7th > February > 2007 Archive

iPass adds T-Mobile and Inmarsat to global network

iPass customers will soon be able to roam onto T-Mobile's UK network using their existing credentials, should they be too far from a Wi-Fi hotspot and wanting faster speeds than a satellite connection can provide. iPass is a connection aggregator: companies, and individuals, can sign up for iPass credentials which let them connect to the iPass network (and thus the internet) over a variety of technologies including Wi-Fi, cellular and, now, satellite. Connection hardware isn't provided, but the identity and account management is; making life much simpler for companies trying to deal with the plethora of connectivity mechanisms their staff might be using these days. iPass already has deals with US cellular providers, but UK users have until now been limited to Wi-Fi connections, where available. The deal with T-Mobile will allow users contiguous connectivity in the UK, while anyone wandering somewhere more inhospitable can rely on the Inmarsat connectivity - for 85 per cent of the Earth's surface, anyway. This kind of connection aggregation is a good field to be in: iPass is well placed to take advantage of new technologies as they are deployed, without taking the risk of actually deploying them, and anything that makes account administration easier is to be applauded. ®
Bill Ray, 07 Feb 2007
For Sale sign detail

Cisco pumps up the profits

Cisco has had a good quarter, correction, a bloody good quarter, with Q2 net income 40 per cent up on last year to $1.9bn and sales up 20 per cent to $8.4bn. Scientific Atlanta, bought in fiscal Q3 last year, brought in net sales of $639m in this quarter ended January 27.
Drew Cullen, 07 Feb 2007
arrow pointing up

IBM hits Lenovo with $123m stock sale shocker

IBM hit Lenovo with a jarring share sale, unloading $123m of stock in the PC maker. Shares of Lenovo dipped seven per cent today on the Hong Kong markets after word of IBM's sale reached investors. Lenovo requested that trading of its shares be halted with the price at HK$3.2. The exact nature of IBM's sale came as a surprise to Lenovo, according to a spokeswoman, although the company did expect some action from IBM. IBM shed 300m shares in the PC maker, reducing its stake in the company to 10 per cent from 13.2 per cent. The sale price of HK$3.2 per share was at the low-end of IBM's target, and the deal was handled by Citibank. While IBM may have been a bit rude with the Lenovo offload, the companies remain allies in the PC market. ®
Ashlee Vance, 07 Feb 2007
channel

Sun stuns with on-time arrival of Niagara III

Just weeks after posting a profit, Sun Microsystems has dealt out another shocker – a future version of its UltraSPARC T1 chip should arrive on time. Sun's server chieftain John Fowler today revealed that "Victoria Falls" – the third version of the UltraSPARC T1 – taped out in October. That puts the chip right in line with Sun's previous plans unearthed by El Reg last March and has the part due to fit in servers during the first half of 2008. The "Victoria Falls" chip will continue Sun's push to cram UltraSPARC T1s into multi-processor servers. In the second half of this year, Sun plans to ship "Niagara II"-based servers that will handle double the threads of today's UltraSPARC T1 chip and have more floating point support. The Victoria Falls chips will then handle 128 threads per box. You can see more on Sun's chip plans here (PDF). ®
Ashlee Vance, 07 Feb 2007
globalisation

DDoSers bombard Military root server (and more)

At least three DNS root servers, including one maintained by the US Department of Defense, were flooded with data for about 12 hours in an attack that was notable more for its audacity than any noticeable degradation of internet traffic.
Dan Goodin, 07 Feb 2007
graph up

Symantec: Microsoft conflict of interest is damaging internet

RSARSA Symantec's chief executive has lambasted Microsoft for a dangerous conflict of interest as both the provider of an operating system and seller of software designed to secure its users. John Thompson effectively blamed Microsoft for damaging consumers' confidence in the internet by going it alone and providing its own security for Windows Vista.
Gavin Clarke, 07 Feb 2007
AMD

AMD counters Intel with Opterons in all sizes

AMD has grown tired of hearing about Intel's four-core Xeon wonders and so countered today with some faster Opterons and some lower-voltage ones. If you can't beat them with cores, beat them with variety.
Ashlee Vance, 07 Feb 2007
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Acer tries to drag up PC ASPs

Acer is looking to buck the laws of the channel this year by driving ASPs up. The vendor, which has been the hardware supplier in some of the more spectacular cheap offers from the likes of supermarket giant Tesco, is banking on customers developing a taste for the finer things in life to help it defy PC gravity.
Joe Fay, 07 Feb 2007
homeless man with sign

Samsung settles DRAM price-fixing lawsuit

Samsung will pay $90m to bring to an end lawsuits brought against it by 41 US states as a result of its role in a worldwide DRAM price-fixing cartel. It will also aid the plaintiffs in ongoing legal action against its co-conspirators.
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2007

Cybercrime? Forget it

I would imagine that some reading this would be old enough to remember the hard hitting TV series The Sweeney. Each episode was action packed with crashing and banging as the heroes went from "manor to manor" "spinning drums" and "executing Ws" after showing "their briefs"*. This program was supposed to represent policing as it was in the 1970s and early '80s in all its gory detail as the cops were kept busy sorting out armed robberies. Moving forward to 2007 and no one in their right mind would bother with an armed robbery these days. Why? It's not worth the risk. Many robberies see those making off with only a few hundred pounds as modern day security systems cloak the villains in smoke and/or dye while capturing high definition video for later analysis. Of course, there are still armed robberies, but these are mostly carried out by witless wonders that need some cash for their latest hit rather than your more sophisticated crook. So where are these sophisticates now hanging out? Well, I would suggest at a PC near you right now. And no, I don't mean police constable as we don't have many of these anymore, as they seem to have been replaced on the streets by their yellow jacketed support officer colleagues in an attempt to make the public feel safe. The problem is that the police just can't cope with computer crime. The volume of e-crime (as it is now officially called) has quite frankly left those agencies responsible for maintaining law and order high and dry. According to a report by the Metropolitan Police, we all spent £7.5bn over Christmas online in 2006 - up by 50 per cent on the previous year. With this level of money flowing through consumers' computers bad people are attracted like bees around honey. People that I speak to that have suffered from e-crime are pulling their hair out at the reporting process. OK, the credit card companies do what they can in most instances, as do the banks, but what about an investigation into the crime? Forget it, resources are too stretched and your crime is not that important. And, to be honest, you can't blame the police. Faced with the levels of real in-your-face violent crime there needs to be priorities. This will only get worse as the public sector faces a huge squeeze on finances over the next few years. One home county police force needs to save £18m over the next four years, against a backdrop of overstretch and enormous demands on limited resources. As an aside I remember that in the late 80s and early 90s cheque fraud was the in thing. The smart villains used to play the system, by using cheques for less than the value required on a cheque guarantee card and making multiple transactions in a day with a variety of cheque books. The end result was the villain getting your money as the value fell below that which figured on the radar of the bank's security people. Small cheque fraud was rife, and was one of the easiest crimes to commit. I would suggest that e-crime is not quite that easy, but any extra technical difficulties are easily offset with the sheer volume of users that can be targeted in one go. So what if your scam takes a week to create, when you get it out to thousands of users you will get some hits. It's back to the good old risk/reward calculation that we are familiar with in business. At the end of the day e-crime is a low risk, high reward activity that has got the authorities on the hop. Where does the problem lie? Quite frankly this is a government funding issue that needs to be resolved. Even Microsoft has been having a pop at the failure of government to take positive action, although I must admit to feeling uncomfortable when Microsoft speaks of computer security, in much the same way as when you hear a convert evangelising others to their new found religion. Maybe the problem would not have been so bad if Microsoft had gotten their act together a few years sooner. In reality, we know nothing much is going to get done. Overstretched resources will remain overstretched for years. The onus must come back to the user and a huge education campaign, alongside innovation, and discipline from the industry. Meanwhile, the bad guys will continue to get richer. Copyright © 2007, IT-Analysis.com * "manor to manor" = place to place "spinning drums" = conducting search warrants "executing Ws" = executing search warrants "showing their briefs" = showing their warrant cards
Nigel Stanley, 07 Feb 2007

Truphone starts talking to Google

Mobile VoIP provider Truphone has teamed up with the Google Talk network to offer customers free calls. Truphone, which works on Symbian handsets (including the E60, E61, E70, and N80ie), offers VoIP calls to other Truphone customers, as well as cheap calls everywhere else, by routing the majority of the call over the internet. By connecting to Google Talk it gains a desktop user-base without risking its business model. Google Talk is a free service which connects users together but has no capability to route voice calls outside that network, so no billing relationship with users. The two services should complement each other nicely. Google Talk is already available to users of the Nokia N800, and accessible on Symbian handsets with Fring's free client, but this is the first software formally approved by Google and bearing its logo. Users still have to pay for data traffic, depending on their tariff, but this is another example of VoIP services coming of age and becoming a real challenge to traditional network operators. ®
Bill Ray, 07 Feb 2007

AMD rolls out top-of-the-line Opterons

AMD has taken the axe to its Opteron processor price list today - and rolled out a stack of low-power server chips into the bargain. It also topped a number of lines with new speed-bump CPUs.
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2007

Acer out to push laptop prices up

Acer is looking to buck the laws of the channel this year by driving product prices up. The vendor, which has been the hardware supplier in some of the more spectacular cheap offers from the likes of supermarket giant Tesco, is banking on customers developing a taste for the finer things in life to help it defy PC gravity.
Joe Fay, 07 Feb 2007

Asus flows in water-cooled GeForce 8800 GTX

Asus has announced an Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX-based graphics card overclocked from 575MHz to 630MHz thanks to a built-in water cooling system. The new card, which will ship under the AquaTank brand, ships with 768MB of GDDR3, likewise clocked above the standard 1.8GHz effective to 2.06GHz.
Register Hardware, 07 Feb 2007

Dell denies handheld games console plan

Dell has distanced itself from claims apparently made by one its own executives that it is developing a handheld games console to challenge Sony's PlayStation Portable and Nintendo's DS.
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2007

PHP security from the inside

Stefan Esser is the founder of both the Hardened-PHP Project and the PHP Security Response Team (which he recently left). Federico Biancuzzi discussed with him how the PHP Security Response Team works, why he resigned from it, what features he plans to add to his own hardening patch, the interaction between Apache and PHP, the upcoming "Month of PHP bugs" initiative, and common mistakes in the design of well-known applications such as WordPress.
Federico Biancuzzi, 07 Feb 2007
NASA
1

Love triangle astronaut released on bail

Astronaut Lisa Nowak was released on $25,500 bail after appearing in court in Orlando on charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted kidnapping, and three other offences.
Christopher Williams, 07 Feb 2007

PlusNet goofs on passwords

ISP PlusNet is warning customers who use its forums that their passwords could, theoretically, have been accessed by a hacker. The company was warned by a customer that the vulnerability existed and fixed it quickly. But it has still sent an email to several thousand customers who could be affected by the glitch. Several unimpressed PlusNet punters forwarded the mail on to us. The email reads: "It recently came to our attention that a potential security problem existed on our website discussion forums (http://portal.plus.net/central/forums/). It could have been possible to exploit the forum software, and retrieve an encrypted copy of the password details we hold for your account." A spokesman for PlusNet said: "Even if this was exploited it would not give access to payment details. Someone could post messages in the forums or change account settings. We have not seen any multiple log-ins or strange behaviour to suggest this has happened." The spokesman said customers with passwords which are also dictionary words rather than a mixture of words and numbers should change them. The company has also informed the Information Commissioner of the problem. More info from Plusnet here. ®
John Oates, 07 Feb 2007
channel

10GBase-T: overheated and out of spec?

Companies touting full TCP offload engines (TOEs) for 10Gig Ethernet are barking up the wrong tree - and worse than that, they do not comply with the specs for 10GBase-T, a chipset supplier has claimed.
Bryan Betts, 07 Feb 2007

Third letter bomb at DVLA

UpdatedUpdated A letter bomb has exploded at the DVLA headquarters in Swansea. The attack is the third this week, following an explosion at Capita on Monday and another at accountancy firm Vantis on Tuesday. Vantis counts speed camera firm Speed Check Services among its clients. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) maintains the national vehicle database and collects car tax. The latest attack has increased speculation that the attacks are the work of an extremely disgruntled motorist. Previously, letter bombs in the UK have been used by animal rights activists. A member of staff at the DVLA has been taken to hospital for treatment following the attack this morning. Two were injured in an attack against Vantis on Tuesday, and one woman was injured at Capita on Monday. A spokesman for the DVLA told the BBC that one woman was injured and was on her way to hospital. A source at Speed Check Services told the Reg: "Vantis are our accountants and receive our mail but they are not our registered address." He could not confirm that Speed Check Services were the target of yesterday's letter bomb. Road pricing and speed cameras are increasingly emotive issues. The largest petition on 10 Downing Street's experimental e-petition website is to scrap vehicle tracking and road pricing. It has 730,000 signatories. Update This afternoon British Police advised workers to be "vigilant" when handling mail, and to report any suspicious packages. Further advice on handling post safely is posted at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure here. ®
John Oates, 07 Feb 2007

US surveillance of soldiers' blogs sparks lawsuit

The US Army is being sued by a privacy group that wants the military to come clean about how it monitors websites and soldiers' blogs for potential military leaks. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawsuit (PDF) against the Department of Defense comes after the Department of Defense and Army failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about the blog monitoring programme. According to news reports cited by the EFF, an Army unit called the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell (AWRAC) reviews hundreds of thousands of websites every month, notifying webmasters and bloggers when it finds "sensitive information". Some bloggers complain the unit's remit extends beyond a legitimate attempt to restrict the disclosure of military secrets, effectively forcing them to censure posts about their feelings about the conflict or shut down sites altogether. "Soldiers should be free to blog their thoughts at this critical point in the national debate on the war in Iraq," EFF staff attorney Marcia Hofmann said. "If the Army is colouring or curtailing soldiers' published opinions, Americans need to know about that interference." EFF's suit demands records on how the AWRAC operates, as well as any orders to soldiers about revision or deletion of web posts. "Of course, a military effort requires some level of secrecy. But the public has a right to know if the Army is silencing soldiers' opinions as well. That's why the Department of Defense must release information on how this program works without delay," Hofmann added. Gordon Van Vleet, public affairs officer for the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command, which oversees AWRAC, declined to comment on the lawsuit but furnished Computerworld with an explanation of the unit's work. AWRAC, founded in 2002, is tasked with looking for operational security violations, a task that extends to monitoring online posts using various search tools to look for potentially sensitive information. According to an Army statement: "AWRAC notifies webmasters and blog writers when they find documents, pictures, and other items that may compromise security. AWRAC reviews for information on public websites which may provide an adversary with sensitive information that could put soldiers or family members in danger. AWRAC assesses the risk the information poses to the military and determines if the next step is to request the information be removed." The unit has no legal authority to insist on changes to postings, much less for a site to be taken down, but it does have influence, not least because a soldier's superiors get informed of its potential concerns. AWRAC's also has an educational role in guiding soldiers on the use of blogs and monitors public websites for postings made by soldiers that might include security breaches. The EFF's attempt to force the government's hand on blog monitoring comes as part of the privacy group's FLAG Project, which uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's perceived invasions of privacy. Previous lawsuits have demanded information about the FBI's database of personal information and the Department of Homeland Security's controversial "No Fly" programme, which assigns secret "risk assessment" scores to American travellers. ®
John Leyden, 07 Feb 2007

Network operators to create mobile search engine

A consortium of network operators are banding together to back their own mobile internet search, according to The Telegraph. Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia, and Cingular are listed to be involved in secret discussions to take place at 3GSM next week, with the intention of agreeing a combined search strategy. The idea that everyone would be surfing the web from their mobile phones, if only they had a decent search engine, continues to be widely believed, despite services such as Google PDA, Google WAP, and Google .mobi already providing perfectly adequate search capabilities. Not to mention the search clients built into the Nokia N-Series and Samsung handsets, which offer easy access to internet search engines. The lack of suitable content is so marked that dotMobi, which manages the .mobi top level domain, is now offering free site-building software to anyone who registers a domain. The software comes from Akmin, and is based on its already-free mobiSiteGalore online service. The real question mark over the mobile internet is what problem it solves - being able to create sites is a good start, but even now no one is sure what content users want on the move. While voice revenue remains static, and customers increasingly push for flat-rate data, network operators will be looking for better ways to make money from their data capabilities. It is possible that this new consortium will do a deal with Google, Yahoo!, or similar to share advertising revenue, but the real question is if the network operators are arrogant enough to think they can do better - and the answer is they probably are. ®
Bill Ray, 07 Feb 2007
shuttle X200
3

Shuttle XPC X200M mini PC

ReviewReview We gave a brief rundown of the Shuttle X200 at the beginning of January and now it's time for a proper look at the new media centre PC. Externally, the X200 is near-identical to the X100HA that we previously reviewed as it uses the same sleek case. So it's still absolutely tiny, with dimensions of 21 x 30 x 6cm.
Leo Waldock, 07 Feb 2007

Telecom Italia set to launch 'cellular book'

Telecom Italia and Philips subsidiary Polymer Vision - though it's soon to be spun off - will next week launch Readius, the first mobile device with cellular connectivity and a roll-out high-resolution, high-contrast 5in display.
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2007
channel

Nine charged with massive VAT fraud

Following raids and ten arrests yesterday, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is charging nine people with cheating the public revenue.
John Oates, 07 Feb 2007

ID theft fears as VA loses another hard disc

A hard drive containing the personal data of up to 48,000 veterans is missing, presumed stolen, the Department of Veterans Affairs admitted last week. The external hard disc was used by a worker at a VA medical facility in Alabama to back up information until it went missing on 22 January. Data included on the drive may have contained personal identifying information on some veterans, and data from research projects. Portions of this data were protected but others may not have been, sparking concerns that it might be misused for the purposes of identity theft. It's the second time the VA has dealt with such an incident. Last May the theft of a PC from a VA affairs worker sparked a similar, albeit higher profile, security flap. That laptop and its hard drive were eventually turned in by a member of the public who bought it at a market. The VA doubtless hopes the latest missing drive will also be recovered. The VA and the FBI are both investigating the latest case. Security experts from the VA's Office of Inspector General have seized the employee's computer and are analysing it in an attempt to work out what data is likely to have been exposed. Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus told AP that the personal data of up to 48,000 veterans was on the hard drive. Around 20,000 of these records were not encrypted, he added. Pending results of the investigation, the VA is prepared to send individual notifications and to provide one year of free credit monitoring to people whose information was compromised. ®
John Leyden, 07 Feb 2007

Norwegian regulator gives Steve Jobs cool response

The Norwegian Consumer Council, which complains Apple and its iTunes music store acts illegally under Norwegian law, has reacted cautiously to Steve Jobs' letter calling for an end to Digital Rights Management. The Norwegian Ombudsman ruled in favour of the consumer council complaint last month. Germany and France both support the Norwegian action. Yesterday, Jobs said Apple would switch to selling DRM-free music "in a heartbeat", if the music labels allowed it. But while his comments are generally welcomed by the Ombudsman, although the regulator points out that he cannot just blame the record companies. But Forbrukerradet, the Norwegian Consumer Council, said: "It's quite clear that the record companies carry their share of the responsibility for the situation that the consumers are stuck in. However, no matter what agreements iTunes Music Store have entered into, they're still the company that's selling music to the consumers and are responsible for offering the consumer a fair deal according to Norwegian law." A spokesman for Forbrukerradet told The Reg: "Firstly we're very happy he's come out and made a statement, it shows they're taking this issue seriously. But secondly we see it as a strategic move to shift the issue to the record labels. iTunes is the record store which sells music to Norwegian consumers as such they have to follow Norwegian law. It's not good enough to say they have problems with suppliers and their hands are tied." Apple has until 1 March to come up with a solution to concerns about its terms and conditions and DRM. It then has until 1 October to show it is implementing that solution or it will be brought before the Marketing Council. Jobs' letter is here and there's more on Forbrukerradet's complaint here. ®
John Oates, 07 Feb 2007

Replace your broken biometric passport? Just say no...

AnalysisAnalysis Widespread reports (proving at least that the press and opposition parties can speed read executive summaries) damn the Identity & Passport Service for only securing a two year warranty for a product with a ten year lifespan. Ah, but that's by no means the only thing about the project that's broken.
John Lettice, 07 Feb 2007

eBay in gearbox sex doll snap shocker

NSFWNSFW Any reader looking for a second-hand "Ford/Westfield/locost/kitcar type 9 gearbox" with a bit a added va-va-voom is advised to get down sharpish to this eBay auction where there's one available right now complete with "standard ratios, short nose" and "shortened gear lever included". There's more, though. Try the alternative photos on offer, specifically the one shown here. Crikey. In case you're wondering just what's the condition of the pneumatic accessory shown, the blurb helpfully explains: "Casing modded at rear to take Westfield gear lever extension, does not affect box in any way." This will no doubt come as a relief to those potential buyers who already boast a meaty gear lever extension, but prefer their boxes unmodified. The bidding on the type 9 gearbox plus friend currently stands at a very modest 99p, with three days left to run. Go to it. Bootnote: Thanks to eagle-eyed Reg reader Adam Wawn for the tip-off.®
Lester Haines, 07 Feb 2007

Amazon unboxes films for TiVo

US TiVo users will soon be able to download films direct to their TiVo box for viewing on their TV, using the Amazon Unbox service. Once the service is configured, content bought or rented through Amazon Unbox Video simply appears in the Now Playing list on the subscriber's TiVo Series 2 or 3. Amazon launched its Unbox Video service in September, selling films and TV programmes including a slew of BBC content, and renting films for limited-time viewing. Content is normally downloaded to a PC, and can be replicated on a mobile device for watching on the move. With this new service a copy is also downloaded over a broadband internet connection to the TiVo box. Only Series 2 and 3 TiVo boxes will support the service, which will only be available in the US to those with a broadband connection. There is something of a plethora of video-download services springing up at the moment, including Wal-Mart and Channel 4, but all (except iTunes) are lacking the vital connection to the living room. TiVo already has 1.5 million boxes in living rooms ready to receive content from Amazon. ®
Bill Ray, 07 Feb 2007
channel

PC World in non-misleading TV ad shocker

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints against a PC World laptop advert which claimed the technology on offer was "pretty much future-proof". Gripers posited there's no such thing as a "future-proof" laptop, because hardware and software are being constantly updated. The ASA gave PC World the benefit of any doubt this time though, taking pity on the oft-maligned DSG Group marketing department.
Christopher Williams, 07 Feb 2007

Met Office crashes at mention of snow

Hot on the heels of the recent Southern Railway website debacle - where inclement weather provoked a rush of information-seeking commuters to the company's online information resource, thereby instantly derailing it - we're delighted to report that just the threat of some white stuff falling from the sky has buried the Met Office. The weather-botherers' site currently offers: Web site unavailable The Met Office web site is currently experiencing a high level of demand from visitors to the site. We are sorry for any inconvenience, please try again. Yup, we now don't even need real crap weather to bring the UK to its knees - the mere mention of the word "snow" is enough to reduce the Blighty to anarchy and despair. For the record, the whisper on the street is that it may snow later. Or not. In either case, those of you intending to travel home by train later are advised to check on the status of your route by visiting your train operator's website... ® Bootnote Ta very much to Jamie MacDonald for the chilly tip-off.
Lester Haines, 07 Feb 2007

LG shows Shine in Europe

LG launched its Shine metal-cased slider phone in Europe today, though the handset began shipping to mobile phone networks and retailers on Monday. The Chocolate follow-up's key features: a shiny 2.2in, 262,144-colour, 240 x 320 display and a cylindrical scroll control.
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2007

IPTV: Creating a flexible network core

"There's nothing decent on TV," is a common refrain in our house. Even though we have heeded the BBC adverts and invested in some Freeview boxes, it seems that even increasing the available channels from five to roughly 50 does not guarantee a cosy evening in front of the box. It wasn't much different when we lived in America, except that baseball was on most evenings; however, I am in a minority in my family being a fan of the sport. There's obviously more exciting content available if you're ready to pay for it, either pay per view live events, or near video on demand films from subscription TV services such as Sky. So I am always interested to hear people explain how they propose to make money in the emerging IPTV market. How will they deliver valuable content that goes beyond the same basic services as TV? If they don't, then it is difficult to see them achieving anything but driving down costs for packages of existing broadcast pay TV channels like HBO or UK Gold, leaving the high-value, satellite subscription services unaffected since Mr Murdoch has bought the rights to them. One of the fundamental reasons for this is that both television and Near Video On Demand are multicast, or one to many, approaches to broadcasting: the media company decides what you want to watch and pushes it out. For alternative (i.e. not the traditional, state-owned) carriers this is the easiest type of service to offer because the same information is propagated across the network. In order to do this there is some engineering to accomplish, particularly setting up a fatter pipe into your house. That is why you see high speed internet being upgraded to 8 Megabits per second, using the latest DSL modem technology, providing more bandwidth for rich media files. But today's digital media is moving in two different directions. The first is the delivery of High Definition content, which is much more demanding on network bandwidth, and the second is the rise of what might be called a social digital environment, including social networking sites, peer to peer voice video and data communications, and legal sharing of copyrighted content. High definition digital content by itself can be broadcast in the same way regular TV is today. However, because it can only be watched by a limited number of viewers with the right equipment, it is something of a minority sport. The BBC's HD service is only available over satellite for example, because the bandwidth it would require over Freeview would use up too many channels and be watched by too few people, which would clearly be against their public service mandate. Social digital networking represents a completely different challenge. It creates traffic flows that are much more like those found on a company network, with large files travelling both to and from individual endpoints. This idea on its own breaks the traditional concept of "oversubscription" in a consumer broadband deployment, where 20 homes may be sold 1 Megabit of downstream bandwidth, with only 2 Megabits of total bandwidth actually available which they all share (on the basis that not everyone will be downloading something at the same time). It also runs into the "asymmetric" word in ADSL: home broadband has a much slower upload speed (as you may notice if sending a large file such as a photograph: it is slower to send than it is to receive). Clearly, in an environment where several people are watching one television stream this is fine. However, if everyone is watching something different, and possibly streaming out as well as in, the current network equipment and traffic models are no longer sufficient. Recently, Juniper Networks, Intelliden, and their customer, Canadian carrier Telus, have been on the road talking about the good work they've been doing re-engineering the core of the carrier's network to counter such issues and create traffic flexibility. By combining the Juniper Networks Services Deployment System (SDX) with the Intelliden Dynamic Resource Provisioning solution, broadband services can now operate across the core of the network with a minimum of manual intervention and in a wide variety of traffic situations, reflecting exactly the type of patterns that are likely to arise with the evolution of the social digital environment. The question remains, however, how carriers like Telus will develop and deliver services to the endpoints in their network that will allow them to offer more than a re-hash of the existing broadcast (and occasionally telephony services) currently available from cable companies. If they don't they run the risk of being marginalised, becoming merely the wholesale bandwidth provider ("bitpipe") to newer carriers who put together packages that combine ideas like cellular and home Wi-Fi telephony (termed "fixed mobile convergence") with subscription services to newer forms of digital content and social networking. We can see from Juniper/Intelliden's example that the core networks can be given the necessary flexibility leveraging existing investments, but more work needs to be done on the development of compelling IP-based products and services like those outlined above to justify the further investment necessary at the very edge of the network. If the carriers can get this right, they will be able to deliver such services universally to anyone with a phone line to their home.
David Perry, 07 Feb 2007

MGM floored over Wargames.com

The owner of Wargames.com - a website dedicated to selling, well, wargames - has won the right to retain the domain name despite the best attempts of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to wrest it from him. Rogers Cadenhead, aka the "Popesquatter" following his cheeky registration of BenedictXVI.com back in 2005, had been challenged by MGM for ownership of Wargames.com on the grounds that it breached "a trademark related to the 1983 film WarGames and the upcoming sequel WarGames 2: The Dead Code". As Cadenhead explains on his blog, he initially had confidence in winning a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) adjudication. He'd registered the domain back in 1998 "with the idea of one day using it to sell wargames over the Internet", as the final report explains. Although Cadenhead didn't actually open the store until 14 September 2006, seven days after he received MGM's complaint, the three-member panel of arbitrators denied MGM's claim on the grounds "that I established my legitimate interest in selling wargames at the domain". The judgement explains: Complainant rightly submits that what Respondent did after receiving the letter of September 7, 2006 cannot be taken into account in determining legitimacy. However, the speed with which Respondent was able to open his online store after having received that letter lends support to Respondent's contention that much work by way of preparation to use the disputed domain name for the purpose of selling wargames over the Internet had already been done by the time that letter was received. The sworn statements mentioned above cannot be dismissed as ex post facto attempts to concoct a defense to this Complaint. Indeed, they explain the acquisition in 2004 of the sales and use tax permit and the subscription to the Drop Ship Source Directory as being related to Respondent's intended online wargames store. Of course, this may not be an end to the matter. MGM could opt to mobilise its considerable financial arsenal on a different battlefield. In the meantime, though, Cadenhead is a happy chappie indeed. He told El Reg: "I probably shouldn't admit this, since I own a macho domain name like wargames.com, but I'm so happy I cried like Chad Lowe at the Academy Awards." ®
Lester Haines, 07 Feb 2007

Vodafone moves into MySpace

Social networking site MySpace will be exclusively available through Vodafone Live!, the companies announced today. The deal will allow Vodafone customers to upload photographs, respond to emails, and post blog entries to MySpace pages using their mobile phone. Software to access MySpace will be available for download to some Vodafone Live! handsets, and over time will come pre-installed on most of them. Users will be able to do all the important things MySpace users want to - keeping their blog up to date and watching the friends they're not out socialising with at the time. MySpace was bought by Fox Interactive for over £300m in 2005, and is battling increased competition for a notoriously fickle customer base. So anything which can add to the perceived "cool" factor of the service is essential: witness the launch of the MyMovie Mashup competition. What's surprising is the exclusive nature of the deal, which would not seem to be to Fox's advantage: so it must be assumed that Vodafone is paying dearly for the market differentiation that exclusive access to MySpace can offer. ®
Bill Ray, 07 Feb 2007

Austrian police bust international child abuse ring

Austrian investigators have uncovered a child porn network involving an estimated 2,360 suspects in 77 countries. Clips posted by a Russian firm, which used servers in Austria, illustrated "the worst kind of child sexual abuse", according to interior minister Guenther Platter. Videos hosted by the site included images of teenage girls being raped that featured the screams of victims. In Austria, 23 suspects have been questioned of whom 14 have admitted downloading illegal material. Suspects range from 17 to 69 years old. Police in Austria plan to share the data with their counterparts in Germany and the US. The FBI are reportedly investigating 600 suspects, while German police have been furnished with the details of 400 alleged perverts. Around 100 of the suspects are resident in France and 72 in the UK. The international investigation, which has many parallels to Operation Ore that followed the closure of child porn portal Landslide Productions, began last July after an Austrian ISP gave police a tip-off that illicit files had been uploaded onto its server. The offending material was uploaded from London and might have been reached via a download link on a Russian website, which acted as a portal for child abuse images stored on hacked servers. This site was closed down but not before police recorded 8,000 hits on child abuse images on the site from more than 2,360 computer addresses in 77 countries. Harald Gremel, the Austrian detective who led the investigation, said the videos were produced in eastern Europe and featured children of up to 14 years of age. "Girls could be seen being raped, and you could also hear screams," Gremel said, the BBC reports. Under Austria law, possession of child abuse images featuring kids under 14 is two years imprisonment, while distribution is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in jail. ®
John Leyden, 07 Feb 2007

OCZ goes for gold

Memory specialist OCZ has announced its latest gamer-oriented memory module pack: a pair of 2GB DIMMs clocked at 800MHz and offering latency ratings of 5-5-5-18, ready for dual-channel configurations.
Hard Reg, 07 Feb 2007
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Letter bombs: an expert writes

AnalysisAnalysis Bomb-disposal operators quite like letter bombs, or "postals" as they are known in the trade. A postal device – especially if it's in an actual letter, as opposed to a parcel – is usually not very powerful. Even unprotected civilians are seldom killed by postals, and an operator in full armour can feel fairly relaxed when dealing with one.
Lewis Page, 07 Feb 2007

Nintendo patents games console phone

Forget about the iPhone, does anyone fancy an nPhone? Yes, Nintendo has successfully patented a handset design that incorporates not only all the usual phone buttons but also a trio of game controller keys too.
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2007
homeless man with sign

Firefox popup exploit allows file snooping

A vulnerability in Firefox's popup blocker software creates a means to read files from affected systems, security researchers warn. The flaw, coupled with some tricksy coding, establishes a mechanism for hackers to read user-accessible files on vulnerable system, thereby creating a means to swipe sensitive information. Firefox version 1.5.0.9 is known to be exposed to the exploit. Other versions of the popular web surfing package might also be affected.
John Leyden, 07 Feb 2007

EMC tries to appease investors with VMware IPO

EMC will set its VMware subsidiary somewhat free via an IPO (initial public offering).
Ashlee Vance, 07 Feb 2007
homeless man with sign

Nokia goes Communicator crazy

Under fire from financial analysts for the tepid performance of its Enterprise group, Nokia is set to add two new products to its business range and revamp its hit communicator, the E61.
Andrew Orlowski, 07 Feb 2007

UK to jail data thieves for two years

People who steal personal data in the UK will face up to two years' jail, the Government announced today. The move is intended in particular to clamp down on the illegal trade in personal data by private investigators for whatever unscrupulous means their clients have in mind. The Information Commissioner Office has long pressed the government to lock people who buy and sell data away in prison. Currently, the toughest sanction is a fine. The Department for Constitutional Affairs today said it planned to lock them up for up to two years, along with anyone else who might spread other people's private business about for other reasons. "People have a right to have their privacy protected from those who would deliberately misuse it and I believe the introduction of custodial penalties will be an effective deterrent to those who seek to procure or wilfully abuse personal data," said Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, is "delighted" the government has heeded his advice. But this is an easy one to chalk up. Governments are busy building "data sharing" links between their various civil databases, then between those and police and immigration databases, and then further with other governments. But more data sharing means more ways of stealing more people's data. This is unacceptable to No2ID, the campaign group opposed to the rise of the "database state". There will always be someone willing to slip out personal secrets, if there is enough incentive, it argued when this came up last year. So why make it easier for data thieves in the first place? ®
Mark Ballard, 07 Feb 2007