24th > May > 2007 Archive

cloud
57

Microsoft too busy to name Linux patents

OSBCOSBC First you get everyone riled claiming open source and Linux infringe on your patents, then you won't detail those patents. Why? The paperwork. Yes, Microsoft cited administrative overhead for not detailing the 235 Microsoft patents its chief legal counsel recently told Fortune exist in Linux and open source.
Gavin Clarke, 24 May 2007
Warning: fire
3

SME sector to 'explode with blades': IBM

The blade server market will be worth $11bn worldwide by 2010, according to IBM, with SMEs being a particularly fruitful market.
Emmet Ryan, 24 May 2007
Warning: two way

Server market continues to thrive

The server wars are heating up again, with HP and IBM both scrapping over the number one spot in the first quarter of 2007. Research firms can't seem to agree who is top dog in the market in terms of revenue, with IDC giving the number one place to HP, while Gartner said IBM came out the winner.
Ciara O'Brien, 24 May 2007

Four-radio AP touts high-density Wi-Fi

Wireless EventWireless Event Extricom has launched a quad-radio access point for its high-density wireless LAN systems. These are combinations of ultra-thin APs with a wireless switch that runs all the APs as a single cell so they can be on the same channels without interfering.
Bryan Betts, 24 May 2007
Warning Speed Camera

Spyware bill seeks Senate approval

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.
OUT-LAW.COM, 24 May 2007
Warning: aircraft
10

Ryanair check-in site exposes data

Ryanair's online check-in service fails to ensure users submit confidential details across a secure connection. As a result, travellers are invited to send confidential data across an unencrypted link.
John Leyden, 24 May 2007
Business Objects
1

Business Objects gobbles Inxight

Business Objects' stated intention of becoming a $2bn company was never going to be achieved only through organic growth, and it was inevitable that there would be a number of acquisitions along the way, of which the latest is Inxight Software.
Philip Howard, 24 May 2007
5

Sony to release PS3 firmware update today

Sony is to update the PlayStation 3 system software today, rolling out a firmware tweak that allows PSOne, PS2 and DVD movies to be upscaled by the console to full 1080p HD resolution via HDMI. Well, if you've got the right kind of telly, of course...
Tony Smith, 24 May 2007
45

Fancy a nuclear power station in your backyard?

Brighton, Bristol, and picturesque Oxfordshire have topped the list of places most suitable to have new nuclear power stations bestowed upon them, replacing existing coal or gas fired power stations. The report was submitted to the government last year. According to The Guardian, Greenpeace made several attempts to force publication using the Freedom of Information Act, but in a response Greenpeace has described as "scandalous", the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) refused to disclose any details until the publication of its energy white paper. According to a report from independent nuclear consultants Jackson Consulting, which the DTI was court-ordered to commission, the main factor used in deciding a site's suitability is the ease with which it can be connected up to the National Grid. Leading the pack is the old military station at Harwell, in Oxfordshire. Next on the list are Sizewell and Hinkley, the only two existing nuclear power stations the report considers suitable, and that are available, for construction of the new twin turbine generators. The report also advises that existing nuclear power station sites are given redevelopment priority. But many of these old stations are not yet available for redevelopment, have poor connections to the grid, or lie in Scotland, a location deemed unsuitable for nuclear power stations, post devolution. Wales is similarly discounted. So instead, the report suggests redeveloping old conventional power stations. It argues that in cases like these, the construction of a massive cooling tower, for instance, would have less of an aesthetic impact because the existing power station is already part of the landscape. Greenfield development - that is construction on a totally new, virgin site - has not been ruled out. The report also says that rising sea levels will have to be taken into account when the stations are built. Most demand, and therefore most construction, will be in the south east - at precisely those locations most at risk from rising seas. Although most of the sites identified are coastal, the report says building inland should also be possible - such as at the Harwell site. But the cooling towers that would be needed to make these safe would reduce the efficiency of the stations, add to the cost of construction, and "substantially damage the local amenity value from visual intrusion, causing significant difficulties with local public acceptance". The DTI said it was still too early to say where the stations should go, and that ultimately the private companies that will build them would propose where they would be sited, The Guardian reports. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 May 2007
1

Monster mashes iPod Shuffle, 'phones

Monster - a company best known for its high-end A/V cables and its lavish Consumer Electronics Show parties - has started selling iFreePlay, a set of foldable earphones with an integrated dock for Apple's second-generation iPod Shuffle.
Tony Smith, 24 May 2007

Europe mulls anti-ID theft law

The European Commission is considering new legislation against identity theft. The proposal is contained in a just-published policy on EU-wide plans to fight cybercrime. The European Commission's policy on fighting cybercrime in Europe is the product of many years of consultation and focuses on greater co-operation between European police forces. Though the commission said that it did not believe that new legislation would be useful at this stage in stopping the fast growth of cybercrime, it said it will consider anti-ID theft laws later this year. "No general legislation on the fight against cyber crime can be expected to be effective at this moment," said a commission statement. "However, targeted legislative actions may also prove to be appropriate or needed in specific areas. As an example, the commission will consider an initiative regarding European legislation against identity theft in 2007. Legislative action could also include developing a regulation on the responsibility of different actors in the relevant sector." Overall, the commission said its cybercrime fighting policies would depend on improved co-operation and communication between law enforcement forces across Europe. "The main feature of this policy instrument is a proactive policy in reinforcing the structures for operational law enforcement cooperation," said the commission statement. "The commission will launch a reflection on how this cooperation can be strengthened and improved." In a move which could prove controversial, the commission said its new policy included "actions to improve exchange of information" between law enforcement agencies. Attempts to share increasing amounts of information between police forces in Europe have met with opposition. Europe's privacy watchdog the European Data Protection Supervisor recently warned of his "grave concern" that data sharing plans was a "lowest common denominator approach that would hinder the fundamental rights of EU citizens". Earlier this week, the European Parliament voted to support the reinstatement of data protection principles into a European plan to share data across police forces. "The policy instrument includes actions to improve exchange of information and best practices, initiatives to improve training and awareness-raising within law enforcement authorities," said the commission's statement on its plan. The commission also wants to create new public-private projects designed to fight crime. This could also raise privacy problems because state bodies in Europe are often reluctant to share personal information with the private sector. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 24 May 2007
2

Big brains gather to ponder future of UK security

A group of high-profile political, academic, and military heavyweights will come together over the next 18 months to ponder the future direction of UK security strategy. The independent Commission on National Security in the 21st Century will be co-chaired by two well-known peers of the realm. First up is former special-forces officer, MI6 spy, liberal politico, and UN satrap of Bosnia-Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown. Lord Ashdown's co-chairman will be George Robertson (now Lord Robertson), ex-Labour defence minister and former-secretary-general of NATO. The two men will preside over a selection of fellow lords, professors, and assorted policy wonks, including ex-US Senator and majority leader Tom Daschle. Former head of the UK armed forces (and ex-SAS man) Charles Guthrie will also be on board, as will Chris Fox, one-time chief constable of Northamptonshire. The commission is organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a noted thinktank which has advocated baccy-style climate-health warnings on airline advertising. The body has also suggested that all illegal huddled masses in the UK should be allowed to breathe free - but then made to register for ID cards. The IPPR has also taken the position that other criminals - to wit, iPod users - should be let off. The new grouping reckon to take an integrated approach to UK security. As well as pondering on terrorist threats, WMD proliferation, energy security, public order worries, regional conflicts and so on, the security brain trust will look to root causes. Climate change, poverty, and better global cooperation are all on the agenda. Two former special forces men, a top cop, an ex-NATO chief, more than one spook and a US Senator would seem to argue for a muscular set of recommendations emerging when the commission packs up in 2009. We might expect to see lots of expensive hardware advocated, more surveillance, more foreigners dealt with severely by the UK military and immigration authorities in future. "It would be disastrous if the outcome of recent experience was a greater reluctance to intervene in conflict situations around the world," said Lord Ashdown. That said, there are doves among the hawks. Mary Kaldor of the LSE and Prof Michael Clarke of King's are definitely in this camp, both being advocates of UK nuclear disarmament (though Clarke is much less obvious about this). There are other mellow peace-and-goodwill-to-all academics to counterbalance the fist-pounding cops and soldiers. And the government minister speaking at the launch last night was Hilary Benn, in charge of foreign aid, not the minister for spooks'n'cops or the defence minister (although that might be because it's easier to book the aid minister). And there's an individuals' rights spokesman on the panel to resist the corridors-of-power mob and the academic action-through-government types. Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: "This is a golden opportunity to address serious security challenges...without sacrificing hard-won liberties." You could be on your own in a group like that, Shami. There's no doubt that the incoming Brown government will be watching the commission carefully and will take heed of its eventual recommendations. If, that is, such a diverse group can actually establish much common ground. There's one thing the assembled brains apparently agree on, though, which some might dispute. "Britain has never faced so many risks," they say in their inaugural release. Hmmm. ®
Lewis Page, 24 May 2007
6

Enormous vulture menaces home counties

One of the world's largest birds, a Ruppell's Griffin Vulture called Emmy, is on the loose in Bedfordshire after escaping from the English School of Falconry on Wednesday. The vulturine female, which "got spooked" during a show, has a wingspan of more than three metres. The biggest specimens of Wandering Albatross, the world's largest flying bird, measure 3.7 metres across. Local news organ Biggleswade Today reports that Emmy took off during a display entitled "Out of Africa". Handler Phil Gooden said: "They've got a tremendous bite, they can cut through muscle and tissue and even bone - not that I think anyone will be able to get close enough to touch her." He offered the BBC the following expert analysis of the bird's potential whereabouts: "I would imagine she would be in a tree, but she could be anywhere - on a building." Thermals could have taken Emmy up to 10,000ft high; Ruppell's Griffins are known to travel up to 100 miles to feed. A complacent Mr Gooden said: "She's not really dangerous since she feeds on anything that's dead." He would do well to take note of the airbourne terror raining down on Spain, where a 100-strong colony of starving vultures is attacking live farm animals. ® Bootnote Our home counties falconry correspondent Simon offered his own professional opinion: "They are obviously looking in the wrong place. All Reg readers know the most likely place to locate an absent vulture is down the nearest pub!"
Christopher Williams, 24 May 2007
1

iPod generation can get Lost

iPod owners, bored of watching the latest Lost episode in post-it-note o'vision, can now enter the immersive world of Lost thanks to Gameloft, whose game of the TV series is now available on iTunes. You too can experience what it's like to wake up next to a crashed plane and run around in small circles following indicator arrows and solving pitifully simple puzzles (according to reviews already posted to the UK iTunes store). Most of the games so far available for the iPod have been basic, puzzle-based time fillers rather than "sit down and play" experiences, and this may be reflected in the perceived simplicity of the puzzles in Lost - the reviewers expected something comparable to a console game, while the authors were trying to make the wait for the bus more entertaining. But if you want to see "faithfully reproduced settings, intuitive and extremely varied gameplay" all reproduced in post-it-note o'vision, Lost will set you back £3.99 from iTunes. ®
Bill Ray, 24 May 2007
1

Sony goes Bose with teeny-tiny home cinema rig

Sony's latest home cinema system looks set to give micro-speaker pioneer Bose a run for its money. The DAV-150's sub-woofer is a big as you'd expect but the five satellite speakers are small enough you could paint 'em with dots and play a game of dice.
Tony Smith, 24 May 2007
17

Elgato Turbo.264 H.264 encoder

UK-first reviewUK-first review Apple TV and iPod. Sony PlayStation Portable. Different devices, but united in common support of the H.264 video compression technology, part of the MPEG 4 standard. And since a lot of us own these, the need for H.264-encoded content is high. The snag: it takes a heck of a lot of processing power to produce.
Tony Smith, 24 May 2007
channel

Dell sees the channel light while Microsoft is cast as open source redeemer

It's finally happened. Dell has publicly stated what we in the channel have known all along. You can't live without resellers and partners. Not long after his second coming at the company and after many years of outright hostility to the indirect channel, CEO Michael Dell has undergone a conversion, telling CRN US: "There are certainly folks out there who don't want to buy direct, so now those customers will have a chance to have Dell product as well." Assuming they want to buy it, of course.
Billy MacInnes, 24 May 2007
fingers pointing at man
5

HP escapes fine for boardroom spying scandal

HP has settled allegations over its failure to disclose why one of its directors resigned in the midst of last year's boardroom mole fiasco. The computer giant has not been fined and said it neither admitted nor denied the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) findings, but has agreed to a cease and desist order, effectively barring it from breaching public reporting requirements.
Kelly Fiveash, 24 May 2007
Linux
1

Compelling Linux server slithers into the open

The Linksys NSLU2 is a cheap and compact Network Attached Storage (NAS) device with an Ethernet connection and two USB ports for connecting hard drives and/or USB flash disks to a LAN. It sports a simple web-based interface that is used to configure the device, format any attached disks, set up disk shares and so on. It's a fairly basic interface but there's a lot of functionality locked away in the device (though the documentation leaves a lot to be desired). However, under the covers the NSLU2 runs Linux and can be made into a useful development Linux server, which is why you're reading this in Reg Developer rather than Reg Hardware.
Dr Pan Pantziarka, 24 May 2007
Google
17

Google wants to really get to know you

Google wants to know what you are thinking. Erik Schmidt has, after a couple of quiet years, started talking again about his ambitions for the firm to be able to answer questions like "What shall I do tomorrow?", or "What job shall I take?"
Lucy Sherriff, 24 May 2007
19

Straight blokes best at reading maps

Straight blokes are best at reading maps, but if you want to know where you left the car keys, you'd best ask a woman, a new study has revealed. According to The Telegraph, researchers at the University of Warwick probed "how we perform mental tasks in light of sexual preferences", and found that the map reading ability league table is topped by heterosexual males, followed by gay men, lesbians, and heterosexual women, in that order. However, while "men outperformed women on tests such as mentally rotating objects and matching angles", women trumped the chaps when it came to verbal dexterity and remembering objects' locations. The study culled data from 198,000 people aged 20-65 years (109,612 men and 88,509 women) who participated in an online BBC poll. Another illuminating finding was that men's minds decline faster than women's, and the rate of atrophy was the same for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. Prof Elizabeth Maylor of the University of Warwick said: "This is a novel finding. Only gender has an effect on rate of ageing, not sexual orientation." Novel it may be, but we're all going to lose our marbles sooner or later, as Maylor explained: "In all the tasks, older people did worse than younger people, whether male or female. In fact, for some of the tasks, people in their 30s were significantly worse than people in their 20s. This is one of the first times that age-related decline has been shown in adults under 40." Maylor did, however, offer a ray of hope with the suggestion that "practice and mental exercise can slow down the rate of decline, whether you're male or female". The full findings of the survey are published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour. ®
Lester Haines, 24 May 2007
7

PlusNet blames itself for webmail spamfest

PlusNet has accepted blame for its latest email blunder, having previously fingered vulnerabilities in third party webmail software for last week's security flap.
Christopher Williams, 24 May 2007
3

Competition Commission to probe Sky's ITV buy

Almost a month after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recommended Sky's purchase of over 19 per cent of ITV be brought to the attention of the Competition Commission, DTI Secretary of State Alistair Darling has done just that. The buy up was an unexpected and audacious move which prevented a much-rumoured takeover of ITV by Virgin Media, a fierce competitor of Sky. Sky has always stated that the investment in ITV was just that, a commercial decision within the legal limits of cross-media ownership. In a brief statement, Sky responded to the announced investigation: "Sky notes today's announcement by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. We look forward to engaging with the Competition Commission as the ongoing regulatory process enters its next phase". Considering the coincidental timing of the Sky purchase, and the report from the OFT last month, the investigation comes as no surprise and forms only part of a greater drama being played out on, or behind, British TV screens. ®
Bill Ray, 24 May 2007
9

Ofcom rules on Celebrity Big Brother racism rumpus

TV watchdog Ofcom has administered a stern telling-off to Channel Four for its handling of the Shilpa Shetty Celebrity Big Brother racism rumpus. For anyone who's spent the last year up a tributary of the Amazon, the Bollywood actress was subjected to some rough treatment at the hands of Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara, which Channel Four dismissed as "girly rivalry". The Ofcom ruling explains: As the fifth series progressed, disagreements began to develop between some of the housemates, in particular, between Shilpa Shetty on the one hand and Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd on the other. Viewers, and others who were aware of the events in the House, became increasingly concerned that Shilpa Shetty was being subjected to bullying, some alleging that the bullying was racist. Ofcom received just over 44,500 complaints about Celebrity Big Brother 2007. Specifically, Ofcom highlights three events: Ofcom has considered whether a number of events in the House were in compliance with the Broadcasting Code. It has found that there were three events which were broadcast during the series which were in breach of the Code ... Ofcom has found that in relation to the following three incidents, Channel Four failed to appropriately handle the material so as to adequately protect members of the public from offensive material: Remarks about Cooking in India (transmitted 15 January 2007) "Fuck off home" comment (transmitted 17 January 2007) "Shilpa Poppadom" comment (transmitted 18 and 19 January 2007) The ruling continues: ...in relation to the incidents outlined ... above Channel Four failed adequately to apply generally accepted standards by justifying the inclusion of the offensive material by its context. It is Ofcom's view that when these three incidents were broadcast, Channel Four failed sufficiently to address the potential for offence or left this behaviour unchallenged. This resulted in offence being caused to a very large number of viewers. Ofcom also considers that Channel Four failed in its handling of the incidents broadcast to take account of the cumulative effect of the events in the House. The audience's understanding of the events in the House and, in particular, the alleged racist bullying, was changing as the series developed and therefore comments which may in other circumstances have been interpreted as "borderline" in terms of offence became much more offensive given what was happening in the House, as well as beyond the House, in the outside world. And the punishment? Ofcom declares: In this case the Committee considers that the most appropriate sanction is to require Channel Four (and S4C) to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings in a form determined by Ofcom. Furthermore, the Committee decided that this should be broadcast on three separate occasions when it would reach the highest number of viewers. That is, at the start of the first programme of the new series of Big Brother and at the start of its re-versioned programme the following morning and also at the start of the first eviction show. With series eight of the human zoo about to kick off, Ofcom duly warns Channel Four: "The committee would take very seriously any future failure of compliance leading to a similar situation as that which the committee has dealt with in this case." ®
Lester Haines, 24 May 2007
lenovo logo

Lenovo swallows tasty profit

Chinese computer maker Lenovo said its profits grew by more than 600 per cent in the fourth quarter. It attributed its best results since the purchase of the PC division of IBM two years ago to a strong performance in all geographic areas including North America, which chalked up 29 per cent of the firm's total revenue.
Kelly Fiveash, 24 May 2007
1

Chimera bill: consultation begins

The new joint committee on the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill has issued a call for evidence as it starts its analysis of the proposed legislation. The committee has specifically asked for views on the proposed new Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos and whether this is the best way to oversee the new area of research. It also wants expert advice on the definitions of embryo, gamete, nucleus, and egg. It also specifically addresses the area most likely to stir up high emotions, even within the context of this being an extremely controversial piece of legislation, inter-species embryos. It asks, very broadly: "How should the bill deal with licensing research on inter-species embryos?" In its current form, the bill paves the way for the creation of embryos composed of 99.9 per cent human, 0.1 per cent animal DNA. It prohibits "true" animal human hybrids, but allows for so called chimeras and cytoplasmic hybrid embryos. Another hot-button issue, sex selection of embryos, is also part of the bill. Phil Willis MP, chairman of the joint committee, said: "It is vital this bill is taken forward in the correct way to ensure Britain continues to be a world leader in medical research. We expect to get a good range of evidence on this bill." He added that the committee would report to both Houses in late July, with a final report due in early August. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 May 2007
15

Pupils flog public school on eBay

UpdatedUpdated Those among you who've ever fancied roasting young toffs over an open fire should get yourselves down to eBay where the pupils of one seat of learning have decided to put their beloved alma mater on the market: The blurb explains: Have you ever wanted to own an authentic traditional school, with centuries of history?! Well - now is your chance!! Stamford School is up for sale - and it is going cheap! True - its not quite as good as it used to be, but with a bit of firm leadership and a fresh injection of cash it could be as good as new. It has long prouded itself in trying (and failing) to match the likes of Oakham, Uppingham and Oundle. Included - State of the art classrooms, boarding houses, swanky dining room, acres of fields, the pavilion, the chapel, mr gombault and many more! CAN YOU AFFORD TO MISS THIS UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY OF OWNING WORTHLESS TAT!?! Good show. The bidding currently stands at a modest £125,100 - an excellent deal if it does indeed include Mr Gombault and the rest of the staff. Right, where did we leave that fag-beating stick? Update Yup, in the time-honoured tradition, eBay pulled the listing about half-an-hour after this story went up. Poor show. Bootnote The usual thanks very much old chap to Anthony Thorpe for the upper-crust tip-off.
Lester Haines, 24 May 2007
12

Robot gunships join US Army

The march of the killer droids continues, with news that a US robot helicopter gunship has passed a significant milestone - engine testing. This success means the robot can head for production - once avionics and sensors arrive. The cyber-copter in question is the RQ/MQ-8 vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV) commonly known as "Fire Scout". Fire Scout MQ-8B UAV makes its first flight in St Inigoes, Maryland. The Fire Scout is a heavily modified small commercial 3/4-seat chopper, the Schweizer 333. The cockpit for outmoded flesh pilots has been removed and replaced by robo control and sensor systems, and an extra rotor blade added in order to achieve more lift. As it now stands, the Fire Scout can stay up for eight hours with just sensors and a targeting laser, or five hours with a load of weaponry in addition. The robo-gunship can pack a fairly impressive arsenal for a small aircraft, including 70mm Hydra rocket pods or Hellfire laser-guided missiles. It truly is a flying robot, not a remote-controlled aircraft; Fire Scouts have made autonomous trial landings aboard US warships underway at sea, without any pilot guidance. In early 2002 it appeared that Fire Scout might be axed, but within a year it was back on the Pentagon shopping list. This might have had something to do with the fact that a Predator fixed-wing killbot scored a big war-on-terror goal over Yemen in November 2002, blasting al-Qaeda bigwig Qa'ed Sunyan al-Harethi's Toyota to smithereens with a Hellfire missile. Whatever motivated the US defense department's change of heart, it was comprehensive. Fire Scout is now proceeding apace, and reports suggest that the US Navy may deploy up to 200 of the drone whirlybirds beginning as early as 2008. The Navy armed variant - an MQ killbot as opposed to a mere RQ spybot - first flew last December. The US Army also fancies the Fire Scout, and it is the Army version which is in the news now, having completed assembly and carried out successful engine tests yesterday, according to a company release. The land-based robocopter can be towed behind a Humvee on a trailer as part of a US Army division's specialist units, then launched over the battlefield to do recce, attack, comms relay, or whatever. There has been talk of using it to carry mine and roadside bomb detection kit in Iraq. It seems the Merseyside police, whose comparatively crappy little electric spy-bird has just commenced trials, will be sick with envy at the American squaddies' robotised Blue Thunder/Airwolf lookalike. Still, the Scouse aerial robo-plod does have whisper mode. ®
Lewis Page, 24 May 2007
14

UK arrest gives AllofMP3 touts the fear

The arrest of an alleged UK reseller of Allofmp3.com vouchers has frightened other merchants on the continent. Allofmp3.com set up the voucher scheme to get around the removal of its card processing facilities in the UK and Europe last year. But the bust of a London-based reseller earlier this month has prompted his colleagues on the continent to quit the business, a move that would cut off one of the few remaining sources of revenue for the once highly-popular music download site. 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. Ars Technica spoke to a number of Allofmp3.com resellers on the continent and found little appetite for continuing in the business, even though local laws probably would not permit the sort of enforcement action carried out in the UK. "Until a few days ago, I had never heard of the IFPI," one reseller, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Ars Technica. "But yes, I am concerned about them now. Although my attorney assures me that reselling gift certificates bought from Allofmp3.com isn't breaking any laws, it isn't worth the possibility of engagement with their legal machine." Another reseller has already pulled the shutters down on a site selling Allofmp3.com vouchers (a sort of "gift certificate" typically valued at around $10), which contain an access code that allows punters to download tracks from the site. "We made the decision after hearing news about an arrest that occurred in the UK. We do not wish the same to occur to us," the operator said. Most of the operators concerned are reselling vouchers that allow cut-price MP3 downloads via Allofmp3.com at a small markup, motivated by the desire to assist other members of the Allofmp3 community rather than the desire to earn anything approaching a full-time income from the practice. Those involved believe their business is above board, but aren't prepared to face down the legal wrath of the recording industry to prove a point. Allofmp3.com says it pays record companies and artists via an agreement with 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. The Russian download site faces ongoing criminal proceedings in Russia as well as a raft of civil actions against it by the music industry internationally. A change in Russian law could make the site's activities illegal by as early as June 2007, Ars Technica adds. All of which probably serve to drive music fans towards BitTorrent rather than commercial download services such as iTunes and the like, whose high prices offering little discount from the cost of CDs remain a bone of contention for music fans. ®
John Leyden, 24 May 2007
BT
3

Desperately seeking WLAN apps for London

Wireless EventWireless Event City wireless LAN pioneer Westminster City Council has kicked off a competition to find new applications to run on its planned city-wide Wi-Fi network. Along with sponsors BT and Vertex, it is offering prizes of £1,000 in each of three categories: Wireless Living to improve the daily life of individuals, Wireless Neighbourhood to benefit groups and communities, and Wireless Business. A fourth £1,000 is on offer for the best idea from the three partners' own staff.
Bryan Betts, 24 May 2007

Mayor Ken's Low Emission Zone - a load of hot air?

AnalysisAnalysis London Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to clean up the capital's air. But at what cost to motorists?
Jason Scrutton, 24 May 2007
1

Bird flu confirmed in Wales

Bird flu has been confirmed at a farm in Wales, but it is not the virulent and potentially-fatal-for-humans strain H5N1, but another, called H7N2. There is now a 1km exclusion zone around the farm. According to a BBC report, the owners of the farm bought 15 Rhode Island Red chickens two weeks ago. The first chicken became ill on 7 May, and 10 of them were dead by 17 May. All the birds are now dead. Possible sources of infection are still being investigated, health authorities say. Two adults who had close conatct with the birds have developed flu-like symptoms. They are being treated, as a precaution, but if they have been infected, are not expected to become seriously ill. "We have no reason to believe this is spreading rapidly," said Dr Christianne Glossop, Wales's chief vet. She added "While we are taking it very seriously, this is a low pathogenic avian flu." She advised nearby bird keepers to watch their flocks for flu-symptoms, but said farmers were not being asked to move their birds indoors. Other birds from the affected farm, including two geese, are being slaughtered today. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 May 2007
15

RAF builds massively multiplayer flight sims

A UK defence initiative hopes to link up military flight simulators in the US and UK , allowing British pilots to train for complex multi-aircraft missions together with their American counterparts across the pond. Front line aircrew are now involved in the experimental phase of the £7.8m Mission Training through Distributed Simulation (MTDS) demonstrator programme at RAF Waddington. MTDS is being delivered by Qinetiq, the sold-off MoD defence operation, in partnership with Boeing. "Initial trials with front line RAF and US aircrew have gone extremely well," according to MDTS chief Kevin Williams in a Qinetiq release last week. The RAF agrees, sort of. "We are still working within the realms of what we consider acceptable," Wing Commander Mike Dobson, synthetic training staff officer* at RAF Strike Command, told New Scientist yesterday. The MTDS facility includes eight Tornado and Typhoon fighter-bomber cockpits and a seven-seat AWACS radar-plane mockup. The system has been integrated with the UK's Apache attack-helicopter simulators, famous for taking so long to arrive that the British Apache fleet had to be mothballed for two years after being delivered. The British virtual-battlespace facilities can be connected to similar sites in the USA where American F-16, Apache, and AWACS jockeys train. Additional synthetic aircraft and ground vehicles can be injected into the simulations, though there was no suggestion of any Warcraft style virtual marketplaces or taverns. The networked UK battle sims are relatively cheap because they don't tilt and swivel like normal flight simulators. Nonetheless, they allow military air crews to practice team operations in much the same way as gamers at a LAN party or using an internet hookup. Transatlantic latency was only 0.2sec in the recent trials, apparently. Of course, the ability to give a pilot all the information he needs to carry out his mission almost instantly across thousands of miles can have other implications. It's already quite normal for pilots handling remote Predator drones over Iraq or Afghanistan to be sitting in a comfortable base near Las Vegas. It's also perfectly possible to modify helicopters or even combat jets for remote control - as of last month no less than 217 mothballed 15-tonne F-4 Phantoms had been converted to remote control for use as targets or decoys. The latest generation of drones are actually true flying robots which can land and take off autonomously - such as the US Warrior auto-plane and Fire Scout droid gunship. They don't even need a trained pilot on the remote control. The very technology which Qinetiq and the RAF are using to train pilots may soon make flight personnel largely obsolete. ® *The training is synthetic, not Wg Cdr Dobson. We assume.
Lewis Page, 24 May 2007

Studying Venus from the ground up

The European Space Agency (ESA) has enlisted the help of several ground-based telescopes for a project to complement Venus Express' study of our twin planet. As of yesterday, scientists working at observatories around the world have been aiming their 'scopes at our sister planet to perform measurements that are not feasible from Venus Express. Venus Express was launched in November 2005 and is largely based on the successful ESA Mars Express mission. One of the main mission goals is to discover why our twin planet is so strikingly different to Earth. It carries an array of useful instruments (read more about them here), but can't do everything. ESA says ground based observations in radio, submillimetre, infrared, and visible wavelengths will help interpret data sent back from orbit. The main focus of the observations is the cloud tops in Venus's atmosphere. Doing spectroscopic analysis at visible, infrared, and submillimetre wavelengths (from the ground) will give ESA direct measurements of the wind, allowing researchers to discover more about the mesosphere and the thermosphere, two atmospheric layers situated above Venus's cloud deck. Meanwhile, Venus Express itself will be scanning the planet from orbit, determining wind characteristics by tracking the motion of the clouds. It also studies the distribution of gaseous species and temperatures in the planet's upper atmosphere. The next study ESA wants Earthly help with is tracking Venus's oxygen airglow emission. This is a phenomenon detectable on the night-side, that makes the planet glow. The teams will also be pitching in on a study of the composition of the mesosphere and the deep atmosphere. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 May 2007

Qualcomm to sink €100m into European SMEs

Qualcomm is to sink €100m into small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. The company has pledged the investment via its venture capital arm Qualcomm Ventures. So which technologies might be best placed to grab a share of Qualcomm's big pie? Qualcomm certainly knows something about technology. Thirty-five per cent of its income is from licensing intellectual property, and employees get a couple of grand for every patent they add to its already-impressive list. The company also spends a lot of time evaluating technologies and laying bets on what customers are going to want embedded in silicon a few years down the line. Qualcomm chief operating officer and president of the QCT (Qualcomm CDMA Technologies) division Sanjay Jha gives WiMAX a pretty short shift: "WiMAX has no handoff and no latency control. It's based on a cable standard [DOCSIS] and was never designed for wireless". Unsurprisingly, Sanjay sees CDMA and W-CDMA everywhere, with little need for other radio standards. We don't need no UWB Femtocells are what's needed to allow W-CDMA to take on UWB, Wi-Fi and any other radio technology, and they're coming. Qualcomm can demonstrate a domestic femtocell taking a high-definition video stream from a phone handset to a TV, while simultaneously handling a VoIP call for good measure, which does beg the question: why bother with all those other radio standards? According to Qualcomm, 80 per cent of Wi-Fi-enabled handsets never have their Wi-Fi capability used, which represents an enormous waste of money when W-CDMA could fulfil the same role if the network operators would let it. Why stop at mobile gaming? Even more outlandish are Qualcomm's plans for mobile-phone gaming, with demonstrations of Dance-Revolution-like mats and TV connections from handsets. The company sees mobile phone gaming taking on the Playstation and XBox markets. When a mobile phone can stream HD TV, and play 3D games, Qualcomm can't see why you'd want any other electronics in your house. Being fab-less isn't always fab Qualcomm famously owns only very limited fabrication facilities, preferring to outsource its production to third-parties - but as the industry moves to smaller and smaller hardware, the investment needed is starting to limit the competition in fabrication. The move to 45nm and the next jump to 32nm are so expensive that industry consolidation is expected, which could mean less competitors for Qualcomm to negotiate with. So anyone looking to grab some of the $100m should look at new applications for W-CDMA; exploiting femtocell deployments and integrating the mobile phone into consumers', largely stationary, lives as well as anything which might make nano-scale manufacturing easier. ®
Bill Ray, 24 May 2007
37

Expel the IT bodgers, says Microsoft

IT bods should be struck off if they create too many dodgy computer systems, according to Microsoft's UK national technology officer. Speaking to ZDNet yesterday, Jerry Fishenden, Microsoft's key government liaison, said something needs to be done if the IT profession is to earn the respect of normal people. "If you look at what you regard as the traditional professions — doctors, teachers, lawyers — their professional bodies can fire people, can investigate complaints, can impose penalties, and the ultimate sanction is to remove them from the profession so you can't practice any more," Fishenden said. It's an idea that's circulated once in a while, but indications are that it's still some way off. BCS chief executive David Clarke said in the same report that employers were more interested in finding people with specific technical skills than with membership of a professional certificate (such as its own Chartered IT Professional qualification). Furthermore, there would be no public demand for IT spods to be legally certified, all the while their cock-ups caused no more harm than wasted tax money. How far would Harold Shipman have got with a modem and some crack codes? The professionalisation of the IT workforce is going to take a while to boot. Take the government's efforts to professionalise its 50,000 techies. It was only in March that e-skills UK launched the IT Professional Competency Model, a template of skills the Cabinet Office expects IT workers to guide their career. And anyway, if the industry was going to start expelling brothers and sisters who implement dodgy computer systems, how would the witch-hunt fare in Redmond? ®
Mark Ballard, 24 May 2007

Jajah calls patent big brothers for global VoIP domination

When a young company struts about proclaiming it wants to be "the Google of XYZ", it's hard to take seriously. Generally, it's a headline-grabbing conceit which doesn't actually mean a lot: every tech company would love Google's market share, stock price, teflon public image, and 767 party plane. Jajah, a Silicon Valley VoIP outfit, probably has more claim to deploy the soundbite without being yawned out of the room than most. The firm was founded in Austria in 2005 by Daniel Mattes and Roman Scharf (pictured). Mattes peddled us the story this week that the pair were motivated by their wives' complaints that without reasonable technical knowledge Skype tied them to a PC and was unreliable. Mattes told us: "Skype will always be number one in PC to PC calling, but we will be the Google of telephone." They set up a simple-to-use web page where the user registers their mobile, home or office number, and the number they want to call. If the target is a Jajah member too, the call is free, if not there's a typical internet telephony charge, paid by topping up a pre-pay account on the web page. Jajah now has 2 million users and is available via mobile devices on networks that allow it. Phone networks are still fighting third party VoIP applications, as witnessed by the recent Nokia N95 crippling brouhaha, where UK operators blocked VoIP applications on smart phones. JaJah doesn't need an application download to go mobile. "They have to deal with us," the bullish Mattes said. Enter venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which arrived in Austria last year with its second ever cheque for Europe and an invitation to ship the nascent operation to Silicon Valley. Sequoia's VCs are the men and women the Valley's young entrepreneurs fall over each other to get noticed by, having provided early cash to Apple, Cisco, Paypal, YouTube and Google. The desperation of many start-ups is so great that it has complicit tech publisher and conference organiser Michael Arrington complaining that they keep sending him flowers because he's so very influential among VCs. Jajah took the cash and boarded the plane. "That's when our lives changed," Mattes said. The pair found themselves at the desks occupied by Larry Page and Sergey Brin a few years earlier in Sequoia's start-up incubator. The perils of a soft Teutonic 'j' Just over a year later, the firm has just announced $20m in third wave funding. The lead investor was Intel, which says it will embed Jajah VoIP calling as firmware in all its CPUs from 2008 in return for a non-exclusive regular monthly revenue kickback. Intel makes hundreds of millions of CPUs every year, meaning come 2009, Jajah is going to need to a fairly big recruitment drive to cope: its employee roster currently numbers about 70. Also significant, Intel owns important patents around VoIP, which Jajah says will help protect it from the kind of legal battering meted out by Verizon on Vonage. Wall Street wasn't convinced by Vonage when it went public, and the firm has seen its stock tumble to about a quarter of its IPO value since it lost its patent battle against traditional telecoms. Undeterred, Mattes said Jajah has plans for its own share offering. As well as instant worldwide penetration, Jajah reckons its deal with Intel has won it an ally with enough communications patents of its own to deter would-be old telco bullies. At this year's 3GSM show in Barcelona, Jajah courted investment from those traditional providers it proudly plans to "steal revenues" from, pitching itself as a Apple-style friendly bridge between the old physical hegemony and the new digital anarchy. Mattes said: "Look at the fight between Napster and the record industry. Who's still around? The record industry. Who benefited? Steve Jobs." The firm is expected to announce a telco deal soon. Jajah claims its network makes it different to other independent VoIP operators who provide an equally cheap, but often patchy service. "We're the only VoIP company who have control over the whole network....the only one that's really suitable for business as well as home use," said Mattes. It currently has about 250 servers in 55 countries worldwide; it'll use some of its latest cash injection to pay for more hardware, and is targeting east Asian countries where VoIP penetration is high. Jajah's approach - facing down powerful enemies with even more powerful friends - is smart and ought to see VoIP dominate as a mainstream proposition. It's worth noting, however, that recent history suggests that if anyone approaches becoming the Google of their market, like YouTube might have, they get bought...by Google. ®
Christopher Williams, 24 May 2007
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8

Skype worm leaps onto MSN

Malware miscreants have created the first worm targeting Skype that's also capable over other instant messaging networks, such as MSN and ICQ. The unnamed worm poses as a chat message linking to a website, as with other example of Skype-spreading malware before it. This malicious website contains a .pif file, that poses as "photos". Users tricked by this simple ruse will find themselves infected by the Stration worm, a mass mailer that also attempts to foil attempts to remove it by blocking access to security-related websites, and other items of malware.
John Leyden, 24 May 2007
globalisation
5

Brinkster.com battens down the hatches

Web host Brinkster.com is requiring customers to change their account passwords because some of them may have been compromised, according to people who say they've received security bulletins. If confirmed, the breach is the latest example of sensitive information being lost en masse as a result of security lapses by a large service provider.
Dan Goodin, 24 May 2007
8

Dell goes direct into Wal-Mart's clutches

The dream of walking into a single store to purchase a messenger style diaper bag, an easy listening Piano Tribute to Coldplay CD, an engagement ring and a Dell computer for under $1,000 has become a reality. Dell peered into consumer hearts and materialized this secret fancy with mega chain, Wal-Mart. The PC vendor, which has until now relied solely on direct sales is offering its wares at 3,500 Wal-Mart stores in the United States and Canada as of June 10.
Austin Modine, 24 May 2007
6

If Google is a Russian spy op, when will it buy U-Haul?

And NinthlyAnd Ninthly He sat on one side of a blanket hung across the kitchen, and Smith sat on the other with his translation stones, intoning through the blanket. As if to make this an even happier scene, Harris was warned that if he tried to glimpse the plates, or look at the prophet, he would be struck dead - God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Otto Z. Stern, 24 May 2007
For Sale sign detail
4

MP's son guilty of VAT carousel fraud

The son of Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar has been convicted of an £850,000 money laundering scam involving imported mobile phones. The Glasgow High Court heard that Athif Sarwar, 28 of Lynebank Place, Mearnskirk had handled thousands of pounds of money described as "criminal property", the BBC reports.
Kelly Fiveash, 24 May 2007