Always colorful with its names, Canonical has birthed the server, desktop and education versions of its "Feisty Fawn" Ubuntu Linux. In its blasé form, the new version of Linux ships on April 19 as Ubuntu 7.04 Server Edition, Desktop Edition and Edubuntu.
IDFIDF Intel has spilled the beans on 'Montevina', the next-but-one generation of its Centrino mobile platform, due to appear during H1 2008, a year on from 'Santa Rosa', the Centrino update coming next month.
IDFIDF Intel's gaming-oriented four-core Core 2 Extreme QX6800 was expected to appear in Q3 but launched last week. So what will happen in Q3? The chip giant will release a faster version, the QX6850, according to motherboard-maker moles.
IDFIDF Intel has flagged late 2009 for the likely delivery of its revamped take on PCI Express code-named Geneseo. Geneseo, originated by Intel and IBM, basically consists of extensions to the popular PCI Express technology or more specifically to PCI Express 2.0 due out this year. Vendors backing Geneseo, including Nvidia, QLogic, ClearSpeed, Sun Microsystems and Adaptec, expect to build a host of accelerators aimed at aiding the performance of specific tasks. In particular, the vendors hope to ship speedups for mathematical, video, encryption, XML and data mining functions.
IDFIDF Even as Intel's 'Bearlake' chipsets - to ship as the P35, G35, X38 and so on - near release, details have emerged of their successors, codenamed 'Eaglelake' and targeting the chip giant's 45nm dual- and quad-core desktop CPUs.
iRiver's Clix 2 super-skinny digital media player - it's just 1.3cm thick in the middle, and even less at the edges - has come to the UK.
IDFIDF Say hello to Intel's latest portable PC concept: the "metro notebook", an ultra-thin, ultra-light laptop for the ladies. Designed to be carried over the shoulder, the sub-0.7in thick, 1kg device sports an always-on secondary display for fast info updates.
IDFIDF Intel will ship a clock-unlocked gamer-friendly Core 2 Duo mobile processor in the second-half of the year, the company has revealed. Next month's new Core 2 Duos will auto-overclock, it added. But while Quad-core laptop CPUs are coming too, Intel didn't say when.
InterviewInterview Luke Gibbs, co-founder of the Ofcomwatch blog, conducted an in-depth interview with Ofcom's chief executive Ed Richards last month. You can read the full interview here.
This will be hard to believe. Another software company has the cure-all for installing software across a large number of servers. FastScale Technology has come gushing out of stealth mode with its Composer Suite software. The code promises to make installing applications across hundreds or even thousands of servers a real pleasure instead of a tremendous pain.
IDFIDF Almost 90 per cent of all the Centrino-branded laptops sold in Q4 will be based on the latest version of Intel's mobile platform, 'Santa Rosa', the chip giant believes.
An 81-year-old woman has been told she faces jail for harassing her neighbours and breaching the conditions of her Asbo, the BBC reports. Dorothy Evans, of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, will appear for sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court after being found guilty of a sustained campaign against next door neighbours Angela and Roberto Casa. Between January and June 2006 she made their lives "absolute hell", a trial in February heard. On one occassion, Evans "told the Casas' 13-year-old daughter she was a witch and would cast a spell on her family and kill her pet dog". Angela Casa "claimed the pensioner called her a prostitute and also that she tried to run her off the road on several occasions and had hit her with a walking stick". Mrs Evans had four previous convictions for harassment and eight convictions for breaching a restraining order, between 1999 and 2005, the court heard. Evans was found guilty on one count of harassing her neighbours and six charges of breaching her Asbo. Judge Roderick Denyer QC warned Evans that, despite her advanced years, he was "seriously contemplating a prison sentence" - described as "the only way of bringing home to her that she could not go on behaving like this". Evans failed to attend the earlier hearing due to a hospital appointment. The judge further warned her that if she failed to show up for sentencing without a "very good reason", he'd issue a warrant for her arrest. Angela Casa said of the verdict: "I don't really care what the sentence is, I just hope she never speaks to me again. I just want to be able to get up in the morning and go out into my garden without having to worry about abuse." ®
A 15-year-old Perth teenager persuaded YouTube to pull hundreds of clips by masquerading as an employee of state broadcasting outfit the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Reuters reports. The lad wrote a letter to Google's amateur video tentacle saying he represented ABC and would it mind removing clips of "popular local comedy series" The Chaser's War on Everything. YouTube duly obliged. Australian Associated Press reported on Saturday that ABC's lawyers had themselves contacted the young man, who duly apologised. ABC's head of TV comedy, Courtney Gibson, told ABC radio: "Everyone does dumb stuff when they are 15. We really appreciate that he's apologised and we'll be following up with him next week." Gibson added: "But what was of concern to us was the fact that YouTube was sending copyright infringement notices to people who have been uploading Chaser clips to YouTube, threatening to shut down their access to YouTube if they persist. That's what was worrying to us." ® Bootnote Yes, we're confused too. We wonder how ABC will react when some ne'er-do-well uploads its programmes before they've even aired. ®
Register Hardware daily drawRegister Hardware daily draw You can find out what we thought about Samsung's 3G-connected, Windows Mobile 5-based smart phone, the i600, by reading our review here. And now we've got five of these bad boys to give away... one every day this week.
A police officer who improperly accessed a police database and passed individuals' personal details on to a man with a violent criminal record has had his jail term increased to nine months. James Andrew Hardy was previously found guilty of misfeasance in a public office for improperly accessing the police database and was not jailed. He was given a suspended prison sentence of 28 weeks and 300 hours of community service. The Attorney General appealed that sentence and the prison term was increased by the Court of Appeal to nine months. Hardy accessed the police database and passed personal details on three people to Martin Jolley, a known criminal. Jolley wanted to take action against the three in retaliation for their actions against him or a friend. Hardy must have known, said judges Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, Mr Justice Hedley and Mr Justice Pitchers, that there was a serious risk that Jolley intended to subject the three people to physical violence. The judges ruled that the sentence should include an element of deterrence in order to make it clear to other police officers that the improper use of information in the police database was an offence that would be severely punished. Hardy and Jolley had both pleaded guilty, and the judges said taking that into account Hardy should face an 18-month jail term. Hardy had already served the equivalent of a 10-week jail term while awaiting trial, as well as a four month curfew. He had also already completed his 300 hours of community service, so the court ordered that he complete a nine month jail term. Special constable Geraldine Tabor was fined £1,000 in 2005 for looking up the criminal records of fellow employees at the petrol station where she worked. Special constables are part-time volunteers. She said she looked up the details because she suspected one employee of stealing fuel and the other of stealing bags of chocolate oranges. In 2004 a police computer operator was fined £400 under the Data Protection Act for using the police database to look up four of her friends because she was bored. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links Law report at Times Online Data protection fine for Special Constable Data protection fine for 'bored' police worker
Following hard on heels of last week's move into content management, Salesforce.com has joined forces with Adobe to offer a Flex Tool kit for its Apex development platform. Launched today at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, the two vendors say the new toolkit enables developers to build so-called ‘rich Internet’ applications using Flex features and deliver them as on-demand applications through Apex.
Experts have identified a possible contributory cause of the unexplained and drastic decline in honeybee numbers - mobile phone radiation. Beekeepers worldwide have reported increasing incidents of "Colony Collapse Disorder", a phenomenon normally evident between late summer and early spring as older bees die, "leaving behind the queen and young workers not yet ready to forage for pollen and nectar and insufficient in number to maintain the colony", as honeybee health specialist Vita puts it. The US has been particularly hard-hit by CCD. Twenty-four states earlier this year reported "heavy losses", and hives in Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK have also been affected. Experts have offered harmful pesticides, increased solar radiation, falling queen fertility, and use of unauthorised bee treatments as possible causes of CCD. Now, though, German researchers at Landau university have found that mobile phone signals can interfere with bees' "navigation systems". According to The Telegraph, the scientists placed "cordless-phone docking units*, which emit electromagnetic radiation, into beehives". They found that "in some cases, 70 per cent of bees exposed to radiation failed to find their way back to the hive after searching for pollen and nectar". Brian Dennis, of the UK's Bee Improvement and Bee Breeding Association, said: "There is so much being said about CCD in America and [radiation] hasn't been mentioned. Until someone does a large study, it is hard to be sure." ® Bootnote *Yes, not quite the same as a mobile phone set-up. For details on the radiation output of cordless phones versus mobiles, see this handy Health Protection Agency guide.
Faster, higher, more intuitive. It's not quite the Olympics, but the third annual Siemens Roborugby tournament promises a fresh approach to engineers' education.
Human error was the most likely cause of the loss of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. That is the conclusion of NASA's preliminary investigation into the disappearance of the craft, which lapsed into radio silence late in 2006. The final communication with the craft was in November 2006, when mission managers signalled the craft to move its solar arrays into a new position. Because of an error made in a software adjustment five months earlier, this command triggered a sequence of events that culminated in the loss of the craft. NASA has now confirmed that the Surveyor was lost just 12 hours later. The problems began in the summer of 2006, when an update to the high gain antenna's (HGA) pointing direction was written to the wrong part of the spacecraft's memory. This error unintentionally disabled the solar array positioning units and corrupted the HGA's contingency pointing direction. All was well until 2 November when a command caused the solar arrays to "attempt to exceed their hardware constraint", as NASA puts it. The onboard fault protection system stepped in, and this left the array in "a somewhat unusual configuration". Now, with its batteries pointing directly at the sun, the MGS began to overheat. The overheating battery was misinterpreted by software on board as being overcharged, so the MGS automatically shut down the charge current, effectively dooming the craft. NASA has confirmed that all signals and other functions were lost within 12 hours of this signal being sent, making rescue all but impossible. The MGS had already had its mission extended four times, so in many ways the loss of the craft is not too surprising. Nevertheless, until the craft unexpectedly dropped off the airwaves in November last year, it was still doing valuable scientific work, and it will be sorely missed. During the course of its decade-long mission, the craft sent back almost a quarter of a million images, including those which suggested that water might have flowed on the red planet at some point in its past. Three other craft remain in orbit around our smaller, redder neighbour: Mars Express, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Odyssey. The full report on the errors that caused the craft's demise can be found here (pdf). You can find some of the highlights of the MGS' mission here. ®
A patent licensing agreement between Nokia and Qualcomm has expired without being renewed. The agreement is the subject of legal action in the US and Europe. The disputes centre on patents held by Qualcomm for technology used in chips in mobile devices such as telephones. Nokia has for some years paid a licensing fee to Qualcomm under the deal which has just expired. The two companies have not managed to agree a replacement deal. The just-expired agreement involved the cross-licensing of technology between Qualcomm and Nokia. Nokia has just made a $20m payment to Qualcomm to cover the second quarter of this year, but Qualcomm has denounced the action, saying that it is not for Nokia to set prices for its intellectual property. Qualcomm has asked for the American Arbitration Association to arbitrate the dispute and has demanded that Nokia continue to pay it patent licence fees. In 2005 Nokia and others complained to the European Commission about Qualcomm's behaviour over standardisation for third generation (3G) mobile phone networks. Nokia said Qualcomm agreed that it would not over-charge for licences to its technology if it was incorporated into industry-wide standards. Once those standards were set, argued Nokia, Qualcomm levied charges that were excessive and disproportionate. That case is ongoing. A week later Qualcomm filed a suit in the US alleging that Nokia infringed 11 of its patents. Nokia filed another suit in Europe in recent weeks arguing that the patents on which Qualcomm's cases rest have expired in Europe. Nokia uses chips from Texas Instruments which, in turn, use technology claimed as its own by Qualcomm. Nokia claims that the Qualcomm patents have expired. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links Nokia moves to block Qualcomm patents in Europe Qualcomm lawsuit may be stopped, rules judge Qualcomm infringed Broadcom patent, says ruling Qualcomm sues Nokia in patent spat Mobile-makers say 3G patent licensing breaks antitrust laws
Belkin plans to make it even easier to access ordinary add-ons like iPods, printers, memory card readers, Flash keys and disk drives over wireless networks. This summer, it will release its Network USB Hub, a five-port box with an 802.11n connection.
It's official: the UK's children are ill-mannered and ill-disciplined brats with a shocking disregard for proper table manners, The Telegraph reports. According to a Pizza Express poll published today, which asked 1,140 people how kids should conduct themselves, "the notion of good table manners has changed". Although 80 per cent of those probed "thought manners were getting worse", just three per cent thought it was "necessary to put down cutlery while chewing", while a mere two per cent reckoned that the Victorian concept of masticating each mouthful 32 times before swallowing was a bedrock of civilised society. It gets worse. A paltry eight per cent thought children should eat everything set before them, while 32 per cent didn't believe politeness towards waiters was an essential social skill. One shaken Pizza Express restaurant manager said: "It's running around, screaming, breaking glasses and when they are at the table they just make a mess. It could be children aged six or seven. Their parents do not care." There is some hope, however. The poll classified not speaking with food in the mouth as "relevant", and 85 per cent of pollees said "switching off an iPod or games console while dining would apply to today's children". ® Bootnote A quick poll of Reg staff showed that 93 per cent of hacks thought the practice of sending eight-year-olds up chimneys was a character-building and rewarding activity, 77 per cent believed a short spell in the Army would sort kids out, and 81 per cent favoured the birch as a punishment for abusing waiters with your mouth full while playing a PS3.
ColumnColumn The oxymoron "interesting PowerPoint presentation" was offered as a small witticism a few months back. I thought it was good, and shared it with a friend, who reacted angrily: "Blame the workman, not the tools," he said. Frankly, (I told him) I disagree. Powerpoint inherently ruins a presentation in 95 per cent of cases.
Graphics card maker PNY has confirmed that Nvidia is about to launch the GeForce 8600 GT graphics chip, pledging today to ship a card based on the not-yet-official GPU tomorrow.
Reg Reader WorkshopReg Reader Workshop For those of us who were around in the industry during the mid to late 80s, it is interesting to think back to a time when vendors of relational database management systems (RDBMS) were struggling to be taken seriously.
ColumnColumn According to the Information Commissioner we are now waking up to find ourselves in a surveillance society. But what is a surveillance society?
Congratulations go out to LogLogic for continuing to put as exciting a spin as possible on one of an administrator's most mundane tasks – log management. The start-up has shipped a new version of its flagship software that should provide customers with more centralized control over their logs, while also giving them fresh ways to search that information. Best of all the software runs about 35 per cent faster thanks to underlying hardware upgrades on the LogLogic server appliance.
In part one of this series we looked at the different editions of Vista available and discussed the various encryption and backup features which might be of interest to forensic examiners. In this article we will look at the user and system features of Vista which may (or may not) present new challenges for investigators and discuss the use of Vista itself as a platform for forensic analysis.
Lime Pictures, the television production company behind teen dramas Hollyoaks and Grange Hill is currently displaying a prospective employee's personal details on its website. A Reg reader spotted the error last Friday while browsing the job section of the Lime Pictures website after he clicked on a link that should have opened a blank online application form. Instead, highly confidential information about a woman who had applied for the role of administration supervisor popped up on the screen (see here). He immediately contacted Lime Pictures to alert them to the fact that "some poor soul's personal details" were fully viewable. But the confidential details are still on display today. On its job application forms, Lime Pictures states that "all information provided is stored on our internal database and will not be provided to any other organisation. The information provided will be used for recruitment and statistical purposes only and will be destroyed when no longer required". In fact, data seems to be about as protected as the love-life of one of those identikit blonde Hollyoaks characters, as you can access the entire filled-in application of a Liverpool-based woman who has six GCSEs including a B in RE. El Reg contacted the applicant to see how she felt about Lime Pictures' data protection cock-up. She told us that she applied for the job around the middle of last week and that she was very concerned to discover this had happened. "With what happens now-a-days with identity fraud, it's really bad isn't it?" she said. We also put a call into Lime Pictures' press spokeswoman Gemma Hayden to find out why the information hadn't been promptly removed, despite the fact the TV firm had been told about the problem last week. But all we got was a cheery recorded message which said: "I'm now out on a shoot but will be back in the office on Friday." We've left a message on Hayden's mobile too, but she is yet to return our call. ®
The Liberal Democrats have outlined their plans for so called energy mortgages: special loans for home owners that would help pay for improvements to make their homes more energy efficient. Under the scheme, the loans would be tied to the house, so any subsequent owner would take over the repayments with the house purchase. The Lib Dems say the cost of the repayments would easily be offset by savings on energy bills. Britain's domestic carbon emissions account for 27 per cent of our total carbon dioxide production. This is compared to less than five per cent in Sweden, which is considerably colder. If Britain had Swedish standards of energy efficiency, the average British household would save £385 a year on their energy bills, the party says. The policy proposes that by 2011 all new houses would be built to tough new energy efficiency standards. But that is only part of the picture. Since the majority of the houses that we will live in already exist, if we are to meet energy efficiency targets, we need to find a way of improving the efficiency of what we already have. Chris Huhne said: "With an 'energy mortgage', proven improvements will deliver real energy cuts that will pay for themselves and save money in the long term, will be accessible to everyone. Building new homes to tough, rigourously enforced standards, would significantly cut fuel bills and effectively pay for itself, making homes more affordable for first time buyers." Over and above tackling the carbon we emit at home, the Lib Dems want a cap and trade scheme for energy companies. Currently, they have no incentive to sell less energy, but under the scheme the Lib Dems have put forward, energy companies would have to buy permits to sell more than their regulatory allowance, and could sell on their surplus. The plans have been welcomed by environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund. A spokesperson told the BBC: "It is good to see political parties getting to grips with the environmental challenge we face, and this policy raises the bar for other parties to match." It added that it was impressed with the scope and credibility of the scheme. ®
Adobe says the next version of its media player will allow users to watch video stored on their machines as well as that streamed online.
Channel reseller Evesham has hopped on board NetApp's partner program in a bid to fill holes in its storage offering. The distributor is claiming big cost savings on NetApp network attached storage kit for its customers.
A year long study into Britain's broadband has warned that the country risks falling behind the rest of the world. The UK is currently in the top tier for broadband reach and access, but this happy situation may not last. The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), in a major report, says Ofcom has two years to stimulate investment in infrastructure. "If we twiddle our thumbs now we'll have to play catch-up in the future," Anthony Walker told us. "Ofcom needs to accelerate the work they need to do." The BSG doesn't advocate public spending on broadband infrastucture, but said that without encouragement there was no incentive to lay new fibre or light up existing unused fibre capacity. Walker pointed to two areas where costs discouraged new deployment. "We'd like to see government examine how non-domestic rating applies to unlit fibre. Right now, if you light that fibre, the full domestic rating applies. There's a disincentive for operators to exploit the fibre that's already in the ground." The cost of laying new fibre was huge, he said. The BSG notes that Virgin Media, which now owns the cable monopoly in the UK, is only available to 50 per cent of households. In order to modernise its network, currently capable of 10mbits/s (down), to 220mbits/s (down) and 120mbits/s (up), Virgin needs to spend between £150 and £200 per customer. That's a capital expenditure of around £600m. Deploying fibre to the home for every UK household would cost £14bn. Earlier this year a Deloitte and Touche report suggested that consumers will end up footing the bill for better broadband infrastructure - especially if IPTV flops. The government also needs to devise a digital strategy to ensure people who are socially excluded have the broadband access. But what about the refuseniks, we wondered? "Broadband allows more compelling video-rich and data-rich services to be created," said Walker. "When people see value they'll act. The market hasn't had to work that hard yet to get consumers - if anything, operators are struggling to meet the demand they have now. But as adoption rates start to slow down, operators will focus on these niche markets." So we need a sort of MySpace for wrinklies? "I think things like that will emerge in time," Walker said. Read today's interview with Ofcom chief Ed Richards here. ®
Security researchers have traced spam-sending botnet clients back to networks run by the US military. Support Intelligence, the firm whose research on honeynets revealed that the networks of at least 28 Fortune 1000 companies contained malware-infected spam-spewing PCs, has found evidence of bots running behind military networks.
RoTMRoTM We're not sure if "Japan's leading toilet manufacturer" Toto builds city centre cyberloos for the UK market, but its domestic products have evidently fallen under the control of the Lizard Alliance. According to the BBC, the company is offering free repairs to no less than 180,000 Z-series bogs after some of them spontaneously combusted. The Z-series apparently features pulsating massage spray, power dryer, "tornado wash" flush, and an automatic lid. It also boasts an "electric bidet accessory" which on three occassions has caught fire, potentially threatening a nasty case of "Machine Uprising Roast Arse". Mercifully, the Z-series failed to fully exploit its new-found offensive capability, since the crappers were unoccupied at the time of the incendiary incidents. A Toto spokesman confirmed: "Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries." neoLuddite Resistance Army members outside Japan need not worry unduly about this latest evidence of The Rise of the Machines - the Z series is not exported. Japanese cadre members are advised to take the usual precautions - pulse plasma laser rifle and asbestos underpants. ® Bootnote A battlefield citation to NRA member Paul Gomme for the Z-series reconnaissance. The Rise of the Machines™ Carnivore ATM bites Florida kiddie (16 March 2007) Hybrid vehicle attacks petrol station (12 March 2007) Humans taste of bacon, says gourmet robot (10 November 2006) Satnav orders German into toilet (24 October 2006) Lizard Alliance targets Turkish PM (19 October 2006) Washing machine attacks Icelander (9 October 2006) Volkswagen unleashes 150mph self-driving car (4 July 2006) Police arrest satanic BMW victim (20 June 2006) Iraq grunts mourn loss of robot comrade (25 May 2006) Bendy bus attacks Leeds cake shop (25 April 2006) Captain Cyborg acquires Dalek capability (20 April 2006) Man survives satanic BMW crash-and-burn (13 March 2006) Second Freeview box signals alien invasion fleet (15 February 2006) Lizard Army fuses woman with black helicopter (4 November 2005) NRA probes Japanese sex android (26 August 2005) Androids launch minicab firm (15 July 2005) Beware the breast-examining hand of death (13 July 2005) Lizard Army Neo-Mech menaces eBay (13 July 2005) Vampire robonurses hunt in packs (6 June 2005) Cornell Uni develops apocalypse cube (13 May 2005) Sex android begats Armageddon machine (22 April 2005) Man executes Chrysler (21 April 2005) Rise of the man-eating cyberloo (24 March 2005) Sobbing Frenchman recounts Renault Laguna terror ordeal (18 March 2005) Fire-breathing bus attacks South London (14 March 2005) Dyson unleashes self-replicating hoover (11 March 2005) Battling teen crushes roboarm menace (8 March 2005) French join motorised Lizard Alliance (22 February 2005) Lizard Army develops copulating robot (11 February 2005) We are Zogg: The Cuddly Menace (9 February 2005) Lizard Army invades Alaska (27 January 2005) London menaced by flaming DVD players (12 January 2005) Killer hoover attacks Scotsman (24 December 2004) Car self-destructs in assassination bid (17 December 2004) The rise of the rat-brain controlled android (16 December 2004) Boffins unleash robotic cockroach (15 November 2004) Ukrainian teen fights the Rise of the Machines™ (13 October 2004) Man in satanic Renault terror ordeal (7 October 2004) Killer cyberappliances: Satan implicated (28 June 2004) US develops motorised robobollard (29 April 2004) Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie (22 April 2004) Fire-breathing buses threaten London (24 March 2004) Cyberappliances attack Italian village (11 February 2004) Cyberloo blast rocks Stoke-on-Trent (10 February 2004) Cyberkiosk assaults Spanish teenager (8 December 2003) Hi-tech toilet caught on camera (19 April 2001) Hi-tech toilet swallows woman (17 April 2001)
Quocirca's changing channelsQuocirca's changing channels It can be hard to gauge the true take up of on-demand application services, an alternative way to take delivery of business applications whereby they are accessed online rather than installed and managed on-premises.
UK-based Savastore.com has quietly re-opened its doors with a slightly different blink-and-you'll-miss-it name of Saverstore.com.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) today released sobering figures showing that a quarter of all pints served in the UK contain less than 95 per cent of a full measure - at an estimated annual cost of £481m to punters. The campaigning organisation's "The Full Pints" survey used figures from a sample group of 25 local authorities gleaned between December 2004 and January 2007. It revealed that "a shocking 26.6 per cent of all pints served are over five per cent short measure" and highlights the case of "the worst example" which fell 13 per cent short of a full satisfaction. CAMRA supremo Mike Benner thundered: "It is a disgrace that up to a quarter of all pints served in the UK are less than 95 per cent liquid when the consumer is paying for a full pint every time. Labour had promised to introduce legislation to end this unfair practice 10 years ago and the continuing cost to beer drinkers from the Government's inaction has now run into billions of pounds." Accordingly, CAMRA has launched an online petition aimed at forcing a change of the current law which means "you may only receive a pint 90 per cent full" and deprives thirsty Brits of an estimated £1.3m* per day. ® Bootnote *Yes, that's a lot of wonga - greater even than the average Vulture Central lunchtime "editorial meeting" bar bill.
Data centre managers can now forecast not only their future need for power, space, and cooling, but what effect hardware swaps and changes will have, claimed Aperture Technologies as it added a capacity planning app to its Vista infrastructure management suite.
Shrinking ISP Boltblue has told its remaining customers it will hightail out of broadband to concentrate on selling ringtones and other "mobile entertainment products". As of 31 May, the remaining 1,000 Boltblue broadband punters will be forced to look elsewhere for intenet access in a market where choice is an increasingly scarce commodity. The firm has been encouraging an exodus for six months, and less than 10 per cent of its revenues now come in from its ISP business. CEO Michael Brown said: "The move fits with our brand values, we are building a strong position as the mobile entertainment provider of choice in the UK as well as high growth markets abroad and mobile entertainment now represents the bulk of the business." It hasn't always been that way. In 2001 Boltblue stepped in to pick up 90,000 former Cable and Wireless customers who couldn't be integrated into the NTL cable network. Boltblue promised to ensure seamless migrations for the few hold-outs by offering Migration Authorisation Codes as a matter of course. ®
Skype's Instant messaging client has once again been misused as a vector to spread malware.
EMI Music and Atlantic Records UK (a division of Warner Music) have teamed up with mobile content provider ShoZu, in separate deals, to enable some artists to instantly upload live video footage and photographs from their phones onto social networking websites. In the Atlantic corner, bands including the likes of Hard-Fi and Hadouken will be using the service. Over at EMI, Air Traffic, Gisli and The Aliens will be among the first artists on the label to use the software. The patented technology behind ShoZu – founded in London in 2001 – uses data replication, which should allow content to quietly synchronise in the background. The software can be used on 155 different mobile phones, including GPS and Wi-Fi models. Jennifer Grenz, senior director of marketing at ShoZu, said: "The camera phone is a powerful tool to capture a part of the music experience. It's there on the tour bus, backstage, at parties, in the studio, and even at home, and it can bring fans right into their favourite bands' lives like a fly on the wall." With music fans increasingly uploading footage and photos of live events onto websites such as YouTube and Flickr, it comes as little surprise that some of the majors have decided to embrace the software. Using less-established acts as guinea pigs to effectively trial out a new way of reaching fans online could be seen as an attempt by the record firms to try and stem the growth of user-generated content. EMI's digital media manager Eric Winbolt said: "We are continuously looking at new ways to empower our artists to deliver interesting and insightful content to their fans. ShoZu provides the perfect platform with a crucial combination of simple and rapid mobile connectivity that allows fans to get up close and personal with their favourite performers." In a statement which echoed EMI sentiments, Jack Melhuish at Atlantic said: "We continue to explore new ways of connecting music fans with the bands they love. With ShoZu, we can make it easy and fun for our artists to embrace the power of social networking sites and other Web 2.0 technologies and offer fans unique and exciting content." But who sealed the European deal with ShoZu first? Apparently, it was Warner – by a nose, or should that read, ear? More about ShoZu here. ®
Teenagers will not refrain from having sex, even if you spend a billion dollars trying to persuade them to keep their trousers zipped and chastity belts locked. This is the conclusion from a six year study by Mathematica Policy Research into the sexual behaviour of more than 2,000 teenagers across four states, and a variety of social groups. The researchers sliced the data into two sets: those who participated in so-called chastity education programmes, in which only abstinence is suggested as a form of birth control, and those who did not, and had access to traditional sex education programmes. The average age at which the teens reported having sex for the first time was identical: 14.9 years. Neither group showed more inclination than the other to use contraception, either. Of those who said they'd had sex in the last year, 23 per cent in both groups said they always used a condom, 17 per cent only sometimes using a condom, and four per cent never did. The number of partners was the same, too, with a quarter of teenagers in both groups reporting having had at least three sexual partners. The abstinence programme has been a central part of the Bush administration's social policy, and the government has poured about a billion dollars into it over the last 10 years. But the research would seem to suggest that the money has not been well spent. All that has happened is that teenagers are pledging not to have sex, getting their nice little silver rings, and then shagging like rabbits anyway. ®
Motorists travelling on the Hungarian M1 motorway between Budapest and Vienna have been diverted onto alternative routes after a high-speed crash claimed the lives of 500 rabbits, The Telegraph reports. The tragedy occurred when a lorry carrying thousands of rabbits in plastic crates overturned at high speed. The survivors of the disaster made good their escape onto the carriageway's temptingly grassy verges, although more than 4,000 had been recaptured by midday. The road is expected to remain closed for several hours "while clear-up efforts continue". ®
Evesham is continuing to advance its popular range of High Definition TVs with the addition of a new 26in LCD to its existing Alqemi selection. It comes with a native resolution of 1366 x 768 and is ready for 720p HD video.
Vonage has admitted that it has no technical work-around to avoid infringing Verizon's patents on key VoIP techniques, putting the future of the company, and other VoIP providers in the US, in doubt. The VoIP industry is a minefield of patents, but those granted to Verizon are so broad it's not clear if any VoIP company could avoid them, so Vonage could simply be the first of many who will be forced to pay up to Verizon or go out of business. There are two key patents involved: U.S. Patent 6,282,574 explains how a numerical IP address can be mapped to a textual domain such as an e-mail address, and from there to a phone number. This makes it possible for a call to be routed from a VoIP network to a traditional phone system. 6,359,880 covers the business process of making, and receiving, VoIP calls over public wireless networks. Just to make things more complicated the patents have been interpreted by the judge to be even broader than filed, though a process called a "Markman hearing", but the results of that hearing have been sealed so aren't available for public scrutiny. What we do know is that last month a jury (yes: US patent issues are adjudicated by jury) found Vonage to be in breach of both patents, and 6,104,711: which covers provision of conference calling, Caller ID and other enhanced services. Vonage were ordered to pay $58 million in damages. The Judge immediately ordered an injunction to stop Vonage signing up new customers, but given the level of churn in the VoIP industry that would have killed the company, so a temporary stay of the injunction was granted by the appeals court. Vonage told customers not to worry as they were working on a technical fix to avoid infringing on the patents; a fix which they now admit is beyond them. They do say they are confident that they can win on appeal, but that that process could take two years and will cost a great deal of money: perhaps more than the company can afford, meanwhile they are applying to extend the stay on the injunction indefinitely. According to Paul Derry, from patent experts Venner Shipley, most of Verizon's claims should only apply to companies with servers located in the US, even if services are being offered to US citizens, so Skype and friends should be in the clear. But Verizon is unlikely to stop at taking Vonage out of the picture. US cable companies have been very successfully in signing up subscribers to their VoIP services, offering simplicity of usage and guaranteed quality of service, so it seems likely they will be next in Verizon's sights.
Microsoft is calling for regulator action to stop Google and DoubleClick merging, saying the deal would be anti-competitive if it went through. The software giant's general counsel Brad Smith, who has acted for Microsoft in various anti-competition cases, told Reuters: "This proposed acquisition raises serious competition and privacy concerns. We think this merger deserves close scrutiny from regulatory authorities to ensure a competitive online advertising market." Smith said Microsoft had not talked to regulators, but had talked to other companies. According to spokespeople, AT&T is also concerned the deal would put Google in a dominant position in online advertising. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the New York Times that Microsoft's claims were untrue. He said it was easy for businesses to switch to rival providers and that other issues would be debated with regulators as the deal went through. Microsoft was reportedly in the bidding to buy DoubleClick, but was beaten by Google. ®
Voting activists have been given the go ahead to proceed with a legal challenge to the certification of the touch-screen voting machines used in 57 of Pennsylvania's counties. Pennsylvania's Department of State had been opposing the suit, but its objections were dismissed by a Commonwealth Court on Friday last week. The state argued that the suit is based on allegations that had failed to win over other courts, and that it was only "speculation" that the machines could be tampered with, and errors otherwise occur. But in a 4-3 majority decision, the Commonwealth Court overruled the objections and allowed the case to proceed. Meanwhile, in Harrison County, Mississippi, the Board of Supervisors voted to switch away from touch screen systems and return to the older scanner systems, but has been told that it must have approval from the Department of Justice before the switch can be made. The Associated Press reports that poll workers have struggled to get the new touch-screen machines to work properly. Problems with print canisters and batteries were reported during the November elections. But a DoJ review could take up to 120 days, according to reports, putting pressure on those preparing for party primaries in August. Democrat Harry Ferguson says he'd like to keep the touch screen system. "Our first concern is preparing for the upcoming Democratic primary...but in fact has to be prepared 45 days prior to that, which gives us about a 30 day window here," he told AP. ®
A Pennsylvania student was held in jail for 12 days after a bomb threat recorded by a school hot line service was wrongly attributed to him, Fox News reports. Fifteen-year-old Cody Webb, of Greensburg, "called a school district hot line to listen to a recorded message about school delays at 3:12am EDT on 11 March", his mobile phone records later revealed. The next morning, school officials discovered said bomb threat logged at 3:17am.
Emissaries from the European Parliament arrived in Washington today with a message of restraint and fairplay for US crusaders in the "war on terror". Worried the US zeal to hunt down terrorists is trampling over the rights of European citizens, members of the European Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs will discuss with counterparts in the US Congress how they might civilise the US initiative. They will dangle a carrot for security-minded Americans who want to create a biometric border to encompass all its allies. MEPs will say they are prepared to build a transatlantic zone like its own fledgling area for borderless, visa-free travel among members of the European Union. Existing extradition and Open Skies agreements would form the basis of the proposed borderless zone. But the European Parliament wants to see the US rein in its surveillance hunt for terrorists. They want a transatlantic agreement on data protection to protect people from excessive snooping by the state. The internet, the global economy, and the hunt for terrorists make this essential. They also want the US to show Europe some respect. Current agreements are all very one-sided, MEPs will say. They hope their visit might have some influence on the US revision of the Patriot Act, which brought about the introduction of the Automated Targeting System (ATS) and Passenger Name Records (PNR), two US programmes for snooping on foreigners that have irked European law makers. They also want the US to show some restraint when it snoops through European financial records when it tries to track terrorist funding. MEPs are aware of the irony that while the US is starting to reconsider the Patriot Act, EU countries are building their own version of total security awareness. Though the parliament is keen to protect civil liberties, member states are busy mimicking the US take on homeland security enshrined in the Patriot Act. ®
CA may pursue its co-founder, Charles Wang, for damages resulting from a $2.2bn accounting scandal following the publication of internal report that alleges Wang "directed and participated" in a scheme to artificially inflate the software firm's stock price. The report, by a committee of outside directors at CA, advises that Wang and senior executives around him cooked up CA's infamous "35-day month" ruse. The scheme involved backdating sales so as to fraudulently inflate revenues in closed quarters in order to meet Wall St expectations, boosting CA's "profits" and bonuses for senior executives in the process. The report advises CA to sue Wang and the senior execs around him for $500m in damages. It also calls for action in order to force Wang to hand back stock he received during as tenure between 1976 and 2002 in charge of the enterprise software giant, then known as Computer Associates. Executives blamed for the scandal include Sanjay Kumar, Wang's longterm protege and successor as chief exec in 2002, who was recently jailed for 12 years after admitting his involvement in the scam. The study was prepared at the request of CA's current management as part of its defence against lawsuits brought by disgruntled investors who lost out as a result of the fraud. "Mr. Wang was the direct cause of the 35-day month practice, both due to his actual conduct and the culture that he established, and that it existed for most, if not all, of his tenure as CEO," the report concluded, Newsday reports. Wang denies the accusations of accounting fraud contained in the report. "This fallacious report does not serve the best interest of shareholders, customers and employees," he said. He suggested the report was based, at least partly, on unreliable information from Kumar. "I find hard to understand how the special litigation committee could believe the information they were given was credible, when their sources are those who perpetrated the crimes at issue and then lied about them to both internal company investigators and the government," he said. Newsday quotes unnamed sources "familiar with the criminal investigation" as reporting there was never enough evidence to press charges against Wang. Far from being the architect of one of the largest fraud in corporate America, Wang portrays himself as a victim. "As the founder of CA, I am devastated by what has happened to the company and feel personally wronged by Sanjay Kumar and the management team he installed," he said. ®
Maybe it was a shared love of science that lit the faces of those attending the NASA party commemorating the first human spaceflight. But maybe it was just the alcohol and freaky-deeky psychedelic light shows. It's hard to tell when you're blotto. On Friday, NASA opened up a hanger at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View to celebrate the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight in 1961. Dubbed Yuri's Night World Space Party, it was just one of 126 such events in 35 countries around the world. NASA's take on the festivities was a tribute to "our global heritage of space exploration," which it accomplished through techno-rave music, avant-garde dance routines and various displays pulled from last year's Burning Man. Nothing says extra-planetary science like a jeep covered in LEGO bricks, a fortune-telling Buddah kinetic light sculpture and solar-powered sunflower robots. The event did have the occasional science-related booth such as one showing off NASA's World Wind software; a free 3-D satellite imagery program, and there was a 20-inch telescope on the far side of the lot pointed at Saturn —but its hard to attract much of a crowd when you're competing against dancers in bathing suits gyrating with glowing hoola-hoops. It just can't be done. Not that NASA didn't have a strategy to appeal to its audience. When the throbbing techno stopped at 10 PM so NASA planetary scientist Chris McKay could address a warehouse of bleary-eyed rave fans about biological ethics in space exploration, he could have faced what those in the lecture biz call a "hard sell." McKay gingerly engaged his audience on the scientific importance of sending a plant to Mars by explaining NASA wants to "grow its own" on the red planet. This went over splendidly — even to those not engrossed enough to assume the space agency was taking blurted-out suggestions of what plant should be grown there. (Three guesses). An earlier presentation by the first female private space explorer, Anousheh Ansari also did well if the catcalls were any indication. Under a metal geometric dome there were video presentations such as "What's Going On Up There!" a documentary examining the sacrifices made in the space industry. Whether a person could actually hear any of it over the music is anyone's guess. The cushion-covered dome was best served for more visual presentations such as "Zero G. Art," where artist Pierre Comte explored what it's like to paint in the reduced gravity environment of a plummeting vomit comet. (Really, really awkward and messy.) It's not difficult to see why NASA took the rave approach. You've got to lure those flies in with honey before you start to ask them for billion-dollar project funding. And it's sometimes difficult for a science organization to get the public excited about what it does (which is why NASA doesn't ring doorbells for money). We see through your plan, NASA. All the hypnotizing light shows in the world aren't going to make us think terraforming Mars is a good idea. But maybe if you bring back those hoola-hoop girls...®
CommentComment If you heard an unearthly groan coming from your IT department today, the following news may be responsible. Nokia today revealed that it was bringing the security and stability of Web 2.0 to its mobile handsets.