10th > April > 2007 Archive

1

Nasdaq grumbles at Dell . . . again

Pulling Dell off the Nasdaq would be as criminal as prying a billionaire away from his brain glaze. But that's exactly what might happen if the computer maker fails to get its book in order. Dell has received yet another de-listing notice from the Nasdaq exchange. The Wall Street types have chided Dell for not handing in regulatory filings relating to the company's past fiscal year. Dell has delayed issuing such filings as it deals with a pair of accounting probes. Dell has received similar notices from the Nasdaq in the past – all a result of the accounting troubles. Last month, an internal probe into the same accounting issues turned up evidence of “misconduct,” according to Dell. The Nasdaq threats are more procedural than anything else. Dell just needs to get its paperwork done. Once upon a time, Dell was the Nasdaq's brightest star. More recently, however, Dell's stock has demonstrated all the momentum of a one-legged man hopping through a pool of molasses. ®
Ashlee Vance, 10 Apr 2007
3

Porn suit is reinvigorated by US appeals court

Silicon JusticeSilicon Justice Perfect 10 makes porn. (We're sorry - "adult entertainment.")
Kevin Fayle, 10 Apr 2007
Cat 5 cable

Sun, Unisys pledge to tailor dropped memory chip suit

Sun and Unisys both plan to file a new lawsuit against Hynix Semiconductor and six other DRAM manufacturers after a federal judge dropped a previous suit due to a lack of information from the server vendors. Judge Phyllis Hamilton dismissed the complaint without prejudice, giving the two companies a deadline of May 4 to re-file and provide additional information related to damages in the US and foreign markets. The two companies seek damages against the South Korean memory chip maker and others for losses incurred while purchasing price-gouged DRAM. Hynix admitted in 2005 to the US Department of Justice to its role in the DRAM cartel and payed a $185m fine. Infineon, Samsung, Elpida Memory and others named in the lawsuit were also charged and fined by the DoJ. Hamilton noted in the dismissal that many of the arguments raised by Sun and Unisys make "intuitive sense." "However, the court must first be able to define the precise nature of plaintiffs' claims, and to identify with specificity the exact 'domestic injury' and 'foreign injury' allegations upon which the defendants assert the plaintiffs claims are based." Both Sun and Unisys declined to comment on specifics of the case, but pledged to re-file before the deadline. Hynix could not be reached for comment. Sun and Unisys originally filed separate lawsuits against the DRAM cartel but consolidated their complaints in September at the US District Court in San Francisco. Both companies plan to re-file the lawsuit jointly. ®
Austin Modine, 10 Apr 2007
2

Fifth space tourist docks with the ISS

The latest space tourist has reached the International Space Station. Billionaire Charles Simonyi docked with the ISS yesterday evening (GMT) after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 17:31 GMT on Saturday. Hungarian-born Simonyi made his fortune at Microsoft, where he was the lead developer on Word and Excel. When he announced his plans to travel to the ISS last year, he said: "I might be the first nerd in space". We're not sure he can claim that title, given the scientific background of many astronauts, but Simonyi is certainly the fifth non-astronaut to visit the ISS courtesy of the Russian space tourism programme. Previous visitors include Iranian-born businesswoman Anousheh Ansari and Californian financier and ex-space scientist Denis Tito. Flights to the ISS cost around $25m bringing much-needed funding to the Russian space agency. Initially NASA objected to the practice, saying the presence of tourists on board the ISS would make life harder for both the professional astronauts and the mission controllers back on Earth. Simonyi took with him a meal of roast quail and duck breast to be eaten on Thursday, Russian Cosmonaut Day. The BBC reports that the meal was selected for him by Martha Stewart. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 10 Apr 2007
1

Do large projects silence osmotic communication?

CommentComment Put a bunch of people together in a room and they'll be able to communicate more easily than if they were in different rooms. Walls place barriers between people, after all.
Matt Stephens, 10 Apr 2007
13

Boffins cook up ultimate bacon sarnie

The UK's universities are fast forging a reputation for the kind of ground-breaking research which can only leave lesser seats of learning looking on in awe. Indeed, hot on the heels of the Aberdeen better darts project, triumphant scientists at Leeds have cracked that most imponderable of posers: how to create the ultimate bacon sarnie. And the answer? Simple: take two or three back bacon rashers, cook under a preheated grill for seven minutes at around 240°C and nestle between two slices of farmhouse bread around 1-2cm thick. Then eat. In case you think this recipe is something any self-respecting undergraduate could cook up, you should know that it took four Leeds University Department of Food Science experts 1,000 hours to work their way through 700 bacon sarnie variations. According to the BBC, in the process they tried "different types and cuts of bacon, cooking techniques, types of oil, and a range of cooking times at different temperatures", then ran a shortlist through a computer to measure the texture of each sandwich. Finally, 50 volunteers "judged each sandwich according to its taste, texture, and flavour". Lead boffin Dr Graham Clayton, explained: "We often think it's the taste and smell of bacon that consumers find most attractive. But our research proves that texture and the crunching sound is just - if not more - important. While there was much debate within our taste panels on the smoked or unsmoked decision, everyone agreed that tough or chewy bacon is a turn-off." Anyone wishing to verify the team's findings can avail themselves of the following formula: N = C + {fb (cm) . fb (tc)} + fb (Ts) + fc . ta, where N=force in Newtons required to break the cooked bacon, fb=function of the bacon type, fc=function of the condiment/filling effect, Ts=serving temperature, tc=cooking time, ta=time or duration of application of condiment/filling, cm=cooking method, C=Newtons required to break uncooked bacon. ®
Lester Haines, 10 Apr 2007
10

Sunshine

Movie reviewMovie review There's an old adage that science-fiction movies tell us more about today than tomorrow. Sunshine, from Trainspotting and 28 Days Later director Danny Boyle, arguably goes further: it has its eye on the past as much as the future.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
6

Wales, O'Reilly censorship charter porked by blogosphere

The Victorian blogging code mooted last week by Jimbo "Wiki" Wales and Tim 2.0'Reilly has been given short shrift by web users. After threatening a set of rules to clamp down on rudeness last week, O'Reilly posted a first draft on Sunday. The code would introduce "badges" to show how a site complies with the webby duo's take on freedom of speech, which includes a sinister move to "not say things online we wouldn't say in public". Several responses to the charter point out that such a policy would gag those living under despotic regimes, and corporate whistleblowers. In his first post O'Reilly proclaimed: "Setting standards for acceptable behaviour in a forum you control is conducive to free speech, not damaging to it." Peter, a commenter on O'Reilly's blog, said: "Reminds me of some of the things America has done at its worst. Commies. Terrorists. Anonymous commenters. This makes me angry." His is one of dozens of overwhelmingly negative responses to the self-appointed web manners duumvirate. The initiative was dreamed up by the pair in the wake of the teacup storm over marketing wonk Kathy Sierra's no-show at a tech conference run by O'Reilly. She cited death threats from blog commenters. Wales and O'Reilly would also make it unacceptable to include content or links to pages which: - is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others - is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person, - infringes upon a copyright or trademark - violates an obligation of confidentiality - violates the privacy of others Legally astute readers might note that there are already laws covering all these issues, whether real or online. The sixth and final commandment says: "We believe that feeding the trolls only encourages them - 'Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.' Ignoring public attacks is often the best way to contain them." Which, we guess, means The Reg breaks the code on a daily basis. Terribly sorry, m'luds. But didn't you acknowledge them by making your badges in the first place? How very meta. ®
Christopher Williams, 10 Apr 2007
plaster_75
2

MS cursor patch fix pushes into Patch Tuesday litter

Microsoft plans to release five patches on Tuesday as part of its regular Patch Tuesday update cycle. Redmond is also to release a fix to address application conflict problems with last week's "emergency" cursor security update.
John Leyden, 10 Apr 2007

NASA buys in $719m worth of Russian space support

NASA has signed for $719m worth of extras on its contract with Russian space authorities for "crew and cargo services" until 2011. The modified contract now buys NASA a two-way "flight opportunity" to the International Space Station (ISS). This, the agency says, will allow it to meet its obligations to its international partners. The flight will carry an astronaut from one of the international partners to and from the space station for a six month visit in 2009. The deal includes an extra 15 crew rotations, and delivery and removal of 5.6 tonnes of cargo. It also covers the delivery of a cargo module containing 1.4 tonnes of NASA kit to the ISS in 2010. NASA has a lot to do if it is to finish its construction work on the ISS before the fleet is retired in 2010, and although the agency has not said as much in its announcements, the deal takes the pressure off the now rather elderly Shuttle fleet. The work was substantially delayed by the loss of Columbia, and the difficulties of ensuring the safety of the craft for the return to flight. Although the launches are back on track, with night launches being sanctioned once again, another window was missed last month after a heavy storm caused significant hail damage to the Shuttle as it waited on the launchpad. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 10 Apr 2007
5

Apple iPod sales surpass 100m

Apple has sold 100m iPods, more the company tacitly claimed, than Sony's equally iconic Walkman personal cassette player had in the first five-and-a-half years it was on the market.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
6

Microsoft brings instant messaging to Xbox Live

UpdatedUpdated Microsoft has announced that Xbox Live users will soon be able to access Windows Live Messenger. It will be added free through an Xbox 360 Dashboard update enabling Xbox owners will be able to chat with PC users.
Scott Snowden, 10 Apr 2007
Warning Stop
3

Dell waves goodbye to Axim

Dell has quietly stopped selling its Axim X51 handheld computer, effectively bringing its range of pocket PCs to an end.
Kelly Fiveash, 10 Apr 2007

Intel rolls out faster gaming CPU

Intel has rolled out its fastest gamer-centric processor yet, the four-core Core 2 Extreme QX6800, three months earlier than anticipated.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007

AMD preparing Turion challenger for next-gen Centrino?

AMD looks set to challenge Intel's upcoming 'Santa Rosa' Centrino launch with a faster dual-core notebook processor of its own, the Turion 64 X2 Tl-66, it has been claimed.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
16

UK's lags bemoan Freeview channel blackout

The UK's lags are none too pleased about losing a raft of TV channels they currently enjoy through their Freeview boxes, the Evening Standard reports. The cull comes as a result of the Prison Service's switch to digital TV and inmates who'd been allowed to buy Freeview boxes now find themselves subjected to starvation rations of BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4, and Channel 5, plus four extra channels – ITV2, Film Four, The Music Factory Channel, and Sky Sports News. One disguntled con told the official paper Inside Time: "Those of us who purchased Freeview boxes found they could no longer pick up any channels - basically they are dead. Why are they only making four extra channels available and who chose said channels? Will prisons be getting the full package in due course and if not, why?" Prisoners are allowed TVs in their cells as "a reward for good behaviour", paying "as little as £1 each week for the privilege" without having to cough for a TV licence, the Standard notes. Reaction to their bellyaching about the suspension of services is accordingly predictable. Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Prisoners should count themselves lucky that they even have televisions because many ordinary people are struggling to pay their licence fees after recent tax rises. "The idea that prisoners have a human right to access every television channel under the sun is absurd. Not only would this cost taxpayers millions of pounds, but it would also make a mockery of their prison sentence." The Prison Service's Carol Selema explained: "The number of channels available at present may change in the future, either up or down. The Prison Service is not under any obligation to provide prisoners with access to the full range of digital channels available to the general public. "Television in cell is a privilege and not a right. The nine channels that are available in the pilot sites were chosen centrally, but these can be changed locally if the governor so wishes." ®
Lester Haines, 10 Apr 2007
4

BT's new network heralds engineer job carnage

BT says its new network technology, currently on trial in Wales, will allow it to slash its engineering staff by thousands. The 21st Century Network (21CN) fibre optics, which BT is spending £10bn to lay nationwide by 2011, will ensure broadband customer service will improve, said Paul Reynolds, head of the firm's wholesale division in an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday. ADSL2+ is being rolled out at 21CN exchanges, which should offer speeds of 24Mbps. Reynolds said the trial, conducted in a couple of hundred homes in south Wales, had reported no faults and would generate £1bn in annual cost savings once turned on elsewhere. 21CN will use internet protocol for all voice traffic too. BT, which made a pre-tax profit of £2.17bn last year, has not put a number on how many engineers are for the chop. Reynolds refused to be more specific than "several thousand", adding that some would find jobs elsewhere in the business. The Communication Workers Union says 6,500 will go. Network upgrade programmes in France and Germany are set to deliver speeds of up to 50Mbps. National incumbents on the continent are seeking to protect their investment from broadband competitors, invoking the ire of the European Commission, however. BT said its network would deliver an equally rich "communications experience" to the French and German upgrades. At the launch of its video on demand service BT Vision in December, the telco was cagey about whether it would be able to deliver high definition TV, however. In separate news, BT reaffirmed a series of broadband wholesale price cuts today. From 1 May, IPStream, which it sells to rival ISPs for consumers and businesses whose line has not been unbundled at the local exchange, will come down nine per cent per month. It'll now cost the ISP £6.39 for each line at wholesale. ®
Christopher Williams, 10 Apr 2007
channel
11

Cracked HD-DVD and Blu-Ray app keys revoked

A next-generation DVD security group has responded to hack attacks that allow unfettered access to Blu-Ray and HD-DVD content by pulling the encryption keys of PC applications associated with the attack.
John Leyden, 10 Apr 2007
4

Hollywood hinders HD DVD, Blu-ray hack

The battle between hackers and the minds behind the security technology built into the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD next-gen optical disc formats has begun in earnest. A trick used to tease out disc encryption keys has been blocked.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
5

Lost until translation: a book on maths and magic

Want to learn how to wash your hands in molten lead? Fancy making an egg dance, or writing appear on rose petals? For such tricky trickery, who would you turn to but the man who taught Leonardo da Vinci his numbers? After gathering dust for half a millennium, a "magic" text book written by the Franciscan monk Luca Pacioli, De viribus quantitatis, has been translated into English, The Guardian reports. The text is causing a stir because it is the first known volume containing written instructions on how to perform magic tricks for an audience. It also contains numerical puzzles similar to su doku. It includes guidance for making an egg appear to walk across a table, for washing your hands in molten lead (tip: make sure your hands are well soaked in very cold well water), and using a plant in the audience to help with card tricks. The translation of the book has taken eight years and might never have been started but for mathematician David Singmaster, who found a reference to the book in a 19th-century manuscript and looked into its origins. He told The Guardian that the book is not just the foundation of modern magic, but of number puzzles as well. It also contains instructions on writing in code. "We don't know why, but this huge thing has been hidden away in the University of Bologna we presume since the time of Pacioli," Singmaster said. He suggests that, at a time when Europe was persecuting witches, the book may have been an attempt to demystify magic and bring it into the realms of the scientific and comprehensible. The newly discovered work indicates that Pacioli and da Vinci collaborated on many things. Notes written in the text from Pacioli to da Vinci show there was a real exchange of ideas between them. It also contains previously unknown anecdotes about da Vinci's life. Pacioli, who lived with da Vinci in Milan, is thought to have helped him with "The Last Supper". He also tutored the genius in maths and geometry. The two also co-produced a book, De Divina Proportione, illustrated by da Vinci. He is best known, however, as the father of modern accountancy, having written the first ever description of the double entry bookkeeping system is his work "The Summa". The translation is due to be published next year, in time for the book's 500th anniversary. Until then, a copy of the book will be kept at the Conjuring Arts Research Centre in New York, which financed the translation work. William Kalush, a magician and the founder of the Conjuring Arts Research Centre said: "This book is the first major manual that is primarily concerned with teaching how to perform magic...This book teaches not only the methods but also gives a glimpse into how one might perform them with an eye to entertaining an audience." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 10 Apr 2007

LG rolls out Beetle-branded MP3 player

LG has shown off a Volkwagen-branded digital media player designed to appeal to fans of the car company's iconic second-generation Beetle.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
12

How to get your Wi-Fi working again

Plenty of people who link computers and other devices to the internet over a wireless network are finding they can no longer connect quite as easily as they once could. That's certainly my experience and, if the many, many emails I received after grumbling about it in public are anything to go by, it's a problem many Register Hardware readers face too.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
Flag United States
5

Washington goes to WTO over China counterfeiters

Beijing lashed out at the Bush administration today after Washington went whining to the WTO about China's record on combating piracy.
Joe Fay, 10 Apr 2007
channel

NextWave buys IPWireless

Mobile communications company NextWave Inc is to buy IP Wireless for $100m in cash and shares, paying another $114m over the next few years if revenue milestones are reached.
Bill Ray, 10 Apr 2007
1

Scouts use lie detectors to undermine DRM

LettersLetters Easter's been and gone, and to help you recover from the sickly sweetness of it all, we thought we'd jump straight in with something a bit sour - namely, the UK government's sinister plans to deploy lie detectors in the hope of catching benefit fraudsters: Umm, hasn't the UK, like just about everywhere but the USA, dissallow 'lie detectors' as evidence? I was under the impression this technology had been debunked by psychologists time and time again. So has there been a breakthrough that I don't know about or is this a tool for harrasment by the UK on it's citizens? Since you do a lot of the science and space items I hope you can enlighten me. Thanks, David One has to hope that the lie detector will be more reliable than the polygraph, the results of which are still not accepted in a US Court. After all, there are quite a few valid reasons to be stressed when making a call, such as knowing that, if you sound stressed, you might be denied and thus wind up with the impossibility of buying food next month. Not exactly a scenario that promotes calm, don't you think ? Personally I'd like to see official trials of this software in a scientific environment (meaning double-blind tests). Has this already been done ? If not, why not ? Pascal. Before any government minister is allowed to promote a technological 'solution' to a problem they should be forced to share their knowledge of modern technology. They should publicly perform the following tasks: 1. Set the time on a video and make a successful recording - using only the provided manual for reference. Focus groups suggest that, (like liberal Home Secretaries), swearing in front of the electorate cannot be associated with New Labour; 2: A timed round. In no more than 30 seconds, find an entry in the address book of a Motorola mobile phone - using only one hand, no manual and no swearing; 3. Configure a secure wireless network under Windows XP from a standing start before the machine has been hacked into oblivion. No calls to Microsoft, no techies on speed-dial (if you could find them on the Motorola that is) and absolutely no swearing; and; 4. Transfer a piece of music from the iTunes music store on to their shiny new Windows Media Player simultaneously stating government policy on how DRM is a good thing for customers. (Obviously, despite the extreme provocation, no swearing will be permitted). Then, AND ONLY THEN, would people like John Hutton be in a position to judge whether their shiny new heap of wires and silicon comes with a side order of snake oil. Mike. A similar serving of snake oil was dished out with Microsoft's claims that its paperwork is in compliance with the EU's 2004 anti-trust decision: The information in question is stuff that people writing other software give away for free, with the hopes that other people working in their market will make their products compatible. It is far less information than the Open Source community provides for all of its products. The only thing that I can see Microsoft having grounds to complain about is that the EU isn't allowing them to continue locking everyone in to their product - they will, in fact, have to continue working. I don't see this as my problem - or the problem of anyone whose net worth is not based on Microsoft. Given that it means the Microsoftians are allowed to continue standing on their hill, but are merely not allowed to throw rocks down at anyone who attempts to climb it (shoving is still allowed), I feel no sympathy for them. News that the NHS finally clocked up a success was met with widespread disdain. Success? Are they having a laugh? And yet... I have finally received my X-ray results after 5 weeks of waiting. In the end I just flew 9000KMs to a 3rd world country to see a proper medical centre and got the results the same day. Heck, I just found out that my doctor doesn't record my blood type, and that I would have to pay to have this added to my records. The NHS is a joke... It's a sick and twisted joke that costs lives, but it's a joke nevertheless. So, this is basically just a workflow and image system, with high resolution images. Therefore it's a database and a large Centerra (or other WORM storage) with a bit of front end software and it cost HOW MUCH!!??? These systems have been around for in excess of ten years in the financial services industry, costing a fraction of £250M. Did anyone ask how long the wait is between the radiography and diagnostic availability in the private sector or in other countries before allowing the NPfIT to pat itself on the back? Such stats probably aren't kept in many places because the idea of significant waiting-time would never occur to them. (I remember having to explain to a French PA the NHS concept of a waiting-list.) A quick Google shows South Africa, a largely rural third-world country, is piloting using remote specialists in real time: http://www.medicusmundi.ch/mms/services/bulletin/bulletin200103/kap01/08strachan.html My friend (medical imaging manager at a big NHS hospital in the south east) was most indignant when I emailed her your article, and she emailed back: What a load of rubbish ....!!!! If only they asked me!! I could tell them how difficult it was to install, how we have lost images completely, how they are NOT available to be seen in any other hospital, so we have to print as well........ See you! C DRM - it's the acronym that was on everyone's lips before Easter Bunny paid a visit, and it's certainly still on your minds: Given that Jobs never wanted DRM in the first place on the iTunes Music Store, it's a little conspiratorial to ascribe motives now. See the Rolling Stones interview from 2003. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939600/steve_jobs_the_rolling_stone_interview/ If you look you will find that Jobs never has been in favour of DRM on music. There has been no change of heart, just a change in how much focus has been put on his position. I assume this - http://www.rethinkresearch.biz/ - is the Rethink Research in question. So, please compare this, from the "About Rethink" page: "The time for telling is over. It's time to listen. Rethink IT listens to users, not just vendor rhetoric." with this, from the article: "Having been a big believer in DRM and its necessity..." You're obviously not listening very well. If you did listen to users, you'll know they don't want DRM. They hate DRM. Some, because they feel like they're being treated like criminals when they've proved their honesty by paying for the damned music in the first place. Some, because they simply try to do something - like copy the music to another computer, for instance - and suddenly find they can't. I very much doubt you'll find more than a handful of fools who would rather have DRMed music than freed music. Even the vendor rhetoric has changed now. There's little excuse for holding onto belief in DRM now. And as for your reasons - if you honestly believe that music is suddenly going to be easier to pirate now, then you're a fool. That simply isn't possible - music has been available unencrypted on CDs for many, many years. How could this announcement possibly make it easier when all the music is available already? Sure, some of the tracks pirated now are likely to be tracks from iTunes, but that will simply be instead of the same tracks being ripped from CD. If there is a massive increase in piracy, over and above the current trend, which coincides exactly with DRM-free music on iTunes, I'll eat my words. That's simply not going to happen, though; and if you're honest with yourselves, you know that too. I just realized something from reading your article where you mentioned buying singles instead of complete albums. I have been buying a large number of CDs recently, but 3/4 of them have been compilations of older music where no two songs on a single CD are from the same artist. I didn't buy the CDs when they were released, I waited until now when I can buy an entire CD full of songs that I like instead of buying a CD with 2 or 3 songs that I like and 9 or 10 filler songs that I don't like. Then I've been doing something that the record companies and RIAA hate, but it's perfectly legal so they have no choice. I've been burning CDs to listen to in my car that consist of only my favorite songs, and some of the songs on those compillation CDs don't make it onto those CDs. Freedom. It's wonderful for me as a consumer and it's actually generating more revenue for the record companies. I wouldn't buy a complete CD of some of the artists that are on the compillation CDs for any reason, but I will buy the compillation because I want one or two songs by that artist. If the record companies start to cater to what we want instead of what they want us to buy their sales will skyrocket. "Even someone that upgrades all of his or her collection to the new EMI DRM-free format, will still have perhaps 75 per cent of their music in a DRM-enabled format and they would worry about buying a non Apple MP3 player, because of the worry of not being able to move some of their content." That makes no sense for two reason: Firstly, if it's "all," then it's 100%, not 75%. Secondly, defeating DRM is trivial. It's absolutely certain that anyone who wants to do so, can do so (or knows someone who can). I would hazard a guess that the only people unable to defeat DRM are RIAA executives. But then, they still have difficulty accelerating their 5MPG cars without a buggy whip. The end of DRM may be nigh, but the end of world certainly isn't - and even if it was, Armageddon will not be brought about by an oil-free society, you say: I really don't see why this should be so much of a problem. Of course, it's not going to be a pic-nic, running out of oil, mainly because our management of this non-renewable resource has been so piss-poor that it borders on criminal neglect. There will be hydrogen power. Opponents of hydrogen power claim that it's less efficient as a fuel than oil, but they're not exactly pumping the space shuttle full of 98 unleaded, are they? Less efficient should not be a problem. We're not efficient now, why should the inefficiency of hydrogen as a fuel be a problem, it's not as if we're spending all that precious fuel/energy on worthwhile things as it is. And the cost. Piffle, nobody -really- cares about the cost. The stock market is a fear-fueled environment, there's always going to be something to drive up the costs unduly. I can see hardship if we don't prepare properly, when the day finally comes that oil runs out. But if there is any hardship we richly deserve it, because it's not as if we didn't see it coming and were not aware of the significance of the problem. I'm fully convinced, in a very unsexy cynical way, that we're going to botch it. Our leadership over the years has been abyssmal and the people who could do a great job of leading our stupid species are ridiculed and mocked, downright ignored or they have better things to do with their lives than being king of the landfill. But civilization coming to an end because of a lack of energy? I'm not buying it. There's energy enough, and when oil becomes too expensive before long, other forms of energy, whatever their cost, will become a viable alternative. "Dr Evans goes to lengths to point out that this is not a reality TV project, and says the aim is to find out if self-sufficiency is possible" I believe that most population of non-industrialized (or with low-industrial level) country are doing exactly that right now. And they have been doing so for quite some time. If that is pleasant or something you'll like to do forever is debatable. Davide "...the result will be much the same with starving citizens reduced to learning acoustic guitar and perhaps even talking to each other for entertainment". Shurely "...eating each other for nourishment"? Did I miss something? Humanity not only survived, but grew and prospered, traded, raided, built civilizations, explored the world, created great art and literature etc. for HOW many millenia before the internal combustion engine and petrochemical-based plastics? Yet some dipstick professor has to conduct an "experiment" to see if humanity is capable of living once the oil runs out? I smell a boondoggle, government (or foundation) funding and the rights to a TV show here. Not to mention an IgNobel Prize! Away from the Scottish Highlands and across the ditch to the Netherlands, Dutch researchers are punting an RFID super shield as a kind of personal firewall: It's no wonder the Dutch are researching this - unlike the US passports, Dutch new passports do NOT come with a tin foil lining to stop the RFID from being accessed from a distance.. I'd rather have an RFID-blaster. Just put your new shirt into the microwave and nuke the RFID chip. No more functioning RFID chip, no more problems about RFID security. A safer design to overload the chip into submission would be preferable. Sincerely, Arah Leonard Another IgNobel candidate? Still with ID, the Scouts have been enlisted to help government perfect the model for CRB checks . Scouts, not BOY scouts, mind. Dear Mark, Where have you been for the 40 years since "Boy" was dropped from the name of the Scout Association? Or the 20-odd years since girls were first admitted to the organisation? Or during the first 3 months of 2007, the Scouts' centenary year, when Scouts have been on TV almost every week with a large proportion being unmistakeably girls? Nothing annoys the girl members more than it being called "Boy Scouts" David Swanson Cub Scout Leader That's it for today. Get writing, you know you want to. ®
Tracey Cooper, 10 Apr 2007
fingers pointing at man
1

Contractors suffer payday strife

Parasol IT hit a spot of bother late last week when its payment system left 100 contractors out of pocket over the Easter weekend.
Kelly Fiveash, 10 Apr 2007
1

Amazon's patent attorneys sup from forbidden Wiki

AnalysisAnalysis Amazon.com has adopted an unusual and potentially self-destructive legal tactic in its defense of its 1-Click patent family. A defeat for Amazon.com would lift a cloud of uncertainty from over tens of thousands of e-commerce operations, who fear the Wrath of Bezos might be turned against them, as it once was against Amazon competitor Barnes and Noble. The online store filed the e-commerce patent in 1997 and has used it aggressively against competitors, as well as licensing the IP to other online vendors, including Apple. Although experts say there's no original invention to protect, and prior art abounds, formal re-examination of the patent has fallen to a lone citizen. Movie technician Peter Calveley, who performed in, and designed the fight sequences for Lord of the Rings, is taking on 40 of Amazon.com's finest legal brains in attempting to get the patent overturned. Don't underestimate the capacity of expensive US corporate lawyers to self-destruct, however. On his blog, Calveley tells us that Amazon's attorney battalion has now filed around 58lb of paperwork in its defence. And here their problems begin. Of the patents Amazon cites in its defense, one forms the basis of an intellectual property claim against Amazon.com. It belongs to Cordance Corporation, a small digital ID provider based in Issaquah, Washington. Cordance obtained the patent in 2004. Oops! But it gets worse. To give their defence a cast-iron foundation, Amazon.com's lawyers have submitted 32 articles from Wikipedia, the online site that "anyone can edit". The problem here is that last August the US Patent and Trademarks Office removed Wikipedia from its list of acceptable resource sources, as this Law.com article notes. It all makes one wonder how these expensive lawyers can justify their fees. They cite patents Amazon doesn't have, and which it allegedly infringes, and a reference source the Patent Office doesn't trust. A bomb under 1-Click Calveley is conducting his defense single handedly, and making the process transparent as possible. Alexis Grandemange (who isn't, as stated earlier Calveley's lawyer) has posted a wealth of detail posted here. The main weakness of 1-Click, Peter tells us, is Claim 11: A method for ordering an item using a client system, the method comprising: displaying information identifying the item and displaying an indication of a single action that is to be performed to order the identified item; and in response to only the indicated single action being performed, sending to a server system a request to order the identified item whereby the item is ordered independently of a shopping cart model and the order is fulfilled to complete a purchase of the item. In other words, the idea of seeing something, clicking on it, and automatically purchasing it, belongs to Amazon.com. However, electronic payment systems such as DigiCash offered similar procedures. Calveley also claims that with DigiCash the user could selectively disable the confirmation step, effectively reducing it to 1) click 2) pay and 3) receive goods. In a deposition in 1999, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos claimed 1-Click took 3,500 man hours and six months to develop. (Perhaps Amazon is getting its developers from the same source as it gets its lawyers). In contrast to the 40-strong legal team arrayed against the challenger, Calveley raised the $2,500 re-examination fee from over a hundred small contributions made through PayPal. O'Blimey! Finally, here's another curious factoid about the saga. Millionaire tech publisher Tim O'Reilly once vowed to torpedo Amazon.com's 1-Click patent. Against a backdrop of widespread outrage over Amazon's aggressive use of the patent, O'Reilly created a contest to find prior art to undermine the IP claim, and thus invalidate the patent. However, O'Reilly quietly dropped the campaign; saying he would never disclose it because he trusted Amazon.com CEO Bezos not to use it. Following that cockle-warming tribute to his integrity, Bezos became a regular star turn at O'Reilly's web evangelism conferences. These days, O'Reilly's VC fund AlphaTech Ventures is supported by Bezos, and represented by the same firm of attorneys, Fenwick & West, which is defending Amazon.com against Peter Calveley. Never accuse these dot.com moguls of permitting ethics to stand in the way of getting rich. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Apr 2007
3

UK.gov tells websites to stop bullies

Videos of schoolyard bullying should be blocked from websites, secretary of state for education and skills Alan Johnson said today. Speaking at the national conference of the NASUWT teaching union, Johnson said the internet had allowed bullies to prolong the ordeal for their victims by following them into their homes. This "cruel and relentless" harrassment has become so bad it is causing teachers to leave the profession, he said. Johnson's speech comes as the government's "Respect" agenda is pushed out, along with a new catchphrase for education. As well as the three R's of reading, writing, and arithmetic, there are now another three: rules, responsibility, and respect. Under Respect, teachers have been given new powers to confiscate the mobile phones used to record bullying videos, but, Johnson said*: "There is a wider responsibility upon the providers of the sites which broadcast this material. These are big companies we are talking about: they have a social responsibility and moral obligation to act. "I am therefore calling on the providers of these sites to take firmer action to block or remove offensive school videos, in the same way that they have commendably cut pornographic content. By removing the platform, we'll blunt the appeal." In his speech, Johnson announced another Respect measure that will allow teachers to physically restrain unruly pupils. He said disruptive behaviour is affecting half as many schools as it was in 1997. ® * As written in the final transcript of the speech before Johnson delivered it this afternoon
Mark Ballard, 10 Apr 2007
6

Pipex sale 'on the brink of collapse'

Reports over the Easter break said the sale of ISP Pipex was near collapse, with only Carphone Warehouse still interested. Earlier noises from the bidding process, which was being run by bankers UBS, suggested a four-way tussle between Carphone Warehouse, BT, Virgin Media, and Sky could have fetch a strong price for the struggling outfit. The Mail on Sunday reported this weekend, however, that Carphone Warehouse had felt able to table a "low ball" offer for Pipex, which has seen like-for-like subscriber numbers tumble. Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone has sat on the Mail's board of directors since 2001. Pipex chairman Peter Dubens is reportedly keen to sell, but a single bidder might mean he'll hold out this time. The news will do little to pacify Pipex's subscribers, who have endured weeks of uncertainty over a potential deal. Similar customer base sell offs, including to Orange and Carphone Warehouse itself, have caused chaos for users. Dunstone issued a profits warning last week, so only a bargain buy would be acceptable to his investors. Swallowing Pipex would take its list to more than 2.8 million and put the company in the broadband premier league with BT and Virgin Media. None of the players in the Pipex sell-off have yet put their name to any public comment. ®
Christopher Williams, 10 Apr 2007
Firefox

Mozilla seeks security researchers to look at alpha code

Mozilla Corporation wants to get the security community involved in ironing out possible bugs with the next version of Firefox at an earlier stage. Instead of pointing out security bugs once Firefox 3.0 gets released, Mozilla wants security vendors involved while the software in still a work in progress.
John Leyden, 10 Apr 2007
Free Software Foundation
3

Open sourcerers do battle for GPLv3

Open source luminary Bruce Perens has come out fighting in defence of the latest draft of GPLv3. The draft, which seeks to prevent patent protection deals like that struck late last year by Microsoft and Novell, has come under heavy fire from proprietary software advocates such as the ACT (Association for Competitive Technology).
Lucy Sherriff, 10 Apr 2007
2

Hack exposes AACS 'hole'

Hackers appear to have figured out how to access one of the crucial HD DVD encryption keys without having to authorise the data - potentially rendering the latest attempt to block such activity useless.
Tony Smith, 10 Apr 2007
Pacman
1

Iona buys LogicBlaze

Iona, the Irish software house, continued its acquisition spree with the purchase of LogicBlaze on Tuesday. LogicBlaze provides business integration solutions based on open source technologies. In a statement, Iona said its latest acquisition is based on the assumption that its future service oriented architecture (SOA) deployments will include multiple technologies, including many from the open source community.
ElectricNews.net, 10 Apr 2007
1

Utah bans trade mark keyword ads

The US state of Utah has outlawed the use of other people's trade marks to generate business through search engines. The plan has been called unconstitutional and impractical. In creating a new kind of electronic trade mark with specific online protections, the state hopes to clamp down on one company buying the right to display search engine adverts when a person searches for a rival's products. Court cases across the US have largely backed the right of companies to purchase an association with a search for a rival's products, though one state ruled that that term must not appear within the actual advert. Google and Yahoo! operate the most popular search advertising programmes which display adverts related to the term typed into the search engine itself. The ads are displayed separately to the actual search results, which are unaffected by any company's purchase of advertising space. Under the Trademark Protection Act, trade mark owners can apply for additional protection in Utah which will mean that their marks cannot be used as a trigger by rivals. "This bill establishes a new type of mark, called an electronic registration mark, that may not be used to trigger advertising for a competitor and creates a database for use in administering marks," says the Act. The law "prohibits the use of a registered electronic registration mark to trigger advertising for a business, goods, or services of the same class as those represented by the electronic registration mark," according to the Act. Both the advertiser and the seller of the advert can be liable under the law. Corynne McSherry, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement that the law is impractical. "To comply with the law, a search engine that received a search request would have to determine whether a user was located within Utah and, if so, check the search terms against Utah's registry of trademarks to prevent the unlawful triggering of advertising. The cost to search engines would be staggeringly high," she said. Last October a New York district court threw out a case brought by a brand owner against Google over its AdWords system's selling of its name as a search term. Computer firm Rescuecom alleged trade mark infringement. Judge Norman Mordue said that the sale of trade marks as search terms was not a violation, but that it would be an infringement to include that trade mark in the text ad itself, since that caused a 'likelihood of confusion'. A previous case involving car insurance firm GEICO had come to a similar conclusion. French courts, on the other hand, have twice ruled against Google in similar cases, agreeing with brand owners that the firm should not sell trade marks as search terms. In the UK a case involving Reed Business Information and Reed Executive ended in a similar result to the US cases, where an advert was found not to be an infringement, largely because it did not mention the competing firm in the ad itself. The EFF's McSherry said that the new law was not only impractical but also most likely unconstitional because of the strain it puts on inter-state commerce. "Aside from its constitutional flaws, the law is just bad public policy. It undermines the fundamental purpose of trademarks: to improve consumer access to accurate information about goods and services," she said. "The good news is that, given the constitutional problems, the law is likely to be challenged in court." Google has one trade mark policy for the US and Canada and another for the rest of the world. For the US and Canada, Google will act on complaints from trade mark holders about the use of their marks within ad text. However, it will not investigate complaints about the use of trade marks as keywords. Outside North America, perhaps influenced by the French court rulings, Google will investigate complaints about the use of a trade mark either as ad text or as a keyword. In contrast, Yahoo! changed its rules on 1st March to forbid the use of a trade mark as a keyword. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 10 Apr 2007
Sun

Sun CEO shows off Rock ahead of Fujitsu launch

So, it's April 2007 and Sun Microsystems has just popped one of its 16-core Rock chips on CEO Jonathan Schwartz's desk. Schwartz posted pictures of the Rock silicon on his blog, bragging that "the chips are running billions of instructions already".
Ashlee Vance, 10 Apr 2007
Dollar
11

Microsoft and Cisco eye Iceland for green server farms

Both Cisco and Microsoft will investigate the possibility of establishing server farms in Iceland powered fully by renewable energy. According to the Icelandic daily Morgunbladid, the Reykjavík Energy Company (OR) is presently talking to both companies to see if server farms could be run by geothermal and hydroelectric power.
Jan Libbenga, 10 Apr 2007
1

Trial in 419-related murder under way

Nigerian 419 scams have bilked untold billions of dollars from people who have more hope than sense. A trial underway in the US will detail how one scheme claimed the life of a Tennessee minister whose wife is accused of gunning him down after it came to light she fell victim to Nigerian-style swindlers.
Dan Goodin, 10 Apr 2007
Debian GNU/Linux
7

Debian 4.0 secures packages

The Debian Project has finally released its long-awaited Linux update, featuring changes in security and systems management. Debian 4.0 delivers support for encrypted partitions out-of-the box and a package management system called Secure APT that verifies packages downloaded from mirror sites.
Gavin Clarke, 10 Apr 2007
arrow pointing up
5

IBM's new server targets the 'i' in SMB

IBM has released what it claims is an all-singing, all-dancing box designed for the industry's craze-du-jour, the SMB market. The company's angle is simplicity for the System i Express, the latest addition to the SMB System i server line. With infomercial flair at a press and analyst event in San Francisco today, IBM's System i general manager Mark Shearer pulled a sheet revealing a row of six Dell servers. On the opposite table was the Express system.
Austin Modine, 10 Apr 2007
channel

Salesforce.com plays content management card

Salesforce.com is turning to enterprise content management (ECM) with its latest partner purchase and software-as-service (SaaS) announcement.
Gavin Clarke, 10 Apr 2007
unhappy

Seagate stock sinks after earnings stink

Seagate shares took a hit today after the HDD manufacturer cut its third quarter revenue expectations. On a release posted on the company website late Friday, Seagate now predicts to report revenue of $2.8bn Q3 — lowered from a previous estimate of $2.9-$3bn.
Austin Modine, 10 Apr 2007
Windows Vista teaser
6

WoW players learn value of Windows updates

Subscribers playing World of Warcraft on Windows machines continue to find their accounts stolen more than eleven months after hackers first began targeting them using a Trojan attack, according to posts on the game's official website.
Dan Goodin, 10 Apr 2007
Warning Go
4

Sun and Fujitsu to release 256-thread (M)onster

ExclusiveExclusive Longtime mainframe hater Sun Microsystems has borrowed big iron rhetoric to pitch its upcoming line of midrange and high-end servers built with Fujitsu.
Ashlee Vance, 10 Apr 2007