21st > February > 2007 Archive
HP reported a 26 per cent hike in quarterly profits on Tuesday, underscoring its advantage over Dell. The printer and PC units in particular cranked net income to $1.55bn, or $0.55 per share, on revenues of $25.1bn, for the three months to January 31. For the same period a year ago revenues were 11 per cent lower at $22.7bn, netting a profit of $1.23bn, or $0.42 per share. The venerable IT giant sought to show Wall Street how mean it is with the latest in its series of employee-squeezing savings measures. HP will offer an unspecified number of its older staff an exit with a new program of early retirements. New retirees will be also faced with changes to the company pension scheme though, which are aimed at slashing $500m from the bill to lean up in the tussle with Dell. HP described the pension squeeze as "curtailment gain". Away from irritations over paying employees, HP's PC unit grew quarterly sales 17 per cent on a year earlier to $8.7bn, with notebook sales spiking more than 40 per cent. In the standard earnings call with analysts, Hurd said: "We had good strength, colored by consumer sales...we felt we were especially strong in notebooks and emerging markets, too." Hurd said he plans to continue to undercut rivals. Such news will do little to cheer the mood at Dell, which has seen faltering PC sales through its direct model behind a recent run of financial disappointments. Elsewhere, imaging and printing grew 7 per cent to $7bn and storage and servers grew by 5 per cent overall. The weaker 3 per cent increase in storage was buoyed by 10 per cent rise in server revenues. The software division was up to $550m, or 7 per cent excluding the effect of the Mercury acquisition. The services division, which brings in the tastiest margin, increased revenues by 5 per cent to $3.9bn. HP's financial report is here . ®
CodeGear, Borland Software's tools subsidiary, has added support for Windows Vista and PHP to Borland's Delphi integrated development environment for Windows. The new Delphi for PHP marries the open source Visual Component Library (VCL) for PHP 5 with Borland's object oriented language to bring RAD-like component-based development to the world of scripting. Among Delphi for PHP's features are 50-out-of-the box re-usable components along with AJAX integration and integration with MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server and InterBase databases. Delphi 2007 for Windows 32 features VCL support for Windows Vista's Aero interface, dialogue boxes and files, in addition to adding VCL for AJAX. Also featured is support for the MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server and InterBase databases. Pricing is designed to target individual developers. Delphi for PHP costs $299 for new users with an introductory $249 offer, while support is $99 - the current industry sweet spot for developers. Delphi 2007 for Windows 32 Professional starts at $899 per new user, with an introductory offer of $399, while Enterprise edition starts at $1,999 with an introductory price of $1,299. Much has been written about CodeGear, which Borland tried - and failed - to sell as an independent business. Attention is focused on how CodeGear plans to stop Borland's tools users from migrating to Microsoft or Eclipse - and then how it will actually grow its business. So far as Delphi for PHP and Delphi 2007 for Windows 32 are concerned, CodeGear has a partial answer to the former. Delphi represents $50m in revenue, so updates to existing tools for Windows Vista and scripting are a no-brainer. The challenge comes in convincing Delphi users they want to build scripting applications and persuading the scripting kids they should bother with the increasingly dated Delphi for PHP or Delphi on Windows, Linux or Mac at nearly $300 and $2,000 a pop. ®
Dell's executive compensation committee has proved the cruelest of masters, handing ex-CEO Kevin Rollins a piddling $5m on his way out of Round Rock. The company today revealed the embarrassing payout in a SEC filing, detailing its parting of ways from Rollins. The former CEO will stay on until May 4 as an advisor and continue to receive his salary and benefits until the final axe falls. At that point, the severance package – if you can call it that – kicks in with Rollins taking five $1m installments through April 15, 2008. You'd have to go back to the Carter years to find a top executive taking such a slim exit deal. After all, Rollins shared a brain with founder Michael Dell for many, many years and helped drive Dell through some of its most successful times. His peers such as HP ex Carly Fiorina could not claim similar success or longevity and yet Fiorina parted with at least $21m. Worst of all, Dell seems to think that dribbling out $1m to Rollins in installments will keep him quiet month-to-month. We dare suggest the thin pay would be more incentive to talk than stay quiet. ®
Bill Gates has defended sales of Windows Vista after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer chided analysts for being "overly aggressive" on the company's effect on the PC market.
Warning: Graphic contentWarning: Graphic content Islamic militants may not approve of the West's way of life, but they seem to have no qualms about using the information technology it perfected to spread propaganda. The latest reminder of this sad observation comes in the form of a video being circulated on Google Video that appears to provide graphic footage of US-led service men being shot by a Baghdad sniper who goes by the name Juba. The 28-minute clip of grainy images documents attacks on at least 28 troops. With music playing in the background, the video slowly stalks them as they get in and out of their Humvees, sit at check points and carry out other mundane activities in what appears to be in the city of Baghdad. One by one, they are silhouetted by red cross hairs and seconds later they are shot, often to the great anguish of their compatriots. "The idea of filming the operations is very important, because the scene that shows the falling soldier when hit has more impact on the enemy than any other weapon," a man the video describes as the "commander at the sniper brigade in Baghdad" says. "Every brother sniper knows that every bullet placed is to kill a single soldier, that is if not two." A translation of the commander's comments is provided in subtitles. The clip has been viewed more than 9,000 times since Feb. 13, according to Google Video. It collected nine comments as of the writing of this story, including several that praise the sniping operation. It is one of dozens of videos depicting graphic, Anti-Western violence allegedly uploaded by the same user. A separate Google Video selection appears to show footage of US tanks and other vehicles being blown up by improvised explosive devices as they speed along Iraqi streets. The video opens with a masked thug who enters a room, unloads rifles, hand guns, bullets and other implements onto a table, and then places his 37th tally mark onto a nearby wall. He then begins scrawling verses from the Koran in a journal. The video spends the rest of its time cutting between footage of the sniping and comments from the commander before returning to the man in the opening scene. He signs his name "Juba." We were unable to reach Google representatives. The site provides a means for users to flag inappropriate material, and we think there is a reasonable chance the footage will be taken down once it comes to the attention of officials. The likelihood of new video with similarly appalling footage being uploaded is even better. ®
Kalido announced the latest release of its master data management solution, MDM 8 Release 3, today. Now, I have real problems with MDM, because in my old-fashioned way, I expect product codes, customer numbers and the like to be subject to data analysis like anything else and stored in databases or data warehouses as appropriate to their business access patterns (see my comment here).
The Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) says it will put more effort into promoting IP-based storage area networks, or SANs. That means iSCSI, although you might not realise it from reading the trade group's statements on the topic. Planning the IP SAN push are two SNIA sub-groups - the IP Storage Forum (IPSF) in the US, and the IP Storage Initiative (IPSI) in Europe.
Microsoft has updated the licensing terms and conditions of its popular database for the benefit of virtualized computing environments.
A proposed deal which would have seen clips of CBS shows posted on YouTube has collapsed, Reuters reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google and CBS had been agreeing a "multi-year" contract but finally "could not agree on issues such as how long the deal would run". Accordingly, YouTubers will now not be able to (legally) enjoy excerpts from faves such as The Late Show with David Letterman. The door is still open, though, for a future resumption of talks, and the two companies said they would for the moment to "work together only on more modest initiatives". The Wall Street Journal also says YouTube is negotiating to "offer video from the BBC", citing "people familiar with the matter". ®
A Pennsylvania "executive coach" is offering hopeless email addicts a 12-step detox programme "designed to tackle their obsession", Reuters reports. Marsha Egan, who claims email "abuse" can cost US business millions in lost productivity, cites the chilling cases of "a golfer who checked his BlackBerry after every shot" and a client who "cannot walk by a computer - her own or anyone else's - without checking for messages". Egan's approach is simple. First up, junkies need to "admit that email is managing you". She advises: "Let go of your need to check email every 10 minutes." The recovery programme then advises patients to "commit to keeping your inbox empty", "establish regular times to review your email", and "deal immediately with any email that can be handled in two minutes or less but create a file for mails that will take longer". Egan answered a call for help from insurance agent Michelle Grace, who receives 60 emails a day* and "uses [the] program to make it less time-consuming and less stressful". She now transfers emails automatically or manually into files for later consumption. Accordingly, she "spends less time hunting for them" and does not now feel the need to check her inbox every five minutes. She's also advised colleagues not to email her if they need an urgent chinwag. She said: "I told them, 'If you need me urgently, pick up the phone'." ® Bootnote *We assume this figure excludes spam, otherwise Ms Grace can consider herself extremely fortunate.
WLAN analysis outfit AirMagnet has brought out software designed to work with Cisco's Unified Wireless Network. AirMagnet already has a version of the tool, which is called Enterprise Analyzer, for Aruba's Mobile Edge Architecture.
The shaved locks of "troubled" US chanteuse Britney Spears have been removed from eBay, according to the official "Buy Britneys [sic] Hair" website. For those of you who've been up a tributary of the Amazon for the past couple of weeks, our Brit recently hit Esther's Haircutting Studio in Tarzana, California, and demanded staff take the clippers to her A-list barnet. The resulting hair inevitably popped up on the world's favourite tat bazaar, but have now been given the chop "for an as yet unknown reason". Accordingly, if you really want to part with $1m for multiple strands of pop memorabilia, you'll need to talk directly to Buy Britneys Hair. Mind you, it is throwing in "the Omega clipper used to cut it all off and even the can of Red Bull she was drinking at the time", plus "her blue Bic Lighter". And if that doesn't persuade you, remember that this is "the Ultimate Britney Spears Experience!" It's also apparently "a piece of history that can not be duplicated!" We'd like to point out to Buy Britneys Hair that the latter claim is a clear breach of the Trade Descriptions Act, since Ms Spears need only regrow her hair, quaff another can of Red Bull, and make her way to the nearest hairdresser to instantly duplicate this particular piece of history. ®
Government departments need to share their experience of online dialogues with the public, according to a new report. The assertion has come with the publication of an interim report (PDF) on the Digital Dialogues initiative, which is promoting the use of online technology in promoting public engagement in policy making. It was produced by the Hansard Society's e-Democracy Programme under a commission from the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA). Ross Ferguson, director of the e-Democracy Programme, told GC News: "We've been struck by the lack of knowledge sharing across central government on this. "There are quite a few initiatives that are more about participative relationships with the public rather than just transactions, but they tend to be structured around the policies of departments, and they are not necessarily talking to each other or sharing practices." He said this is causing some problems, citing the recent online opposition, directed through a petition on the 10 Downing Street website, to the government's plans for road charging. The Department for Transport is responsible for the policy but had no control over the way the petition was framed, made available, and then publicised. "It can be a problem for the relationships between departments," Ferguson said. "But if it's done properly it can help in promoting collaboration between departments and engagement with the public." He suggested that such exercises may work better if managed by parliamentary committees. The report covers phase one of Digital Dialogues, which took place between December 2005 and June 2006. Among its findings are that: Regular internet users are more likely to take part in online consultations and political deliberation, and the majority have not previously been active in politics Most people who use the relevant websites prefer to spectate rather than participate, but log in regularly A debate needs to be moderated to be successful, just building a website is not enough Online engagement is not a replacement for conventional offline methods, but should be used as a complement Blogs are suitable where engagement runs over a long term, and forums are good for periodic, structured deliberation with large groups Online engagement exercises should start small and be scaled up to meet demand Government and the public have a long term interest in greater interaction online, and technology is now making this possible Ferguson said that one advantage is that such debates can contribute to an audit trail for policy making, helping to show where the decisive arguments arise. He also said most of the relevant websites are run on open source software. "There's no problem with it as far as the studies are concerned," he said. "It provides value for money and the ability to scale up, and helps to make the entry cost fairly low." A report on the second phase of Digital Dialogues, which began in August and ends this month, is due to be published in May. 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.
The French honey industry is under threat from hordes of bee-massacring oriental hornets, the Daily Telegraph reports. The forests of Aquitaine, in south-west France, now play host to swarms of the the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, which is believed to have arrived there "from the Far East in a consignment of Chinese pottery in late 2004". Entomogist Jean Haxaire, who first eyeballed the invaders, said: "Their spread across French territory has been like lightning." Haxaire said he's now counted 85 "football-shaped" nests across the 40 miles which separate the towns of Marmande and Podensac "in the Lot et Garonne department where the hornets were first spotted". The Asian Hornet can cause some serious damage to a human, "inflicting a bite which has been compared to a hot nail entering the body". But that's not the principal threat they pose. They can decimate a nest of 30,000 bees "in a couple of hours" in search of larvae on which to feed their young. This, unsurprisingly, gives local beekeepers serious cause for alarm. The hornets are just the latest blow to the French beekeeping industry. Pesticides and hot summers have taken their toll on bee populations, and a spokesman for the French National Bee Surveillance Unit said the winter mortality rate among bees had risen to six in ten. Accordingly, honey production has been hit hard - down 60 per cent in south-western France in the last 10 years. The country's 1.3 million hives, managed by 80,000 beekeepers, are unable to supply demand and France now imports 25,000 tonnes of honey annually. The Bee Surveillance spokesman lamented: "The arrival of these hornets has made the situation considerably worse. The future of our entire industry is at stake." In Britain, meanwhile, it looks like we'd better start stockpiling honey. Stuart Hine, manager of the Insect Information Service at London's Natural History Museum, warned: "There's no doubt that these hornets are heading north and will probably find their way to Britain at some point." There is, however, some hope for Blighty. While Hine confirmed climate change meant the hornets would find summers very much to their liking, "they would still have difficulty coping with our winter frosts". ® Bootnote Apparently, 40 people die each year in France as a result of hornet stings, "mainly because of allergic reactions". Claire Villement, of France's Natural History Museum, has called for calm and asked citizens not to succumb to "national panic about killer wasps". "The legend that three bites from a hornet can kill you are totally false. People can still enjoy their picnics in the countryside."
Improved management of Europe's airwaves could boost electronic communications industry revenues by billions of euros per year, according to Brussels. European Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding unveiled her strategy for radio spectrum use last week and called for the opening up of certain spectrum ranges to new services. Reding's sweetener to the telecommunications and other wireless industries who currently use various electromagnetic frequency bands was a financial projection that suggests "market-based spectrum management" could garner these industries an increase of up to €9bn per year on the €240bn-€260bn they are estimated to have raked in throughout 2006. "Europe must fully exploit the potential use of certain spectrum bands by new wireless products and services, so as to encourage market development," said Reding. "We seek to provide new opportunities for industry through less restrictive regulatory conditions that strengthen competition and increase consumer choice. However, this is a gradual process which will not happen overnight." The European Commission's document Rapid access to spectrum for wireless electronic communications services through more flexibility identifies several spectrum bands which Brussels feels relate to certain regulatory restrictions that need urgent investigation. Opening up frequency bands reserved for mobile phone communications, such as those for 3G mobile services, is on Commissioner Reding's to-do list, and this approach would fall under existing telecom rules. A statement from the commission also alludes to opening up spectrum currently earmarked for broadcasters as digital services means this sector is using its spectrum allocation more efficiently and a "digital dividend" has freed up some of their bandwidth. In terms of physical properties, European radio spectrum is divided into bands (or ranges of frequencies) and different applications use different bands. Terrestrial TV is roughly between 400MHz and 800MHz, mobile phones use the 900MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,000MHz frequencies, cordless phones are just below 1900MHz, Wi-Fi hotspots operate at 2.4GHz or 5GHz, and satellite communications often have much higher frequencies. Problems arise when new products enter the market and the frequency they use "spills" into other bands which can affect consumer usage - feedback or weird echoes on a mobile phone call being common examples. Reding is proposing that spectrum rights holders determine for themselves how they will use their allocations, which requires industry to assume a more pro-active role. Companies and industry groups will therefore have greater responsibilities for avoiding radio interference and co-ordinating with other groups in converging markets. It is unclear at this early stage how the various national spectrum regulators, such as ComReg in Ireland, feel about this approach. It is understood that the rise in converged triple play packages of telephone, broadband, and TV bundles is fuelling the commission's strategy. Copyright © 2007, ENN
CommentComment I was asked if I, as a Mac user, would recommend one to a business user who is buying a personal machine for business use. I am the proud owner of an iconic Mac PowerBook G4, an eye-catching brushed metal effort that I purchased back in 2004. I have never owned a Mac desktop, being strictly Intel/Microsoft, but I travel enough using the Mac as a main machine to attempt some type of comparison.
A 22-year-old Aussie driver who decided to ignore a "major defect notice" on his Nissan 200 SX was busted after rather brilliantly boasting of his escape from cops in an internet chat room. Maurice John was pulled at a roadblock in Melbourne's South Yarra district at 11pm on 12 August 2006. Police issued said major defect notice - known locally as a "canary" due to its distictive yellow colour - for two bald tyres. Acting Sergeant James Robbins stuck the notice to John's windscreen, but then rather generously gave the perp an hour to take his wheels home rather than cop a tow. John, however, decided to use the opportunity to "party on", as The Age puts it. Two days later, he described his escape to a nissansilvia.com chat room thus: Saturday night, cruising through Chaps [Chapel Street] looking for a car park so I can go 2 Chasers! The usual cops that are always kickin back in front of Chasers/KFC, wasting taxpayers money … I got done for having 2 semi-racing slicks on the back which were a little bit bald! Motherf---ers. It was 11pm. The officer gave me till midnight to get the car home or it would have to be towed! I tried negotiating with him 2 let me drive it tomorrow, but didn't happen. Anyways, they let me go. I was more pissed off that I had 2 go home & get another car when Im in front of my destination. So, instead I go around the block & park in the multi-level car park behind KFC … Walked straight in and rocked all night! He then announced he'd peeled off and ditched the major defect notice, and made his way homeward. You can guess the rest. Melbourne Magistrates Court heard yesterday that "among the visitors to the chat room was the diligent Acting Sergeant Robbins, who regularly scans such sites as part of the unit's investigative work". Robbins quickly recognised the ne'er-do-well, whose crowing duly earned him an appearance before the beak. To add to John's woes, he was in fact "a disqualified probationary driver who gave a false name". He pleaded guilty to five offences, "including two charges of driving while disqualified", and was "jailed for one month, the term suspended for 12 months, fined $400 and had his licence cancelled for a year". Magistrate Angela Bolger warned John that "driving while disqualified was regarded as a contempt of the law and a prison sentence was mandatory for a second offence". John described himself to The Age as "shattered". ® Bootnote Thanks to Richard Cislowski for the tip-off.
Lexar has launched a range of Ultra Direct Memory Access (UDMA) cards that write data at 45MB per second potentially reducing download time for digital photos considerably.
Official figures have revealed that UK law enforcement agencies and other government agencies made 439,000 requests to tap telephones and email addresses in a 15 month period between 2005 and 2006. A report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the UK surveillance watchdog, reports that 4,000 "errors" were made over the report period. Most concerned less serious slip-ups involving lists of telephone calls and individual email addresses, but 67 involved errors that led to the direct interception of communications, The Times reports. These errors are "unacceptably high", according to Sir Swinton Thomas, the author of the report. Alongside intelligence agencies (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ) and police forces, local authorities and bodies such as the Financial Services Authority have the authority to request wiretaps. The 795 organisations authorised to tap communications made 439,000 requests. Interception warrants, where granted, normally run for three months or six months, in the case of investigations involving terrorism. The Interception of Communications Commissioner's report is the first time the extent of state surveillance activities in the UK has been revealed. The report says the interception of communications played a crucial role in the investigation of the 7 July suicide bombing attack on London's transport system. Despite his criticism of the accuracy of requests, Sir Swinton wants the prohibition against tapping the communication of MPs and peers to be lifted. The block against interception of communication against parliamentarians has existed for 40 years since MI5 agents carried out illegal surveillance of members of Harold Wilson's Labour government. Ministers had failed to give a good reason why politicians should be treated any differently from other citizens, Sir Swinton argues. ®
The US military has taken another step forward with its research into "non-lethal crowd control systems" after reaching back into the disco era for inspiration. The US Army is looking to deploy a powerful strobe searchlight mounted in a pilotless drone aircraft. The strobe is intended to cause "immobilisation to all those within the beam". Earlier this year the US Marines tested a vehicle-mounted directed microwave cooker which is intended to lightly grill the outer skin layer of troublemakers, causing an "intense burning sensation" which is nonetheless harmless – or anyway, less harmful than other things which the US Marines might do. So-called "photic stimulation" with strobe lights, which the US Army is playing with, can cause epileptic fits in some people, which could be the effect that the US forces would like to achieve. However, the technique has also been used to treat pre-menstrual tension and to mitigate migraines, suggesting that the new aerial riot robots could produce some startling, even pleasurable side-effects – perhaps merely pacifying the crowd rather than leaving it jittering in the dirt. It is also possible to speculate that angry anti-US mobs who have had the foresight to equip themselves with some form of reflective eyewear might be able to avoid some or all of the effects. The contract to develop the technology has been awarded to Peak Systems, and the program includes medical research as required into how to achieve the required effects. ®
The petition opposing Tony Blair's proposal to introduce road pricing and vehicle tracking closed last night and the 1.8 million signatories all received an email, supposedly from the Prime Minister, explaining why their opposition is misguided. The email thanks people for taking part in the exercise and promises: "Before we take any decisions there would be further consultations." It lays out the government's view that congestion is a big problem and only likely to get worse if action is not taken. It points out that any nationwide scheme is at least 10 years away and that the limited local schemes will give a better idea of its practical impact and cost. The email also makes clear that the introduction of road pricing means "there could be a case for moving away from the current system of motoring taxation". A Reg reader who sent us the mail made the following comments: I'm not quite sure why it was sent at five to two on a Tuesday night, then again, I'm not sure why I'm checking my email at five to two on a Tuesday night. I think this further proves my theory that the government is in fact run by Australians. On a more serious note, he does make some reasonable points, such as this scheme being more than 10 years from implementation. Also that there will be measures to ensure that people's privacy will be protected, which I think is the main reason most people were concerned about the scheme. Rumour has it that roads minister Stephen Ladyman will engage in a web chat on Thursday. Finally, thank you to reader Richard Lamont who pointed out that his email client was quick to identify the email. The message read: "Thunderbird thinks this message is junk." Indeed. For your delectation and delight, the whole email is here. ®
ReviewReview The P4350 is a modest device, containing already-proven technology. There's no HSDPA or 3G, just GPRS EDGE; no 802.11n WLAN, just 802.11b/g, leading one to hope that the user concerns of previous models has been ironed out.
New Zealanders are flocking to an exciting new online initiative aimed at connecting sheep fanciers with their perfect date - AdultSheepFinder.com (NSFW). The ovine-lovers resource is evidently a big hit down there in NZ, with around 100 per cent of the current worldwide membership of 20,333 coming from the set of Lord of the Rings. The site boasts: With AdultSheepFinder you can meet sexy sheep in your area at the touch of a button! Find the right sheep for you from our extensive database and try to arrange with their owners for a sexy encounter! Explore the erotic lifestyle of millions of sheeplovers through our Nude Sheep Photos, we even have hundreds of Sexy Webcam Sheep online everyday! Marvellous. Just to rub it in, the wags behind this bit of NZ-baiting offer only "New Zealand" in the drop-down list of countries in their "Search Our Members" facility, and further advise: "If you would like to know more about Sheep Shagging we can recommend the following literature- Lonely Planet - New Zealand Edition. Enraged New Zealanders can spare themselves a whois search on the domain, since the perpetrators of AdultSheepFinder.com are keeping their heads well down. Which means, of course, that they're almost certainly Australian. ®
You might have a 38in widescreen HDTV...you might even have a 50-in plasma display...you might even have a projector system set up as your source of home entertainment...but it's extremely unlikely you'll be able to top this...
AMD is to sell low-wattage processors in a bid to join the campaign of many IT companies to be seen to be green.
In the latest blow to a beleaguered MoD, the influential Parliamentary Defence Committee has release a stinging review of the ongoing Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) project. FRES is a potentially colossal programme intended to replace much of the British army's current combat vehicle fleet. The MoD estimates final costs at £14bn. Very few MoD projects have ever come in under budget, so the money's certainly there. So is the need. Some of the army's armoured vehicle fleet, such as the FV430 series, have been in service since 1962. Investigations into their replacement began as long ago as the 1970s. Further projects have begun, become bogged down, and foundered ever since. Examples include the TRACER (Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement) and the "Boxer" Multirole Armoured Vehicle, both now defunct. Meanwhile, British soldiers have been dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, often killed by roadside bombs while riding in lightly protected vehicles. As a consequence of this, temporary armoured expedients such as the Mastiff and Vector personnel carriers have been hurriedly bought off the shelf and rushed into combat in Iraq – but these, according to the MoD "do not possess the capability the Army requires as they are not armoured fighting vehicles", perhaps begging the question of why – in that case – they were purchased. What the MoD means by this is that Mastiff and Vector are thought to be OK against insurgent opposition, but not for a serious high-intensity clash against a first-rate army. There are those who doubt that such a clash will ever again take place – General Rupert Smith, who commanded the British armoured forces in Gulf War I, has stated that the last real tank battles took place during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Nonetheless, the Army want to be ready in case he turns out to be wrong. That would seem to indicate a purchase of heavy metal such as the current 60-ton Challenger main battle tanks, and their accompanying infantry carriers. But these are no longer seen as ideal, because the only way to get them anywhere is to ship them by sea and rail. That takes a long time, hence the "Rapid Effects" part of FRES. The original requirement stated that all FRES vehicles should be readily air portable, weighing less than 17 tons. However, it is now thought that a vehicle which can reliably resist basic threats such as roadside bombs and shoulder-fired RPG rockets is likely weigh as much as 27 tons. The UK forces possess only five aircraft able to carry vehicles of this weight. Unsurprisingly, the Defence Committee suggested that the current requirement "may be unachievable without a significant technical breakthrough". Estimates of when FRES might be in service ranged from 2009 (by Lord Bach, defence procurement minister in 2004) through to 2017-18 (by Atkins, consultants hired by the MoD). It appears that the UK's soldiers may be waiting a while yet for their new vehicles. ®
Leaving aside the arm-wrestling practice IBM's legal department is currently getting with Platform Solutions Inc (PSI) and its ability to run IBM mainframe applications on any reasonably spec'd Itanium-based server, the availability of such software tools marks a development that could interest developers.
UpdatedUpdated Microsoft has admitted its Windows Live Messenger client displayed banner ads for several days punting an application blacklisted as a security risk. Shortly after Microsoft made the admission, other outlets reported that MSN Groups displayed ads for a separate piece of software widely regarded as rogue. Redmond has pulled the ads for Errorsafe, a purported security product labeled by legitimate firms as "scareware" designed to frighten users into buying a product that actually impairs internet safety. Redmond has promised to review its advertisement approval process in order to prevent the problem cropping up again.
European Commissioner Vivianne Reding is the internet's biggest villain of the year, according to UK internet service providers. She was given the title by the ISP Association (ISPA) in protest at the rules for registering a .eu domain name. Every year the ISPA anoints a hero and a villain of the internet, and Reding and the whole European Commission were this year's villains over their handling of the new top level domain (TLD) .eu. "Commissioner Vivianne Reding and the European Commission received the award for foisting the most arcane set of rules yet seen for prior registration of .eu domains, requiring UK registered companies to submit legal affidavits to justify the authenticity of their business," said an ISPA statement. Reding, who is Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, has been praised recently for her attempts to lower the roaming charges levied by mobile phone operators when someone uses a mobile phone abroad. She is trying to persuade operators to lower tariffs voluntarily but has threatened to force changes via the Commission if they do not. That counted for nothing with the ISP representative body, though, which decided that controversy over the complex registering and queuing system used in .eu's "sunrise period" was too big a mistake to leave unpunished. The hero of the awards was Vodafone's content standards manager Annie Mullins. Mullins has worked on initiatives to boost the safety of the internet for children. "Annie Mullins received the award for her work with the Home Office Task Force on Protection of Children on the Internet and the European Union's Safer Internet Programme," said an ISPA statement. Mullins beat off regulator Ofcom, the Home Office, and the European Union to the title "hero". Reding's rivals for the villain award were the US government and file-sharing opponents the British Phonographic Industry. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
PC manufacturer Alienware today announced that the Area-51 7500 desktop will now feature the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor.
Site offerSite offer Cisco is one of the leading names in global networking and is a recognised force in the areas of hardware, software, and service provision. There is hardly a company in the world that does not use a Cisco product in some way, and as a result Cisco certification is considered a powerful asset in IT around the world. Register Books would like to offer you the chance to get on board the Cisco bandwagon and attain your qualifications. Check out the best selling titles below and make sure you are in the right position to take advantage of Cisco. All titles at 40 per cent off again*. CCNA 1 and 2 Companion Guide, Revised (Cisco Networking Academy Program) Cisco Networking Academy Program CCNA 1 and 2 Companion Guide, Revised Third Edition, is the Cisco approved textbook to use alongside version 3.1 of the Cisco Networking Academy Program CCNA 1 and CCNA 2 web-based courses. The topics covered provide you with the necessary knowledge to begin your preparation for the CCNA certification exam (640-801, or 640-821 and 640-811) and to enter the field of network administration. CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide, 5th Edition (640-801) Todd Lammle and Sybex have updated the best-selling CCNA Study Guide, which covers exam 640-801. This 5th edition provides general content updates and includes additional software to enhance exam preparation. You'll find enhanced coverage of OSPF and VLAN Trunking Protocols, and updates to ISDN, Frame Relay, and PPP sections. The accompanying CD includes an advanced testing engine with all chapter review questions and four bonus exams, plus 250 flashcards for PCs, Pocket PCs, and Palm devices. It also includes the entire book in PDF. CCNA 3 and 4 Companion Guide (Cisco Networking Academy Program) The only authorised textbook for the Cisco Networking Academy Program The CCNA 3 and 4 Companion Guide contains the information from the online curriculum with additional in-depth content to enhance your understanding of some topics plus supplemental aids to assist in studying. CCNA Official Exam Certification Library (Exam #640-801) The two books contained in this package, CCNA INTRO Exam Certification Guide, First Edition, and CCNA ICND Exam Certification Guide, First Edition, present complete reviews and ample opportunity to test your knowledge of all the CCNA exam topics. Also included is a CD-ROM with training videos that explain select CCNA topics. Senior instructor and best-selling author Wendell Odom shares preparation hints and test-taking tips, helping you identify areas requiring further study and improve both your conceptual and hands-on knowledge. IT Essentials I: PC Hardware and Software Companion Guide (Cisco Networking Academy Program) The goal of HP IT Essentials is to lay a foundation of the basic information required to assemble a computer and troubleshoot problems that occur. You learn how to properly install, configure, upgrade, troubleshoot, and repair PC hardware and software. The topics covered in this guide help prepare you to pass the CompTIA A+ certification exam to become a certified computer service technician and pursue a future career in IT technology or simply be equipped with the knowledge of how a computer works. Cisco: A Beginner's Guide 4th Edition Here is a newly updated edition of the bestselling introductory guide to Cisco products and technologies. Cisco: A Beginner's Guide, Fourth Edition provides you with a practical hands-on resource for successfully implementing and managing a Cisco network. The book covers IOS, voice and wireless security, video-on-demand, new routers, switches, and wireless products, and more. Get a full selection of our Cisco Press titles at Register Books. *Offer correct at time of going to press. ®
Viacom is playing divide and rule with the internet TV wannabes. After issuing 100,000 take down notices to YouTube contributors, the media giant has signed a deal that allows Joost to distribute its content legitimately. Joost is an on-demand TV over broadband service that offers media companies a proprietary alternative to the industry-standard IPTV platform. It was started by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, and was formerly known as the Venice Project. It works on any reasonable modern PC, and although users need to download some client software, it's free. The Viacom empire includes Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks, the Comedy Channel, MTV, and Nickelodeon, making it the owner of many of YouTube's most popular clips. As Joost CEO Fredrik de Wahl told us recently, the company created its own DRM to lock down the content, which was surely a factor in making Joost a much more attractive alternative than Google's YouTube. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. This is a rude awakening for Google, which spent $1.6bn on YouTube last year. Google had only belatedly offered to filter uploads for copyright violations. Rights owners argued that with a market capitalisation of $75bn, Google could afford to try a little harder. With upstarts like Joost, media companies can now afford to look elsewhere. ®
The Dutch prosecutor's office is considering legal actions to test the law against child porn in the popular virtual game Second Life. With no clear litigation, it is difficult to act against perpetrators. Kitty Nooij, who is in charge of the sex offences portfolio at the prosecutor's office in the Netherlands, told Dutch news show Netwerk that she will try to bring cases to court so precedents can be set. Linden Lab's Second Life is an online digital world with almost three million "residents" claimed by the company. Some areas of Second Life allow adult members to have virtual sex with others who pretend to be children. Experts, such as psychologist Jos Buschman of the Van Mesdag clinic in Groningen, say Second Life is "by definition a school for paedophiles", despite the fact that adult members like to roleplay as children. Second Life requires all players to be adults. Virtual child pornography has been a criminal offence in the Netherlands since 2002. However, there is no litigation related to virtual sex with virtual children. Today, at least four political parties in the Netherlands demanded a ban on virtual child porn roleplay. Discussions about virtual child porn in Second Life already started three years ago with the introduction of an avatar called Sasami Wishbringer, who has the body of an eight year-old. Lately, there are more serious reports about adult players with child avatars soliciting (paid) sex. Last year, Robin Harper, Linden Lab vice president of community development, wrote in a posting on the official Second Life forum, that "if Second Life has evidence of child pornography or abuse that involves children in the real world, it will act to protect the child and notify the authorities". However, virtual roleplay is allowed. ®
Microsoft is shaking up its channel strategy to better support existing partners and to add new companies. Microsoft UK director of channel development Karl Noakes told The Reg: "There's two parts to this: it's a message to existing partners that there's change in the wind and they need to change too. And it's a message to new companies that Microsoft is an attractive company to do business with."
eBay has been rapped over the knuckles by the UK advertising industry regulator for a misleading web ad. The ad, which ran on various websites for two weeks in early December, suggested that top-line coffee machines could be purchased on eBay for less than £100, designer chairs for £50 and Le Creuset pots for under £80. An irate customer, unable to find any of these things at the prices stated, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority and had his/her grievance upheld. The ASA noted that "we considered that the vast majority of consumers were likely to understand the nature of the eBay website", suggesting that the anonymous complainant perhaps – in its opinion – had failed to do so. Nonetheless, the ASA said "all the items depicted in the ad should have been available for the whole time the ad appeared, and as soon as the items were no longer available the ad should have been withdrawn". This could, on the face of it, open the floodgates for an avalanche of complaints, especially if other media are to be held to the same standard the ASA has seemingly set for online ads. Assuming that the authority sticks to precedent, this could raise the spectre of budget airlines being required to pull posters from Tube stations every time a flight sold out, or magazine print runs having to be pulped and reprinted at an advertiser's expense. However, the judgment involves no visible penalty and eBay merely received a wrist slap. A representative commented that "we have duly noted the ASA's ruling". So that's all right then. ®
A cash-strapped UK Ministry of Defence is resorting to increasingly desperate measures in the struggle to get its finances back on track. The latest of these is the setting up of an eBay-style online auction site to flog the military's surplus gear, already reported in these pages. Most of the wares on offer are relatively mundane – tents, bulletproofed Discovery landrovers, obscure bits of electronics. An initial frisson of excitement on seeing the sections titled 'aircraft' and 'ships' soon wears off, as all the good stuff has evidently been snapped up already by bargain-conscious dictators and military juntas. The only ships left are a rowboat and some rusty old tugs. The aircraft section is full of Brazilian-designed Tucano trainers, no doubt well thrashed by student pilots over the years and now mostly listed as "non-effective" and "heavily spares recovered" – estate agent speak for "suicide to go up in a crate like that" and "stripped of all useful components". Merchandise like this will never get the Disposal Services Agency up to eBay-like levels of turnover, so the government auctioneers have resorted to a time-honoured marketing tool – sex. A number of items of military uniform are offered on the site in "two pack packages for him and her." The online listings describe these as "ideal for re-enactment events, filming or fancy dress." When asked what kind of film or fancy dress event features a couple dressed in military uniform, officials at the disposal agency have been keen to stress that their wares are intended primarily for healthy outdoor pursuits, momentarily causing fevered speculation at Vulture Central. However, it seems that in fact this was meant to refer to hiking or camping, rather than anything more risque. Nonetheless, some items packaged as "his 'n' hers", such as dress uniform with ties and a skirt for the lady, wouldn't seem ideally suited for hill-walking. Even respectable journalists have speculated that in fact the intended customers might be couples looking to spice up their sex life – an established market segment (NSFW), after all. A source at the Disposals Agency was willing to confirm that "proximity to Valentine's Day" had been a factor in the timing of the auctions. It's also possible to surmise that the MoD may be targeting other niche retail areas, with at least one set of female formal kit offered on its own. Exhaustive web research has uncovered – so to speak – at least one possible customer (NSFW). Defence analysts look forward keenly to further revelations.®
The iPhone has been with us for many years, in a variety of forms, and its slow and painstaking development has taken many twists and turns before reaching its forthcoming destination. Originally known as Eyephone, the band was formed as a follow-up to the techno-project The Feedback Bleep, in 1994, and went on to have several albums and remixes until 1997. Changing the name to iPhone, the first telephony related incarnation was a PC-to-PC-voice application, developed by one Jeremy Stanley to run under Windows 95 and released in April 2001. Full-duplex VoIP was possible over slow speed connections, although network operators and phone manufacturers were slow to recognise the threat the iPhone presented. In 2004 iPhone moved onto Palm OS with another VoIP application, this time from TapTarget, and much more indicative of the direction the moniker was heading. iPhone was now a hand-held telephone, at least as a proof of concept if not actually a commercial product. As a commercial product the Internet Phone Company launched its iPhone service in 2004: offering phone calls over the internet but with no interest in mobile telephony. These days everyone from Maltanet to Freenet.de is offering an internet telephony service called iPhone. But back in 2004 Telenor was harking back to the original name and researching the potential of Mobile EyePhone virtual reality equipment: given the lack of progress since we must assume that their conclusions were not positive. Getting back to being a hardware device we have the iPhone from Teledex; a VoIP fixed-line handset for hotel rooms and conference centres launched in 2005. This has a screen and can make phone calls, but it's hardly portable. Even less like a phone is the iPhone from Comwave, so much so that it requires a phone handset to be connected. It does all the VoIP stuff, enabling a couple of VoIP lines, while connecting to normal phone handsets to offer a consistent user experience. In to 2006 we have a plethora of VoIP handsets available from Linksys, eGenius, and nameless Asian manufacturers. Some wired, and some wireless, and at least one with a colour screen offering an insight into future directions for the name. The iPhone has had a long and varied genesis, there are even rumours that Apple may plan to do something with the name at some point. This should assure its future is as successful as its past. ®
Reminiscent of something you might find in the workshop of a mad inventor, the latest in the equip-everything-with-USB craze, according to Akihabara News, is the USB hub Sellotape dispenser, made by a Hong Kong-based company called Earth-Trek.
Google has fixed a security flaw in its desktop search software that created a means for hackers to rifle through personal files on users' PCs.
Wattpad has added a significant chunk of the Gutenberg Project catalogue to its mobile phone application. It is making 17,000 books available for easy download to most mobile phones. Wattpad is a user-generated content service, focused on making written material available to mobile phone users; users are invited to upload their scribblings, which are then made available for reading through a free mobile phone application. The application is available for various Java versions, and works well enough. Though not as polished as MobiReader, it works on a much broader range of devices and includes a comprehensive browse-download system. Like most user-generated content sites, the majority of content available is anything but user generated. The complete Harry Potter selection is there, along with choice works by Terry Pratchett and others who seem unlikely to have uploaded their own work. Wisely, the users have stayed away from anything by Harlan Ellison. Wattpad told us it will remove any content when someone complains, but it seems harsh to ask copyright owners to constantly monitor the whole internet for their work - especially when the content is so obviously within copyright. The Gutenberg Project is an ongoing attempt to digitise books beyond copyright, and make them freely available in a range of formats: so making the selection available to Wattpad users is in keeping with spirit of the project, and might make it easier to hide the copyrighted material which currently dominates the selection. Hopefully the service will migrate towards more user-generated content as copyright owners object and more users come online, in much the same way that YouTube is gently evolving in that direction. But it is open to question if either service can maintain an audience for content generated only by other users. ®
Windows developers can now port Visual Basic applications to Linux without modifying their code, using an open source project backed by Novell. The Mono project has built a compiler that lets developers code using Visual Basic inside Visual Studio or other preferred tools environments and run the Visual Basic code on non-Windows platforms without the time and cost of modification.
ExclusiveExclusive IBM is expected to announce redundancies in at the UK arm of its service delivery business, Integrated Technology Delivery.
In an interesting twist in the battle against software piracy, Microsoft UK is promoting the benefits of Software Asset Management (SAM) under a scheme which rewards honesty - richly. It says the voluntary self-start SAM programme it introduced last November can save businesses a significant sum on licensing fees - in addition to giving them peace of mind.
For the first time, astronomers have measured the composition of a planet outside the solar system, in what NASA says is a key step in its quest for extraterrestrial life. NASA pointed its Spitzer Space Telescope at two gas giant exoplanets in the Vulpecula and Pegasus constellations, 370 and 904 trillion miles away, for long enough that detailed measurements of the infrared spectrum of light reflected by the planet could be made. In a paper published in this week's Nature, the team based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena report two surprises from the data. First, the snappily named HD 209458b and HD 189733b seem much drier than calculations predicted - the spike in the spectrum where the water should show itself was not as big as the models said it should be. Lead author of the study Jeremy Richardson said: "It is virtually impossible for water, in the form of vapor, to be absent from the planet, so it must be hidden." Happily, the second surprise provided an answer to the conundrum. The spectrum from HD 209458b revealed that the water could be being masked by the planet's upper atmosphere, which is thick with dusts clouds formed from tiny silicate particles similar to sand. Nothing similar to the clouds is present in our solar system. To make the new observations, the team monitored the change in the the light from each system when the planet as it was "eclipsed" by its star. Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Mark Swain, who also worked on the data, said: "With these new observations, we are refining the tools that we will one day need to find life elsewhere if it exists. It's sort of like a dress rehearsal." The plan now is to apply the technique to rocky extrasolar planets. More than 200 extrasolar planets have been detected since the first definitive discovery was made in 1995 through measuring gravitational "wobbles" experienced by the star 51 Pegasi. The new Spitzer data is the first time astronomers have been able to test their predictions about the "hot Jupiter" worlds, which have been the most common type detected because of their huge mass and proximity to their star. Earlier Hubble images collected only basic information on the presence of elements like carbon and oxygen on hot Jupiters. ®
The 3,000 document archive from the Comes antitrust trial, which disappeared from the web abruptly when Microsoft settled the case last week, is beginning to trickle back into view. A week ago the site was placed under password protection, Microsoft withdrew its own account of events, and so-called internet "archive" archive.org apparently also pulled its mirror. Now author Andrew Schulman, who provided the most interesting testimony (report to follow) in the epic trial, has begun to host some material on his personal server.
A worldwide undercover police operation infiltrated and shut down an online network of 300 paedophiles, police said on Wednesday. The swoop involved police in the UK, Australia, US and Canada, and was coordinated by the the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in London. An undisclosed number of children were rescued from alleged sexual abuse. CEOP chief exec Jim Gamble said: "We identified an online area used by individuals with a deviant interest in children - in my mind that's a paedophile ring." "We had undercover officers from Canada, America, Australia and the UK involved simultaneously. Through an eight-hour shift pattern there was a continuous covert investigation trying to infiltrate the group." The leaders of the network were in the UK, he said. As well as the arrests already made, information collected by investigators will continue to be shared internationally. ®
Sun Microsystems has moved to slice and dice I/O operations with a new – albeit unnamed – network interface card (NIC). The company has started selling the Sun x8 Express Dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet Fiber XFP Low Profile [sic] for close to $1,000 a pop. At the most basic level, you're looking at a dual channel 10GbE NIC that glides into a PCIe 8x slot. But that's not going to excite too many people.