18th > May > 2007 Archive

1

AMD 'Griffin' laptop CPU to integrate Turion cores

AMD's upcoming next-gen notebook processor, 'Griffin', contains rather a lot of the current generation, the 65nm Turion 64 X2, the chip maker admitted today. This despite Griffin's status as AMD's first CPU designed specifically for notebooks.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007
1

AMD M780 PCIe 2 chipset to offer on-the-fly GPU switching

AMD's upcoming M780 laptop chipset - designed to be paired with the company's next-gen mobile processor, 'Griffin' - will allow the system to flip between integrated and discrete graphics engines on the fly, the chip maker has revealed.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007
4

AMD readies HyperFlash cache tech

AMD's 'Puma' laptop platform, due to debut next year with the 'Griffin' processor and the M780 chipset, will incorporate the chip maker's alternative to Intel's TurboMemory Flash cache technology, as expected.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007

ITU to focus on ICT opportunities for young people

This year's World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which takes place on 17 May, is focused on the opportunities that ICT can give to young people. The event, which marks the anniversary of the signature of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was instituted by the Union's Plenipotentiary Conference in 1973. In previous years the event has focused on a number of areas including highlighting cybersecurity, mobile communications and creating an equitable information society. ITU, which is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology, has launched a special global initiative for young people from developing countries and countries in transition to coincide with Thursday's event. The aim of the new programme is to increase their access, use and knowledge of ICT to facilitate their integration in and contribution to the information society. Among the highlights of the new initiative is the Youth Education Scheme (YES) which will provide scholarships for young people, and ITU Telecom Youth Forums, which is launching a contest in which participants are asked to propose projects designed to integrate young people into the information society. On Wednesday, as a precursor to Thursday's event, the ITU announced the winners of the World Information Society Award 2007. The gong has been created to honour individuals or institutions that have made a significant personal contribution to promoting, building, or strengthening a people-centred, development-oriented and knowledge-based information society. This year's winners were Dr Margartie Cedeno de Fernandez, the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, for her personal contribution towards building an inclusive and equitable global information society, and Professor Dr Mark I. Krivocheev, chief scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow, for his achievements in the technical development of television services and systems. The Mozilla Foundation was also awarded a gong for its contribution to the development of internet technologies and applications. "In an increasingly networked world, the young are not only the beneficiaries but often the driving force behind the latest innovations and practices, and for many, the dependence on information and communication technologies (ICT) has come to determine their choice of lifestyle," said Hamadoun Toure, ITU secretary-general "It is clearly our duty today to provide the opportunities of ICT to all children and youth, particularly to those who remain unconnected from the ongoing digital revolution," he added. Closer to home, the ECDL Foundation offered its support for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with the Foundation's CEO Damien O'Sullivan saying that giving young children the skills to access ICT in Ireland was 'empowering'. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Charlie Taylor, 18 May 2007
6

British fathers to be given six months' paid paternity leave

Fathers will be allowed to take six months' paid paternity leave instead of mothers under new government proposals. The law will not come into effect until maternity cover is extended to 12 months, which will happen in April 2009 at the earliest. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has opened a consultation on its plans to extend maternity leave and to make it more flexible. "We know that people want greater flexibility to better juggle their work and family life and that fathers increasingly want to play a bigger part in the upbringing of their children," said Jim Fitzpatrick, Employment Relations Minister at the DTI. Maternity leave was extended in April from six to nine months, and the Government has said that it wants to extend that to 12 months by the end of the current parliamentary term. Once that happens, the second six month period will be made available to either parent to take as leave. "If a mother wants to return to work before her child's first birthday, the father will be able to take some, or all, of the second half of the child's first year as paid paternity leave," said Fitzpatrick. "For the first time ever, this will give parents the flexibility to divide a period of paid leave between them. Parents will be able to decide how to best balance work and family commitments." The consultation process will ask employers and other interested parties whether or not parents should be able to self-certify as eligible for the leave, or whether business and Government should operate a certification scheme. The DTI document says that self certification "would keep the process straightforward for businesses," but that "checklists and new official forms would provide employers with the confidence to administer the scheme effectively and employees to participate in it". Fathers will be able to take up to 26 weeks of paternity leave as long as the first 26 weeks were taken by the mother of a child and as long as the mother has returned to work. The DTI said that though it uses the term "fathers", it intended the proposals to apply to partners of a child's mother, civil partners of mothers, and adopting couples. The DTI wants to introduce the fathers' rights to leave at the same time as it extends leave to 12 months, it said. Though the earliest date that this could happen is April 2009, it said that this was not a deadline or a firm proposal for a start date for the changes. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 18 May 2007
fingers pointing at man
1

WPP, AOL buy into the race for online ad spend

Real-world advertising and marketing agency WPP has dipped a fairly big toe into the murky world of online ads with the $649m acquisition of 24/7 Real Media.
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2007
15

MS stops hacked hardware accessing Xbox Live

Microsoft has begun booting owners of modified-firmware Xbox 360 games consoles off of its Xbox Live online service, an array of postings on fan forums have revealed.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007
hands waving dollar bills in the air
8

GPL to undermine Microsoft's Novell deal?

Microsoft will apparently nullify its patent protection agreement with Novell, under the terms of the forthcoming GPL 3 license. That seems to be the conclusion to be drawn from remarks by Software Freedom Law Centre founding director and general counsel to the Free Software Foundation, Eben Moglen, made yesterday during a discussion on the GPL.
Gavin Clarke, 18 May 2007
Pacman

Compuware absorbs a bit more Centauri

Another bit of Proxima' Centauri product suite has now been integrated into Compuware's Vantage Application Performance Management suite, allowing the latter to now launch Vantage Service Manager, a tool that informs IT, in real-time, on the level of service being provided to customers, while at the same time measuring customer satisfaction levels.
Martin Banks, 18 May 2007
Warning: aircraft
10

Gatwick gets iris recognition

Gatwick South has started using an iris recognition system - it is the ninth UK airport terminal to roll out the system. Project IRIS(Iris Recognition Immigration System) is designed to give travellers resident in the UK, who have no black marks against their name on the immigration database, a means of avoiding normal immigration checks by having their eyes scanned instead.
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
7

Virgin Media piles Cable and Wireless sandbags

Virgin Media attempted to win back some shareholder and media confidence late yesterday, by announcing a deal with Cable and Wireless to offer LLU ADSL for areas outside its cable network. Virgin already has some ADSL customers off its own network, but an LLU(Local Loop Unbundling) deal is key to delivering a bundle at a price similar to cable. Virgin told The Reg that the deal won't be ready to offer access until the fourth quarter of this year. In a regulatory filing in the US, also yesterday, Virgin said it had reduced the size of its board, burning one of the three seats controlled by William Huff, amid rumours of a power struggle between him and other large shareholders. The move resulted from a shareholder meeting in New York yesterday, where concerns that Huff held too much sway over the board were aired. Huff, who holds under six per cent of Virgin Media, was the driving force behind the merger of NTL and Telewest last year. Huff now controls two seats, and Branson's 11 per cent stake one seat. Franklin Resources, the second largest investor, has no board member. The Cable and Wireless deal has been bubbling for a while, but Virgin has had a tough couple of weeks, delivering poor results, being summoned by its largest sharholders, and generally taking a kicking in the press. Virgin hopes that the tie-up, which runs until 2011, will help it retain customers when they move house off the cable network. Virgin has previously said it hopes to roll out IPTV to its Off-net customers so it can offer the full quad play of broadband, mobile, fixed line, and pay-TV to everyone. ®
Christopher Williams, 18 May 2007
2

Blighty internet shopping goes ballistic

UK shoppers are abandoning the high street and going online in droves, according to the latest figures from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), the industry body. April net sales were up a thumping 55 per cent on last year at £3.47bn, taking the total web-receipts count since 1995 into 12 figures. The IMRG numbers people reckon that annual sales will hit £42bn this year, and fully £78bn (20 per cent of all retail sales) by 2010. They say many sellers have yet to move online, giving the sector plenty of room to grow. Naturally enough, the spread of broadband is seen as having driven the internet shopping revolution. Typical home net connections are now always-on and better than 1Mbit/sec, compared to the rickety 14.4kbit dial-up of yesteryear. Traditional online staples such as travel and electrical goods continue to stand high in the ratings, but other sectors are developing fast. Many consumers who would previously only buy cheaper items like books and CDs via the internet have become comfortable with purchasing white goods and furniture this way. Others were already more than willing to make big-ticket buys like new computers using their existing machines. In particular, the natural tendency for gadget lovers to buy online has caused some heartache for the high-street providers. Notably, Dixons has decided to pull out of the town centres and focus on internet sales. Meanwhile, less obvious categories such as clothes, accessories, and shoes are expanding rapidly, according to the IMRG. This trend could be related to the revelation (pdf) this week by Nielsen/NetRatings that the dominant group of UK residents on the internet is now women aged 18-34, rather than the more normal model of socially-challenged young men. No doubt the geeks are still there, but as the internet has moved into mainstream society it appears they are now outnumbered online by young women lusting for shoes, handbags, and gladrags. That said, the NetRatings data is tricky to reconcile with that from the IMRG, as it appears that the ladies-who-surf typically favour parenting sites rather than ones offering cut price Manolo Blahniks. It may be that the online surge by women of childbearing age has more to do with maternity leave than it does with 360-degree Flash shoe porn. ®
Lewis Page, 18 May 2007
5

Spanish politicos slug it out in Second Life

Spain's two main political parties have been indulging in some light scrapping in the run-up to this month's local elections by attempting to burn down each other's Second Life headquarters, Reuters reports. The "bitter political wrangling" between the socialist government, represented by the PSOE, and the conservative opposition, the Partido Popular (PP), has been entertaining Spaniards for months as the two abandon any pretence at political debate and roundly accuse each other of provoking the collapse of western civilisation. Most seriously, the PP accuses the government of "capitulating" to Basque terrorist group ETA by entering into dialogue with the fun-loving separatists. This has provoked huge rallies in support of a no-nonsense hard line against ETA, at which much inflammatory rhetoric has aroused nationalist sentiments. So inflammatory, in fact, that the PSOE accuses PP supporters of all manner of virtual outrages in Sadville. A PSOE official known as "Zeros Kuhm" explained: "They have thrown bombs, entered the building with sub-machine guns, lit fires, everything you could imagine." The PP, meanwhile, says it's been handed the same treatment. A party spokesman said: "We have complained to the Second Life commission about the terrorism." Given the way things are going, we suggest it's only a matter of time before the United Nations is forced to intervene in Second Life, possibly prompted to action by a US pre-emptive strike against the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shopping mall's enriched uranium emporium. Watch this space. ®
Lester Haines, 18 May 2007
9

HTC takes a gamble with new brand and OS strategy

Every time Microsoft scores a point in its tortuous quest to become a major mobile player, it seems to suffer a balancing setback. So while the recently announced updates to Windows Mobile made the OS look far more credible on a small device than it had before, the software giant had to endure its primary handset ally, Taiwan's HTC, make a radical strategy shift that seems to sideline Microsoft.
Faultline, 18 May 2007

Satellites track freak waves to Reunion

The freak waves that smashed into Reunion Island last week were tracked by satellite as they raced across the Indian Ocean. As many as six people are reported to be missing in the region after the waves demolished several piers in the port of Saint Pierre. Two of the missing are coastguards whose boat was capsized as they searched for fishermen who had been caught in the storm swell. Satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) reveals that the swell, which reached as high as 11 metres, originated in a storm off the coast of South Africa, several days earlier. Dr Bertrand Chapron of IFREMER, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, tracked the swell using ESA's Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument aboard the Envisat environmental observation satellite. The instrument can track the so-called wave period. This measurement of the gap between wave peaks is indicative of the size of the wave - the longer period suggesting a larger wave, triggered by a more intense and extreme weather system. SAR can spot waves with periods of between 12 and 25 seconds, the scientists said, and the wave that hit Reunion had a period of 19 seconds. Chapron commented: "Swells are still surprise factors, which can unfortunately be deadly. The SAR Wave Mode product allows us to locate and systematically track swells globally. In the near future we anticipate using SAR wave data to predict their arrival time and intensity." His colleague, Dr Fabrice Collard of France's BOOST Technologies, explained that although the swell was expected to hit Reunion, no one had predicted it would be so large. "[The waves] were predicted to be only a couple of metres," he said. More from the ESA site here.®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2007
19

BOFH: The revenge

Episode 17Episode 17 >SQUEAK< ... "Impressive," our recent ex-new-Boss says nervously, edging towards the back of the room. "How did you... find us?" "Simple," the PFY says, entering from the door behind him, cattleprod in hand. "One of the laptops you took wasn't exactly what it looked like." "Bitlocker?" the ex-new-technician asks, halting his in-tandem retreat along with the ex-Boss. "No," I respond, fingering my own modded prod. "The machine had built in wireless and GPS and used scripted netstumbler to peer with any access points it could find and report its location." "Really?" the ex-boss asks. "Nah, the PFY lifted your wallet the day you started and stole your credit card details and personal information. We followed you here from your home." "Ah," the ex-Boss says. "Which was why I found my wallet on the floor behind my desk last week." "Indeed. Why steal a wallet when the cards would be deactivated within the day? No, it's far better that you feel you mislaid it for a moment and give us the opportunity to order a month's worth of crap to be delivered to your home." "Crap?" "Gym gear, PC games, porn, and diet products." "Ah," the ex-Boss says knowingly. "All stuff which is very hard to return..." "And you might have made donations to a number of internet based organisations with anti-democratic viewpoints – so I wouldn't do any flying in the near future." "Either of you," the PFY says nodding at the ex-technician. "Those messages you were posting about Western infidels are almost certainly being read by anonymous men in a grey building somewhere in the city..." "Which is why returning home is probably not your best option," I add. "Not with the three sacks of fertiliser under your stairwell anyway..." the PFY adds. "I..." "Have our equipment and are only too willing to give it back to avoid a nasty incident?" the PFY asks. "Yes?" the ex-technician suggests. "And compensate us for our time with a couple of hundred quid?" the PFY adds. "Fifty," the ex-Boss says. "Each," the PFY counters. "Done!" And a deal is struck. Being consummate professionals they know a lost cause when they see it. Moments later the PFY and I have keys to a North London lockup, a little cash, and an agreement that the company will have learned some valuable lessons from the incident. "So how did you manage to get the gear out so quickly?" the PFY asks as we have a post-truce pint with the ex-Boss and ex-tech. "We got some magnetic signs made for a fake PC repair company then slapped them on a rental van," the ex-tech explains. "Then we got a couple of lab coats, a clipboard, and started loading up gear. Amazing what people will fall for." "And security didn't say anything?" the PFY asks. "Nothing apart from 'this is heavy'." "You used security to help steal stuff from the company?" I sigh. "Oh yes, they were most helpful." "Ah well, I suppose the company will learn something from this..." I say. "Although not much," the PFY adds. "No?" our ex-Boss asks. "No, the current brainwave of the head of IT is to fit out our Madrid office with kit that we configure here - network, desktop and server - and just talk them through the install on the phone!" the PFY snaps. "Really? Much kit?" our ex-Boss asks eagerly. "A bit - but don't even think about it - it's being shipped privately. It SEEMS that the CEO's bought a villa in Spain and is going to get the company to pay for his shipping container by putting the computing gear in with his stuff." "Sounds like someone needs to be taught a lesson..." our ex-tech says. "You mean..." our ex-Boss asks. "Uh-huh. We could rent a van full of empty computer boxes that need to be put into the container at the last minute." "50/50 on the proceeds?" the PFY asks. ...Late the next night at the Cargo terminal... "They must employ the same security staff as we do!" the PFY gasps. "I mean who's going to believe we're Rabies inspectors!" "What was the container number?" the ex-Boss asks nervously, knowing we've got a fairly small window to do this in. "Here," I said, handing over a shipping receipt. "Okay... " he responds, driving slowly past rows of containers waiting to be loaded. "... BINGO - and it's at ground level!" >Creak< >Clank< >Groaaaan< "That's odd," the ex-Boss says. "There's computing boxes here but the furniture's complete crap." "Well you guys go in and grab the stuff while the PFY and I grab the 'replacement' kit," I say. "Okay... hang on, these are just empty b..." >GROAN SLAM!< >CLANK< "Amazing what people will fall for," the PFY says, shaking his head and screwing up the shipping receipt. "Still, a holiday in Spain can't be all bad," I say. "True," the PFY says. "And I made sure to put the sacks of fertiliser next to the torch - so they know what to expect when we dob them in to the Coast Guard..." "Okay then," I say. "We're about done. But before you return their van to the hire company..." "Yes, I know," the PFY sighs. "Back into a solid object a couple of times, use up all the gas and wait outside a kebab place until someone's sick on the passenger seat." As they say, vengeance is a pre-digested meal best served on pseudo leather... BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 18 May 2007
10

Train driver asks passengers to get out and push

We don't know what Argentinian commuters would make of it, but hundreds of Indian train passengers were apparently happy to oblige when the driver asked them to hop out and push. According to Reuters, the unscheduled jump-start happened in Patna, capital of Bihar, after "a passenger pulled the train's emergency chain and it halted in a 'neutral zone' - a short length of track where there is no power in the overhead wires". It took the emergency fare-paying labour more than half an hour to shift the train the 12 feet required to reconnect with the juice. Indian Railways spokesman Deepak Kumar Jha admitted: "In so many years of service in the railways, I have never come across such a bizarre incident." ® Bootnote Thanks very much to Mukesh for the tip-off.
Lester Haines, 18 May 2007
4

DirectTV turns focus to power lines for broadband

DirectTV CEO Chase Carey said at a conference this week that the largest US direct to home satellite provider will try out broadband over power lines in a few cities later this year.
Faultline, 18 May 2007
12

Screen stars: Ten HDTVs on test

Group TestGroup Test The world of TV is changing, as HD hits the mainstream and digital broadcasting finally overtakes analog. There are myriad options available too, from plasma to LCD, little to gargantuan and everything in between. One for every flavour then...
Duncan Madden, 18 May 2007
1

FCO to probe visa security lapse

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has closed its online service for visa applicants from India while it investigates a security breach that made the personal details of visa applicants available online. VFS Global, the private firm that runs the FCO's online visa application service, told the reporter who broke the story that they had "resolved" the problem "globally". The breach was initially thought to have occured only in India, and the FCO's statement on the matter treated it that way. Yet VFS run online visa applications for the FCO in various countries. The security hole was originally reported to both VFS and the British High Commission more than a year ago but no action was taken. The Indian gent who first noticed the problem has a blog here. Lord Triesman, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said in a statement yesterday: "The VFS online facility will not be resumed until VFS and UKvisas can be assured that it is absolutely secure." VFS's online service could apparently be subverted by making changes to its URL - doing so gave a browser access to the firm's database of visa applicants, which stored passport numbers, names, addresses, and travel details. Mumbai-based VFS - a subsidiary of the Zurich-based Kuoni Travel Group - operates 11 visa application centres in India. According to the FCO, the firm processed 471,746 Indian visa applications last year, but only a "small proportion" were initiated using the online service. However, VFS also processes online applications for UK visas from Nigeria and Russia. The FCO could not confirm whether the same problem occured in the systems operating in these countries as well, but did say that their sites had been closed down. As well as VFS, CSC is contracted to handle visa applications. A spokesman for UK Visas said that 87 per cent of applications were handled by these third parties in their countries of operation. 12 per cent of the applications handled by VFS in India, Nigeria and Russia were handled online. Furthermore, VFS's online service is merely intended to support the walk-in visa service it runs in its countries of operation. Visa applicants to the UK can still make online applications on the FCO's own website. VFS also provides visa services to countries including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Sweden. Yet Damian Green, Conservative shadow immigration minister, said the screw-up didn't bode well for the government's identity plans. "This government cannot even run a simple online visa application system without betraying all the sensitive information. What hope has it got of protecting the integrity of the National Identity Card Register which will hold dozens of pieces of sensitive information of every adult in the country?" he said in a statement. ®
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007

Nintendo dominates April US console sales

Nintendo's Wii continues to dominate sales of the last game consoles in the US, raining on the parades of both Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 during April, the latest market research shows.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007
14

London dirty-bomb tests start this weekend

Home Office counter-terror boffins from the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) Science and Technology Programme will carry out "tracer gas trials" in London starting this weekend. Tony McNulty, the minister in charge of security spooks and special-powers cops, revealed the plans to Parliament yesterday. "The trials will improve our understanding of the movement of air-borne material in the urban environment and will enable enhancements in public protection to be developed," he said. "It will improve the UK's ability to deal with the consequences of a CBRN release." The trials will involve the release of small amounts of "non-toxic, odourless gases" in the Marylebone area starting on Sunday, and will run for a four to six week period. The Press Association reports that about 20 scientific monitoring stations will be set up in the area. The government terrorist-busting eggheads will use the data gleaned from the trials to develop computer models of dirty-bomb or urban chemical-weapons attacks. These are expected to form part of security plans for the 2012 Olympics, perhaps even feeding into the design and location of sports facilities. Mr McNulty also revealed that similar tracer trials have already taken place in the London Underground during March and April. Even so, it could be that if you build it (a big CBRN-response organisation) the dirty-bomb and chemical weapons terrorists may not come. Not if they know what they're doing, anyway. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that: "Most [dirty bombs] would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness - the conventional explosive itself would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material. However, depending on the scenario, a [dirty bomb] explosion could create fear and panic. Making prompt, accurate information available to the public could prevent the panic sought by terrorists. "Immediate health effects from exposure to the low radiation levels expected from a [dirty bomb] would likely be minimal." As ever, plain old explosives are the big worry. As for chemicals, compare the effects of the Tokyo subway gas attack (10 terrorists, five attacks each involving 1kg of hard-to-get sarin nerve gas, 12 dead total) with a typical backpack-bomb attack (London 7/7: four terrorists, four simple home made devices, 52 dead). Only a stupid attacker would bother with chemicals. Real pros like the IRA, for instance, never have. Still, nobody ever made a mistake over-estimating the ability of Western citizens and in particular their media to get in a panic. ®
Lewis Page, 18 May 2007
37

Bible heads for Hong Kong's top shelf

UpdatedUpdated The Bible may be reclassified as "indecent" in Hong Kong due to its "sexual and violent content", Reuters reports. That's if the 800 or so residents who've demanded it be restricted to over-18s get their way, following an unholy rumpus over a sex column recently published in the Chinese University's Student Press magazine which asked readers "whether they'd ever fantasised about incest or bestiality". Cue a bit of a kerfuffle and the rapid appearance of www.truthbible.net which said that while musings on brother-on-sister and animal bothering were a bit much, the content of the Bible's fun-filled pages "far exceeds" the Student Press shocker. The Student Press column was subsequently judged "indecent" by the Obscene Articles Tribunal, and readers of www.truthbible.net bombarded the Television and Entertainment Licensing authority (TELA) with demands that God's handbook receive similar censure. TELA has said it's "still undecided on whether the Bible had violated Hong Kong's obscene and indecent articles laws". Local protestant minister Reverend Wu Chi-wai says not. He offered: "If there is rape mentioned in the Bible, it doesn't mean it encourages those activities. It's just common sense...I don't think that criticism will have strong support from the public." ® Update TELA last night (Sunday) spared the Bible elevation to the top shelf, ruling the book had "not violated standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable members of the community". The statement noted: "The Bible is a religious text which is part of civilisation. It has been passed from generation to generation."
Lester Haines, 18 May 2007

Bill Gates, Cliff Richard, and Richard Branson walk into a bar...

FUD, glorious FUD We have the excellent combination of Fortune magazine and the Microsoft PR ubergoblin to thank for a lively start to the week. They conspired to crystallise Redmond's patent claims against open source software ever so slightly, by putting a number on how many times they had wronged: 235. Cue cries of "show us the code", and criticism from Sun's Scott McNealy and, er, Linux's Linus Torvalds. Our own Ashlee Vance had a few choice thoughts for Steve Ballmer, too. And even the American public aren't satisfied with Microsoft. Click to buy lie We hope the legal monitoring bunker at Redmond is paying attention to others' patent battles which are further down the road. Amazon's silly 1-Click lobbyist ended up misleading congress in his keenness to defend clicking on a button. In better Amazon news, it finally released details of its DRM-free download store. Say goodbye to your balls, Bill Ashlee reckons chairman Bill hasn't got the stones for a fight anymore. Maybe he's right: Gates' contribution this week was one of his "the PC is the blank of the future" speeches. Office Communicator 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 mean you can say goodbye to your telephone, apparently. More here. Gold Bland Not that BT should give a tinker's cuss. Its Q4 results, the last under the chairmanship of Sir Christopher Bland, showed its "new wave" of IP-based products and services was more than making up for declining phone revenues. And it overtook Virgin Media as the top residential broadband provider, so probably won't feel the need to listen to calls for fibre to the home. Branson pickle Indeed, the Branson halo effect is most definitely over for the UK cable monopoly. It's got huge debts and annoyed customers. Trouble at the top too, as a power struggle emerged at the AGM on Thursday in New York. Virgin responded to its travails by announcing an LLU deal with Cable and Wireless to connect the 50 per cent who aren't on the cable network. Not until Q4 though...more cynical observers might infer a little desperation for some good news in the PR boutique. U-turn (up in court or else) One look at Dell might cheer them up. After years of shunning the channel, Mickey Dell swallowed his pride in the direct model he pioneered and announced a reseller recruitment drive. Admirable, but the same day the firm was hit with a fraud lawsuit from the New York Attorney General. MyDataprotectionpolicy Rulez! MySpace took a principled stance this week, when it refused to respond to a letter from eight state Attorneys General demanding data on sex offender users. Show us your subpoenas, MySpace retorted. Trust no one Security has emerged as another big problem with a lot of social networks. Research revealed users trust the sites too much. As well as their bandwidth hoggery, the US DoD reckons its a good reason to ban their use. Some lonely grunts will undoubtedly miss the "find-love-now messages" the spamtastic MySpace offered them. AMD announces announcements. Further announcements to come Back in the more tangible world of silicon, AMD's been a busy puppy. The chip number two, desperate to regain momentum, began with a new graphics card, then launched the "Phenom" family of processors, and squeaked out a trio of details around upcoming gear. It also offered up a peek into laptop CPU "Griffin", which may not be all that next generation after all. Aussie rules healthcare IT The sorry iSoft saga began a new chapter. The board approved a takeover by Australian healthcare IT group IBA. For all our sakes, we hope they sort it out. There was further confirmation that the NPfIT was making life difficult for doctors and nurses. IBA picked up iSoft for a bargain £140m. Buy the buy Oracle paid $495m for product lifecycle management firm Agile software. Good news for venture capitalists: Cisco said its appetite for small technology companies is nowhere near sated. Amazon bought a UK digital photography site. SaaSsy Plucky software as a service CRM outfit Salesforce.com beat its own financial expectations and integrated Skype. Microsoft also upped its efforts to grab a slice of the rising SaaS pie. Bachelor boys and pirates The British Software Association blubbed that it needs a bigger stick to hit software pirates with. MPs were busy tub-thumping for Cliff Richard's intellectual property instead. In the US and Canada, Symantec took matters into its own hands, demanding eight firms cough $55m for nicking its software. Downtime at Google A relatively quiet time on planet Google. It tried to make a hoo-ha over the fact that it rejigged results pages slightly. It made less of a fuss about its latest copyright battle, which it won against grumble mag Perfect 10. Google's free to pump out thumbnails of nudey ladies to its heart's content. We had our own Google news, that its Blogger site has had the most downtime of any of the top 20 websites this year. If your site has beaten that, buy yourself a beer to celebrate. Drunken terror We'll leave you with the news of the terror trial judge who didn't know what a website was. At Vulture Central, we have faith in the justice system, and would like to give Judge Peter Openshaw the benefit of the doubt: he was probably just tired. More next week, have a good'un. ® Headline of the week: "Gloves come off in George Bush buttplug rumpus"
Christopher Williams, 18 May 2007
Warning Speed Camera
12

Net censorship growing worldwide

Censorship of internet content is growing across the world. A survey by the Open Net Initiative (ONI) across 41 countries found that 25 applied content filtering to block access to particular websites.
John Leyden, 18 May 2007
6

Cane toad hitches lift to southern Australia

Australia may be on the verge of total subjugation by cane toads which locals fear have now developed the ability to hitchhike on lorries. According to The Scotsman, an example of the monster toad turned up in a Melbourne drain - quite some distance from their northern stomping ground where they have, since their ill-advised introduction in 1935 to combat native cane beetles, swelled to 200 million individuals advancing 40km per year. Indeed, since the 1930s they have marched some 3,000 km from Northern Queensland to threaten Darwin, in the process decimating local fauna including snakes, goanna lizards and quolls (a cat-sized marsupial). Despite Oz's best efforts to stem the tide, it now seems inevitable that Australians will eventually have to bow to their toad masters. In the meantime, we suggest Down Under's road hauliers might be able to give the Lucky Country a couple more years of freedom by simply not offering lifts to toads. ®
Lester Haines, 18 May 2007
36

Southern Ocean calls time on carbon sinking

The Southern Ocean, one of the planet's biggest carbon sinks, is almost totally saturated, according to research published in the journal Science. Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) joined forces with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Max Planck institute for a four year study of the ocean around the southern continent. They found that increased winds over the Southern Ocean has triggered a release of stored CO2. The researchers say the increase in wind in the region has been triggered by ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emission. "This is the first time that we've been able to say that climate change itself is responsible for the saturation of the Southern Ocean sink," said lead author Dr Corinne Le Quéré of UEA and BAS. "The Earth's carbon sinks – of which the Southern Ocean accounts for 15 per cent – absorb about half of all human carbon emissions. With the Southern Ocean reaching its saturation point more CO2 will stay in our atmosphere," Le Quéré explained. A carbon sink - be it a forest, ocean, methane crystals trapped in ice sheets, or a peat bog in Siberia - locks carbon out of the atmosphere so that it doesn't contribute to the greenhouse effect. Since the industrial revolution, the Earth's oceans have absorbed as much as 500 gigatons of the carbon generated by human activity. Professor Chris Rapley, director of British Antarctic Survey described the possibility that the strongest of these oceanic sinks is weakening as "a cause for concern". Most climate models predict that this kind of negative feedback will intensify this century, Le Quéré says. As well as having implications for how easy it will be to stabilise the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, the research also suggests the Southern Ocean will reach dangerous levels of acidity sooner than expected: bad news for local marine life. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2007
5

India to deploy tethered blimp radars

The Indian armed forces are using radar-carrying static balloons to provide an early warning of terrorist air strikes, according to reports. Much interest has been aroused in defence circles during recent months by the air raids mounted in Sri Lanka by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or "Tamil Tigers"). The conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Tigers has normally been seen as a counter-insurgency conflict like many others ongoing around the world, in which relatively well-armed conventional forces battle guerillas who favour tactics such as suicide bombing, ambushes, and assassination. Many governments, including the US, list the Tigers as a terrorist organisation. In recent months, however, the Tigers have mounted several bombing raids against targets in Sri Lanka, reportedly using modified light aircraft of Czech manufacture. The Tiger pilots have flown in and out at low altitude, which makes them difficult to detect using ground radars. India nowadays prefers not to get too involved in the Sri Lankan fighting off its southeastern coast, after suffering a bloody nose during a military intervention and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by the Tigers in 1991. But the Indians are worried that the fighting could come to them, in particular in the form of Tiger air attacks. Lacking a big fleet of AWACS planes or similar conventional-type airborne radar platforms, Indian military planners are thinking outside the box. India Defence reports that the Indian Air Force will deploy aerostat radars on the southeastern Tamil Nadu coast. The aerostats are tethered blimp-like balloons carrying phased-array radars which can detect approaching aircraft from afar, even if they fly at low level. The IAF purchased two of the EL/M-2083 systems from Israel in 2004, and apparently has been sufficiently pleased with the balloon-borne eyes-in-the-sky that a further four have been ordered. The aerostats aren't as vulnerable as they might seem; they aren't highly pressurised. This means that they won't burst, and leak only slowly if penetrated. An aerostat will stay up for hours even with its envelope pierced by hostile fire. Filled with helium rather than hydrogen, there's no risk of a Hindenburg style explosion. Reportedly, small Russian-made ground radars have also been deployed, in particular at the Kalpakkam nuclear plant. ®
Lewis Page, 18 May 2007
6

Euro consumers don't trust IP for TV

Public scepticism over the reliability of broadband and the internet could sink IPTV - unless European service providers can develop hybrid or blended services that deliver more than "just TV", and unless they wean themselves off competing solely on price and speed. That's according to a survey of European consumer attitudes commissioned by Juniper Networks. The company, which supplies core networking and IPTV equipment, said the survey shows that IPTV on its own has little future - or at least little to commend it. The IT industry has fixated on IPTV as a hot new technology for triple-play networks, without thinking properly about what it delivers to the end user, Juniper added. "TV on its own is not compelling," said Paul Gainham, Juniper's service provider marketing director for Europe. "What providers need to get to is not triple-play, not quad-play, it's more than that - we call it multi-play. Ordinary people don't care that it's IP, they care if the service provider can deliver different, unique services." That could include personalised channels, a wider range of content, interactivity, and access from multiple devices and locations, he suggested. Juniper's latest survey covered Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia - it had already studied France, Germany, and the UK. It questioned 1,000 people in each of the six regions, all of whom used both the internet and TV, and the results look iffy for would-be IPTV suppliers. The window of opportunity for IPTV is supposed to be the impending shut-down of analogue TV transmissions. However, while analogue still dominates in France and Italy, the survey says most users in the other regions have already shifted to digital terrestrial, satellite, or cable TV. Attacking incumbents is always a hard task. The results also show that while many people already watch video over the web, with the Italians and French being especially enthusiastic consumers, most of it is news and user-generated content. "That's not the most demanding, in quality terms," Gainham said, adding that sports was the least popular for web viewing, presumably because it requires higher quality and is real-time. The survey revealed that consumer scepticism over the security and reliability of broadband is a big problem for would-be IPTV suppliers, as are fears over the cost and complexity of the extra equipment needed to receive IPTV. It also shows that the service providers have shot themselves in the foot by creating a market where the main consumer choice factors are simply bandwidth and cost, not quality or video content. "The telecoms suppliers have done a brilliant job of commoditising their own infrastructures," said Gainham. "The telecoms guys need to learn - and quickly - to be more compelling to the user. So far it's been outsiders who have innovated, and the telecoms carriers have just responded and carried the services." The outsider threat to IPTV comes from the content providers - outfits such as Google, MSN and Yahoo!, but Gainham said the telcos still have a chance because the survey shows they are the most trusted brands, though only just. He added: "People say content is king. I don't disagree, but it's broader than that - you have to get the connectivity and the point of consumption right. No one has all three though, so they will all need to partner in one way or another." ®
Bryan Betts, 18 May 2007
7

Elijah Wood to play Iggy Pop

Reader pollReader poll We're not sure quite what to make of this, but according to Variety, Hobbit Elijah Wood is to play Iggy Pop in a forthcoming biopic entitled The Passenger. The $8m project - slated for release in 2008 - will follow Pop's early career with The Stooges. Nick Gomez of Drowning Mona, er, fame will direct from a script by Eric Schmid. Oh, alright then, we do know what to make of it. Elijah Wood? Nah. Accordingly, we ran a list of 10,000 possible candidates through a complex suitability algorithm and now offer readers the chance to vote for the person who really could pull off Pop, as it were. Once the final result is in, we'll make our findings known to the production company: Iggy Pop? What about... Poll now closed Steve Ballmer Ellen DeGeneres Larry Ellison Paris Hilton Bernard Manning John Prescott Vladimir Putin Tara Reid Donald Rumsfeld Norman Tebbit
Lester Haines, 18 May 2007
2

Project Hybrid: Dell's transformation begins

Dell now hints with muscularity around its future data center plans. We give you Project Hybrid. Company executives, most notably CEO Michael Dell, have spent the last few weeks positing the notion that Dell will revamp its server and storage hardware. On Thursday, Dell added the faintest touch of concrete detail to these suggestions, describing "Project Hybrid" as "the first step in Dell's plans to radically change the business computing industry." If you're still perplexed, we have only so much to offer.
Ashlee Vance, 18 May 2007
12

Belgian politico to orally pleasure 40,000

NSFWNSFW A Belgian senate hopeful is offering voters something a bit more tempting than a one per cent cut in VAT and better rubbish collections - 40,000 free blow jobs to anyone who signs up at her campaign website. Tania Derveaux represents NEE, an "impartial protest movement running for senate in the Belgian elections of June 10 2007", which "offers voters in Belgium the option to vote 'NEE' if they find that none of the parties deserve their vote". According to Ms Derveaux, she originally pledged to create 400,000 jobs as a "response to incredible claims that were made by other parties in Belgium". This prompted wags to demand 400,000 blowjobs, which Derveaux has wisely reduced to 40k. Still, by her reckoning she'll still have to suck like a good 'un for 500 days, servicing 80 hardened NEE supporters a day. We'll save you the trouble: if she puts in a seven-hour shift at the coalface, that means one punter every five-and-a-half minutes - without the benefit of a tea break. Oh yes, married or shy people can elect to receive their bj in Second Life, so there's little excuse not to get your rocks off. We can't help feeling that this kind of gums-on approach to electioneering could really take off in Blighty, as long as the Labour Party and the Tories don't put forward Margaret Beckett and Anne Widdicombe, respectively. ® Bootnote Thanks to Tony Green for the hard news tip.
Lester Haines, 18 May 2007
1

HMRC claims IT successes

HM Revenue and Customs revealed today how joining up its IT systems has contributed to falling costs in the merged departments. However, the annual report also said losses to missing trader VAT frauds had been creeping up above one of its key targets. Revenue and Customs' financial accounting systems were merged and their desktop IT systems were integrated over the 04/05 and 05/06 financial years, said the report. These changes were expected to contribute to targeted job cuts of 12,500. But the department said it couldn't separate the savings it derived from the IT integration from those gained by making process changes. But it did say how much it had spent: IT costs were £10.3m in 05/06, said the report. The total cost of merging the two departments was £75m. HMRC systems received and validated over 10,000 returns an hour during its peak period. The IT systems are vast, with 75,000 users of more than 250 large-scale systems. The report said its IT workers put in 34,800 days a year on infrastructure and support, 43,200 days on application development, and 62,400 days on application integration and testing. All this helps it get close to its target of all businesses and IT literate individuals filing electronic tax returns by 2012. And it boasted that it managed to complete an upgrade of 1,100 file servers, 110,000 workstations, 120,000 mailboxes, and 750 in-house software applications on time. It also managed this within budget, said the report, with the project cost coming in £14m below the budget of £175m. On VAT fraud, the annual report says HMRC has: "Substantially resolved the IT issues which were delaying the identification of some VAT debts", while fraud losses were up because of missing trader VAT rings being more active across Europe. It had got the VAT gap down from 15.9 per cent in 02/03 to 11.7 per cent (within 0.7 per cent of its 11 per cent target) in 04/05. However, it said: "Receipts in 2005-06 were affected by increased attacks on the system from Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud and the VAT gap rose to 14.5 per cent". In real terms, this meant an increase in missing trader fraud from £3.5bn to £4.75bn. Furthermore, having been told last April by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that it ought to do something about the tax credit debacle, it "embedded some compliance specialists" in its call centres, and improved its paper processes. But it failed to mention how last week the very same committee reported how poorly the department had managed to deal with the tax credit debacle. "The performance of the tax credit computer system has improved significantly. Major new software releases have been introduced delivering improvements in operational performance," the HMRC report said. "Billions of pounds...are still routinely overpaid to claimants. Very large amounts have to be written off...Changes have been made to the system, but who will be confident that they will make any difference?" said committee chair Edward Leigh last week. Neither did the HMRC mention how the very same committee had slapped its wrist just last December for letting the costs of its Aspire contract with Capgemini spiral from £3.5bn to £8.5bn. ®
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
14

Paris and Lara share a cell with rude speeder

CommentsComments We recently rolled out comments pages to most stories on the site, and it seems we opened a bit of a floodgate. You guys just won't shut up. And in the best traditions of appeasement we are announcing a new regular feature: a Best of Comments article. We may just be crazy.
Robin Lettice, 18 May 2007
7

Post Office to resell BT broadband

The circle of history completed yesterday, when BT announced it had signed up the Post Office as the first big customer for its nascent white label managed services venture. The Post Office will cough £750m over four years for BT Wholesale to provide the hardware and customer support grunt for it to become an all-out broadband and VoIP provider. Its 400,000 existing home phone customers will be migrated to the new setup "seamlessly" later in the year. There's no word yet on pricing. Post Office history buffs will note with some sadness that BT was spun out of the it in 1981. Now, losing physical business to deregulation, it has to turn to its more successful progeny to find a role in the electronic communications world. To complete the humiliation, when the Post Office launched its home phone service in 2005, BT sniped it was "stuck in the dark ages". Gavin Patterson, now BT's managing director of consumer and ventures, stuck the knife in: "If customers are looking for good value from the Post Office, frankly they're better off sticking to stamps." Oh, snap! White-labelled managed services is an important effort for BT, as part of its push to rollout new products more effectively across BT Wholesale, BT Retail, and BT Global Services. It's flogging the package as a way into the broadband communications market without the "operational and financial risk of running a network and developing new service offerings". ®
Christopher Williams, 18 May 2007
1

Naked doctors eat vultures in front of Freeview

LettersLetters We discovered this week that you, our dear readers, are really quite keen on your TV watching. How did we find this out? Well, call it an educated guess, based on the volume of letters we had in response to Kewney's column about the horrors that have befallen him and his Virgin TV account: Guy, If you really can't cancel your Virgin account after ten minutes on the telephone do it by letter. Send a recorded delivery letter to the company secretary at their registered address. RD letters can be tracked on the Post Office website, hence proof of time of delivery. The existence of the company's registered address and of the company secretary are required by the Compnies Act so if, as is quite likely, your letter is ignored the problem is Virgin's not yours. The staff at registered addresses are unacustomed to dealing with low level administration and will either forward your letter marked "do it now or else", or put it in the special file that the office cleaners empty every night. Either way you win. John Of all your complaints the issue with the poor quality of DVR recordings is the one I can relate to most. I find it increasingly frustrating that DVR technology is so poor, and it seems to me that the technology is fundamentally flawed. As for the broadband quotas they're imposing, I sympathise and agree they're ridiculously low. It appears no one working for Virgin is aware of the current everyday uses for internet connections, let alone what will almost certainly become mainstream in the near future. But to blame these quotas on people using the connections they've paid for is absurd. If you buy a 4Mbit connection why can't you use that connection as much as you want? Do Western Digital come into your home and swap out your hard drive for one half the size; saying you’ve stored over 20gb, and you’re abusing the service we sold you. To cut people’s internet connections in half because they decide to make use of them during the hours they're awake and not at work seems to be grounds for trading standards investigations. So quitting your service and looking for someone that doesn't blame their inadequate investment in infrastructure on everyday internet use seems to be a good move to me. And it can be done. I live in Alaska for God’s sake, yet I pay about 150 quid a month for TV (including the equivalent of Sky Sports, 3 movie networks, SF and so on), telephone services, mobile phone services and unlimited downloads on a 4Mbit cable modem connection. I don't live in a street by myself. I live in a city of close to 250,000 other broadband internet users, and my local cable company doesn't seem to have a problem delivering modern day internet services as and when I need them. No one buys the bandwidth capacity to cover 100% usage of the services they sell, but most analyse what they currently need, allow for expansion and then make their investment. They don't look at what we did in the 90s and say anything more is abuse of service. How is Virgin going to cope when video conferencing, peer to peer distribution of business application upgrades, IPTV and the distribution from Hollywood of movies to HDTV owners the same day they’re delivered to cinemas becomes as normal as VOIP is today? I can’t really see them lasting that long if they can’t cope with a few gigabytes of data being downloaded during normal usage hours. They will have to actually go out and buy the bandwidth they need to support the services they’re selling at premium prices – or they will have to go out of business. Andy Don't just blame Virgin - Sky is on its way out at our home for many of the same failings. I think we're going to try Homechoice again, even if it has been polluted by Tiscali! Tim. The sorry state of affairs is that your worse off with SKY. I left sky because of how appalling they were, Now ive left Virgin because of the spat with the channels. I dont see why you should pay a premium service charger for what is basically freeview! I was on Telewest, it wasnt that bad. Since the whole NTL/Virgin Media disaster its been getting worse. I dread each firmware upgrade on the box, wondering what new machevelian nightmare awaits me when I open the Guide. It looks like the best bet is a freeview box and Bittorrent. Many people would happily pay for Heroes etc, but the official downloads are normally slower and worse quality than the HDTV rips that come in from the USA. Why does the TV industry think we will pay through the nose for poor quality service? And then get forced to watch their adverts too.. Oh and dont forget its pay-per-view for any recent movie/sports event on top of the adds and subscription. The more people that leave Virgin the better, but they better stay clear of SKY too. When they all buy a freeview box maybe both companies will get a clue. Jason. Well, as for the Sky thingy, it would probably have had to change to £100 per month to cover Sky's increased demands. That they didn't knock off the £30 or whatever Sky standard subs included in the package is despicable. As for me, I'm dropping down the broadband speed. If they say they can't move me to that scheme because I'm a current customer, then I'll become an ex-customer. Mark I guess you did not search on Google for "Dear Cretins" before signing up. I suggest you do now to understand your chance of successfully unsubscribing yourself. And don't you dare cancelling the subscription "because it does not work". You will have the collection agency right up your street next month. It is a consumer service, it is not obliged to work all the time. In fact you are not entitled to complain until it is totally dead for at least a week or more (except possibly the phone). This is by the way the opinion on the subject of Trading standards (at least in Cambridge). In a hindsight, I should have recorded that, shows how much help you are going to get from the consumer watchdog. Anton Next, we have a particularly prickly response to news that snow in Antarctica melted quite a bit in 2005. Almost as if we'd said we'd seen a yeti out on the ice cap with a blowtorch... Scare mongers are us. You obviously don't get out much. When science becomes politics, science is cooked. More and more prominent scienstist are saying destroying the US economy won't do anything accept make socialsit Europe happy in their lounge chairs and hammocks. NASA blows whistle to get funding, what's new about that ... One socialist talking to socilsits everywhere to get the masses to buy socialism hoax. Look to the sun for answers and pay attention to all those signs with "grape, vine and wine" in their names, and ask -- I wonder where those names came from. History is your friend. If all else fails you can always try running around naked screaming "we are all gonna die". Because we are. John Nice try, but we're not going to fall for that "naked" ploy... Cambridge University Library has put Darwin's letters online. This is a wonderful resource, to be sure, but you, in common with most of Team Reg, were more interested in Darwin's confession of stinky feet: "Stinky", particularly in a 19th century context? "Smelly" please, and kick the sub-editor's arse (which he or she would probably call an ass) from me if you have a moment to spare. Kit The writer has only herself to blame for that particular stink. But we'll see what we can arrange for the sub, anyway. The demise of the Medical Training Application Service probably sent champagne corks off popping across the country. We imagine that even proximity to a medically qualified person would have a discernable happy effect, due to psychic leakage. Er...never mind. But anyway, the point is, that doctors really didn't like this system, and are not especially keen on dear old Hewitt either. As this letter makes abundantly clear: If journalists were selected according to how well they can tell a story in 150 words, the technique might have some validity. To do the same with doctors because it can be done cheaply was the product of some Lord Birt-like blue sky thinking, and is a sad reflection of the poverty of thought in the Department of Health. Sometimes blue skies should be left alone to be blue. Barrington We need to explain here that journalists are actually selected according to how quickly they can write 150 words and head to the nearest pub. Speeling is optional. Now for some feedback from the last letters round up, in which we discussed beer. Oh yes we did. 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. I suppose given that we're no longer in the 1970s, it is possible to find good lager in Britain and some of it is very fine beer indeed, but really... That's the kind of thing to send shudders down the spine of long-standing CAMRA members like me. But the reason I wrote this is to mention that the US gallon is an English gallon - the old Queen Anne wine gallon. The imperial gallon is a different English gallon - the UK ('cos it was the whole UK dealt with when the current imperial system was introduced in the 19th century) and the USA just standardised on different versions of English gallons, that's all. Oh yeah, and 40 rods to the hogshead, eh? Right - well, one hogshead is apparently `about 50 imperial gallons' and a rod (or pole or perch) is 16.5' or 1/320th of a statute mile. So 40 rods is 1/8th mile and even bloody main battle tanks manage better than 1/400th of a mile per gallon... Thing is, did anyone ever see any sign that Homer can do arithmetic? Yes yes I know but I don't care. Rowland. And that would be a perfect place to sign off for the weekend, except that we also had this arrive in our inbox this week. We've discussed this with our lawyers (the imaginary ones) and all we're saying is "No comment": I'm not sure to whom on the register staff I should be sending this. So I'm sending this to you as you had a byline on a Letters column. If you're not the appropriate addressee, I'd appreciate it if you'd forward it on to the proper individual. My question is: Why is the Register messing with a body farm here in the lovely state of Texas? "Vultures pick off human body farm" We're just trying to practice some science. And chain saws will (probably) not be involved. What gives? Respectfully yours, Glenn M Austin, TX Well, we've got to eat, right? Enjoy the weekend. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2007
1

US company touts Windows Vista fridge magnet

California-based Ricavision has thrown itself into the spirit of Windows Vista SideShow technoology - you know, the mini display that operates as an adjunct to main screens, even when host computer its powered down. This week, the company should three gagdets it hopes to bring to market.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007
EU flag
1

Tandberg touts VXA to Euro channels

The market for tape drives may be declining, but that doesn't mean it's dead or unprofitable, declared Tandberg Data as it launched a European version of the VXA Alliance, its vehicle for convincing resellers to adopt the ex-Exabyte VXA tape format.
Bryan Betts, 18 May 2007

Nokia launches, doesn't show 'traditional' talk phone

Nokia's 3109 Classic, announced today, has been on the cards since its presence was discovered in hidden Nokia XML files back in April. The mystery phone was launched without any indication as to what it might look like.
Tony Smith, 18 May 2007
1

Hatchling stars revealed in new Spitzer snap

Gorgeous new pictures from the Spitzer space telescope show newborn stars "hatching" from the head of the Orion constellation. NASA says it is likely that the wave of star formation we are witnessing here was triggered by a shockwave from a star that exploded more than three million years ago. The region in the picture is called Barnard-30, and lies around 1,300 light years from Earth. As Spitzer is an infrared telescope, it can see through clouds of dust to reveal what lies beneath. It also means the image is false colour, each colour revealing more than would appear at first sight. In this image, organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are tinted green. These molecules are formed any time carbon-based materials are burned incompletely: for example in the sooty exhaust from car and plane engines. Dust particles that have been heated slightly by the newly formed stars have been coloured in orange-red, while new young stars take on a reddish-pink tone. Blue spots throughout the image are background Milky Way stars along this line of sight. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 May 2007
18

Mobile blocking helicopter to trail Bush in Sydney

US President George Bush will be followed about by a helicopter which jams mobile phone signals during an upcoming visit to Australia, it has emerged. According to reports in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, train stations will also be temporarily shut down and parts of the city will "become restricted areas". The Age speculates that "heavily armed [Australian] SAS troops" could be deployed on the Sydney streets, with "expanded rights to shoot to kill". President Bush is to visit Sydney along with 20 other world leaders in September for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit. The summit and President Bush have been seen as a likely target for terrorist attacks on previous occasions. The rash of news reports into APEC security comes as New South Wales state premier Morris Iemma announces likely measures and proposes temporary legislation on security powers. Conjecture around the phone-jamming helicopter has arisen as a result of its appearance in attendance on Mr Bush at the 2005 APEC summit in South Korea. Reporters covering the conference said that a Black Hawk chopper would shadow the presidential motorcade, and as it passed overhead mobile phones would lose touch with the local network. "Whenever Mr Bush visits a foreign country local sovereignty is surrendered to US authorities as he moves around in heavily armoured vehicles that follow him around the globe," said the Telegraph. Jamming technology employed to prevent command-detonated bombs functioning is nothing new, of course. British infantrymen would carry man-portable jammers on patrol in Northern Ireland decades ago, and security geeks in London might note similar equipment (in smarter backpacks) occasionally being carried by guardsmen engaged in public ceremonies. On the UK mainland at least, it's unusual to employ aggressive active jamming on important civilian frequencies, but it could be that South Korean authorities take a firmer line. Those in Thailand, for instance, are thought to do so routinely. The Australian authorities seem willing to kick plenty of electronic arse in order to avoid having Mr Bush bumped off on their territory, but they may balk at cutting off mobile phone. Even if they're happy to do that, there are still hundreds of other consumer gadgets for bomb-makers to exploit and they can't all realistically be jammed. One type of kit which it's particularly hard to get permission to mess with is hospital beeper systems; and that's not the only example. Quite apart from all that, Mr Bush's entourage and security detail will need to keep at least some frequencies open for their own use. Nonetheless, it's likely that Mr Bush will move about in a bubble of electronic interception to some degree. But his jamming gear might not, in fact, be in a helicopter. It would be more normal for such kit to be in the motorcade. The 2005 Pusan Blackhawk could well have been there for different reasons. One thing's for sure - the Aussies intend to be ready. Major security exercises are underway even now, according to the Age. Strangely, they are said to be codenamed "Blue Luminary 2", suggesting that the Antipodeans aren't aware of Mr Bush's electoral base. Or, of course, that they are. ®
Lewis Page, 18 May 2007
Microsoft
22

Microsoft squares up to Google with $6bn buy

Microsoft today opened a new front in its war with Google for online advertising dollars, with a $6bn cash offer for the Seattle-based online advertising group aQuantive.
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
5

Adware firm sues over adware classification

Adware company Zango is taking another crack at suing a desktop-security software firm for deeming its software undesirable. Zango filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court in Seattle Tuesday, against PC Tools and its free Spyware Doctor program bundled with Google Pack. The filing claims that Spyware Doctor illegally removes Zango software from users' PCs without their expressed permission. Zango (formerly 180solutions) adware is classified in the program as an "elevated" threat. Zango is asking for $35m in damages for the "irreparable harm" caused by the classification of its software which has been "consensually installed by millions of users". The company attempted a similar action against Zone Labs in 2005 for the firm's personal firewall software labeling the advertising client as spyware. In 2006, US Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Zango over complaints over sneaky adware installs by its affiliates. Zango agreed to pay $3m and agreed to make sure its software is only installed with user consent. A week after the settlement, security researchers discovered pages on MySpace containing YouTube videos bundled with a Zango Cash adware installer - an application that loads pop-up advertising software in PCs. Surfers were lured into a site called "Yootube.info," and asked to accept an end-user licensing agreement to watch the video. If the user accepted the video, Zango Cash would install on the computer. Zango claims that it has cleaned up its act since then. ® Bootnote At the blog of rival anti-spyware firm Sunbelt Software, Alex Eckelberry points out that Spyware Doctor does, in fact, appear to give a warning before deleting Zango software.
Austin Modine, 18 May 2007
Flag India
53

Indian dealers are squealers over Microsoft piracy raids

Computer dealers in Gujarat, India held a one-day strike to protest ongoing anti-piracy raids from Microsoft. India news portals itVARnews and CIOL report about 350 dealers joined in a statewide bandh (that's a general strike) initiated by Surat-based South Gujarat Information Technologists Association (SITA).
Austin Modine, 18 May 2007
Broken CD with wrench
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HP garage becomes national landmark

The renowned garage in Palo Alto which birthed PC titan Hewlett-Packard has been upgraded from merely state recognized landmark to getting nationally certified. That's the landmark big leagues. The garage and accompanying house at 367 Addison Avenue (pic here) has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, HP announced Thursday. Within the protective womb of its four walls, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939 conceived what would become the largest PC vendor in world. “The HP Garage has become a symbol of what can rise from humble beginnings with hard work and determination,” HP veep of brand management Gary Elliot said. “It’s an honor to be recognized by the National Park Service and we hope it will further spread these core HP values to a national audience.” Although the business stayed in the garage for a couple years only, HP and city of Palo Alto hail it as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. This claim is disputed by the neighboring city of Mountain View which points to the original location of Shockley Semiconductor Lab. But given that this is now an abandoned and boarded-up produce store doesn't lend to the glamor desired of such a landmark. HP's garage, on the other hand, was lovingly renovated by the company in 2004 to its original condition. Google got a bit of garage fever itself in 2006 when it purchased the lot where its founders established the company. And The Register? We set up shop in Mayfair, one of the most exclusive districts in London. How we struggled: our butler was terribly rude. ®
Austin Modine, 18 May 2007