidders the chance to buy into Britain's glorious maritime heritage: This phone was recovered from Branscombe beach, is smashed into about 10 pieces and heavily water damaged. Most of the internal components look useless, but this will be a great peice [sic] of history for someone. One enterprising writer is already offering the film rights to his rip-roaring tale of the shipwreck, "Pampers Galore". The real, damp, thing was available earlier, but has been removed by eBay. Finally, there's a "Kaptin Branscombe" offering "booty", with the following warning: Ahoy there land lovers, I have for sale here some of the finest shipwrecked booty I ever did set me eyes on. While others be plunderin German junk from the wreck of the Napoli and nappies from davy jones locker. I be stumbling up on this the finest crustation I ever did see tis truly something I tells ya yarrrrrrrrrrr. I wish ye land loving scum happy bidding! and be warned ye Nigerian scammers ye face the cat o nine tails and a good keel hauling if you double cross me you theivin low lifes yarrrrrrrrrr! The ancestral entrepenurial spirit displayed by the "locals" at Bransombe Bay hasn't gone down well with everyone mind. The BBC reports coastguards have described the scavenging as "sheer greed". ®
Christopher Williams, 23 Jan 2007

The Ultimate Windows Vista laptop

The most visible part of Windows Vista is the Aero interface, and while we can't deny that it looks very swish we find it very hard to get excited by a shiny new GUI. Instead, we're looking forward to new Vista hardware, which includes a new use for the humble USB memory key and much, much more. So what will the ultimate Windows Vista notebook offer?
Leo Waldock, 23 Jan 2007

Ofcom reaches for pause on Beeb downloads

The BBC's plans to allow punters to download its TV and radio programmes have been heavily criticised by communications watchdog Ofcom which reckons they could damage commercial rivals. Ofcom fears the availability of classical music available for free download from the BBC will damage commercial providers of such music. It says classical music should either be removed from the service or access to it very restricted. This analysis comes from Ofcom's first Market Impact Assessment looking at BBC proposals for future services. While the regulator says BBC involvement will increase interest in other services it fears, "there is evidence that certain aspects of the proposals may have a negative effect on investment in similar commercial services which would not be in the long-term public interest." Other worries raised by the civil servants are that "series stacking" - storing and watching entire series - will also discourage investment in rival services and hit rentals and sales of DVDs. The statement says: "The ability to store programmes for up to 13 weeks could have negative effects on competition and therefore investment in consumer choice. Ofcom believes this storage window should be reduced or removed." The regulator has given the whole report to the BBC Trust - which oversees the broadcaster - for its consideration. For its part the BBC says it has received the document and that it provides part, but only part, of whether the proposals are likely to pass the "Public Value Test" on which it will decide whether or not downloads get the go-ahead. Other broadcasters like Channel 4 and Sky already offer such services and video content is also available from a variety of independent websites like Sling and Joost. The Ofcom release is available here, and you can find a Pdf of the whole report there too. BBC Trust response is here.
John Oates, 23 Jan 2007
homeless man with sign

LogicaCMG cuts, boosts heads

LogicaCMG issued a bullish full year trading statement this morning that managed to combine satisfaction over the cutting of the use of contractors with concerns about capacity constraints.
Joe Fay, 23 Jan 2007

EMC sees expenses rise again

EMC continued its run of financial good form in the fourth quarter, and rode a tax payday and higher system sales to beat its own and most analysts' expectations.
Christopher Williams, 23 Jan 2007

UK gets tough on phone toting drivers

Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander has confirmed that from February 27 drivers caught using a mobile phone will get three points on their license and a £60 fine, double the current £30. Mr Alexander also stated that it was "impossible to do two things at once". Those of us who can chew and walk at the same time might be tempted to disagree, but driving and holding a phone does seem a challenge too far: in 2005, 13 people were killed, and 400 seriously injured, in vehicle accidents related to mobile phone use. Interestingly, while 92 per cent of people approve of the law banning drivers from holding a phone while driving, 21 per cent admit to breaking it – presumably feeling that their higher skill level makes it safe for them to drive and talk. Increasing the penalty for being caught won't help unless they can catch some people: the Lib Dems worked out last year that only 1.1 per cent of people using a mobile whilst driving got caught. Given the dearth of traffic police these days that's unlikely to improve until they can train Gatso cameras to spot mobile phone users, as well as those exceeding the speed limit.®
Bill Ray, 23 Jan 2007

Dell may binge on quad-core Opterons

In Texas terms, Dell has gone the piglet with its Opteron server line rather than going the whole hog. That, however, could change with AMD's release of the four-core "Barcelona" processors. Dell today promotes two Opteron systems - the four-socket PowerEdge 6950 and the two-socket SC1435. And getting those two boxes wasn't easy. It took an army of consultants, hypnotists, savvy executives and customers to persuade Dell of Opteron's merits.
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jan 2007

Texas court bans deep linking

A court in Dallas, Texas has found a website operator liable for copyright infringement because his site linked to an 'audio webcast' without permission. Observers have criticised the judge for failing to understand the internet. Robert Davis runs Supercrosslive.com and put direct links on his site to audio streams of motorcycle racing. Those streams were created, owned and hosted by SFX Motor Sports, which is behind some of the events covered. A preliminary injunction was granted on 12th December by Judge Sam Lindsay in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Judge Lindsay followed that ruling with a summary judgment for SFX on 9th January, leaving only damages to be determined at trial, on the same day that Davis filed an appeal against the December ruling. Judge Lindsay ruled that Davis's activity infringed copyright and curtailed the ability of SFX to sell advertising and sponsorship on its site. That advertising is displayed when the audio streams are listened to from the SFX site but not when they are linked to from Davis's. In fact the December opinion was unclear on the exact nature of Davis's activity. SFX asserted that "Davis 'streams' the live webcast of the races on his website in 'real time'". Davis denied streaming but admitted to "providing an audio webcast 'link' to the racing events on his website". Judge Lindsay appears to accept that Davis is only linking to a media file, not streaming content from his own site. "The live broadcasts of the racing events, either via television, radio or internet webcasts, constitute original audiovisual material that can be copyrighted under the Copyright Act," wrote Lindsay in his December opinion. "The court finds that SFX has shown a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits of its copyright claim against Davis because SFX has shown ownership of the material and 'copying' by Davis." Davis argued that he did not actually copy any material, he only provided a link to it which opened the material in a user's media player, but the court ruled that that link broke the law. "The court finds that the unauthorized 'link' to the live webcasts that Davis provides on his website would likely qualify as a copied display or performance of SFX’s copyrightable material," said Lindsay. "The court also finds that the link Davis provides on his website is not a 'fair use' of copyright material as Davis asserts through his Answer." Judge Lindsay did not look to other cases on deep linking, being hyperlinks that target something other than a website's homepage. Instead, he looked at cases on live television broadcasts. He compared Davis's actions to those of a company sued by the NFL for the unauthorised capture and satellite transmission of live football broadcasts to viewers in Canada. Finding infringement, that court said a public performance or display, for the purposes of the Copyright Act, "includes each step in the process by which a protected work wends its way to its audience." The opinion and summary judgment prompted one blogger, James Robertson, to accuse Judge Lindsay of having "no idea how the internet works". Davis was representing himself in his case, without the assistance of a lawyer. Perhaps guided by comments from various bloggers (including William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google, who called it "a deeply disturbing case"), Davis's appeal argues that since the December ruling he has "become familiar with" a 2000 decision on deep linking. "Had this court been aware of this prior decision, Defendant believes this court may have produced a different ruling," wrote Davis in his latest motion of 12th January, which asks the court to stay the order of 11th December pending his appeal (though it makes no reference to the Summary Judgment handed down three days earlier). The case to which he refers is the dispute between Ticketmaster Corp. and Tickets.com. Tickets.com, a seller of tickets, was sued for linking to pages on Ticketmaster's website where users could find tickets not available at Tickets.com. The US District Court for the Central District of California concluded: "hypertext linking [without framing] does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act … since no copying is involved." That court went on to describe the process of hypertext linking: "The customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently." However, if an appeal is heard, unless Davis's site made clear that the target file was being served by another website, SFX may be able to distinguish its circumstances from those of Ticketmaster. Davis's site has become a repository for court documents and links to coverage of the case. The opinion (12 page / 51KB PDF) Other papers in the case (at Davis's site) Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Jan 2007

Blu-ray DRM defeated

The copy protection technology used by Blu-ray discs has been cracked by the same hacker who broke the DRM technology of rival HD DVD discs last month. The coder known as muslix64 used much the same plain text attack in both cases. By reading a key held in memory by a player playing a HD DVD disc he was able to decrypt the movie been played and render it as an MPEG 2 file.
John Leyden, 23 Jan 2007

Packed trains crash through the Beeb's download plans

LettersLetters After last week's storms crashed not only train networks, but rail websites as well, you'd think the sympathetic bosses of the UK's national rail network would be keen to keep out of the news. Not so. Today, they came out with the astounding suggestion that packed trains are "safer" for commuters. This certainly derailed many of you - particularly this reader, who issued what we think is a fair challenge to those running our uber-efficient rail network: Hi Lester, Please excuse the bad language here but what pure unadulterated b*ll*cks this is. There is EU legislation preventing animals travelling in the kind of cramped conditions I endure every morning. So what will soon be food gets to travel in decent space while people get crammed in like sardines and that's their tough sh*t? Let's look at the daily train journey. There's already a considerable safety risk being stood on a dirty, smelly class 150 train from the student with a f@*k off great backpack who smashes into people's heads, rendering them unconscious or with a bloody great headache because he's too stupid to take the damn thing off. Then there are the pathetically small overhead shelves which don't hold pilot cases or small travel suitcases safely, so they hang over the edge, lurching ever nearer the point of plunging down and crashing into the poor passengers. The people using laptops should also be considered in this scenario, as well as people who wear chains and the like as fashion statements. Get the picture? There's some serious potential ammunition to do lots of damage to people in the event of a crash. And some drooling halfwit in the government reckons that's safe? I openly invite this prize specimen of half wittedness to lay on train (a class 150 which does the Birmingham to Aberystwyth will do, because they absolutely ming) which I will happily ensure gets filled with mannequins (all weighted like people), bags and cases (all filled and heavy, precariously perched on the overhead shelves) a few laptops and the requisite other varied stuff people take with them to work. All paid for by this representative of homunculus governmentus dimwittedus. Then I'll stick him right in the middle of a coach, towards the end of the train (where the maximum damage from flying people, cases, laptops, et cetera is likely to happen) after belting him in the face several times with a full 200 litre rucksack and set the train to crash at full speed. Then let's see what's left of this pillock after the crash and see if he's able to say "this is safe". Or doesn't anyone who peddles this garbage actually believe it enough to put it to the test? As for money being spent, the last time I heard from Arriva Trains Wales, they were pleading poverty. So I'll believe the bulldust when I see the evidence. Picture nicely painted. Please forward details of time and place of trial. You get the big wig, we'll deal with the video equipment. Interesting to hear that modern trains actually have seats. I remember them as a young lad but I just assumed these days we all stood in a small vestibule area by the doorway. Presumably the rest of the carraige is taken up by the mighty engine but I cannot confirm this as I've never been able to get that far. Hear hear. If it's so safe to overcroud a train, how come last Thursday they wouldn't let anyone more passengers get on one of the few trains that was actually going from Paddington. Also, I've been on trains before, again from Paddington, going somewhere beyond Reading, where the driver refused to set off until some people had got off the train because "it is dangerously overcrouded." Twunts. Maybe they ought to cram first class, then. Or do they value these people less than cattle class? By extension then, this government will be advocating the use of cattle trucks next. Where have we seen that before? And then talk turns to trains in India (no Jade Goody references, please). If packed trains are safer, then the world's safest train system has got be in India. Those trains are so packed that people even ride on the roof. Of course, in case of a crash, all bets are off (especially for those on the roof). Wait, they're talking about safety in case of a crash ? Oops. First Great Western is missing out on a major passenger revenue opportunity. Western Region is one of the few parts of the rail network which hasn't been electrified with overhead catenary. A really enterprising rail operator would encourage commuters to clamber on to the roofs of trains. In a moment we could double the number of rail passengers and invoke the bucolic charm of travelling by train in India. At every stop, First Great Western trains would become the centre of a swarming mass of humanity as suitcases, small dogs and hazelnut cappucinos are swung up to those fortunate al-fresco travellers. Low bridges might be a problem, but what better way to develop a sense of community than to have Mexican waves running along the top of 125s? And blimey, there's always a few that think it's a good idea - though we are struggling to compare the damage from a spilt pint versus a packed train... This comes as no surprise. I used to run a Students' Union bar and we had to fill out risk assessments all the damn time so I got them off to a fine art. We worked out that the chance of someone injuring themselves on a spillage of liquid was lower when the bar was heaving than when the bar was quiet (it's difficult to fall over when there's no space to fall into). When the bar was quiet, spillages were a higher priority than when the bar was busy, which is a tad counter-intuitive. In the event of a train crashing into another train, as long as no derailment is involved, I can actually see how the train company is justifying this. What they haven't thought of, however, is that as the trains aren't rammed for the majority of their time of operation, they should make them safer during these periods - and fit seat belts. The research is correct: humans make great packing material when in close proximity to each other. When I travel by train I enhance this effect by wearing an overcoat made entirely from bubble wrap. I think this idea may catch on with appropriate marketing as it is no less daft than trying to afford a train fare in the UK these days. -- The Mahatma of Safety. Back to the world of IT, the Venice Project revealed itself to the world last week as Joost, an interactive, IP-based TV software system. Sounds nice, but is it? I write in comment of the article "Joost - the new, new TV thing", sounds quite wonderful really but has nobody else seen the drawback? except for the very sad, TV viewing (or even DVD viewing) has always tended to be something of a communal activity. If we push the timeframe forward and have the much quested after "convergence" there's going to come a time when the family has settled down for the evening, decided exactly what they're going to watch - and then the fun begins. A targeted ad for nappies pops up and the man of the house looks accusingly at the woman of the house (or worse, the teenage daughter) and wonders if there's something he's not been told, of course the next ad for "transvestite monthly" (if such a publication exists) rather evens the score! Targeting the ads may make commercial sense, and anything that cuts out the irrelevant dross is a step forward, but it's easy to foresee a time where nobody would dare switched the damned thing on in polite company. El Reg regularly has features reminding us just what "they" know about us - but whilst it's quite disconcerting to know that "they" know, it's a whole lot more disconcerting to know that people who actually know who I am will know too!!! Cheers Phil Agreed. Definite thumbs down. One to go on the "not to buy" list for those of you with "different" hobbies. Enough said. BT gets the thumbs up for running Linux, but we reported that it could be violating the GPL by not publishing all the source code. Not so, you say. the license says you can use free software as you like, but must credit where it came from and publish improvements you make to it. Bollocks. There's nothing in the GPL, the GPL FAQ, or anywhere else about giving credit. It sounds like you're confusing the GPL with the pre-y2k BSD license (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_license#UC_Berkeley_advertising_clause). Similarly, the GPL says nothing about "publishing improvements". If you *distribute* software covered by the GPL, you must make the *entire* source to that *same* version of the software available too. It doesn't matter if you've made changes or not, or whether those changes are for the better or the worse. (See, e.g., http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLRequireSourcePostedPublic) Carl John, telling people where you install things isn't required the scripts are boilerplate only the names are changed to protect the individual setup (and really shouldn't be relied on to do that) where things are installed shouldn't make any difference anyway and thats probably why they didn't think to add them they are generally the same for most setups build scripts can have a bit of difference and it's nice to have them but I have built many applications without them and I doubt it's really an impediment to anyone using the software this is just more fud these applications are supposed to be open source and secure and for the most part they are some people just don't understand closed source does not equal safe reguardless of all the vulnerabilities found and exploited in MS products. AD Hi, Being a sad old man I had a look at BT's source code and found the following gem in new-applet-HOWTO.txt (in busybody.tar.gz) : "First, write your applet. Be sure to include copyright information at the top, such as who you stole the code from and so forth. Also include the mini-GPL boilerplate. Be sure to name the main function applet_main instead of main. And be sure to put it in applet.c. " Perhaps I need to get out and make some new friends? NickJ Um...fraid so. Freedom Taskforce? These people should get over themselves. Is there any need to imply bad intent on behalf of BT. They got it half right when prompted and might even welcome some free improvements. Ofcom has reached for pause on BBC plans to offer its TV and radio programmes for download, saying the service would stymie competition. You took a deep breath and engaged in a good dose of Ofcom-bashing. Ofcom are acting entirely in the public interest then? "It would be harmful to the public interest for publishers to lose out on DVD sales." What? I simply don't get it. Can anyone explain it to me? Cheers Ross How dare the BBC be innovative and use the internet legally to promote their own products! OfCom will be telling us that free software undermines commercial product next! Ofcomm are really taking the piss now. Not that I give a stuff about classical music, but are they really saying that because the Beeb have stolen money from me to make a certain program, they then are not allowed to give it to me for free to watch as I see fit? What's next? BBC PPV as well as the license fee? That smacks of the double jeopardy tax on petrol & special black box GPS mileage tax. And aside from Ofcom-bashing, a nice dose of Reg bashing to finish on. IBM's attempt to turn your workspace into a mini MySpace with its Lotus product suite drew sniggers at Vulture Towers. This reader was not impressed: So a business has undertaken the task of updating its product portfolio in response to industry trends. This is news how exactly? You are indignant why exactly? And that's all in the mailbag for today. Get writing. Your thoughts again, on Friday. ®
Tracey Cooper, 23 Jan 2007

YouTube blocks mobile video encoder

YouTube has blocked a small company from making YouTube videos available on mobile phones. The action came just days after YouTube announced its own mobile deal with US mobile phone operator Verizon. TinyTube used to encode YouTube video so that it was available to view on mobile phones, but was stopped late last year by YouTube, which contacted it and said that that encoding violated the YouTube terms and conditions. TinyTube posted a comment on its forums on 30th November explaining that YouTube videos would no longer be available. YouTube and Verizon announced their tie up on 28th November. TinyTube's Allen Day confirmed that it believed that the shutdown was due to the Verizon deal. "We were informed by YT their action was largely due to pressure from their new mobile partner, Verizon," he told OUT-LAW. YouTube's initial contact with the company suggested that there could be a commercial relationship between the two, but those hopes quickly faded. "TinyTube used to have YouTube video available on the site," said Day. "YouTube contacted TinyTube to request TinyTube stop redistributing content. In the interest of developing a working relationship with YouTube [we] obliged. Shortly after, negotiations with YouTube stalled and are unlikely to resume." In the original forum posting, TinyTube seemed to be encouraged by the possibility of a deal. "YouTube expressed enthusiasm for the work we're doing here to deliver their content to mobile devices, so we're currently working together to find a solution to bring the content back online in a way that does not violate the YouTube Terms of Service," it said. YouTube did not respond to a request for comment from OUT-LAW. TinyTube said that it had not thought that it was breaking YouTube's rules. "TinyTube maintains that it simply acts as a transcoding proxy to allow mobile devices to access content otherwise inaccessible to mobile handsets," said Day. The move by YouTube could mark a shift in its attitudes in the wake of its October acquisition by Google. Since then the previously small company has signed a raft of deals with some of the biggest names in entertainment and communications. Alongside the mobile distribution deal with Verizon it has signed content use deals with Warner, Universal and Sony BMG, as well as promotional deals with television network NBC. The dealmaking reflects owner Google's need to receive a return on its investment. The search engine giant paid for YouTube with $1.65bn in shares. By the time the deal was actually completed the value of those shares had risen to $1.79bn. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Jan 2007

VCs rain cash on US net, biotech firms

Tech firms have come up trumps in the US venture capital stakes, with internet companies showing strong growth for 2006. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, internet-specific companies - those whose business is dependent on the internet - raised $4bn in 645 deals in the US in 2006. This compares favourably to the year before, when the same sector received $3.2bn in 494 deals. Last year's deals in this area accounted for 16 per cent of all venture capital dollars spent in that year. Some $25.5bn was sunk into VC deals during the whole year, in a total of 3,416 deals. This represents a 12 per cent increase in value from 2005 and was the highest level of investment seen since 2001. The life sciences sector also saw significant growth in 2006, with record investment in biotech and medical device sectors. Some $7.2bn was invested in 731 deals during the year, compared to $6bn in 647 deals in 2005. There was slight disappointment for the software sector, however, as investment remained relatively flat for the year. Some $5bn was ploughed into 865 deals, compared to 2005's figure of $4.8bn across 869 deals. Despite this, software was still the largest single industry sector for investment for both the year and the fourth quarter, in terms of deals and dollar value. Also enjoying growth were the media/entertainment and energy sectors, while seed and early stage companies received increased financing and dollars in 2006. Expansion stage deals, however, saw the largest gains during the year, while first-time financings reached their highest level since 2001. Although investment in the final quarter of 2006 fell to $5.7bn from $6.6bn in the third quarter of 2005, the figures were still within the range of the $4.3bn to $6.9bn investments seen over past five years. "While top-line investment levels in 2006 were relatively steady overall, the increases in investment were in all the right places: early stage investing, first time financings, and industry sectors such as clean tech and life sciences that have room to scale," said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association. "And while there is considerable growth in these areas, we are pleased that, to date, quarterly investment levels have remained prudent and no major overfunding has occurred." Copyright © 2007, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 23 Jan 2007

HP puts unitard on server and storage software

HP has birthed a new software unit within its server and storage business in the hopes of adding some might and revenue to systems management applications.
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jan 2007

BDSM blossoms in Second Life

NSFW ColumnNSFW Column In my last column I made some skeptical remarks about the BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism) community in Second Life. It's not something I've ever had much interest in, although it is a very prominent feature of SL. You'll encounter it throughout the mature regions of the grid, although you might not recognise it when you do. I was quite oblivious to it, really, until I discovered myself caught up in the lifestyle, quite by accident. Very soon after I arrived and took up my reporter's post in the Linden electronic playpen, I met a wonderful young woman. We became lovers immediately, and our online relationship took off from there, becoming more intimate by the day. (My poor SL boyfriend Max! He really can't understand this side of me, although he tries, the darling.) Second Life relationships can be very intense - more so than I had ever imagined. They also tend to be brief: SL is like a time compressor, so any couple who have been together for two months pretty well deserve a trophy. Everything is compressed, intensified, distilled. When you're sharing a fantasy with another resident, there are none of the inconvenient truths, or natural inhibitions, of real life to slow you down. You can go from "hi there", to "oh God, Yesss!" in a matter of minutes. In virtually no time, my new girlfriend and I were sharing the most personal, and deeply intimate, sexual fantasies that either of us had ever imagined. And as we got closer, she confided in me that she is in fact a submissive. It's not something she had ever explored in real life, and I rather think she won't; but part of what drew her to SL in the first place was the chance to explore this side of herself as a shared fantasy. So one day, she invited me to dominate her during sex. I tried, but, well, I was hopeless at it! I laugh thinking about it now; I was so awkward and uncomfortable - embarrassed, even. It just didn't feel like me, if you know what I mean. I told her she'd be better off doing that sort of thing with an experienced partner, and left it at that. She soon found one, and she began learning a great deal, both about the lifestyle, and about herself. Meanwhile, the profoundly intimate SL fantasy that we were sharing continued to develop and deepen. I was, I'll confess, worried about her. I didn't know what was going on in these SL sims - these simulated dungeons, these cartoon purgatories - that she was frequenting. And I didn't want to know: it struck me as horibly nerdy, and a bit dangerous. Was she being exploited, bullied, hurt? She certainly didn't seem any worse for wear, so I continued to offer support to her in this quest, although, at the same time, I did always worry about her getting into a destructive relationship with some manipulative control freak. A temporary switch One day, not long ago, we met in SL, and she did something I'll never forget. It changed our relationship radically and permanently, and it has even changed me, in real life, to some degree. We were enjoying one of our long, sensuous lovemaking sessions, only this time, she got aggressive. Well, as I mentioned in my last column, I happen to love rough sex, in real life and in SL, so this was a most welcome development indeed. But this wasn't ordinary rough sex; this was different. It was clear that she expected me to obey her, and not to resist or even to discuss the matter. She literally ordered me: how to stand, how to lie, what to do. She told me what I was feeling, and how much I liked it. She commanded me, and she violated me. She slapped me so hard I nearly blacked out. She choked me, digging her nails into the soft skin of my neck, and drew a little of my blood. She bit my ears, and my nipples, hard. She didn't ask for permission; she demanded and took what she wanted of me, without apology, without reservation. And I loved every second of it! I began to feel free - actually liberated. It sounds pardoxical, but it's true. As I let her control me, I felt less aware of myself. The more I submitted - delivering myself to her, sacrificing myself to her - the less bound I felt by the chains of my own personality, history, agenda, even consciousness. I allowed her will to control me, welcoming it, inviting it, releasing control of myself with joy - and yes, with awe. And I began to feel this literally, in real life, sitting at my keyboard. The more I relinquished control, the more I wanted to be controlled. But I was not completely free of self-consciousness, until she did something that stripped away my last shred of ego. I'm a bi girl, and I don't mind saying it. I do like men very much. I've been with lesbians, and I confess that, secretly, I feel superior to them: "Scared of a man's c*ck? Ha, you neurotic, Puritanical weakling!" And this is the real-life me I'm talking about, as much as my SL character. And she knew this, and she reached right into my mind and brought it up, and used it. She was fisting me hard, and I thought, this has got to be as painful as childbirth! The pain I imagined danced through me, making me tremble violently, electrifying me, tingling every nerve - a bright, jagged pain that I adored. It was her pain! I loved it with my very heart. I begged her to f*ck me harder still! And then she sneered at me, shouting, "Feel this hand that f*cks and owns your p*ssy! Stronger and harder than any man-c*ck you ever had in your pathetic bi fantasies!" And that was the master stroke. She took this personal thing from deep in my mind and humiliated me with it. At that moment, I released every last shred of my ego to her, willingly, longingly, with blind devotion and genuine awe. And then I came in a violent spasm that rolled through me in waves - again, and again, and again. I had an epiphany. Actions, not words She could have asked me to read about BDSM and submission; she could have talked to me about it, explained it at length; and that could have gone on for months without my ever getting it. But instead, she made me experience what she experiences as a sub. And thus I understood it immediately and knew instinctively how to bring it about for her. She did this to me because she's in love with me, and there's nothing more beautiful to a sub than to have the woman she truly loves become her Mistress. I began to dominate her during sex, and this brought us closer than we had ever been, a development that I didn't think was even possible, so close and so intimate had we become already. After about a week of this, I sensed that she needed to go further. As her lover - and a damned conscientious one at that, I don't mind saying - I naturally want to do everything that gives her pleasure and happiness. And I grasped instinctively that I would have to collar her to give her all that she wants and needs and deserves. And so I took her. Today she wears my collar with pride, with joy, and with utter devotion. The collar is scripted and allows me to control her avatar completely, which she loves to experience. But I've got to be clear: I did this for her, as a lover whose only desire is to give her pleasure. I did this to serve her, this wonderful lover whose orgasms I enjoy more than my own. Thus I didn't make her my slave; rather, she made me her Missy. I am, literally, an accidental Mistress. The sub makes the Dom/me, it's clear to me now. The sub is not weak; indeed, the personal strength required to submit fully is extraordinary, and commands the utmost respect. Domination is service, and submission is liberation. That sounds Orwellian, and it might well be. A current of Fascism runs through BDSM, concealed beneath layers of Medieval veneer. I will return to this in a future column; but for now, I accept what is apparent, if not rational, in this relationship: the Dom/me has the control, but the sub has the power. I feel it, I experience it, and whether it makes sense or it doesn't, I believe it. ® Previous columns The ins and outs of a Second sex Life (NSFW) Reg embeds hack in Second Life (NSFW)
Destiny Welles, 23 Jan 2007

EMC exec flames Reg with ambiguity

EMC and The Register have gone to war, and the battle rages over backup software of all things. Last week, we questioned whether EMC will in fact release version 8.0 of its once popular Retrospect backup software. The Insignia SMB (small and medium business) division behind the Retrospect product has suffered massive layoffs, leaving a much shrunken engineering and sales crew to push the software. Beyond that, multiple EMC insiders told us flat out that the Insignia management revealed in December that Retrospect 8.0 would not arrive.
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jan 2007
fingers pointing at man

Sun does the impossible - blackens ink

Somebody slap someone. Sun Microsystems has turned a profit. The server maker today posted its best financial results in ages. Sun's second quarter revenue swelled 7 per cent year-over-year to $3.6bn, and it posted a 3 cent per share profit on the back of $126m in net income. Those totals compare to a loss of 7 cents per share in the same period last year and a loss of $223m.
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jan 2007

Oracle turns the screws in Red Hat switcheroo

Oracle has spiced up its offer of low-priced support for Red Hat Linux users with the addition of systems management software.
Gavin Clarke, 23 Jan 2007

Yahoo! net! plummets! in! Q4!

Yahoo!'s net income plunged in the December quarter to $269m, compared with $683m net recorded in the same Q the previous year. Increased stock compensation expenses are to blame for some of the shortfall. The internet giant booked $56m of stock-based compensation expense in Q4 '06, against $11m the previous year. 2005's Q4 results were also pumped up somewhat by $188m of net gains in sales of investments. Revenues advanced 13 per cent to $1.702bn (Q4 05: $1.5bn), with advertising revenue also up 13 per cent to $1.49bn (Q4 05: $1.315bn) and fees revenue up 15 per cent to $213m ($186m). Revenues without traffic acquisition costs (i.e. the money paid to Overture search advertising affiliates) was $1.012bn. So all in all, if it weren't for the stellar performance of Google, its Silicon Valley neighbor, Yahoo! would not be seen to be doing too badly. But that is a big if: Google is runaway leader. And Yahoo! will have to pedal - peddle - hard to make sure that the lead doesn't increase. The company today said it should get Panama, its next gen advertising platform, into production on 5 February. Yahoo! forecasts net revenue of $1.12bn- $1.23bn for Q1 '07 and full year sales of $4.95bn to $5.45bn. Yahoo! earnings release is here. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jan 2007
Microsoft Office logo

Office 2007 faces snail's pace migration

Hopes by Microsoft for quick uptake of Office 2007 based on a redesigned and simpler interface could be dashed - ironically - thanks to its spanking new look. Most enterprises will wait between three and five years before switching from older editions of Microsoft's suite to Office 2007, to be launched next week, Forrester claims.
Gavin Clarke, 23 Jan 2007

As Jobs is questioned, backdating prosecutors bail

Steve Jobs, perhaps the most indispensable CEO alive, has some bad news and some good news for shareholders who are nervous about federal investigations into whether he was involved in the backdating of thousands of options awarded to Apple employees. First, the bad: In a sign that investigators are moving forward with their inquiry, Jobs last week sat down with prosecutors from the US Attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper, reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. The meeting suggests that investigators are not convinced Jobs played no role in the activity, despite Apple's announcement that a committee commissioned by Apple and led for former Vice President Al Gore absolved Jobs of all wrongdoing. Now, the good: The two top attorneys overseeing the Justice Department's backdating investigation in Silicon Valley left and, according to The Recorder, a third is shopping for new work, a development that is likely to stall, if not hinder that agency's prosecution of Jobs. Kevin Ryan, the US Attorney for Northern California, resigned last week, under what a spokesman for the US Attorney's office described as a "mutually agreeable decision." But according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ryan was fired by President Bush for reasons we still don't know. Also out is Christopher Steskal, the lead attorney in the investigation of many Silicon Valley companies. He left for Fenwick & West, a law firm that came to prominence representing Apple in the 1980s and where we presume the attorney will make a considerably higher salary. Although Jobs has been cleared by Gore and Co., no one has yet explained how stock options granted to the tech sultan were said to have been approved at a board meeting that was later shown to have never occurred. The grant, for 7.5 million options, according to the Wall Street Journal, were processed on December, 2001, but were retroactively pinned to October of that year, when Apple's share price was lower. ®
Dan Goodin, 23 Jan 2007