11th > May > 2007 Archive

Java
1

What is Apache Harmony for?

JavaOneJavaOne The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has been put on the back foot over its Project Harmony initiative, following Sun Microsystems' decision to open-source most of its Java 2 Standard Edition (SE) Java Development Kit (JDK).
Gavin Clarke, 11 May 2007
1

Google sets legal attack dogs on Dutch cybersquatter

Google UK is threatening to sue Dutch cybersquatter who has used the name Google cunningly in several domains, including Googledatingsite.nl, Googleonlineshop.com, Googlecommunity.nl and Googlestore.nl. Marcel van der Werf ran these sites from the UK. "To my knowledge a brand is related to a product, not to the alphabet," Van der Werf complained to the Dutch news site Webwereld. He has moved Googledatingsite.nl to Russia, "where Americans won't get in the way." Googledatingsite - initally promoted as "powered by Google" - claims more thanone million members who paid €100 each for the service. However, since the UK site was closed by the hosting provider, Van der Werf says he can't access the database, leaving thousands of members in limbo. "We do not have a backup of the database", he said. Despite the legal threat, several of Van der Werf's Google sites are still up and running. Google is robust in defending its trademarks. In 2005 it sued Froogles.com, charging the rival shopping search engine with trademark infringement. The search engine has also fought to consolidate its Gmail trademark globally, but faces obstacles. In Europe Google failed to win the right to register the term "Gmail" as a wide-ranging European trademark. In Poland, Google sued a group of poets who used the gmail.pl domain. And in China Gmail.cn, run by Beijing-based ISM Technologies, the largest wholesale Internet domain registrar, refused to sell its Internet address to the U.S. giant. ®
Jan Libbenga, 11 May 2007
silverlight
2

Programming for Silverlight: a Q&A with Microsoft

Depending on who you talk to at Microsoft, Silverlight is a way to design good-looking interfaces with Ajax, a way to stream your content or – in version 1.1 - a new programming model for developing cross-platform rich internet applications with real languages. According to Keith Smith, product manager of the user experience platform and tools team at Microsoft covering Silverlight as well as WPF and tools like the new Expression Studio, Silverlight is designed “to provide a very lightweight implementation that can be distributed across platform in any browser, with a rich underlying programming model, aimed at those who have a penchant for dynamic languages but don’t like the limitations”.
Mary Branscombe, 11 May 2007
7

Mumsnet settles with Gina Ford over defamation claims

As childcare author Gina Ford drops her defamation suit against parenting website Mumsnet as part of a settlement reached by the two parties this week, Mumsnet has launched a campaign for a thorough review of UK libel law to make it fit for purpose in the internet age. In a statement on the site, Mumsnet cofounder Justine Roberts writes: "Put crudely, the current legal situation is the rough equivalent of trying to use a set of railway signals to control the air traffic over Heathrow – the principles may be fine but different forms of communication, just like different forms of transport, require a different approach." As long ago as 2002, she notes, the Law Commission recognised the problem of applying the current libel laws to internet publishers, especially chat forums. Currently, the law sees no difference between a bulletin board and a newspaper. And thanks to a precedent set in the Godfrey v. Demon case in 2000, which set out the now familiar "notice and takedown" rules, ISPs are deemed responsible for any defamatory material they have been made aware of, and not moved "swiftly" to take down. But Roberts says this has terrible consequences for free speech, something that should be being protected under the European Convention of Human Rights. Because many sites are small operations, often run on good will, or as a hobby, the result is that anything claimed as defamatory is likely to be taken down, rather than settled in court. Roberts wants clarification and a greater respect for the right to free speech. She says the Mumsnet team has written to the Department of Constitutional Affairs to urge a review to clarify and update libel laws. How swift is "swift", she asks? When does a site's liability for its content cease? And how should a court consider allegations of defamation: is a single defamatory post still likely to make a person think ill of someone if the rest of the thread is full of people defending the person who is being defamed? Roberts continues: "Faced with any complaint about a bulletin board posting, website publishers, frequently small businesses or individuals with limited resources, find themselves with little choice but to remove the posting, with obvious consequences for freedom of speech. "We accept that individuals have a right to protect their reputations. However, this right always has to be balanced against the rights of others to freedom of expression. At present we believe that this balance is not struck in the right place." Ford had demanded closure of the site as a whole, after a string of comments criticising her childcare methods were posted on the site's forums. While the lawyers argued, Mumsnet barred all discussion of Ford and her controversial approach to child rearing from its forums. Now that a settlement has been reached, this ban has been lifted. The battling parties issued a joint statement yesterday: "Mumsnet is pleased to announce that the site has reached a settlement of the long-running dispute with Gina Ford, and that Gina Ford has agreed not to pursue legal action against mumsnet.com or their ISP... Mumsnet apologises to Gina Ford for the comments made about her by some mumsnet users, and has made a contribution to Gina Ford's legal costs." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 11 May 2007

Motorola tells developers to think small

JavaOneJavaOne Motorola executives yesterday portrayed a world where whole populations are bypassing the PC and fixed-line networks to experience the internet using broadband and mobile. This wireless utopia was sketched out as the firm detailed the challenges and opportunities software developers face building applications for mobile devices targeting global markets. Thirty two mobile phones are sold every second, adding to the current number of 2.7 billion devices with a country the size of Denmark connected each month in China and India. Motorola is participating in 23 WiMax trials for broadband access. The challenge, as ever, remains easily and economically building applications and services that can be delivered and displayed in the same way on multiple platforms with different form factors, architectures and screen sizes. "How do we deliver a compelling experience that's continuous in the mobile revolution, where each device is a platform, each network is a platform, and each spatial domain is a platform?" Motorola executive vice president and chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior asked JavaOne delegates during her keynote. "As application developers we need to think differently - how do we free up the media from the TV or PC or set top box to appear on different screens...when I talk about personalization, where does the personalization engine go? In the device, network, or the cloud? How to we manage authentications - give access to a limited number of people? Applications are going to have to be thought of and delivered in an integrated way," she said. Of course, Motorola must share the blame with other handset and consumer manufacturers for frustrating developers in the first place. The company alone sells 39 different handsets and 17 lines of consumer products just in the US. Warrior encouraged developers to adopt new ways to presenting data and services and to avoid "monolithic programming". This could mean delivering applications or services to suit the user in different usage scenarios. Backing this up, Warrior demonstrated a Motorola handset in China, with a main menu that could be changed to display items in linear, grid, and carousel formats. According to Motorola fellow Mark Vandenbrink this particular software feature can be integrated anywhere in the phone stack, making it transferrable. "Whether it's touch screen or keypad, this has allowed us to do the same work and cut tweaking down to different devices by a factor of 10," he said. ®
Gavin Clarke, 11 May 2007
29

New, New Labour gets new logo and website

Anyone wondering why it took Tony Blair so long to fall on his sword has the answer this morning. He was waiting for Gordon's marketing boutique to okay the shiny new logo. Visitors to the Labour Party website this morning will see a purple rose and Labour logo. New Labour it seems is New no longer. The red has gone and so has the "newLabour, newBritain" strapline. The home page leads with a stirring picture of Tony Blair and John Prescott walking into the sunset with links to both their resignation letters. It's almost as if someone within the Labour Party had been waiting and planning for this very moment. Meanwhile, the Tories' website is now mostly green, and WebCameron, the leader's personal page, is a pleasing purple. The Google cache of old New Labour is here, and here is the new Labour website. ®
John Oates, 11 May 2007
1

Minister defends UK government reforms

Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden has said the growth of online public services will not discriminate against those without access to the internet. McFadden made the assertion at a hearing of the Commons' Public Administration Committee on making public services responsive to people yesterday. He told the MPs that the interests of people and business were at the heart of the Transformational Government agenda and emphasised the importance of making services available online. "The state has a duty to respond to the changes taking place in society and to expectations of service," said McFadden. "And increasingly, certainly for the two thirds of people who have access to the internet, who are used to ordering a book or a CD from Amazon, then having services available online is important." Committee chair Tony Wright said using IT to deliver personalised services will cost the state a lot of money. "In order to respect people's rights you have to be less efficient," he said. The minister said that electronic services could be both cost effective and more efficient. He gave the example of the nine million motorists who have renewed their car tax online, a process that joins up MOT garages and insurance companies in the private sector with information held by government to provide a rapid service. By the end of January 2007, HM Revenue and Customs had received 2.9 million self-assessment returns online for that financial year, an increase of nearly 50 per cent on the previous year. State pension claims, and increasingly pension credits, can now be made over the telephone in one short phone call, rather than taking up to two months and several contacts, according to McFadden. Referring to the private sector restrictions on access channels, Wright said BT intends to penalise people who do not pay by direct debit and Easy Jet operates an online only booking policy. He asked to what extent government was neutral about access channels and whether it would ever seek to discriminate against people in terms of access methods. The minister said the government would not attempt to introduce a one size fits all approach to service delivery, and was mindful of the many people who did not have internet access. "I think the state is not the same as a private business in that regard," he said. He said that a new Charter Mark, the national standard of customer service currently under review, will help by setting out how standards and quality will be measured. A government Information Sharing Strategy is due for publication this summer. McFadden said the strategy will aim to encourage greater information sharing by ensuring a consistent approach, a clear legislative framework, and enhancing privacy safeguards. Committee member Gordon Prentice warned of the "huge dangers" that information would leak out. McFadden responded that there were "huge gains" to be made, in areas including benefits, child protection, and even for patients leaving hospital who need ongoing care. However, he agreed that government must also be "alive to the dangers" of poor security. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 11 May 2007
10

Communist spy ring tried to steal Space Shuttle plans

A Chinese-American engineer was convicted by a federal court in California yesterday of conspiring to supply military technology to the People's Republic. Chi Mak, a 66-year-old naturalised US citizen born in Guangdong Province, China, was found guilty of conspiracy to violate export regulations and of failing to register as a Chinese [import] agent after a six week trial. He now faces a maximum sentence of 35 years' imprisonment. According to the Washington Times, Mak and his defence attorney shed tears after the verdict was read out. Sentencing is set for 10 September. Mak's trial was only the first of a series involving members of his family and their alleged involvement in the plot to sell secrets to the communists. Prosecutors are also pursuing cases against Mak's brother Tai, both the brothers' wives, and Mak's son Billy. Despite not having charged him with espionage, prosecutors said in court that Chi Mak had been "spying for China". He had been employed as an electrical engineer at Power Paragon, a defence contractor, and had worked on the US Navy's Quiet Electric Drive programme. This project is intended to equip new generations of American nuclear submarines with electric motors for their propellers, rather than drive shafts directly driven by reactor turbines. This could greatly increase the subs' ability to run silently, and confer other important benefits (article here for those interested). Mak had apparently supplied his brother Tai with quiet-drive related documents which were then put on disc in order to be taken to China. The documents were unclassified, but were proprietary and export-controlled. But at the last minute the feds stepped in, snapping the bracelets on Tai Mak and his wife at LAX in October 2005 as they were preparing to leave the US. Prosecutors allege that the pair intended to pass the information to Pu Pei-liang, a researcher at the Chinese Centre for Asia Pacific Studies at Zhongshan University, an organisation close to the People's Republic military. Chi Mak and his wife were collared subsequently at home. It emerged during the trial that China also seeks to snaffle the secrets of the Space Shuttle - perhaps indicating that modern-day commie spies aren't fussy about the freshness of their stolen knowledge. Apparently another Mak relative, Gu Wei Hao, rashly tried to recruit an undercover fed as a go-between. Gu, a Chinese government official, had tried to obtain space shuttle tech from a Boeing engineer named Greg Chung. Gu was also involved in handling Chi Mak and the submarine-blueprints caper. It was thought that after yesterday's success, prosecutors could be in a stronger negotiating position in plea bargaining with the remaining members of the Mak family spy ring. The trial provided an insight into the ongoing efforts by the People's Republic to acquire sophisticated military technology from overseas. This will probably not be the last case of its type to come before Western courts. ®
Lewis Page, 11 May 2007
homeless man with sign
7

Memory sticks top security concern for firms

Removable media devices are now seen as the biggest security threat to corporate security, and yet 80 per cent of firms don't have safeguards in place. That's according to a new study from Centennial Software which claims that four out of five firms have failed to implement effective measures to protect against the threat that such devices can pose.
Charlie Taylor, 11 May 2007
2

Deutsche Telekom profits plunge 58%

Europe's biggest telecommunications firm, Deutsche Telekom, lost over half a million customers during the first quarter of 2007 as fixed-line subscribers fled to cheaper rivals. The Bonn-based company, which is the continent's largest telco in terms of sales, said on Thursday that first quarter profit declined by a staggering 58 per cent from €1.09bn for the first quarter of 2006 to €459m or €0.11 per diluted share for the same three-month period in 2007. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of declining profit. Much of the dip in profits was attributed to the firm's failure to keep hold of many of its customers following local loop unbundling (LLU). Overall, the company lost 588,000 fixed-line subscribers during the first quarter. In 2006, the troubled telco, which is facing industrial action over its plan to shift 50,000 jobs to its newly created T-Service customer service division, lost two million fixed-line customers. Despite the fall in profit, sales rose 4.1 per cent to €15.5bn in the first quarter, compared with €14.84bn in the year-ago quarter due to increased revenue for its mobile unit, T-Mobile. Overall, Deutsche Telekom's mobile division contributed €8.4bn in revenue, up 10.9 per cent on the same quarter a year ago. In addition, the firm gained 572,000 broadband customers in Germany during its first quarter. While the telco's latest figures don't read well, Deutsche's chief executive Rene Obermann was putting a brave face on it. "The group's financial figures are pointing in the right direction for us to achieve our targets for the year, but we are fully aware that here in Germany we are exposed to considerable competitive pressure. For this reason, it is crucial that the new 'focus, fix and grow' strategy continues to be put into action," said Obermann. More worrying for the firm right now is the threat of industrial action. Trade union Verdi is vehemently opposed to Deutsche's plan to outsource jobs and the results of a strike ballot are expected to be announced late on Thursday. Looking forward, the firm estimates moderate growth in net revenue, pre-tax profit of around €19bn and free cash flow of €6bn for the financial year, which is unchanged from fiscal 2006. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Charlie Taylor, 11 May 2007
Capgemini logo
3

Capgemini exec salaries divulged in annual report

AnalysisAnalysis As Capgemini staff were balloting last week on a below inflation pay deal for 2007, the firm published details of the pay increases that went to its top executives last year.
Mark Ballard, 11 May 2007
triangular warning sign featuring exclamation mark
8

Experts scramble to quash IPv6 flaw

A flawed feature that could amplify denial-of-service attacks on next-generation networks has vendors and engineers rushing to eliminate the potential security issue.
Robert Lemos, 11 May 2007
8

Apple invents novel back-to-front iPod control

Apple has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to credit it with inventing the concept of a rather clever reverse-action user interface: the display on the front is controlled by a touchpad on the back.
Tony Smith, 11 May 2007
9

Doohan's last landing party missing in mountains

The cremated remains of Star Trek actor James Doohan are missing in the New Mexico mountains along with those of another 200 people, including NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper. They had been sent as part of a memorial package, in which relatives send small samples of their loved ones' ashes into sub-orbital space. The samples are then supposed to be recovered and returned to the families with memorial plaques detailing their final journey. Things went well to begin with. After a perfect launch, the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket that was carrying the ashes kept on a perfect trajectory. their trip into almost orbit was uneventful, and the parachute carrying the capsules deployed perfectly. But the capsule landed in rocky terrain, and people searching the planned landing zone have come back empty handed. One wag on Slashdot says: "Is it just me, or does it seem appropriate that they lost the landing party? Here's to a safe recovery!" Another opine: "I guess the engines really couldn't take it." According to reports, the payload was equipped with a tracking device, but the mountains are interfering with the signal. They have been able to locate it to within a 400 metre radius, but on rough ground finding it is proving difficult. A new search is being planned for next week and will be joined by experts from the transmitter's manufacturers. They will bring plenty of mountain search experience, as well as more sensitive tracking equipment. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 11 May 2007
channel

Phoenix closes in on ICM

Managed services firm Phoenix IT said it has given the nod of approval to the ICM's recommendation for an increased offer with a new figure which smashes the £100m mark.
Kelly Fiveash, 11 May 2007

The four pillars of Katmai

Microsoft BI conferenceMicrosoft BI conference The keynote on the second day of Microsoft's BI conference was given by Ted Kummert – corporate vice president of the data storage and platform division at Microsoft. As Jeff Raikes before him, he devoted considerable time to Katmai, the next version of SQL Server. He too stressed that the release date will be 2008 (so perhaps Microsoft is just a little sensitive about this after all). As Microsoft people are wont to do when discussing products, he talked a great deal about pillars. Not of society, but Katmai, which has four.
Mark Whitehorn, 11 May 2007
2

Microsoft and The Reg team up to make exam prep easy

The Register has teamed up with Microsoft Press to bring you training kits for various Microsoft certification exams with a colossal 40 per cent off the RRP*. Ace your exam preparation and ramp up quickly on the topics covered in the featured titles, so you are able to maximise your performance on the exams and apply your new found skills and expertise to the job!
Register Books, 11 May 2007

Nvidia Q1 yields big year-on-year gains

Nvidia last night reported quarterly sales and earning down on the previous three-month period but well up on the year-ago quarter.
Tony Smith, 11 May 2007
Click here for the full BOFH range
21

BOFH: OutBOFHd

Episode 16Episode 16 "...and this is Simon and Steven. Simon, Steven, this is David, he's our new hardware technician," the new Boss says, entering Mission Control. "New hardware technician? What about our old one?" "I was under the impression we didn't have an old one." "That's right," the PFY says defensively. "Because we didn't need one." "It seems you do. I was looking through the write off statistics and it seems that our equipment has some of the worst expected lifetimes around. In some cases we write off equipment that's almost new." "Plasma screens have only recently settled down stability wise," the PFY counters. "And the larger sized ones had the worst failure rate." "Still, probably worth a warranty claim though," David chips in. "Too late, it was disposed of," the PFY says before someone starts thinking about looking for it. At his place...connected to his DVD player... ...Five minutes later... "I don't like it," the PFY says. "He's going to be a problem." "Nah, he'll be fine," I say. "The boredom will get to him." ...The next day... "Have you guys got an oscilloscope?" Dave asks, with the Boss closely in tow. "What for?" "Need to check the data lines of the IDE interface on that machine you're going to toast. We may not need to chuck it out as it may just be a faulty cable," he says. ...Two minutes later after Dave's departed with the scope... "The bastard!" the PFY fumes. "It took ages to pull that connector to bits and break off some of the data pins. I was going to use that as a home cinema!" "Yeah, he's good. Strange he didn't just swap the cable out though." "Mmm," the PFY says thoughtfully. "So he's just showing off?" "Bound to be..." ...Two further minutes later... "Yeah, it's stuffed," Dave says, popping his head back into Mission control. "Must be a dud motherboard." "Ah well," the PFY says. "Sling it in here, we'll dump it later." "No need," Dave says. "I've got a contact who does sustainable recycling." "Yeah, but we might be able to use some bits." "Nah, they're all stuffed," Dave says. "It's true," the Boss adds. "He checked them all with the ozziscope." ... "THE BASTARD!" the PFY snaps. "Oh, he IS good," I concur. "But lets see how good he is after a few midnight callouts..." ... So it's 2am and Dave's just put a machine back into a rack after replacing a couple of failed hard drives that the PFY and I had fitted a couple of hours ago prior to tripping the SNMP alert. "Odd losing two in one go like that," he says cheerfully. "Still, it happens from time to time though. So if that's all I'll let you guys get onto the data recovery." "Thanks," I say, letting Dave out. ...Three hours later... "Sorry for getting you back in again Dave, but it looks like another drive's failed," the PFY says, pointing to the machine. ...Ten minutes later... "That's funny." "What is?" the PFY says. "This drive looks exactly the same as one of the ones I replaced earlier." "They all look the exactly the same don't they?" the PFY says. "No, see how this one has a gouge in the label just before the brand name - I think I did that when I pulled the old one out of the drive tray." "You must have done it twice," the PFY proffers. "I don't think so. Say, do you have the old drives, I'd like to take a look at them." "Oh, sorry, I didn't realise you'd want them. I sent them off to a sustainable recycler," the PFY replies, with more than a little sarcasm in his voice. ...Later that day... "...and then Dave replaced the third drive and we >yawn< recovered the data," I say, recounting the whole thing to the boss. "Did you keep that drive then?" Dave asks. "Didn't send it off for recycling in the middle of the night?" "No, we kept it in case you wanted to check it against the next faulty drive," the PFY snaps. "Which will probably occur tonight," Dave chips. "Once around 2am and another at around...5?" He IS good! "No, I'm sure it'll be ok," the PFY says. "Besides, I'm so tired I'm unlikely to hear the pager." "Yes, David mentioned you might be a little tired so I've had security give him access through your office to the Computer room 24x7." "The bastard," I murmur before the PFY can say anything. "Pardon?" "Hmm?" I respond. ... "So we need to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that nothing goes wrong tonight so as not to justify his access." "Should I check all the machines and do a bit of preventative maintenance?" "I was thinking more along the lines of disabling the fault reporting system," I say... "ONTO IT!" the PFY snaps. ... The next day dawns without incident - which I confirm when I run into the PFY while waiting for the lift. "Not a tinkle - the pager was silent all night," he affirms as we enter Mission Control. "MY DESKTOP!" he gasps, seeing his monitor sitting on his chair. "What did y... *MY* Desktop!" I cry. "And my laptop! And my reserve desktop and reserve laptop!" "My laptop!" the PFY gasps, opening his second drawer to find an empty space. A quick scan of the room tells the story that the trolley scuff marks in the carpet should have told us before we walked in. "WE'VE BEEN RIPPED OFF!" "And we know whose fault this is!" I say, turning and heading to the Boss' office...which is completely empty. Completely. Not even a phone. "They're good," I say, as the PFY looks under the Boss' desk for any evidence. "There's a note," the PFY says pointing behind the door. "It's to us!" I say slamming the door and ripping down the note, "It says 'Thanks for the memories, the kit and the plasma screen - Dave and John.'" "Who's John - and what plasma screen?" "John is the Boss and the only plasma screen they knew about is the one you've got at - " "What?" "You don't still keep a spare house key in your desk drawer do you?" "Yes, but it's loc.. THE BASTARDS!!" "Oh, they're good," I say, noticing the blanking plate where the door handle should be. "They're BLOODY good." BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 11 May 2007

Hitachi spins up fastest encrypted laptop drive

Hitachi's Global Storage team have begun spinning what they claim is the world's fastest notebook hard drive with on-board automatic data encryption technology. The Travelstar 7K200 rotates at a desktop-level 7,200rpm.
Tony Smith, 11 May 2007
11

Prof advocates digital forgetfulness, calls Google 'Soviet'

A Harvard professor has published a paper in which he suggests that revolutions in data storage, search, and other information technologies are creating a "panoptic society", in which everything is being watched and, worse, everything which is recorded is preserved and accessible forever.
Lewis Page, 11 May 2007
Logitech Alto keyboard and laptop stand
7

Logitech Alto keyboard and laptop stand

ReviewReview If your laptop is your primary work machine then you'll end up spending a fair amount of time hunched over it - which isn't exactly good for your back, let alone your posture. Logitech's Alto stand allows you to raise the screen up, so it's at a more natural height and also includes a full keyboard for, it claims, better typing.
Will Head, 11 May 2007

T-Mobile eyes hotspots and Sprint femtocells

The large cellcos continue to wrestle with the thorny issue of how to turn the mobile internet trend to their advantage, even as it chips away at their walled gardens and therefore their margins.
Faultline, 11 May 2007
channel
7

Malware authors subvert Windows Update

Malware authors might be able to subvert components of Windows Update to distribute viruses, security researchers at Symantec warn. Analysis by the security firm reveals that a recent Trojan distributed by email at the end of March 2007 used a Windows component named "BITS" (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) to download files.
John Leyden, 11 May 2007
16

Honda to debut hydrogen fuel-cell car in 2008

Honda yesterday laid out its future green motoring technology strategy for the world's media with announcements and demonstrations in Washington DC. The only piece of mainstream kit in the near future will be a new hybrid car, to go on sale in the USA within two years priced below the current Honda Civic hybrid variant, which goes for $25,000. The Civic hybrid hasn't achieved sales to match Toyota's groundbreaking Prius: Honda believes this may be because it doesn't look visibly different to the ordinary Civic. The theory is that green motorists like to be seen to be green, and to that end the new hybrid will have unique styling. Hybrid cars still derive their power from burning conventional fuel, though they get by on less than conventional motors. They don't reduce carbon emissions or dependence on overseas oil supplies in any radical way, though they do achieve impressive reductions in urban air pollution. But Honda, in common with some other big manufacturers, is looking beyond the hydrocarbon/carbohydrate era. The firm aspires in the longer term to offer mass-market vehicles which run on hydrogen. Honda's chosen route to this goal is fuel-cell technology, in which hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen become waste water and electric power. The power output is typically quite low, but a lithium-ion battery allows a vehicle to accelerate and climb hills by storing unused energy from braking, coasting, and periods sitting still - much as a hybrid does today. Honda has had FCX fuel-cell demonstrator cars on American roads for some years now. There are currently about 20 in operation, mostly run by organisation fleets, but two are leased by individuals at $500/month. This is a loss-leader and publicity effort by Honda; the cars currently cost far too much for such a deal to make money. One of the private drivers is teenage actress Q'orianka Kilcher, noted for her turn as Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell in the 2005 flick The New World. However, Honda now intends to put a third-generation FCX into low-rate production from 2008 and lease it to an unspecified number of individuals in the US and Japan ("many, many more", apparently). The new FCX will be roomier, as the power plant and battery have been reduced in size. It will also feature "seat upholstery and door linings made from Honda Bio Fabric, a plant-based material that offers outstanding durability and resistance to sunlight damage". The big snag for FCX drivers will be filling up with hydrogen. There is only one hydrogen station in DC and a handful more in California. With the FCX predicted to achieve no more than 270 miles on a tank of hydrogen, that could limit the customer base and usefulness. However, Honda says it is working with Shell, Chevron, and BP on this. Furthermore, the firm intends to produce a "home energy centre" which will use domestic natural gas to produce both hydrogen for the car and electricity to supplement the domestic mains supply. This won't be ready in time for the new FCX launch, though. Electric cars such as the Tesla Roadster and straight-hydrogen vehicles like BMW's Hydrogen Seven may have some competition on their hands. ®
Lewis Page, 11 May 2007

Labour goes Brown while US Army invades YouTube

ID cards keep going up, and up ID card costs are going up faster than the budget for the Olympics. The latest jump of £600m was announced the day Blair finally announced his departure. Mobile maps gets green light Google's maps are now available in the UK for mobile devices. The service links to Google Earth, but it won't be the cheapest way to get directions unless you are on an unmetered data tariff. The service is not quite complete, with the traffic information capability still in neutral. Internet telly start-ups: the race is on There are still several companies fighting for the crown of top internet telly company, but Joost - started by the guys behind Skype - got a big boost this week in the form of £45m in funding. Big Blue gets smaller and greener IBM announced 1,300 redundancies earlier this month. But some observers reckon this is just the start. In fact, they're predicting about 100,000 job losses, or one third of Big Blue's blue-suited staff. Big Blue is not just getting smaller, it's changing colour too. The company is promising to double capacity in its data centres without increasing the power bill. Where's my bloody phone? A survey from Nokia this week revealed how we carry our mobile phones. Right hip pocket is top choice for blokes. And what's with those protective phone covers? Hotmail is, like, hot! Hotmail has gone all Web 2.0. If you've got an account you probably know this already. If not, go here for Hotmail hotness. Privacy goes public This week's prize for largest data loss goes to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which has misplaced 100,000 employee records. The TSA isn't sure the records are lost, it just can't find them. Keeping up for the Brits is M&S which has lost a laptop with 26,000 staff records on it. It's not just data loss, it's M&S data loss. Currys kills off cassettes Good news for the music industry this week. Currys is stopping stocking audio cassette tapes. So home taping won't be killing the music industry any more. iSoft saviour rumours Struggling health provider and key player in the government's largest IT project iSoft might be rescued by an Australian company. Shares rose slightly on the news. Virgin joins the bandwidth throttlers and struggles on numbers What to do about "bandwidth hogs" is a problem for all broadband providers. Virgin joined the majority view this week and introduced bandwidth throttling. Virgin insists that by limiting speed rather than actual downloads its solution is fairer. Virgin's numbers were also released this week. The company is predicting problems for the next quarter due to its loss of Sky programmes such as The Simpsons and 24. Galileo goes for broke The European alternative to the US-controlled GPS system is struggling to get any cash out of its private backers. Originally set up as a public, private partnership, the European Commission is now considering putting in more funding to make up the shortfall. Where now for Galileo? CV lies It is one thing gilding the lily on your CV, it is something else to do the same thing in court. A man in the US is facing three years in prison for over-egging his computer experience on his resume. By repeating the claims in court he's laid himself open to perjury charges. As a computer forensics expert you'd think he'd know better. Bumper bulletin for Patch Tuesday Microsoft's regular patch Tuesday was a bumper edition this week. Problems being actively exploited in Office and Windows DNS Server are probably the most urgent holes in need of a fix. Email and web use guidelines Keeping compliant with new regulations on web and email use is difficult. We've got a free guide on getting your business up to scratch. Download it here. US Army invades YouTube YouTube and other video sites have long been criticised for supporting the wrong side in The War Against Terror. But the US Army Multi National Force Iraq is embracing the future and now has its own channel on YouTube. The channel has bits of various missions, but promises there won't be any swearing. That's okay then. Labour turns Brown Hats off to web designers at what used to be called New Labour. The day after Blair finally announced his departure, the new purple tinted website for the Labour Party was up and running. Truly a new dawn, or something. Red Hat rejigs desktop and speaks middleware Red Hat this week introduced two new versions of its desktop package. So what's the difference between the two? Ask a blogger. Red Hat boss Matt Szulik also talked about VMware and virtualisation. Friday rumour fallout This week saw the fallout from a bunch of takeover rumours from late on Friday. As seasoned journos we know the over-excitement a liquid lunch can provide. Microsoft buying Yahoo! was top of the list, although by Monday much of the excitement had gone out of the story. As luck would have it we had a chat with Yahoo!'s European boss before the shenanigans began. He asks some very fair questions about how people see the company and even commented on the company's problems in China before an alert PR shut him up. Yahoo! not! dead! yet! doPi and Budgies Heard the one about the backwards iPod? Apple has filed a patent to put the scroll wheel on the back of a device. Scroll wheels have been used for years on electronic devices, and Apple failed in a previous attempt to get a scroll patent on the idea - but that only covered the front of the device. Truly lateral thinking. And, finally, eye-watering news from an Irish prison. A search of prisoners' cells found the usual selection of mobile phones, sim cards, and drugs. But they also uncovered a budgie. But the surprise comes from the claim as to how the feathered friend got into the prison. That's it for this week. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend. ®
John Oates, 11 May 2007
34

Half a million kids' DNA on UK police database

Half a million children have had their DNA recorded on Britain's police database, the government admitted yesterday. The number of people being added to the police DNA database is rising rapidly, with a total of 667,737 people added to the database last year, home secretary John Reid said in a parliamentary written answer yesterday. Of those added last year, 90,919 were below the age of 16, it emerged in answer to a question tabled by the shadow home secretary David Davis. That was by far the most children added in any year since the database was set up by the Conservatives in 1995. A total of 521,901 are now on the DNA database. Davis said it was an "extremely sinister development". "Half a million youngsters - many of whom will be innocent - have their DNA data stored by stealth. Just over 100 samples have been removed," he said in a statement. "This is a big move towards the end of the presumption of innocence for our youth." The figures revealed that there is now a total of 4.1 million people on the DNA database. Very few people are having their details removed from the database. Only 115 got their DNA removed from the records last year. The numbers have been rising rapidly. In answer to a similar question in December, Reid said there were 3,457,000 people on the database. About a third (1,139,445) had no criminal record. ®
Mark Ballard, 11 May 2007
15

Paris takes on Ubuntu in techno celebrity clash

LettersLetters Dell's sales and marketing team makes like the boss and chooses to put Ubuntu on its desktops and laptops. You're all delighted, we're sure: Three cheers for Ubuntu! Three cheers for Linux and open source generally! Three cheers for De....ermm...nah! Yes it's good that a big player like Dell have dipped a toe in the Linux pond, a small but significant step for open source. However do you know anyone who is both sensible enough to want Linux on their PC and silly enough to want a Dell PC?? Ok maybe a Dell laptop - I'm not a huge fan of laptops so I wouldn't know, but every time I look inside a Dell desktop I think: "Ah yes, that's how they sell them at that price and still make a decent profit!" Ian A petition on Downing Street's e-petition website which called for fairer pricing of Microsoft's Vista operating system has been rejected. Not surprising really, but it was worth a shot. Not much in the way of considered opinion from you on this one: The best thig that could happen is that the EU would force the breakup of Microsoft. I can't wait. Lorne Lorne also wrote to mention a significant dislike of the US, and its inhabitants. We're not 100 per cent sure what prompted this, but hey, we'll print it anyway. The Yanks are such freaking lusers. To think that such a society actually exhists on this planet. The worse part is they are our next door neighbors. Lorne The European Data Protection Supervisor doesn't like creepy databases, and isn't having them. So there. One solution might be to require royalties for private information. After all, you pay for what is useful, and if it were not useful, databases wouldn't collect it, would they? Britt The Tories are cosying up to open source. Could end up with some of the veils of mystery around government procurement being whipped away. But you just want to make quips about coasts: "...George Osborne's adoption of a West Coast attitude..." Would that be Blackpool, Aberystwyth, Bristol or Barnstaple ? Regards, Mike A little more optimism please, you cry, in response to our rather sceptical view of the future of video compression: You say "And if someone says "Oh, we'll have that sorted in five years", trigger your hot air detector. No, they won't. Even if batteries double in capacity and efficiency, even if mobile networks quadruple in bandwidth, the need of the human mind for low-latency, high resolution, high frame-rate when interacting with other human minds is still not going to be satisfied." Don't be so certain. You're assuming general-purpose video compression. Special-purpose, you don't need high-bandwidth datacomms, just high-power computing locally at both ends. *Maybe* just a software breakthrough rather than orders of magnitude in the hardware. The way it can be done is to transmit a reference model to define what the sender's face looks like. A high-resolution realistic partial avatar, if you like. Maybe it can be generated in a few seconds, maybe you need to visit a special face-scanning studio that uses hours of number-crunching to generate the model. Whatever. It'll represent physical reality. Underlying muscles, bone, cartilage, fat, as well as surface colours and textures. Then, you need enough local processing to represent each frame of your conversation-video as a set of model parameters. I should think that a few hundred numbers suffices to define any self-willed rearrangement of one specific human's face, given a good pre-existing model to feed them into. Streaming a few hundred numbers per frame, mostly slowly-changing (small delta values) is modem-slow. At the recipient's end the stream of numbers goes into the model and animates it, real-time with correct audio sync. Stage 1 can be done today (slowly, but it's a one-off). Likewise stage 3. Stage 2 is the hard one. Movie studios can do things like this but not in realtime, and usually use trackable blobs painted onto the subject's features for motion-capture. But don't rule out software and hardware making it possible five years from now. How hard was any-font OCR before Kurzweil cracked it? Not my idea, by the way. Vernor Vinge called these avatars "evocations" in his superb SF epic "A Fire upon the Deep" (from the 1980s!) . I don't know if that's computer science jargon or an SF term he invented. Evocations that look out-of-date (for lack of a recent update) are key to the plot. Communication by computer-translated evocation (between a human and an alien) was hard, even in his SF'nal universe. Amazing ideas. Nigel The Office for National Statistics' new computer system has a few bugs, its seems. What? A government computer project with bugs? Surely not: "...the software was designed for the US and its adaptation for the UK was incomplete..." Yes, and how about my having to tell every new Windows program that my default paper size is A4, not Letter - despite having told Windows I'm not North American ? Regards, Mike I had a couple of minor points: * the figures on civil partnerships should refer to "December 2005 to September 2006". Civil partnerships were only introduced with effect from December 2005. * we are the Office for National Statistics, not "of" David Hmm, insight into the statistician's mind. Shudder. Sod the metric system, we like pints: Luddites 1 Science (and common sense) 0 If I may quote Grandpa Simpson: "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!" The trading with America argument is bogus anyway, they just make up their imperial as they go along. Try comparing their gallons to ours. Also what the hell is a "cup"? Fraser Well, a cup is 8 fluid ounces or 240ml. With you on the rest, though. Except that we like pints. Of lager, if you're buying. Thanks. And the most important story of the week, nay year, or possibly even the decade: Paris Hilton is sentenced to do time in chokey. Some kind soul sets up a petition to save her bleachedness from such a terrifying fate: I'm thinking about this in a more practical way. If it would be legally possible, I wouldn't mind spending 45 days in jail for Paris. Time enough to catch up on reading and to do some de-stressing. Obviously there would be a dollar amount involved for this service. However, I get the impression that spending money is not an alien concept to Miss Hilton. The justice system is probably going to frown on that idea and there would no doubt be people who would render this service at a substantially more cost-effective price point. Worth a shot though. Frances That's all from us. Have lovely weekends, all of you. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 11 May 2007
Pure Evoke D6 Radio

Radio RTFM: The Falklands War remembered

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, which ended on 14 June 1982 with the British flag once again fluttering over Port Stanley. The older readers among you may also remember 1982 as the year Mark Thatcher got a bit lost on the Paris-Dakar rally, something unthinkable today with the ready availability of GPS. Things didn't go entirely according to plan down in the South Atlantic, either, and this got us wondering just how the conflict might have ended had our boys been equipped with the kind of cutting-edge technology that has proved so effective in the subjugation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Enjoy, then, our retelling of the liberation of the Malvinas with the assistance of every modern computing convenience. Oh yes, and Tony Blair is for the off. Well, Tone, it's been lovely, and this episode of RTFM pays homage to the captain of HMS Great Britain over the last decade. Hit the text link to download, or use our Flash player for instant gratification. RTFM is NSFW, btw: Radio RTFM Episode 4 Those separate sketches in full: The Falklands War remembered Bye Tony, it's been a gas Credits Writer/director: Lester Haines Logistical support: Phil "Philipe" Mitchell (VP of Thrust, Synergy and Evolution, El Reg Strategy Boutique) Voice artists: Hils Barker and Silas Hawkins Sound technician: Phil Corran at Cut Glass Studios Thanks to: Aaron "Technical Overlord" Crane for resolving the Flash player - IE7 conflict. Huzzah! Archive Radio RTFM Episode 1 Radio RTFM Episode 2 Radio RTFM Episode 3 RSS feeds Point your news aggregator in the direction of our Radio RTFM RSS feeds as follows: www.theregister.co.uk/odds/rtfm/headlines.rss and www.theregister.com/odds/rtfm/headlines.rss. You'll get the latest episode delivered straight to your doorstep as an enclosure.
Lester Haines, 11 May 2007
channel
8

Exam papers tagged to deter cheats

An exam board has said it will be using radio frequency identification (RFID) from this summer to increase the security of its GCSE and A-level papers. UK-based Edexcel said it plans to use the electronic tagging system to help prevent exam papers being stolen.
Kelly Fiveash, 11 May 2007
Dalek
34

Terminator kill-bots to be run by system called 'Skynet'

Following the announcement of the new Flying-HK-style "Reaper" death machines for the British forces, the prophetic nature of the Terminator movies has been further confirmed. Not only will the UK MoD deploy airborne cyber-gunships remarkably similar to those in the films, the flying robot assassins will be controlled by an IT project named "Skynet".
Lewis Page, 11 May 2007
9

Orange Value Promise not as much value as promised

Orange UK is falling short of its promise that it can match the tariff from any other network, right down to the way it's charged, for business customers. Orange's problems stem from the fact that after introducing the Orange Value Promise, other network operators introduced various forms of unlimited data tariffs which the company has had a hard time competing with. When one customer asked Orange for an unlimited data tariff matched to a competitor they were told: "We do offer Orange Value Promise but we do not match ALL deals especially promotional deals with ALL networks. We only select a few in which we match." This comes despite the commitment outlined on its website. Promising to match some of the competitors' less competitive tariffs, at your discretion, is hardly compelling. Apparently, T-Mobile's Web'n'Walk tariff has proved particularly difficult to match, and eventually a spokesman told us the Orange Value Promise had been suspended a year ago. But the promise is clearly and prominently displayed on the company's website, and customers asking about it are not told it's no longer available. Orange said it is looking into why this is the case, but as it stands the promise remains in writing and we can only recommend that customers hold the company to it. ® Bootnote Orange has been in touch to make it clear that their billing system isn't capable of supporting a tariff like Web 'n Walk; it's just too complicated. Therefore they have no obligation to offer it; according to clause 2.10 of their terms and conditions, despite what they promised. This is particularly odd given the recent launch of their own unmetered tariff for consumers.
Bill Ray, 11 May 2007
Flag Japan
4

Tokyo team busts the Ethernet speed record

A team led by Toyko University researchers has set a new "land speed record" for IPv6 Ethernet, transferring data over a distance of 30,000km at an application rate of 9.08Gbit/s. The team leader, Dr Kei Hiraki, claimed this will not be beaten for the 10Gig generation because the contest organiser, the Internet2 consortium, demands that each new record shows a 10 per cent improvement over its predecessor.
Bryan Betts, 11 May 2007
1

Google orders Thai takeaway

Google has agreed to pull four videos from YouTube which Thailand claims insult the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Reuters reports. The Thai authorities have blocked YouTube since one ne'er-do-well posted a 44-second clip which outraged Thai Buddhists due to "the juxtaposition of a pair of woman's feet, the lowest part of the body, above his [Adulyadej's] head, the highest part of the body". Thailand asked Google to excise the clip, but the search monolith declined. The poster then removed the video himself, but it was quickly replaced with equally-provocative material which further agitated the military regime. Last week, things took a turn for the litigious when Thai communications and information technology minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said he would "push for criminal charges" against Google, a threat which appears to have prompted action. In a letter to Pookaiyaudom signed by senior company lawyer Kent Walker, Google explained that Thailand had "sent YouTube bosses a list of 12 video clips it deemed offensive". Six were pulled by the posters because they breached the site's "code of service", and a further four will be removed, according to the missive. This is not, however, an end to the matter. Google declared it would not take action over the two remaining clips in question, explaining: "They appear to be political comments that are critical of both the government and the conduct of foreigners. Because they are political in nature, and not intended insults of His Majesty, we do not see a basis for blocking these videos." While Pookaiyaudom said in response that Thailand will not now pursue Google through the courts, he would not confirm "if the concession was enough for him unblock YouTube for Thai internet surfers". ®
Lester Haines, 11 May 2007
channel
30

MS update ate my CPU cycles

The latest batch of patches from Microsoft has left some users in the slow lane.
John Leyden, 11 May 2007
7

Laptop overheats, vapourises Brazil... almost

Pity reader Rafael Santos, who came home from work, started up his Compaq nc8430 only to find it refusing to start up because the on-board thermal sensor was registering an internal temperature of 5155°C.
Tony Smith, 11 May 2007
58

Satnav driver's car totalled by train

A 20-year-old student had a narrow escape when her satnav directed her to drive onto a remote level crossing, resulting in the unplanned destruction of the car by a train. According to the BBC, Paula Ceely had borrowed her boyf's satnav for a trip from Redditch, Worcestershire, to Carmarthenshire. She recounted: "Obviously I had never done the journey before so I was using the satnav - completely dependent on it. I came to this crossing at Ffynongain and there was like a metal gate, which looked like just a normal farmers' gate with a red circle on it. I thought it was a dead end at first and then there was a little sign saying, if the light is green, open the gates and drive through. "So I opened the gate, drove forward, closed the gate behind me and then went to go and open the gate in front of me. Then I heard this train and I noticed there was train tracks. It was only then that I did realise I was on a train crossing. I just stood back and I just watched this train come in front of me. I could feel the air just pass me and then my car just did a 360 degree turn on the tracks and was knocked to the other side." The impact of the Pembroke Dock to Swansea train carried Ceely's Renault Clio for half a mile down the track, and put a pretty dent in her no-claims bonus. The exasperated satnav rookie added: "I put my complete trust in the satnav and it led me right into the path of a speeding train. The crossing wasn't shown on the satnav, there were no signs at all, and it wasn't lit up to warn of an oncoming train." Celly did, however, accept some liability for the smash. She conceded: "I can't completely blame the sat nav because up until there, it did get me where I needed to go. If maybe I had been more aware of the situation, I wouldn't have had the accident." In conclusion, Celly offered: "I'll never use a sat nav again. You rely on them and if it all goes wrong, you're horribly stuck. People should be more careful with them - you never know where they might lead you." ® Bootnote Thanks to all those readers who emailed to point out this possible future nominee for a Darwin Award.
Lester Haines, 11 May 2007
5

Roche exposes medical details on website

The medical testing arm of pharmaceutical giant Roche has exposed the personal and medical details of UK customers on its website. The firm has admitted the security breach but has not explained how it happened. Customers who had registered their details with Roche Diagnostics received the first edition of an email newsletter on Wednesday which included a link via which they could update their personal details. Users who clicked on that link were directed to a Roche website which displayed the details of someone else. "I saw the details of the same person several times, then it changed and I saw another person's details several times," said Tim Trent, a newsletter recipient who is also a marketing and privacy specialist. "In all I saw six other people's details." Trent informed the people whose details he saw and the firm, having received the email on Wednesday morning. Roche spokeswoman Hazel Clarke said that the link was deactivated later that morning. "We did have that issue this week, on Wednesday," said Clarke. "When we became aware of it we immediately acted to rectify the problem. It lasted for a number of minutes, maybe 90 minutes at most." Clarke was unable to say how many people had had their details exposed or had seen the personal details of others. She did not say how the breach had happened or how many people the email was sent to. "The main issue to do with details was stopped immediately and beyond that we need to ensure doesn't happen again, and that is what we are working on now," she said. The email was in relation to the Accu-Chek range of diabetes testing products. Trent said he had made a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office. "Some of the details I could access showed that a person was on a particular kind of drug treatment, which isn't good news," said Trent. "Loads of people follow the exhortation to register with Roche Diagnostics, and probably even gave consent to email marketing. But we didn't give them consent to have their data records on public display." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 May 2007
channel

Alcatel-Lucent results impress investors

The market has reacted positively to Alcatel-Lucent's first quarter results despite the telecoms equipment maker's results being down across the board.
ElectricNews.net, 11 May 2007
15

One in 10 web pages laced with malware - Google

At least one in 10 web pages are booby-trapped with malware, according to Google. A five-strong Google research team found that 450,000 pages, out of a sample of 4.5 million pages, contained scripts to install malicious code, such as Trojans and spyware on vulnerable PCs, the BBC reports. This is a conservative estimate - another 700,000 pages given the once-over were thought to be suspicious by Google. Google's Ghost in the Browser study (PDF) covers the well-understood problem of drive-by-downloads from compromised sites, which are eclipsing virus-infected email as a means to spread malware. The study takes the debate further chiefly by presenting evidence about the sheer volume of web content on the "dark side" of the net. As well as hacker-run websites, malware can be injected into otherwise legitimate site via a variety of ruses, the Google team explains. The tricks include hacking into a web server to plant malware, or planting it within third-party widgets or advertising. User-generated content also creates a means to upload malware. The researchers hope to use their findings to "map" the problem and aid the development of a new generation of safe surfing tools that steer users away from harm. ®
John Leyden, 11 May 2007
6

America is under siege. Do we blame IBM or Cringely?

AnalysisAnalysis America faces a very serious question. Is Robert Cringely right? Last week, Cringely presented the idea that IBM will layoff 150,000 workers, hoping to reduce costs. Cringely's reputation for making the boldest of claims seems to have reduced the impact of his piece. A few technology trade publications mentioned the IBM crisis speculation. The mainstream press ignored Cringely altogether.
Ashlee Vance, 11 May 2007
15

Vendor turns DRM against Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Real

A California-based DRM software company has sent cease and desist notices to Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Real Networks for not using its product. The likes of Microsoft and Apple usually love all the DRM they can get. In this case, however, Media Rights Technologies and its subsidiary BlueBeat.com said in a press release Thursday, the four software giants' failure to implement the MRT's X1 SeCure Recording Control software is a violation of the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). They claim that since SeCure has been proven affective against stream ripping by the RIAA and IFPI, it is literally a crime for the companies not to use it in their products. The DMCA, signed into law in 1998, makes it illegal to sell products or services designed primarily for the purpose of "circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to work" protected by the rights of copyrights owners. Media Rights Technologies asserts that Microsoft, Apple, Real and Adobe have actively avoided using MRT's technology, and therefore are in violation of the law. "Together these four companies are responsible for 98 percent of the media players in the marketplace; CNN, NPR, Clear Channel, MySpace Yahoo and YouTube all use these infringing devices to distribute copyrighted works," MRT CEO Hank Risan said in a release. "We will hold the responsible parties accountable. The time of suing John Doe is over." MRT said failure to comply with the cease and desist letter could result in a federal court injunction and/or the imposition of statutory damages of $200-2,500 per product distributed and sold. Of course, a company can send a cease and desist letter for practically anything, regardless of its legal merit. But it's noteworthy as a creative strategy to get a product licensed. ®
Austin Modine, 11 May 2007
4

ICANN pushes for public participation in top level domains

The Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN) has taken what appears to be a welcome step toward increasing public participation in the controversial area of generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) approval. ICANN, which determines the technical standards that govern the internet, has long been criticized for its opaque and capricious approach to approving new gTLDs. Although a fresh press release did not specify just how the public will participate outside of the current ICANN structure, which ICANN has conveniently detailed with an updated FAQ site, we assume that the recent increase in public participation blogs on ICANN’s own site will be a big part of it. ICANN subjected itself to considerable criticism after the Lisbon meeting for its flip-flopping on the .xxx domain, and an increase in public participation could be one way to ensure that such fiascoes don’t happen in the future. Hopefully, this signifies that ICANN will be proactive on the issue – public participation in and of itself doesn’t guarantee a clear and fair process on a controversial topic such as .xxx. The participation is welcome, but ICANN still needs to apply transparent standards equally, which clearly did not happen with .xxx. The development of a new gTLD approval process is only part of an expansion of the internet itself. At the Lisbon meeting, ICANN spent considerable time educating the public on the new Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), and recently released a toolkit for developers to assure that the IDN system doesn’t interfere with the smooth operation of the internet itself. Domains will now be available in a universal character set rather than ASCII, allowing for domains in Chinese or Arabic, for example. “This is all about choice. We want the diversity of the world’s people, geography and business to be able to be represented in the domain name system,” said Dr Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN. “That is why it’s so important for people to participate in the development of a new gTLD process. We will get input from businesses, governments, and the public at large in the coming months and at the ICANN meeting in Puerto Rico on 25-29 June 2007. If the new approval process comes on-line as planned, the global Internet could see new top-level domains added and available between June and August 2008.” “When ICANN was founded in 1998, only a few TLDs, including .com, were generally available to the public for registration of domain names. Our mission has been to expand the number of TLDs available to users – and we have made great progress,” Dr Twomey said. “When the new approval process is complete, Internet users around the globe will have more choice in the TLD market.” ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) is the policy arm for development in this field, and it will continue to build on what it has done in developing new approval process. GNSO materials are available on ICANN’s website. Of the current total of 120 million sites, Verisign’s .com accounts for 62 million, providing a cool $418 million in annual revenue for ICANN’s longtime antagonist. This reporter has argued in the past that ICANN should publish clear and consistent rules for gTLD registration, and allow anyone who fulfills the requirements to sink or swim on their own. Whether or not an expansion in gTLDs will ever weaken Verisign’s stranglehold on the most profitable segment of the registry market remains to be seen.® Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office.
Burke Hansen, 11 May 2007
5

SanDisk and Microsoft BFFs around software-stuffed memory

Microsoft and SanDisk have inked a deal to create USB flash drives and memory cards with built-in software and user preferences to replace SanDisk's existing U3 Cruzer line.
Austin Modine, 11 May 2007