IBM squeaked by Hewlett-Packard to maintain its top position in worldwide server revenue during the first quarter this year, according to a new report.
Juniper Networks and Microsoft want to ease the burden on the tired souls tasked with deploying network access control in the enterprise, announcing plans to make Juniper's Unified Access Control (UAC) interoperate with Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP).
Digital x-ray archiving is live across London's hospitals and will cover the rest of England by next year. The Department of Health has announced that the digital Picture Archiving and Communications System (Pacs), a key part of the NHS National Programme for IT, has gone live in every hospital trust in London and will be available across England by 2008. Richard Granger, director general of the NHS IT programme, said on 21 May 2007: "The achievement with digital imaging here in London is an important part of the bigger picture in which hundreds of new systems have already been installed, benefiting tens of thousands of clinicians and millions of patients." Pacs replaces the method of capturing x-ray and scans on film and paper by enabling clinical images to be stored electronically and viewed on screen. Healthcare professionals can look at any number of images at computer terminals across NHS trusts. According to the Department of Health, this will mean faster diagnoses for patients and a saving in excess of £6.2m in the first year of service - approximately £250,000 per year for each London trust. Health secretary Patricia Hewitt visited North London's Royal Free Hospital yesterday to see Pacs, a digital filmless x-ray system, in action. "The digital image will follow the patient wherever they go and will be able to be recalled whenever and wherever they need to be accessed by a patient's healthcare professional," Hewitt said. "Hospitals will no longer have to pay for film, doctors will be able to diagnose treatment quicker and patients will receive a faster, better service." Contracts for Pacs services were awarded in 2005 to Phillips, iSoft, GE, HSS and Afga by the national programme main suppliers. In the same year, Hillingdon became the first English hospital trust to go digital. Ninety-two trusts and more than 250 hospitals across the country have now installed digital x-ray technology, as part of the National Programme for IT. The progress of Pacs provides a boost for the controversial National IT Programme. Last month a long-awaited report from Parliament's influential Committee of Public Accounts said that the success of the programme is precarious, with key projects running late and suppliers struggling to deliver. The committee's chair Edward Leigh said a question mark hung over the most "expensive health information technology project in history". But health minister Lord Hunt said that the projects such as Pacs and electronic prescriptions were already being used by clinicians and benefiting patients. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Google accounted for 55 per cent of all search queries carried out in the US in the month of April, according to Nielsen/NetRatings data released Tuesday. Nearly 3.8 billion Google searches were carried out in the period, a 42 per cent increase on last year's results. Main rival Yahoo! Search came in a distant second with just under 1.5 billion searches carried out. Together, Google and Yahoo! accounted for over three quarters of all searches carried out in the US in April. Meanwhile, Microsoft's MSN/Windows Live Search service came in a far-away third, with nine per cent of the market or 612 million searches, representing a drop in market share since March, the first such drop in the past several months. Microsoft executives indicated back in January that they were not satisfied with the performance of the company's search service. In a bid to push its dominance of the online search market even further, Google announced earlier this month that it would be integrating all of its various search services so that a single search query will now generate results from a variety of previously separate sources such as videos, images, news stories, maps, books, and websites. The move looks set to drive more traffic to the Google News aggregation service and Google-owned YouTube, further reinforcing Google's status as an online media gatekeeper. "The ultimate goal of universal search is to break down the silos of information that exist on the web and provide the very best answer every time a user enters a query," commented Google's vice president of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer at the time. Google also recently revamped its personalised homepage service, now renamed iGoogle. The relaunch though was marred by the loss of some users' personal information such as contact lists and diary dates. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Dell's latest gaming system has moved out from under cover brandishing an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor overclocked from 2.66GHz to 3.46GHz, a freshly designed liquid cooling system and a Blu-ray Disc drive.
Deutsche Telekom is close to making a €1.6bn ($2.2bn) bid for mobile operator Orange Netherlands - owned by France Telecom. Though Orange won't confirm the report, one source told Reuters the deal is "very nearly there". Orange Netherlands has been for sale since February. Both ABN Amro Capital and a private equity consortium including Providence Equity Partners and Rabo Capital showed interest in the Dutch business. Orange is the smallest mobile operator on the Dutch market. It has 11 per cent of the Dutch mobile market and about 600,000 broadband customers. The deal with Deutsche Telecom would merge Orange with T-Mobile, the third ranked mobile operator in the Netherlands with 2.3 million subscribers. T-Mobile will have to compete with KPN and Vodafone. KPN's market share alone is around 50 per cent. Orange Netherlands refused to comment on this story.®
Rottweilers like Harry are rife in IT. They're resistant to change, and you'll often hear them thundering pithy retorts like "Don't give me problems, give me solutions!" It's easy to put this attitude down to their rigid, no-nonsense nature, or even to regard them as ignorant dinosaurs from a bygone era.
Singapore's Underwater World aquarium has installed what it describes as the world's first RFID fish-tagging system - not to prevent piscine Nemo-style mass breakouts, but rather to help visitors effortlessly identify species. According to Reuters, when any of the 20 chipped fish swims past a sensor, its name, species, and related info is displayed on a touch screen display. The aquarium's sales and marketing manager, Peter Chew, enthused: "Gone are the days when visitors are happy looking at animals and matching them with the information on the sign boards." Underwater World stumped up S$30,000 ($19,600) for the system, which currently offers illumination on the Amazon's mighty arapaima, aka pirarucú - rated as the largest freshwater fish in the world - and the pacú, related to the piranha. The aquarium is considering tagging sharks too, Chew noted. ®
And you thought Sony's PlayStation Portable was just a games machine? Tell that to BT - it wants to transmute the handheld console into an "advanced communcations" tool. Or, as we call them in the trade, a phone.
Whatever you think of Microsoft, it's clear that it produces excellent developer tools, which are extremely popular with its customers. We're talking about Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) here, and its next two incarnations, codenamed Orcas and Rosario (see Gavin Clarke's article here).
Want to win one and a half grand? Course you do, but to stand a chance of taking the big cash prize offered by graphics card maker PowerColor, mobo manufacturer Universal Abit and cooler company Cooler Master, you'll have to beat professional games player Jonathan Wendel.
Pessimists convinced that global warming will eventually bring about the destruction of humanity should take note that there's one piece of cheering news to come from the inexorable retreat of the polar ice caps: we won't be short of top-quality zinc as we all go to hell in a handcart. That's according to mining company Angus & Ross, which yesterday said that Greenland's melting ice will allow it to reopen the Black Angel mine for eventual year-round exploitation of the four million tonnes of high grade lead and zinc reserves it still contains. Black Angel mine closed in 1990, Reuters reports. The problems associated with extracting its resources included the fact that its entrance lies 600 metres above the sea in a cliff face, and its ore had to be transported by cable car across a fjord to the shipping area. Then, of course, there was the weather. Angus & Ross's chief operating officer Andrew Zemek explained that while the shipping season used to be a mere four months, global warming meant "today it's eight months and it will soon be 12 months". Further benefits of retreating ice include increased exposure of rock for perusal by mining geologists and the possibility of "a more direct northwest passage for shipping between Greenland and metal-hungry Asian countries", as Zemek put it. Eventually, if the Arctic ice disappears completely, an even shorter route across the pole might be possible. Angus & Ross detailed its plan for Black Angel to a zinc seminar in Madrid yesterday. It's hoping to finalise $30m funding for phase one of the project this week, which will enable it to eventually "restore the mine's original cable car, fit a second one, and later on build a suspended conveyor belt to transport the ore". The Black Angel mine's "proven reserves" contain 9.7 per cent zinc and 3.1 per cent lead, according to Angus & Ross's pre-feasibility study. Once they're gone, there's plenty of newly-uncovered Greenland to be exploited. Zemek told the seminar: "Greenland is grossly under explored." ® Bootnote There are more snaps of the Black Angel mine and its environs here.
Spyware for Symbian version 9 is now available signed and verified through the Symbian Signed process, according to anti-malware specialist F-Secure. Though such applications track what the user is doing and automatically upload that information to a remote server, at least one application is carrying a Symbian Signed qualification; removing warnings that usually pop up when software is installed on a phone. To gain Symbian Signed status an application must pass a series of tests such as displaying a privacy statement when the application is first launched, and a notification the first time a billable event is triggered. A signed application bypasses the warnings normally displayed when establishing network connections - ideal for spyware, but also useful for dozens of legitimate applications. In theory, Symbian Signed, or anyone else, could certify applications as benign, but attempts to do so have fallen down in identifying what "benign" actually means. "Nokia OK", the predecessor to Symbian Signed, attempted to vet applications for quality, but ended up being too restrictive. The Symbian-Signed spyware now available would never have passed Nokia OK, but neither did many useful applications. The problem is that users may perceive the presence of a signature, and certificate, to be proof of an application's benign nature. Indeed, according to the Symbian Signed website: "Symbian Signed builds trust and confidence in third party applications and assists the industry in delivering high quality applications to end-users." Though quite how much trust is gained by signing spyware applications we don't know. Digital signatures do serve a useful purpose - they track who wrote and published that application, no more and no less. But knowing that an application was signed by RBackupPRO (as in the case of the Symbian spyware) is little use when even a Google search turns up nothing more than a few articles highlighting this very problem. A digital signature might tell you who to sue after the event, assuming you become aware that your data has been compromised, but it won't protect you before the damage is done. It looks as though mobile phone users are just going to have to stick to installing software from known brands, and paying companies such as F-Secure to keep track of malware, rather than realising the potential digital signatures offered. ®
Opera has fixed a flawed involving how its browser handles Torrent files that allowed hackers to attack vulnerable systems.
Hot and bothered in the office? Then you need Hong Kong-based gadget seller Brando's latest: the USB Mini Fridge: a single-can cooler that's there for the lager in your life.
ReviewReview Amplified iPod speakers sets are ten a penny these days, but most of them assume your MP3 player is your only sound source. iLuv's 9200 is very different. It embraces the CD, packing in four disc spindles in addition to the iPod dock. But is the 9200 nothing more than a cut-price B&O wannabe - or does it deliver a quality audio experience whatever music you pump through it?
Personal Broadband is to build a mobile broadband network across Ireland based on the iBurst technology, making use of its two radio-spectrum licenses. The network, which will be available for corporate customers, will be capable of 1MB/sec. Personal Broadband's licenses both cover a 20MHz band between 1785 and 1850MHz. One comes from Ofcom, for Northern Ireland, and the other from ComReg, for the Republic. They were snapped up pretty cheaply (£352,000 for the NI license, and £139,000 for its license in the Republic), and come under the new technology-neutral licensing, where companies buy up the frequency and use it as they please. Since its 2004 trials in Oxford as "Personal Broadband Australia", little has been heard of the company. But it has been quietly running an iBurst test site in Belfast, and trying to find some radio spectrum to play in. A company spokesman said it had no aspirations to become a mobile phone network: "This is defiantly a public sector and corporate play. Today there are no handsets or PDAs supporting iBurst, so it's PCMCIA [PC Card], USB, or desktop modems. There should have been PDAs coming out this year, but they've been delayed." The technology should be useful to companies looking to connect their employee laptops to a single network no matter where they are. It will also present opportunities in machine to machine communications: "We've run demonstrations using iBurst to send back pictures from CCTV cameras in buses, even streaming the footage to a pursuing police car in real time." Project head Jim Cooney successfully launched iBurst in Australia and was also heavily involved in the Oslo launch. He's also helping finance the company. But rolling out a network is expensive, even when the frequency allows for relatively large cells. Covering all of Ireland costs a great deal, so Personal Broadband will have to work one customer at a time, starting from Belfast. Those first customer wins will be critical for the company, and the technology, as they'll be needed to fund the country-wide roll-out. ®
German police are compiling a Stasi-style "scent bank" database of potentially violent crusty protesters against global capitalism, according to reports. An article in today's Guardian, dated from Berlin, reports that federal prosecutors confirmed German media reports of the polizei B.O. files yesterday. Reportedly, the German feds are worried about known troublemakers creating havoc at next month's G8 summit meeting. A seven-mile wire fence has been erected around the Heiligendamm venue, and dawn raids have been carried out across Germany in order to collect smell records from possible G8-bashers. "This has happened to several suspects," according to a spokesman for the feds. Previous G8 conferences in other nations have often been targets for violent protest, with cheesed-off anti-capitalism campaigners making every effort to disrupt the onward march of the global economy as directed by the world's eight heftiest nations. As popster Midge Ure told the BBC before the 2005 summit at Gleneagles: "G8 is synonymous with crusties turning up and putting in the windows at McDonald's." With a high proportion of hardcore G8 opponents being from sections of the community who espouse a less-intensive personal hygiene regime, the remorselessly efficient German plods could be onto a winner here. Minging miscreants could be easily picked out from amidst well-scrubbed Teutonic protest marchers by sniffer dogs which had previously sampled the anarchist aroma files. Those with a clean sheet (or pants) would have nothing to fear. But many in Germany have expressed outrage at the government's nihilist-niff files. Such methods were apparently the trademark of the dreaded East German Stasi secret police, back in the days of Communist rule east of the iron curtain. Police pong-forensics could raise privacy concerns. Forget about Big Brother watching you, now he's sniffing through your underwear drawer. According to the Guardian, "scientists looking to expand the use of smell banks say it is possible to determine someone's age, their sex and any illnesses they might have through traces of their body odour". The paper describes the tactics as "chilling espionage techniques". This could, in fact, be fair enough. The crackdown seems especially unfair with current restrictions on taking liquids onto planes preventing new arrivals in the Bundesrepublik from freshening up before running the gauntlet of the border police stench check. Worrying times, these. All in all, probably best to get hold of some solid soap if you're headed to Germany in the coming months. More from the Guardian here. ®
The European Parliament voted on Monday night to reinstate the principles of data protection in legislation that would allow police across Europe to routinely share data about their activities. As the Parliament has no authority in the third pillar (the EU's jurisdiction for police and judicial matters), the amendments it proposed last night have no official clout. But the European Council, which calls the shots on this framework, did formally ask the Parliament for its opinion on the matter, and the German Presidency has consulted MEPs. Voting last night to endorse amendments that would ensure firmer data protection, MEPs have restored hope that data sharing between European police forces will only be allowed if it is done with proper regard for civil liberties. The Germans have made the first concerted effort to revive the legislation since the Italian and Greek presidencies gave up on it in 2003 - largely because a few countries, most notably Britain, didn't like the idea that the common rules would be applied to national police operations as well. They broke this deadlock by proposing that the legislation will only apply to data shared between European police forces and not to data held by national police forces. However, in three years the commission will look again to decide whether it ought to be applied nationally. It is unlikely that the UK will be any happier about giving up its sovereignty over police and judicial matters in a few years time, so the rules are unlikely to be applied nationally. But until that happens, a fundamental problem the data guardians had with the legislation still stands, which makes their support of this compromise look a little curious. Their problem stemmed from the proposal that the police shouldn't send data to other forces that don't also have an adequate level of data protection: if police received data from a country that didn't have adequate data protection law, they'd never be sure how reliable it was; if they sent data to a country that didn't have adequate data protection law, they could never guarantee the information wouldn't be abused or get into the wrong hands. The current restriction on national jurisprudence thus looks unworkable. But the Parliament has reinstated an amendment that would prevent the police from sending data to third countries that don't have adequate data protection. If that survives the next vote in the council, the national harmonisation of police data protection rules might be forced by default. MEPs think this might also have something to say about Europe's co-operation with controversial US data snooping programmes like PNR and Swift. Germany's compromise might also allow the Parliament's other amendments, which address the strong reservations the European Data Protection Supervisor expressed about the legislation last month, to pass the hawkish Council when it meets in June. ®
Sony Ericsson yesterday launched a Walkman-branded music phone with an iTrip-style FM radio transmitter built in to beam songs to nearby car stereos and hi-fi units. The snag: the stylish W525 is only available in Japan.
Abbey, the banking group, has been having problems with its website, which has left customers unable to administer their accounts for more than 24 hours.
Punters who get their phone and internet services from an unbundled provider will now get the same protection from regulators as those on BT lines. Ofcom has extended its rules protecting consumers from mis-selling to Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) voice and broadband service providers. Under new regulations the telecommunications watchdog said LLU providers are now required to comply with Ofcom's code of practice for marketing and sales activities. Although rules that protect consumers from mis-selling already apply to fixed-line voice call services, LLU providers' marketing and sales techniques have escaped this scrutiny. But Ofcom stepped in after it received thousands of complaints from disgruntled consumers who had been switched to another operator without prior knowledge or consent, a mis-selling tactic known as "slamming". LLU technology uses telephones lines running between homes or businesses and the local exchange that are not connected by BT, which has allowed competition into the voice and broadband market from other providers. Fixed-line voice call service providers have been required to comply with Ofcom's code of practice under a General Condition of Entitlement (GC 14.5) since May 2005. The rules were originally intended to cover a two-year period, but after public consultation Ofcom said the rules will continue to apply to fixed-line, as well as being extended to cover LLU providers. It also said it has investigated 11 providers including Tesco, Unicom, and FreeCall since 2005 and that it is currently reviewing switching methods across all telecoms services. Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "We want competition and choice to continue to grow, and we want consumers to benefit from these changes. "Consumers need to be able to shop around with confidence. Extending these rules and our enforcement activity will protect consumers from inappropriate sales and marketing techniques." Unbundled providers include Be, Sky, UK Online and Tiscali.®
The US Army is funding the development of a prototype military hybrid vehicle operating on similar principles to the groundbreaking Toyota Prius. Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Inc of California announced it had won the contract in a release on Monday. Under the $4.88m deal, Quantum will develop a diesel hybrid version of its previous "Aggressor" prototype, a "high performance light-duty off-road fuel cell hybrid vehicle." Company execs describe their previous fuel-cell Aggressor as "successful", but it seems to be understood that the US forces don't think fuel-cell kit is ready for the battlefield in the near future. The new hybrid version, according to Quantum, will "provide a cost-effective, near-term solution as fuel cell technology matures". The US military, with plenty of tech funding to spread about, has been trying to find innovative ways of cutting its fuel consumption for a long time. This isn't out of any concern regarding ecological issues, but due to hard operational necessities. The primary constraint on military operations is nearly always the availability of supplies - as the old gag has it, "amateurs talk tactics, dilettantes talk strategy; professionals talk logistics". Bulk fuel can make up over a third of an army's needs, amounting to thousands of tonnes per day for a division-sized force. Cutting down on this requirement would allow the US forces to operate further, faster, and more easily, and reduce the amount of soft targets for insurgents in theatre. Hybrid vehicles still get their power by burning fuel like a normal car; in this case diesel or JP-8. However, a hybrid's internal combustion engine generates electric power rather than just supplying torque via a gearbox. The juice is accumulated in a storage battery, which then drives the wheels electrically. The drive motors can be used to harvest kinetic energy during braking, too, rather than wasting it as a normal car does. All this means that a hybrid can deliver solid performance using a smaller and more economical engine, and that it uses fuel more efficiently. All this could be good news for US forces supply bods of the future; and in the case of the Aggressor there could be tactical benefits too. "The vehicle's silent watch capability, high performance acceleration, extended range, and exportable power provide significant advantages for the US Army in communications, surveillance, targeting, and reconnaissance missions," according to Alan Niedzwiecki, president and CEO of Quantum. Mr Niedzwiecki evidently expects that the new Aggressor will be able to shut down its diesel and go silent much more often than normal military vehicles. Its large battery seemingly won't need charging up all the time, even under the demanding power requirements of modern battlefield kit such as thermal imagers, nightsights, digital comms, satnav, and targeting lasers. The "exportable power" could mean the Aggressor will also serve as a mobile charging point for the arrays of personal and weapon electronics modern troops are tending to carry. Electric drive also offers high acceleration away from stationary (also seen in the neck-snapping Tesla Roadster battery sports car), which could be useful for US troops; especially ones using the Aggressor's fuel economy to mount long-range deep recce missions far from friendly supply dumps. ®
NSFWNSFW We should have known: Tania Derveaux, the Belgian senate hopeful who offered to blow 40,000 voters as as a "response to incredible claims that were made by other parties in Belgium", has reneged on her election pledge. Sadly. those who signed up for this tempting offer in the hope of some oral luuurv didn't get a hot, five-minute date with Derveaux, but rather an email explaining: "We've received more than 100,000 requests and I can't do them all on my own. So I sent my assistant, who is at least as good as I am. Enjoy..." Bloody typical. We're certain that Belgium's electoral commission will look into this outrage and oblige Derveaux to make good her promise. As for Lin Chong, we reckon she has a great future in the White House, cancer scares notwithstanding. ® Bootnote At the time of writing, the English version of the filthy five-minute video had been viewed by just over 200,000 people and the Spanish version by over 10,000. Strangely there doesn't seem to be a version in French, Dutch, Walloon or Flemish...it's almost as though the whole thing was a hoax.
Sin City director Robert Rodriguez is to remake sci-fi cult classic Barbarella, the BBC reports. Rodriguez, currently in Cannes with Quentin Tarentino to punt the horror double-bill Grindhouse, will work with the 1968 film's original producer Dino De Laurentis to "introduce Barbarella to a new generation of moviegoers", as the latter explained. De Laurentis proclaimed Barbarella "the ultimate science-fiction adventure heroine - smart, strong and sexy", which begs the question why bother with a remake? For his part, Rodriguez reckoned there was something new to be injected into the heroine. He offered: "The possibilities are limitless. I love this iconic character and all that she represents." As part of the new movie deal, the two original Barbarella books written and illustrated by Jean-Claude Forest back in the early 1960s wil be reissued, "along with the publication of material previously unreleased in English". This Barbarella news will dismay many movie fans who might imagine that Hollywood has finally run out of new ideas. As we recently reported, a new US version of The Long Good Friday - set in Miami - is slated to start shooting in 2008. The plan found little favour down here at El Reg, as readers' comments attest. ®
Wireless EventWireless Event Wireless hotspot usage is climbing, but more than half of the money spent on ad-hoc hotspot access is wasted, according to a survey by Wi-Fi roaming company Trustive. The company said its research showed that half of the users surveyed were connected for 30 minutes or less per session, and more than a quarter of sessions were 15 minutes or under. With most hotspots charging by the hour, "basically you're wasting half your money", said Trustive co-founder and managing director Bram Jan Streefland. Streefland said the problem is even more acute for businesses, because most hotspots require payment by credit card, which means the IT manager has no control over expenditure as the user simply pays it themselves and then charges it as expenses. The answer, he claimed, is to use an aggregator - such as Trustive, Boingo, or iPass - which not only lets you roam across hotspot networks, but which charges by the minute or second, so you don't pay for unused time. He said that over 100 hotspot operators of all sizes responded to the survey, along with 500 users. "Email is still the key use for hotspots, but the hotspot operators believe that VoIP will be the killer app," he said. He added that 61 per cent of hotspots are now connected at 2Mbit/s or better, up from 39 per cent last year, which makes VoIP a more practical proposition for cheap roaming calls. The average number of connections per hotspot per day is 50, but Streefland said that is pushed up by the huge volume handled on sites such as airports. Many smaller hotspots have less than 10 connections a day, he added. That could change though as Wi-Fi roaming gets easier - the worldwide survey showed that almost 60 per cent of networks already support the WISPr (Wireless Internet Service Provider roaming) spec for one-click access via client software. Trustive is hosting a conference on WLAN Roaming alongside the larger Wireless Cities and Mobile Broadband conferences at Olympia tomorrow. ®
Brit climber Rod Baber has succeeded in making the world's highest mobile phone call - a 40-second chat from the top of Everest, news agencies report. The call, made on a Motorola Z8, officially took place at 8,848 metres in temperatures of -30°C. Baber admitted: "It's cold. It's amazing. The Himalayas are everywhere. I can't feel my toes." He also sent a cheesy text message to the phone's suppliers, declaring: "One small text for man, one giant leap for mobilekind - thanks Motorola." Baber's high-altitude comms feat was made possible by a China Telecom mast with line of sight to the north ridge. A recording of the call is available on Baber's blog. ®
House of CardsHouse of Cards Antigua and Barbuda - a nation of 70,000 in an area roughly half the size of San Francisco - has formally requested that the WTO allow it to suspend its intellectual property obligations to the United States, AP reports. Although many in the US have mocked tiny Antigua'a case against the US with a shrug of the shoulders, the Antiguans have always carried in their pockets a nuclear option of sorts. Most Americans view trade disputes through the prism of tit-for-tat protectionist schemes. A perceived price subsidy leads to retaliatory tariffs, etc; but the obligations imposed by WTO obligations run deeper than that. Repeated violation of WTO commitments in the face of contrary WTO rulings allows a victimized member country ultimately to suspend its own WTO obligations to the offending nation - a form of restitution much more punitive than tariffs alone. America runs a steady and hefty trade deficit in virtually every category of international trade other than intellectual property. Were the WTO - with possible European, Japanese, and Chinese support - to allow the Antiguans to suspend all intellectual property obligations to the United States, the American IP industry could face a tiny adversary with an unlimited right to reproduce for its own benefit American IP goods of any kind. This is no joke - America has done everything it can to stamp out the internet gambling industry, particularly that of Antigua in the three years since Antigua first challenged the US before the international body the US itself worked so hard to create. Antigua originally hoped to develop its ecommerce segment to reduce its dependence on tourism, but, as a result of American interference, in the last few years the Antiguan internet gaming industry has shrunk by about 85 per cent. And little Antigua is not the only country feeling the pinch. The UK, which has possibly the most well-regulated gambling market in the world - at the very least among the major economies - has sat back and watched as the DOJ has repeatedly arrested UK businessmen and executives. The idea that other countries will put up with this abuse indefinitely may finally have run its course. Once one country chooses to revise its definitions of its own commitments, as the US claims it will do, other impacted countries may do the same. The only question now is whether the major American trading partners - Europe, Japan, and China - join the party. Unlimited DRM-free copies of American music, movies, and Microsoft software? Bring it on. It's about time. ® Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
UpdatedUpdated Pipex-owned ISP Nildram has joined the ranks of providers who are interfering with traffic to reduce the bandwidth burden from peer-to-peer networks and other "non-interactive" traffic. The firm applied bandwidth throttling on Monday, restricting P2P and newsgroup traffic to as slow as a snail's pace 64Kbit/s. Customers, including business users, who contacted the Reg said they got no prior warning about the changes. Ian Willmore, the firm's business and partner support manager, started a thread on the broadband forum thinkbroadband.com. He has not responded publicly to any of the criticism, or questions over service issues such as latency, posted in response. Nildram tech support told one irate user yesterday that they had themselves just got news about the policy, and that it would apply during business hours only. Our correspondent wrote: "We operate around a dozen Nildram business accounts (including SDSL) and use FTP [file transfer protocol] and NNTP [network news transfer protocol] to synch up between offices. [They] really screwed us badly as we had no warning at all to make alternate provision and move provider." Nildram did update its FAQ to reflect the bandwidth throttling last week. It says: This weighting allows us to preference interactive traffic such us HTTP (Web), VoIP and VPN over non-interactive traffic, such as P2P (peer to peer) and NNTP (Newsgroups). This provides an important quality of service improvement for these applications where delays have a very noticeable effect and we expect that Nildram customers will see improved performance from these applications. Nildram last acted to discourage downloading two years ago when it used the more crude method of a monthly GB limit, and applied it only to consumer customers. Parent company Pipex introduced traffic shaping on its services in 2005, and was among the first non-BT ISPs to do so. Recently, the takeover target began cutting off punters who it thinks are abusing their connection, although it won't publish specific limits. Without significant investment in network infrastructure, it seems customers will have to get used to traffic management. Nildram's speed limits seem particularly draconian, however, and the poor communication with users is inexcusable. ® Update Nildram sent us this statement: Our website was updated on Thursday 17th May announcing the introduction of a new traffic management process which was enabled during the evening of Monday 21st May. We also posted an announcement on Think Broadband. This new process took on board feedback from our customers from an earlier change of traffic management in October 2006 which we backed out a few days later. The comment concerning the limiting of a connection to 64K is unrelated and applies only to customers who exceed their quota limits; this has been in place since 2005.
Though "BlackBerry Man" is a common sight these days, there is still some doubt about the real usefulness of such mobile devices to business users. They are certainly fine for functions such as calendars and keeping an eye on email, but they still have some way to go as a real replacement for laptop PCs.
AnalysisAnalysis Home Office proposals on "multi-agency information sharing", leaked to the Times this week, say that council, NHS and care staff should be given a statutory obligation to pass on information about anyone they think might commit violent crimes in the future.
The EU has given the thumbs up to the Euro tariff for mobile phone roaming. Joachim Wuermeling, speaking on behalf of the German EU Presidency, said legislation should be in place by 29 June. Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding said that she wants to see it even sooner. The proposal is that wholesale roaming rates (the amount operators charge each other) should be set at €0.30 per minute, but should then decrease by €0.02 every year for the three years of the agreement. Outgoing calls, when roaming, will be set at €0.49 a minute, incoming at €0.24, with both dropping by €0.03 a year except for the first year when incoming calls will drop by only €0.02. The GSM Association (GSMA), a trade body representing mobile operators, is unhappy with the decision, and has been fighting the proposal since February. The GSMA sees self-regulation as the best way to ensure competitive pricing and has been trying to push the tariff as high as possible. It claims its members won't be able to survive if outgoing calls are billed at less than €0.65 a minute. So, the GSMA's disdain at the introduction of a mandatory €0.49/minute roaming rate is no surprise, but its argument that customers can do better with current offerings from networks falls down, as customers are still able to select those offerings alongside the mandatory Euro tariff. Arguments that it won't be technically possible for the network operators to implement the Euro tariff might bear more weight, and operators have used this excuse on other occasions. There is still formal approval by the Telecoms Council to come, on 7 June, but it seems unlikely that will present any barrier, or opportunity for the GSMA to delay or change the proposal. ®
According to Evesham, the Zieo N500-HD's designer, the new 17in desktop replacement machine is the "ultimate gaming platform" and a "mobile work horse".
CommentComment David Miliband, the environment minister tipped to be the next Labour Party leader by a friendly Westminster press, says "a new spirit" is afoot in the UK, brought about by Web 2.0.
TV and radio programmes that can be editorially altered by premium-rate calls or texts will need to be licensed under proposals from UK premium-rate regulator ICSTIS. The regulator is seeking feedback on its consultation document that comes in the wake of various scandals involving premium-rate-driven broadcasting. ICSTIS' proposal also mandates third party oversight if a programme is offering a prize of more than £5,000. To avoid impacting premium-rate lines which are just advertised in programmes, ICSTIS intends the new licence to only be applicable where the programme content can be changed by calls or texts - it reckons this should involve around 40 companies, at a cost of less than £2,000 each. Questions raised in the consultation document include the breadth of companies that should be licensed, and whether radio should be included, as well as specifics such as the need to regulate jukebox music channels. The deadline for feedback is 12 June. ®
The city of Manchester has been virtually recreated in Second Life presumably complete with grey, rainy skies and baggy-jeaned locals. Manchester legend Tony Wilson has joined in to help promote the city web 2.0 stylie and will be hosting the first ever awards ceremony in Sadville. Lucky him. Wilson, who was portrayed by Steve Coogan in the film 24 Hour Party People, founded Factory Records which was home to the likes of Joy Division, Happy Mondays and A Certain Ratio. Spot the real Tony Wilson He has been recreated as an avatar so he can simultaneously host the Big Chip Awards - the North West of England's annual digital back-slapping awards ceremony - as a real person and a, er, not so real person. The whole thing will be beamed live from New Century Hall in Manchester tomorrow night and a virtual stadium has been "erected" in the seedy, 3D paradise especially for the event. Talking about the live awards ceremony being shown on Second Life, chair of Manchester Digital Shaun Fensom excitedly said: "As far as we know this is a world first." Local firm Clicks and Links designed much of Manchester Second Life, including Wilson's avatar. Sadville residents will be able to wander round famous Manchester landmarks including Urbis and The Printworks with other well-known places being added over time. Whether they can expect to bump into the digital likes of The Smiths, New Order, and The Stone Roses was unknown at time of going to press. Oh, Manchester, so much to answer for. ®
The Police National Database has been scaled back because of budget over-runs and technical problems. The commitment to a full implementation of the Police National Database (PND) by 2010 appears to have been dropped. Full implementation of the PND could only now be managed if the budget was allowed to over-run by up to £186.3m. The information is included in the Fourth Progress Report of the Bichard Inquiry - the inquiry into the murder of school girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Failures of data sharing between forces were blamed for allowing Ian Huntley to get a job at a primary school. The planned link between the PND and the courts service computer systems has been delayed by two years after the emergence of legal and technical problems related to Libra, the long-running attempt to sort out IT in magistrates' courts. Meanwhile, the CRISP programme, which was to provide an interim solution and a stepping stone to the final PND, has been scrapped, as revealed by The Register in April. Last year's Third Progress Report on Bichard said clearly and repeatedly that the the PND would be "fully operational" by 2010, though an unspecified proportion of the budget had been set aside for work through to 2016. The Fourth Report, published yesterday, said that "deployment of first phase of PND capabilities" would be finished by 2010. The PND deadline would be dependent on negotiations held with potential suppliers from mid-2007, and presumably the given contract deadline of 2008 being met promptly. Regardless, it appeared that plans were being scaled back. "It is currently believed that the most promising approach would be to deliver the PND capabilities in a phased manner...[The] first capabilities would be deployed during 2010," said the Fourth Report. Moreover, it said: "subsequent deliverables" would be "subject to affordability in later spending periods". It was not clear what this revision would mean for post-Soham policing. Police would be given the means to "search for and access intelligence and other operational information" by 2010. If the post 2010 developments went ahead they would "enable locally held information to be linked with that on national systems, including the PNC". "Pressure on the Home Office budget as a whole" was blamed for the demise of CRISP. However, there was also a technical snarl-up that may have led the project to run over-budget. The project had accumulated unforeseen costs to deal with a "technical problem which had emerged in the course of testing the software and which was causing slippage in the procurement timetable". Neither details of the problem nor its additional costs were given, even though the the core elements of CRISP will still be employed in the final PND. The estimated cost of the full PND had increased by between £53.3m and £186.3m. This time last year, the PND was set to cost £367m between 2005 and 2016. £31m of that was spent in 05/06. Another £30.4m was spent in 06/07. But the Fourth report estimated that another £156.9m would have to be spent between 2007 and 2012. "Requirements after then will depend on considerations around affordability of possible options for linking locally held information with that on national systems," said the report. The full PND, if further developments were given the go-ahead after 2012 (or 2010, as it said elsewhere in the report) and lasting to 2017, would cost another £202m to £335m. Links to the courts service computer systems have also been delayed by two years, though in the Fourth Report, the Home Office has dropped any reference to the 2007 deadline for the police national computer to be linked to Libra, the ill-fated magistrates' courts system. This gave the impression that the link had been delayed only one year, but it has in fact slipped by two years. The Fourth Report predicted the following milestone: "Direct reporting of results from Magistrates’ Courts and Crown Court – Mar 2009 (originally end 2008)". The Third Report gives a more complete picture. It states that the deadline for the Crown Courts to start adding court results direct into the PNC was indeed 2008 (though not necessarily the end). The deadline for the link from the Magistrates Libra system was given as December 2007. "Direct input of courts’ results to the PNC is now a fully approved and fully funded project," said the Third Report, though it said: "For Magistrates’ Courts’ results, this rests on implementation of the planned Libra case management system by the Department for Constitutional Affairs". Libra has been notoriously problematic for the DCA and even as the Home Office was writing these words last year it was known to still be causing the DCA a headache. The DCA's mammoth DISC contract renewal last year was delayed by about five months because of problems with Libra that the DCA consistently failed to explain. The Fourth report said that the PND would no longer be "delivered in partnership" with CJIT, the criminal justice IT organisation, "in the light of subsequent research and legal advice". Last year, it said the CJIT had approved the funding for its development of the PND interface. This would now be handled by the PND team, it said. No further details were given.®
Electronics behemoth Siemens will partner with Finnish firm Ekahau to resell the Nordic developer's crafty Wi-Fi location technology. Ekahau's trick is to locate a Wi-Fi-enabled PDA, computer, Voice over WLAN (VoWLAN) handset, or tag unit using existing 802.11 WLAN access point antennae. The company claims one metre accuracy when the object to be tracked is within range of three or more base stations.
A Michigan man who parked outside a local Wi-Fi cafe every day to check his email has been fined $400 and sentenced to 40 hours' community service. Sam Peterson can consider himself unfortunate since if he'd simply popped into the Re-Union Street Cafe in Sparta, Michigan, for a coffee while checking his email he'd have avoided punishment. Peterson was collared for fraudulent access to a computer network after his presence outside the cafe drew the attention of local police chief Andrew Milanowski.
The US House of Representatives has passed an anti-spyware bill, but the measure must be passed by the Senate before it becomes law. The Senate does not currently have anti-spyware legislation in front of it.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been trying to push former Vice President Al Gore to take another crack at the presidential race. Jobs revealed his fruitless desires for his fellow Apple board member to don the cap of Commander in Chief within an expose of Gore in Time Magazine. However, one Academy Award and one Nobel Prize nomination after his unsuccessful attempt at the presidency, Gore has "fallen out of love with politics." But even if — say — 96 per cent of Gore's heart has rebuffed politics, Jobs won't be foiled. After all, he's used to making a big fuss out of small percentages. "We have dug ourselves into a 20-foot hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder. Al's the guy," Jobs told Time Magazine. "Like many others, I have tried my best to convince him. So far, no luck." Jobs is sure the kind of man who would lead a boardroom committee to clear him of any wrongdoing in the Apple backdating scandal has the je ne sais quoi necessary to get the American vote* this time around. "If he ran, there's no question in my mind that he would be elected," Steve Jobs said. "But I think there's a question in his mind, perhaps because the pain of the last election runs a lot deeper than he lets most of us see." Or it could be the pay cut. In addition to sitting on the board of directors at Apple, Gore is currently a senior adviser at Google. He's the co-founder of cable network Current TV and chairman of Generation Investment Management, an investment fund with assents near $1bn. ® *The electoral college vote, that is. Majority-smajbority.
Sysadmins can look forward to clocking some overtime this week after Cisco warned of flaws in how its core operating system handles malformed Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) traffic.
Internet radio stations have rejected a compromise proposal from the US music industry on higher music licence payments. It would allow small stations to keep the old fee structure, but stations claim the deal is designed to stunt net radio's growth. The US Copyright Royalties Board (CRB) will implement higher charges for online radio music licences from 15th July. Net radio stations say that the increases will put them out of business, with retrospective charges for 2006 exceeding stations' total advertising revenue. A new offer has been made by SoundExchange, a non-profit music industry body that collects royalties on behalf of labels. It has said that it would allow 'small' online radio stations to continue paying the current royalties, but larger stations would have to pay the new amounts. Internet radio station representative group SaveNetRadio has rejected the plan, saying that the plan is designed to stifle the growth of online radio. “The proposal made by SoundExchange would throw 'large webcasters' under the bus and end any 'small' webcaster’s hopes of one day becoming big,” SaveNetRadio spokesperson Jake Ward said. “Under Government-set revenue caps, webcasters will invest less, innovate less and promote less. Under this proposal, internet radio would become a lousy long-term business, unable to compete effectively against big broadcast and big satellite radio – artists, webcasters, and listeners be damned.” The deal would allow stations to pay 10% of their revenue in royalties until they earned $250,000. After that they would pay 12% of revenue, but it is not clear what the upper revenue cap on 'small' stations would be. Beyond that cap, though, stations would move to a per-song payment of 0.08 cents per song per listener for 2006 and 0.11 cents for 2007, rising to 0.19 cents by 2010. SaveNetRadio said that this kind of charging would put internet radio out of business, and is not what was intended by US lawmakers. "A standard that would set a royalty rate more than 300% of a webcaster’s revenue was not what Congress had in mind, and it must be adjusted if the industry is going to survive," said a SaveNetRadio statement. Satellite radio services currently pay just 7.5% of their revenue in royalties, while traditional broadcast radio does not pay anything because labels consider airtime to be promotional. The Internet Radio Equality Act is currently before the US Congress. This proposed law would set internet radio royalties at the same 7.5% level as satellite rates until 2010. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
LettersLetters After my piece lamenting how Nokia's high end phones had lost their ease of use and reliability, we got a letter from reader Brendon McLean. "It's not just Nokia!", wrote Brendon - "but an industry-wide problem". And he encapsulated his complaints very succinctly. So we invited him to expand a little, which he did here yesterday.
IBM is teaming up with four other chipmakers to develop manufacturing technologies for semiconductors that shrink the average circuit feature to 32 nanometers. The alliance, which is aimed at containing the spiraling cost of building bleeding-edge chips, also involves Chartered Semiconductor, Samsung Electronics, Infineon Technologies and Freescale Semiconductor.
Apple isn't tickled over an Ann Summers sex toy ad that mimics the company's iconic silhouette ipod campaign.
Strong sales led Network Appliance fourth-quarter profits higher 51 per cent over the same period last year. Despite such a solid haul in Q4, the company expects a sales slump to lower revenue sequentially in the current quarter.
Capitalizing on the spate of embarrassing data breaches over the past year, Cisco Systems and RSA/EMC are working together to make it easier for organizations to encrypt confidential information by integrating technologies that currently sold separately.