Quantum has announced a high-end de-duplication appliance, called DXi7500. The new box is aimed at large enterprises, and as well as de-dupe, it can also be used as a virtual tape library (VTL) with a path to real tape, as disk-based backup and even as straight replicated disk storage.
You win some, you lose some - and sometimes simultaneously. YouTube suffered a setback last week when a judge refused to grant it pre-trial judgment in the first copyright lawsuit directed against the video-sharing site, but it dodged a bullet when the judge also declined to grant the plaintiff's similar motion seeking to destroy YouTube's primary legal defense in the case.
As TorrentSpy continues to fight a lawsuit by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), founders of the popular video download site have announced a new filtering system that allows content owners to remove pirated material from the site’s search results.
Oracle loves buying companies and it simply can't break/won't break the habit. It's got ambitious growth targets to meet and rivals' market share to take.
Privacy chiefs have given Europe's banks a September deadline for alerting customers that their financial transactions could be tracked by US security agencies. Customers must be warned that even transactions within Europe could be monitored, they said. The new rules come from the Article 29 Working Party, a committee of European data protection officials, and it has said that banks must inform customers when there is a danger that transactions could be monitored by authorities in the US. The recommendation comes in the wake of a controversy over the fact that European inter-bank payment agency SWIFT was found to have allowed US authorities access to transaction details. The US claimed to need access in its counter-terrorism activities following attacks in the US on 11th September 2001. They were given access but account holders were not informed. SWIFT is a consortium owned by its member banks. "The Working Party took stock of the progress made by SWIFT and financial institutions," said a statement from the Working Party following a meeting last week. "The Working Party met again with representatives of SWIFT, who reported on progress achieved so far. The discussion with representatives of European banking associations focused in particular on the legal obligation of financial institutions to provide appropriate information to their clients on the fact that US authorities might have access to personal data when money is transferred within the European Union," it said. Data protection officials said that banks and financial institutions had not yet gone far enough, and imposed a deadline on them. "Although progress has been made, further action is still necessary to remedy the concerns the Working Party expressed previously. For that reason the Working Party set the 1st September 2007 as the deadline for financial institutions to take all necessary steps to improve the current situation," it said. SWIFT has said that it felt obliged to comply with requests from US authorities because some of its servers are located in the US. The handing over of transaction data has been criticised by the Working Party and by privacy regulators. The Working Party said that the move broke the privacy laws of the EU and of Belgium, where SWIFT is located. The Swiss and the Belgian data protection commissioners each said that SWIFT had broken the law in passing details on without telling the parties involved. OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
The recent acquisition of SecureWave by PatchLink was not so much an acquisition as a merger, with PatchLink being the senior partner. With 3400 customers it had about twice the customer base as SecureWave and it also had about twice the staff. The merger probably sent a shock wave or two through the declining AntiVirus industry, because it has created a bigger and more powerful whitelisting vendor. As far as SecureWave is concerned, it will now have three times as many salesmen out there pointing out that AV technology is ineffective. The drumbeat just seems to get louder with every passing month.
Bluetooth headset specialist Jabra has released a sexy little car kit, the SP5050 - lightweight and with active noise cancellation to better beat out engine sounds.
A British steam car is in the final stages of preparation for an attempt on the land speed record, or at least the steam-powered version of it. In the early days of motoring, steam cars outpowered their petrol and electric-driven cousins. A Stanley Steamer was the world's fastest vehicle in 1906 with a top speed of 127 miles per hour. It kept the record until November 1909 when it was beaten by 3.5 miles per hour by a 21 litre petrol-driven Mercedes-Benz. The British Steam Car Challenge is ready to go, except the steam boilers are producing too much power. The car is aiming to produce more than 300 brake horsepower, which will allow it to reach 200 miles per hour. It uses four boilers powered by liquid petroleum gas. The car is built on a tubular steel frame with carbon composite front panels. In order to stop it uses disc brakes on all four wheels... and a parachute. Lynne Angel, team leader at the British Steam Car Challenge, told the Reg: "We're waiting for materials for the boiler tubes, once they're delivered we are ready to go. We produced too much steam in testing and damaged the pipes, so we're making a new prototype boiler. The turbines are working fine, it's just the boiler." Angel said the car may now run on just three engines because they have proved more powerful than expected. The team were originally hoping to make a record attempt during Speed Week in August at Bonneville Salt Flats. They are unlikely to hit this deadline or a second event at Bonneville in September. The project is running short of funds and interested readers can point their browsers here, where for just £1 your name, or even company name, could be emblazoned on this plucky British record breaker. The British Steam Car Challenge team includes members of the Thrust SSC project, which successfully claimed the world land speed record of 763.035mph. Last year the UK claimed the world's fastest diesel-powered vehicle with JCB Dieselmax, which runs on two JCB digger engines. The machine will be driven by Charles Burnett III, an ex-drag car racer, and Annette Getty, MD of one of the sponsoring companies. More info on the team website here.®
WiFi pioneer Boingo is passing the 100,000 hotspot mark, with a new WiFi service "providing international business travellers with access to more than 100,000 locations around the world for one low monthly cost with no roaming charges and no per-minute fees." The key detail, however, will be the decision to go flat rate. The official announcement says: "At €29 or $39 per month, Boingo Global is the world's most affordable global roaming plan, establishing a new paradigm for business travellers using WiFi to remain connected and productive as they travel internationally. With no incremental roaming fees, Boingo Global is also the world's first truly global flat-rate service." David Hagan, CEO of Boingo issued an official statement which went: "The days of per-minute charges and incremental roaming fees for Wi-Fi Internet access are over. Travelling for business is hard enough without having to watch the clock while you're trying to be productive." The announcement has hit major headlines. The New York Times quoted Hagan: "We are targeting the globe-trotting international travellers who pass through many major cities. This is for the person who has meetings in London, then goes to Paris and finishes the day in Frankfurt. There are some existing customers who travel who we think will be interested, and we'll market to them, but we think this serves a new segment." The same report went on to quote European rival The Cloud where Owen Geddes, director of business development said: "We will be rolling out flat-rate pricing in the next few months." The Cloud now claims to own and operate 7,000 hot spots in Britain and 1,500 more in Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. "WiFi across Europe for the consumer market is just too expensive now," Geddes told the NYT, "so we will be repositioning ourselves by lowering prices in the coming months." Boingo is partnering with France's Hub télécom and Norway’s Oslo Lufthavn Tele & Data AS (OLTD) - two of Europe's leading WiFi providers - to bring Boingo Global to market in Europe. Last month, the Spanish FON network became a Boingo associate, too. That "when integrated" said the announcement, "will provide access to an additional 130,000 hot spot locations – more than doubling the company’s network size." There's still no date for this, however. A Japanese associate is provided through Livedoor, which claims to "blanket" metro Tokyo. In France, secure sign up for Boingo Global is available at 48 Hub télécom hot spots in airports and hotels, including Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Orly International Airport and Holiday Inn/Express hotels nationwide. Copyright © Newswireless.net
Datawrite has unveiled an all-in-one multimedia device to play music, watch videos, listen to the radio, play games and view documents on, and all for only £50.
The largest earth "impact" of recent times, the Tunguska event, might have left a crater after all. The impact levelled more than 2,000 square kilometres of forest in Siberia, but is thought to have been caused by an asteroid or comet exploding in Earth's atmosphere since no crater marking the impact has ever been found. Now researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy think they might have found a scar in the surface of the earth left by the 1908 astro-intrusion. The team of researchers has identified a lake near the epicentre of the blast whose shape is consistent, they say, with an impact crater. They speculate that a small chunk of debris from the main explosion could have hit the ground, creating the hollow. Lead researcher professor Giuseppe Longo says he concluded the lake was sitting in a crater by a process of elimination. He told BBC News: "We have no positive proof this is an impact crater, but we were able to exclude some other hypotheses, and this led us to our conclusion." He says that the lake-bed's geology is unusual. It has a funnel shape that is unlike that of any of its neighbours. After probing the bottom with geophysics equipment, the team also discovered an anomalous feature about 10 metres down. They suggest this could be either compacted lake sediment, or debris left over from a piece of space junk. But the scientific community is sceptical of professor Longo's hypothesis. Dr Gareth Collins, a research associate at Imperial College London, told the BBC: "The impact-cratering community does not accept structures as craters unless there is evidence of high temperatures and high pressures. That requires evidence of rocks that have been melted or rocks that have been ground up by the impact." The Tunguska event took place on June 30, 1908. The blast, which had the energy of about 1,000 Hiroshima-sized nukes, was so bright it was even seen in the London skies. No debris from the explosion has ever been found, much less any traces of an impact. Dr Collins says the lake Longo and his team have studied is not consistent with what we already know about Tunguska. The angle of impact is wrong, any fragments surviving the initial blast would be moving too slowly, and there are trees older than 100 years still standing near the lake, making it unlikely anything from space crashed nearby. But the Bologna researchers are undeterred. They plan to return to the site and dig into the lake bed to find out whether or not what is buried below the surface once roamed the outer reaches of our solar system. ®
Most discussions of the future of medicine tend to revolve around genetic manipulation, personalised pharmaceuticals, and putting off death as long as possible.
In the last column in this series, we looked at the general concept of business process management with respect to SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) based systems. In particular, we reviewed BPEL (the Business Process Execution Language) and what it offers and at some of the extensions for BPEL. In this second column, we’ll look in more detail at BPEL itself; and at what BPEL looks like. We will then explore the BPEL4People extension to BPEL. In the third column in this series we will look at the BPELJ extension and conclude by examining Compensation (which is a little like an undo facility for BPEL).
Dell's anticipated 13.3in laptop did make an appearance yesterday - it was launched alongside the PC maker's new, coloured Inspiron notebooks under Dell's XPS gamer-oriented brand.
Businesses in Northern Ireland are wasting up to a quarter of a million pounds a week on poor IT financing deals, according to research released on Tuesday.
The European Commission has drafted a document recommending the adoption of Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H) as a pan-European, mobile-broadcasting standard to avoid "market fragmentation".
Five has been hit with a £300,000 fine by regulator Ofcom in what is the biggest payout by a public service broadcaster to the regulator. It was found to have faked winners in live call-in competitions. In shows produced by Cheetah, a subsidiary of Big Brother producer Endemol, production staff posed as winners on numerous occasions, a move that the regulator said "substantially misled" viewers and competition entrants. "What started as a single attempt – unacceptable in itself – to resolve production difficulties in finding a winner had become an established procedure," said Ofcom's ruling. "The formalised procedure that had been adopted by the programme was totally unacceptable and showed a blatant disregard for not only the audience of the show, but also those participating and spending money by entering some competitions that were not being run fairly. "The editorial needs of the programme overrode the consideration of fairness to those participating in the competitions and to the audience overall," it said. Daytime shows Brainteaser and its spin-off Memory Bank had faked winners on a number of occasions, Ofcom's investigation found. When viewers with the correct answers could not be found to go live on air, production crew members pretended to win, it found. This happened five times in 2007 alone, Ofcom found, and had been going on since 2003. The activity was carried out by Cheetah production staff despite Five's guidelines on fairness. "The committee was in no doubt that Five had acted in good faith at all times and had not intended its service to deceive the audience. It clearly had extensive compliance procedures in place through which it sought to ensure compliance and had regularly monitored and reviewed the procedures for conducting the competitions," said the ruling. "The committee noted that Endemol was a large and experienced production company and understood Five's reasons for believing it was well equipped to produce such a programme. However, on the evidence available to it, the Committee considered that this confidence had been misplaced and that Endemol appeared to have failed to take the necessary steps to deliver a compliant programme," said Ofcom. The ruling said that the procedures of both Endemol and Five seemed to be geared more towards the smooth running of the programme than towards treating its audience and competition entrants fairly. Endemol's Cheetah acknowledged in a statement that it had made errors. "While fundamental errors of judgment were made on these few occasions, Ofcom's report clearly demonstrates that these came down to an honest but misguided attempt to keep a live show running," it said. Five said that it would not appeal the fine and would pay it itself. "Five has always accepted that breaches occurred with regard to Brainteaser," said chief executive Jane Lighting. "However, we are disappointed with the very high level of the financial penalty imposed, especially as we believe Five took all reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure the programme complied with the Ofcom Code." Five must pay the £300,000 fine and must broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings twice - once at the time of day when Brainteaser was shown and once at prime time. Both the affected programmes have been discontinued. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Mobile ClinicMobile Clinic The number one question that you all seem to be losing some sleep over is, 'How do we keep mobile device management consistent with the policies and procedures applied to the other devices on my corporate network?' Once again we roll out our illustrious panel of experts to tackle it for you, to give you some pointers and hopefully steer you in the right direction.
Time was when all budget GPS gagdets were Windows Mobile PDAs with bundled route-planning software and a satellite pick. Now they're almost all dedicated units a la Tom Tom. But Asus is having another go, with its A696 GPS PDA.
The so-called "family jewels" internal report into questionable doings by the CIA in the 1960s and early '70s is now available online - with only a moderate amount of blanking-out. Having promised to do so last week, the CIA has now released the entire 700-page report dating from 1973. Parts of it were already known, but last night's release provides a wealth of detail and spook-history trivia. It can be downloaded here (pdf). The report details a catalogue of swashbuckling intelligence operations which - as the covering note says - had significant "flap potential". Examples include the recruitment of Vegas mobsters in an attempt to poison Fidel Castro, assistance to Watergate burglar Howard Hunt in hiring an ex-agency lockpicking expert, and the testing of "drugs rejected because of unfavourable side effects" on "volunteer members of the Armed Forces". Agency men also imprisoned the defecting KGB officer Yuri Nosenko in a "specially constructed jail" in a remote forest for two years and subjected him to "hostile interrogation", convinced that he was a double agent. He was released after others at the CIA became concerned about the legality of what the agency was doing. Subsequently he was found to be "bona fide" and the "most valuable defector this agency has ever had", as of 1973. Apparently Nosenko wasn't too upset by his lengthy and unpleasant illegal incarceration, saying he "understood how it could happen". But then he was a KGB man. There is also evidence of the CIA wiretapping journalists in order to uncover their sources, and of the agency intercepting international phone calls between US citizens and people overseas - without any legal warrant to do so. Interestingly, even back in the bad old days, as soon as the CIA's in-house lawyers found out about it the operation was dropped. According to the present CIA director, ex-airforce general Michael Hayden, the report is a "glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency". Funnily enough, Hayden was head of the National Security Agency during the massive 2001-2007 secret, warrantless, phone-tapping campaign it conducted against American citizens talking to people overseas. President Bush still claims the power to order such measures without judicial approval at any point is appropriate, though that particular programme is now subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance star chamber secret spy court. So Hayden is right; the 1970s were a different time indeed, in that the US intelligence community often accepted that there was more than one branch of government. Slipping on one's tinfoil hat just for a moment, it's possible to wonder what the 16 known (and lord knows how many unknown) US intelligence agencies might be up to right now, no doubt with full executive approval, while we're all having fun poking through 30-year-old dirty laundry.®
I have periodically written about Informix Dynamic Server (IDS) ever since IBM acquired it. Initially, IBM had the wrong messaging—all of its databases were marketed under the DB2 brand, which didn't go down too well—but this has now changed with the company's refocus on information management in general and Information on Demand in particular.
Sun Microsystems has announced new functionality for Solaris Express Developer Edition. The OpenSolaris-based distribution targets developers for the Solaris OS, Java, and Web 2.0 with a set of products that are optimized for multi-core processor architectures and includes new compilers and development tools designed to assist developers in creating better applications more rapidly.
SanDisk and DivX are now the best of chums. The memory card specialist will now be allowed to incorporate DivX Stage 6 technology into its Sansa line of media players.
Stress gets to us all, but until now there have been only three outlets: going for a ciggie, squeezing a stress toy or punching your boss. But now you can press the red button and bring all your stress to an end with the USB stress panic button.
Microsoft is beta testing two new features of Windows Live - its effort at delivering software as a service over the web. It has added a photo-sharing application, Live Photo Gallery, and 500MB of online storage space called Windows Live Folders.
Summer's here, and 'tis the season to be compiling lists. One of the most eagerly awaited is the Ten Worst Jobs in Science, issued by Popular Science magazine. This year the roster of horrible occupations has gained widespread attention because it includes "Microsoft Security Grunt".
Reporters for the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have had their iPhones for two weeks now, and their first reviews cast a cautious optimism on Apple's new baby. Unsurprisingly they both liked the interface, though text-entry using the on-screen keyboard came in for some criticism. Web browsing was good, but only where Wi-Fi was available; using Edge was considered akin to a dial-up modem and simply served to remind the reviewers about the lack of 3G capability. Overall they liked it, and considered much of the hype to be justified, though the lack of Microsoft Exchange connectivity, and 3G networking, prevented it from being a perfect product. Obviously El Reg was hoping to have early access to the latest revolution in mobile computing, but given our relationship with Apple that was never going to happen.®
Efforts to get the net neutrality bandwagon rolling in the UK continue, with new predictions that ISPs are set to charge content providers for faster loading. The current dog eat dog market for broadband will make a two-tiered model too tempting for cash strapped providers, according to a report by Jupiter Research analyst Ian Fogg. Traffic managment gear, which is already used to deprioritise peer to peer downloads by most ISPs, could easily be adapted to nudge services who cough up higher in the pecking order. Margins are indeed very slim on broadband, and a new revenue stream would be more than welcome at financial strugglers like Virgin Media and Pipex. The gigantic money piles at BT can always get bigger too. But how likely is it right now? Fogg told us: "It's something which could happen tomorrow." The rapid consolidation in the ISP market could help forge the brass balls the industry would need to attempt such a risky move. A commoditised market with a few huge players might have enough coherence to throw its weight around. The question of who they would charge is more open. Presumably, the cartel would go after sites who need a stable pipe: streamers. Newspapers, who're scrambling to provide video, have their own financial problems to deal with at the moment, and it would surely be foolhardy to brave the backlash which results from messing with the BBC. As for nascent online TV efforts like Joost, they've got no coffers to raid yet. Jupiter's report covers an alternative scenario: that ISPs may prioritise their own VoIP and TV services. In fact, BT's already moving this way in an attempt to differentiate itself. In summary: don't panic. Ofcom isn't. And in the unlikely distant future event of a syndicate, there's government defender of the internet, David Miliband, who's still only 12. Fogg has a blog post here, which focuses on the dilemmas for mobile operators as they join the ISP ranks, and the BBC has its knickers in a twist here. According to Jupiter's polling, 16 per cent of net users want their ISP to promise not to restrict access to third party websites, and 29 per cent want flat-rate pricing with no usage limits. And in other news, we want the moon on a stick.®
EMI has signed a licensing and distribution agreement with Vidzone Digital Media to deliver the music giant's full DRM-free digital catalogue to mobiles and PCs via its cross-platform offering. The technology developed by Vidzone should allow third parties to offer branded PC and mobile music services with a single account linking both platforms. In other words, customers will be able to access the music they have purchased from either device. A similar deal was struck between Sony BMG and VidZone earlier this month. VidZone distributes music to 3, O2, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone as well as to more than thirty international mobile networks and WAP sites. EMI's head of mobile UK sales, David Gould, said: "VidZone Digital Media has provided EMI with a strong platform to reach more consumers, more quickly, and taking advantage of EMI’s new DRM-free product means the consumer can listen to it in any way they wish." The music firm added that EMI content had already been enabled on several third party services and expects to announce more shortly. Meanwhile, EMI shareholders have a first deadline of today to swallow Terra Firma's £2.4bn private equity takeover offer. According to various reports, the firm's rival Warner Music Group, which has made numerous attempts to buy EMI, could yet emerge with a counterbid. Despite the takeover speculation, EMI shares are currently down half a per cent at 2.68 pence on the London Stock Exchange. ®
Apple's iPhone doesn't - or shouldn't - find its way into the hands of consumers until tomorrow evening US time, but that hasn't prevented units finding their way into the hands of the brand-name reviewers like the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg.
Wedged underneath the excitement of Dell's latest Inspiron and XPS notebook announcement, is a new line of Inspiron desktops that could actually give you some decent performance - if you don't mind being tied to your desk, that is.
AnalysisAnalysis The rumor hit the web early this month. Citing an anonymous source, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reported that Microsoft was putting together some sort of uber search team at its Silicon Valley outpost in Mountain View, California. Gathering at least twenty “rock star” developers - including 23-year-old wunderkind Sanaz Ahari – and putting them to work on a “next-generation” search platform, Microsoft was intent on challenging the web’s runaway search leader in its own backyard.
Canada’s Platform Computing has signed up to Intel’s Cluster Ready program and claims to be first to market with a commercial stack that has been certified under the scheme.
The British Medical Association said today the NHS's Choose and Book system is unfit for purpose and actually limits choice for patients.
The BBC will press ahead with its Windows-only on-demand service when it launches the iPlayer on July 27, the broadcaster announced today.
The US Navy's plan to detect mines and other underwater objects by their electrical fields - in the same way as sharks and rays find prey - has moved closer to reality. Elasmobranch fish (rays, sharks and suchlike critters) have various senses, including relatively conventional vision and smell. But they also have slime-filled "canals" in their heads known as "the ampullae of Lorenzini," after the Florentine court doctor who documented them in 1678. (In seventeenth-century Florence, the ducal physician was apparently expected to dissect any sharks that happened to turn up.) The slime tubules, it later turned out, are effectively biological voltmeters with sensitivities as fine as a few microvolts. Sharks use them to detect the bioelectric fields of bottom-feeding flatfish lying concealed in sand or mud, so as to scoff them. Normally, when the US Navy figures out that a marine lifeform has a useful ability, they simply sign a few creatures up on a fish-based remuneration package. The USN has a large force of dolphin and sea lion mercenaries on its books, and in the past has experimented with killer whales, pilot whales and even trained seagulls. Apparently, "trainability assessments" were carried out on sharks too; but it seems that USN handlers never really felt comfortable working with them. Jaws just isn't as nice as Flipper, apparently. For whatever reason, there are no sharks on the Navy payroll today, though there are - of course - plans afoot to use them as remote control brain-chipped zombie slaves. Meanwhile the USN was envious of the sharks' amazing sensing abilities, for all that these seem to be quite limited. Experiments indicate (pdf) that a shark needs to pass within 15cm of a hidden flatfish in order to pick it up on slime-scan. Of course, circuitry in a sea mine could provide a stronger signal than bottom-feeders' bioelectricity, but on the face of it the shark's abilities aren't that impressive. Nonetheless, in 2005 the Navy signed up three separate companies to pursue shark-in-a-box style sensor tech which could be used in coastal waters where conventional sonar tends to struggle. "The shark operates in this difficult environment with great success," said the Navy boffins, no doubt having viewed Jaws a few times. They were looking for a piece of kit no bigger than three feet long and 4.75 inches in diameter which could be used by Navy divers underwater. It was specified that under Phases I and II of the project "two or three prototypes" would be developed. Phase III approval would mean that "this system will have immediate use in surveillance and monitoring operations with Homeland Security, Global War on Terrorism, Joint Forces Operations, and future combat systems." Which brings us up to Monday, when it was announced that: "QUASAR Federal Systems, Inc. of San Diego is being awarded a $6,000,000 ... Phase III contract for ... 'Shark Weak Electromagnetic (EM) Field Detection for Moving Objects.' The objective is to develop a covert/low-observable sensor system for detecting and classifying small, slow moving surface or subsurface bodies in coastal shallow water, bays, port areas, or waterways utilizing weak EM signals or field deviations. This technology has broad applications for both DoD and other Defense agencies. Work ... is expected to be completed in June 2012." So there we have it. Pork handouts have enabled the building of prototype shark-in-box gear, and we ought to see it at sea from 2012. Bottom-feeding enemies of America beware.®
Network storage and disk backup company Data Domain has announced pricing for its Initial Public Offering.
The UK, Europe and the US are planning to belt and brace their border databases by using multiple forms of biometrics to identify people.
ReviewReview Evesham has moved fast to pack its Zieo N500-HD laptop with a long list of 'Santa Rosa' Centrino Duo features. The 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor runs on the new 800MHz frontside bus and the chipset is a combination of 965 northbridge and ICH8M. Ordinarily, a new southbridge adds a handful of new features such as extra USB ports, but Centrino Duo is heavily skewed towards power management and longer battery life.
Google is offering charities and not-for-profit organisations the chance to use Google Earth without paying the earth.
For anyone that thought storage wasn't sexy, think again. Iomega's eGo - the name says it all... - is the Paris Hilton of data-packing, mirroring its 160GB capacity with a svelte, catwalk-ready design.
Editor's blogEditor's blog Here are some thoughts on user-interface design and the simple psychology of rooking the user. Try this for an example: I have been staying at a hotel where there is Wi-Fi available in the form of a T-Mobile hotspot. Let’s not go to the length of criticising the hotel for not fronting this service itself, putting the cost on the bill, etc – or indeed, just burying the cost in the hotel charges so it appears free. What it does mean, however, is that one has to go through T-Mobile’s SignUpWithYourCreditCard process... tedious but survivable.
Pipex has today become the first ISP to report major technical problems caused by the extreme weather which has battered the north of England. A fibre break caused by the flooding in Sheffield has hit Pipex data centres in Leeds and Manchester, affecting the firms hosting business 123-reg. A Pipex spokeswoman told us: "Some customers may be experiencing extended latency between the north and south of England. Customers should now be receiving normal service, and will only have experienced latency issues for about 90 mins." Reader reports suggest that other hosts have been affected too. Anyone with more details can get in touch via the byline at the top of this story. During the storms, staff at Sheffield-based ISP PlusNet were unable to get to work, and its community site has been wobbled by a power outage, but the network held up. Pipex says its broadband customers have been unaffected by the break.®
The more things stay the same, the more things are likely to change, and clear evidence of that could be seen today at the announcement of the latest Top500 Supercomputers league tables at the International Supercomputer Conference in Dresden.
Mobile workshopMobile workshop The team here at Freeform Dynamics has reviewed a lot of projects and gathered a lot of feedback from organisations implementing mobile technology over the years. One of the things we hit on in a report we put together earlier this year was how importance it is to engage and train users to minimise mobility related security risks in the right way.
Sky has agreed to supply Tiscali's TV service with the same package of channels it took away from Virgin Media in a dispute over charges earlier this year. The deal for the satellite broadcaster's "Basics" package will make Sky One shows such as Lost and 24 available to Tiscali's 50,000 TV customers. The ISP bought south east-only IPTV network HomeChoice in 2006, and plans to roll-out to the rest of the country in the third quarter this year. Although a coup for Tiscali's triple-play ambitions, the move will be widely interpreted, from Sky's side, as two fingers directed at its mass-market rival Virgin Media. The relationship between the two soured soon after Sky crashed into the broadband market. Sky withdrew its channels from Virgin, which provoked consternation from the cable firm's three million-plus TV customers, taking a toll on subscriber numbers. In a recent update bosses claimed to have weathered the storm, however. The Tiscali deal was "first revealed" by The Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns, er, Sky. Awesome scoop.®
Now, laptop maker Asus is well known for its willingness to bring all sorts of hi-tech compounds into the manufacture of its notebook computers, but it hasn't ignored more traditional materials. It's already released a leather-clad laptop and has now begun touting what it claims is the world's first bamboo computer.
Fujitsu Computer Systems flashed its latest energy-efficient, better I/O performance blade server and chassis in the hope of cutting customers loose from market leaders HP and IBM.
Toshiba has followed SanDisk to become the latest memory card maker to unwrap a Micro SD card that adheres to the high-capacity SDHC spec. Toshiba's offering, like SanDisk's - reviewed here - is a 4GB boy.
Kodak's production line must be hot to the touch now, following its roll out of four "fashionable" compact cameras - the M series - and the addition of two models to its existing high-end Z series.
Is there no end to this company's ambitions? Google has signed up Ingram Micro, the world's biggest IT wholesaler, to distribute its hardware search appliance box in the US.
Microsoft plans to sell a PC for kids and launch an educational channel on its MSN portal in India as the next step in a worldwide "Unlimited Potential" program. Aimed at school students, Microsoft's new IQ PC will be built on AMD hardware and vended by Zenith Computers. The computers will put tykes out 21,000 rupees ($514).
An unemployed single mom with health problems has renewed her legal challenge of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) with unseemly new details. They include accusations that the cartel's goons tried to contact the woman's 10-year-old daughter at school by impersonating the girl's grandmother on the phone. RIAA agents pursuing bogus copyright violations also called the apartment of Tanya Andersen looking for her daughter Kylee and demanded they take the girl's deposition, according to a complaint filed last week in federal court in Portland, Oregon. Later, during settlement discussions, the RIAA told Andersen she had to abandon all legal rights she may have in a countersuit or the association would once again demand to "interrogate and confront her little girl at the offices of the RIAA lawyers," according to the suit. "Defendants' lawyer threatened persecution of Kylee in an effort to force Ms. Andersen to abandon her counterclaims against the defendant record companies," Andersen's complaint claims. "Their demand for face-to-face confrontation with Ms. Andersen's then 10 year-old child in a deposition at the offices of RIAA lawyers were also intended to coerce and threaten her." Careful readers will remember Andersen, now 44 years old, countersued the RIAA in late 2005 after being accused of illegally downloading gangster rap tunes such as "Shake that Ass Bitch," "Bullet in the Head," "I Stab People" and several with titles that even we cannot publish. Her counterclaims equated the RIAA to thugs that knowingly employed illegal investigative methods and pursued factually flawed charges. Suing under state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization laws designed to target organized crime rings, Andersen became something of a folk hero for her refusal to submit to the 800-pound gorilla. The RIAA quietly dropped its lawsuit against Andersen on June 1 of this year, just hours before a court-imposed deadline for attorneys to submit proof that Andersen had illegally downloaded the copyrighted material. She responded with last week's action, which reinstates her counterclaims and introduces several new ones. In 2004, about the same time she was targeted by the RIAA, Andersen was forced to leave her position with the Department of Justice for unspecified health reasons. Her suit seeks attorneys fees, which her attorney Lory Lybeck, says are in excess of $50,000, and additional damages, which he declined to estimate. "All I can give you is a lady that was suffering from some very severe disabilities that was harmed very, very badly by these people," he said. Also named is MediaSentry, a firm the RIAA uses to identify individuals suspected of illegally swapping copyrighted music online. Andersen's suit claims MediaSentry's own executives have admitted their investigative techniques are known to misidentify individuals and also can't determine if files made available for download actually contain copyrighted recordings or are mislabeled, inoperative or decoy works. "Pursuant to a secret agreement, the RIAA, its controlled member companies and MediaSentry conspired to develop a massive threat and litigation enterprise targeting private citizens across the United States," the suit alleges. An RIAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit. A spokeswoman for MediaSentry, which this month agreed to be acquired by SafeNet, declined to comment on allegations its methods are flawed. "Data collected helps clients determine the scale and scope of their piracy problem and measure the success of enforcement campaigns. From worldwide peering points, SafeNet identifies online piracy in real-time by monitoring online auction communities, IRC networks, newsgroups, FTP sites, peer-to-peer communities and websites," she said in an emailed statement. Among other details Andersen provides as evidence of the RIAA's witch hunt is its attorneys' refusal to take her up on an offer to inspect her computer for any evidence of the illegal downloads. Eventually, the court demanded an inspection be conducted, and RIAA investigators were unable to identify any files or file remnants containing the recordings alleged to have been copyrighted. A copy of Andersen's complaint is here. ®
ICANN San Juan 2007ICANN San Juan 2007 Tuesday brought more on the expansion of the top-level domain (TLD) landscape - namely a discussion of what are referred to somewhat jokingly as geoTLDs. These are really two distinct kinds of TLDs - one for information about cities or purely geographic regions, and another for linguistic and cultural preservation. As always seems to be the case at ICANN meetings, technical difficulties took front and centre stage. First the microphone was so loud our session was drowning out the session next door, and no one could work the mike and lower the volume. Then - this is pure ICANN - nobody could figure out how to work the projector, even though they had all brought slides. Two power outages then put the olives in our collective Martini. Illuminated by the screens of our laptops, and without internet access, we soldiered on. The city TLDs, such as .nyc for New York, are portrayed as a way to organize reference material about a certain place. A representative of .nyc presented it as a kind of urban planning for the internet, allowing a relatively coherent organization of practical information about the city. Instead of, say, doing a Google search for "hotels new york city" and receiving 150,000 hits, or whatever, in theory one could go to .nyc and find the 402 hotels there actually are in New York. Of course, these organizational concepts have been hijacked in the past by clever marketers, and it's not immediately apparent that the new city or regional codes will avoid a similar fate. The so-called language and culture domains (lcTLDs) will probably suffer less in that regard, if only because the internet real estate they seek is less valuable and more narrowly defined. Everyone knows New York - not everyone is familiar with Western Sahara. I thought the .eh mouse pad I received in my shwag bag was some kind of inside joke about Canadians, but it turns out to be the regional code for, yes, Western Sahara. This relatively new kind of TLD is conceived as something of a cultural gap filler between country code TLDs, which are essentially internet recognition of nation states, and standard .org-type not-for-profit organizations. It is in recognition of certain cultures or regions, such as the Catalonia region of Spain, that are not represented at the country code level but still have a distinct language or culture they would like to preserve for themselves in a certain part of the internet. The .cat is a nice example. It is a TLD devoted to the language and culture of Catalonia, and though American trademark lawyers might snivel about its similarity to an American tractor trade name, it seems like a worthy development, especially with the internationalized domain names on the way. The Catalans were here first. Let them have it. Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
SGI's dash away from cruel mistress Itanic continued this week in earnest with the delivery of the Xeon-based Altix ICE blade.
A former Nasa flight surgeon who lost his astronaut wife in the Columbia space shuttle disaster has teamed up with a self-described "bad boy" space commentator to mount trials in which humans would descend from orbit skydiver-style. Laurel Clark, a mission specialist, died along with her fellow crew members when the shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry in 2003. But her loss didn't dent husband Jonathan's enthusiasm for the space industry - in fact, it has inspired him to develop a novel new plan for re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. The one-time Navy doc, Nasa medic and spec-ops-trained parachutist has joined swashbuckling aerospace analyst Rick Tumlinson's company, Orbital Outfitters. The men intend to develop space suits, parachutes and other accoutrements that will ultimately allow a suitably equipped human to skydive - or "space-dive" - safely to Earth from orbit. The entrepreneurs reckon this kit will become a must-have safety feature in any spacecraft, just like lifejackets aboard ships or escape sets in submarines. They also think that space-diving might become the ultimate adrenaline sport of the future. For now, Orbital Outfitters has a contract to supply basic pressure suits to XCOR Aerospace. XCOR is a private commercial space operation looking to develop a suborbital rocket-plane called Xerus. Xerus crews and suborbital tourist passengers will be provided with "Industrial Sub-Orbital Space Suits" (IS-3s) from Tumlinson's firm, which will keep them safe in the event of a depressurisation. IS-3 suits will also be integrated with a parachute harness, but won't be suitable for space-diving from orbit. One unique feature that Orbital Outfitters intends to offer is "a 'coolness' factor not present in space suits of the past". "In fact," the company admits, "certain areas of the visual design are drawn from science fiction." Indeed, the firm uses the title of a famous Heinlein sci-fi novel as its motto: "Have Space Suit, Will Travel." (Though, in fact, their plans are more reminiscent of Heinlein's other classic Starship Troopers, in which power-armoured "mobile infantrymen" plunged into battle from orbiting spaceships*). To deliver the coolness, Oscar-winning Hollywood SFX man, Chris Gilman, who designed the space suits for the movie Armageddon, serves as the company's CEO. Nothing less than, um, high fashion will do for this market, it seems. "With billionaires funding the [new wave of space startups] and passengers paying up to $200k for a ride, safety is important,” says Tumlinson. “With these sorts of players, we intend to also make it chic.” As for the space-diving test programme, full details have emerged in a Popular Science article to be published in the July edition. Tumlinson and Clark want to start with a record-breaking plunge from 120,000 feet by 2009. The previous highest-ever jump was from a balloon at 102,800 feet by US airforce captain Joseph Kittinger in 1960. For this sort of leap, all that's required is a pressure suit, breathing apparatus, a drogue chute to prevent uncontrolled spinning and a regular parachute for landing. Orbital Outfitters reckon that's a piece of cake; the hard bit will be getting their test jumper up there. XCOR haven't got anything suitable ready to go. Tumlinson has a relationship with John Carmack, creator of Doom and Quake, who founded a spaceship firm called Armadillo Aerospace in 2001. Thus far, however, Carmack's ethanol rockets have ascended to only 164 feet. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' "Goddard" ship flew to 285 feet last November, but this still leaves a way to go. Assuming they can achieve a 120,000-foot dive, the space suit makers next plan is for a 60-mile drop. This will be a lot tougher. The space-diver on that one will need a vacuum manoeuvring system to keep oriented in the early part of the descent, and will suffer 4.4 Gs of deceleration coming into the lower atmosphere. More worryingly, his or her suit will need to withstand oven-level 240 degrees-C temperatures. But that's no problem, say the spacedive promoters. An aerosol-can-esque cold-gas system will do for steering in space, and they reckon they can make a tough enough heatproof suit. The G-forces are less than fighter pilots undergo routinely. There is some worry, however, about transonic shockwaves that the 60-mile spacediver will experience while transitioning from 2,500mph down through the sound barrier. But Clark reckons it's pretty likely things will be OK. He says that an SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane cracked up in 1966 while flying at more than Mach 3. The pilot - though he did black out - was fine, despite having left the plane at three times the speed of sound. If they get that done, the spacesuit makers reckon the next thing will be a full orbital space-dive from 150 miles up and travelling at 18,000mph. There aren't any private ships even on the drawing board that could go so high and fast - even dotcom fortunes can't match the Nasa budget - so this is a long way in the future. Just for the record, though, coming down from that sort of flight profile means 8.2 Gs and more than 1600 degrees-C. The Orbital Outfitters engineers think that a shuttlecock-shaped rigid heat shield made of carbon or fibreglass ought to do the job, although this is almost a personal re-entry vehicle rather than an actual suit: more on the lines of the capsules that Heinlein's "cap troopers" rode down in, before ditching them and parachuting the last bit. Apparently, analysts at Nasa's famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) say the numbers are correct. Robert Manning of JPL said that he doesn't see "anything fundamentally wrong with what they’re doing ... It’s just scary as hell.” Orbital Outfitters are looking for volunteer jumpers, apparently, though their plans aren't terribly advanced as yet and financing is uncertain. Prospective space-divers should be aware that they will probably be charged a large fee. The PopSci writeup can be read online here.® *Sadly the cool motorised armour, drop capsules, hand flamers etc didn't appear in the film. But we thought the knife-throwing lesson by Sergeant Zim was actually improved.
At the Norwegian summer resort of Kristiansand in Norway last week, representatives of all corners of the British (and global) music business came together to think the unthinkable. That's unusual in itself. What's generally called the "music industry" consists of violently opposed parties: small labels against big labels; publishers against recording rights owners; managers against everyone else. Much time is spent screwing or suing one another. The past sure is tense. Perhaps for the first time, the entire range of representatives - including the biggest and most powerful recording interests - looked into the abyss, and agreed that what they what they need to do is very different to what they've been doing for the past 15 years - ever since since the sudden growth of public computer networks represented by today's free-for-all internet. The event was convened by music manager Peter Jenner. Today Jenner represents Billy Bragg, but his 40-year career in the industry began as Pink Floyd's first manager (representing Syd after the split), and launching the Harvest label. Today, Jenner is secretary general of the International Music Manager's Forum, the IMMF. Jenner has been using his contacts book and influence to cajole the industry into radical change: a process which began with his "Beyond the Soundbytes" report and conference last year. Reporting restrictions, under the Chatham House rule, applied to all participants - so forgive your reporter for the generalities. Out of Crisis It's the dramatic fall in CD revenues - we don't have the official Q2 figures just yet, but they're said to be down 40 per cent year-on-year in some markets - that appears to have precipitated the change in thinking. No Declaration or Manifesto was issued at Kristiansand. The event didn't even have a formal name. But a consensus looked forward to a post-physical media future, where music can flow more freely, and where creators can finally be rewarded from the wires and pipes over which music flows "anarchistically" today. While few readers will mourn the demise of the big, vertically integrated record label, the awkward fact remains that millions enjoy music today while cutting the creators out of the equation. The internet has concentrated power in the hands of a few owners in the telecoms and publishing industries - leaving originators with little option but to hope for fame, and beg for scraps. At Kristiansand, attendees heard how the world may look pretty different, given concerted action. VC money or private equity could be the driver for the next waves of investment - where areas of expertise such as A&R, marketing and artists management are much looser than they are today. We also heard concerns how business models will be able to sustain artist growth. Given that private equity or VC money is typically rapacious and shortsighted, the artists at the top of the tree looks set to prosper. Money follows the largest returns. Amateurs have never had it so good, with cheap production and marketing tools and new direct electronic distribution channels. But what about the pro performers who aren't ever going to be Madonna, and still want to sustain a career? It's a question without a clear answer so far. What consensus did emerge broadly favoured the following: Prosecuting end users is silly - when you can monetise them Since "piracy" today means "get free music", the future has to offer something that "feels like free" Vastly wealthier industries than the music business today profit from the demand for recorded music - without giving anything back. That isn't fair, and it's got to change Digital music services of the future need a better deal than the begrudging and piecemeal licenses offered so far by rights holders: but these have to be so attractive only the suicidal would want to turn it down. What now? "The era of levies is over," said one participant. "Government isn't going to step in and hand us a business." History shows us almost every new technology affecting copyright owners is considered illegal to begin with, but eventually they all fall under an arrangement that addresses the needs of consumers and creators. This is a difficult balancing act: if the license proposition is unattractive, then either the technology is shunned, or it continues underground. Digital networks are far from the first "intangible" technology rights holders have encountered, but it has been one of the longest journeys to reach a state of agreement. AT&T's recent decision to police its network for copyright violations using deep packet inspection suggests that network operators are dropping their objections to "common carrier" status. Of course, they'd much rather not be in the policing business, which is expensive and gains them no direct income: they would prefer to offer added value services you and I willingly want to pay for. But for that, they need the co-operation of the music industry. Bendik Hofseth, the Norwegian composer musician who's on the board of the Norwegian Performing Rights Society TONO, and chairman of the Norwegian composer's association, played host at Kristiansand. He heads a new center to study emerging rights models and music business models at Kristensand's 15,000-student Agder University College. The research center promises to be a refreshing and long overdue European counterpart to the "cyberlaw" departments that have proved so lucrative for American academic business, but whose esoteric and abstract approach, rooted in US constitutional law, seems increasingly at odds with direction the rest of the world is taking. Perhaps Kristiansand may be remembered as the place where sanity broke out. ®
Intel has released a BIOS patch for Windows machines running Core 2 and Xeon 3000/5000 chips that addresses potential unpredictable system behavior.
Eclipse gets its biggest update on Friday. The Europa update to the Eclipse Framework will wrap in 17 million lines of code spanning 21 projects, more than doubling last summer's first synchronized release, Callisto, with a mere seven million lines and 10 projects.
HP has located a few friends, including Intel and AMD, to help it deal with the multi-core processor morass. The hardware vendor has invited chums to join its new Multi-Core Optimization Program (MOP), which will support work that makes software run better across chips with numerous processor cores. HP's interest in this area proves obvious as it ships thousands of servers to customers dealing with today's dual- and quad-core chips. Such server customers have an edge over PC types since they've dealt with multi-threaded code for sometime, but everyone can use a helping hand.
Red Hat turned in a healthy first quarter amid signs it's evolving into a multifaceted operation, thanks to growing sales of JBoss and use of channel partners. The Linux vendor saw net income grow 18 per cent to $17.1m on revenue that increased 41.5 per cent to $118.8m, and earnings per diluted share that increased a penny to $0.08 for the period to May 31. Subscriptions to Red Hat Linux grew 44 per cent to $103m.