6th > June > 2007 Archive

2

Storage 'robot' guards loads of data

Drobo is not much of a robot per se, but the little black box from California-based startup company Data Robotics does offer an interesting solution to external data storage.
Austin Modine, 06 Jun 2007
cloud
3

Judge pours generous portion of cold water on Zango

Poor Zango can't seem to get a break. The creator of Hotbar, Seekmo Search Assistant and other adware programs of dubious value has already ceded one lawsuit against Zone Labs and agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a $3m fine to settle a formal complaint stemming from deceptive downloads.
Dan Goodin, 06 Jun 2007
Warning: roadworks
3

Microsoft puts in Stirling work for unified security Nirvana

Microsoft is prepping a security software suite that will take it deep into Symantec and McAfee heartland. They won't be quaking in their boots just yet: the suite, called Stirling, hits the streets in 2009, at the earliest. Stirling integrates Microsoft's anti-virus, anti-spam and content filtering software, Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, Forefront Client Security and network access control tools while working with the Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP) policy, Microsoft said today.
Gavin Clarke, 06 Jun 2007

200 million people use DSL

Over 200 million people worldwide use DSL technology to access the internet, according to figures released yesterday at Broadband World Forum Asia in Beijing. The stats, compiled by Point Topic, show a 29 per cent increase in DSL subscribers over the past 12 months. Globally, DSL remains by far the most popular broadband access technology and has held on to its market share of over 65 per cent, with subscriber numbers increasing by more than six per cent in the last quarter. With over 37 million of the world's DSL subscribers, China is the largest provider of DSL-based services, representing 20 per cent of the global market for the technology. Subscribers in China rose by 11 per cent last quarter and DSL now accounts for 73 per cent of the country's broadband market. Robin Mersh, chief operating officer of the DSL Forum, told Broadband World Forum Asia: "DSL is clearly the preferred method of delivering an efficient broadband service, particularly in China, and with the growing popularity of technologies such as IPTV we expect DSL subscriptions to continue to rise." He said the DSL Forum is targeting improvements in speed, quality of experience for IPTV, VoIP and the emerging market of fixed mobile convergence. The DSL Forum is a global organisation of more than 200 members dedicated to developing the full potential of DSL and other access technologies. Copyright © 2007, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 06 Jun 2007
Warning Go
1

ITIL v3 is go

After three years gestation, the UK's Office of Government Commerce (OGC) yesterday gave birth to ITIL version 3. ITIL's friends promptly held a launch party in London to celebrate.
David Norfolk, 06 Jun 2007
7

Unknown group sues DOJ over gambling laws

GIGSE 2007GIGSE 2007 An obscure organization - the Interactive Media and Gaming Association (iMEGA) - filed a lawsuit in federal court today seeking to challenge American policy on internet gambling. The suit seeks both an injunction against the pending enforcement of the controversial Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, as well as a general decriminalization of federal internet gambling policy. The suit names the inept and beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez as defendant, as well as the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve. Although a Google search by this reporter failed to turn up so much as a website for the previously unknown organization, the announcement stirred up some discussion at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo (GIGSE), currently underway in Montreal. The head of iMEGA, Edward Leyden, as well as the group's attorney, Eric Bernstein, will be speaking about efforts to repeal the UIGEA at the event on Thursday. "The purpose of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is to prevent Americans from engaging in their fundamental rights to conduct their lives in the manner they wish to live it - to be free from the government imposing public morality in the privacy of one's home", says Eric Bernstein, attorney for iMEGA. Well, maybe. The phrase "fundamental rights" is a legal term of art referring to certain basic civil liberties that merit strict legal scrutiny under the American Constitution, and although poker is a venerable American tradition - and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is an avid poker player - it seems doubtful that the Supreme Court will elevate online gambling to a level of constitutional protection generally reserved for racial discrimination or political speech. If the US Department of Justice (DOJ) were to shut down this publication for criticizing DOJ policies toward gambling websites, that would be one thing; were the DOJ to shut down a gambling website itself, that would be something else entirely. Although the lawsuit will almost certainly fail on that argument, it also seeks to force the US to comply with its international obligations under the WTO. Since 2003 the US has been embroiled in a bitter and bizarre dispute with Antigua and Barbuda, a tiny offshore gambling and financial haven situated in the Caribbean that sought to force the US to allow Antigua to offer its online gaming services to American citizens. Sauce for the goose Antigua correctly noted in its filings that remote gaming is widespread in the US (although primarily restricted to lotteries and horse racing) and the WTO has ruled repeatedly against the US, each time more emphatically than the last as the US has dragged its heels through the WTO appeals process. The DOJ is now threatening a nuclear option of sorts: to redefine its own basic commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), a stratagem that would essentially eviscerate a major free trade agreement the US spent the better part of a decade negotiating under previous, more balanced, administrations. As I. Nelson Rose, the leading American authority on internet gaming law, noted in his excellent keynote address to GIGSE, treaty agreements are subject to Senate ratification, carry force of law, and are not something a president can simply toss in the bin when he tires of them. The specter of retaliatory action by the EU, Japanese or - better yet - the Chinese will certainly prove to be powerful threats, and ultimately far more significant catalysts for a long overdue revision of federal gaming policies than a civil suit by an unknown advocacy group. That is not to say the lawsuit is nothing more than a publicity stunt - in fact, one of the reasons federal laws on this issue are in such chaos is that virtually all defendants cop a plea with the government, leading to a relative paucity of appeals and judicial definition. Does the Wire Act really only apply to sports betting, as some read it? Didn't the Interstate Horse Racing Act - contrary to DOJ claims - repeal what came before it, being last in time? Who knows? In a civil suit, to the contrary, the plaintiffs will likely push an appeal as far as possible, forcing the courts into a timely debate about how much of what Professor Rose refers to as judicial debris should be swept away in the light of technological changes and international agreements. Rose took a cautiously optimistic position on the industry this author wholeheartedly supports - that the combination of international pressure, American weakness, and technological inevitability will lead to a fitful revision of American internet gaming laws. Rose seemed particularly inclined to believe that California card clubs will within the next few years be able to offer remote poker to California residents. The spread of gaming is ultimately unstoppable, according to Rose, as neighboring jurisdictions clammer for a piece of the gaming action. The expansion of gaming jurisdictions in the last 30 years is compelling evidence in support of that argument. ® Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
Burke Hansen, 06 Jun 2007
4

Apple adds LED-backlit displays to updated MacBook Pros

Apple has upgraded its 15in MacBook Pro laptops, equipping the new models not only with Intel's latest mobile processors but also LED-backlit displays, as anticipated a month ago.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
1

SanDisk doubles Flash hard drive capacity

ComputexComputex SanDisk has added 64GB models to its growing line of Flash-based hard drives for notebooks and media players. That said, it'll be some time before you'll be able to buy any of them.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
6

US appeals court smacks down FCC obscenity rule

Fans of open-mic celebrity blunders rejoice!
Kevin Fayle, 06 Jun 2007
10

Buttocks, thongs, and bullsh*t: Street Viewers cop an eyeful

According to an illuminating report yesterday, Google's new Street View might, if deployed across Europe, provoke a flurry of litigation from unfortunates caught in compromising positions by the facility's all-seeing eye.
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007
1

Intel de-cloaks Bearlake chipsets

ComputexComputex Consider Intel's latest chipset family, 'Bearlake', launched. Formally dubbed the 3 series, the chipsets have had a semi-official status since April, but at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan yesterday, Intel made them a real product.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
11

Olympic promotional footage provokes epileptic fits

The 2012 Olympics website has pulled "a segment of animated footage" featuring "a diver diving into a pool which had a multi-colour ripple effect" after the snippet reportedly provoked epileptic fits. We hasten to add the animation did not feature the much-maligned Olympics logo, which to date has merely provoked apoplectic fits in hundreds of thousands of enraged Brit taxpayers. According to the BBC, Christopher Filmer "rang BBC London 94.9FM to say he suffered a seizure while watching the footage on television and his girlfriend also suffered a fit and needed hospital treatment". He recounted: "The logo came up on TV and I was thinking about the 2012 Games and then I was out." The offending footage was scrutinised by Professor Graham Harding, who "developed the test used to measure photo-sensitivity levels in TV material". He told BBC London 94.9FM: "It fails the Harding FPA machine test which is the machine the television industry uses to test images. And so it does not comply with Ofcom guidelines and is in contravention of them." UK charity Epilepsy Action said the images "could affect the 23,000 people in the UK who have photosensitive epilepsy" and that it had received reports they had "even triggered breakthrough seizures where people have a relapse after being seizure-free for a long time". An Epilepsy Action spokesman said: "The brand incorporates both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which is ironic as the latter is a showcase for athletes with disabilities. People can strive for years to gain seizure control and it is important that nothing puts this at risk." A London 2012 spokeswoman confirmed the scare "surrounded a piece of animation shown at the launch, which was recorded by broadcasters and put on the official website". She said: "This concerns a short piece of animation which we used as part of the logo launch event and not the actual logo. We are taking it very seriously and are looking into it as a matter of urgency." ®
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007

Autonomy pumps up the MS-Sharepoint search action

Microsoft has turned to Autonomy to inject structured and unstructured search capabilities into its SharePoint collaboration platform for large, mixed deployments.
Gavin Clarke, 06 Jun 2007
homeless man with sign
6

Ask.com rolls out new algorithms, skins

Take that, Google. On Tuesday, Ask.com unveiled a revamped version of its online search engine, the web’s fourth most popular behind Google, Yahoo!, and MSN/Live.com. Dubbed Ask3D, the new Ask.com offers a fresh interface and an underlying search technology designed to give users quicker access to the data they’re looking for.
Cade Metz, 06 Jun 2007
Dell
1

Dell eyes up service companies

Michael Dell says his company needs to buy service companies to improve on growth. The direct seller has already said it needs to make big changes in strategy, and has started talking about increasing indirect sales through the channel. Adding services is another Damascene conversion.
John Oates, 06 Jun 2007
3

House of Lords steps into US-EU data spat

The House of Lords has called for some fair play in the homeland front of the "war on terror" after examining the massive data gathering exercises the US is using to build risk profiles of people travelling through its borders. In weighing the balance between public security and private rights, the House of Lords EU Committee considered evidence used by America to justify its collection of Passenger Name Records (PNR) data and their use in the Automated Targeting System, its dragnet border surveillance programme. The US has doubled the evidence it presents to allied nations who ask questions about its data gathering: it now has eight case studies that describe how 11 baddies were plucked out of the 400 million people who travel yearly through US border ports. Lord Wright of Richmond, chair of the EU sub-committee on Home Affairs, said even those eight were of limited use: "We've only been given one piece of evidence that the collection of PNR has avoided any terrorist outrage," he said. And even then that suspected terrorist wasn't caught: he was turned away at the US border - his partial fingerprints were later found on the steering wheel of a car bomb that killed 132 people in Iraq. The other examples noted how the system had been used to nab three suspected drug smugglers, five suspected terrorists, a drug user, and a corrupt ticket agent. The suspected terrorists were turned away, so it cannot be known if the intelligence was correct. The Lords report gives its own example of how intelligence can be wrong: the case of Mahar Arar, a 34-year-old Canadian ICT consultant who just happened to live in Syria until the age of 17. In 2002, Arar was arrested at JFK airport in New York on route to Montreal. He was "chained, shackled, flown to Syria...held in a tiny 'grave-like' cell for ten months...beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession". A Canadian judge "categorically" cleared him of all terrorism allegations last year. The report is aimed at the UK government, which is running its own ATS clone, and EU negotiators who are trying to limit US demands for more data in a PNR agreement they hope to agree before an interim arrangement runs out in July. Home Office minister Joan Ryan told the committee that 23 people had been nabbed at British borders in 2007 by Project Semaphore, the UK's pilot criminal PNR profiling system. The report said Semaphore had "resulted in some 900 arrests for crimes including murder, rape, drug and tobacco smuggling and passport offences" since it was established in 2004. However, it noted: "Any increased detection of crimes or immigration offences is welcome, but we have yet to hear that the collection of this data has led to successes in combating terrorism or serious cross-border crime." In seeking to find a balance between "public security and private rights", said Lord Wright, the committee has found the median rests on the point of purpose - that is, the reasons why the US collects PNR and other data to create risk profiles of the people who pass through its borders. The original purpose given for these systems was to catch terrorists, but there has been some project creep. "You will have seen [from the report] that there is quite a lot of inconsistency between the various statements about what this is for," said Lord Wright. "As the agreements have developed over the years it's become clear that the US authorities want it to cover much more. The problem is it departs from its original purpose of collecting PNR. "The [PNR] agreement should have a clear definition about what all this is for. We are calling for much greater clarity - whether we will get it, I don't know." The point of equilibrium the Lords have found is flexible, however, Lord Wright said. Should the authorities decide they want to build data profiles of people to determine how likely they are to be involved in serious crime, then "that's fine", but the US and EU would have to agree on a definition of serious crime. Existing and evolving data protection laws should put a spanner into the US plans as well. And, the Lords committee is the second in two days to recommend the European Commission and German Presidency of the EU, which are conducting the PNR negotiations with the US, listen to the European Data Protection Supervisor. EU law prevents data being sent to countries like the US that don't have equivalent data protection. The US's contempt for the interim PNR agreement, for which the Lords committee said there was "no justification at all", might be taken as an indication of what happens when people's personal data is shared with countries with an old-fashioned sense of fundamental rights. ®
Mark Ballard, 06 Jun 2007
8

Ads watchdog okays Intel 'world's best processor' claim

The UK's advertising watchdog has rejected complaints that a claim made by chip giant Intel that Core 2 Duo CPUs are the "world's best processors" is false.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007

Citrix unveils branding program

Citrix has launched a new branding program to help customers identify products by partners of the access infrastructure provider. Citrix Ready is designed to help the firm's customers understand the impact products from its partners have on their IT systems. The new branding was announced at the Citrix iforum in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
Emmet Ryan, 06 Jun 2007

D-Link debuts 200Mbps mains networking pack

D-Link has packed a pair of its 200Mbps powerline Ethernet adaptors into a starter kit it hopes will make networking over mains power cables more attractive.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
5

Wireless power limit doubled to bridge digital divide

Ofcom has allowed fixed broadband internet providers to double the power of their signals in a move the UK telecoms regulator says will help bridge the digital divide. The new rules apply to the 5.8GHz frequency, which is used by fixed WiMax radio technology for wireless internet connections. The frequency is subject to light regulation from Ofcom which allows the registration of terminals at its website. The power of base stations in the spectrum is limited, though. They will now be able to increase the power they emit from two to four watts. This will extend the reach of each base station. The regulator said in its announcement of the change that this will allow providers to extend the coverage areas and bridge the digital divide. "Concern has been raised that a so-called digital divide exists in the availability of services, particularly broadband, in rural and urban areas in the UK," said an Ofcom statement. "Ofcom's Communications Market Report: Nations and Regions showed that the gap is closing and 41 per cent of adults in rural areas have broadband internet at home compared to 45 per cent of adults in urban areas. Changing regulation in this band, enabling greater geographical coverage, could help to increase access to wireless broadband in rural areas." The decision is the result of a consultation into the rise in power limits. Ofcom has also said it will soon change its regulations so that users of equipment that communicates via ultra wide band (UWB) technology will no longer need licences. The very short range systems are commonly used for video wireless or camera wireless systems. The rule change will bring the UK into line with an EU Directive which demands that regulations be changed by 21 August. "Globalisation of the marketplace and increased interest from businesses in the potential of UWB technology has led to a growing need for more international solutions which utilise spectrum in a harmonised manner for UWB technology," said Ofcom. "UWB solutions now have the advanced technical characteristics necessary, for example, to allow for the co-location of multiple devices in a small area which is a requirement of the Short Range Device, consumer electronics, retail and logistics industries. Implementation of the Decision on UWB will go some way towards addressing these requirements and enable the benefits of this new technology to be realised." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links The 5.8GHz announcement (pdf) The UWB regulations proposal
OUT-LAW.COM, 06 Jun 2007
thumbs up teaser 75

Virtualisation gets trendy

Had you 'Rip van Winkled' your way through the first half of this decade, you could have fallen asleep thinking virtualisation was merely a means of slicing-up large servers. However you would have awoken to discover it is in fact one of the most versatile tools in IT. Virtualisation is now involved in the most trendy fields in the industry including data centre automation, utility computing, green computing, security, business continuity, blades, grid and SOA.
Dennis Szubert, 06 Jun 2007
22

MoD boffins in Cornwall GPS-jamming trials

UK gov defence boffins will carry out GPS-jamming trials in Cornwall today and tomorrow. Jamming transmissions will be made at the Portreath MoD site, a remote radar station operated by the RAF's Air Surveillance and Control Systems Force Command. The old airfield was once used (low down on page) as an outstation of the former Chemical Defence Establishment, headquartered at Porton Down. Ministry of Defence (MoD) scientific operations are nowadays consolidated under the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and it's these boffins who will carry out the tests this week. According to a BBC report, effects on GPS receivers can be expected up to 11km from Portreath, which would include the local towns Camborne and Redruth. Apparently, local emergency and rescue services have been warned, and arrangements are in place to cancel the trials if necessary. When contacted by the Reg, however, DSTL was quick to downplay the local impact, saying effects would be limited to the airfield itself and that every effort had been made to minimise impact on local GPS coverage. Trials have already been carried out at Sennybridge Training Area in Wales, according to DSTL, and more are planned for Lincolnshire (3 and 4 July and 31 August) and Buchan, Scotland (17 August). "The tests will not have an effect on mobile phones or telecommunications devices and all local services including aircraft and marine users have been made aware," according to an MoD release. "The trials will start on 7 June and will continue until 8 June at the very latest. They will take place for up to eight hours a day – from 0900 hours until 17.00 BST." Details of the trials were "restricted", but the government spokesperson was able to reveal that the trials were intended to research "vulnerabilities in a range of military applications" of satellite navigation. Apparently, the tests will involve "setting up transmitters near equipment in order to discover the effects". DSTL was unwilling to confirm which equipment might be investigated (UK forces use GPS in a wide range of kit, including various guided weapons and drones as well as more ordinary navigational apps). However, the boffins' media contact did confirm that "this is a military trial". The use of the term "vulnerabilities" might imply more subtle attacks than merely preventing military receivers in missiles, aircraft, or whatever from functioning. Quite apart from simply jamming GPS, it's also possible to spoof it - to transmit synthesised satellite signals which blot out the real ones and cause a nearby GPS receiver to give a false location of the spoofer's choice (more info here for those interested). Disappointingly, DSTL's spokesperson at MoD PR denied they were experimenting with any such techniques - for all that it seems an obvious thing for tech-savvy enemies to attempt. The MoD also implied that it had no interest in meddling with adversaries' satnav, only in protecting that used by UK forces. However, the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) safety warning issued to cover the trials conflicts with the press information. It reads: "GPS SIGNAL JAMMING TRIALS. JAMMER LOCATED WITHIN 0.5 [nautical miles] OF 5016N 00516W (PORTREATH, CORNWALL). ACTIVITY MAY AFFECT AIRCRAFT WITHIN 6NM RADIUS FLYING BELOW FL300 [30,000 feet] ... DURING TRIAL PERIODS, GPS RECEIVERS MAY SUFFER INTERMITTENT/TOTAL FAILURE, OR GIVE INCORRECT POSITION INFO ..." Which suggests that the Beeb's 11km radius of effect is actually correct - and further, that spoofing tests may indeed be on the agenda, which restores some faith in the competence of UK defence boffinry. That seems a lot more believable to the Reg military-matters desk. Any satnav-using readers near Portreath who notice interesting effects over the next couple of days can contact us via the link at the top of the page. ®
Lewis Page, 06 Jun 2007
6

Pipex retains personal data for escapees' own good

Pipex says it retains departed customers' bank details in case they ever change their minds. Yesterday, we reported on how a new customer account website had revealed that the ISP does not delete personal information when users cancel their contract. According to Reg readers who are former Pipex customers, the data is still available well over a year after they quit the service. In response to our questions on why it had not deleted information about ex-customers, Pipex sent us this statement: We are not in a position to discuss individual cases due to data protection, but can assure all customers that data is held securely and not used for any purposes other than being available should they wish to return to us. Pipex may not be the only ISP to operate such a "keep the home fires burning" data policy. However, the Data Protection Act prohibits data retention for any longer than necessary as demanded by the reason it was originally recorded. Which makes Pipex's response seem rather flimsy, although the law is open to interpretation. Details of how to complain to the Information Commissioner, the government watchdog which regulates data retention, are here. The struggling ISP, which is undergoing a wide-ranging strategy review by external consultants, and has been the subject of repeated sell-off rumours this year, currently has about 570,000 broadband subscribers. ®
Christopher Williams, 06 Jun 2007
1

Perfumier concocts Paris Hilton chokey scent

An online perfumier has fragrantly decided to offer a limited edition scent to celebrate Paris Hilton's all-too-brief spell in chokey. Black Phoenix describes its "Pruno" thus: "Jailhouse hooch. Distilled in toilets, this vintage is comprised of chow line droppings, including oranges, apples, ketchup, and sugar." Discerning females might like to complement Pruno with a whiff of "Privilege": Polished party-girl sleaze. This is a shameless scent, devoid of caution, regret, or introspection. This perfume reeks of tabloid glamour, and has no substance whatsoever. Armoise, tuberose, white citrus, rose absolute, oakmoss, tiare, tuberose, vanilla, linden, and lemon tree blossom. Although this scent originated with fine plants and the pure essences, the final result is a grotesque, eerily empty caricature of a debauched, narcissistic would-be debutante. Both Pruno and Privilege go out at $17.50 for a 5ml bottle. Black Phoenix says it will donate "a portion" of all sales to Southern California women's shelters. Paris Hilton, meanwhile, has sadly not yet suffered the usual indignities of incarceration down in Century Regional Detention Centre. The word on the street is that she's "doing well" in the prison's celeb block, having successfully avoided the attentions of the obligatory predatory bull dyke lags who are undoubtedly looking to donate a sizeable portion to the highly-talented heiress. ® Bootnotes Regular correspondent Mike Richards asks us to thank his friend Stephanie "who found the link". Done.
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007
4

Swedes unfurl talking paper

A team from Mid Sweden University have knocked together a "talking paper" billboard which uses conductive links and printed speakers to give forth when caressed, the BBC reports. The chattering display - showing the tech's "possible use for marketing holiday destinations" - uses a layer of "digital paper" printed with said links. Hit the link, and a computer responds by offering up the appropriate sound file via speakers "formed from more layers of conductive inks that sit over an empty cavity to form a diaphragm". Sandwich all that between "a thick sheet of extra-strong cardboard" and you're ready to slap your vociferous printed design on top. Lead boffin Mikael Gulliksson told the Beeb: "When you approach the billboard and put your hand on a postcard that shows a picture of a beach, you can hear a very brief description of that beach." While this pilot project is big and expensive, the researchers are looking to scale down the technology. They're also looking for a plausible reason why they'd want to scale it down, and were able only to offer the possibility of talking cigarette packets. Dr Gulliksson said: "One interesting idea would be to use it on cigarette packaging, so instead of having a written message warning you of danger to your health, you would have a spoken one. There could be a whole range of applications." Well, the smokers among you can see where this cunning plan comes unstuck: addicts would simply remove the cancer sticks from the pack, set fire to it, and then travel to Mid Sweden University to make the research team eat the resulting ash. A far better application, according to reader Simon Walke, would be an interactive life-size Playboy-style centrefold of Denise Richards, offering nimble-fingered geeks encouragement such as "Oh, yes, big boy, harder, harder..." as they run their trembling digits over her ample charms, later followed by "The Surgeon General warns that smoking causes [insert hideous ailment]" when they settle back for the post-orgasmic smoke. ®
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007
Sun
4

Sun finally crafts proper x86 and SPARC blades

Contrary to public perception, Sun Microsystems does want to play in the mainstream blade server market. Sun today revealed yet another take on blade systems, showing a compact chassis that holds Opteron-, Xeon- and UltraSPARC T1-based servers. The new Sun Blade 6000 chassis compares favorably with existing systems from blade leaders HP and IBM. More importantly, the chassis should prove much more appealing to the average customer than Sun's hefty Blade 8000 chassis released last year.
Ashlee Vance, 06 Jun 2007
3

SEC slaps admin order on IBM

IBM has struck a deal with the SEC under which it promises not violate to security laws - not that it's admitting or denying that it’s ever done such a thing in the past. The deal closes an investigation by the SEC sparked by the IT giant’s expensing of equity compensation in its Q1 2005 earnings announcement. That quarter's profits came in under expectations. Announcing the closing of the investigation, IBM said it had agreed to an administrative order by the SEC to “cease and desist from committing or causing any violations of certain of the reporting provisions of the federal securities laws and related SEC rules.” This was done without admitting or denying any wrongdoing. IBM adds that the SEC’s order “contains no finding of securities fraud or violation of any antifraud provision” and that there were no fines or penalties. Got that? In case you forgot why the SEC kicked off the investigation in the first place, here’s a refresher.®
Joe Fay, 06 Jun 2007

AMD desktop price cuts due next month

AMD has apparently told its product distributors to expect a round of price cuts early next month. The reductions, said to centre on the chip maker's desktop product lines, will see on average 20 per cent knocked off what it charges for dual-core CPUs.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
19

UK boffins: extraterrestrial life will be discovered soon

Top British boffins are convinced that evidence of alien life will soon be discovered outside the solar system. According to reports in both the Guardian and the Telegraph, a group of seven eminent astronomers was convened yesterday by UK Science Minister Malcolm Wicks. The brain trust collectively expected that indications of less-complex life would emerge within ten years, as large numbers of extrasolar planets are identified and investigated. "Twenty years ago we only had one solar system to study and that's the one we live in," said Prof Keith Mason of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. "But since then, there's been an explosion in the number of planets outside our solar system that we've been able to detect." Hundreds of planets orbiting distant stars have been spotted in recent decades by astronomers using new techniques. Prof Mason and his fellow skywatchers expect to be able to pick out those on whose surface liquid water can exist, which would be a prerequisite for the appearance of life along the same lines as Earth. Most of the scientists thought that not only vegetation, microbes and the like would be discovered, but also intelligent life. The only sceptic among the seven boffins, Dr Michael Perryman (late of the European Space Agency), felt that the circumstances which have led to intelligence on Earth were probably unique. Even he, however, expected that relatively nearby stars might have planets inhabited by simpler lifeforms. Reportedly, Dr Perryman said he would be unsurprised to hear that chlorophyll had been detected on another world within a few months. (Chlorophyll being the molecule in plants which permits free atmospheric oxygen to accumulate - and without which animal life on Earth could not exist.) "Don't underestimate what a huge revolution this whole business of finding planets has been in science," said Dr Perryman. "Everyone now is working on this." The European Space Agency will launch a space mission called Darwin in 2015, which "will use a flotilla of three space telescopes, each at least 3 metres in diameter, and a fourth spacecraft to server as communications hub. The telescopes will operate together to scan the nearby Universe, looking for signs of life on Earth-like planets." The Darwin distributed scopes are to be deployed in the Earth-Sun L2 point, circling the sun beyond Earth's orbit. Several of Mr Wicks' minsterial advisors felt that Darwin was the project which would first produce conclusive evidence of life off Earth, but others suggested that results could be achieved sooner. Mr Wicks, known for his views that science education should be jazzed up with references to Doctor Who and Star Wars, said that the boffins' assessment that alien life would soon be found was "very interesting." "As a lay person," he added, "that is how I would vote as well, given the vastness of space." On the general theme of science fiction, the old SF staple of Earth broadcasts travelling outwards at the speed of light and being received by aliens decades later was trotted out again. "As from 1927, we have been propagating outwards from Earth, a very specific indicator of our existence," said Perryman. Early radio trasmissions would by now have reached eighty light-years from the Solar System. "That is going to encompass many hundreds of potentially habitable planets," according to Perryman. "If there is intelligent life out there, they sure as hell know we are here." A quick look at the European Union Encyclopaedia of Extrasolar Planets reveals where the alien residents of various planets may have got to in the Earthly broadcast schedule. Epsilon Eridani B (1997): Teletubbies Gamma Cephei B (1968): Dad's Army rho Coronae Borealis B (1950): Andy Pandy And so on. Of course, aliens who have achieved faster-than-light star travel would be able to move in and out from Earth in order to retrieve missed episodes or jump ahead to the next series. This indicates that today's PVRs, online services and P2P downloads are really quite primitive TV kit compared to what visiting aliens may be able to show us. Of course, as ever, content is king. You'd need a really serious stimulus to put in the sort of effort that could lead to hyperdrive starships available for TV timeshifting. The lads out at rho Coronae Borealis B aren't likely to bother, as they'll be expecting nothing more than black-and-white coverage of the Festival of Britain. On the other hand, any residents of planets orbiting the dwarf star GJ 849 will shortly be receiving the first series of Fawlty Towers, according to El Reg's calculations, and they won't get the second one for another four years. That might easily motivate them to get cracking on their space programme. Sadly for those looking forward to visits from alien John Cleese aficionados, the only planet detected at GJ849 weighs nearly as much as Jupiter, suggesting a dense atmosphere in which cathode ray tubes couldn't exist. The unfortunate locals, if any, may never have developed television at all.®
Lewis Page, 06 Jun 2007

C&W chairman in plea to join fat cat bonanza

Cable and Wireless has announced plans to rejig its rules on bonuses so its chairman can join other top brass at the firm in bagging a huge haul of shares. When the record-breaking bonanza for other execs was debated at last year's AGM, chairman Richard Lapthorne faced a barrage of criticism from shareholders, but the awards were approved. If Cable and Wireless can get its rebellious shareholders to agree to diamond-encrusting another board seat at this year's meeting on 30 July, Lapthorne would score 5.5 million shares in three years' time, provided total shareholder returns are in the global top ten of companies. At today's prices, the shares would be worth almost £11m. The proposed new contract suggests no change to his current annual salary of £386,000. Clive Butler, a senior non-executive director at the firm, sold the windfall thus: "The board considered it a priority to secure Richard's continuing contribution to the turnaround and transformation of our business beyond his current fixed term. These proposed arrangements reflect the reality of the chairman's involvement and commitment to Cable & Wireless and are in the best interests of all shareholders." Lapthorne joined Cable and Wireless at its lowest ebb in 2003, and has overseen a brutal cost-cutting programme, which has included thousands of redundancies. Over the last year the company's stock price has doubled, marking it out as a potential acquisiton target. At the same time as pushing equality in island-buying power in the boardroom, the company is pushing for a £20m cap on the bonuses to be removed. Cable and Wireless' notification to investors is here. ®
Christopher Williams, 06 Jun 2007
1

BT Openzone closed for business

BT has been experiencing problems with its Openzone network this morning, though it's still not able to tell us the scale of the problem or quite what went wrong. The network seems to have started failing at around 8am, and customers calling support were told that the whole network had gone down and they would have to wait and hope for the best. BT is now saying that the network is all fixed and working perfectly, though it's still trying to work out what happened and why. ®
Bill Ray, 06 Jun 2007
17

Asus pitches wee Eee PC companion

ComputexComputex First Palm's Foleo, now Asus' Eee PC. Different names, but the concept's much the same: a highly compact laptop that focuses on mobile internet access rather than heavy duty personal computing.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
Microsoft Office logo
4

MS anti-Trojan shield fails to protect older Offices

Microsoft's attempts to protect against the growing range of attacks targeting unpatched flaws in its Office application suite are only likely to be partially effective, according to security experts.
John Leyden, 06 Jun 2007
6

Priapic litigant sues health drink outfit

A US man is suing Novartis pharmaceutical company after its Boost Plus health drink allegedly provoked a nasty case of severe priapism. According to The Evening Standard, 29-year-old Christopher Woods bough the vit-enhanced beverage at a US drugstore on 5 June 2004. Boost Plus is claimed "to help volume-restricted patients get the calories they need", and Woods says that while it did indeed derestrict his volume, this was unfortunately in the trouser department since he woke up the next morning "with an erection that would not subside". So bad was the unscheduled boner that the New Yorker later that day had to undergo "Winter shunt" surgery and days later a "penile artery embolisation"* to reduce the flow of blood to his manhood. Woods' lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Novartis Consumer Health Inc. Novartis spokeswoman Brandi Robinson said the company "was aware of the lawsuit but did not comment on pending litigation". ® Bootnote * A Winter shunt, as far as we can make out without coming over a bit wobbly, involves puncturing the glans into one of the penis's rigid corpora cavernosa, releasing trapped blood from the latter back into circulation. The penile artery embolisation is, as the name suggests, a simple matter of restricting the flow of blood to the penis, often with snappily-named "Gelfoam pledgets". We'll leave the docs among you to fill in the gory details, while we go and have a lie down.
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007
6

Wi-Manx launches WiMAX...nearly

The Isle of Man has got Europe's first commercial WiMAX network - or, at least, a wireless network using WiMAX equipment, even if it's not actually on a WiMAX frequency. Wi-Manx's network is currently only available in Douglas, the capital, but the company has plans to expand island-wide in the future. Operating on 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz puts it outside the officially-sanctioned WiMAX frequencies, but the deployment is still using the standard to achieve decent line-of-sight and near line-of-sight speeds. There's no local loop unbundling on the island, so Manx Telecom has an effective monopoly on ADSL and the margins for internet providers reselling the service are tight, making wireless more attractive than in the rest of the UK, though still primarily a business proposition. The Isle of Man is no stranger to early wireless deployments. In 2001, mmO2 (the early incarnation of O2) triumphantly announced Europe's first 3G deployment, 24 transmitters serving only the most desperate early adopters. In 2005, O2 deployed the first HSDPA network on the same basis, though by now the original deployment was known as a "test bed". Telefonica (as it is now known) isn't involved this time - as owner of Manx Telecom it is suddenly the fixed-line competition. ®
Bill Ray, 06 Jun 2007

Intel details Core-based mobile, desktop Pentiums

ComputexComputex Intel has rolled out its anticipated extension of ye olde Pentium brand into the more advanced Core era with a quintet of desktop and laptop processors based on its new architecture.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
5

Citrix and Microsoft introduce BOB

Citrix chief executive Mark Templeton says the company expects to deliver the first fruits of Project Evergreen, a joint development with Microsoft, by the end of the year.
Phil Manchester, 06 Jun 2007
Pentax Optio M30 compact digital camera

Pentax Optio M30 digital camera

ReviewReview The Optio M30 is a mid-level 7.1-megapixel compact digital camera, unveiled by Pentax at the beginning of this year. It features a 3x zoom lens, a 2.5in display and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200.
James Atkin, 06 Jun 2007
3

AMD's neo naming scheme - details emerge

ComputexComputex AMD has begun detailing how it plans to replace its current processor numbering scheme, this time with an Intel-esque system based on chip class, power consumption and relative performance.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
6

Long Beach cops boast first Segway-borne bust

Long Beach cops have finally vindicated the much-ridiculed Segway - by busting three teen car thieves who failed to escape the long arm of one motorised pogo-stick-borne law enforcement operative. Last Thursday, 34-year-old officer Jose Miguez chose the two-wheeler to scoot around his beat. He explained: "I decided to take a Segway that day, and I observed a Mercedes-Benz coming out of the drive-through of Burger King, and it was being operated by a kid that to me looked underage, so I approached to get a better idea of what was going on. "I'm about 9 inches off the ground [on the Segway], and even from a bit further away I was able to notice that the back passenger was wearing latex gloves." Miguez spotted that the vehicle's other passenger also sported latex gloves, and the driver had slipped on print-foiling construction gloves. Miguez continued: "It wasn't a summer day but it had to be 80 degrees that day and I asked them what the gloves were all about. And that's when they all ripped off their gloves and he floored it. I gave pursuit on the Segway." Given that the Segway's top speed is a non-white-knuckle 12.5mph, you might imagine the Merc could make a rapid getaway. This, however, would be to underestimate the kind of pursuit skills which perfectly complement Long Beach police's enlightened transportation policy. Miguez was able to keep the car in sight for two blocks until the Segway's relentless progress evidently unnerved the car's occupants, who "leaped out of the moving car to escape just moments before it jumped a curb and struck a utility pole". Miguez quickly apprehended the 13-year-old driver, who named his two accomplices. Once the gang had been rounded up, the trio were "charged with juvenile delinquency". Long Beach has had two Segways on trial since May after the powers that be decided "they would prove handy in patrolling the 2.2-mile-long boardwalk during the summer beach season". The advantages include, according to the department's public relations officer Lt. Bruce Meyer, that the lightweight vehicles "saves the [boardwalk's] wooden structure from the heavier weight of police sedans". Meyer justifiably added: "Also, the fact that it's an unconventional element of patrol adds the element of surprise. People aren't expecting it." ®
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007

Toshiba shows 'world's first' skinny HD DVD-RW drive

ComputexComputex Toshiba will begin offering notebook makers samples of its upcoming slimline HD DVD-RW drive next month. The add-in is the first of its its kind, the company claimed.
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2007
6

MS, Yahoo! and Google snub debate on freedom

Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft have passed up the chance to take part in a web conference on internet freedom being hosted by human rights group Amnesty International this evening. The event is being held to discuss how free debate is being quashed by oppressive regimes. The three tech giants could have made a crucial contribution to the debate over whether isolation or inclusion is the best way to help people living under such regimes, as all have been criticised recently for bowing to oppressive practices. With all three declining Amnesty's invitation to take part, it leaves a mere, but distinguished, assembly of internet dissidents, human rights groups, and people like Morton Sklar, the man who is taking Yahoo! to court to face the accusation that its collusion with the Chinese government has led to the torture of dissidents who used its email service. Amnesty said in a statement that the "Chinese model" of internet repression, which involves blocking websites and arresting bloggers, is becoming popular around the world. The Open Net Initiative reported that 25 governments censor what their citizens can read on the internet. The Chinese model, said Amnesty, allowed economic growth but not free speech or privacy. Yahoo! helped the Chinese government trace Shi Tao, who was subsequently arrested and sentenced for 10 years for emailing a US human rights campaigner about how journalists' reports were being censored on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organisation of Human Rights USA, has complained about Yahoo! in a California court on behalf of Chinese citizens who claim to have suffered torture, cruel and degrading treatment, and imprisonment for doing nothing more than speek freely. Yahoo! is accused of handing copies of their emails and IDs over to Chinese investigators. The trial is due to open on 7 August. Yahoo! will also be facing a shareholder motion on 12 June to cease its collusion with oppressive regimes. The issue was forced by public pension funds led by the New York City Comptroller, which has also taken on Google. Google has been accused of filtering politically dissident web pages from the Chinese version of its search engine. Microsoft, meanwhile, stands accused of similar collusion, having closed the blog of Zhao Jing, the Beijng researcher of the New York Times. Amnesty is disappointed the trio will not be discussing their policies in public. They had previously agreed to the debate the issue in a forum with Amnesty, other human rights organisations, and socially responsible investors 18 months ago. But the talks are being conducted under Chatham House rules. "It would have been useful to have heard the arguments about why they behave as they do, and for them to hear the counter arguments, and how their activities are contrary to the business principles they describe - their belief in the internet being a forum for freedom of information. That's the platform that they've built their business on," said an Amnesty spokesman. Bob Boorstin, director of policy communications and Google's representative at the closed talks, said it is better to give people access to most information than deny them some. Or to put it another way, deny them some so you can give them most. That is the sort of compromise that has driven US trade policy over China against a tide of criticism of human rights abuses. The argument might therefore be made that inclusion is a greater ally to human rights than exclusion, but these corporations won't be the ones to do it. This is, The Register understands, the kind of argument Yahoo! will be making to shareholders on 12 June. It might be difficult to sustain morally if it transpires that the corporate collusion of internet firms has led to torture of political dissidents. Yahoo! was unavailable to state its position. Microsoft refused to comment. ®
Mark Ballard, 06 Jun 2007
19

Vodafone Live 'improvements' kill mCommerce

Vodafone UK has launched a mobile optimising technology which reformats web pages to fit onto a mobile phone screen. Unfortunately, it also prevents anyone else doing the same thing, and breaks several mCommerce technologies. Dubbed Mobile Internet, the service includes a shiny new portal, which users can personalise with their own links, and an email aggregation service which notifies over SMS and only charges when the message is downloaded (at 12p a message, or £5 a month for all messages, without incurring data usage). But it's the optimisation of web pages that is causing problems. When you now request a website over Vodafone Live your request is intercepted by Vodafone's server, which downloads the content for you and converts it to suit your model of phone before sending it on. In most cases that's fine, but where the receiving server is expecting a direct connection to the phone (such as many mCommerce sites, or sites that like to do their own handset optimisation), everything stops working. According to the support pages at Bango, a leading mCommerce platform provider: "These changes have crippled mobile web browsing by masking the User Agent of the mobile device, making the device appear to be a PC browser to the remote web server...Vodafone alerted Bango to the changes earlier this morning and we're working with Vodafone to resolve the issues." The technology also adds a Vodafone header and footer to pages, providing additional functionality or the option to insert advertisements, depending on your point of view. Vodafone says the technology is a way of enabling an internet experience within the 120MB a month cap it's put on its data tariff, but others might see it as an imposition on their freedom to view what content they like without their network operator imposing improvements on the experience. ® Bootnote Bango tells us that Vodafone is now letting sites registered with Bango.com through unmodified, so if your site is getting mangled then call up Vodafone and ask for the same treatment, or register with Bango, to get your site delivered unimproved, at least for the moment.
Bill Ray, 06 Jun 2007
6

Europe could give Microsoft verdict soon

The European Court of First Instance could deliver its verdict on Microsoft's appeal of its anti-trust ruling before the summer recess. The last possible date for the arrival of the verdict is 17 September - the last working day before Bo Vesterdorf, president of the court, retires.
John Oates, 06 Jun 2007
Handcuffs
11

Firm offers to patent security fixes

The market for software vulnerabilities just got even more complex with the arrival of a firm that offers security researchers a chance to profit from their work by patenting security fixes.
John Leyden, 06 Jun 2007
Pacman

Networks First buys ANS

Networks First has bought ANS (Access Network Services), a Hampshire based firm that supports IP telephony products. West-Midlands based Networks First claims this makes it the largest independent provider of converged network support services. The combined firm is predicted to turnover £10m within a year and brings the headcount up to 85 people. ®
John Oates, 06 Jun 2007
26

Dutch students brew up powdered alcohol hit

Dutch students have developed what might be the ultimate Reg hack survival aid - a powdered alcohol beverage going out at €1-€1.50 for a 20-gram packet, Reuters reports. Just add water to Booz2Go and you get a "bubbly, lime-colored and flavored drink with just three percent alcohol content", ideal for those journalistic Bravo Two Zero situations where you find yourself pinned down by a corporate PowerPoint presentation with nothing more than a plastic cup and a water cooler between you and a sobriety-heightened two-hour torture session. Mind you, no self-respecting journo would drink anything tasting of lime unless he or she was truly under the cosh. In reality, Booz2Go is aimed at the tearaway alcopop market, as developer Harm van Elderen explained: "We are aiming for the youth market. They are really more into it because you can compare it with Bacardi-mixed drinks." Van Elderen and four classmates at Helicon Vocational Institute brewed up Booz2Go as part of a final year project. Fellow student Martyn van Nierop showed his WKD side by announcing one major attraction of the concoction for the yoof demographic: "Because the alcohol is not in liquid form, we can sell it to people below 16." The team says a number of companies are interested in marketing the product on the grounds that powdered alcohol might be exempt from booze taxation. ®
Lester Haines, 06 Jun 2007
570

So what's in a URL? The Reg URL?

The Register started out as a UK operation with a UK addressed web site, but accidentally and against our expectations became a pretty successful international operation. In deference to marketing we should point out that in recent years the international success has been both planned and deliberate, but that certainly isn't what we were thinking about back in the mid-90s when we set up theregister.co.uk. And that is, sort of, what we feel the need to ask you about today - the .co.uk was at first an obstacle to be overcome, then arguably became an important component of The Register's branding, but how important is it to you, and in what ways? Question first, then the explanation, which is a little involved, and for that we apologise. Should The Register's base URL be theregister.co.uk, or theregister.com?
Team Register, 06 Jun 2007
6

UK MoD: O2 won't help employees serve in Iraq

UpdatedUpdated The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has mounted a media campaign this week to shame major employers into signing its statement of support for military-reservist employees. The UK's full-time forces are heavily engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other deployments worldwide. At the same time, their numbers are historically very low. Demand for weekend-warrior reservists has risen correspondingly, and over the past decade it has become almost impossible for the UK to mount major operations without them. Without their civilian bosses' support, however, it can be difficult for reservists to answer the call: hence the MoD's moves to put pressure on employers. The MoD's "SaBRE" (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) campaign was set up in 2002. Thus far, according to SaBRE, over 100 companies have signed up. They include: Microsoft UK BT Orange Motorola Cable and Wireless Carphone Warehouse Yell.com Sir Christopher Bland, BT CEO and former national-service and reserve cavalry officer, visited BT employees serving in Iraq with the Army's 81 Signal Squadron under SaBRE's auspices this week. BT backs its reservists to the hilt, apparently. Sir Christopher told the Telegraph that BT management makes an effort to "encourage our people to be part of the Reserve Forces, to make it as easy as possible for them to discharge their duties and commitments, and to make sure they are not penalised as a result of time away from work". They certainly aren't penalised financially. "We continue to pay them and they get full Army pay and allowances for being abroad," says Bland. Not bad, it has to be said. The MoD also seized the chance for a little name-and-shame action, leaking the names of a few firms who had allegedly refused to sign up. These included BT's erstwhile mobile arm, O2. The arm-twisting appeared to work well, as all the outed firms fell into line the next day when contacted by Telegraph hacks. "We do fully support reservists and have a written policy to give them time off," squealed an O2 spokesperson, hastily. "We are happy to publicly confirm that support for them." When contacted by the Reg, O2 said: "A number of O2 employees are members of the Territorial Army. Some have already been called up to serve their country in recent years and we have a certificate from the Ministry of Defence in recognition of our support and encouragement of the Volunteer forces. In response to the original request from SaBRE to participate in the campaign we made it clear that we support reservists (which includes providing them with additional time off work) but that it would not be possible for us to make a public pledge. Like many companies, O2 takes care to act in a politically neutral manner and we felt that such a step could be mis-interpreted as a political gesture. We are disappointed that the Ministry of Defence is naming companies in this manner, and are unhappy with the implication that we are not supporting our employees. It is more important to do the right thing by our people than to publicise our actions." Of course, the refusal to sign up with SaBRE could also be interpreted as a political gesture - but that's up to the individual observer.®
Lewis Page, 06 Jun 2007
6

eBay's phishy old problem

CommentComment Reg Developer recently published a story about listings on eBay that point users to phishing sites. We thought we'd uncovered a new security issue on eBay, but it turns out we were wrong. Not wrong about the security issue, there certainly is one. Our error was in assuming that it was new and/or that eBay didn't know about it.
Mark Whitehorn, 06 Jun 2007
Warning: fire

IBM lights on Watchfire

IBM has burned an undisclosed sum of money to acquire Watchfire, a Massachusetts-based security firm, the IT omnicorp announced on Wednesday.
Christopher Williams, 06 Jun 2007

Parliament must listen to the blogger in his pyjamas - Cameron

Parliament may soon be debating whether to legalise incest, reclassify insomnia as a mental illness, microchip all children at birth ... or give pantomime actor Richard Griffiths a Knighthood. That's if opposition leader David Cameron has his way. A Conservative Party task force examining democratic participation proposes that online petitions should help set the parliamentary agenda. The four proposals above are just some of the open petitions recently accepted by the No.10 Downing Street website. In other words, these are the sensible ones: over 10,000 have been rejected. (This one, for example, was quite inexplicably deemed to be outside the scope of Government.) "I would like to see a system whereby, if enough people sign an online petition in favour of a particular motion, then a debate is held in Parliament, followed by a vote - so that the public know what their elected representatives actually think about the issues that matter to them," said Cameron in a canned statement. Gentlemen - start your scripting engines. Cameron's emphasis on the latest online gimmick overshadows the rest of the proposals in the paper Power To The People: Rebuilding Government, which involve checks and balances on an out of control executive. Rather generously, the paper absolves journalists of blaming for creating a culture in which people are bored with politics. The suggestions from the task force, chaired by smoking hero Kenneth Clarke, won't necessarily become official policy. Cameron is the latest politician to use online to grab the healines. Identical clones George Osborne (Con., Google) and David Milliband (Lab., Google) appear to be locked in a private contest to see who can produce the most web-tastic gimmicks. Milliband is winning. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Jun 2007
16

Chip start-up could ignite Blade PCs

CommentComment Stealthy chip start-up Teradici Corp. in Burnaby, British Columbia emerged from behind the curtain on Tuesday to reveal their long anticipated semiconductor fix for the remote PC desktop dilemma. The product, geared towards OEM systems manufacturers, consists of a pair of chips designed to overcome the shortcomings of existing Blade PC solutions. Several systems companies have attempted to address this market and some have been reasonably successful. ClearCube was the original Blade PC pioneer and soon after HP, and now IBM, have followed, leveraging their well engineered blade server portfolios for the base platforms. All three have employed thin clients in tandem with their blades, and ClearCube also has an additional option that uses a proprietary "homerun" cabling scheme. Now IBM and ClearCube have announced products incorporating the new chips from Teradici. The market is still in its infancy and some feel (I am one) that Blade PCs will not gain wide adoption until the thin client issues are removed, and users can enjoy a full PC experience. The recent Blade Computing Revolution means that IT departments are now getting used to the idea of managing large numbers of servers in a compact physical 'blade' form factor. This is a big driver. The major benefit of blades is that they share their infrastructure - power, cooling, networking and the enclosure - thus enabling far superior efficiency in the data center as opposed to those inefficient, little individual sheet metal boxes that once plagued (and still do) raised floor data centers everywhere. These days, the power savings alone are enough to get companies to switch from white boxes to more expensive blade systems. Another advantage stems from blades' hot-pluggability – being able to quickly and easily replace or upgrade blades. So, they are far easier to maintain. Corporate PCs have never been able to realize these benefits until now because they have always had to be physically distributed throughout the enterprise in order to be within close proximity to their users. Breaking this tight link between PCs and users represents a seminal moment in PC history. This is exactly what the folks at Teradici have done. Teradici has engineered what it calls a "PCoIP" chip (PC-over-IP). The solution entails one chip that resides on a blade computer (called a Blade PC in this case, because it's not a server) in the data center and another that resides in a small box on the users desktop that requires no management.  These chips communicate with one another via Ethernet and can do so through switches and over great distances, breaking the link between a user and his PC. Teradici's secret sauce is in how they analyze, compress, packetize and then transmit two full DVI graphics streams, USB (keyboard, mouse and peripherals) and hi-definition stereo audio over standard Ethernet with almost no noticeable latency and almost no loss of image quality. Think of it as a kind of KVM on steroids. This concept has been around for years in the form of thin clients. Thin clients, however, have suffered from the fact that they're in effect just thinner computers. That means they also require management to nearly the same extent that IT departments manage PCs on corporate networks. Thin clients run a host OS and are susceptible to hostile attack by hackers, viruses, bugs and physical theft just like desktop PCs. So instead of easing IT managers' jobs by eliminating touch points, thin clients actually cause them now to manage two devices instead of one. The key benefit to Teradici's desktop portal solution is that there's nothing on the desktop to manage. The only thing that remains on the desktop is a small, relatively inexpensive, solid state and stateless device called a desktop portal which the user's graphic display (up to 2 DVI displays per portal), keyboard, mouse, audio and USB devices plug into. Physical and electronic security is greatly enhanced since there's no longer anything on the users desk that contains sensitive company data. It is simply the Teradici chip and its related circuitry and connectors inside an enclosure the size of a small external modem or router. It consumes only 15 watts of electricity, so it can be powered over Ethernet (PoE) and can be designed to be fanless and make no sound whatsoever. If it happens to go missing from the company, no problem; it contains no user data and requires access to the corporate network and a valid user login credentials in order to function at all. The user's PC and data remains unaffected on its blade back in the data center. In other words, the desktop portal is essentially useless unless connected to the corporate network. This makes moves, adds and changes within the new system a breeze as well. The Blade PCs themselves can be made much more reliable than traditional box PCs because they are no longer subjected to all the environmental hazards and abuse that they receive in the typical office cubicle. By moving the PC to a blade back in the data center, it is able to be cooled, protected and maintained properly, greatly enhancing their life expectancy. The systems should also be able to be made less expensive in the long run because they don't need to have all the redundant components and sheer volume of materials used in today's bulky PCs. Sharing of the power supplies, cooling and networking means that you can add resiliency (redundant load sharing power supplies and fans) while also decreasing component count, which also increases system reliability. The Teradici solution is completely OS, graphics and microprocessor independent as well, which means that it can be employed in an infinitely wide variety of CPU and OS combinations (Win, Mac, Linux, Unix, Intel/AMD x86-64, PPC, Sparc, MIPS, EPIC, etc.). One of the most compelling reasons large enterprises will want to move to Blade PCs is the situation where employees work in shifts and only a fraction of the PC using workforce is online at any one time. In this case, instead of maintaining unique PCs for every single user, a company could make do with a shared pool of Blade PCs only slightly larger than the maximum number of concurrent users online at peak periods. Call it the Utility PC model, if you will. This strategy means better utilization of resources and the company might only need to purchase 750 PCs for a staff of 1,000 for example. Quite a cost savings. User data is stored and accessed on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server on the corporate LAN and individual applications can be loaded on start-up according to a custom profile based on the users login credentials. A connection broker (intermediary server software that controls connections between users and blades) directs the user to his or her blade, loads the appropriate applications for their job function, and points the blade to the users network storage space. When the user logs out, the Blade PC is released back into the shared pool, ready for use by a new user and the whole process starts again. There are many other advantages to this strategy that we don't have the space to touch on here. Expect to see a number of blade vendors embracing this concept in the near future with Blade PC solutions targeting specific vertical markets that have high density PC user environments such as call centers, wall street traders, engineers, schools, hospitality, healthcare, etc. Basically, any place where traditional box PCs are used in large volume is a potential candidate for Blade PCs. These solutions will come in at the mid to high end of the market first, and then trickle down to the low end, eventually maybe even to your home in the form of a monthly subscription offer from your broadband service provider. The next wave of innovation in this space will be when blade PC vendors introduce virtualization to the mix – enabling multiple PC users to be hosted on the same blade – further increasing efficiency and bringing down the cost and complexity of deploying and managing PCs. Brace yourselves for more hoopla in the coming days about the next wave in the Blade Computing Revolution: Blade PCs. And, the exciting part for me is that since the PC market is roughly tens times larger than the server market, it has the potential to have an even bigger impact on the industry than blade servers are already having. ® Chris Hipp was co-founder and CTO of blade server pioneer RLX Technologies (WMV). He has received numerous industry awards and is the holder of 5 patents referring to blade server system architecture. He is a founding member of, and technical advisor to, the Blade Systems Alliance and has been an invited speaker and guest participant in numerous industry conferences. Disclaimer: Hipp is an advisor to Teradici.
Chris Hipp, 06 Jun 2007
hands waving dollar bills in the air

NetApp and 3Par become storage buddies

3PAR and Network Appliance have signed an agreement to consolidate their block and file storage services into a single SAN/NAS pool. The deal, announced Tuesday, allows 3Par's InServ system owners to connect with NetApp V-Series 3000 or 6000 systems and create a block and file data hybrid. As you would expect, direct block access is provided by 3PAR and file access comes via the NetApp kit. The companies have also inked a cooperative support agreement for both sets of products.
Austin Modine, 06 Jun 2007
Microsoft .NET logo
53

Crocodile tears for under-fire Microsoft MVP

Microsoft has adopted a bullish stance in the Most Valuable Professional saga, in which it's making an MVP feel most unvalued. The software giant is threatening Jamie Cansdale for making his product TestDriven.NET work with the free-as-in-beer version of Visual Studio. Dan Fernandez, Lead Product Manager for Visual Studio Express, has blogged about the incident.
Will Watts, 06 Jun 2007

ooVoo readies six-way Jetson chat client

Add another to the long list of free video-chat clients. With its new software, due to officially launch on June 11, startup ooVoo is entering a market that already includes AOL, Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Skype, and a handful of smaller names. The difference? The ooVoo client focuses on multi-person video calls, allowing for face-to-face chat across six different locations. The question is whether this new tool avoids the extreme latency that so often plagues other free clients. With tools like AOL’s AIM and Yahoo! Instant Messenger, the delay between audio and video can reduce calls to chaos. According to Zia Daniell Wigder, a vice president and analyst with the international research firm JupiterResearch, ooVoo’s latency is minimal—though it can disrupt calls from time to time. Last week, during a briefing with ooVoo, the New York-based Wigder used the client to chat with two other New York users and a fellow Jupiter analyst working in London. "There was a split-second delay—anyone who’s used VOIP knows what sort of delay I’m talking about—but the latency between New York and London was about the same as the latency within the New York area," Wigder explains. Of course, latency levels could change as traffic increases. Though it’s yet to officially launch, the ooVoo client has been available for download since early May, and according to the company, word-of-mouth has driven 100,000 downloads. In addition to facilitating live video conversations, ooVoo offers video voice mail, and it provides hooks for blogs and MySpace pages, letting friends, family, and colleagues initiate conversations straight from the Web. Today, the client is only available for Windows, but a version for the Apple OS is on the way.®
Cade Metz, 06 Jun 2007
39

Substitute teacher's conviction for porn popups set aside

Julie Amero, the substitute teacher convicted of four felony counts when a computer in her classroom subjected seventh-graders to pornographic images, has been granted a new trial in light of fresh forensic information that came to light following her first trial. Amero faced up to 40 years in prison for the offense, which stemmed from an incident in October of 2004 while she was teaching at a middle school in Norwich, Connecticut. What seems undisputed is that a computer in the class room displayed a series of pornographic images, including one of a couple engaged in oral sex. Less clear is how the event came to be. Prosecutors argued Amero had actively caused the computer to display the images and argued her actions resulted in felony risk or injury to a minor. Court rules prevented Amero's defense team from presenting testimony that could have shown the computer was infected with malware that forced the computer to display pop-ups. Amero's conviction became a cause celebre for bloggers and information security professionals all over the world. They argued, rather convincingly, that the malware epidemic - and public officials' frequent obliviousness to it - were responsible for one of the more spectacular breakdowns in American justice this decade. Following Amero's January conviction, a team of pro-bono researchers set out to analyze the contents of the PC which was running Windows 98 SE, an operating system with notoriously weak security. In setting aside the conviction on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein ruled that the prosecution's expert computer witness, a Norwich police detective, provided "erroneous" testimony about the classroom computer, according to an article in the Hartford Courant. She cited a forensic computer analysis conducted after the trial by the state police crime lab, which she said "contradicts testimony of the state's computer witness." At Wednesday's hearing, Assistant State Attorney David Smith - who during the trial argued the evidence was "clear cut" that Amero had caused the pornography to appear on the computer - acknowledged that erroneous information concerning the computer was presented to the jury. He said the state would take no position on Amero's motion for a new trial, an indication she will not be tried again. "A great weight has been lifted off my back," a tearful Amero, 40, said following the ruling. ®
Dan Goodin, 06 Jun 2007
36

NASA chief regrets having unpopular opinion

NASA administrator Michael Griffin has apologized to agency scientists and engineers for expressing an unpopular personal opinion regarding global warming during a recent radio interview. The space agency head tried to appease a scientific community frothing over comments made last week that downplayed humanity's role in global warming. Griffin served his humble pie in a closed-door meeting at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena on Monday, according to a video obtained by the Associated Press. "Unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical, and it would have been well for me to have stayed out," Griffin said. "All I can really do is apologize to all you guys. I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this." Griffin made headlines last week after serving up the amateur blunder of actually offering his opinion after being asked to give it. During an interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition program, Griffin was asked, "are you concerned about global warming?" NASA Administrator Michael Griffin "I have no doubt that global — that a trend of global warming exists," Griffin replied. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that is a problem we must wrestle with." Griffin continued by claiming it is "arrogant" for humans to decide the climate we have today is best for all other human beings — possibly referring to a future race of proto-humans who may find the bone-blistering heat from an environmental apocalypse pleasurable, or even necessary to nurture the Hive Mother who commands them telepathically. Unfortunately for Griffin, this personal opinion grossly opposes that of the scientific community at large, not to mention his own agency. Just last Wednesday, NASA was circulating a news release about a research paper written by nearly 50 NASA and Columbia University scientists that claims "human-made greenhouse gases have brought the Earth's climate close to critical tipping points, with potentially dangerous consequences for the planet." NASA's official response was to downplay the comment by blaming the journalist for the news. Spokesman David Mould said the NPR interviewer was just trying to push Griffin into saying something about global warming. (This is technically true. The sentence "are you concerned about global warming" included an upwards inflection of the voice at the end of a sentence, denoting a question. Journalists are widely known for this technique to "push" people into saying things.) The same day as Griffin's comments, President Bush told the US Global Leadership Council his administration takes the issue of global warming "seriously." (Oddly, Bush did not use an upwards inflection for this.) Griffin's concession is a major blow for others holding unpopular or uninformed opinions and don't wish to apologize for it. The NASA head told JPL workers he tried to separate his opinion during the NPR interview, but it was "lost in the shuffle." ®
Austin Modine, 06 Jun 2007
Warning: aircraft
6

Google beats chip and server makers to the future

AnalysisAnalysis Google's orgiastic, eccentric acquisition of start-up PeakStream must scare the major players in the server processor and hardware universe. An ad broker has eaten a potentially super-valuable, industry-wide asset with no greater ambition than self-gratification in mind. As a result, high-end server applications could hobble along for years to come. The bleak scenario presented above goes too far, if you're wedded to near-term thinking. PeakStream, a two year old start-up, made software tools that helped ease the flow of single-threaded software across fancy, multi-core parts such as today's x86 chips from Intel and AMD and tomorrow's GPGPUs (general purpose GPUs) from Nvidia and AMD/ATI.
Ashlee Vance, 06 Jun 2007