Apple's iPhone has been given the green light to take a bite out of the US handset market as the firm bit back at false rumours that sent shares plummeting.
The US House of Representative's Committee on Homeland Security called this week for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to further investigate the cause of excessive network traffic that shut down an Alabama nuclear plant.
Poll resultPoll result It's official: by overwhelming popular demand, Norman Tebbit will replace Elijah Wood as Iggy Pop in forthcoming biopic The Passenger. To recap, we last week ran a poll to decide a suitable alternative to the Hobbit taking the lead in the $8m project, slated for release in 2008. To be honest, we weren't convinced that Wood could carry off Pop, and asked you to select an alternative. Well, Tory grandee Tebbit walked away with it, attracting 78 per cent of the vote - a whopping 21,643 - roundly thrashing runner-up Bernard Manning who polled just 4,033. Third spot went to the highly-talented Paris Hilton (376 votes), but since she's got a pressing engagement at an LA correctional facility, we doubt she'd be available anyway. And just to show how convincing Lord Tebbit would be belting out Lust for Life, we offer here our artist's impression of how we believe Norman Pop might look. Spooky. ® Bootnote Since our IP address-tracking multiple vote blocker was disabled for this poll, we suspect Conservative Central Office might have had a hand in the result. Mr Cameron, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Apple has found itself at the receiving end of a lawsuit alleging it played fast and loose with the way it promoted the abilities of the displays it builds into its MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.
A 400lb silverback male gorilla has injured four people after escaping from his compound at Rotterdam's Blijdorp zoo, the Telegraph reports. Bokito climbed the wall of his enclosure, crossed a moat, grabbed 57-year-old Petronella Yvonne de Horde and dragged her through a cafeteria, "sending chairs and tables flying as he went". Eyewitness Robert de Jonge recounted: "I saw the beast running through the park with a woman behind him, him grabbing her forearm. He bit her, or I think he bit her. His mouth was covered in blood." The three other victims were slightly injured in the rush to escape the rampaging animal, which was quickly recaptured. According to DutchNews, Bokito might have been provoked into action by kids seen throwing stones at him shortly before the attack. His victim may also have contributed to the incident - de Horde was a frequent visitor to the gorilla enclosure and, according to her daughter, "believed she had a 'special relationship' with Bokito". One keeper suggested the gorilla "may not have found De Horde submissive enough when she sought eye contact with him". Her husband Gerrit de Horde confirmed: "I know Bokito targeted my wife. We were looking at him and as we walked away we heard a splash and there he was behind us." Petronella Yvonne de Horde sustained a "broken wrist and lower arm, a crushed hand, and dozens of bites" in the attack. Her husband says her hand may never fully recover and added: "There will be a hefty damages claim. They knew he was an escape-risk. He'd done it before." Eleven-year-old Bokito was hand-raised in Germany, but sent to Blijdorp in 2005 because "he was too used to humans and did not show the desired group behaviour". His keeper Fred Rueb said his behaviour had altered in recent weeks "since another gorilla group with a dominant male had been moved to Shanghai". ®
The trial of a US Marine accused of murdering an Iraqi man will make use of Google Earth, according to a ruling last week. Corporal Trent Thomas is one of eight Marines accused of killing ex-policeman Hashim Ibrahim Awad in April last year. Technology issues have already figured in hearings regarding the slaying, as prosecution witnesses have testified that elaborate subterfuge was used to fool an overhead thermal-imagery surveillance drone. During pre-trial procedures in California last week, it emerged that Private Robert Pennington would make use of Google Earth imagery during his testimony at Corporal Thomas' trial. The satellite pictures would be used to lay out for jurors the key sites relating to Awad's death. Pennington has already reached a plea bargain with prosecutors, and is serving an eight-year sentence for his part in the affair. He was also demoted down from Lance-Corporal. The prosecution allege that the accused Marines had plotted to kidnap a suspected insurgent named Saleh Gowad, make it appear that they had surprised him planting a roadside bomb, and then shoot him. Unable to find Gowad, according to the prosecution, the troops seized Awad from his home at random and killed him instead. According to the North County Times, Pennington has created a "computerised map" of the area using Google Earth, which will be shown during Thomas' trial, set to commence on 9 July. Five of the eight accused Marines have reached plea bargains and received sentences ranging from one to eight years. Thomas and two co-defendants are all to be tried this summer. ®
Every so often one is privileged to bump into an IT application which prompts the response: "yes, that is damned good". One such, in my opinion, is the Mediatheque inside the British Film Institute (BFI) building in London's South Bank complex. What is a "Mediatheque"? For anyone who is a straight forward film buff or fan of old cinema, a cinematic historian or, like me, simply old enough to have memories of times worth being nostalgic about, it really is the place to go see.
Load balancing specialist Zeus Technology has ported its ZXTM traffic manager to Windows - by the simple expedient of wrapping its Linux software up as a Microsoft Virtual Server package.
Novell's deal with Microsoft (on behalf of its customers, of course) could end up benefiting everyone in the open source community after all, thanks to a missing expiration date and a nifty little clause in GPLv3.
Fujitsu has taken the wraps off what it claims is the first ever single-chip video decoder capable of numver-crunching the H.264 codec at HD resolutions.
Malware profiteers have created a trio of smartphone Trojans that send out premium-rate SMS messages from infected Symbian S60 devices. The Trojans, all members of the Viver strain, pose as utility programs for Symbian phones and have been uploaded to at least one popular file sharing site, anti-virus firm F-Secure reports.
Forget binary liquid explosives, a British Airways stewardess has shown how it's really done by popping her curry ready meal into a 747's club class microwave, with explosive results. The spicy blast - caused by the supermarket-bought nosh's inability to withstand the might of the double-strength airborne microwave - provoked crew on the Heathrow to Miami jaunt to deploy a fire extinguisher "to douse the blazing oven". The jumbo subsequently needed days of repairs totalling £20,000, The Sun notes. This prompted BA to circulate details of the incident in a secret email memo to long haul crews, chillingly entitled "Microwave incident". The missive notes that food intended for high-altitude reheating needs "special packaging" since the aircraft's ovens have twice the power output of your ground-based domestic model. Accordingly, staff are now banned from preparing their own tucker in 747s' club class microwaves. One BA employee lamented: "Many cabin crew like to bring their own meals to eat. At first we thought the microwaves were a godsend. But this unfortunate incident has left us with egg on our faces." BA stressed that at no time during the curry-based emergency were passengers or the aircraft at risk. ®
It's Griffin's smallest iTrip yet: a dinky FM transmitter designed to fit the shape of Apple's iPod Nano but is as happy connected to any other dockable iPod.
Sony is indeed preparing an 80GB PlayStation 3, the company confirmed today, but so far it's only due to go on sale in South Korea.
LG announced its Z1 Dual LCD laptop in February. At the time, it said it would announce the two-screen machine's availability at a later date. Three months on, it has at last brought the laptop to market, though it's failed to avail itself of new processors released in the meantime.
ReviewReview There's a new addition to the BlackBerry line up, to slot neatly in between the Pearl and 8800. The Curve 8300 features a full QWERTY keyboard, but without making the unit overly large. It's certainly more consumer-focused than the 8800, but that doesn't mean it can't turn its hand to business when the time comes.
The disaster recovery business has been keeping Phoenix IT Group heading skyward.
Police have shut down an online voucher system allegedly used by Russian music download website allofmp3.com to get around the recent removal of its card processing facilities in the UK and Europe. An unnamed 25-year-old man, allegedly the UK-based European agent for allofmp3.com, was arrested under the Fraud Act following a police raid in the east end of London earlier this month. The bust followed an investigation by global recording industry body IFPI and the BPI, the UK record companies' association. The arrested man is accused of advertising and selling allofmp3.com vouchers through auction sites such as eBay and the website allofmp3vouchers.co.uk. The vouchers (typically valued at around £10) contained an access code that allowed punters to download tracks from allofmp3.com. Investigators reckon the suspect transferred cash to allofmp3.com via various offshore accounts operated by the site's Russian owners. Early estimates suggest the operation generated tens of thousands of pounds. The website allofmp3vouchers.co.uk has been taken offline following the bust, during which Metropolitan Police officers seized computer kit and paperwork for further investigation. The unlicensed sale of music became a criminal offence in the UK under Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. It is the first time the new law has been applied in a copyright-related case. In a statement, the BPI described the raid as a significant step towards the demise of allofmp3.com, once described as the UK's second most popular digital music site after iTunes. The "illegal" Russian website is running out of payment options as the law closes in, according to the BPI. Credit card issuers and online payment firms such as PayPal have withdrawn payment facilities from allofmp3.com following complaints over copyright infringement earlier this year. Allofmp3.com faces ongoing criminal proceedings in Russia as well as a raft of civil actions against it by the music industry internationally. Allofmp3.com says that it pays record companies and artists via an agreement with a Russian copyright organisation, ROMS. The BPI said none of its record companies have allowed ROMS to license the sale of their music via the internet either in Russia or anywhere else. Furthermore, ROMS has been booted out of CISAC, the international copyright confederation. "Allofmp3.com is an illegal download service and the decision by major credit cards and payment services no longer to support it amply demonstrates that fact," said BPI chief exec Geoff Taylor. "British music fans should beware of voucher schemes like this one that seek to prop up an illegal service that rips off artists." ®
US engineering boffins believe they have found a way to make existing cars run on aluminium pellets. The process involves generating hydrogen from water onboard the vehicle, which removes the need to store hydrogen in a tank. Fuel-tank design is one of the main challenges facing hydrogen car designers, and at present involves serious difficulties. The insulated cryogenic tank in BMW's Hydrogen Seven demonstrator car, as an example, will lose its entire contents to boil-off in matter of days. This doesn't just strand the vehicle (or compel its driver to use the backup petrol tank): it also means that a fuelled-up Hydrogen Seven can't be parked in an enclosed space, lest a dangerous buildup of explosive gas develop. But boffins led by Professor Jerry Woodall of Purdue University reckon they've managed to sidestep this snag. In their process, water is combined with an alloy of aluminium and gallium. The aluminium oxidises, releasing gaseous hydrogen which could then be used to fuel a conventional car engine as in the Hydrogen Seven. The role of the gallium additive is to prevent a skin of oxide forming on the surface of the aluminium and allow all the metal to be used. Woodall came across the reaction by accident in the course of research into semiconductors. "I was cleaning a crucible containing liquid alloys of gallium and aluminum," he says. "When I added water to this alloy - talk about a discovery - there was a violent poof."* The only exhaust from a hydrogen-fuelled car engine would be water vapour. However, waste aluminium oxide (or alumina) and gallium would also be produced in this case. "The gallium doesn't react," says Woodall. "So it doesn't get used up and can be recycled over and over again." The alumina would also be recycled under Woodall's plan, using a process called fused salt electrolysis. This requires large amounts of electricity (as does the initial production of aluminium from bauxite), so the overall process is essentially a way of storing electric power in aluminium pellets and releasing it as hydrogen at the point of use. Aluminium at the moment costs $1 per pound, which according to Woodall means that an aluminium/gallium/hydrogen car would cost more to run than than an ordinary one using petrol at $3 to the gallon. But he reckons that recycling the waste alumina at nuclear powerplants would bring the costs down. Cutting out electrical power distribution would enable the juice to be used more efficiently. "A midsize car with a full tank of aluminum-gallium pellets, which amounts to about 350 pounds of aluminum, could take a 350-mile trip and it would cost $60, assuming the alumina is converted back to aluminum on-site at a nuclear power plant," said the professor. "How does this compare with conventional technology? Well, if I put gasoline in a tank, I get six kilowatt hours per pound, or about two and a half times the energy than I get for a pound of aluminum. So I need about two and a half times the weight of aluminum to get the same energy output, but I eliminate gasoline entirely, and I am using a resource that is cheap and abundant in the United States. If only the energy of the generated hydrogen is used, then the aluminum-gallium alloy would require about the same space as a tank of gasoline, so no extra room would be needed, and the added weight would be the equivalent of an extra passenger, albeit a pretty large extra passenger." And converting existing cars wouldn't be too difficult, according to Woodall. "It's a simple matter to convert ordinary internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen," he says. "All you have to do is replace the gasoline fuel injector with a hydrogen injector." The process could also potentially be used in combination with hydrogen fuel-cell technology to great advantage. "When and if fuel cells become economically viable, our method would compete with gasoline at $3 per gallon even if aluminum costs more than a dollar per pound," says Woodall. More details from Purdue here. ® *From the hydrogen exploding, we assume
Nicholas Negroponte, the man behind the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has hit out at chipmaker Intel, saying the firm should be "ashamed of itself" for mucking around with OLPC's plans to get affordable laptop computers to children in developing countries. Negroponte says Intel is selling its competing low-cost kiddie computer "Classmate" for less than cost. He says this is undercutting his own scheme and has hurt his plans "enormously", the BBC reports. Intel denies the allegations, saying Intel's motives are the same as Negroponte's: to bring technology to young people. It also shrugged off allegations of negative marketing campaigns - that the firm has been distributing leaflets outlining the "shortcomings of the OLPC approach" in developing markets. CEO Craig Barrett said: "Someone at Intel was comparing the Classmate PC with another device being offered in the marketplace. That's the way our business works." He added that he saw plenty of opportunities for the two organisations to work together. But Negroponte told US broadcaster CBS that because the OLPC machine is based on an AMD processor, he was caught up in a long running war between the two chipmakers. "Intel and AMD fight viciously," he told CBS. "We're just sort of caught in the middle." ®
Scientists in the UK and the US have joined forces to build a new $100m, 25 metre infrared telescope in the high Chilean desert. The latest addition to the team, the University of Colorado at Boulder, signed on late last week. The Cornell Caltech Atacama Telescope, or CCAT, is designed to work alongside the proposed Atacama Large Millimeter Array, ALMA. This is also planned for construction in Chile. The idea is that CCAT will scan the skies for interesting things, and ALMA will be able to zoom in for a closer look. The telescope should be completed by 2013, when researchers will turn its gaze towards the outer reaches of the solar system, to stellar nurseries, and even distant galaxies. When it is finished, it will be the largest and most precise ground-based infrared observatory in the world. It will also be the highest - being located in the Atacama desert, some 18,000 feet above sea level. Water vapour is the enemy when dealing with the sub-millimetre section of the electro-magnetic spectrum in which the scope will set its sights. This makes Atacama the idea location for the 'scope, because as well as its altitude, it is extremely dry. Associate Professor Jason Glenn from the University of Colorado commented: "This facility will enable us to study the earliest stages of star and galaxy formation, as well as the initial conditions of the solar systems like our own. [It] will be up to 30 times more sensitive than existing sub-millimeter telescopes, allowing us to look back in time to when galaxies first appeared." Over half the cash needed for the project has already been secured from major backers, but now the research institutions, including CalTech, Cornell, and the UK's Astronomy Technology Centre are ramping up efforts to find another $50m. ®
The era of Robocop - and perhaps of the surveillance society - came a step nearer today with the announcement that Merseyside plods have started trialling a flying police robot. The scally sky-patrolman, unlike military kill-bots such as the US Reaper, isn't intended for any active role. It is purely an observation platform, mounting CCTV with a range of imaging options. The Scouse law-enforcers' eye in the sky is the "hicam microdrone", a German battery-powered quad-rotor helicopter which weighs less than 1kg and is less than 1 metre in diameter, according to reports. The diminutive cyber-copter can apparently stay up for 20 minutes per battery charge and its UK distributors say that it is capable of "immediate deployment from car/dog van/other." YouTube footage is available here. The microdrone apparently has a highly capable autopilot, making it much easier to fly than a normal remote-control helicopter. A spokesman for the machine's UK distributor said "it is pretty much forward, back, left, right and record". Apparently, the microdrone is exempt from air-traffic restrictions in much the same way toy aircraft are. The autopilot can navigate GPS waypoints or hover autonomously, and is also capable of landing itself if the control signal is lost. The flying robo-constable is also "almost silent" in use, and "allows entirely covert operation". The UK distributor spokesman said the aircraft are "military derived...obviously I can't talk too much about that particular use...they are essentially reconnaissance tools." Since the microdrone isn't listed among those used by the regular UK military, this might indicate that the British special forces have taken an interest in the diminutive stealth-chopper, perhaps in a counter-terrorism role. This would fit in with the Merseyside plods' reported plans to test it in firearms operations, as well as for more mundane tasks such as monitoring traffic congestion and crowds. According to the Guardian, the spy drone will also "track criminals and record anti-social behaviour". Given the aircraft's attributes, conspiracy theorists will be pleased to note that it seems to be available in just one colour: black. ®
TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners (GSCP) have agreed a deal to purchase US mobile operator Alltel in a $27.5bn deal. The agreement will see the investment firms acquire all outstanding Alltel stock for $71.50 per share, which represents a 23 percent premium on Alltel's closing price prior to the first time it was touted as a buyout target on 29 December.
TV enabled handsets will reach a staggering 244 million devices by 2011, according to a new report. This is almost double the number previously forecast, and was reached by a detailed look into the likely mobile TV launch dates and the uptake rate expected in 55 countries. The report was published in the US by Multimedia Research Group, but was written by Rethink Research Associates in the UK. It shows the rapid increase anticipated in handsets annually, with huge leaps during 2009 especially (see graph below), when 53 million broadcast TV enabled handsets are expected to ship. "There are over 80 mobile TV trials all over the world and already there are a handful of services launched. The bulk of those trials are already committed to turn into genuine services, in some cases with a nationwide footprint, in other countries in limited regions," said report author Peter White, principal analyst at Rethink. "This forecast is not including video services which are streamed over a cellular network, because that has largely been a slow burn business, due to its low screen resolution and the careful management it needs so that it doesn't interfere with voice. Most of these new handsets will deliver QVGA quality screens, where voices and lips are synchronised, where there is no shadowing on the screen, and where the resolution is good enough to watch for 30 minutes at a time and beyond," White said. Initiatives in Japan and South Korea have been launched for some time using technologies which are largely unfavoured in the rest of the world, but last year Italy launched two DVB-H based services and now Qualcomm's MediaFLO is aggressively going after the US market with deals that take in Verizon Wireless and AT&T as resellers. Around 80 pilots have been carried out globally and the trickle of current services will reach a torrent of some 50 to 60 services during 2009, led by developments in China and Asia Pacific, where the report says 105 million handsets will ship. It says this will be followed by strong showings in Western Europe and the US, which will ship 73 million and 40 million mobile TV capable handsets by 2011 respectively. According to the report, service revenues from the global mobile TV market will exceed $24bn annually by 2011, with Western Europe likely to lead in revenue terms at over $10bn, followed by the USA and Canada at $7.7bn, and China and the Far East lagging at $5bn, despite higher usage levels. ®
China's National Space Administration (NSA) is planning to send a probe to the moon later this year, according to reports. The state-controlled Xinhau news agency reports that Sun Laiyan, director of the NSA, was speaking at Beijing Jiaotong University. He said: "The moon probe project is the third milestone in China's space technology after satellite and manned spacecraft projects, and a first step for us in exploring deep space." China says its space programme will advance in three stages: the first is "circling the moon", the second; "landing on the moon", and the third "returning to Earth". For the sake of the astronauts, we hope there is not too much of a gap between stages two and three*. Mission planners say the lander mission, with a moon rover, is slated for 2012. Meanwhile, manned missions will also continue. China says the next step will be to try spacewalking and docking two orbiting vehicles. Sun obliquely acknowledged international concern over China flexing its spacefaring muscles. He said: "Space technology reflects a nation's overall power and is an important facet of the modernisation of national defence. If China had no atomic bombs or hydrogen bombs and had not launched its first satellite since the 1960s, China could not be called an influential country and would not enjoy the same international status." The space agency chief also said China will launch a network of more than 30 satellites to establish its own navigation and positioning system, as well as 12 North Dipper satellites, which will sit in geostationary orbits, according to a Reuters report. ® *We are joking. We know it is a sample return mission, not an astronaut-return flight. Now, g'way.
Telecoms company Thus, spun off from Scottish Power in 1999, pulled in revenues of £532.7m in the year ended 31 March 2007. While this was 52 per cent up on the previous 12 months, the firm still managed an operating loss of £9.5m. Operating losses during the previous year were £11.6m, so things are going in the right direction, if slowly. Thus has had an interesting year, announcing several high profile contracts to provide broadband in the Highlands, as well as decent customer wins away from home. The company has also been busy integrating it's acquisitions, Legend and Your Communications, a process which has "proceeded ahead of plan with increased synergy savings for less cost than originally anticipated", chief executive William Allen said. This involved the culling of 280 jobs, as well as removal of other duplicated resources, which were predicted to save the company £25m a year. Allen then trumpeted the company's claim that 55 per cent of its gross is now coming from next-generation customers - those not using basic voice, leased lines, frame relay or ATM services - before promising that this will be the year when Thus finally moves into operating profit. ®
Larry Ellison's ambitions to lift the America's Cup have sunk beneath the Med after his BMW Oracle Racing Team went down 5-1 to Italian sail worriers Luna Rossa Challenge in the waters off Valencia, InfoWorld reports.
Mobile operators have been crowned as the future kingmakers of digital music so many times, the coronet must be getting pretty greasy by now. But how do operators choose what goes on the coveted, and extremely limited promotion space on a mobile music site's home screen? Richard Wheeler, head of music partnerships for Orange, helped shed some light on the subject on Friday at MusicAlly's digital music convention, part of Brighton's Great Escape festival. When the subject was first raised in a panel discussion, Wheeler, who joined Orange from Sanctuary, agreed that it was truly valuable real estate. Mobile users will only get to see 10, or at most 20 picks because of limited screen size and bandwidth. So to that end, Orange was developing sophisticated recommendation engines based on pinpoint demographics, he said. A few minutes later, he augmented this with an answer that might be somewhere nearer the truth. He admitted: "Yes, placement is based on the margin we get from the labels." In other words, Orange will promote songs on which it stands to make the most money. The other panelists, from mobile operators T-Mobile and O2, looked sheepish. It's as well there weren't any journalists on hand to record the admission. Well, just one or two. Orange UK offered us this clarification: "Orange's standard portal placement and customer recommended content are two entirely separate strategies that currently work well sitting alongside each other. Currently, our content is chosen by an editorial team based on song popularity. However, we are considering choosing featured content based upon margin." But successive panels on mobile music showed that a cold wave of realism is blowing through the operators, as well as considerable wariness of Apple. Panel moderator Steve Mayall from MusicAlly noted that operator 3's downloads had remained flat, at around a million month - and 3 is raising its prices saying the business wasn't economical (3 wasn't there to answer back) O2's head of music Matt Cockett said the days of operators throwing seven figure sums at individual artists were over. It didn't pay, he said. In one case last year, saturation promotion had actually resulted in the artist's sales declining that month. The ringtone business is also showing signs of cooling off - with UMG saying revenues were down 20 per cent year on year. However, ringback tones - which is the song you hear when the call recipient is away or busy - have been a bonanza in Asia, but have yet to catch on in Europe - that's potentially a $2bn a year business waiting to happen (ringtone revenues dwarf the amounts raised by online download stores such as Apple and Napster: they grossed $6.6bn last year, as Steve Gordon explained here). But Rob Lewis, whose Omnifone venture has unflinchingly addressed many of the problems of mobile music, saw more reason for optimism. Nokia's market research showed that the desire to have consumer music on the one device - the phone - wasn't being fulfiled. Only 10 to 15 per cent of users played music on their phones, and those users acquired an average of six tracks a year. "Nine out of 10 people haven't joined the digital revolution yet," he said. "The iPod is a bit of a pain: you need a PC and a credit card, and you need wires to sync. It's not something your grandmother can use." He said the operators were in "the Last Chance Saloon". The real market was a billion mobiles, not "10 million iPods". Lewis' MusicStation service promises a "celestial radio" of any music, on any device, anywhere - for £1.99 a month. He's gradually fleshing out the promise: 30 carriers have been signed up, and it reaches 70 per cent of the mobile handset market. It just has to be dead simple to use, he said. "Simplicity is what can beat an iPod". We'll get a chance to see how the market responds to this proposition later this year, when MusicStation rolls out. The iPhone may have been labelled "Newton 2.0" outside the US, where it's viewed as attractive rather than essential, but Lewis said the operators were far more terrified of the iPhone than they let on. "Manufacturers are now very worried about the high-end consumer leaving the Samsung and the Motorolas." ®
Top boffins from the European Space Agency (ESA) are to meet in Paris this week to vote on plans for a European mission to Mars. The BBC reports that delegates will be asked to choose between two options: the original plan, and a scaled up, more expensive mission that would free the mission from reliance on American kit for communications. This is, for once, not a willy-waving issue. Often, the US and European space scientists suffer from a little competitiveness, but this time there are serious concerns about the sense of sending a mission to Mars that is entirely dependent on someone else's older kit to get its data back to Earth. The need for an independent communications system was underlined by the demise of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, which was upgraded to glory in the middle of last year, and has not communicated since November 2006. But sending communications kit along with the original ExoMars mission means a heavier spacecraft, which in turn means a bigger launch rocket, a more complex landing system, and that is where the costs start to pile up. Bruno Gardini, a member of the ExoMars project team, says the ESA's goal is to maximise scientific return on its investment. But ExoMars is more than an isolated mission - it is part of the Aurora project, in which ESA hopes to put European astronauts on Mars. The future of this mission will, in a sense, determine the future of European space exploration. If tomorrow's vote goes in favour of the heavy lifter option, the ExoMars mission will be able to take additional instruments, too: a geophysical package and remote orbital sensing of the red planet would become possibilities. ®
Telelogic is updating its model-driven development suite for SOA, as part of a move to meet requirements of more "mainstream" IT users. The company today announced Telelogic Systems Architect for SOA, a "major update" to version 10.7 of its Systems Architect product, along with Tau 3.1, an update to its system design and development environment packing support for the latest Java and XML specifications to describe network services.
Users of Norton Personal Firewall have been urged to update their software following the discovery of a serious vulnerability in the security package. A stack-based buffer overflow vulnerability involving ActiveX controls creates a means for hackers to inject hostile code onto vulnerable systems, Symantec warns. The security bug affects Norton Internet Security 2004, Norton Internet Security 2004 Professional and Norton Personal Firewall 2004. Later versions of the security packages are not affected by the flaw, which means the majority of Symantec personal firewall users are already in the clear.
IBM's protracted Power6 dance ended today with the revelation of a midrange server that shows blistering benchmark numbers. Big Blue has announced a revamped version of its p 570 system that can hold one to eight of the new 4.7GHz dual-core Power6 chips. When running the TPC benchmark, an eight-way version of the p 570 reached a score of 1.6m, which IBM reckons is three times the performance per core of HP's top Itanium-based Superdome server. The bad news, however, is that customers won't be able to buy the exact IBM box and software used in the TPC test until late November. HP is expected to have updated its Itanium servers by then.
The Wall Street Journal has a hunch that Salesforce.com and Google have plans to further team against mutual rival, Microsoft. An anonymous source familiar with the deal told the paper a new pact is expected to be announced in the next few weeks. The WSJ's inkling, however, runs disappointingly short of ink. The brief article didn't offer specifics on the proposed partnership, but suggested it would be along the lines of integrating Gmail with Salesforce.com's customer relationship management (CRM) software. Salesforce.com customers could use such a service to track their accounts. The deal carries with our Vulcan logic; after all, Google is already holding hands with Salesforce.com. For instance, Salesforce for Google Adwords allows Salesforce.com customers to more efficiently buy Google search terms for online advertising. Both companies also share Microsoft as a rival. Google wants to chip away at the armor of Microsoft Office with its Google Apps online suite. Microsoft and Google have also been butting heads in the search, advertising and web email business. Salesforce.com can see on the horizon the release of Microsoft's own hosted, on-demand customer relationship management service — expected to arrive some time in the third quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Salesforce.com is beefing up its compatibility with outside offerings. It announced today an extension to its Apex programming language and framework, which will allow data to move between different applications. Revealed at the company's developer conference, Salesforce SOA allows developers mash-up different applications through web protocols with custom-written code hosted and run by Salesforce.com. The company said the application would allow its business processes to incorporate other web services such as Oracle Financials, SAP Order Management and FedEx. Apex and Salesforce SOA are expected to be available in December. ®
Under growing pressure to do more to protect underage members, MySpace has agreed to give state authorities details about registered sex offenders known to have been users. The decision, announced Monday, resolves last week's standoff in which the News Corp.-owned site refused to turn over the data because law enforcement officials hadn't followed the required legal process.
Symantec and Huawei have concocted a rather fascinating arrangement to go after the security and storage markets in China. The vendors today revealed that they will, as rumored, create a joint venture to sell appliance-like systems based on Huawei's hardware and Symantec's software.
EMC released a smörgåsbord of data protection products at the EMC World conference today, including a new virtual tape library line starting at *pinky to lip* one million dollars.
Site newsSite news Interop, the mothership of all enterprise computing shows, touches down on Las Vegas tomorrow. And The Register is coming along for the ride. We have a small booth - no 884 - but as an uncontrolled circulation, freely available internet publication, we are a little light on things to actually exhibit. So we have decided in the time-honored computer show tradition to give away Reg t-shirts instead. Come and meet us Tuesday and Wednesday and collect your free Reg t-shirt. Drop by us on Thursday wearing your Reg t-shirt and we will enter you into a prize draw for a Sony PS3. See you there...®