5th > March > 2007 Archive

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CapGemini plans layoffs to win £40m renewal

Capgemini has offered to shift UK jobs overseas in a bid to retain its £40m contract to provide IT services for the retail chain Matalan, The Register has learned. Capgemini had intended to renegotiate its Matalan contract within two years of its expiry, our sources say. The computer services firm signed the current £40m, seven-year deal in November 2002.
Mark Ballard, 05 Mar 2007

Reg Hardware £1,250 Daily Draw: five Nokia E65 phones to be won

CompetitionCompetition Nokia's brand new E65 handset. You can read Register Hardware's review of this mobile phone here, but why not try and win one too? We've got five of these bad boys to give away... one every day this week.
Register Hardware, 05 Mar 2007

SME broadband demand may slow: Analysys

European telecommunications firms must up their game to keep hold of their smaller business customers, according to market analysts. A new report issued by Analysys on Friday has urged broadband providers in particular to focus on managed services in order to sustain interest from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in western Europe. Managed services are "value-added" extras which a broadband operator may offer in a bundle alongside its core product, such as managed email accounts, or business network security features. The study assessed 184 SMEs across France, Germany and Britain. It shows that while expenditure by these companies is expected to peak in 2009, the market for managed services in this field will continue to grow beyond this point. SME spend on broadband managed services is forecasted to increase by more than €4bn in western Europe by the end of 2011. "From 2010 onwards, downward pricing pressure is expected to outweigh take-up of new broadband access connections by SMEs in western Europe," said report author Simon Sherrington. "This will push the value of the Western European SME market for broadband access into a slow decline. In order to sustain revenue growth, providers targeting the SME sector must introduce complementary services, and provision of broadband managed services is a key area for exploitation." The report suggests that broadband managed services are already in demand with €5.7bn spent on these services by SMEs in western Europe in 2006. Analysys provides management consultancy and information services and has over 160 staff worldwide. The company is part of the Analysys Mason Group which has offices in Dublin, Cambridge, Edinburgh, London, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Paris, Singapore and Washington DC. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Emmet Ryan, 05 Mar 2007
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Guy Goma, YouTube and the BBC

ColumnColumn Meejatarts, as my old friend Rupert calls us, will do almost anything for exposure. We're publicity whores. It's how we earn our daily crust.
Guy Kewney, 05 Mar 2007

MS readies 512MB Xbox 360 memory card

Microsoft will next month offer Xbox 360 gamers a 512MB memory module, a handy boost for owners of the hard drive-less incarnation's of the games console - they're currently limited to 64MB.
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2007
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iSoft in critical condition as NHS trusts seek alternatives

UpdatedUpdated The government's vision of an integrated computer system for the NHS is coming apart at the seams as NHS trusts are to start looking for alternative IT suppliers, The Guardian reports. iSoft is the main software partner in the not-so-much-loved National Programme for IT (NPfIT), but delays are now so long and managers under such pressure from hospital trusts that bosses at NPfIT are having to draw up a list of alternative suppliers.
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Mar 2007

How CIOs can win back the hearts and minds of users

Run Book is what IT data centre managers understand as the Application Run Book. This is the IT department "to do" list of problems to fix and the projects to deliver. This is a long and complex list, and keeping everything in sync, well co-ordinated, and efficiently using IT resources is a nightmare.
Gerry Brown, 05 Mar 2007

Shuttle launches performance flagship

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome Shuttle's newest flagship quad-core small form-factor PC, the SD39P2, ready to tempt European gamers and lovers of high-speed computing with four-core fun.
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2007
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Big brother gets Web 2.0 makeover

CommentComment "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - nothing more and nothing less". - Humpty Dumpty in Wonderland
Mark Ballard, 05 Mar 2007

Register Books tackles Ruby on Rails

Ruby is a dynamic, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. Taking elements inspired by Perl, Small talk, Python and LISP (among others) Ruby has grown from its 1993 conception to become a much-used interpreted scripting language for Object-Oriented Programming. Ruby on Rails provides an easy-to-use method for quickly developing web applications, simplifying potentially complicated subjects such as web architecture, JavaScript, and SQL/database creation. The simplicity of Rails belies its power, though - this technology is used by major companies such as 37Signals and Google. In this week's offer Register Books has brought together some of the best selling Ruby titles on the market, worked our magic, and slashed the prices of all these books by 40 per cent*. That's a gem of an offer. Rails Solutions: Ruby on Rails Made Easy If you're a web designer or developer who thinks that the coding involved in developing dynamic web applications is too difficult, think again. This book, as well as the framework it covers, is the perfect solution to your needs. Beginning Ruby on Rails E-Commerce: From Novice to Professional Beginning Ruby on Rails Ecommerce: From Novice to Professional is the first book of its kind to guide you through producing e-commerce applications with Rails. The book dives right into the process of creating a production-level web application using agile methodologies and test-driven development combined with Rails best practices. It takes advantage of the latest crop of Rails plug-ins and helpers to help you create a real application step-by-step using real-world cases studies throughout. Build Your Own Ruby on Rails Web Applications This practical hands-on guide for first-time Ruby on Rails programmers walks you through installing the required software on either a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. Then, before you get coding, an entire chapter is devoted to object oriented programming in Ruby, so you'll be completely confident with the Ruby language before you begin working with Rails. Agile Web Development with Rails The definitive, Jolt-award winning guide to learning and using Rails is now in its second edition. The book has been updated to take advantage of all the new Rails 1.2 features. The sample application uses migrations, Ajax, features a REST interface, and illustrates new Rails features. There are new chapters on migrations, active support, active record, and action controller (including the new resources-based routing). Also, the Web 2.0 and Deployment chapters have been completely rewritten to reflect the latest thinking. Programming Ruby Now in its second edition, author Dave Thomas has expanded the famous Pickaxe book with over 200 pages of new content, covering all the new and improved language features of Ruby 1.8 and standard library modules. The Pickaxe contains four major sections: An acclaimed tutorial on using Ruby. The definitive reference to the language. Complete documentation on all built-in classes, modules, and methods complete descriptions of all 98 standard libraries. If you enjoyed the first edition, you'll appreciate the new and expanded content. Beginning Ruby on Rails This book is a thorough introduction to both Ruby and Rails. Starting with the easy instructions for acquiring and installing both, it then helps you understand the nature of conditionals, loops, methods, and blocks, before becoming familiar with Ruby's classes and objects. You'll learn to build Rails applications, connect to databases, perform necessary testing, and put the whole thing together to create real-world applications such as shopping carts and online catalogs - apps you can actually use right away. Rails Recipes Rails is large and powerful, but how do you use it effectively? How do you harness the power? And, most important, how do you get high quality, real-world applications written? From the latest Ajax effects to time-saving automation tips for your development process, Rails Recipes will show you how the experts have already solved the problems you have. From using generators to automate repetitive coding tasks, to adding live search and live preview to your site, and many, many more... Ruby for Rails This book details the techniques and tricks for implementing web-based applications using Ruby. The author, David A Black, has been a Ruby programmer for over five years and has worked with Rails since 2004. He is the founding director of the non-profit organisation Ruby Central Inc and is chief author of Ruby's standard "scanf" library. * Offer correct at time of going to press. ®
Register Books, 05 Mar 2007

Wii to win next-gen console war - just

And the winner of the next-generation console war is... Nintendo's Wii - at least according to market watcher IDC. In the short term, at least. It reckons Wii will "outship and outsell" the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation throughout this year and next.
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2007

Transcend aims pearl-handled Flash drive

Don't know what a mother-of-pearl coated USB Flash drive should be "trendy", but manufacturer Transcend reckons it is. The slimline - 4.8mm thick - drive has 2GB of storage on board and includes software to let you use your apps on someone else's computer without leaving any files behind. All well and good, but will Transcend still be selling it in 30 years' time?
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2007
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Putting the graphic artist in the loop

One of the exciting ideas just now is Microsoft's WPF, formally Avalon. Oversimplifying somewhat, this introduces a layered approach to UI design, separating the business logic from the UI design, so graphic artists can design the look-and-feel of your applications without worrying about the code implementing the business logic behind it.
David Norfolk, 05 Mar 2007
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Cruise missile streaks across Google Earth

Once in a while, something really interesting pops up on Google Earth, and we're obliged today to reader Christopher Wagner for pointing us the direction of this spendid find in the skies above Utah: Impressive stuff indeed. Here's a closer look: Well, we at first thought this particular beast might be a Tomahawk cruise missile, but although it pretty well fits the profile, the wings look a bit short. No doubt the Google Earth aficionados among you will be able to sniff out the truth* behind this mysterious flying object. ® Bootnote *Yes, yes, the truth is out there somewhere. No more emails, please - have a look at comments to this story for enlightenment.
Lester Haines, 05 Mar 2007
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Vista keygen hoax exposed

Doubts have arisen about the effectiveness of a Windows key generator package that allegedly offered a means to circumvent Microsoft's anti-piracy protection.
John Leyden, 05 Mar 2007

Euro boffins warn of mass fish (etc) migration

The European Science Foundation has warned that climate change is already having a significant impact on marine life. Warmer seas and changing salinity levels are leading to unprecedented movements of species, threatening the stability of the marine ecosystem as a whole. A new report predicts that the temperature of the northern European seas will increase at a faster rate than that of the more southerly oceans. The result willl be that species from the Atlantic are moving steadily northwards to Arctic seas, while even subtropical species will move into the more temperate Southern European seas. Significantly, species from enclosed systems will be affected too; Mediterranean and Black Sea natives are likely to move beyond their traditional ranges. As well as the changing temperatures, this kind of movement will be stimulated by a change in the salinity of some enclosed systems. Increased river run-off, for example, will dilute and freshen the Baltic Sea to such an extent that its population will shift away from the marine and more towards the kind of life more typical of brackish, or even freshwater environments. The researchers recommend that there should be a concerted effort to gather, store, and analyse all the extant information on the marine environment before a sustained monitoring programme is implemented, and well founded predictions can be made. The full report Impact of climate change on European marine and coastal environment - Ecosystem approach" can be downloaded here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Mar 2007
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Public toilet database features McDonald's worldwide

We're delighted to announce a new online initiative aimed at providing at-your-fingertips data on public toilet facilities worldwide. Welcome indeed to www.publictoilets.org, where users can submit their own recommendations as to where to find relief across the globe. The press release explains: You can search for public toilets in 18 countries and find out information that includes the address and detailed information about the facility as well as geographic coordinates. A user can submit comments and enter new locations. There is a wiki linked from the main page of the database with a framework for information related to public toilets. A mailing list is supported too. It is hoped that public exposure to this resource will add to it's content and help expand coverage. At present, the only country well represented in the convenience stakes is The Netherlands, which likely points to the site's origin. Rather strangely, the remaining 17 countries listed each boast just one entry, always in the capital city. Try Madrid, for example: McDonald's Alcalá C/ Alcalá nº 396 28017 MADRID Busting for a leak in Oz? Help is at hand: McDonald's Shop C124 Lower Ground Floor Canberra Centre, City Walk 2601 CANBERRA ACT And in Blighty, well, yes, you guessed it: McDonald's Buckingham Palace Road SOUTH Unit 26,115 SW1W 9SJ LONDON LONDON Hmmm. We'll leave it readers to decide quite what's going on here. In the meantime, we can report with enthusiasm that Oz's own online dunny map is finally fully functioning. Long-term readers will recall that when we first investigated this sensational resource back in 2003, it wasn't actually working. Well done the Lucky Country's Department of Health and Ageing. ®
Lester Haines, 05 Mar 2007
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Wife's breasts entice German down pole

A German man who'd spent 10 days atop a 72-foot pole in protest at a conviction for fraud finally descended from his temporary eyrie after his missus sent up a topless snap of herself, Reuters reports. Fred Gregor, 45, installed himself in a small cubicle on the converted TV mast in a bid to get a new trial. His wife Suzanne, 25, "backed his protest until the former stripper and mother of their five children decided she had had enough". She duly deployed her cunning and assets and "sent up a topless picture of herself in his lunch box", as Reuters puts it. No, we're not sure if that phrase is entirely well-chosen either. ®
Lester Haines, 05 Mar 2007
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Secure messaging firm touts encrypted comms

A British company, due to float on the Alternative Investment Market tomorrow, reckons it has the secret to secure mobile transactions.
John Oates, 05 Mar 2007

EC to re-examine Sony-BMG merger

The European Commission (EC) has launched an in-depth investigation into the merger of Sony and Bertelsman AG, despite having given the deal its blessing back in July of 2004. The deal was given the go-ahead largely because, even post-merger, Sony-BMG did not knock Universal off the market number one spot. However, the EC was concerned that the merger could create a collective dominance for the four main players, (Sony-BMG, Universal, EMI and Warner) paving the way for collusion in the market. The commission concluded that there was not enough evidence to oppose the deal. But in July 2006, the the European Court of First Instance annulled that judgement. It ruled that the commission had failed to demonstrate "either the non-existence of a collective dominant position before the concentration or the absence of a risk that such a position would be created as a result of the concentration". Now the commission has opened the books again, and says it will re-examine the evidence, including new developments since 2004, such as the growth of online music sales. It has until 2 July to reach its conclusion. If the commission finds the merger to have been illegal, it can veto it. As to how it could unpick the two companies that have been merged for almost three years, the commission is reluctant to elaborate. "I'd rather not get into hypothetical situations," a spokeswoman said. "Every situation is different and each case must be judged on its merits." She declined to elaborate on the extent of the commission's powers in such a situation, so it seems to be a case of "watch this space". Sony-BMG could not be reached for comment. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Mar 2007
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Striking staff harry Fujitsu

Fujitsu Services has walked away from talks with striking UK staff for a second time after they refused to postpone industrial action while a compromise was being hammered out.
Mark Ballard, 05 Mar 2007
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Month of PHP bugs project launches

Security researchers have begun a month-long project to highlight security flaws in PHP, the popular scripting language. The "Month of PHP Bugs", which began last Thursday, promises a bug a day for the month of March from the folks behind the Hardened-PHP Project.
John Leyden, 05 Mar 2007

123-Reg apologises again

Registration and web hosting company 123-Reg has again apologised to customers hit by hardware problems which meant some customers' websites fell offline. Several irritated customers contacted us to complain that their websites had "disappeared". The sites reappeared again, but 123-Reg decided to use an old back-up. The statement sent to customers said: "To maintain accurate data consistency, we decided to use an older restore." The email continues: "We know this is not an acceptable level of service, and would like to compensate you for your time by giving you one month's free web hosting. This extra service will be added onto the end of your account." Customers complained that the company should make daily back-ups and that the system status page on 123-Reg's website continued to show: "System status - There are no system status messages to display" throughout the outage. 123-Reg sent us the following email: 123-reg experienced a short term hardware fault which resulted in a outage between 1st - 2nd March 2007, affecting less than 2 per cent of our customer base. We have been in contact with those customers affected and offered free hosting as compensation. The fault has been rectified and customers are back online. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during this time. 123-Reg blamed a flurry of spam emails for problems delivering customer emails in December last year. In January, when more complaints emerged, the company denied it was having any problems. ®
John Oates, 05 Mar 2007

MS faces lawsuit over alleged Xbox 360 disc damage

A European lawyer has threatened to initiate legal action against Microsoft in the light of complaints from 800 Xbox 360 customers that their discs have been scratched by the console's DVD drive.
Jan Libbenga, 05 Mar 2007

UK gov wants to fingerprint kids

Home Office minister Liam Byrne told ITV1 television's The Sunday Edition that the Identity and Passport Service wanted to fingerprint all children over the age of 11 and keep their particulars on a database. The reason, he said, is because it is currently possible get a 10 year passport without biometrics while a child and still be carrying it validly at age 17, the age at which a biometric passport would be issued to someone who applied afresh for their travel permit. He did not say that it would be necessary to fingerprint children as young as eight, perhaps because an anti-biometric campaign has been building quite steadily against the idea of fingerprinting children below the age of 10. Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Nick Clegg said in a statement that it was a "sinister" plan. "It is a measure of ministerial arrogance that plans are being laid to fingerprint children as young as 11 without having a public debate first," he said. He suggested it would be a waste of public money. A Home Office spokesman said it is bound by the rules of the European Schengen agreement, which Britain isn't signed up to, but has vowed to mirror, to introduce biometric fingerprints to British passports by 2009. The spokesman said the Europeans hadn't decided on a minimum age for demanding that someone proffer their biometrics at border control. However, the European Council pretty much already agreed last summer that children as young as 12 would be stored on Europe's fingerprint database. But there are important reasons why the liberties of children ought to be overlooked, the government has implied. The spokesman said the British passport would become "a second class document" if it didn't have all the high-tech gadgetry our foreign cousins are sticking on their passports. He told the programme that Britain would be defenceless against what he portrays as the threat of illegal immigration if it didn't make everyone carry identity cards. He said much the same in the Commons last month: "It would render us defenceless in the war against illegal immigration." Byrne didn't say what would happen to kids who didn't carry a passport.®
Mark Ballard, 05 Mar 2007
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Nuke boffin touts miracle wiper cloth

If you've ever been confronted with a spill of beryllium particles (and let's face it, who hasn't, from time to time) you'll know that sweeping the little blighters up is tricky work. Good news, then, that a nuclear boffin has developed a new kind of wipe (patent pending) capable of picking up things even as tiny as beryllium. Ron Simandl, a research chemist at a nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee, has dubbed his invention the "Negligible-Residue Non-tacky Tack Cloth" - a muslin cloth coated in an organic solvent that is very sticky, but only on a microscopic scale. Coated cloths feel perfectly dry to the touch, Simandl says. In testing, the cloths he has coated have managed to clean up metal, radioactive contaminants, ceramic, fibre, and plastic. He reckons it'd be most handy for anyone trying to keep a clean room clean, or for mopping up industrial accidents. But he's keeping details of the special coating close to his chest, saying only that there is a good, but "not necessarily obvious", reason why it works. Head of technology transfer for the Y-12 plant says he is looking for a technical champion for the product. He told the Associated Press news agency: "It is kind of hard to comprehend that it can actually do what it says it can do." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Mar 2007
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Big Blue searches BBC for Teletubbies

Updated:Updated: Big Blue and the BBC are teaming up to offer decent video searching of kids' content from CBeebies and CBBC. The two are working on various projects, but the first will use IBM's Marvel technology to search video content from children's TV channels.
John Oates, 05 Mar 2007

Red Hat frees Exadel

Red Hat announced today that it is making Exadel's Eclipse-based tool set available as open source through its JBoss division. The move brings open source developers a tried-and tested, industrial-strength development kit integrated with JBoss's Enterprise Middleware and Red Hat's Linux platform.
Phil Manchester, 05 Mar 2007
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Intel 'hacker' clears his name

A former Intel contractor has succeeded in crushing charges that he hacked into the chip giant's systems after a legal fight that lasted over a decade. The conviction against Randal L. Schwartz was "set aside" at the beginning of February by an Oregon court, clearing his name after 12 years.
John Leyden, 05 Mar 2007
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Jedi denounce UK sabre ban plan

The UK's Jedi community today expressed concerns that government plans to ban Samurai swords could hinder their freedom to wield lightsabres in public.
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2007

Panasonic packs Wi-Fi Skype phone with travel router

Panasonic has become the latest cordless-phone maker to offer a Skype-friendly Wi-Fi model. All the usual VoIP facilities are present and correct, but the KX-WP1050 also comes - all in a natty case - with a travel router.
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2007

AMD to miss Q1 sales target

AMD today smacked investors with a sales warning. The chip maker no longer expects to hit a first quarter revenue target between $1.6bn and $1.7bn. CEO Hector Ruiz will explain AMD's revenue miss at a financial analyst conference later today. Hopefully, he has already found a pound of flesh that can be spared. AMD announced its sales woes in a news statement but provided precious little detail as to the cause for its forecast shift. The company has been facing serious pricing pressure as a resurgent Intel has started to eat away at AMD's server and desktop processor sales. Investors, having already watched AMD shares fall from $40 to $14 over the last year, knocked two per cent off AMD's share price this morning. AMD was trading at $13.92, at the time of this report. ®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Mar 2007
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Hackers plant backdoor in blogging software

Bloging software organisation WordPress has warned that hackers posted compromised versions of its open source software after breaking into one of the servers behind its website. Backdoor code was planted in version 2.1.1 as a result of the attack, WordPress warned on Friday.
John Leyden, 05 Mar 2007
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Microsoft's OneCare flunks anti-virus test

Microsoft's Live OneCare placed last in a test on the effectiveness of anti-virus security packages by Austrian researchers. AV Comparatives put 17 security packages through their paces to see how well they recognised a battery of nearly half a million items of malware.
John Leyden, 05 Mar 2007

PlusNet boss stands down

PlusNet CEO Lee Strafford has stood down about three months after the firm was sold to BT for £67m. In a statement, PlusNet said: "Today we announced to staff that Lee Strafford, our CEO, is no longer with PlusNet." Strafford had grown the firm from a small ISP into a nationally recognised brand, the statement added. Neil Laycock will take over as acting CEO. The firm did not say where Strafford is going. But it did say: "Everyone here is focused on delivering on our plans for 2007 which are aimed at ensuring that, as an ISP, we provide the best value to our customers, along with great customer service and a network that performs reliably and is scaled for growth." BT also had something to say on the matter: "With immediate effect, both Lee Strafford and Neil Comer have left PlusNet." Neil Comer was the finance director. BT said it believed the PlusNet team could carry on regardless. It added, "These departures will not have any bearing on the timetable for integrating PlusNet into BT," but couldn't say what the timetable was.®
Mark Ballard, 05 Mar 2007
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Cisco double drops with second social network buy

Cisco tossed the market another curve ball over the weekend, when it swooped on Utah Street Networks, the San Francisco-based outfit behind soap dodger-friendly social network Tribe.net. The deal has baffled many. The New York Times broke the "curious" story on Saturday. Tribe.net is not one of Cisco's "select" cuts which, without disclosing terms, the firm confimed it had bought this morning. The Utah Street Networks seven-strong team's flagship Tribe.net product has seen its popularity wane as the social networking scene matures and consolidates. It's now mostly used by West Coast alternative types to arrange car shares for the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert - not a target constituency for most advertisers. Cisco isn't the first big boy to have a snatch at Tribe.net's undercarriage. NBC was reportedly close to a deal to buy Utah Street Networks technology in July last year, but never consummated the union. Questions still abound as to what Cisco stands to gain from Utah Street Networks' platform. The booming IP networking banana republic already bought into social networking once this year with the acquistion of Five Across, which Cisco aims to use to provide CIOs at big business customers with proof they're still racing down the information super highway...or something. IBM is doing something similar with Lotusphere. Once absorbed, both the Five Across and Utah software teams will report to Cisco Media Solutions Group chief Dan Scheinman, but the synergies between the two are far from clear. Social networking business watcher Pete Cashmore asks at Mashable: "Is Tribe’s tech even compatible with that of Five Across?" One left field possibility is that the survivors of the Tribe.net bunch will focus on providing social networking infrastructure for Cisco's TV effort; the emphasis in today's announcement is towards "digital media content owners". Tacking social networking onto its Scientific-Atlanta set-top box business could send a lot of traffic over Cisco's routers and switches, in theory. ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Mar 2007
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Doubts raised over Motorola, Apple AIDS charity campaign

The enormous marketing assault mounted by companies involved in the celebrity-backed Red campaign against AIDS has raised questions over whether it is effort best spent.
Christopher Williams, 05 Mar 2007

Fickle AMD rocked as channel gets revenge

AMD's obsession with top server and PC makers has proved costly. The chip maker claims to have focused on so-called Tier 1 OEMs at the expense of its longtime channel partners and now blames declining channel sales for its expected first quarter revenue miss.
Ashlee Vance, 05 Mar 2007

WorldCom CEO loses Supreme Court appeal bid

Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers lost his bid to get the US Supreme Court to hear the appeal of his conviction for presiding over the most spectacular accounting fraud in American history. Ebbers argued the trial judge in his case erred by refusing to grant immunity to several prospective defense witnesses. That denial prevented Ebbers from presenting evidence that would have cleared him of wrongdoing, Ebbers's attorneys claimed. They also said the judge wrongly instructed the jury that Ebbers could be convicted based on "conscious avoidance," according to news reports from Reuters and Bloomberg. In 2005, a federal jury in New York convicted Ebbers of nine counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and other crimes that led to WorldCom's bankruptcy three years earlier. An appeals court upheld that ruling and rejected arguments similar to those made by Ebbers to the Supreme Court, letting stand a prison sentence of 25 years. The Supreme Court rejected Ebbers's appeal without comment. The prosecution by the US government was part of a crack down on corporate accounting fraud following high-profile scandals at Enron, Tyco and other companies. Ebbers was convicted largely on the testimony of former WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan, who said his boss hid costs to inflate revenue. The 65-year-old Ebbers is scheduled to be released from prison in 2028. WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy as MCI, which was later acquired by Verizon. ®
Dan Goodin, 05 Mar 2007

Options probe forces RIM restatement

Research in Motion will restate three years of earnings following an internal stock options probe, the company said today. The aggregate effect of the revisions will lop $250m off RIM's historic earnings. As another consequence of the options probe co-CEO Jim Balsille, who unusually, shares the role with RIM founder Mike Lazaridis, will relinquish his job as chairman. He continues in the joint-CEO capacity, however, and Lazaridis is permitted to keep his other role of President. RIM said the hat switch is designed to ensure the company conforms to "current best practices" in corporate governance. RIM announced that it was investigating the backdating of options last September. The internal options probe found Balsille responsible for backdated options grants which were not correctly accounted for, including some granted for RIM's public flotation ten years ago. Both Balsille and Lazardis said they'll cover the cost of the investigation personally. John Richardson assumes the role of board chairman, on an expanded board. RIM reported a net income of $176m on revenue of $835m in its most recent quarter, ending December 2. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Mar 2007
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Webcasters face doubling of royalties

The Library of Congress' copyright board, which sets the royalty rates for statutory licenses, proposes doubling the amount webcasters pay for their statutory license in the next the few years. The copyright office has yet to make the details public, but released the proposed schedule to negotiators late on Friday. Statutory royalties were introduced four years ago, and cover only the public performance of sound recordings - webcasters must also make separate payments to collection agencies such as BMI and ASCAP for composition royalties. Partial details, first reported on Kurt Hanson's RAIN newsletter, see the current rate of .0762 cents of per song per listener rising retroactively to 0.08 cents for 2006, 0.11 cents in 2007, and 0.14 cents, 0.18 cents and 0.19 cents by 2010. Webcasters currently also have the option of following another royalty plan, called "aggregate tuning hour", and there's another schedule altogether for small commercial webcasters, introduced after the Great Webcasting Revolt of 2002, in which they pay a percentage of their overall revenue. (There's yet another royalty schedule for predominantly talk-oriented material.) All these plans exclude webcasting of material by established radio broadcasters, and also exclude "interactive" broadcasters. The details leaked so far give little idea of the final picture - many commercial broadcasters opt for the aggregate tuning hour schedule - except that royalties are set to rise steeply. Hanson described this as "undeniably a huge victory for the legal departments of record labels", represented by the Recording Industry Ass. of America, the RIAA. More details are expected to emerge this week. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Mar 2007
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Hacker steals crucial data from French Prez candidate

A cyber crook has stolen sensitive data from Jean-Marie Le Pen, a far-right contender for president of France. The breach may kill his chances of being able to run for the office. The hacker used an internet site designed to break login credentials to gain access to a list of French officials who had tentatively agreed to back Le Pen, police said.
Dan Goodin, 05 Mar 2007