26th > March > 2007 Archive

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Rackable goes after Sun's white trash data center biz

Rackable Systems has signed on as a willing participant in the white trash data center movement. CTOs everywhere can slap on their wife beaters, hop in a flatbed truck, and head over to Rackable's Milpitas headquarters to pick up a Concentro. Rackable's new system packs up to 1,200 two-socket servers into a standard 40' x 8' shipping container, giving customers a portable data center. Customers are expected to pick up such a design to work around space and power consumption issues.
Ashlee Vance, 26 Mar 2007
9

Satnav plunges £96k Merc into river

The driver of a £96k Mercedes SL500 had a lucky escape after her satnav directed her down a winding track and straight into the River Sence in Sheepy Magna, Leicestershire, the Leicester Mercury reports.
Lester Haines, 26 Mar 2007

Dispute resolution procedures are failing, says DTI

Workplace dispute resolution procedures are flawed and have caused poor results, according to a review (pdf) commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The review has called for the complete repeal of the current procedures. Though Michael Gibbons, who conducted the review commissioned by DTI minister Alistair Darling, said the 2004 Dispute Resolution Regulations were well intentioned, he said they had failed. "In conducting the review I was struck by the overwhelming consensus that the intentions of the 2004 regulations were sound and that there had been a genuine attempt to keep them simple, and yet there is the same near unanimity that as formal legislation they have failed to produce the desired policy outcome," said Gibbons in his report. "This is perhaps a classic case of good policy, but inappropriately inflexible and prescriptive regulation. "The key message from this review is that inflexible, prescriptive regulation has been unsuccessful in this context and it follows that the measures to be used in future should be much simpler and more flexible – and therefore will offer rather less certainty and predictability in their operation," he said. The review has recommended that a free system of resolution and mediation be made available in cases where early resolution may be possible. "Government should increase the quality of advice to potential claimants and respondents through an adequately resourced helpline and the internet; and offer a free early dispute resolution service, including where appropriate mediation," he said. "My vision is of a greatly increased role for mediation. Encouraged by signs of success in the context of employment disputes elsewhere in the world, I commend increased use of mediation to employers, employees and practitioners in Great Britain," said Gibbons. Gibbons' attack on the mediation service comes just weeks after a report (pdf) by the Chartered Institute of Professional Development revealed that many more employers think the statutory procedures make formal disciplinary hearings and grievances more likely than the number that think them less likely. According to a survey conducted by the body, 28 per cent of employers think the procedures have led to an increase in the number of grievances, while only one per cent think they have led to a decrease. It found that 18 per cent think they have led to an increase in the number of formal disciplinary cases, while only three per cent think they have led to a decrease in those cases. The survey also found that 29 per cent of employers believed disputes that do arise are less likely to be resolved informally than they were before the statutory procedures were put in place. Disputes can be expensive for employers. The CIPD says that they eat up 350 days of management time a year and that employers spend £20,000 a year on employment tribunals, costs which rise to £210,000 a year for those employing more that 10,000 people. Report author and CIPD employee relations adviser Ben Willmott recommended similar measures to Gibbons when the report was published. "The Department for Trade and Industry should consider going back to the drawing board," he said. "They have failed to reduce the burden on the employment tribunal system, adding to the complexity of tribunal hearings, as well as creating additional problems for employers by making managing conflict at work more bureaucratic." The DTI said it will change the way dispute resolution works, and has launched a consultation with industry on the issue. "Workplace disputes are expensive and wasteful for employers and stressful for employees," DTI minister Alistair Darling said. "We want to find the best way to reduce the numbers, get them solved earlier, and keep the system fair for everybody." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 26 Mar 2007

Experts dampen mobile mast health fears

Electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phones and base stations don't cause cancer or have adverse effects on health - yet. That's the finding of a government-appointed expert group which examined the issue in detail, taking into account the fields generated by electricity lines as well as those emitted by mobiles and phone network masts. The report from the expert group included the former co-ordinator of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) radiation and environmental health unit, Dr Michael Repacholi, and Dr Eric van Rongen, scientific secretary of the Health Council of the Netherlands. It could allay some of the public's fears surrounding the siting of mobile phone masts and the use of the phones in general. "So far no adverse short or long-term health effects have been found from exposure to the radiofrequency (RF) signals produced by mobile phones and base station transmitters. RF signals have not been found to cause cancer," the report concluded. However, the report did point out that more research was needed into the effects of RF fields on children and adolescents. "There is no data available to suggest that the use of mobile phones by children is a health hazard. However, in Sweden and the UK, the authorities recommend a precautionary approach to either minimise use (essential calls only) or minimise exposure (by using a hands-free kit)," it said. "In the Netherlands the use of mobile phones by children is not considered a problem. No research has found any adverse health effects from children using mobile phones, but more research on this issue has been recommended by WHO." Mobile phone use was identified as a risk factor for only one section of the population; drivers. "The only established adverse health effect associated with mobile phone use, (both hand-held and handsfree) is an increase in traffic accidents when they are used while driving," the report said. The expert group also looked at the condition known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). The symptoms presented include headaches, sleeplessness, depression, skin and eye complaints, and are attributed by sufferers to EMF exposure. While the report authors acknowledged that the symptoms were real, debilitating and required treatment, they could not establish a definite link between EMF exposure and the occurrence of EHS symptoms. Monitoring the health effects of EMF in Ireland is currently the responsibility of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural resources, but this will transferred to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government from 1 May, 2007. The government is in the process of establishing a single state agency to deal with ionising radiation and non-ionising radiation, with the statutory powers of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) due to be extended to not only cover ionising radiation, but the also non-ionising variety too. Ionising radiation, such as that produced by X-rays, can occur naturally, as can non-ionising radiation, such as optical radiation, which includes ultraviolet (UV), visible, infrared, and electromagnetic fields. A national research programme is also being set up to look into the health effects of exposure to EMF. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Ciara O'Brien, 26 Mar 2007

Tiny moon ruining Saturn's day

If you were trying to work out how long a day on Saturn is, you wouldn't expect to find your best efforts scuppered by a tiny moon. After all, you can still see the planet, right? The problem lies in the technique traditionally used to discover how fast a gas giant is rotating. The radio technique measures the rotation of the planet by taking its radio pulse rate - the rhythm of natural radio signals from the planet. If something is slowing the planet's magnetic field, this won't work. But this is exactly the problem facing scientists right now: the moon Enceladus is weighing down the gas giant's magnetic field to such an extent that the planet's field is being slowed down. This makes the radio technique as useful as a chocolate fireguard. "No one could have predicted that the little moon Enceladus would have such an influence on the radio technique that has been used for years to determine the length of the Saturn day," said Dr Don Gurnett of the University of Iowa, principal investigator on the radio and plasma wave science experiment on NASA's Cassini spacecraft. According to new research, published in the 22 March online issue of Science, the cause of the drag is Enceladus' polar geyser: a vast stream of ice and water vapour emanating from the moon's southern pole. These particles become electrically charged and are captured by the planet's magnetic field, forcing the field lines to slip relative to the planet's actual rotation. The findings are prompting scientists to question the absolute link between a planet's radio pulse rate and the length of its day. Professor Michele Dougherty, principal investigator on Cassini's magnetometer instrument from Imperial College London, says: "Saturn is showing we need to think further." The findings explain an earlier observation that the apparent length of Saturn's day as measured by Cassini is now about six minutes longer than when it was measured by Voyager in the 1970s. The researchers now have two possible explanations for the apparent slowing of Saturn's rotation: either the geysers are more active than they were in the 1970s, producing more material and thus slowing the field line's rotation; or there are seasonal variations according to where Saturn is in its 29 year orbit of the sun. ® Bootnote: NASA has audio clip files to go with this. Point your ears this way and listen in on Saturn.
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Mar 2007
10

US lifts lid on world's largest toilet

We all know that everything in the good old US of A is bigger, but surely this is dragging the concept of supersize to hitherto unplumbed depths: We suppose that the Florida übercrapper (click here to enjoy on Google Earth or here to peruse on Google Maps) indicates that America has thrown in the towel on its burgeoning obesity problem and recognises that the day will soon arrive when it will need to accommodate wobbly pairs of 33-metre buttocks. We wouldn't want to be downwind when the first customer pops in to download some brownware. ® Bootnote Ta very much to Robin Lovell for the tip.
Lester Haines, 26 Mar 2007
Recycle sign

How green is my vendor?

Environmental issues are becoming a big concern for those involved in managing IT and communications. You can tell this because just about every other supplier is touting their green credentials. Often they have only reduced their power consumption by a fraction of a megawatt, run an electric shuttle bus to their out of town business park location, or have just switched to "low energy" drinks in their staff cafeteria, but it's presented as being green.
Rob Bamforth, 26 Mar 2007
Warning Stop

Relisys has stopped trading, administrator confirms

Begbies Traynor released a statement late on Friday confirming that monitor maker Relisys Digital went into administration on 21 March 2007.
Kelly Fiveash, 26 Mar 2007

WIN a Sony PlayStation 3

CompetitionCompetition Sony's PlayStation 3 - possibly the most eagerly anticipated games console yet - has arrived in the UK. You can read Register Hardware's review here - then try and win one of your own.
Register Hardware, 26 Mar 2007
4

Laptop-lob 'paparazzi scum' sue Denise Richards

Two paparazzi who allegedly got on the wrong side of former Bond girl Denise Richards are suing the highly-talented actress and Playboy model, the BBC reports. In November last year, there was a bit of a rumpus at a casino near Vancouver during filming for Blonde and Blonder, when Richards reportedly got into a scrap with the snappers and threw their laptops from a second-floor balcony, in the process doing minor damage to an 80-year-old woman and a 91-year-old woman sitting in the lobby below. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police looked into the matter, and that was the last that was heard of it - until now. Scott Cosman and Rik Fedyck have filed suit at Los Angeles Superior Court claiming Richards called them "paparazzi scum", assaulted them, and projected said laptops at the River Rock resort in British Columbia. They're also suing Richard's Blonde and Blonder co-star Pamela Anderson, "claiming she and Ms Richards lied to authorities about the confrontation". The suit claims the pair "made repeated false and defamatory statements to law enforcement and various media outlets which were deliberately calculated to embarrass, humiliate, and ridicule the plaintiffs". The planitiffs apparently suffered "emotional stress" and loss of income when clients subsequently ditched them. Richards and Anderson have remained tight-lipped on the allegations. ®
Lester Haines, 26 Mar 2007
5

Centagenarian secures 25-year mortgage

A 102-year-old UK man has secured a £200,000 interest-only mortgage which will cost him £958 a month until he makes the final payment at 127, Ananova reports. The East Sussex old timer, who intends to use the cash to move into the buy-to-let market, is the oldest person in Britain to be granted a new mortgage. Jonathan Moore, of Mortgages for Business, who arranged the loan for the centagenarian wannabe landlord, explained: "It's a new phenomenon. Five years ago, anybody over 65 would have been hard-pushed to get any mortgage. But lenders have eased restrictions to keep in step with the market." Which by our reckoning translates as: "They'll lend money to anyone if they see a profit in it." ®
Lester Haines, 26 Mar 2007
2

Canada puts its mounted booties down

House of CardsHouse of Cards Canuckia gets tough The controversy in Canada surrounding the expansion of online gambling took another turn this week as the attorney general of Alberta weighed in on the recent attempt by the Alexander First Nation to begin offering the same online gambling services as the Kahnawake tribe in Quebec.
Burke Hansen, 26 Mar 2007

Tiny iRiver media player flows into UK

It's been some time since digital music player maker iRiver made a splash in the UK, but its Flash-based X20 might just be the device to make waves in this iPod-dominated nation.
Tony Smith, 26 Mar 2007

Blunkett cashes in on ID card experience

David Blunkett, the man who pioneered the UK government's ID cards proposals, has taken a job with a security company which works on Spain's ID card and could even be in the bidding for UK contracts. However, Blunkett is officially forbidden from working on government contracts for two years after leaving government. This period ends in November. According to the House of Commons Register of Members' Interests, Blunkett is chair of Entrust's international advisory committee, starting the new job on 1 March. The MPs' register is available here (pdf). Security firm Entrust, which works on Spain's ID card, has also hired Andrew Pinder - the UK government's former e-Envoy - who is now a vice president of global solutions. Entrust refused to comment, referring all questions to the US. Blunkett resigned as Home Secretary when it emerged that a visa application made by his lover's nanny had been fast tracked. The Budd Inquiry said: "I believe that I have been able to establish a chain of events linking Mr Blunkett to the change in the decision on Ms Casalme's application for ILR." A year later he resigned as Work and Pensions minister because he forgot to tell the Register of Members' Interests that he had a directorship at DNA Bioscience. ®
John Oates, 26 Mar 2007

iTrip updated for second-gen iPod Nano

The latest incarnation of accessory maker Griffin Technology's iPod-friendly FM radio transmitter, iTrip, is now available to buy. The new model is designed to work with the second-generation iPod Nano.
Tony Smith, 26 Mar 2007
2

Aussie boffins warn on glacial melting

Australian scientists are warning that the planet is nearing a tipping point beyond which polar melting will be irreversible in some areas, triggering a rise in sea levels of metres. John Church, a marine scientist at the Australian CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, told news agency Reuters: "Observations are at the very upper edge of the projections [in the IPCC report published in February]. I feel we are uncomfortably close to the threshold." He argues that ice-sheet melting in Greenland and parts of Antarctica is close to being irreversible, and that warming in the Antarctic peninsula is happening faster than anywhere else on Earth. In 2002, a 500 billion tonne iceberg - about the size of Luxembourg - broke off from the Larsen ice shelf. While this scale of break up has not been repeated yet, the reduction in the ice around the continent is making it possible for glaciers to flow into the sea much faster. Elsewhere, the glaciers are actually retreating. One thousand kilometres to the north of the Antarctic continent, glaciers at Heard Island are in massive retreat. And while western Antarctica has always been regarded as particularly vulnerable, new data from the much colder and higher eastern parts of the continent shows that the Tottenham Glacier's height has fallen by 10 metres over the last 16 years. Church notes that the last time the planet was as warm as it is expected to be by the end of this century, sea levels were between four and six metres higher than they are today. The ice sheets of western Antarctica hold enough water to account for roughly that kind of sea level rise. Meanwhile, about 100 million people live within a metre of today's sea level. Steve Rintoul, Church's colleague at CSIRO, told Reuters "Those people will need to go somewhere." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Mar 2007

Fire marshal quits over psychic emails

A Wisconsin fire marshal has resigned after 22 years of service after admitting that he consulted psychics to advise with office politics. Tom Weber was accused of working against his boss, fire chief Aaron Harris, and of sending emails to psychics asking whether or not he and his colleagues would succeed in their bid to push Harris out. Harris, who was elected fire chief in 2003, says that during his restructuring of the fire department a small group of employees had been working against him. Technicians found emails between Weber and his crystal ball gazers dating back three years. And although Weber denies trying to oust Harris, he does admit using the office email system to consult psychics, saying "everyone is entitled to their spiritual guidance". He was put on administrative leave nine months ago, but last week decided it was time to go. "This has been an ongoing battle for about two years," said Weber. "It was pretty much just time to step aside and let people go on with what they need to do." It is not clear from reports whether or not he could see that the end was coming. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Mar 2007
7

UK gov to control the causes of crime

Ten years since the Prime Minister suggested that social inequality would have to be addressed in order to prevent crime, he is expected to propose a technology-led programme of rehabilitation, intervention and control to tackle the causes of crime. The leaked proposals were published in The Independent following another leak that pre-announced a Commons inquiry into the surveillance society. They call for the "greater use" of surveillance technology, but acknowledged the need for "stronger safeguards" to reassure public concern over a "Big Brother" state. The "underlying causes" of crime would be tackled through "preventative interventions", as outlined in the government's social policy before now. They would also be tackled by rehabilitating offenders. The plan was intended to address "social exclusion, dysfunctional families, drugs and alcohol abuse," according to proposals outlined in a report approved by the Cabinet 10 days ago, but as yet unpublished. They would include more summary powers such as on-the-spot fines and would reflect a "personalised approach" that targeted the "offender not the offence". The proposals also suggest reducing the number of prison places by using more community sentences, rehabilitation of jailed convicts, separate courts, hybrid prisons and greater use of non-custodial sentences for the mentally ill. No2ID, the campaign against identity cards and the database state, declared a national ID day today, which they said would be marked by protests across the country. ®
Mark Ballard, 26 Mar 2007

Dragon's Lair revamped for Blu-ray play

Dragon's Lair, the now 24-year-old animated video game developed by one-time Disney animator Don Bluth for laserdisc players, is back, remastered for the HD era and now available to buy on Bluth-ray Disc - sorry, Blu-ray Disc.
Tony Smith, 26 Mar 2007

Symbian speeds up smartphone OS

Symbian gave public details of a major new version of its eponymous phone OS today, touting significant performance improvements. Version 9.5 should appear in phones beginning in the second half of next year or the first half of 2009, Symbian executive VP of marketing Jørgen Behrens told us. New features include improvements for VoIP, such as automatic switching between 3G and WLAN, which Symbian calls "bearer mobility", and performance improvements to the networking stacks. Version 9.5 also includes a SQL database - SQL Lite - and the contacts API has been revised to support it by default. Scheduling enhancements for Notes and Exchange users have also been included, such as group invites and resource allocation. With agenda and contacts running on a database, look ups for corporate-sized address books should be much faster than today. Symbian also includes location APIs giving developers easy access to GPS information and support for Microsoft's Media Transfer protocol. But most of the work has been directed at improving performance. New smartphones appearing last year were dogged by performance and memory complaints. In 9.5, Symbian has introduced demand paging, background RAM defragmentation, and memory optimisations such as read and write-head caching. Applications use 20 to 30 per cent less RAM, according to the company. Using demand paging, applications can load portions of code as needed, rather than having to load and map the entire application and all its associated libraries on start up. As a result, Berens said large applications, such as web browsers, start up to 75 per cent faster. Berens said it was also possible to power down a memory bank not in use at the operating system level, which squeezed more life from limited battery capacity. The consensus among users is that there is a problem - but is the operating system really to blame for poor performance? Experience with Sony Ericsson and Motorola's Symbian phones (once the user has disabled the unncessary user interface gimmicks) isn't noticably bad. And Samsung's Series 60 phone (the SGH-i-520) runs at blistering speed. But all three manufacturers use faster chips: from Philips, Freescale and Samsung itself, respectively. All of which suggests that Nokia is to blame for the perception that smartphones are slow, because it chooses to use underpowered chips. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Mar 2007
4

LG Prada KE850 touchscreen phone

ReviewReview You can tell a lot about a device from the state it arrives in after its been pawed over by heaven knows how many sweaty-palmed handset hacks. It's clear LG's KE850, co-designed by Italian fashion house Prada, has not had an elegant time of it.
Tony Smith, 26 Mar 2007
PC World

PC World repair job leaves family seeing blue

PC World is at the centre of a row after animal porn was found on a hard drive installed during a repair to an 11 year-old's laptop According to a report in the Dundee-based Courier, Kenneth Morris was playing games on his repaired Philips laptop when graphic images of a woman and a dog popped up on the screen.
Kelly Fiveash, 26 Mar 2007

BT 'secures regulatory approval' in Pipex carve-up

More Pipex sell-off rumours squeaked out of the over the weekend, but provided little clue as to which of the big players will scoop up its punters. The Sunday Times reported that BT has been given the go-ahead by regulators to bid for the 570,000 served by Pipex's brands. BT's interest in AOL's million-strong customer base sale last year was nixed by competition concerns. Virgin Media's hot favourite status, which newspaper reports anointed it last week, was been cooled by counter whispers which claim a move by the cable operator into DSL would leave it vulnerable to a push to force it to open its own infrastructure to rivals. BT was similarly stripped of its monopoly status with Ofcom's local loop unbundling regulations and wholesale price caps. Virgin's enemies say its subscribers are shielded from fair competition because winning them over to DSL often means installing a BT line at a cost of £120. Carphone Warehouse and Sky also remain in the frame to win Pipex, which has a market cap of about £396m. Deal broker UBS took bids for Pipex's assets, which also include one of only two currently available WiMAX licences and domain registrar and hosting outfit 123-Reg, on Friday. A break up is on the cards, with deal announcements possible this week. ®
Christopher Williams, 26 Mar 2007
mozilla foundation

Mozilla: security researchers have too much power

Mozilla's security chief has stepped into the debate about the disclosure of security bugs by saying that software developers are at the mercy of bug hunters. Mozilla security chief Window Snyder called on security researchers to follow responsible disclosure guidelines, giving vendors a reasonable amount of time to fix bugs before making them public. As things stand, bug hunters have the whip hand, she argued.
John Leyden, 26 Mar 2007
fingers pointing at man

Foundry launches high density WLANs

Foundry Networks has launched wireless Lan (WLAN) access points and software to help increase the capacity and security of enterprise wireless networks, and has added a new location management offering.
Wireless Watch, 26 Mar 2007
thumbs down teaser 75

Ericsson deals blow to unified 4G dream

CommentComment Ericsson was never going to welcome WiMAX, given its potential cannibalisation of the Swedish giant's strongest market, UMTS/HSPA, but it was mellowing towards the technology last year as it sought to diversify its customer base and be less dependent on cellcos, moving towards multi-network convergence and managed services for its growth.
Wireless Watch, 26 Mar 2007

IPS explains plan to make copied biometric passports useful

The Home Office has repeatedly disputed claims that the new biometric passport has been 'cracked', and spokespeople have argued that in any event, none of the exploits so far reported has compromised security. Last week, however, Identity & Passport Service executive director Bernard Herdan inadvertently revealed that the UK was planning to implement a border control system that could make entry on a copied biometric passport easier. This is most certainly not what Herdan thought he was saying to last Thursday's session of the Commons Public Administration Committee, and not what the Committee will have thought it heard, but bear with us and we'll explain. So far it's been demonstrated that the data on the passport chip can be surreptitiously read and the security cracked, allowing a copy of the chip to be made. It has not as yet been shown that the security protecting the integrity of this data can be cracked, so you can currently produce a copy of an individual's passport data, but you can't change the data in order to cover a new individual. So because the chip data remains tied to a particular individual, IPS argues that the exploit has no value. In addition, in order to create a duplicate biometric passport you would obviously need to copy the passport book as well as the chip. There is however a potential value to a copied chip, just a copied chip, if the authorities are prepared to cooperate a little. Lukas Grunwald outlined circumstances where this might be the case when he demonstrated chip-cloning at Black Hat, and page two of our report explains how it could work. An individual could carry a passport book that would be likely to pass a human checker, but that mightn't clear automated systems, or might even be certain to set them off. But if that individual was also carrying a copied chip, then they would be able to pass automated barriers where no humans were around to observe the chip being palmed, or to match chip data with passport book data and the individual's appearance. Cue Bernard Hardan, then. Herdan was supposed to be talking to the Committee about something else entirely ("Responsive Public Services") but was engaged by one of the MPs on the subject of diabolically long immigration queues at Heathrow Terminal 4. This is of course a job for the Immigration & Nationality Directorate and not IPS, but rather than point this out Herdan jumped into the hole and started digging. "The solution is not to stop looking at passports," said Herdan, allowing the next hundred or so to pass through uninspected. This "used to happen in the past," he confirmed, but didn't happen any more. Seasoned travellers will be aware that this happened regularly in the past, but it's nice to have someone from the machinery confirming it, and effectively explaining that the system just isn't capable of dealing with all incoming passports without vast snarl-ups being created. Herdan then added that "more data is being checked behind each person", by which one presumes he means the checks are more stringent and detailed, and that "the new type of passport" has added to the checking delays - because, one again presumes, the chip data is being matched against the individual and the book data by the immigration officer. Obviously the bottom line at the moment is that more stringent checking, the use of the new passport technology and a commitment to 100 per cent inspection mean that there aren't anywhere near enough staff on border control duty. So hire more staff? Don't be silly. The delays can be tackled, Herdan told the Committee, via "automated clearance, so that people with the right documents would be able to go through a channel which reads the document automatically and matches them to it." The size of the security hole this opens up depends to some extent on how determined the Government is not to relax current checks, and how desperate it will become to deal with the length of the queues. Actually matching the individual to the document will with the current generation of passport require more efficient facial recognition software than currently exists, and although the matching problem may become a little easier when passports carry fingerprints, that won't be for some years, will apply mainly to EU passport holders, and unattended readers may well be vulnerable to spoofing. In The Register's considered opinion, the Government doesn't have time to wait until an effective automated matching system exists and can be deployed, and will implement automated channels in advance of this happening. The intended effect will be to route the kinds of documentation that are less likely to be a problem but more likely to be carried by regular, outrage-prone travellers (including MPs) through the automated channel, while leaving border control to concentrate its efforts on the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But as the automated channel will simply be checking the existence of a chip, not matching at all, the well-informed huddled mass will be able to furnish itself with a cloned EU chip and trot through the blue lane, as it were. ®
John Lettice, 26 Mar 2007
3

CMMI, practically speaking

London was recently host to a conference showcasing CMMI process improvement. Primarily sponsored by the consultancy Lamri, the conference was held on 19-20 March. To some extent, it's a marketing exercise, but the presence of representatives from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon and truly independent consultants such as Marilyn Bush and others, means it provides real information content.
David Norfolk, 26 Mar 2007
Flag China

Intel chooses China for new chip plant

Intel has announced plans to build a $2.5bn wafer fabrication plant in China. In what is seen by many as a politically significant shift in strategy towards high-tech exports, the move into the growing Chinese market looks set to ruffle some feathers in Washington.
Kelly Fiveash, 26 Mar 2007
4

DMCA architect lambasts music moguls

Bruce Lehman, key architect of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), has admitted that copyright protection law is failing. The Clinton-era assistant secretary of commerce and commissioner of patents and trademarks put most of the blame for the DMCA's shortcomings on the recording industry. He said music industry "moguls" failed to adapt and create an attractive marketplace for music in the late 1990s. Recording industry execs had little idea about technology development and were reluctant to embrace new distribution technologies, Lehman argued. Lehman made his comments during a panel discussion during a conference on copyright in Montreal last week (extended video clip here). During the presentation, he explained the DMCA was designed to create a framework for copyright that brought existing laws up to date, protecting intellectual property rights, in the expectation that hi-tech jobs would become the mainstay of the US economy. Measures in the DMCA, which Lehman acknowledged were controversial, made it an offence to circumvent copyright-protection technology. "Unfortunately, at least in some areas, our policies haven't worked out too well and it's not for the want of trying," he said. "Our attempts at copyright control have been unsuccessful. At least in terms of music, I think we're entering a 'post-copyright era'." Copyright was a good model for compensating artists, but music thrived before modern copyright law, Lehman notes. He suggested new economic models based more heavily on concert revenue, t-shirts sales, and other sources of revenue need to be developed. Broadcasters like XM and Sirius might "commission" songs, he added. The film industry, unlike the music industry, didn't put out its works in unencrypted form so it is in a better position to use technology in protecting its work, according to Lehman. ®
John Leyden, 26 Mar 2007

Verizon wins injunction against Vonage over patent battle

US phone company Vonage has been ordered to stop using technology which a court has ruled violates patents held by mobile phone company Verizon. Vonage, which operates voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone systems, recently lost a court battle over the technology, which it said did not violate Verizon's patents. The judge in the case has now issued a permanent injunction against Vonage, agreeing with Verizon that allowing Vonage to use the technology while paying patent licence fees would have cause its business irreparable harm. Vonage was ordered earlier this month to pay $58m in damages to Verizon and to agree to pay a 5.5 per cent royalty on future use of the technology pending a decision on the issue of a permanent injunction. Verizon's case was that Vonage had wilfully violated seven of its patents relating to phone technology and it claimed $197m in damages. The court ruled that Vonage violated three patents, while Verizon had by then scaled back its claim to involve just five. Vonage was ordered to pay just $58m because the court ruled that the violation was not wilful, which entitles the injured party to triple damages. The patents involved in the case relate to the connection between Vonage's network and the standard telephone network. Patents relating to billing systems were ruled not to have been violated. The case, being heard in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, will continue in two weeks' time, when both sides will argue the issue of whether or not the injunction should apply while the parties wait for an appeal to be heard. The judge in the case said that the injunction would not apply while the parties waited for that hearing in two weeks' time. "We are pleased the court has decided to issue a permanent injunction to protect Verizon's patented innovations for offering commercial-quality VoIP and Wi-Fi services," said John Thorne, Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel. Vonage's Sharon O'Leary said in a statement that the company relied on technology which it believed did not belong to Verizon. "[Vonage relied] on open-standard, off-the-shelf technology when developing its service" and argued that court evidence failed to prove otherwise," she said. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 26 Mar 2007
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Researchers link human skull size and climate

Humans grew bigger brains as the climate they lived in got cooler, according to researchers at the University at Albany, New York. The researchers concluded that humans got brainier because they had to adapt to a more challenging environment. They base this assertion on a plot of cranial capacity of 109 fossilised human skulls against the corresponding paleontological record of two million years of changing climate. As well as a relationship between a cooling earth and growing skulls, the researchers report that where the skulls were found matters, too, because the further you get from the Equator, the more varied the weather becomes. Gordon G Gallup Jr, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the university, and co-author of the work along with graduate student Jessica Ash, commented: "It became clear that seasonal variation in climate may also have been an important selective force behind the evolution of human cranial capacity. Specifically, we found that as the distance from the Equator increased, north or south, so did brain size." Lower temperatures and seasonal variations threw up new challenges for the early human, such as fluctuations in the availability of food and the need for fire and clothes to keep warm, the researchers argue. More co-operation would have been needed to find, preserve, and store food; and the people would have needed more complex tools. Along with that, more intricate social structures would have evolved, which in turn would have required more grey matter. The researchers suggest that having to adapt to the impact of lower temperatures could account for as much as 50 per cent of the increase in the size of our skulls. The researchers don't mention whether or not the extra small human skull found on the island of Flores was included in the sample. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Mar 2007

UK kids to get free calls and texts in return for ads

A mobile phone start-up will offer UK teenagers free phone calls and texts in return for listening to adverts from this summer. Blyk, the company behind the scheme, has already signed Buena Vista, Coca-Cola, L'Oreal Paris, and Yell.com for the British launch. It is rumoured to be close to a network deal with Orange. The company will target 16 to 24 year olds, who will "earn" free phone calls and text messages in exchange for receiving adverts on their phones. A spokesman for Blyk couldn't tell us much more than that. Pronounced "blick", the firm was co-founded by Pekka Ala-Pietla, who was president of Nokia from 1999 to 2005. The company is backed by private investors and Sofinnova Ventures. The Reg is glad the last remaining teenager on the bus home who doesn't have a phone will now also be entertaining us with adverts as well as ringtones. ®
John Oates, 26 Mar 2007

Compuware launches overseas model factory

Offshore applications testing is already big business, but for the client of such services there is always concern about whether they are getting the best possible mix of service level and cost.
Martin Banks, 26 Mar 2007

Image spam fattens junk mail

The bandwidth occupied by spam is increasing as spammers punt products with pictures or graphics instead of just text.
John Leyden, 26 Mar 2007

Nvidia launches nForce 680i LT SLI chipset

Nvidia has rolled out a cut-down version of its nForce 680i SLI top-of-the-line chipset for Intel processors. The new logic's key differentiator from its parent product: Nvidia's reduced the maximum clock speed of SLI-specific memory.
Tony Smith, 26 Mar 2007
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Fayrewood sells shares in ComputerLinks

Computer hardware and software distributor Fayrewood plc has today sold its shares in ComputerLinks AG.
Kelly Fiveash, 26 Mar 2007

SRS confirms unannounced O2 media player handset

Sound enhancement technology developer SRS has confirmed mobile phone network O2 is to release the XDA Flame portable media player style phone in the coming months - even though the carrier has yet to announce the product.
Tony Smith, 26 Mar 2007

Rival bid forced EMC to 'pay too much' for RSA - CEO

After devouring more than 20 companies since 2003, storage company EMC has a half-billion dollar tummy-ache. At a media briefing in Sydney, EMC CEO Joe Tucci admitted last week to overspending on the company's $2.1bn acquisition of RSA.
Austin Modine, 26 Mar 2007
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SANS to certify programmers for security nous

The SANS Institute has assembled a coalition of security vendors to create a secure coding assessment and certification exam for programmers.
John Leyden, 26 Mar 2007
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NEC and Stratus find fault tolerance with each other

NEC and Stratus have made good on their intellectual property marriage, pumping out a new, beefier fault-tolerant server. Starting in June, customers can purchase the NEC Express5800/320Fc and the Stratus ftServer 6200 systems. The two-socket servers will run on Intel's four-core version of Xeon code-named 'Clovertown' and work as higher-end complements to existing kit centered on Intel's dual-core 'Paxville' chip. Customers will pick up such systems for the typical fault-tolerant tasks such as running banks or emergency response centers.
Ashlee Vance, 26 Mar 2007

California cuts off aid to ID thieves

The California secretary of state's office has shut down portions of its website after it was discovered it had been selling hundreds of thousands of public documents containing social security numbers and signatures, a practice that lasted for years. Several other states have also made available materials that reveal personal information, although it's not clear which, if any, have curbed the policy. The California secretary's move came after a state assemblyman called attention to the practice of making Uniform Commercial Code documents, such as those memorializing loans, available online. A spokesman in Assemblyman Dave Jones's office said of some two million UCC documents online, about one-third, or about 600,000, contained an individual's name, address, social security number and often signature. The discovery reveals the pitfalls of fostering open government in the age of online communication. Once upon a time, access to public documents required going to a musty clerk's office and poring over paper files. The availability of thousands of records on a single website makes it almost trivial for people to mine the data for nefarious purposes. California is by no means the only state that has compromised the privacy of individuals. According to a March 23 update on the Virginia Watchdog site, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas and Indiana also make social security numbers available, although we were unable to confirm this claim one way or the other. The site hosts a dozen records with personal information of public figures, including former US Secretary of State Colin Powell's deed of trust. "Why should any identity thief have to hack, dumpster dive, or phish when Circuit Court Clerks/Recorders/Secretaries of State are putting records online that contain personal information?" BJ Ostergren, the site's principal, argues. ®
Dan Goodin, 26 Mar 2007

As gold fever hits Macau, Ho's still in the money

The prohibitionist cult in America that has wreaked havoc on foreign gambling companies recently turned its guns on one of America’s own – casino behemoth MGM Mirage, the second largest gambling company in the world.
Burke Hansen, 26 Mar 2007

RIAA invites students to settlement barn dance

Like a Bizzaro World Ed McMahon, the RIAA pursues colleges across the US with pre-litigation settlement letters. The Recording Industry Association of America has begun its second wave of unfriendly correspondence, offering easy settlements at "discounted" prices to college students they suspect of sharing music online. Four hundred and five letters were sent to 23 universities nationwide last week. The RIAA officially became the worst pen-pal ever late February when it sent 400 letters to 13 universities as a part of a new campaign against piracy. To complement the letters, the association set up a website at p2plawsuits.com where the accused-on-the-go can pay the RIAA not to sue them by personal check or credit card (MasterCard, Visa and Discover accepted — sorry American Express!). Although the association boasts 116 students have used their new website to settle, the remaining 71 per cent have yet to take the bait. “We’re encouraged by the response of universities that are forwarding the pre-litigation settlement letters to students," said Steven Marks, Executive VP for the RIAA, "Not every student will take advantage of this opportunity, but those that do get the benefit of a discounted settlement and no public mark on their record.” Of the universities solicited, only The University of Nebraska refused to forward the letters to its students. The U of N complained the RIAA could only identify 9 out of the 36 students the RIAA was ready to sue, and expected the university to track down the remaining students on its own coin. Since September 2003, 17,587 individuals have been sued by the RIAA. That's a hefty average rate of 418.7 people per month. ®
Austin Modine, 26 Mar 2007
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Of ICANN and the registrar zombies

ICANN LisbonICANN Lisbon ICANN Lisbon 2007 officially opened today, although in true ICANN style work has been going on all weekend - it's just the public part began today, with the usual welcoming speeches by Chairman Vint Cerf and CEO Paul Twomey.
Burke Hansen, 26 Mar 2007
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Sun's dim grid a developer thang now

Three years into its grand supercomputer rental experiment, Sun Microsystems has found that developers, developers, developers have more interest in the program than big spending businesses.
Ashlee Vance, 26 Mar 2007
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Vista's long goodbye

Windows Vista suffers from a bug that causes many machines to stall while deleting, copying and moving files, a flaw that has provoked consternation in online forums. "I've seen this bug in action, and trust me, it's as if you're copying over a 64k link using only 256mb of RAM," one Reg reader complained. "To add to the problem, you can't cancel or anything."
Dan Goodin, 26 Mar 2007