19th > March > 2007 Archive

Adobe
2

Adobe targets developers with Apollo

Adobe Systems is opening a new phase in the rich client wars, releasing code that could help developers change notions of what a PC interface looks like. The company is posting early code and a software development kit (SDK) for Apollo, its runtime engine for web-like applications running on a desktop without a browser. Apollo launches at the end of the year.
Gavin Clarke, 19 Mar 2007

Black Duck floats GPL 3 safety line

Black Duck software today announces the latest edition of its license sniffing software, primed and ready for General Public License Version 3.0.
Gavin Clarke, 19 Mar 2007
Flag China

China displaces Britain as botnet epicentre

China has displaced Britain as the home of the greatest concentration of compromised (zombie) PCs. The world's most populous country accounted for 26 per cent of the world's bot-infected computers, a higher density than any other country. Beijing was the city with the most bot-infected computers in the world, accounting for just over five per cent of the worldwide total, according to the latest edition of security firm Symantec's twice-yearly Internet Security Threat Report.
John Leyden, 19 Mar 2007

IE7 phishing bug nets concern

Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability in Internet Explorer 7.0 that might lend itself towards the creation of more convincing phishing attacks.
John Leyden, 19 Mar 2007
7

Oz policewoman in topless mobile snap shocker

The Victoria arm of Oz's boys in blue has been enjoying a topless snap of a female officer apparently distributed by her copper boyf through the internal email system, The Age reports. The paper believes the photo - featuring Constable Melissa Scannell "in her police uniform with her name badge visible, her shirt undone and her breasts exposed" - was sent as "an intimate get well message" to her squeeze. The bounder then seemingly passed it on to all and sundry, including "top-ranking officers and ethical standards department detectives". A Victoria Police spokeswoman said: "She has sent an image to her boyfriend and obviously he has done the wrong thing and forwarded it on. The ethical standards department has been notified. They are aware of the incident, which involved the circulation of a photograph, and they are examining it to see if an offence has been committed." ® Bootnote Thanks to Dr Thomas Conway for the tip-off. He noted: "This is the kind of gutter-crawling guff we all know and love El Reg for." Well, quite. Always happy to oblige.
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2007
2

UK boffins uncover more secrets of the gamma ray burst

New observations of one of the largest and most violent explosions in the universe have provided valuable clues for intergalactic sleuths seeking to understand the physics of Gamma Ray Bursts. Scientists at the Liverpool John Moores University were able to begin observing the burst just 203 seconds after it had begun, thanks to the early warning given by NASA's Swift satellite. The scientists from Liverpool John Moores University and their colleagues in the UK, Italy, France and Slovenia used the Liverpool Telescope on the island of La Palma and its new polarimeter, RINGO, to perform the measurement. Gamma Ray Bursts are very short lived, but incredibly powerful explosions, so bright that we can see them as far back as the earliest five percent of the universe's life time. It is thought that a star must collapse, or two stars must collide to produce one, so their presence is seen as good evidence of star formation. This is important because it gives us an idea of when stars began forming, and what the universe must have been like, billions of years ago. But because they are so brief - lasting from a few seconds to maybe a few minutes - very little in known about them. The launch of the Swift satellite is changing all that because it sets in motion a cascade of observations in space and on the ground the moment it detects a blast. This latest explosion has revealed a huge amount of detail about the polarisation of the "optical afterglow", the burst of light emitted in the blast that is thought to be caused by ejected material impacting the gas surrounding the dying star. Until now, the composition of the ejected material has remained a mystery and, in particular the importance of magnetic fields has been hotly debated by GRB scientists. Either way, the early optical glow contains important clues for both these areas of research. Principal author of the Science paper, Dr Carole Mundell of the Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, explains: "Our new measurements, made shortly after the Gamma Ray Burst, show that the level of polarisation in the afterglow is very low. Combined with our knowledge of how the light from this explosion faded, this rules-out the presence of strong magnetic fields in the emitting material flowing out from the explosion - a key element of some theories of GRBs." However much scientists have learned from this set of data, gamma ray bursts remain hugely mysterious events. Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and president of the Royal Society said that science was "still flummoxed: by the underlying trigger of the explosions, and why they sometimes emit brief flashes of light. "Theorists have a lot of tentative ideas, and these observations narrow down the range of options," he added. The research is publised in the March 15 edition of Science.®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Mar 2007
41

BA upgrades corpse

A first class British Airways passenger got short shrift from cabin crew after expressing his displeasure at waking up to find them manoeuvering a corpse into the seat next to him, the Daily Mirror reports. The elderly woman had apparently died shortly after take-off, and was quickly upgraded from economy to first class Building firm boss Paul Trinder, who'd stumped £3,000+ for the Boeing 747 flight from Delhi to London, recounted: "I woke up to see the crew manoeuvering what looked like a sack of potatoes into the seat. But slowly through the darkness I realised it was a body. The corpse was strapped into the seat but because of turbulence it kept slipping down on to the floor. It was horrific. The body had to be wedged in place with lots of pillows. "Then the relatives were allowed to sit in First Class and spent the next five hours wailing and weeping. When I complained, I was told to 'get over it'. I was also told BA's corpse policy would remain 'unless I've got any better ideas'. In future, if I have a choice of airlines on a particular route I'll choose anyone but BA." BA told the Daily Mirror: "We apologise, but our crew were working in difficult circumstances and chose the option they thought would cause least disruption." ®
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2007

Nvidia to unveil line-leading gaming GPU next month?

Next month will see the arrival of a new top-of-the-line Nvidia GeForce 8 series GPU, the 8800 Ultra, along with a host of lesser products, it has been claimed.
Tony Smith, 19 Mar 2007

Google confirms Adscape buy

Google has confirmed it has bought in-game advertising company Adscape Media. The deal was first reported in February. Financial terms were not disclosed and the deal is now closed. Google isn't releasing any figures on how it sees the market growing but said: "...we think there is great value in video game advertising. As more and more people spend time playing video games, we think we can create opportunities for advertisers to reach their target audiences while maintaining a high quality, engaging user experience." The search giant said it had "no news to share" on how or when it would integrate Adscape's in-game advertising with Google's ad platform. Analysts Yankee Group predicts the in-game advertising will hit $700m by 2010, up from $56m in 2005. Read Google's statement here.®
John Oates, 19 Mar 2007

Intel names 'Bearlake' gaming PC chipset

Intel launched its next-generation performance desktop chipsets last week, announcing version of the platform codenamed 'Bearlake' for games machines, mainstream PCs and budget systems.
Tony Smith, 19 Mar 2007
channel

Gentleman thief takes Dutch bank for £15m

A "smooth-talking" thief has taken ABN Amro bank in Antwerp for £15m worth of diamonds, making off with 120,000 carats despite using nothing more than chocolates and charm in the audacious blag.
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2007

T-Mobile UK prices up Ameo UMPC-style communicator

HTC's UMPC-like smart phone, Athena, is now available in the UK in its guise as the T-Mobile Ameo priced at a mere £120 - provided you pick the right airtime package, of course.
Tony Smith, 19 Mar 2007
1

German Gmail blocker wouldn't sell up for millions

The German businessman behind trade mark cases that could wreck Google's email branding across Europe would refuse millions of dollars for the G-Mail trade mark he owns, according to his lawyer. The man has already turned down a Google offer of $250,000. Daniel Giersch is a venture capitalist who also owns and runs a physical and electronic postal service in Germany called G-Mail. In an exclusive interview with weekly technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio his trade mark lawyer Sebastian Eble said that money would not be able to buy Giersch's compliance with Google's wishes. "The German lawyers of Google contacted me and respectively Daniel in order to ask what was his aim and if he was ready to sell his trade mark for $250,000," said Eble. "But Daniel made it clear from the beginning that he had never had the goal to sell his trade mark." "Daniel is a millionaire so you know, €250,000 is for Daniel not a big amount of money and on your other hand his aim or his goal is to do big business with this G-mail trademark. G-mail is a little bit like Daniel’s baby so it was never a question for him to sell his trade mark," said Elbe. "Even if they would, I do not know, offer him millions I do not think that Daniel would sell it because it is like his little baby, Giersch-mail, so it is named G-mail." Giersch won a preliminary injunction then a full injunction to stop Google calling its web based email service Gmail in Germany, making it the only country apart from the UK in which the service is not called Gmail. A similar case in the UK has forced Google into branding the service Google Mail here. The full injunction is being appealed by Google, which announced plans to launch its service in 2004. Giersch, though, registered his trade mark long before that. "He applied for this trade mark in the year 2000 and the trade mark seeks protection for postal service on the one hand but also email services and telecommunications," said Elbe. "He then started using his trademark G-mail for email services and telecommunications in the year 2003." "I think in November 2004 he heard that Google was starting email service named G-mail in the United States so his lawyers contacted Google, I think, in November or December 2005 but Google had at that time not shown any interest to talking to Daniel," said Eble. Giersch also has trade marks in G-mail in Norway, Monaco and Switzerland, where he is pursuing action to protect his trade marks. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Mar 2007
Sony Vaio VGN-TX5XN laptop
1

Sony Vaio VGN-TX5XN laptop

ReviewReview If you like the idea of a laptop that you can cart about with you, but want something with a bigger screen and keyboard than the tiny Sony UX1XN, then the TX5XN could be just what you're looking for. It's small enough to accompany you most places you go, but still has a decent sized screen and keyboard so you can get some proper work done.
Will Head, 19 Mar 2007

Reding threatens Euro TV regulations

CeBITCeBIT Viviane Reding sent a chunk of the mobile TV industry reeling when she threatened to impose standards on the industry and publicly backed the DVB-H standard. Speaking at a conference at Cebit last week, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said the Commission had backed the industry in setting up the European Mobile Broadcasting Council, with the aim of letting industry regulate itself. But so far, she said, the council had failed to make any concrete progress. Reding highlighted GSM as an example of the European Commission using a light touch, and letting industry resolve technical issues. Reding ordered operators and vendors to get their act together and come up with some standards. “I would really not like to intervene with regulatory standards,” said Reding, giving every impression the industry would find the experience pretty unpleasant. Reding also banged the drum for the DVB standard. In her official statement, she said “European industry has already developed successful TV standards in the past, and I am very confident that on the basis of DVB-H, mobile TV services can develop the economies of scale they need for take-up across Europe and around the world.” She added, at the conference, “I came to the conclusion that we need an open standard…and we need a European standard.” Backers of other standards were left dismayed by Reding’s clear bias in favour of DVB. Andrew Gilbert, president of Qualcomm Europe, he supported the drive for standardization, but was “confused that [she’s] advocating a specific technology…I got the impression that she’s chosen DVB-H.” Away from the issue of standards, Reding, said the switch to digital broadcasting will free up UHF spectrum that could for the basis for a common spectrum for mobile TV. A review of the potential of the “digital dividend” is due later this year. Mobile TV seems set to be spared public service type “must carry” obligations, although Reding also said this could be looked at again as the industry matures. At the same time Reding planted a stake in the ground for future billing, saying that eventually she expected to see mobile TV achieve the kind of roaming capabilities seen with mobile voice, “but not the costs."®
Joe Fay, 19 Mar 2007
For Sale sign detail

Channel rumours round-up

Atos Origin and Getronics are the targets of rumoured takeovers this morning sending shares in both soaring. Dutch company Getronics was up five per cent late last week on rumours that KPN, the Dutch telco, was lining it up for a takeover. Getronics shares were steady this morning.
John Oates, 19 Mar 2007

EPO says UK patent law is clear enough

The president of the European Patent Office has turned down a request by three English judges to have the EPO clarify a tricky section of European and UK patent law. In October last year the judges took the very unusual step of asking for clarification of the scope of Article 52. They made the request in their judgement in the case of Neal Macrossan's appeal to have the UK patent Office grant a patent for his invention. Article 52, clause 2, outlines items that do not qualify for patent protection, under European and UK law, and includes "schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers". Exactly how this clause should be interpreted has been extremely contentious, with passionate arguments on both sides of the debate. Some fear that too broad an interpretation could lead to US-style software idea patents being granted in the UK. Others are concerned that if it is interpreted too narrowly, it will discourage innovation in the UK. The Judges wrote at the time that decisions by the EPO's board of appeal have been mutually contradictory in their interpretation of Article 52: "Surely the time has come for matters to be clarified by an Enlarged Board of Appeal...the President of the EPO has the power to refer a point of law to an Enlarged Board where two Boards of Appeal have given different decisions on that question. That is now clearly the position." In his reply, the EPO president Professor Alain Pompidou explains that he sees things differently. Although he concedes that there have been different interpretations, these have not been sufficiently different on important points of law to justify referring the questions to an enlarged board of appeal, he says. "I believe the appropriate moment for a referral would be where the approach taken by one Board of Appeal would lead to the grant of a patent whereas the approach taken by another Board would not," he wrote. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Mar 2007
1

A380 heads for US of A

Airbus A380s will later today touch down at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), marking the maiden transatlantic flights for the troubled superjumbo. The JFK-bound aircraft was due to depart at 0830 GMT this morning from Frankfurt as "part of the Commercial Route Proving jointly performed with Deutsche Lufthansa over a 12 day period", as the Airbus press release explains. It carries around 500 passengers, albeit it mostly made up of Airbus and Lufthansa staff. After touching down in the Big Apple at around 1630 GMT, the aircraft is slated to make a return trip to Chicago O'Hare on 20 March, flying back to Frankfurt on 21 March. The second A380 is making its way, in Qantas livery but without passengers, to LAX for "airport compatibility tests". It's also scheduled to land at 1630 GMT. The superjumbo has now visited over 40 airports worldwide, Airbus notes, and by 2011, "more than 70 airports around the world will be ready for A380 operations". Executive Vice President and Head of the A380 Programme, Mario Heinen, trumpeted: "After having brought the A380 to many airports in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and also Africa, we are proud that, on the occasion of the Commercial Route Proving, we are now able to present the A380 to the American people "Both JFK and LAX, as well as Chicago O'Hare International and Washington Dulles International Airport are key future destinations for the A380. Following this, they can confirm their readiness to receive the aircraft when customers will begin flying it there very soon." Heinen also expressed hope that the A380 would wow the folks across the pond, adding: "Also, the quietness and limited environmental impact of the aircraft will surely positively surprise the local communities as it did elsewhere, while its economic benefits, including the reduced fuel burn of less than three litres per passenger per 100 kilometres, have already convinced our customers." Said customers may be convinced by the A380's credentials, but have yet to get their hands on the controls. The programme is now two years behind schedule, and Airbus recently announced a major resturcturing programme resulting in the loss of 10,000 jobs across its European operations. To underline just how frustrated some expectant operators are, UPS in February threatened to cancel its order for 10 freight versions of the A380 if there was any further delay in a revised delivery schedule. It then walked it like it talked it, and on 5 March pulled the plug on the deal "after it learned Airbus was diverting employees from the freighter program to work on its passenger plane program", as the company explained in a statement. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2007

Toshiba to bring HD DVD to Satellite laptops

Toshiba will begin adding HD DVD drives to its mainstream laptop line-up, the Satellite series, in Q3, the notebook maker revealed last week.
Tony Smith, 19 Mar 2007

MPs guide Fujitsu workers back to talks

Fujitsu is to return to talks with disgruntled IT staff after MPs offered to mediate in the long-running dispute and staff called off strike action. IT workers at Fujistu's Manchester offices had planned a national picket of an un-named Fujitsu customer on Saturday 17 March and another strike tomorrow, Tuesday. Both were called off and the six-day a month strike action they had balloted for also suspended. A spokesman for Fujitsu said today: "Fujitsu are pleased that there are no strikes in the pipeline so we can go forward with negotiations." Union members had been persuaded by a group of five Labour MPs to suspend their strike action so there was a chance of reconvening talks. Fujitsu staff organised by Amicus, the union, have spent 12 days on strike since November and Fujitsu has walked away from talks twice. In a letter sent last week to David Courtley, chief executive of Fujitsu Services, five MPs offered to mediate in the dispute. "Given the concerns of our constituents and the fact that Fujitsu is a major supplier of IT services to the government, we are keen to see a swift resolution to the dispute," said the letter. "We are therefore seeking an urgent meeting between you, a senior officer from Amicus, and members of both negotiating teams, to see if we can broker proper dialogue and help to resolve this situation," it said. An effort to have the matter debated in Parliament would also be shelved, said the letter, which was signed by Tony Lloyd, MP for Manchester Central, Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, David Crausby, MP for Bolton North East, and Helen Southworth, MP for Warrington South. The MPs had not yet received a reply from Fujitsu, said Lloyd's office.®
Mark Ballard, 19 Mar 2007

Average Brit scoffs 2,960 spag bols

The average Brit will work his or her way through 2,960 portions of spaghetti bolognese in a lifetime - "the equivalent of a plateful every day for more than eight years", as the Evening Standard puts it. A study by the makers of Loyd Grossman Sauces also revealed that we'll scoff our way through 2,264 doses of sausage and mash, 2,089 hauls of fish and chips, 1,567 platters of chilli con carne and 871 hits of chicken tikka masala. Fair enough, you might say, but the study shows that so lacking are we in culinary inspiration that the average family "survived on just four staple dishes" and six million households subsist on spag bol "twice a week or more". It apparently gets worse the older you get, too, with those in their forties and fifties "most likely to be creatures of habit", as opposed to go-ahead 25 to 34-year-olds who show most va-va-voom in the kitchen. TV chef Grossman blamed Brits' "hectic lifestyles" for the lamentable monotony of our diets. He explained: "Despite the recent explosion in the number of food shows on TV, it seems that a combination of time pressure and fear of failure is limiting our culinary repertoire, particularly on weekdays." Grossman advised: "The best way to start expanding one's culinary repertoire is to add new or different ingredients to familiar dishes. For example, if you're going to cook a chicken breast, wrap it in pancetta and add rosemary for extra flavour. It's a simple way to give the dish a distinctive twist." The effects of Grossman's counsel were immediately evident at Vulture Central. One hack is as I write dousing his traditional lunchtime doner kebab and chips in Loyd Grossman sea cucumber and jojoba essence exotic Thai stir-fry sauce. "Yeah, it gives it a distictive twist," he reports. "Wanna bite?" ®
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2007

Page after page on the QCon Conference

March 12-16, 2007, saw the Qcon Conference take place at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, London. Yours truly, here at El Reg, sponsored the event that was advertised as "organized by the community, for the community."
Register Books, 19 Mar 2007

Samsung shiny laptops to sport next-gen Nvidia GPU

Samsung has announced a pair of glossy black laptops, the South Korean giant's bid to build a look as iconic as Apple's MacBook machines and the original IBM - now Lenovo - ThinkPad. Into the bargain, it let slip Nvidia's GeForce Go 8000 GPU. Whoops.
Tony Smith, 19 Mar 2007
1

Naomi Campbell hits the mop and bucket

Naomi Campbell this morning began her five-day stint mopping New York floors as punishment for chucking a mobile phone at housekeeper Ana Scolavino, AFP reports. The battling Streatham clotheshorse ignored the gloating press-pack who'd gathered outside the "run-down" Lower East Side Sanitation Department warehouse to welcome her, preferring to "stride" from a black SUV towards her temporary post. Campbell was, for the record, sporting black patent stiletto boots, brown trousers and a knee-length black jacket. Reports that Philippe Starck designed the bucket and mop she is as we speak using to wipe the slate clean are unconfirmed. As an agreeable footnote to this tale of woe, Campbell recently said she'd auction off the jeans and boots (designer as yet unknown) she's wearing for the job in aid of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. ®
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2007
channel

BT hit by St Patrick's Day system failure

BT's UK billing service was halted nationwide for 24 hours on St Patrick's Day due to a major system failure. Customers were prevented from paying bills or amending their details with the UK's telecoms giant. One Reg reader told us on Saturday that "the systems have crashed, nobody can pay bills online, the staff can't get into the billing systems, or even get to the internet – and that they don't expect it to be fixed today or tomorrow." The billing service crashed on Saturday morning (March 17) and was only reinstated early on Sunday morning, according to BT spokesperson Adam Liversage. He also confirmed that the firm's contingency plan of manually taking down customer details had to be abandoned. BT workers were forced to advice customers to call back the following day. When asked to explain the day-long system failure Liversage said: "I couldn't speculate on what caused it, we are investigating and haven't reached a definitive conclusion as yet." He said that BT will make allowances for customers who were unable to pay their bills on time due to the system failure. He added that the incident was "very much a one-off event." Our reader took a slightly different view of the billing system breakdown, saying such a collapse was "never a good thing to hear from a company that tries to sell critical infrastructure of any kind."
Kelly Fiveash, 19 Mar 2007
11

Racing games increase real world crashes

German researchers reckon that playing computer driving games encourages people men to take more risks when driving in the real world. Researchers carried out three studies using three racing games - Burnout, Midnight Racer, Need for Speed - and three non-racing control games - Tak, Crash Bandicoot and Fifa 2005. All games were played on a Sony PlayStation 2 using a 72in TV screen. One study also used Medal of Honour to see if a violent shoot 'em-up would have the same effect.
John Oates, 19 Mar 2007
channel

TPC debuts brokerage benchmark

The Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) has announced a new set of benchmarks to measure the speed of servers. The TPC has various tests for evaluating different servers and the software they run. TPC-E is the "much anticipated successor" to TPC-C which is used for comparing online transaction processing. The measurement can be used to test various server architectures.
John Oates, 19 Mar 2007
1

Father's smallpox jab puts son in hospital

A two-year old boy is in hospital today having become critically ill after his father received a smallpox vaccination. According to reports, the boy's father is a US soldier, who was was due to deploy to Iraq, but was unexpectedly kept home after having his vaccination. Doctors say the child must have touched the site of the vaccination - a closely related virus is scratched into the surface of the skin - and has developed a potentially fatal response called eczema vaccinatum. Although the disease has been eradicated since 1979, the US resumed its vaccination programme in 2002, in response to the fears that someone could use the virus as a biological weapon. Military personnel and around 40,000 civilian health workers have been given the jab. This is the first case of eczema vaccinatum since then, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). CDC pox virus expert Dr. Inger Damon told Reuters that the two-year old had been treated with immune globulin, cidofovir (an antiviral) and SIGA-246, (an experimental antiviral). She said the CDC was "cautiously optimistic" about the child's progress. The smallpox vaccine is notorious for its very serious side effects, but the CDC says that the screening process is much better now. Anyone at a high risk of a dangerous response - such as the eczema vaccinatum - is not given the jab. This has helped keep bad reactions to a minimum. Eczema vaccinatum has a mortality rate of around 18 per cent, the CDC says, as compared to around 30 per cent for the smallpox virus itself. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Mar 2007

Breathe rescues some Biscit customers

Internet Service Provider Breathe is taking over V21 customers from crashed ISP Biscit. Originally Breathe was going to pick up all of London-based Biscit's customers but legal disputes put the kybosh on that deal. Breathe has done a deal with EurISP and will now migrate the V21 punters onto its network. About 1,500 customers will be pleased to get back online. Breathe will give them a few days grace after which they can either sign up to one of Breathe's packages or get a MAC number to help them migrate quickly and easily to another provider. Breathe launched with much fanfare in 1999 before an "internet access for life" offer led to its temporary closure and subsequent rebirth. BT launched its own liferaft for Biscit customers last week.®
John Oates, 19 Mar 2007
globalisation

HMRC gets new tool to battle VAT fraud

Computer chips and mobile phones will be subjected to a "reverse charge" VAT regime from June 1 this year in a bid to slash missing trader fraud. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the reverse charge system should remove the ability "to steal VAT on business-to-business transactions", effectively preventing Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud - or "carousel fraud" as it is more commonly known - on certain goods.
Kelly Fiveash, 19 Mar 2007
7

Sunspots linked to Aussie droughts?

An Australian scientist has proposed a link between the solar cycle of sunspots, and rainfall in the eastern region of his native land. He says that data going back 100-years show a correlation between solar activity, the polarity of the sun's magnetic field, and periods of drought. If he is right, this winter (summer, up here in the North) should see significant rainfall going into 2008, breaking the hundred-year drought the continent is currently suffering. Professor Robert Baker said: "The sun is now in a similar position in terms of its magnetic field as it was in the 1920s. If it keeps tracking...we would therefore expect average and above rainfall for eastern Australia." The research is not yet published, but has been submitted to the journal Solar Terrestrial Physics for peer review. Baker is an associate professor in the school of human and environmental studies at the university of New England, in Australia. He has derived his theory from other work correlating the cycles of solar activity and weather patterns on Earth. Researchers have long tried to establish a link between solar activity and climate, or at least weather. The jury is still very much out on whether or not the link is causal. Baker says he hopes his work will pave the way for better predictions of long term weather patterns, and in turn for better water management in the region. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Mar 2007

Secure64 taunts hackers with 'DNS immunity'

Like most vendors in the Itanium realm, Secure64 has come to market slowly and with scaled back ambitions. Nonetheless, the start-up’s initial play - a super-fast, super-secure DNS (domain name service) server - looks promising.
Ashlee Vance, 19 Mar 2007
channel

Overland makes low-end REO grand

Overland Storage today launched an upgrade for the entry-level REO series of disk-based backup and virtual tape library systems. The new REO 1500, which takes the place of the 1000 series box, sports a five-times faster performance boost than its predecessor - from 20Mbps to 100Mbps - as well as snappier restores of up to 2TB of data. No word on if or when the REO 4000 or 9000 will receive similar arithmetic to their names, but Overland promises "pending product announcements".
Austin Modine, 19 Mar 2007
Debian GNU/Linux

Debian founder crowned Sun King of OS

Ian Murdock, the father of Debian, is joining Sun Microsystems, to head up the company's operating systems platform strategy. He says in his blog that "everything I know about computing I learned on those Sun workstations" in the computer science building at Purdue University in Indiana.
Drew Cullen, 19 Mar 2007
Redhat logo

Red Hat and Intel channels beat as one

Red Hat is fast-tracking reseller accreditation to anyone with an Intel Premier or Associate badge. It's free of charge too and it means that system builders don't have to spend months to qualify for Red Hat approval. This is a long-tail, be-nice-to-the-little-guys initiative, supporting white-box builders who slap RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) onto standard-config Intel servers. Before today, Red Hat would request a fee from any builder who wanted certifying, but that comes across as a little short-sighted in days like these, when competitors seem to be fighting to star in Kill Red Hat first.
Drew Cullen, 19 Mar 2007

FBI: Internet crime pays

Cyber-crime is alive and kicking in the USA, and playfully swimming through its riches like Scrooge McDuck in a money vault, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center annual report reveals today. In 2006 US consumers filed 207,492 complaints about internet crime and reported record losses of $198.4m. Online auction fraud, such as receiving a different item than expected, topped the list, accounting for 44.9 per cent of complaints. Undelivered merchandise and payments were next in line, accounting for 19 per cent. Greedy fools are still falling for the 419 scam (which the FBI calls "Nigerian Letter Fraud"). On average, victims last year lost $5,100 a pop to the countless princes of Nigeria, by sensibly moving their Majesties' assets to the US. Another notable email scam, with 115 complaints received last year, goes straight for the jugular: the fraudster demands money in return for not murdering the recipient through a hired assassin. Three-quarters of the offenders caught were male, half residing in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Most were located in the US although significant numbers were located in the UK, Nigeria, Canada, Romania and Italy. Some 61.2 per cent of complaints were filed by men, half of them aged between 30 and 50. Men lost an average of $1.69 for every $1 reported by women. Nearly 74 per cent of complainants were contacted through email and 36 per cent through websites. Here are some suggestions from the FBI for avoiding internet crime - to which we add the following: don't be a complete twit. ®
Austin Modine, 19 Mar 2007