11th > July > 2007 Archive

22

JP Morgan's iPhone Nano report is rubbish

Yesterday's report from JP Morgan that Apple is building some sort of slimline iPhone? It's been discredited. By JP Morgan. On Monday, Reuters leaked news of a JP Morgan report that trumpeted the imminent arrival of a smaller, cheaper version of Apple's new-age smarphone. Kevin Chang, a JP Morgan analyst based in Taiwan, claimed that this super-svelte iPhone would be based on the iPod Nano - Apple's ultra-slim music player - citing unnamed people "in the supply chain" and an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.
Cade Metz, 11 Jul 2007
2

Former ATI chief quits AMD

David Orton, former president and CEO at ATI Technologies, has resigned as executive vice president of AMD. Orton, who led ATI's merger with AMD last year, said he will leave the company at the end of the month.
Austin Modine, 11 Jul 2007
Vogon
44

A serious browser vulnerability, but whose?

A serious vulnerability that causes Internet Explorer to launch Firefox and execute a malicious payload is sparking debate about exactly who is responsible for the flaw. The vulnerability, which was widely reported on security blogs, allows an attacker to remotely execute malicious code on a machine that is running IE but also has the Mozilla browser installed. By luring an IE user to a malevolently crafted site, the attacker can cause Firefox to execute the code without first vetting it for security.
Dan Goodin, 11 Jul 2007
Facebook
5

Facebook found pimping crudware

Facebook has become the latest website to be found pushing services that deliver highly deceptive security warnings designed to trick users into buying software. Purveyors of this scam are making use of Facebook Flyers, small ads that get posted on Facebook pages associated with a specific region. At 5,000 impressions for just $10, it's a bargain.
Dan Goodin, 11 Jul 2007
6

MS Exchange comes to the iPhone

Software companies are rushing to supply iPhone users with the functionality that Apple forgot to include. Undaunted by their inability to install software on the handset they have adopted a variety of approaches to making their software work without a client on the device. Take Synchronica, for example. The company's MS Exchange gateway now fully supports Apple's iPhone, thus providing the functionality that has been touted as the biggest problem with the device. MS Exchange already offers a webmail interface which works fine with the iPhone browser, and some companies are also happy to open up IMAP and SMTP connections. This allows the integrated iPhone mail client to connect direct to company servers, although there are security implications which could frighten IT departments away from this option. Synchronica offers a happy combination: a server which scrapes content using the webmail interface, and offers it up to users over IMAP/SMTP. The iPhone can't support proper pushed email - and such support can't be added by anyone except Apple. But with an unmetered data tariff the mail client can be left open and polling every few minutes - giving a push-like experience. It seems unlikely that anyone will launch an iPhone without unlimited data, making the lack of push email much less important, and with middleware like Synchronica's integrating without requiring Exchange configuration, the iPhone may yet find its way into corporate hands - if there are any left. ®
Bill Ray, 11 Jul 2007

Deadline looms for science and tech student awards

Time is running out for university lecturers to enter their most promising students in the Science, Engineering and Technology Student of the Year Awards for 2007, so if you think you're in with a chance of getting a first and put a decent final paper together, get on the phone to your professor right now. And if you are a boffin and you haven't nominated your best boffinlets yet, what are you waiting for? To inspire or intimidate, you might like to know previous winners have submitted papers with such impressive sounding titles as: "Scalar fields is cosmology", "A CFD investigation into the transient aerodynamic forces on overtaking road vehicles" and "Model of acute lung inflammation using ultrafine carbon in black mice". Subjects covered by the awards range from civil engineering, through pharmacology, IT and physics. To stand a chance of winning, students have to have found a university that hasn't closed all its science departments, be up for a first class degree, and be put forward by their lecturers. Unendorsed entries are not allowed, and nominations for the award have to be in by July 20. SAGE, the academic publishing group, has confirmed that it will sponsor the associated "Lecturer of the year" award. Based on the collective experience of El Reg staff, to be nominated, lecturers must be able to keep their students awake for all 45 minutes of a single lecture session. Anything else is gravy. The results will be announced at a ceremony in London's Alexandra Palace on September 20. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 11 Jul 2007
50

Sun's activity not to blame for climate change

People are a contrary bunch. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the recent fashion for dismissing global warming as a load of hot air. Indeed, it has become de rigueur to attribute recent increases in global temperatures to something other than human industrial activity and the consequent emission of various greenhouse gases, CO2 among them. One suggestion much loved by the sceptics is that solar activity can explain away the warming planet. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that long-term variations (over a century or so) in solar output can influence climate. The tabloid inference is that it is then quite alright to continue hunting baby pandas from turbo-charged Humvees. Now, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Professor Mike Lockwood, and the University of Southampton's Claus Fröhlich have analysed the activity of the sun since 1985, to see if any of this "solar climate forcing" is detectable in recent data. They found that although we have witnessed a long period of intense activity, in the last 22 years solar activity has been on the decline, and cannot be used to explain the rapid rise of global temperatures. Their findings will not surprise many in the scientific community, they say, but should be of interest to the producers of The Great Global Warming Swindle, a television program that aired in the UK this March. The makers questioned the existence of a scientific consensus on the causes of climate change, and put forward solar activity as an alternative explanation for our warming planet. "That program was so bad it was almost fraudulent," Lockwood says. "[The subjects raised] made for a decent scientific debate 15 years ago, but the questions have since been settled." He says that there are strong indicators that the activity of the Sun can influence climate. The pre-industrial climate does appear to have been influenced by the Sun: for instance data from ocean sediments and ice sheet samples show that over the last 5,000 years, the monsoon belt has shifted over periods that correlate with changes in cosmic ray flux, which in turn is related to solar activity. "There are very stong indictors that there was solar control of the pre-industrial climate," he says, refering to changes in global temperatures over the last five to six thousand years. "There is even some, contentious, statistical suggestion that solar heating persisted into the 1940s or maybe even 1950s. But there is almost no evidence that it persisted beyond then." "All the things we know of that could have influenced climate are going in the wrong direction." What angers Lockwood more than almost anything is the idea that an interesting area of science was being misused, and that it could be discredited. He stresses that he is not saying that the Sun has no impact on the climate: quite the reverse. "By falsely applying pre-industrial science to the modern day, the Great Global Warming Swindle risks discrediting a very interesting area of science," he said. He adds that there are no grounds for suggesting that there is a lag between solar activity lessenning, and a corresponding drop in temperatures, noting that although the solar activity is declining, global heating is accelerating. "1985 was the highest peak of solar activity in maybe 6,000 years. But the peak is over now, and still temperatures are climbing," he says. Lockwood and Fröhlich's conclusion is that the global warming we see today cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanism is invoked and no matter how much the solar variation is amplified. Whichever way you slice it, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity is causing an overall warming of the planet. Yes, there is debate over the finer details of exactly how and how much, but the broad theme is clear. "The Great Global Warming Swindle raised old debates that are going to be latched on to and used to suggest that we don't need to do anything about climate change. In that sense, it was a very destructive program," said Lockwood. The paper Recent oppositely directed trends in solar climate forcings and the global mean surface air temperature is published in today's (Wednesday July 11th) edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society. ® Bootnote: Ofcom is in the initial stages of investigating a complaint into the scientific foundations of The Great Global Warming Swindle. It says complex investigations are normally completed within two months, so watch this space.
Lucy Sherriff, 11 Jul 2007
Fujitsu Siemens
5

'My very first SAN'. Brought to you by Fujitsu Siemens

Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) thinks storage area networking is for the little guys too. It has drummed up a technology bundle and a marketing slogan - "My very first SAN" - to capture that lucrative, but oh so elusive, small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. Marcus Schneider, FSC's director of infrastructure products (EMEA), told The Register that the firm was now focusing particularly heavily on the S (small) part of SMBs, targeting organisations with a head-count of between 100 and 200 staff, in particular.
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Jul 2007
7

Rufus quits Gadspot

Battling tech support hero Rufus, who became an overnight internet legend for apparently calling one customer a "pain in the butt" and threatening to "server" him "for being mean", has quit his frontline post at Gadspot.com.
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
13

Tiscali: breaking DNS for fun and profit

Tiscali is hijacking mistyped URLs to serve to its customers sponsored links. The ISP started rerouting DNS errors to a page plastered with advertising yesterday. An irate customer has started a thread on the firm's forums criticising Tiscali allowing a third party to pump ads for ringtones and dating sites. Tiscali: helping you on your journey A company rep, "Mr Tibbs" (who we last met during Tiscali's marathon email debacle earlier this year), replied that the ads (pictured) were "aimed at helping the customer on his/her journey rather than getting an error page." The customer writes: "I urge you to withdraw the service. Meanwhile, enjoy the bad publicity, and enjoy running a business based on a pathetic, seedy business model that was proven not to work back in the 1990s." In response, Mr Tibbs, says the "service" will be opt-out, but does not provide details. Tiscali is not the first to attempt to squeeze more cash out of internet users this way. Verisign invoked the ire of the top level domain regulator ICANN when it attempted something similar in 2003. Verisign quickly bowed to ICANN's pressure and abandoned the system. Despite this, Orange tentatively began gauging 2007 surfers' reaction to hijacking in April. Hijacking error pages in this way causes a host of problems for users, and is in contravention of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards. The Internet Architecture Board has a commentary here here, and Tiscali's angry customer lists a few of the practicalities in a second post to the thread. We are waiting for more comment from Tiscali. Expert web users will be able to circumvent Tiscali's error hijacking by using a third party DNS list, such as OpenDNS. It's relatively simple to do and has no effect on your broadband contract, so plenty of Tiscali's 1.4 million subscribers should be able to vote with their feet.® Bootnote OpenDNS got a write-up in the New York Times this week. It works similarly to Verisign's 2003 hijack operation, and it serves adverts. However, unlike Verisign's wheeze, which had free rein over the .com and .net top level domains controlled by the firm, OpenDNS is voluntary, and has a much bigger web address cache than ISPs. So is more likely to find what you were looking for than serve you a ringtone ad.
Christopher Williams, 11 Jul 2007

Books for the beach – 10 titles for techies

Summer is with us, or at least it should be once the rains stops, and it’s getting to that time of year when we all take the customary two week break away from the stress and the strains of work and the modern world. Trouble is, once we’re away from it, we start to miss it.
Register Books, 11 Jul 2007
10

Gardener offers mouthwatering 'mow and blow' deal

California readers looking for a landscape gardener who offers a full service and is willing to negotiate on price were recently pointed in the direction of "Jose Barajas and his gang of six cabaleros!" by one highly-satisfied customer: Sadly, it appears Barajas and his half dozen caballeros are no longer offering the cut-price "mow-and-blow" deal, since the recommendation has now been amended to remove this particular extra. Shame. ® Bootnote Thanks to Simon Halsey for the tip-off.
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
2

ICO names Orange, retail banks amongst data bandits

The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said British chief executives need to take the safety of customers' and employees' data more seriously after a series of breaches over the last year. Launching his annual report Thomas said: "Over the last year we have seen far too many careless and inexcusable breaches of people's personal information. The roll call of banks, retailers, government departments, public bodies and other organisations which have admitted serious security lapses is frankly horrifying." He said it was time business and public sector leaders take their data protection issues seriously. Thomas wants more power for his quango with the right to inspect and audit companies it suspects of failing to secure data properly. The Information Commissioner's Office received 24,000 enquiries and complaints last year. It has prosecuted just 16 individuals or organisations as a result. Earlier this year it got High Street banks to sign an undertaking not to leave customer details in binbags on the street any more. Last month, the ICO found Orange in breach of the data protection act for not keeping its customer data secure. New members of staff were able to share passwords and access customer. Home shopping outfit Littlewoods was berated for similar lapses. The ICO press release(Pdf), and a link to its Annual Report, is here.®
John Oates, 11 Jul 2007
evesham_zieo_nx600hd_SM

Evesham fires up Zieo NX600-HD gaming notebook

Evesham has expanded its Zieo big-screen notebook range with the NX600-HD, a 17in Sony Vaio-esque model that should play well with gamers.
James Sherwood, 11 Jul 2007
6

Deal struck on the phone is binding, rules High Court

An oral contract over the phone is binding, the High Court has ruled in a multi-million pound case which threatened to undermine the way the world of high finance operates. The verbal agreement did not have to be in writing, the court found. An investment fund, Forum Global Equity, agreed a deal over the phone with US investment bank Bear Stearns. It agreed to sell debt in troubled Italian food conglomerate Parmalat to Bear Stearns, and contracts confirming the deal were due to be signed at a later date. Before they were signed, though, the Parmalat situation changed, and the deal became far less favourable to Forum. It tried to pull out of the transaction altogether. Forum was selling notes of distressed debt issued by Parmalat which would, under certain circumstances, translate into a share of the company. The notes were bought after the company collapsed and went into administration. Forum acquired the debt soon after the company went into administration, and it was later added to the official list of creditors of the firm. The market for distressed debt is based on the hope that the debt will translate into a share of any new company that grows out of the administration process. Forum agreed on the phone to sell the debt to Bear Stearns in July 2005 after months of negotiations over price. They agreed on a final price of €2.9m. In October 2005 the debt in question was converted into equity in a new Parmalat firm arising out of the administration proceedings. In that month Forum not only told Bear Stearns that it was not prepared to go through with the sale, but began trading the shares in Parmalat it had received as part of the administration process. The High Court case centred on whether or not the phone conversation in July constituted a contract that was enforceable. Justice Andrew Smith concluded that it did. "I conclude … that Forum concluded a contract for the sale of the notes on 14 July 2005," said Justice Smith in his judgment. Justice Smith rejected Forum's arguments that an agreement that others could fix a definite time for the transfer to take place meant that no contract was agreed; that the agreement as a whole was too uncertain to be an effective contract; and that the parties did not intend to create legal relations. The case was viewed with concern by the City in London, where complex and extremely time-sensitive trades are conducted on the telephone and treated as contracts, with the paperwork only being finalised later. A victory for Forum could have undermined that entire system. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Jul 2007
1

Sebastian Faulks pens Bond novel

Brit author Sebastian Faulks has penned a new James Bond novel to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth, the Ian Fleming Estate has announced. The tome - entitled Devil May Care - will be published by Penguin next year to mark 100 years since the 007 creator popped out on 28 May 1908, and promises "action...played out across two continents, exotic locations and several of the world's most thrilling cities". Faulks said: "I was surprised but flattered to be asked by the Fleming Estate last summer if I would write a one-off Bond book for the Ian Fleming Centenary. "I told them that I hadn't read the books since the age of 13, but if, when I re-read them, I still enjoyed them and could see how I might be able to do something in the same vein, then I would be happy to consider it. On re-reading, I was surprised by how well the books stood up. "I found writing this light-hearted book more thrilling than I had expected. I hope people will enjoy reading it and that Ian Fleming would consider it to be in the cavalier spirit of his own novels and therefore an acceptable addition to the line." Corinne Turner, Managing Director Ian Fleming Publications Ltd chipped in with: "We had had Sebastian Faulks in mind for our centenary novel for quite some time. I have always enjoyed and admired his novels, but it wasn't until I read On Green Dolphin Street that it occurred to me that he would be perfect for Bond. "He has an ability to write totally convincingly in whichever period or genre he chooses, and that particular book made me think he might enjoy exploring the world of Ian Fleming and James Bond. I knew that it would have to be something very special to tempt him to have a go, and at the time didn't make an approach. However, when we came to think of authors for our centenary novel and his agent, quite independently, suggested Sebastian, it was just meant to be. "The Fleming family were delighted with the typescript when we received it. Barbara Broccoli, to whom we gave a sneak preview, said if I had told her the family had found an old manuscript of Ian's in the basement, she would have believed me. Sebastian couldn't have written a better book to celebrate Ian's 100th birthday." Devil May Care is not the first Bond novel to be published since Fleming's last 007 outing - Octopussy and the Living Daylights, published in 1966. In 1968, Kingsley Amis under the nom de plume Robert Markham offered Colonel Sun. John Gardner wrote 14 Bond books, beginning with 1981's Licence Renewed, and also did "novelisations" of Licence to Kill and GoldenEye. Raymond Benson took the helm in 1997, and produced six books including Zero Minus Ten (1997) and The Man with the Red Tattoo (2002) as well as adaptations of Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. To demonstrate just how onerous a task writing a Bond book is, Faulks said: "In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write a thousand words in the morning, then go snorkelling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another thousand words in late afternoon, then more Martinis and glamorous women. In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkelling." ®
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
12

Xbox 360 Elite to raid Europe next month

Millions of European gamers have sat patiently beside their old standard Xbox 360s ever since the first official mention of the all-black Elite version waiting for word on when they'll be able to get their hands on one. Now they know - the European launch date is 24 August 2007.
James Sherwood, 11 Jul 2007
17

Sky hails broadband explosion

The BSkyB juggernaut's plough into broadband shows no sign of slowing, with the announcement today that it bagged more than 250,000 new punters in the last three months. The new lines take Sky's broadband subscriber base to 716,000. BT and Virgin Media each has more than three million, which Sky reckons it will hit in 2010. In the three months to June 30 it overtook Pipex and now ranks seventh in the UK. Most of Sky's ISP growth comes from existing TV customers. The overall net growth in subscribers was 90,000. In the trading update today, Sky boss James Murdoch said: "Today we are adding new customers at the fastest rate since analogue switch-off; we are adding more broadband customers than any other provider; and we are the only major residential telephony provider growing its customer base." Residential telephony was a particularly sore spot for bitter rival Virgin Media when it reported its last set of numbers in May. Sky offers all its TV customers "free" broadband, mostly via the LLU network it inherited when it bought Easynet for £211m in 2005. It has now unbundled more than 1,150 exchanges and covers about 65 per cent of homes. Sky's "free" launch escaped much of the technical and customer buffoonery service that marred TalkTalk's entry. Unbundling is key for making the "free" business model work, and it seems to be paying off for Sky: it also said it had boosted average revenue per user, the yardstick for telco success, by £21 to £412 annually (including TV revenues). At time of writing Sky's shares were up more than 4 per cent. The trading update is here (.PDF).®
Christopher Williams, 11 Jul 2007
1

Albatron reinvents graphics card as Blu-ray booster

Here's a novel idea: take a regular graphics card and re-style it as a Blu-ray Disc decoder for machines that already have their own, integrated graphics card. That's what board maker Albatron's done with its latest offering.
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2007
HP

HP turns green on data storage

HP has introduced what it has dubbed its green storage technology that can cut storage array power and cooling costs in data centers by 50 per cent.
Clay Ryder, 11 Jul 2007
50

Sick to death of the bloody iPhone? Click here

We have some absolutely splendid news today for those among your who are heartily sick and tired of the bloody iPhone - those very silly people down at Blendtec have done the decent thing and stuck the infernal device in the blender: To enjoy the orgy of whirring destruction, have a look here. The iPhone is just the latest gadget tested to destruction in Blendtec's Don't Try This @ Home lab. Previous victims include Transformers, Barbie and, agreeably, the iPod. ®
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
plaster_75
11

Three critical flaws mark July Patch Tuesday

Microsoft's latest Patch Tuesday update brought six patches, three of which Redmond described as critical fixes. The critical update covers flaws in Excel, Windows Active Directory, and .NET Framework. All create a possible means for hackers to inject hostile code onto vulnerable systems (remote code execution). Separate security bugs in Internet Information Server (Microsoft's web server software) and Microsoft Office Publisher also carry the same risk but earn a lower classification of "important" from Redmond. Microsoft's security gnomes have also addressed a "moderate" security bug in Windows firewall that creates an information disclosure risk.
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2007
4

Samsung to launch '€400' Blu-ray/HD DVD player next month

Samsung will launch its promised dual-format HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc player in Europe next month, the company has said, and industry insiders are already claiming the machine could be priced at just €400 ($548/£271).
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2007
channel
11

Fast flux foils botnet takedown

Network security analyst Lawrence Baldwin has helped take down his share of bot nets, but he worries that those days may largely be over. Traditional bot nets have used Internet relay chat (IRC) servers to control each of the compromised PCs, or bots, but the central IRC server is also a weakness, giving defenders a single server to target and take down. An increasingly popular technique, known as fast-flux domain name service (DNS), allows bot nets to use a multitude of servers to hide a key host or to create a highly-available control network. The result: No single point of weakness on which defenders can focus their efforts.
Robert Lemos, 11 Jul 2007

Music radio: saved from premature burial

A startling claim lands on the desk of Vulture Central. Research from London-based marketing agency Frukt raises the verbless question, "Music radio dying?" On the 80th anniversary of the first disk jockey, Frukt had arrived in undertaker's garb and empty coffin - all but ready to take the DJ away, to be boiled down to horse glue. Frukt has questioned 792 members of the public (over 13) and today reports that "only 22 per cent of 13-15 year olds listen to traditional music radio on a daily basis" ... compared to 52 per cent of over-40s. This narrow age group was also the least reliant on music recommendations from traditional radio, the agency discovered. From there, using the sort of logic that could permit comic superheroes to leap tall buildings in one bound, Frukt asks - "In the age of the iPod/iPhone, user-generated content and online filesharing, and in light of XFM’s recent decision to scrap daytime DJs, who, if anyone, is traditional music radio speaking to?" This smelt so fishy, we decided to investigate further. First stop, RAJAR, or Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd which conducts the most comprehensive research on UK radio listenership. RAJAR last reported on May 10. Was da yoof deserting radio? Far from it: "Among younger listeners, Commercial Radio has seen reach increase by 6% among 15-24s (vs. an increase of 4% for the industry as a whole), this despite the many and varied entertainment options they now have." If you include the urban pirate stations that so many of the demographic listen to, and the picture is even healthier. But might this be a blip - a temporary respite? Again, this doesn't appear to be the case. Radio's share of the audience, compared to other media, is much bigger than it was ten years ago. It's down slightly on 2001, but what's noteworthy about a twelve-year comparison is how little it varies. The figure has barely varied either side of 250,000 listener hours since 1994. Some listeners may be deserting radio, but they're replaced by new listeners. We asked XFM, a music station aimed at the apparently chasing that vanishing demographic of music-loving youth, if it detected a similar trend? Apparently not, as figures are up 44 per cent quarter on quarter. So how could Frukt claim there was a "decline", when it failed to cite comparative data? Where was the comparative data that allowed such an inference to be made? Nowhere, it turned out. When we put the figures to the agency , a PR person explained that the headline was "misleading" Oh. It turns out that it's another scare story by a New Media agency designed to shock Old Media into parting with their money. Like so much New Media marketing, it's based on entirely bogus premise. As El Reg has pointed out so many times before - media doesn't work like transport infrastructure, where one technology replaces another - such as when railways made the canals obsolete. New technologies tend to complement older ways of getting stuff. So now we can hear radio through a FreeView-equipped TV, or or a mobile phone. And the web is driving traffic to both TV and radio. (This advice, as ever, comes free.) Now why do agencies resort to creating fictional scare stories to help sell their pearls of wisdom. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Jul 2007
19

US man flies 193 miles in deckchair

An Oregon man has undoubtedly set some kind of record by travelling 193 miles in a flying deckchair, the Bend Bulletin reports. Kent Couch, 47, spent eight hours and 45 minutes travelling from Bend to La Grande suspended beneath 105 four-foot helium balloons, reaching a maximum altitude of 11,000 feet. He admitted: "It's scary. There's this sense of, 'What the heck am I doing? Are you crazy or what?'. But I played with my mind, I told myself, this is a good thing." Couch was, despite the apparently foolhardy nature of the venture, well prepared for his trip. The balloons' lift was countered by 20 gallons of water which he could release to go up. To come down, he'd rigged a system which allowed him to let out some of the helium, enabling a smooth descent. This is pretty important, it seems, because on a previous "cluster balloon" flight last September, he'd precipitated a rather too rapid fall to earth by shooting the balloons with a BB gun. To avoid a high-speed impact with the ground, Couch had then been forced to throw "nearly everything he had off his chair, including food and drink and the BB gun". He subsequently parachuted to safety. This time around, he suffered no similar scares. As well as an improved ascent/descent mechanism, his high-tech deckchair set-up also included GPS, two-way radio, instruments to measure his altitude and speed and "assorted drinks and snacks". Although Couch had originally planned to reach Idaho, he eventually failed to leave his home state, although he did this time manage to land without resorting to his parachute - albeit with a bit of a bump, since a higher than desirable landing speed forced him to jump from the chair as it hit the ground. By coincidence, the adventurer landed in his parents' home town. His wife Susan, who'd been in one of three pursuit vehicles chasing her hubby, said: "They [the parents] were stressed about it. If we surprised them that would be quite funny, and an incredible coincidence." Susan has the final word on whether this will be her other half's last cluster balloon stunt. Couch admitted: "It's up to my wife. I'm not saying I won't do it again, but I told her I'd let her decide if I did it again." Susan is reportedly considering deploying her "wifely privilege" to put a stop to Couch's escapades, but said she'd agreed to participate in this trip "because I know he'd be thinking about it more and more, it would always be on his mind. This way, at least he's fulfilled his dream". The Bend Bulletin has extended coverage and photos of Couch's flight here. ® Bootnote Thanks to Chris Winpenny for the tip-off. He says: "I must be working too hard as this seems like a sensible thing to do, especially if you see the photo in the link." Agreed.
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
carbon_hero_SM
3

Carbon emissions - this time it's personal

If last weekend's Live Earth taught us anything, it's that we all need to take responsibility for our combined impact on the environment. Thankfully, monitoring our everyday impact may soon become much more straightforward thanks to the Carbon Hero, a portable carbon-footprint calculator.
James Sherwood, 11 Jul 2007
17

Chinese unleash Caspian Sea Monster

China today confirmed it has developed a "Wing In Ground" (WIG) sea-skimming aircraft, state media reports. According to Reuters, the Chinese version of the Caspian Sea Monster is capable of flying at 300km/h (180mph) at a mere half metre above the surface while carrying four tonnes of cargo. It relys on the WIG effect effect whereby, put simply, a wing travelling close to the ground is provided with extra lift by the "cushion" of air compressed under it - thus enabling a combination of greater aircraft weight for less power and/or enhanced fuel economy. Professor Xu Zhengyu, vice-president of the research team at Tongji University in Shanghai, confirmed: "It's as safe as ships, although five or six times faster. And it can carry much more weight than ordinary planes while costing half as much and using half as much fuel." Technical details of the first WIG vehicle are not noted, but Tongji University now plans to develop a 50-seat WIG by 2013, with" 200 prototypes capable of carrying 200 to 400 tonnes scheduled for 2016 or 2017". The WIG aircraft is "one of three types of aircraft given the green light in the general aviation field by the State Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense", although Xinhua notes "the Civil Aviation Administration of China has yet to confirm aviation regulations at such low altitudes, which may become a problem". That China has developed a WIG aircraft will come as no surprise to regular Reg readers. Last September, we spotted this strange beast at Qingdao naval base while investigating Russian ekranoplan projects: Whether China can succeed where Russia failed remains to be seen. As we noted last year, the latter's WIG ambitions were ultimately thwarted because the "technical difficulties of developing a successful example often in the past outweighed the potential benefits of the technology". ®
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
Casio_exs880_SM2

Casio cosies up to YouTube

A tie-up between Casio and YouTube wouldn't have been our first guess for an expansion attempt by either of the two companies, but when you think about it, it sort of makes sense. And, hey, Google needs to recoup some of its $1.65bn.
James Sherwood, 11 Jul 2007
16

Reg hack hypnotised by bouncing boob samba

NSFWNSFW We really are very much obliged to reader James Gauth who pointed us in the direction of this bunch of mobile phone animations down at ringtonezone: So what, we hear you saying - it's just another run-of the mill, albeit jubtastic, flag-based flash. Well, before changing channels in a huff, click here and watch what happens. Getting the picture? As James explains: "Different browser load patterns lead to different effects. Most of the time Firefox does an almost Mexican wave. IE seems to load randomly, but a refresh synchronises all of them. Some load the top half and then the bottom half leading to an up-down-up-down juggle." Well, I'm using Firefox, and a few page refreshes did indeed produce a Mexican-wave effect, and a strangely hypnotic group mamsout fiesta. So hypnotic in fact, that I wrote this story at 8am this morning and have only just managed to disengage myself from the bouncing boob samba. Must.. try... and... concentrate... ® Bootnote Apparently the stampede of Reg letches wishing to be hypnotised by the young lady's assets has brought down the site. We suggest you lay off for a bit while ringtonezone gets its act together. If you really can't wait, try this interim measure: stare at the photo above while shaking your monitor.
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2007
1

Harman Kardon Guide+Play GPS-500

ReviewReview What more do you want from a GPS unit than the ability to get you from A to B when you haven't got a clue where you are or which way to go? Well, Harman Kardon is hoping that multimedia features will also feature highly on your shopping list as its new Guide+Play GPS-500 also features video and audio playback.
Will Head, 11 Jul 2007
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ST Micro pulls plug on three chip plants

ST Microelectronics is shuttering three chip plants as part of its effort to ditch aging 6 inch wafer factories and other old production lines. The Swiss-based chip maker is closing its 6 inch wafer fab in Carrollton, Texas, an 8 inch fab in Phoenix Arizona, and a packaging and test plant in Ain Sebaa, Morocco. It has already shifted most of its 6 inch production to Singapore. The Phoenix plant is relatively small, ST Micro said, and the firm can’t be bothered upgrading into the 21st century, meaning its capacity will be shifted to other plants, or contractors. The same applies to the Ain Sebaa plant, with the firm upgrading its Bouskoura plant instead. STM said the changes would affect 4,000 employees, most of which will be offered transfers or “transition-based incentives”. On the plus – for STM anyway – the rationalization will save the company around $150m per year.®
Joe Fay, 11 Jul 2007
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NEC boffins develop 3D paint, spray it on laptops

NEC designers must have been working overtime if its latest creation is anything to go by: a coloured casing for its LaVie compact notebook with a unique 3D optical effect.
James Sherwood, 11 Jul 2007
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Nokia swallows Skype on tablet deal

Nokia has made Skype telephone services available via its N800 internet tablet. The telephone maker said in a statement issued today that existing Nokia users will be able to download Skype for the N800 model from its website. Using Skype, N800 customers should be able to make calls where ever there is a wireless internet connection (WiFi). It added that Skype support for the N800 would be available through the feature upgrade release to its latest operating system 2007 edition. Speaking about the Nokia deal, Skype mobile business development manager Eric Lagier said: "Our users are no longer just using Skype on their computer desktops. "With the growth of mobile devices and WiFi, consumers expect to be connected wherever they are, at the office, at home or on the move." More from Nokia here. ®
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Jul 2007
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Bletchley Park opens computing museum

Bletchley Park, where code breaking machines were developed during the Second World War, is to be home to a national museum of computing backed by the British Computer Society and the Codes and Ciphers Heritage Trust. The museum will be housed in Block H of Bletchley Park which was the world's first purpose-built servercomputer room and was home to the Colossus machine which helped break the Lorenz codes used by German High Command.
John Oates, 11 Jul 2007
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Alleged Apple ultra-thin MacBook rumour restoked

Apple's much-rumoured ultra-skinny MacBook Pro sub-notebook has reared its Flash-filled fascia again, this time in a story suggesting the unit will sport a 12.1in screen and less than three-quarters of an inch thick.
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2007

Microsoft rings the changes with Halo 3 Xbox

Another week, another special edition Xbox 360 is unveiled for the gaming community. This time it's a design based on perhaps one of the Microsoft console's biggest-selling game series, Halo.
James Sherwood, 11 Jul 2007
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Greek mobile wiretap scandal unpicked

More details have emerged on how Vodafone's Greek network was bugged three years ago to spy on top government officials. To recap one of the most extraordinary wiretapping scandals of the post-Cold War era: eavesdroppers tapped the mobile phones of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, cabinet ministers and security officials for about nine months between June 2004-Mar 2005 around the time of the Athens Olympics.
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2007

Oracle aims for g spot with Database 11

Oracle was banging its drum hard today, as it launched version 11g of its eponymous Database product. The vendor may have spent the last three years hoovering up other software vendors, but it managed to squeeze in another 36,000 person months to bring its core database platform up to date.
Joe Fay, 11 Jul 2007
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Microsoft and Cisco play top trumps with exam providers

Microsoft and Cisco have been playing tit for tat with rival exam providers Prometric and Pearson Vue. Network giant Cisco today announced a "primary-vendor strategy" by choosing to drop Prometric and retain Pearson Vue as its sole exam provider.
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Jul 2007
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Microsoft promises VMware beater despite reversals

WPCWPC Microsoft has delivered a spirited defense of its Windows virtualization roadmap, blaming misreporting - not internal disorganization - for causing confusion. Andy Lees, corporate vice president for server and tools marketing and solutions, claimed that recent press coverage saying Microsoft's virtualization architecture wouldn't provide migration is "inaccurate".
Gavin Clarke, 11 Jul 2007
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Voltaire ponders $100m IPO

Israel-based switch maker Voltaire told US federal regulators today it plans to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering. Out of the 7.7 million ordinary shares the company plans to sell, 5.8 million will be offered by Voltaire. The remaining 1.9 million shares will be sold by a group of shareholders. Voltaire has applied to trade under the ticker symbol "VOLT."
Austin Modine, 11 Jul 2007
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MySpace succumbs to The Buttock

The Buttock has successfully sued MySpace for copyright infringement. Late last month, a French High Court ruled that the popular U.S.-based social networking site acts as a publisher as well as a hosting service, making it liable for unauthorized broadcasts of films from the French comedian known as "Lafesse." Yes, that's how it translates.
Cade Metz, 11 Jul 2007
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Scientists need you to organize galaxies

A group of scientists are looking for internet volunteers to take part in what they claim will be the largest galactic census ever compiled. The act of classifying a galaxy isn't difficult. The trouble is there's a lot of them. Scientifically speaking, the universe is ginormous, and computer programs can't hold a standard candle to the human eye for reliable star system classification. That's why a group of scientists developed GalaxyZoo. The website seeks would-be astronomers to help sort through a collection of one million photographs of galaxies snapped by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Volunteers are prompted to help classify galaxies as either elliptical or spiral — and when applicable — whether they are spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. The task should help astronomers further understand the structure of the universe. "It is great that digital archives we have built for science are now being used by the public to look at the universe," Professor Bob Nichols from the University of Portsmouth said. "It will be great to have all the galaxies classified; it's as fundamental as knowing if a human is male or female." After signing on, users are given a brief tutorial on how to classify galaxies followed by a quiz to test their star system spotting mettle. Once the volunteer has graduated galaxy analysis 101, they can pick through the organization's galactic scrapbook and begin the task of organizing the universe. The galaxies are categorized by several people to help prevent errors and potential astronomy-hating ne're-do-wells. GalaxyZoo said they were inspired by projects such as Stardust@home, in which NASA invited the public to sort through dust grains obtained by a mission to Comet Wild-2. "What the Stardust team achieved was incredible," said Chris Lintott, Oxford researcher and GalaxyZoo team member. "but our galaxies are much more interesting to look at than their dust grains." You can begin sorting through space here. ®
Austin Modine, 11 Jul 2007
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Sprint boots 1,000 phone customers for talking too much

Sprint-Nextel has terminated the accounts of its 1,000 most-annoying customers. After a recent internal review, the U.S. wireless carrier gave at least 1,000 people the boot because they've been making far too many calls to the company's customer care centers. Of course, the real shocker is that the company has agreed to waIve their termination fees. The selected customers have until the end of the month to find a new wireless carrier, the Associated Press reports. According to the company, each of these account holders has been phoning customer care "hundreds of times a month" for a "6 to 12 month" period. "Over the past year, a small number of our customers - 1,000 to 1,200 – have made frequent calls regarding account information which we have been unable to resolve to their satisfaction, despite our best efforts," Sprint said. "While we have worked hard and will always work hard to resolve customer issues and questions to the best of our ability, rather than continue to operate in a situation that was unsatisfactory for our subscribers and Sprint, we chose to terminate our relationship with these particular customers to allow them to pursue other options." Sprint goes on to say that these customers continue to hound support reps about account issues even after the issues "appear to be resolved." We can't speak for everyone, but here at The Register, we've often had disagreements with support reps about whether they've actually done their job. When this happens, all we can do is keep calling. Of course, Sprint's announcement is good news for any of the terminated customers who are sick and tired of the service they're getting from the company. Sprint is cutting them loose without penalty fees - and they don't have to pay their final bill. Now that we think about it, 1,000 people must be very happy. Or is it 1,200? In any event, a company spokesperson told the The Register that the decision "impacts less than 2/1000ths of 1 percent" of its customer base. And we thought no customer was too small.®
Cade Metz, 11 Jul 2007
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Microsoft re-assures partners on Vista compatibility

WPCWPC Microsoft has used its annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) to stress that it's working to solve stubborn compatibility problems between Windows Vista and partner products. Chief operating officer Kevin Turner told 8,000 WPC delegates that management had "rallied the team" and worked "very hard" after partners and customers made it clear application compatibility for Windows Vista "needed to be better."
Gavin Clarke, 11 Jul 2007
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Moto says hello to disappointment with Q2 warning

Motorola is forecasting another dreary quarter, citing poor sales in Asia and Europe for its lower-than-expected outlook. Meanwhile, Motorola shares have risen almost 3 per cent on speculation that CEO Ed Zander may be ousted under the heat of a new campaign by an activist investor. The company's profit warning today declared it now expects second quarter sales between $8.6bn to $8.7bn. The company had previously forecast sales would be flat with Q1 '07 results of $9.4bn. The company has also changed its outlook on the mobile market from the first quarter, and no longer expects the business to be profitable for the full year 2007. This week, Motorola investor Eric Jackson published a statement entitled "Motorola Plan B" that called for Zander's head. "What has been Ed Zander's mark on Motorola?" Jackson asked in his statement. "He came with a Silicon Valley background, but how has that experience or those past ties translated into tangible results for the Schaumburg, IL-based Motorola? "What has he brought to Motorola that is really unique in the last 3 1/2 years? If it's difficult to answer that question, we find it hard to image what he'll bring moving forward, which is why we suggest a change is needed now." Jackson had previously stirred up dissatisfied stockholders at Yahoo! by asking then-CEO Terry Semel to apologize to shareholders during the company's annual meeting. Semel was replaced one week later. This year, Motorola has replaced its CFO and acquired an operations chief to help with company restructuring. The company slashed 3,500 jobs in January, followed by an additional 4,000 layoffs in May. In addition to the forecast, Motorola announced that Stu Reed, head of integrated supply chain operations, would become the company's new executive VP of mobile devices. Reed takes the job vacated by Ron Garriques, who left the company in February to become an executive at Dell. ®
Austin Modine, 11 Jul 2007