13th > March > 2007 Archive

Free Stob tome for every reader ...

Site offerSite offer Our good friends at Apress have very kindly offered us another batch of Verity Stob's best selling collection of amusing stories and anecdotes to give away free with every book bought. As you all know, Verity has been filling our lives with her musings and opinions since joining Vulture Central at the end of 2005, and her articles invite more than an occasional titter. Indeed, our very own Andrew Orlowski reviewed these memoirs and proclaimed "this might well be the funniest book written about computing, and you should treat yourselves without delay". So pop down to Register Books today and have a browse through our range of Apress, Apress Academic, and Friends of ED titles, the purchase of which will ensure a free and very funny copy of The Best of Verity Stob will be winging it's way to your doorstep before you know it. We only have a limited number, so get in quick. There will only be one free book per order, allowing as many of you as possible to take advantage of this deal. Apress programming titles can be found here. Apress Academic programming titles can be found here. Friends of Ed design titles can be found here. Happy shopping. ®
Register Books, 13 Mar 2007

Even wee companies must adhere to WEEE regulations

Even small companies must provide free, environmentally-sound disposal of the electronic equipment they sell, according to new government guidelines (PDF) intended to clarify the WEEE Regulations. The government has published guidelines for the sellers and users of electrical and electronic goods on how to stay on the right side of new laws regarding their disposal. The guidelines are designed to help clarify Europe's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. "There are no exemptions for SMEs under the WEEE Directive, and hence the WEEE Regulations apply to all businesses regardless of size," said the guidance which has been issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. "Distributors of EEE [electrical or electronic equipment] have responsibilities in terms of the provision of facilities to enable the free take-back of household WEEE by final holders or end users and the provision of certain information to consumers of EEE," the guidance said. "However the government is working to ensure that any costs to SMEs are not disproportionate." The regulations were put to Parliament in December last year and come into force this year. Most of the duties relating to the disposal of material come into effect in July, but from April, retailers and distributors must mark products with WEEE information and provide consumers with information about the WEEE Regulations. The guidance gives definitions of who exactly counts as a producer of WEEE, and is therefore governed by the regulations. "You are a producer for the purposes of the WEEE Regulations if you are: a manufacturer of EEE, selling under your own brand in the UK; or a business based in the UK selling under your own brand EEE manufactured by another person; or a professional importer introducing EEE to the UK market; or a business based in the UK that places EEE in other European Members States by means of distance selling," it said. The guidance also defines a distributor of WEEE as someone who is a retailer or wholesaler of new equipment. "The main obligation on distributors is to provide a take-back service to householders enabling them to return their WEEE free of charge," said the guidelines. "The WEEE Regulations provide you with a choice of providing "in-store" take-back or participating in the Distributor Take-back Scheme, or providing an alternative system for free take-back for householders." The DTI advice also outlines what consumers can expect. Though they have no obligations under the new rules and can deposit old equipment in WEEE sections at municipal dumps, it does point out that the regulations do not give householders the right to free pick up of equipment from their home. The guidance also gives details of producer compliance schemes, information for local authorities and in depth information for producers and distributors of their obligations under the new law. The DTI also announced that Valpak had been chosen to operate the distributor take back scheme which the Regulations say must be put in place. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 13 Mar 2007

Atari can appeal because law may change before hearing

A claim in a court case over payment discrepancies to the author of Atari computer games can proceed because the law may have changed by the time the case gets heard. The Court of Appeal has allowed a part of Atari's argument to remain in its case, even though it has no prospect of success under current law. The Court said that the law could change because of two landmark verdicts expected between now and the hearing of the case. The case involves game developer Chris Sawyer and Atari, which publishes and markets Sawyer's RollerCoaster Tycoon series of games. The ruling relates to a counter-claim made by Atari against Sawyer and is part of pre-trial hearings. The full case is unlikely to be heard at the High Court until 2008. The dispute began when Sawyer asked auditors to examine Atari's accounts in relation to his games, but was told that auditors could not see accounts further back in time than a certain date. Sawyer disputed this and said that Atari was breaching the terms of the licence he had signed with it. Atari counter-claimed that Sawyer had broken its exclusive licensing agreement. They say he permitted a company called Frontier to produce an additional format of the game to be sold to a third party called the Thrills Game. Frontier produced a demo under the condition that it was only to be used as a demonstration version. Atari argued that in granting Frontier the right to produce a demo disc, Sawyer was effectively enabling Frontier to sell its vision of the next game in the series to parties other than Atari, and was therefore an inducement on Frontier to breach its contractual obligations to Atari. It is this point which has led to the Court of Appeal hearing. The counter-claim was ruled against by the High Court, but Atari sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. That Court said that its appeal will depend on awaited Lords rulings. According to the most recent judgments on the issue, someone can only be guilty of inducing someone to breach a contract if there is an intention to harm. That interpretation of the law is the subject of two separate appeals to the House of Lords, prompting fears that the law could change soon. Appeals court judge Lord Justice Chadwick said that it would be unfair to rule now if the law was about to change. The two cases which have already been heard and await judgment from the Lords are that of Michael Douglas and Hello! magazine, and an employment contracts dispute involving Mainstream Properties. "We must consider whether – notwithstanding that the judge took a correct view on the law as it was when the matter was before him (and as it remains in this Court) – this is one of those unusual cases in which a claim which the court considers has no real prospect of success (as the law stands) should, nevertheless, be permitted to go to trial," said Chadwick in his ruling. "In my view this is such a case. This Court must recognise the possibility that, when judgments in Douglas v Hello! Ltd and Mainstream have been delivered by the House of Lords, it will be seen that the view of the law taken by the Court of Appeal in the Mainstream case was not correct. If that were the position, then there would be a potential for injustice if Atari's claim in respect of inducement to breach of contract were struck out on the basis of the law as it is now understood." "The more sensible course, as it seems to me, is to allow the claim to proceed on the basis that, by the time the issue comes to trial, judgments in Douglas v Hello! Ltd and the Mainstream case may well have been handed down by the House of Lords," he said. In his ruling, Chadwick said he would expect Atari to withdraw its case should the Lords leave the precedents set in the Douglas and Mainstream cases unchanged. "If those judgments uphold the view of the law taken by this Court, then it may be expected that Atari will recognise that its claim in respect of inducement to breach of contract must fail; and the claim will be abandoned," he said.. "Alternatively, Mr Sawyer can apply, again, for the claim to be struck out. If those judgments indicate that a different view of the law should be taken, then the trial will proceed on the basis of the law as revealed by the House of Lords." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 13 Mar 2007

Buddhist video game aims to teach morals

We hear a lot about violence in video games being to blame for all the ills besetting the youth of today. Now, a Thai games developer has decided it is time to right the balance and has developed a snappily titled Ethics Game to teach youngsters about being good, decent and teetotal. The game is based around the five precepts of Buddhism: do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not lie, and do not drink alcohol. It follows three children on a pilgrimage with a wise old monk. The players have to deal with problems and obstacles along the way, but in a way which is consistent with the teachings of the Buddha. Normal game playing behaviour - shooting stuff, hurting animals, and so on - will cost the player points. Pakorn Tancharoen, a senior officer in Thailand's Religious Affairs Department, explains that he became concerned about the moral impact of gaming when he heard about a boy who attacked his mum when she wouldn't pay for an online gaming session for him. He told Thai paper The Nation: "It is impossible to stop kids from playing games or flocking to online-game arcades. So, let them play, but play good games." Faced with a shortage of "good games", he set about developing his own. He worked in his spare time at first, hanging out at game arcades after work and watching what the kids were into. Then he involved the kids in designing the characters who would go on the pilgrimage he devised. When the project was approved, he found a gaming firm to develop and launch it. He said: "They said they had been hired to produce so many violent games, they saw this as a chance to make amends." The game can be downloaded here. Being able to read the Thai language will be an advantage, and is not one we have, so we can't vouch for it actually being any fun. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Mar 2007

UK's biometric passports go jumbo

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has produced a larger version of the biometric passport. The eJumbo, launched yesterday, has 48 pages compared with the 32 on the original ePassport. It will cost £77, while the regular ePassport costs £66. A spokesperson said it has been developed largely for people who travel regularly and need more space for visas. Home Office minister Joan Ryan said: "I am delighted that following the very successful switchover from digital passports to the new generation of more secure biometric ePassports last year, the Identity and Passport Service is now offering frequent travellers the new 'jumbo' 48 page ePassport. "We are a nation of seasoned travellers, and issue more passports than any other country in the world bar the United States. 80 per cent of the UK population now holds a passport, and a record 6.6 million were issued last year alone. The 'eJumbo' will provide a popular alternative to the standard ePassport for Brits regularly travelling abroad, be it for work or pleasure." The spokesperson said that about 60,000 Jumbo passports are issued each year, and the IPS expects a similar level of demand for the new biometric versions. In 2006 IPS introduced the £66 32 page biometric ePassport, containing a secure chip storing the holder's personal details and a scan of their photo, as well as other improved security features. It said the new design is harder to forge, as the new security features show whether the passport is genuine or has been tampered with and the facial biometrics on the chip help link the passport holder to the document. Security features include a watermark and a secure laminate that will rupture if peeled back on the biographical data page of the document. The visa pages have passport numbers which are laser perforated into the pages, a watermark, and fluorescent stitching thread. About 4 million ePassports have so far been issued to UK citizens. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 13 Mar 2007

Oracle buys another database

CommentComment Oracle and IBM are both competitors and partners. In the case of databases they are certainly rivals, with Oracle 10g and DB2 going head-to-head at many sites. However, it has occurred to me to wonder if Oracle is seeking to rival IBM's crown as the owner of the most different databases.
Philip Howard, 13 Mar 2007

IBM produces smaller Cells

IBM has beguin punching out a 65nm version of the Cell processor used in Sony's PlayStation 3. Gamers should not get too excited: Big Blue's Broadband Engine - to give Cell its full name - is aimed not at consoles but slimline servers.
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2007

Apple slip exposes eight-core Mac Pro

Apple may be about to equip its Mac Pro desktop with Intel four-core Xeon processors, if an inadvertent posting on the company's UK online store is to be believed.
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2007

Non-glamorous gambling ads to hit UK from September

Ads for online and traditional gambling will hit the UK's airwaves from September, the government has confirmed. But don't worry, the betting industry will be forbidden from producing ads thatl make betting seem glamorous, or exploit the vulnerable. Restrictions on ads by gambling outfits – whether online or on the high street – are being dumped as part of the Gambling Act 2005, which has loosened gambling regulations in the UK. New guidelines were released today by the Committee of Advertising Practice. These rule out ads that "portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm". Children and young persons will be spared exploitation, apparently, and ads must not be associated with youth culture. Suggestions that gambling can be "a solution to financial concerns" will be verboten, as will be the linking of gambling to "sexual success or enhanced attractiveness". Does this present a challenge to the gambling industry's efforts to promote itself? Hardly. With James Bond on the one hand and the Vegas-obsessed Hip Hop industry on the other, the entertainment industry is already doing the gambling industry's dirty work for it. Casino operators could probably get away with just printing their name and address and leaving it at that. It was left to the Salvation Army to bang for the drum for keeping restrictions on gambling ads. Captain Matt Spencer, from The Salvation Army's Public Affairs Unit pointed out in a statement that "adverts are designed to stimulate demand", adding that "gambling should not be considered a normal 'leisure' activity since it can be highly addictive and damaging". ®
Joe Fay, 13 Mar 2007

Ten reasons why you should buy a PlayStation 3

Tech DigestTech Digest Is that the wind of changed opinions blowing? Since last week's Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, the buzz about Sony's PlayStation 3 has taken a turn for the better.
Tech Digest, 13 Mar 2007

IBM chief puzzles over payslip

Puzzling over your pension statements and worried about chomping your way through this year’s tax return? Spare a thought for poor old Sam Palmisano, chairman and CEO at IBM. AP reports that Palmisano picked up “compensation” of $18.8m this year, according to latest filings at the SEC. AP said it arrived at the final figure by taking into account Palmisano’s salary ($1.75m) and incentive ($5m) and then adding in all those little extras – like stock equivalents, pension payments, and travel. This may or may not have been news for Sam himself, who presumably signs off on IBM’s accounts. According to IBM’s own figures, Palmisano’s payout came to $24.46m. Either way, he is well ahead of his fellow directors, who are all scraping along on a measly $6m odd per year.®
Joe Fay, 13 Mar 2007

BSA fires off writs against online resellers

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has begun an international clampdown against people selling illegitimate software online.
John Leyden, 13 Mar 2007

Seagate ships free-fall detecting laptop hard drive

Seagate has said you can now buy the world's first 7,200rpm notebook hard drive that uses perpendicular recording technology to boost storage capacity and can detect when it's being dropped.
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2007

Radio phone-ins might be dodgy too

Another day, another flurry of stories about dodgy phone-ins. Premium rate regulator Icstis has warned radio stations to get their house in order or face investigations like those suffered by TV stations. The regulator has also written to broadcasters outlining its areas of concern. The letter (available as a pdf here) outlines five main areas of concern. Firstly, weakness in connectivity means delays to counting text message votes. Secondly, content: T&Cs are not made clear and lines are left open when programmes are repeated. Icstis is also concerned that pricing information is not made clear to viewers. Nor is there sufficient customer service contact or data capture for people taking part in competitions. Finally, the regulator said contracts between broadcasters, producers, and service providers fail to make clear who is responsible for different aspects of the competitions. Broadcasters are now expected to review their own content on the basis of the regulator's concerns. They must reply, in confidence, to the letter by 26 March. Back with TV, ITV has reinstated some quiz shows - TV Play is back on ITV1, but Deloitte is still considering its appearance on its own digital channel. Dancing on Ice and This Morning have also had their phone lines switched back on. In other news, the Sun reckons David Gest should still be in the jungle - the paper claims that I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here inaccurately counted votes and unfairly evicted Gest from the show. Emails seen by the paper suggest that some 30,000 telephone votes for Gest were not included in the final tally which meant Gest, rather than Mylene Klass, was kicked out of the jungle. The paper fingers SMS provider Mig for the gaffe. But ITV denied there was any such problem. In a statement, the broadcaster says: "This accusation is completely wrong. On the night of David Gest's eviction, all votes cast on all platforms within the specified voting window were counted and verified. Viewers can be confident that the final votes for all contestants were 100 per cent accurate." It is clearly Gest's day today - rival British tabloid The Mirror reckons he's in the frame as a new judge on uber-phone-in show X-Factor. ®
John Oates, 13 Mar 2007

ORG to enlighten music industry on DRM's limitations

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is developing a new paper to inform the music industry about the technical suitability of Digital Rights Management (DRM) as an aid to enforcing copyright. The paper is conceived as a way to inform the current debates about DRM, to break a very technical subject area down into terms that the average music industry executive can understand. It aims to counter the perception of DRM as a magic bullet that will save the record industry from illegal copying. The project, run by a loose collaboration of academics, computer scientists, and other interested parties, is still in its very early stages. But Becky Hogge, a spokeswoman for the organisation, said the work could lay the foundations for an eventual policy on DRM for the ORG. She said: "This year there are two debates about DRM: firstly, how it works in current business models, with digital downloads increasing. Second, in terms of the Gowers Review and its recommendations on flexibility - personal use, archiving and so on. "DRM is at the forefront of this debate because it really does stand in the way of that flexibility." The ORG is not planning to address the economic questions thrown up by DRM, merely the technical question of whether or not DRM can offer reasonable access control. Hogge is upfront about the group's starting position, saying she'd be very surpised if they managed to come up with a workable model for DRM. "DRM is not good for consumers, let alone being a good way of implementing copyright law." A spokesman for The British Phonographic Industry said that it wasn't really for him to comment on the average music industry executive's understanding of the technicalities of DRM. "I would say that DRM is a misunderstood beast," he said, arguing that it can be used for a variety of ways of accessing music, not just total lock down. He added that the BPI itself didn't have any particular policy on DRM, other than to support its members' right to use it if they wanted to. "But we have over 450 members, and I think only four of them use it in any way. Many of the independent labels just don't care about it, which is, of course, their right." The ORG reckons the paper should be ready in April. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Mar 2007

Beyoncé backs Samsing Ultra Music phone

Beyoncé Knowles is the face of Samsung's F300 Ultra Music handset. The actress and Destiny's Child will appear in ads promoting the phone, and the South Korean giant will sponsor her latest world tour, which kicks off its European leg next month.
Register Hardware, 13 Mar 2007
arrow pointing up

Guards to stake out Milosevic grave

Vampire hunters wishing to prevent Slobodan Milosevic rising from his grave will now have to deal with security guards posted to prevent them driving a stake through his heart and thereby thwarting any ambitions the Serbian dicatator may have for a Dracula-style political comeback. A group of Serbian Buffys recently attempted to pin Milosevic to the ground with a three-foot stake in order to "stop the former dictator returning from the dead to haunt the country". Despite previous reports, they actually missed his heart, Ananova notes, and daughter Marija has moved to block further attacks. Milosevic is buried in the front garden of his house in the eastern town of Pozarevac. He sadly passed away in March 2006 before a UN war crimes tribunal could hold him to account for his antics during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. ®
Lester Haines, 13 Mar 2007

Disney launches interactive site for mums

Disney is launching a new website, Disney Family, aimed specifically at mums. The media giant says the site will host user generated articles, and will eventually form a "Parent Pedia", with information on hundreds of subjects of interest to mums and dads. The move is seen as something of a departure for the firm, which has so far kept its distance from the web. Although it has vigourously defended its trademarks and copyrights, and used the web to promote its own products, this is its first foray into the world of interactive webbery. The site will go live later this week, but will be in beta until the summer. Forrester Research principal analyst Josh Bernoff said the launch was "uncharacteristic" of Disney, noting that the firm tends to prefer to be completely in control. "To get community right, you need to have the right mix between homegrown content plus the ability to loop in people and content from outside. That takes guts because you don't really know what users are going to say," he told Associated Press. Disney Online executive vice president Paul Yanover said the company was responding to consumer demand. Parents want openness, he said, along with content from Disney as well. Yanover is clear that it will not all be a Disney promotion: the site will feature Disney content, and will promote Disney products, but it will also carry other advertising to pay its way, and maybe make a bit of extra cash. In this context, he says, Disney doesn't just mean Disney products, it is all about being a trusted brand. In related news, ex-Disney CEO Michael Eisner has also launched a new venture this week. His VC firm is backing a startup studio, Vuguru, that produces film content for the net, portable media devices and mobile phones. Its first project is a series called Prom Queen, a mystery set in the final two weeks of high school. Each of the 80 episodes is just 90 seconds long, and can be accessed from 2 April via YouTube, PromQueen.tv, and ElleGirl.com. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Mar 2007

Sony set to shrink PSP

Remember claims made in August 2006 that Sony is planning to redesign the PlayStation Portable? It turns out they were true. Sony Computer Entertainment UK chief Ray Maguire yesterday confirmed a "smaller, lighter" version is on its way.
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2007
Pirates ahoy!

If you must pirate, use counterfeit Windows

A senior Microsoft exec has admitted that some software piracy actually ends up benefiting the technology giant because it leads to purchases of other software packages. In this way, some software pirates who might otherwise never try Microsoft products become paying customers, according to Microsoft business group president Jeff Raikes.
John Leyden, 13 Mar 2007

Al Gore brings TV for Guardianistas to UK

Yesterday saw the UK launch of yet another TV-on-the-internet company - only this one is also TV-on-the-internet-on-TV. Alongside a website of user-generated content, the channel has slots on Sky and Virgin TV. Al Gore-backed current.tv aims to offer a rarified version of YouTube - less happy-slapping and more politics. Based on users' votes, some submitted videos will find their way onto the broadcast TV channel. The channel has also done a deal with Google, which will provide an hourly news update of the most popular searches. Of course, it is unfair to judge the site, or the channel, until it has a chance to attract a community, but it seems to lack much of a British twist or sense of humour. The forums and message boards are still pretty empty. Other European sites which specialise in homegrown political content seem strangely silent on the new arrival. There is definitely a strong need for improving the experience of sites like YouTube - there is so much content on it that finding what you are looking for is all but impossible. And arguably there is room for some video content to find its way onto mainstream TV. But the site as it stands is scarcely less random than YouTube. Asking for similar content to a piece on a guerrilla gardener takes you to a video profile of a papparazzi photographer. This is legal advice on marrying your cousin, legal in 26 states, while this is an entertaining rant on Britishness. Current TV will pay contributors to the site. Al Gore promoted the site on the Richard and Judy show - keenly watched by video vigilantes, Alan Partridge fans and students. Go to Current.tv for more and let us know what you think. ®
John Oates, 13 Mar 2007

ECS to fly Flybook wannabe into CeBIT

Taiwanese hardware maker Elitegroup ECS yesterday revealed it's going to be demo'ing at Germany's CeBIT show this week. One offering caught our eye: the G200 laptop, which sports an "ingenious... smart neck that allows the screen to be lifted, tilted or swiveled to a comfortable level for the user".
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2007

Computacenter product business stages comeback

Computacenter has managed to tighten its belt a couple of notches and turn its infrastructure business into its headline feature - for the right reasons. The firm's preliminary results to the year ended 31 December 2006 boast a "strong performance" for its Technology Solutions division. These "compensated for slower growth" in its managed services business.
Mark Ballard, 13 Mar 2007

Intel 'Bearlake' chipsets to get CeBIT outing

Intel may be preparing to launch its 'Bearlake' chipset series later this week. Well, motherboard makers are going to be showing off boards based on the upcoming silicon at CeBIT on Thursday.
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2007

Viacom sues Google for $1bn

Viacom's patience with Google has finally run out, and the entertainment giant has filed a $1bn copyright infringement suit against Google. Viacom says the ad giant's YouTube sevice is hosting 160,000 infringing works, which have been viewed 1.5bn times. It alleges that YouTube has "built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google." In February, Viacom requested that users remove 100,000 clips from the service. But as soon as Google takes them down, up they go up again. Viacom's movie studios include Paramount and Dreamworks, and its TV assets include MTV, the Comedy Channel, and Nickelodeon. Google boffins says they're working on a system to identify infringing material - but not fast enough for Viacom's liking. The spectacularly clueless DC lobby group Public Knowledge, which lives in Google's pocket, responded to the suit by saying: “We are confident YouTube and Google will continue to take appropriate actions in accordance with the safe-harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). " But that horse has already bolted: Google has conceded it's removing infringing material. And while legal experts disagree, selling adverts next to infringing material doesn't make the cries of innocence sound any more sincere. Last year Google struck a revenue sharing deal with music giant Universal, which then sued smaller video sites including Grouper and Bolt. YouTube already has revenue sharing deals with CBS and Sony BMG. Last week, Viacom struck a deal with P2P TV service Joost - reminding Google that YouTube isn't the only "platform" in town. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Mar 2007
graph up

Storage market spins out of control

Research house IDC reckons the worldwide storage market reached $4.8bn last year - a six per cent growth on last year.
John Oates, 13 Mar 2007
homeless man with sign

NEC warms up unlaunched storage grid

NEC has announced the imminent arrival of its grid storage system which it claims will remove the need for planned downtime, amongst other things. Called the HYDRAstor NEC's platform promises easier management, "near limitless scalabilty", no bottlenecks, simple data migration and no doubt the moon on a sharp, pointy stick.
John Oates, 13 Mar 2007

The Holy Grail of services: SCA

How many times lately have you come across a column on Service Oriented Architecture (or SOA)? Or an article telling you that SOA is the next big thing? Or that SOA is the way we should all be building systems?
John Hunt, 13 Mar 2007

Demonic car takes out TelecityRedbus

LettersLetters What? Keep the lights on? Forget global warming, it's all about budget allocation? Hello: That kind of reminds me of this one place I worked at where there were three guys working on a shift. One quit, leaving things seriously shorthanded. However, the administration refused to hire another person saying it "wasn't in the budget." We kept arguing with them it wasn't a NEW position, it was REPLACING an old one that was already budgeted. It went round and round and they commissioned a study to "determine" if we needed to hire another person, which they finally (and grudgingly) did, after a great deal of arguing. Another had a new software package and server ready to go. In comes the new boss, who takes the entire project and hands it to someone else without a clue. They wonder why we couldn't use an open source alternative, to which we replied we'd looked at all opportunities, and more importantly we'd already bought the software and hardware. Next we had two people do another study to determine we'd save-a-little-money with the software we wanted to use, but not as much as it cost two full time people to do the study. Then we had an endless merry go round of one person after another taking over the project, getting up to speed, and then being pulled off for something else. In the end this "cost saving" took up almost a year where we could have been up and running. All I can say is they say "let's do a study," hit the panic button. Sincerely, Scott TelecityRedbus turned its lights out this week...but not in a cost saving way. What happened to the power? The Telecity Redbus power failure affected Sovereign House at about 1pm. It's not even been a year since the last power failure at the same location in June 2006 when they caused the failure because of work being carried out on the UPS's/generators... No reason for the failure, just a pathetic email "apologising for the inconvenience". I wouldn't trust Telecity Redbus to tie their own shoelaces! Nice to see some more negative news about redbus; their data centre is a joke. We are a small hosting company with a couple of racks with them; its a bitter pill to swallow that these power/system failures cause us untold embarassment to our customers - yet we seemingly have no means of recourse with telecityredbus. Their last power failure was only 38 weeks ago... Only a month or two ago their rack prices went up AGAIN; even whilst utility prices are dropping their prices funnily enough are still right up to 42U in height :(( Please make them hurt! Inflicting pain brings us nicely to Microsoft and its nasty WGA, which, like ET, phones home whether you want it to or not. "By way of justifying Microsoft's approach, alexkoc writes that the EULA, likewise presented by the WGA installer, also covered the relaying of such information." (from the Heise article) Quite a spin! So the EULA which I just read says we will do what we want anyway regardless whether you accept the EULA or not :P Yeah as if an installer needs soooo much more improvement. All of those WinUpdate installers usually only have Next / Cancel anyway. There is never any option (except which update you want to install). The only thing I can imagine is: - you get a good statistic that the majority of people cancelling the WGA installation happens at step n - you add a lenghty stupid dialog box that pops up when you hit cancel at step n telling Joe Average that "some components may not work properly or not at all bla bla bla " so that he is trickled into having some FUD and then just go ahead and install the Genuine Disadvantage Anything not like it uses to be from Redmond? Now that's rich : We collect Globally Unique Identifiers, but honest, we don't try and identify individual users. Noooooo, of course not. MS is not identifying individual _users_ - they'd need a DNA sample for that (coming up : WGA with rectum scanning - for security purposes, obviously). No, MS is identifying unique MACHINES - to better call in the SWAT teams later. Anyone want to bet that the "false positives" have something to do with cancelled WGA checks ? Man how it annoys me when lawyerspeak is used to pull the wool over the eyes like that. Hey Steve ! You think we're brain-dead, or what ? Mind you, he may just be right. There hasn't been any public burning of Vista CDs yet, as far as I know. Pascal. If I decline the EULA, and MS collects the data anyway, aren't they breaking data collection laws since I decined to accept their rules? Re: WGA update Another thing I've noticed is that ever since this was foisted on me, my server will no longer stay asleep. I have a music server which is set to wake on LAN so when I turn on my AudioTron music player it wakes up and then goes back to sleep a while after I've turned off. Ever since the last WGA update it just keeps waking up for no apparent reason and then staying on for hours. I don't know if it is related but it is certainly deeply suspicious. Would you care to investigate? If true MS can be accused of environmental destruction amongst their other crimes. Regards, Stephen. "We use the information collected to generate aggregate statistics that help us improve the WGA user experience and quality of service." If you want to improve the "WGA user experience," then all you have to do is obliterate WGA from the universe. The *user* gains no benefits whatsoever from WGA, while Microsoft does - and the user is forced to pay in drive space, in CPU cycles, in memory usage, and in bandwidth usage. Which is why my personal PC and the several servers I own and operate run Linux. I haven't found an application yet that can't be either run in native Linux mode, or in a Windows emulator. Just say "no!" to WGA. No! Now what? Just a second while I warm up my harp... Now for the harping. "Guilty until proven innocent." That's the 'legal principle' of WGA. Next thing you know, they'll be trying to repeal habeas corpus. Oh. Wait. I suggest that you try to change the terms of the debate. It's okay to refer to it as WGA for purposes of official identification, but for the sake of reality you should call it "Microsoft's Advantage Program", since the only advantage of this program (both as software and as a policy) is to help Microsoft squeeze the last few drops of blood out of some poor turnips somewhere in Africa or South America. Me? 90% of my home computing is on Ubuntu Linux now, and about 20% of my work computing. The work-side is gradually increasing, and my current dream is to avoid Vista as completely as possible. Avoiding Vista is one thing, but avoiding a petrol station while under the control of a demonic hybrid car is quite another. Sympathy for one man's lost battle against the machines? Ah, no... 'Robinson recounted: "I could not stop the car. Because of its design I couldn't shift into neutral. It happened so fast I didn't have time to be scared then. I'm scared now."' And poor Mr. Robinson was apparently too stupid to switch off the ignition. Had the car successfully done away with him, I'd have called it Darwinism in action. Regarding the rampaging Prius, this man is too F'N stupid to drive a car, PERIOD. No way to shift into reverse? Then WHAT DOES HE THINK THE BIG "N" ON THE SHIFT JOYSTICK **FOR**!?? NINTENDO MODE!???!? http://www.phillycarshare.org/html/fleet_PriusInstructions.htm As long as America keeps waiving the requirement to HAVE A BRAIN in order to drive, unbelievable morons will keep driving. And that's a hazard NONE of us needs! It's only fair to stick with anatomy, so moving southwards from the brain, we arrive at the vagina...monologues, that is, and three high school students who were suspended for uttering said word: I think it's entirely appropriate to suspend students for attempting to foist that tedious monologue on the school body. Not to mention that they should get poor marks for using the word "vagina": if you've ever had the misfortune to sit through that sad production you probably also immediately realised that the entire thing is about the _vulva_. Yours in anatomy, D Communication is a wonderful thing, and the launch of SkyNet 5 spells good news for the UK military command centres, who can now speak to each other. Pity still for those front line blokes, though. Wonderful that the UK is getting this shiny new communication setup that allows HQs to talk to each other with FIVE TIMES(Woah!) the bandwidth...now all we need is a working radio system to allow them to talk to the grunts at the business end of the army. Order 10,000 Nokia 6230i's and send them to Iraq? Other hardware that don't impress you much is the PS3, and Tech Digest's 10 reasons to buy Sony's new console became 10 reasons why you shouldn't: 1. Home and LittleBigPlanet Nice, but looks like these will become very expensive very fast to actually do anything with. But more importantly games should be the number one reason to buy a games machine not the frippery. 2. It'll probably be easier to get hold of a PS3 than a Wii come 23 March If you're right it's because the pre-orders didn't sell out which is a real bad indication. 3. It's another reason to buy an HD TV Xbox360 and PS3 both look the same on HD TV. The only difference in visuals that have shown up on titles available on both platforms is the texture mapping. Neither are higher res, but some producers have managed to make the textures look better on one machine, other games look better on the opposite platform. (Plenty of comparision websites are out there) 4. MotorStorm really does look rather good. What's it playability like? 5. Affordable games You're comparing the PS3 price structure to the most expensive xbox360 games. I am very happy with my Gears of War metal boxset and art book at £50 compared to the cheaper Resistance Fall of Man. Looks good, plays far, far better, presentation case makes a nice collectors piece. 6. It's a good-value Blu-ray player I'd rather have it as an optional extra and get the console cheaper. 7. SingStar and online content Yay, that will sell PS3s as an overpriced karoke unit. The fact you actually included this in your list shows you're cribbing from a Sony PR release. 8. The PS3 controller might get its rumble back Or how Sony lied to us yet again. It's a technical issue that we can't resolve, errr, we can now resolve it the day the courtcase finished. 9. Your old PS2 games will work on it - almost I purchased my PS3 in Asia back in November. Cost £100 less than the launch price for the UK, so my machine can play a hell of a lot more of the Japanese games the PS2 became famous for and the UK machines will play less. 10. Resistance: Fall of Man Reality check: compare Resistance to EA's Black and you see that this title should have been a lot, lot better. Comparing it to Gears of War shows that the next gen games isn't just about HD graphics, it's about a more immersive enviroment. As I pointed out in #9, I have had a PS3 for nearly five months and I am not impressed at all. There is still a lack of games. The online side of the console is gimmicky. The shiny black plastic suffers scratches very easily. And there's more: Some reasons against 1) Should we feel privileged to pay £425 for a console that is available for £250 in Hong Kong, or £260 in Japan (where I saw it discounted a further 20% by shops because they could not sell them)? 2) It does not upscale DVDs 3) BlueRay is region locked - and Europe is lumped in with Africa for some strange reason. And if anyone suggests 'EMEA', then why is the Middle East not in the same region? And Japan is no longer in our region, so say goodbye to high-def Anime. Mind you, the people in Hong Kong are particularly screwed - they got lumped in with US/Japan, and cannot use DVDs or PS2/PS1 games because the units do not support Pal!!!! And also, Hong Kong is not in the same region as the rest of the Chinese speaking people in China (ok... there is the Mandarin/Cantonese divide... but come on!!!). Sony, your tactics make the mind boggle!!!! That's all for now. More boggling on Friday. ®
Tracey Cooper, 13 Mar 2007

VSTO For Mere Mortals

Book reviewBook review In addition to the legions of professional Visual Basic programmers, there are still more developers who use VBA and Microsoft Office for automation, customisation or the development of tailored office applications. Many of these are super-users rather full-time developers, but they have depended on VBA to extend and expand what it is they can do with Excel, Office, Access et al.
Dr Pan Pantziarka, 13 Mar 2007

'World's first' transistor-printing plant opens

Austrian manufacturer Nanoident Technologies today cut the ribbon on the world's first factory that literally prints opto-electronic sensor circuitry and components onto virtually any surface, including plastic, ceramic and silicon.
Scott Snowden, 13 Mar 2007

Breathe blows off Biscit deal

Breathe’s rescue of Biscit Internet is off, the would-be rescuer announced this afternoon. Breathe Networks stepped in last week with an offer to buy up the customer base of Biscit, just days after the London-based ISP slipped into administration. Last Friday Breathe said it hoped to ensure a “smooth migration with no downtime or disruption for customers. By this afternoon, it seemed a spanner had been lodged firmly in the works, with Breathe saying the deal was off due to “a number of legal and commercial issues between Biscit (currently in administration) and its suppliers.” Breathe added it would still be delighted to take on Biscit customers, but it was “prohibited from contacting them directly”. Tony Thompson, of Piper Thompson, Biscit’s administrator, confirmed the deal had fallen down this afternoon. He said there were no other suitors at this stage. This does not bode well for Biscit customers, who have been "hung out to dry," one Reg reader complained. "We have no means of getting a MAC from Breathe or BISCit and BT just state we should contact our supplier - great news, eh?." In the UK, the Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) is a unique identifier used by consumers to switch broadband ISPs. The existing service provider cannot withhold an authorisation code to enforce debt collection or contractual rights. So at first sight, Biscit's administrators should have the right to transfer MACs to whoever they choose. We shall have an update tomorrow. ®
Joe Fay, 13 Mar 2007

Intel on sale for $20

Fanboys everywhere can now buy Intel by the bit. Ex-Dell staffer and Austin resident David Weaver has started selling small containers full of the debris left over from the so-called "Intel Shell" – a never completed Intel facility destroyed last month. So, for the low-low price of $20, you can own Intel's ashes. For the uninitiated, Intel fired up construction on a new 10-story chip design facility back in the boom days. But, when the bubble popped, Intel killed the $124m project, leaving Austin with just the building's skeleton and a painful reminder of a collapsed technology economy. In the 2004, the government bought the site and has taken its sweet time developing a new courthouse on the property. The Intel Shell was finally destroyed last month. So, Weaver drove by and picked up about 25 pounds of the old building. He has since been beating the debris with a hammer and sticking it in jars. You can read more about the effort here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 13 Mar 2007

Once again, 'Vladuz' impales eBay defenses

For at least the third time in as many months, a malicious hacker has gained unauthorized access to parts of eBay's network despite the best efforts of the company's security team to fortify its system against the embarrassing breaches. A miscreant who went by a variation of the name Vladuz was able to secure credentials reserved for employees of eBay and post on at least two of the company's forums, including (ironically) one dedicated to trust and safety. The intrusion, like the others preceding it, is fueling suspicions that eBay suffers from systemic security problems, contrary to the online auctioneer's assurances that the hacker hasn't breached servers that store customer records and other sensitive data.
Dan Goodin, 13 Mar 2007

Cisco Borgs NeoPath

Cisco is buying NeoPath, a small Silicon Vallley storage management software vendor. Terms for the privately-held company are undisclosed. Founded in 2002, NeoPath claims over 50 customer installations for its File Director products, which - says Cisco -simplify the management of network attached storage (NAS) and other file servers.
Drew Cullen, 13 Mar 2007
clock teaser

Y2K7 bug causes isolated glitches

ClockwatchClockwatch We may have been little premature yesterday in declaring that America survived Sunday's Daylight Saving Time (DST) switch unscathed. Reports from Reg readers and elsewhere reveal the so-called "Y2k7 bug" threw up a variety of problems, mostly transitory and largely on the scale of minor irritation.
John Leyden, 13 Mar 2007
Flag Netherlands

Dutch reject USB flash drive tax

Dutch justice minister Hirsch Ballin has rejected calls for a copyright tax on USB Flash drives.
Jan Libbenga, 13 Mar 2007

Last.fm puts video through the scrobbler

Last.fm, the popular music website, is to apply its social recommendation technology to video, as it prepares to do battle with Pandora for the internet radio station market. Last.fm is working on a music video equivalent to its Audioscrobbler software, which registers music plays to users' profiles and Last.fm's database. The site then recommends songs liked by users with simlar tastes. Talking to The Register at SXSW Interactive in Austin, CCO Martin Stiksel was cagey on the details of the launch of the new service, which is still under wraps. Video is a natural extension: fewer than 100,000 music videos have been made, while the Last.fm database tracks more than 60 million songs. It signed deals last year with EMI and Warner to allow streaming of their vast catalogues. In leading the music recommendation field, Last.fm is one of the UK's very few UK Web 2.0 successes. Its stated aim is to succeed where Yahoo! has failed and Google doesn't even bother (it's said that Larry Page and Sergey Brin aren't music lovers - go figure), by helping fans make sense of the bewilderingly fragmented online musical landscape. The outfit, backed by the same UK VCs who funded Skype, employs around 30 people in London's Old Street. Stiksel noted that the VoIP outfit causes him hiring-headaches because it uses the same programming languages and sucks up top UK developers. Last.fm has had the standard sniffs from big companies, as all Web 2.0 firms with an at least vaguely compelling offering have, but the man with the fat cheque has yet to come knocking. Experience suggests a sell-out would be a shame: since it bought MusicMatch in 2004, Yahoo! has let its musical division stagnate. Last.fm is not a fan of digital rights management, as Audioscrobbler is dependent on accruing music fans of all tastes - including those who have yet to get involved with digital music because of DRM. Joining the near-unanimous anti-DRM chorus at SXSW, Stiksel expressed his frustration at the oil tanker-esque u-turn now being executed by the major labels. Stiksel, a former music journalist, is appearing at SXSW on a panel entitled "The ultimate music recommendation smackdown", where he faces Tom Conrad, from rival internet music station Pandora. Sketching the difference in approach between his outfit and Pandora, Stiksel said: "It's democracy versus aristocracy. Their system doesn't scale." Record label-placed tracks are sometimes inserted into Last.fm users' radio stream to pay the bills, but are always flagged as such. Pandora deploys a team of music categorisers to establish the similarities in genre and style between different tunes, as opposed to Last.fm's reliance on users' tastes to forge the links. According to Stiksel, the difference in philosophy would make consolidating the two companies and uniting the user base an illogical move. The radio station element of Last.fm competes most directly with Pandora, but it been at a disadvantage because it required users to commit to a software download. That handicap was removed with the addition of a Flash player to the site in October. Since then, Last.fm has rapidly expanded into new territories, while Pandora is yet to launch outside the US and has instead concentrated on building out its advertising infrastructure. That'll change when Pandora goes international this year, and the smackdown really begins. ®
Christopher Williams, 13 Mar 2007

Sun NetBeans phones home

Sun is taking advantage of a NetBeans feature that phones home twice each month to record numbers of active users.
Gavin Clarke, 13 Mar 2007

Blanket discovery for stolen laptops

CommentComment Bad things happen online. Trade secrets are lost or stolen. Personal information is compromised. Copyrights and trademarks are infringed. Bloggers post confidential information, defamatory information, or just annoying information. Websites host stolen credit cards, hacking tools and techniques, or other things that you might not want.
Mark Rasch, 13 Mar 2007