Every so often, I bang on about compensating transactions - in essence, they’re the way that you clear up problems in automated systems without upsetting your customers.
AMD reported its first net loss in two years as its acquisition of ATI added to losses stemming from a crushing price war with Intel. The results are further confirmation that Intel is reasserting its heft, thanks to the release earlier this year of a bevy of new chips based on a refurbished microarchitecture. AMD's profit was especially bruised by sinking prices for server chips, AMD's strong suit over the past few years.
3's recent announcement that it would remove roaming charges from any country in which it operates has turned out not to include Australia, at least for pre-paid customers. Contract customers will find Australia included, but those on pre-paid (a minority of 3 customers, apparently) won't be able to make calls from Australia, on their home tariff, until later this year. We contacted 3 to ask why it hadn't made this clear. The company cited technical difficulties integrating the pre-paid system and promised that "3 Like Home" would be available in Australia shortly – though it wouldn't commit further than that. Pre-paid billing systems are, by necessity, a great deal more complicated than post paid: the systems need to be checking in real time to ensure that the customer has sufficient remaining balance to continue the call. It seems that doing that half way round the world has caused 3 more trouble than they anticipated. The simple solution is just not to visit Australia, but if you have to then the 3 deal might not be as good as it originally appeared. ®
AnalysisAnalysis Apple's iPhone announcement and Cisco's iPhone trademark lawsuit has brought the iPhone moniker into the spotlight. But other companies also own and use iPhone trademarks, and market and sell their iPhone products. Mark Rasch explains how US trademark law works and the real issues at play in this highly publicised trademark dispute.
Intel has begun shipping 'Kedron', the 802.11n-compatible wireless networking module that's a key component of the next generation of Centrino, 'Santa Rosa'. It has also persuaded a number of access point vendors to sticker their 802.11n products as Centrino-friendly.
Readers of UK tabloid The Sun have voted French newsreader Melissa Theuriau "YouTube's hottest babe EVER" after excerpts of the foxy Gallic minx's news broadcasts proved a huge online hit. Theuriau, 28, picked up 72 per cent of the 3,000 votes, adding the tabloid "Phwooarr!" honour to her heaving trophy cabinet which already houses Empire Magazine's "World's Sexiest News Anchor". Theuriau's popularity skyrocketed last year after topless beach snaps of her appeared in a French magazine, and subsequently across cyberspace. The Sun notes she is currently presenter of a "news magazine show called Forbidden Zone" and, crucially, single. ®
CommentComment Electronic Business to Business (B2B) communication is an essential component of the infrastructure of any large enterprise. It enables the fast and accurate transfer of data between partners, automating cross business processes and improving supply chain performance. However, because of the high set-up and running costs, it has not been embraced by the majority of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), leaving many companies dependent on paper or faxed information to power their supply chain. The SME market is now beginning to implement B2B for the following reasons: Improved supply chain performance, the faster turnaround of business processes - especially orders and invoices - helps SME companies improve customer service levels. The potential for significant cost savings by reducing labour requirements and eliminating transcription errors. The availability of on-demand solutions for companies of all sizes as provided by GXS Trading Grid. Pressure from larger companies who prefer, or in some cases insist, that transactions are processed electronically. The GXS-Microsoft alliance that now provides an affordable solution for smaller businesses. GXS is a leading worldwide provider of business-to-business integration, synchronisation and collaboration solutions. It has over 35 years' experience. The company operates a highly reliable, secure global network services platform enabling more than 40,000 businesses to conduct business together in an on-demand real time environment. GXS' Trading Grid solutions helps companies, both large and small, connect worldwide with their business partners, synchronise product and price information, optimise inventory levels, and demand forecasts, and speed the overall execution of their global supply chains. Microsoft, with BizTalk, has enabled SME customers to integrate internal systems and this has provided many productivity and cost reduction benefits. The Microsoft-GXS alliance has bridged the gap between BizTalk and the Trading Grid by developing a BizTalk Trading Grid Gateway and packaging it as a standard part of Microsoft BizTalk. This means that any enterprise that has implemented BizTalk can easily connect to the Trading Grid and thus to any of the thousands of enterprises already connected. The solution not only supports the electronic transfer of all the basic B2B or supply chain documents such as orders, shipments and invoices, but also much deeper integration including the sharing of meta data and real time tracking and tracing of business processes. Although the emphasis of the alliance is to enable SMEs to connect to large enterprises on an equal footing, these innovations will improve processing for every player in the supply chain, providing access to real time information and making paper driven events a thing of the past. The alliance is much more than just the implementation of the gateway: Microsoft has named the GXS Trading Grid as the recommended global B2B network for BizTalk Server 2006. This endorsement means BizTalk customers can be confident of the long term viability of connecting to the Trading Grid. GXS is using Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 and SQL Server 2005 technology in the GXS Trading Grid. This will enable customers to extend existing internal investments on Microsoft .NET Framework-based technologies outside their enterprise through seamless integration with business partners. Microsoft and GXS are planning to deepen the integration with support for Microsoft Office and Microsoft Dynamics. This will enable a variety of supply chain innovations that will enable a set of partners to appear as a single extended enterprise. The GXS-Microsoft Alliance provides the basis for SMEs to become full electronic B2B players and communicate electronically on-demand with peers, large enterprises and smaller partners. There should be a rapid take-up of this technology as SMEs recognise that the benefits of an integrated supply chain can now be achieved in a simple, cost effective, and Microsoft-compatible way. Copyright © 2007, IT-Analysis.com
IBM did not destroy crucial evidence in its long-running dispute with The SCO Group, a judge has ruled. SCO claimed IBM had destroyed materials last year, but the US judge has ruled that the evidence was actually provided to SCO some time ago.
Evidence of ethnic diversity in Britain going back to at least the 18th century has been uncovered by geneticists. A rare version of the male Y chromosome turned up in seven men sharing a rare east Yorkshire surname during a survey of British men published Wednesday in the European Journal of Human Genetics. The version, or haplogroup, of the Y chromosome traces its origins to west Africa. As is standard procedure in genetic studies, the surname it is linked to has not been identified by the team from Leicester University, beyond that it begins with "R". The Y chromosome is passed directly from father to son without being mixed up, unlike the rest of our DNA, so the version each man carries is strongly linked to his surname. On finding the west African artefact in one individual, researchers were able to recruit six other men with the same surname, and assign all of them to the rare haplogroup, which previously had only 25 known members worldwide, all of whom were African. The new discovery shows that the huge numbers of Africans enslaved and brought through Britain on their way to the New World may have left a genetic footprint. The haplogroup could have been brought to the north even earlier than the seven's 18th century last common ancestor though; African servants and entertainers were common in Tudor times, and African soldiers were recorded defending Hadrian's Wall for the Romans. Similar techniques have previously been used to trace male descendants of prolific Mongol emperor Ghengis Khan in Asia. More from National Geographic here. ®
T-Mobile is set to launch HTC's anticipated Athena UMPC-like device, it has been claimed. Given the high quality of the pics that accompany the report, this one appears a dead certainty. T-Mobile is said to have chosen the Ameo brand to label the machine.
Site offerSite offer Those of you who are still not fully aware that your data is at risk from absolutely everything are advised to consider a secure back-up deal we've cut with RecoveryVault - exclusively offering Reg readers 15 per cent off all secure back-up packages. RecoveryVault uses Attix5 Backup Professional Software to protect your vital data. Specifically, it's "encrypted using SSL banking level encryption" and further "kept in a secure data centre and encrypted again at many times bank strength". Yeah, yeah, you're thinking. How much? Well, you can have a 14 day free trial of 250MB right now and it's £3.95 per month thereafter. There are eight packages in total, ranging from said 250MB deal to 20GB at £41.10 a month and every single one of 'em includes the exclusive 15 per cent discount. What's more, if you fancy paying annually, you get a further saving. For example, the 20GB package comes it at £399.88 if you cough for a year up front - a saving of £93.32, according to our calculator. You can peruse the full RecoveryVault offer right here. You know it makes sense. ®
The Office of Government Commerce is to be cut back in size and its reach reduced, but its powers will be increased The government's procurement agency will also begin to work within rather than at arm's length from the Treasury. The moves were announced along with the publication of the Transforming Government Procurement report on 23 January 2006.
You know how it is: you feel very strongly that the government really ought to address the issue of rampant unemployment among immigrant Romanian single mothers in the Frankfurt sausage-making industry, but can't actually be bothered to get up off the sofa and hit the streets in protest. Fear not, for help is at hand in the shape of Erento.com, where agitators are renting out their services to worthy causes. For example, as the BBC explains, "next to a black and white posed picture, Melanie lists her details from her jeans size to her shoe size and tells potential protest organisers that she is willing to be deployed up to 100km around Berlin". Six hours of Melanie giving forth will set you back €145. An Erento.com spokesman was "unable to say how many demonstrators had been booked since the service was launched earlier this month, but that there had certainly been demand". Indeed, German media has reported that a Munich march "hired protesters because its own adherents were too old to stand for hours waving banners". If you're wondering whether these rent-a-protestors will accept cash for any old cause, think again. Erento.com "stresses that no protester needs to offer their services to a cause they object to, and therefore many may genuinely believe in the protest they are joining". This cuts little ice with some German commentators. The Beeb notes that one recently wrote: "It seems to confirm the increasingly common assumption that democracy is for sale." ®
Matrox has extended its Extio line of monitor and peripheral extension modules. The Extio F1220 allows users to tuck away systems but routing display, audio, USB and Firewire data down a 250m cable and into the Extio, which can sit on a desk connected to multiple monitors, keyboard, mouse, etc.
Microsoft's Atlas has made it through to its official Release To Web (RTW) as ASP.NET AJAX 1.0. The beta version has enjoyed some 180,000 downloads since November last year.
Orange and Fujitsu have signed a deal to include an Orange SIM in Fujitsu computers featuring an embedded GSM (3G) module.
With Windows Vista's formal launch less than a week away, Asus has begun shouting about its Vista-friendly motherboard line-up. It's pitching four boards: two for AMD processors, two for Intel CPUs.
One of the longest running feuds in the P2P business has taken a new turn after a judge dismissed a racketeering case brought by Streamcast Networks against Skype. Streamcast, which develops the Morpheus P2P software, has long maintained that it had rights to the FastTrack/Kazaa P2P software engine on which Morpheus is based. FastTrack was created by a number of developers, including the two founders of Skype, who Streamcast says illegally transferred the technology to Sharman Networks in 2002. Streamcast filed suit against a number of parties, including Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, Sharman Networks, Joltid (developers of FastTrack/Kazaa), and others under the RICO Act in January last year. The suit claimed that Zennstrom and Friis also developed Skype's VoIP technology for Streamcast and took it with them, illegally profiting from its use. A Federal Judge in Los Angeles has decreed that Streamcast failed to prove its case and dismissed all claims against Skype and the other defendents. The feud dates back to the turn of the decade, when in a bid to evade lawsuits from the RIAA and MPAA, P2P operators took their companies offshore, making an assessment of the true ownership of the assets difficult. Sharman Networks was created in Australia in 2001 to acquire Kazaa. Months later, Sharman blocked Streamcast from using Kazaa, hitting the latter's Morpheus network. In 2005, Skype was acquired by eBay for $2.6bn. The same year the Supreme Court made an ambiguous ruling in MGM vs Grokster that prompted a number of P2P companies to close down and make peace with the litigants, the RIAA and the MPAA. Streamcast has developed a new network for "authorised content", but continued to defend the legality of Morpheus for another year, until last September. Proving a case under RICO is difficult, as it requires the plaintiff to prove "a crime within a crime". The act was introduced to combat Mafia racketeering and extortion, and is typically successful in cases involving violence. Nevertheless, Streamcast has vowed to continue its ligitation. ®
A new service from Quepasa allows users to upload their own ring tones, and share in the revenue generated by selling them. Anyone can upload their masterpiece, once they’ve paid the requisite $4.99 registration fee. Quepasa is a US internet portal aimed at the Hispanic community and providing the usual mail, messaging, forums and content provision including video and mobile phone ringtones. Allowing anyone to upload their own ringtone should provide them with lots of content, beyond the standard MIDI fare they are already offering, and by charging customers a registration fee they can't lose. From the prose on the site you might think you can’t lose either: "You could make money with a single ringtone, but you may make even more if you upload five or ten." ...or you might just find yourself five dollars poorer, who knows.®
Orange and Fujitsu have signed a deal to include an Orange SIM in Fujitsu computers featuring an embedded GSM and 3G module. The Fujitsu LifeBook E laptops won't be locked to Orange, so no network subsidy, but they will be tested to work with the Orange 3G and HSDPA networks.
Apple has fixed a flaw in its QuickTime media playback software that allowed malicious coders to install malware onto vulnerable systems.
Lite-on will next month ship what it claims is the world's first 20x DVD writer with a SATA connection. The drive's aimed at the increasing number of motherboards that no longer support parallel ATA.
One of the internet's first free email systems is back in business after supporters rallied against its possible closure. David Harris, creator of the Pegasus and Mercury email systems, has vowed to resume development, reversing his earlier decision to wind down after 17 years.
More than a fifth (22 per cent) of Windows installations failed tests on their authenticity, according to figures from tests conducted using Microsoft's controversial Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool.
A report in today's Sun newspaper, noting that some sort of progress has been made in preparing the East London site which will host the 2012 Olympics, prompted us to go and have a shufti down on Google Earth: According to The Sun, there are actually a few blokes down there somewhere giving it some stick with a bulldozer, so we'll just have to wait for the next Google Earth update to see just what they've been up to. In the meantime, here's the same area as seen in this handy .kmz overlay from the Google Earth community: All will undoubtedly be revealed in due course. We'll keep you posted. ®
Azlan has pulled together a dedicated team to push Juniper kit as it looks to further boost sales of the pricey networking gear.
Brocade has cleared the last regulatory hurdle in its bid to own about 70 per cent of the global fibre channel switch market, after the Federal Trade Commission closed its anti-trust investigation into the takeover of McData.
Who'd have believed it: UK banking conglomerate Lloyds TSB has decided to celebrate the New Year by getting itself a sense of humour. Try this grab of a mass mailer, forwarded by reader Andrew Pearce: Yes indeed. The cunning part of the plan is to use the "title" attribute to cover your tracks, so the alt text doesn't appear when the innocent customer rolls his or her mouse over the images punting this irresistable offer. Nicely done, we reckon. ®
Disk maker Seagate saw profits fall in the second quarter ended 29 December 2006 despite growing sales. Costs relating to the acquisition of Maxtor pushed profits down more than 50 per cent.
CeBIT, the world's biggest technology and telecoms trade fair, has admitted it will radically restructure the show in 2008 with more focus on B2B and less on novelties. The new CEBIT will also be a day shorter.
Chinese Communist Party big cheese Hu Jintao today announced the country's intention to maximise the economic potential of the web, while seeking to "purify the internet environment", Reuters reports. The comments came as the party's 24-strong politburo met to cast an eye over China's burgeoning internet - boasting 137m registered users at the end of 2006, according to China Internet Network Information Centre figures released yesterday. Hu told the politburo the party should "strengthen administration and development of our country's internet culture". He continued: "[To] maintain the initiative in opinion on the internet and raise the level of guidance online, we must promote civilised running and use of the internet and purify the internet environment." Hu stressed the need to exploit the net's possibilities, while keeping a tight grip. "Ensure that one hand grasps development while one hand grasps administration," he concluded. ®
Distie Ingram Micro will now distribute Uniwide UniServer server and workstation products across Europe. Uniwide said it chose Ingram for its 90,000 resellers across all customer segments and its good logistics network. Ingram said it welcomed working with one of only four worldwide AMD Validated Server Program partners. ®
3 is to slash numbers at its Glasgow call centre from the current 540 to fewer than 400, the telco announced yesterday. Some calls will be handled at the company's Mumbai office. 3 said the call centre was set up when the company had no retail presence and was building up a customer base. Now, with four million customers, it is moving jobs into retail where it can speak directly to punters. The fact that call centres in India are so much cheaper to run is just a happy coincidence. 3 claims to be creating 190 more retail jobs around the UK in 2007, with multiple stores in Glasgow, and expects 40 or so staff to relocate within the company - though it admits there will be around 120 redundancies. It is currently consulting with employees, a legal requirement when laying off more than 20 people at once, so staff at the centre are still waiting to hear who will stay and who will go. ®
Microsoft has at last slipped out its AJAX architecture, but the latest addition to the Web 2.0 milieu faces a long march towards broad uptake. The ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 framework, previously codenamed Atlas, provides a set of libraries for building rich interfaces and web applications on the Microsoft stack.
ReviewReview Video content on mobile phones today is rich and diverse, but the cost is also rich and diverse - with an emphasis on rich. Are there any affordable alternatives to watching a variety of video on mobiles and other portable devices? SanDisk seems to think so...
Apple's digital rights management lock on its iPod device and iTunes software is illegal, the Consumer Ombudsman in Norway has ruled. The blow follows the news that Germany and France are joining Norway's action against Apple. The Norwegian Consumer Council, Forbrukerradet, lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman on behalf of Norwegian consumers claiming that the Fairplay DRM system acted against the interests of consumers. It said the fact the technology stopped songs bought from iTunes being played on any player other than an iPod broke the law in Norway. The Ombudsman has now agreed, according to Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor at the Consumer Council. "It doesn't get any clearer than this. Fairplay is an illegal lock-in technology whose main purpose is to lock the consumers to the total package provided by Apple by blocking interoperability," Waterhouse told OUT-LAW.COM. "For all practical purposes this means that iTunes Music Store is trying to kill off one the most important building blocks in a well functioning digital society, interoperability, in order to boost its own profits." Waterhouse said the Ombudsman has written to Apple to say it believes that Apple's Fairplay system is illegal. "iTunes Music Store must remove its illegal lock-in technology or appear in court," he said. "As of right now we're heading for a big breakthrough that will hopefully pave the way for consumers everywhere to regain control of music they legally purchase." The Consumer Council believes Apple has only three options: it can license Fairplay to any manufacturer that wants iTunes songs to play on its machines; it can co-develop an open standard with other companies; or it can abandon DRM altogether. The Ombudsman has also backed the Consumer Council's claim that the DRM technology is not simply a copy protection scheme. The Council had argued that in restricting consumers' use of music so heavily the technology broke contract law in Norway. "The Ombudsman has confirmed our claim that the DRM must be considered part of the contract terms and not a copy protection scheme only," said Waterhouse. "This means that under the Norwegian Marketing Control Act the DRM must provide balanced and fair rights to the consumer when they purchase music form iTunes Music Store and similar download services." "Apple is aware of the concerns we've heard from several agencies in Europe and we're looking forward to resolving these issues as quickly as possible," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AP news agency earlier this week. "Apple hopes that European governments will encourage a competitive environment that lets innovation thrive, protects intellectual property and allows consumers to decide which products are successful." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links Apple 'unmovable' on iPod lock-in Apple requests secrecy in bid to keep iTunes legal in Scandinavia Norway, Sweden, Denmark may fine Apple over iTunes
Chip maker Agere has launched what it claims is the first mobile content server, a gadget designed to be as capable of grabbing, storing and serving documents and media files as a PC is. But be a darn sight more portable.
While reviewers debate the merits of Windows Vista and analysts puzzle the over the pace of adoption, IDC and Microsoft are in little doubt over its impact for the economies of America's 50 states.
HP shareholders might just applaud CEO Mark Hurd's hefty 2006 pay package, while those with more emotional ties to the company's historical reputation will recoil in horror.
The bitter legacy of the failure of the Supreme Court's Eldred decision three years ago continues. For the second time, a lower court has rejected what it considers an attempt to re-run the case. This week a 9th Circuit appeals court upheld the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Eldred vs Ashcroft that Congress was entitled to extend copyright terms. The challenge, brought by Brewster Kahle, of the Internet Archive, and the Prelinger Film Archive and supported by Lawrence Lessig and Stanford Law School, challenged the constitutionality of the extensions, arguing they needed First Amendment review. This would have paved the way for another tilt at the ability of Congress to extend copyright terms. Kahle filed suit in March 2004, arguing that by changing the law from an opt-in model, where right holders had to explicitly renew copyright, to an opt-out model, where copyright was automatically renewed, increased the number of "orphan works" which were unpublished but still in copyright, and decreased the number of works in the public domain. The suit focussed on works created between 1964 and 1977. "You'll be able to identify a pundit who has not read either Eldred or the complaint when they suggest the case is the same as Eldred was. It is not," wrote Lessig, when the case was first filed. Unfortunately, the District court disagreed, and in December 2004, granted motion to dismiss Kahle case without a hearing, explaining: "Both of Plaintiffs’ main claims attempt to tangentially re-litigate Eldred. However, they provide no compelling reason why we should depart from a recent Supreme Court decision." That rejection led to this week's appellate judgement. It was again rejected for re-running Eldred. This time Judge Farris, writing the opinion, leant heavily on the Eldred ruling in rejecting both planks of the latest challenge. In his opinion, Eldred upheld that Congress did not exceeded its authority in passing the Copyright Terms Extension Act (1992), so the judges saw no reason to reverse it. "Plaintiffs articulate policy reasons behind their position; they do not, however, provide a legal argument explaining why we should ignore the clear holding of Eldred." The plaintiffs also revived the case they'd made in Eldred, disputing the Congress' interpretation of the founding fathers' phrase "limited Times". The copyright challenged argued today copyright was "fixed at perpetual", in clear contradiction of the original intent. But "limited" was a relative, rather than an absolute definition, wrote Farris, and although he conceded that the Eldred opinion had "sacrificed clarity for pithiness", saw no reason to limit Congress's scope to weigh how limited it should be at any given time. That was, in his view, the real intent of the original law. The Appellate Judges' concluded, then, that: "Despite Plaintiffs’ attempt to frame the issue in terms of the change from an opt-in to an opt-out system rather than in terms of extension, they make essentially the same argument, in different form, that the Supreme Court rejected in Eldred. It fails here as well." One of Kahle's legal team, Christopher Sprigman, expressed his puzzlement with the judgement on his blog: "Speaking only for myself, I must say that after reading and re-reading the 9th Circuit panel's opinion, I cannot conclude that the judges listened to what the Supreme Court said in Eldred," he wrote. Au contraire. Lower courts are unable to overturn the decisions of the Supreme Court, and they're loathe to toy with the issues without good cause. That's why it's called the Supreme Court - the clue's in the name - and its decisions are intended to set a precedent, not become a trampoline. One can only conclude that the technicians behind Kahle repeated the strategic error of Eldred, and failed to demonstrate why this needed the Supremes' urgent attention. As The Register's Thomas C Greene noted during the 2002 arguments, the Supremes were often sympathetic to the plaintiffs, but they failed to be convinced. Perhaps, he suggested at the time (see here and then in a follow-up exchange with Mr Eldred himself here), there's more to public interest is wider than "can't get it on t'internet". Particularly while real books still exist. ®
Luckily for Apple, neither Citrix nor Nortel seem eager for an iPhone lawsuit. Earlier this month, we reported that Citrix sells Visual Voicemail software for smart phones that performs the same basic functions as the "new" Visual Voicemail application announced with Apple's iPhone. Citrix licenses the software to a number of companies including Cisco, which has filed a lawsuit against Apple over the iPhone name, and Nortel. Gentle, untrademarked vendor that it is, Citrix considers the Visual Voicemail name Sarah, Plain and Tall enough to reject legal action at this time. "The term Visual Voicemail is used to describe one of the features of the Citrix Voice Office application suite for users of IP telephones," the company told The Register. "We have been using this term for a number of years as Net6 and then as Citrix. As this term is used generically in the industry by a number of other vendors, we have not registered it as a trademark. Given the value of this capability for users, we support the broad use of the term to increase it’s visibility with our customers and the broader user community." Nortel, which has included Citrix's Visual Voicemail software with its products for some time, sees no trademark beef either, but is looking at the iPhone patents. "There may or may not be some patent infringements," a Nortel spokesman said. "We have our legal staff digging into that." All of the Visual Voicemail software in question does just what it says. The code makes it possible to see voicemail information such as the name of the caller and length of their message on your device. Users can then pick and choose which messages they want to hear rather than going in sequential order as you would do with a standard voicemail system. You have to abhor Apple's pluck in using no imagination at all as it enters the phone market. A company so obsessed with names and naming rights ought to find a better description for its "revolutionary" product. If this continues, the likes of Cisco and Nortel may just cut iPhone users' traffic off at the switch. That'll show Steve. ®
UpdatedUpdated MySpace has engaged in its fair share of fights over the past few months, battling alleged spammers and fending off lawsuits. Now we're hearing an allegation that the social networking site has been serving ads that hock pesky programs known as "scareware." And rather than call out the big guns, the social networking site is rolling over and playing dead. James Kingsley, a PhD student in the UK city of Sheffield, said his wife encountered ads on Monday while tending to her MySpace account. The insult, he said, extended to repeated attempts by one of the advertised parasites to install the program using ActiveX. "That's the thing that really struck me as being malicious," Kingsley told us. "Although my wife is pretty skeptical about these things my mum wouldn't be." The two pieces of offending software, Kingsley said, included WinAntiVirus Pro and DriveCleaner, and he included screen shots - posted here - that appeared to back up his claim. One shot also appears to show a warning from Internet Explorer that winantivirus.com was trying to install a program. Security companies have issued warnings about both programs. Sophos, for instance, says WinAntiVirus loads a "spyware detection installer application which downloads applications that may exaggerate threats on a user's computer and ask user to buy software to remove these threats." Indeed, using Google to search for "winantivirus" and clicking on site associated with the product results in a rather terse warning that "visiting this web site may harm your computer!" The same warning happens for DriveCleaner, which Symantec describes as "a security assessment tool which gives exaggerated reports of security and privacy risks on a computer." MySpace, after promising on Monday to look into Kingsley's report, failed to respond to the half-dozen emails and phone calls we left over the past two days. We were unable to locate the maker or makers of WinAntiVirus and DriveCleaner for comment. So we are appealing to you, our esteemed readers, to relate any instances of MySpace or other mainstream sites serving naughty ads. Please contact your reporter at the link above. ® Update Several hours after our story appeared, a MySpace spokeswoman issued the following comment: Adware is against MySpace's terms of service. These ads are being delivered by ad networks who distribute them to over a thousand sites across the Internet in addition to ours. We work to have these ad networks remove such ads so that they do not appear on our site.
eBay fired on all cylinders in the December quarter, delivering record net revenues of $1.7bn - 29 per cent higher than Q4 '05 and net income of $346m, 24 per cent up year on year. The company reaped the benefit from higher average selling prices in its auction business and an "excellent" fourth quarter from its PayPal payment processing unit. Third party merchant services accounted for $3.9bn of the $11bn in total payment volumes handled by PayPal. And Skype, the broadband telephony business acquired for a whopping $2.7bn in 2005, is beginning to come good. Q4 revenues climbed 164 per cent to $66m (Q4 05: $25m) and registered users at the end of the quarter were up 129 per cent to 171 million (Q4 2005: 75 million users). But eBay CEO Meg Whitman is less than satisfied. "The monetization efforts we outlined at the time of the (Skype) acquisition are not developing as quickly as we had hoped," she said in an earnings call today. That will teach the company to overpay. eBay's full year revenues advanced 31 per cent to $6bn, and net income was up four per cent to $1.1bn. It forecasts net revenues of $1.67bn-$1.72bn for Q1, 2007 and full-year revenues of $7.050bn -$7.3bn. eBay's board thinks times are good, clearly, authorizing up to $2bn in stock buybacks over the next couple of years. Last quarter the company bought $1bn-worth of its own stock. Earnings statement here. ®