Google is threatening to close the German version of Gmail if the Bundestag goes through with new laws to ban anonymous email accounts. The federal internet surveillance legislation, which comes into force next year, could compel email providers to verify real names and physical addresses in the name of fighting terrorism. Google reckons the regulations are anti-privacy and that volk will just turn to servers outside the country. German outlets report Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said: "Many users around the globe make use of this anonymity to defend themselves from spam, or government repression of free speech." He added that if the laws have the expected impact, Google Mail will simply be "switched off" in Germany. It's probably worth noting that Google is currently engaged in a PR battle in Europe to convince the EU and public that it is not a threat to privacy itself. Taking a stand - or saying it might take a stand - in Germany could be valuable to the firm's image makers.®
IBM is the latest big company to jump onto the social networking bandwagon, via its Lotus subsidiary which has at last released its much-hyped information-sharing and community-building software, Lotus Connections.
In our recent mobile state of the nation survey, we asked you about what was important in a mobile device. In many respects, the results were pretty predictable in that, surprise surprise, battery life and decent voice capability were top of the list:
AMD looks set to introduce Socket AM3 processors in the second half of 2008, reports coming out of Asia suggest. Sooner, though, it will begin phasing out single-core Athlon-branded chips, the moles also allege.
A new report has outlined the next steps in the long-term management of data for the Joint Information Systems Committee and other higher education institutions.
The IT markets of the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 are set to stay hot for the foreseeable future according to a new report by IDC. The study, entitled EU Enlargement: Understanding the Impact on ICT Markets in the New Member States, found that these states' EU membership is playing a critical role in their current IT boom.
The UK Polish community has got its own ISP, courtesy of Sheffield-based PlusNet. The service costs the same as PlusNet in English, and is supported by Polish staff in its UK call centre. The move looks like a smart bit of differentiation by PlusNet in the increasingly commoditised UK ISP market, as it battles its way back from a series of technical cockups. The UK Polish community is now estimated at about 750,000, accounting for 2 per cent of the global Polish population. PlusNet, which is now owned by BT, says if demand is there it'll set up shop in other languages too. Product director Niel Armstrong said: "We have had a strong Polish contingent working within PlusNet for over two years which has enabled us to launch a service that focuses on the community’s needs, in their native language of course." More info - w języku Polskim - tutaj.®
Think you're addicted to computer games? Think again, US addiction specialists have said. More research is needed before they will classify excessive gaming as a mental illness, the American Medical Association (AMA) was told this weekend.
Sun Microsystems has appointed Kim Jones as UK president after the shock departure of Trudy Norris-Grey last week.
Social networking users tend to get around, as they say, and not stay faithful to one network, according to a new study. The report, Web 2.0 & the New Net, by research group Parks Associates, found that MySpace users are chronically unfaithful. The survey found that nearly 40 per cent of MySpace users keep profiles on other social networking sites, such as Friendster and Facebook. Meanwhile, loyalty among the smaller social networking sites is even lower, with more than 50 per cent of all users actively maintaining multiple profiles. A straw poll in the offices of ElectricNews.net matched this pattern, with roughly half staying loyal to one social network while the remainder had multiple accounts. According to Parks these trends highlight a peculiar aspect of the market for social networking services. The report found that nearly half of all social networkers regularly use more than one site, while one in six use three or more. Parks said the result of its findings is that users are operating in an increasingly interlinked online environment, which is tied together by links, widgets, and the users themselves. "MySpace is a growing ecosystem and one that, ironically, now extends beyond MySpace itself," said John Barrett, the lead author of the report. In Barrett's view, this environment creates fertile ground for new social networking sites and application providers. "A handful of users are all it takes to connect new services to the MySpace-centred environment. From there it can begin to spread virally, assuming of course that it offers something people want," he said. © 2007 ENN
Mugwort has been getting less and less favoured by the iteration. However, there is hope following an isolated period of success for the young demon. Several key members of his victim’s development team have left and, due to inadequate training, this means that Mugwort’s intended victim, our young project manager, has struggled to keep the existing project on track. The project manager has been tasked with relocating his stakeholders, sorry - worthless underlings - to a new office environment. An ideal opportunity for Screwpole to convince his nephew to press home the advantage…
A series of developments raise the specter that remotely stored or created documents may be subject to subpoena or discovery all without the knowledge or consent of the document's creators (pdf).
The European Parliament has voted to give businesses new powers to challenge public procurement decisions when they consider that a public authority has awarded a contract unfairly. National laws are expected to change within three years.
UK retailer Advanced MP3 Players has brought out what it claims the world's first pair of truly portable, truly wireless Bluetooth speakers. So if people playing their music too loudly on the bus already annoys you, then get ready for the next step...
Companies in the UK are doing little more than paying lip-service to the idea of reducing their environmental impact, and will continue in the same vein until they are forced to do otherwise.
Yahoo! is using the departure of its US head of sales to reorganise its sales department. In future display and search ad sales will be run from one department. Yahoo! says this is because companies increasingly want to run both campaigns together. But the search and portal company has seen a stream of departures from senior positions in recent weeks. Wenda Millard, Yahoo!'s chief sales officer in the US, is leaving Yahoo! to join Martha Stewart's Living Omnimedia group. David Karnstedt, who previously ran Yahoo!'s search marketing business, now takes over display ads too in a newly-combined department. The company said customers want to both buy search terms and display ad campaigns together. In a statement Yahoo! said: "Advertisers are increasingly seeking solutions that span a wide variety of ad products, such as search, display and video, that when combined can deliver significantly better results than when used independently." Yahoo! is pinning a lot on its new ad platform Panama, which launched this month in Europe, to help it beat off competition from Google. Yahoo!'s chief technology officer, Zod Nazem, left in June along with chief executive, Terry Semel, who had six years at the top of the company. He was replaced by Yahoo!'s co-founder Jerry Yang. The company has been criticised by shareholders and analysts for lacking focus and not standing up to the challenge of Google. Some believe the company needs to make a big, expensive acquisition to keep in the spirit of Web2.0. It recently bought college sports site Rivals.com.®
Imagination Technologies, the company behind the Pure Digital radio brand, is to build music download technology into future products to allow listeners to buy copies of songs they've just heard.
ReviewReview The Acer TravelMate 6292 is the first of the company's new ProFile range, which promises to be "concrete, protective and productive", apparently. Designed for a hardy life on the road it features a magnesium alloy cover that's supposedly 20 times stronger yet considerably lighter than plastic. Would you like to know more?
Mensa, the club for people too clever to sign up for a social network, has recruited its youngest member, a two year old girl from Hampshire Georgia Brown's IQ has been measured at 152, according to the Beeb. This puts her in the top 0.2 per cent of the population, and on a par with Stephen Hawking. An “average” IQ, by comparison, would be 100 points. Young Georgia showed promise at an early age, apparently, with prodigious talents in motor, reasoning and verbal skills. The professor who administered the test highlighted the fact she was able to draw a perfect circle. The Hampshire wunderkind could have scored even higher on the test – except after 45 minutes of answering questions she needed her nap. Nonetheless, the future is bright for Georgia. As noted, Stephen Hawking has an IQ of 152, so perhaps a career pushing the envelope of theoretical physics beckons. On the other hand, we’d hate to be there when she realises that another couple of points and she’d have been on a par with Carol Vorderman, and would have been assured of a highly lucrative career doing anagrams and arithmetic for a highly motivated audience of retirees, students and all round slackers. We wanted to call Mensa to check out how many more toddlers it has on its books. Unfortunately their website is so tailored to its highly intelligent membership, that it caused our PC to run out of short term memory and go for a lie-down.®
After their bust up over a spolier party earlier this month, eBay and Google are back in bed together, albeit with less cash changing hands. eBay got huffy when the search strumpet, which is going after PayPal's online payments dominance with its cheaper Checkout system, tried to pimp itself at a party on the fringes of a partner event in Boston. eBay summarily withdrew its advertising, which had made it Google's best punter. In a rare public defeat, Google flinched, and canned the party. eBay's spinners have sold the line that the blockade was a planned "experiment" to see what effect Google ads have on the global jumble market. After ten days, the text ads came back on Friday, though eBay couldn't resist another shot at its rival/partner. Spokesman Hani Durzy told AP: "Overall the takeaway for us was that we weren't as dependent on AdWords as some out there thought." During the Google freeze, Durzy said the slack was ably taken up by Yahoo!, AOL and MSN, who "really stepped up". He said eBay would permanently clip its AdWords spend by a "significant" sum.®
Comet has bumped up its eagerness to offer IT support to UK home users and small businesses, with the nationwide launch today of its "Comet On Call" service.
The US Army's controversial wearable-tech programme for foot soldiers, known as "Land Warrior," may not be dead after all. Land Warrior was removed from the Army budget in February, which would normally means its imminent demise. However, the decision to cut off funds came just as the first American combat unit received the equipment - and just as President Bush ordered his "surge" in US troop numbers for Iraq. As a result, the 4th battalion of the US 9th Infantry reportedly had no time to revert to standard equipment and deployed to Iraq with Land Warrior. There were suggestions at the time, however, that only unit leaders would use the full package. Land Warrior is essentially a set of personal gadgetry, ruggedised for military use. It includes a 400MHz ARM processor, GPS sat-nav, voice and data radio, a camera - much the same sort of package you might expect in a modern high-end converged smartphone. Differences from a smartphone include the helmet-mounted monocle heads-up display, which can be seen in field use during this recent vid from the 4/9th in Iraq. (You'll need Flash and a YouTube-friendly firewall.) Other differences between Land Warrior and civilian gear include the camera, which has 12x zoom and is mounted on the soldier's gunsight rather than the back of a phone. It can work with a laser designator, too. These features allow Land Warrior-toting troops to mark targets for attention by higher-ups, perhaps sending an image or video clip to accompany the position info. The flip-down monocle screen can display maps with the locations of friendly troops, even down to the level of individual soldiers. Perhaps the most significant difference between Land Warrior and a smartphone, however, is its weight. The military version adds a full 15lb to a soldier's load, as if he were carrying an additional pair of loaded M4 rifles. As the weary modern grunt is already heavily burdened with armour, water, ammo etc this is a serious issue. It may have contributed to Army chiefs' decision to axe the programme, along with grumbles that the situation maps updated too slowly and the gun-cam's performance was sluggish. Now, however, GovExec.com reports that the Senate Armed Services Committee has signalled its intention to restore $80m of funding to Land Warrior next year, which would equip two more battalions alongside the 4/9th. This would allow it to be used at brigade level. The Senators also want to spend $30m on further development and improvement. The idea here is that while Land Warrior may not be ideal, it would be quicker and cheaper to upgrade it than starting from scratch with a new system the way the Army brass would like to. The Senators reportedly felt that Land Warrior was one of the relatively few military tech efforts directly targeted at helping ordinary foot-soldiers, who are tending to bear the brunt of the fighting in the current Iraqi and Afghan wars. Some kind of Land Warrior type kit is probably inevitable during the next couple of decades. Other nations are pursuing it avidly, and there's no doubt that present or near-future tech could deliver a lighter, faster solution soon. Even so, the future for Land Warrior itself is far from certain. There has been no Congressional support to match that from the Senate, and none from the Pentagon either. A decisive judgement from the soldiers of the 4/9th is probably a while away yet, they being only a few months into a long tour. GovExec's report can be read here.®
The government has announced that it will publish guidance for schools on how creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching, and has reiterated that it sees no place for either on the science curriculum. It has also defined "Intelligent Design", the idea that life is too complex to have arisen without the guiding hand of a greater intelligence, as a religion, along with "creationism". Responding to a petition on the Number 10 ePetitions site, the government said: "The Government is aware that a number of concerns have been raised in the media and elsewhere as to whether creationism and intelligent design have a place in science lessons. The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science. " It added that it would expect teachers to be able to answer pupil's questions about "creationism, intelligent design, and other religious beliefs" within a scientific framework. The petition was posted by James Rocks of the Science, Just Science campaign, a group that formed to counter a nascent anti-evolution lobby in the UK. He wrote: "Creationism & Intelligent design are...being used disingenuously to portray science & the theory or evolution as being in crisis when they are not... These ideas therefore do not constitute science, cannot be considered scientific education and therefore do not belong in the nation's science classrooms." The petition was signed by 1,505 people. ®
Nike's iPod Bluetooth add-in for your trainers was a nice idea. On paper at least. Marks & Spencer gave a new twist to the suit by stitching in iPod controls. But the iPod bikini is now ready to take beaches by storm this summer.
The National Security Agency (NSA), America's ultrasecret electronic spy agency, may be on the verge of a disastrous power overload at its Maryland headquarters.
Buying a DVD and then copying it for use on your PSP, iPod or laptop could soon become impossible, if the DVD Copy Control Association gets its way.
The much-awaited Euro Tariff cap for mobile phone roaming took one more step towards becoming law today, with approval from the EU ministers in charge of competitiveness. With the measure already formally approved by the member states, approval by the competitive ministers was just a formality; but one that means the measures should pass in to EU law by the weekend. It's still not going to be implemented by operators in time for the summer, but anyone planning an autumn break around Europe should be able to take advantage of the capped rates, and be better informed about other roaming charges too.®
CERN's new particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, will start up in May 2008, the facility's director general announced on Friday last week. Low energy runs on the LHC were supposed to begin this year, but the project has been beset by niggles, technical hitches and other delays. The catastrophic failure of a magnetic component called an inner triplet, during a pressure test in March was the rather large bale of straw that finally broke the schedule's back. But rather than miss its original switch-on date, the management has decided to skip the low power runs altogether. Project leader Lyn Evans explains: "We'll be starting up for physics in May 2008 as always foreseen, and will commission the machine to full energy in one go. There is no big red button when you're starting up an accelerator, but we aim to be seeing high energy collisions by the summer." Instead of the low energy runs, the new schedule calls for each of the LHC's sectors to be successively cooled and powered over the winter. Earlier this year the first sector was taken down to its operational temperature of 1.9K. CERN says cooling the sector took longer than expected, but that the team should be able to use their experience here to cool the other sectors more quickly. This should mean the machine is ready for the accelerators to be switched on in the spring. Tests on powering up the cooled segment have already begun, and the cooling of the next segment will start soon. The LHC is massive: at 27km in circumference, it is the world's largest super conducting installation. It is also massively complex. When the accelerators are switched on, the team will have a chance to get used to driving the machine with relatively low energy and intensity beams. Only once they have the hang of things will the energy and intensity be increased. The CERN council also voted to increase funding for the facility from 2008-2011. CERN Director General Robert Aymar described the decision as an important vote of confidence for particle physics in Europe. He said: "[This increase in funding] allows us to consolidate the laboratory’s infrastructure, prepare for future upgrades of the LHC and to re-launch a programme of R&D for the long-term future." ®
Spanish police arrested a 28-year old man on Saturday they suspect of involvement with a mobile phone virus. He is suspected of distributing malware which targetted Symbian phones. The arrest follows a seven month investigation.
A tiny open source company is lining up to become the latest roadblock to database vendors happily charging enterprises fat software licenses. High-availability specialist Terracotta is today expected to significantly expand the addressable market for its low-priced software appliance with support for IBM's WebSphere, WebSphere Community Edition and Java Development Kit (JDK). Terracotta will support session replication, virtual heaps and shared POJOs.
IBM and BASF have announced a partnership to create materials to help Big Blue manufacture the next generation of computer chips. The partnership deal will see the two working together to find chemical solutions to production problems posed by making 32nm chips. The move to ever smaller chips requires increasing use of new chemicals and nano-technology. The two companies hope to have products ready to ship in 2010. The BASF release is available here, for German speakers. Or there is a Reuters story here.®
Who would have thought that some 50 people, from CIOs to developers, would feel strongly enough about anything to do with business to turn up at 7.30am in a London hotel, just to suffer a seminar. But that is what they did to witness a presentation by Luke Barrett, a senior analyst at Thoughtworks.
The judge who used to sit in charge of the American star chamber secret court issuing surveillance warrants says that his organisation should not have been sidestepped by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. Royce Lamberth was head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from 1995 to 2002. As such, he was responsible for authorising secret intelligence-gathering operations in America involving terror and espionage cases. The FIS Court - set up in response to various spook scandals in the 1970s - turns down only 1 per cent of applications it receives for wiretaps, surveillance, bugging and covert burglaries (sorry, searches). As is now fairly well known, in the wake of the 9/11 outrages President Bush decided that even this behind-closed-doors, quite compliant judicial oversight was too cumbersome. The White House then authorised the National Security Agency to monitor Americans' overseas calls, emails etc without going through the FIS warrant process. After a lengthy political and judicial fracas, the NSA programme was put back under FIS oversight again this year, but President Bush still maintains that he has the power to order surveillance on his own initiative at any time. (Aside: Brits and other non-US readers should note that the American debate is entirely regarding the privacy rights of Americans. There isn't much doubt that the NSA can listen to our phone calls and read our emails without let or hindrance. It would be nice to think that our own spies were doing the same in America but, at least in the case of Brits, that's not very realistic.) In any case, Lamberth says that President Bush overstepped his bounds when he sidelined the FIS. "I haven't seen a proposal for a better way than presenting an application to the FIS court and having an independent judge decide if it's really the kind of thing that we ought to be doing, recognizing that how we view civil liberties is different in time of war," he said. "I have seen a proposal for a worse way and that's what the president did with the NSA program." The former secret judge said that such a strategy would yield pyrrhic victories at best in the fight of liberty against extremism. "What we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive," he said. "We have to understand you can fight the war [on terror] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war." The Bush administration had suggested that the FIS surveillance-approval process was too cumbersome and time-consuming, holding up the struggle against terrorists. Lamberth strongly denied this, saying that he had always been happy to issue warrants for taps and burglaries at a moment's notice. Apparently he approved five secret operations by cellphone while stuck in traffic on the morning of 9/11, and was always happy to unleash federal operatives against their possibly traitorous fellow citizens - even in the small hours of the morning or at weekends. The good judge also criticised the FBI's implementation of Patriot Act measures, in which 56 regional supervisors were delegated powers to issue the controversial National Security Letters (NSLs). NSLs not only permit swashbuckling, unregulated surveillance, but they can also be accompanied by terrifying Soviet-style gag orders that can forbid any discussion of the NSL having been issued, on pain of a five-year stretch in the cooler. Lamberth apparently acquits the administration of any evil intent, but there isn't much doubt that he feels judicial oversight must not be dispensed with. That's not too surprising in a judge, of course. Even so it has to be something of a warning sign when someone who's seen all the justification - all the secret poop that would make us all love Big Brother did we but know the awfulness of the threat, etc - says that the spooks and the executive branch are getting out of hand. The AP report on Judge Lamberth's speech on Saturday can be read here.®
Chinese PC users whose machines were crippled by a dodgy software update from Symantec have two weeks to apply for compensation. The company has announced that the 50,000 users affected by the error are entitled to some free Norton anti-virus licenses.
Legislation designed to protect endangered species will require sporran-wearing Scots to be able to prove their fur-pouch was legally killed, according to reports on the BBC. The rules also apply to items made from other vulnerable animals, including hedgehogs, bats, dolphins and wildcats, though anyone who sports a sporran made of hedgehog skin is probably not attending a Highland Game. Anyone caught wearing a dress sporran will now have to worry about proving that the animal was killed before 1994, or was legally culled, in addition to dealing with the ridicule such dress inspires outside formal Highland occasions. In our experience most wearers of the kilt are American tourists, to whom plastic is as good as fur; or locals who went to school with the local police and aren't going to pay any attention to what some sassenach says they should do. It's all very well for the Scottish Executive to say that illegal fur will be taken from its owner, but anyone who grabs for a Highlander's sporran does so at their own risk.
IBM has beefed up its data output while apparently watching its carbon footprint step by adding a new $86m "green data centre" space to its Boulder site in Colorado, USA.
Patientline saw its share price nearly halve today after it released prelimary financial results for 2007. Shares fell over 40 per cent to 2.07p after opening at 4.10p. Results for the year were disappointing and the company warned restructuring its debt burden was the number one priority for the year ahead. For the year ended 30 March 2007 Patientline made revenues of £43m, down from £47.8m in 2006. The operating loss before exceptional items was £7.2m, up from £3.7m in 2006. It has closed its Dutch and North American businesses. The company has already reduced debt by 10 per cent to £80.2m but said: "even this figure is too high to be sustainable." Patientline is talking to its banks, notably Royal Bank of Scotland, about sorting this out and hopes to make proposals to shareholders shortly. The company rents out tellies and phones to hospital patients. Depsite criticism of its high charges the company increased per minute charges for outgoing calls to 26p from 10p in April. The cost of receiving an incoming call is 39p per minute offpeak and 49p at peak-time. Patientline was investigated by the Department of Health but cleared of doing anything wrong. Revenue per terminal per day fell 6.4 per cent to £1.62, this figure has been falling for the last three years. The company blames deflation in telecoms charges, reduced treatment times and more use of mobile phones for the fall. The statement further noted: "The NHS ethos is antipathetic to the very idea of patients being charged for anything in hospital." Revenues have been further hit by "The failure by Trusts to generally adopt Electronic Patient Records...". The full financial results are available here, as a pdf., here.
Apple's share of the US retail computer business grew faster than the rest of the market last month to grab 13 per cent, market watcher NPD has revealed.
Online address book provider Plaxo has introduced a major overhaul in an effort to catch up with networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Plaxo has released Plaxo 3.0, an online address book and calendar that synchronises services from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Mac OSX, and Thunderbird.
Samsung now purports to be the largest producer of high-capacity solid-state drives (SSDs) in the world, following a decision to push its 1.8in 64GB unit into mass production.
TIBCO recently announced that it had acquired Spotfire, the business intelligence vendor. Since this is not an immediately obvious acquisition, the question is why?
The head of the British armed forces said today that Western armed forces must be ready to deal with the consequences of global warming. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, addressed the Chatham House talking-shop in London. He said that military planners needed to factor in the results of global warming to their calculations, as climate change could cause weak governments to disintegrate, or give rise to mass hardship and a sense of grievance against the world powers. Handily, however, there was no need for an immediate change of direction on the part of military staff moguls. The very regions which were most likely to be devastated by global warming were the same ones already riven by ordinary sectarian, ethnic and resource-based conflicts. Reuters quotes the air-marshal as saying: "Just glance at a map of the areas most likely to be affected [by global warming] and you are struck at once by the fact that they are exactly those parts of the world where we see fragility, instability and weak governance today. "It seems to me rather like pouring petrol onto a burning fire." The wire service scribes suggested that this apocalyptic vision might well come true. "Scientists say average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century ... melting ice caps, bringing floods, droughts and famines, and putting millions of lives at risk," they wrote. The air marshal implied that the British military has a long-standing policy of getting ready for new threats and problems in advance, well before they actually crop up. "You don't need to come very much forward from 2040 before, in my terms at least, you are talking about the day after tomorrow," he said. Sir Jock reportedly felt that the 9/11 attacks illustrated that political, economic and social deprivation could give rise to devastating attacks on Western homelands. "Now add in the effects of climate change. Poverty and despair multiply, resentment surges and people look for someone to blame," he said. Curious stuff, if true. After all, the 9/11 terrorists by most accounts were mostly from well-off middle-class Saudi families - thus, mainly dependent on US oil money rather than vulnerable equatorial ecosystems. There are quite a few who'd say that their radicalisation and subsequent murderous assault on the USA followed more from American (and perhaps sometimes UK/European) policy toward Israel than poverty and despair. That's not to say that starving or flooded-out Third Worlders won't blame the industrial nations for their problems in the event of climatic devastation in future. But they might easily choose to blame China rather than the West - now that China has, by some analyses become the worst carbon emitter. And based on the track record of the UK armed forces, we might say that if they see the next big threat as being eco-disaster, it's at least fairly likely to be something else entirely.®
Blinkx ('blinks'), the transatlantic video search engine, has beaten Google, Yahoo! and MySpace to a big technology punch by going live with a system that "listens" to speech in clips in order to allow advertisers to target users more specifically.
Century, the Japanese IT peripherals manufacturer, which has already brought you such innovations as the 7in Wii clip-on screen, has unveiled its latest must-have gadget: the underwater MP3 player.
So you are a small business and you buy your PCs from CDW? Need customer support? Why don't you get support from customers instead?
ICANN Puerto Rico 2007ICANN Puerto Rico 2007 0 The ICANN Puerto Rico meeting kicked off this morning with the usual platitudes and words of gratitude for the host nation and sponsors, but it did give us an overview of what to expect from ICANN in the next few months. Dr. Paul Twomey, ICANN's president, described the internet as the most empowering technology he had ever seen, and focused on the ongoing drive within ICANN itself to improve transparency and facilitate the public accessibility of ICANN's website. Multi-stakeholder is how ICANN describes itself, and the proliferation of groups within ICANN that represent private enterprise, the internet public, and governmental interests has led to a baffling alphabet soup of GNSOs, GACs, ALACs and assorted other representative bodies that all supply information to the ICANN web site. All in all, one of the best things ICANN has done the last few months is continue to make the once-inscrutable site more user-friendly. Kudos all around for that. The meeting is also a continuation of ICANN's unfinished business. One of the major topics at the last meeting was the internationalization of domain names (IDN), which apparently has hit a few bumps on the road to development, and won't be ready for prime time until the first quarter of 2008 at the earliest, according to Dr. Vint Cerf, the chairman of the ICANN board, and legendary "father of the internet." Russians, for example, might want domains in Cyrillic rather than a latin script. ICANN already has the Unicode needed for the IDNs - a set of 65,000 characters that comprises the sum total of all the alphabets of all the written languages on the planet. Unfortunately, the implementation of IDNs in a secure and stable form is proving to be much trickier than the compilation of the code itself. Cerf noted that a word might have more than one meaning or possible translation, and coordinating the implementation of stable IDNs among the 13 root servers so that users are directed to the correct site is taking longer than anticipated. The IDN program should make the internet truly international, but unfortunately the question and answer period expired before I could get a more technical answer about why the Unicode itself is insufficient- like ICANN initially assumed, why aren't the distinct characters alone sufficient? Another major development involves expanding the real estate of the net itself. The current protocol - IPv4 - allows for a grand total of 4.3 billion distinct addresses, and with a worldwide internet community that is now over one billion users and growing rapidly, the current system is on pace to run out of distinct addresses sometime around 2011. The expansion of the internet beyond its North American base is one reason, but the proliferation of internet-connected devices is another. BlackBerries, refrigerators - well, Vint lost me on that one, but the point is valid nonetheless. The new standard - IPv6 - will accommodate 430 trillion, trillion, trillion distinct addresses, and will operate in parallel with the current IPv4 standard. A more secure internet is on the way as well. DNS sec, which is a digital signature sandard for IP addresses, has been implemented in Sweden and Bulgaria, of all places. The idea is to ensure that users are not clandestinely rerouted to phony websites. The ongoing controversy for the the approval of generic top level domains (gTLDs) will be tackled, too. Apparently, ICANN has taken the firestorm of criticism it received over the .xxx controversy to heart, and is genuinely trying to implement a more transparent and clear cut process for approving new gTLDs. The .xxx mess - in which a gTLD was approved, and then denied - made the whole process seem capricious and political, and whether it was or not, there is at the very least a perception problem. The Register in the past has advocated a system in which simple, clear-cut rules are used, and any move in that direction is welcome.® Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
Seagate is releasing a big fish into its Barracuda product stream, with the company's first foray into the 1TB disk drive market. The 1TB drive comes in two flavors; business and pleasure — identical cousins, yet different as night and day.
Dell's tradition of shoveling bloatware into newborn PCs may be coming to a close. All it took was a few years of outrage. Previously, only Dell XPS systems had the privilege of shipping with a "no software preinstalled" option. But vigilant e-coniptions on Dell's IdeaStorm feedback site has prompted Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks to join the party.
AnalysisAnalysis Blade servers, virtualization software and fancy accelerators might be all the rage in the server business, but Google doesn't want any part of the hype. Google will continue crafting its own low-cost, relatively low-performing boxes to support its software-over-the-wire plans. The ad broker looks to focus on lowering energy costs, improving its parallelized code and boosting component life spans rather than messing with things such as VMware and GPGPUs (general purpose GPUs). So, those of you buying into the software as a service idea might want to have a think about Google's contrarian approach when the likes of HP, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Dell come hawking their latest and greatest kit.
The black clouds that for the last three months have been hanging over VOIP service provider Vonage parted ever so slightly today, allowing through the tiniest sliver of sunshine as a federal appeals judge raised the possibility of a compromise in its patent war with Verizon. Those following the dust-up will remember that a lower court jury in March ruled that Vonage's voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services violated three Verizon patents covering technologies for internet-routed phone communications. Vonage was subsequently barred from signing up new customers, a prohibition that raises the very real possibility the VOIP upstart could go out of business. "Isn't there kind of a middle ground in these cases when the injunction would put someone out of business?" Judge Timothy B. Dyk of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, asked a Verizon attorney at a hearing Monday, according to the Associated Press. "Shouldn't there be a consideration? Shouldn't the district court consider allowing time for a workaround as part of the injunction." Vonage shares ended the day at $3.09, a 1.3 per cent rise, while Verizon's stock fell a fraction of a per cent. That Vonage and its shareholders are pinning hope on comments as noncommittal as Judge Dyk's demonstrates just how bleak life has grown for the company. In a market with high subscriber churn, customer acquisition is a matter of survival. The lower-court injunction forbidding Vonage from signing up new customers, while on hold pending appeal, would most likely prove fatal if put into effect. What's more, Vonage, which last year racked up a net loss of $286m on sales of $607m, has been ordered to pay Verizon $58m in damages and an annual royalty of 5.5 per cent of future revenue. Faced with these prospects, its only natural for Vonage to take solace where the company can get it. Of course, it's always risky to predict judicial outcomes based on the questions of judges. And besides, focusing solely on Dyk's comments fails to take into account the long-shot strategy Vonage's legal generals have devised for victory. Indeed, Vonage never even asked for the sort of compromise Dyk was hypothesizing. Instead, they argue that the entire jury verdict finding infringement should be invalidated because the trial judge provided flawed instructions to the jury. Specifically, Vonage attorneys say US District Judge Claude Hilton failed to provide the jury with adequate definitions for some of the technical terms contained in the patents. That could provide Vonage another shot at convincing a jury that the patents - which cover methods for translating between IP addresses and phone numbers and connecting a wireless device to a VOIP network - concern obvious innovations that by definition are not eligible for patent protection. One reason Vonage appears to be putting most of its appeals eggs in the invalidation basket has to do with a US Supreme Court ruling delivered in April. It simplified the basis under which trial courts can determine what is obvious in a patent. Vonage attorneys were granted permission to incorporate the decision into their appeal even though the Supreme Court ruling was issued after the jury rendered its decision in spat with Verizon. In light of today's quizzing from Judge Dyk, it would appear Vonage may have been presented with another way out of the impasse. ®
Lexmark must rue the day that it elected to sue a small components supplier, which had developed a chip to enable toner recartridge manufacturers to produce printer clones. In the latest round of its fight against Static Control Components SCC), a jury in Kentucky - Lexmark's home state - ruled the printer giant "unreasonably restrained competition" in the way it ran a used cartridge return program. Worse, the jury agreed with SCC that Lexmark has the "substantial ability to exploit customers".
IBM has regussied the System Cluster 1350 with some new servers just ahead of the International Supercomputer conference in Dresden. The ins and outs of the hardware upgrade follow along familiar lines. IBM has made its latest and greatest x86-based machines available for the pre-packaged 1350.