If you thought adverts on the web have become more offensive and more intrusive than ever before, then it might be time to find alternatives to using software from Microsoft. Microsoft has filed a patent (here) that threatens to breathe life into Bill Gates' and Ray Ozzie's Frankenstein-like Windows Live "vision", unveiled in November 2005, for putting annoying, in-your-face internet adverts inside your most important Windows applications. The giant has claimed what it calls an "advertising framework" that would suck "context data" from your PC so advertisers can display ads on the client, and to split revenue with the advertiser and the owner of the application supplying the data. According to the patent, any application such as - oh, say - a word processor or email client - may "serve as both a source of context data and as a display client." Microsoft's advertising framework would also stipulate "acceptable" advertising - so no porn popping up in your Dynamics CRM or ads for SAP - "restrictions on use of alternate display clients" (so no money for you, Linux), and "specifying supporting media" - forget Real Player and QuickTime, the future is Silverlight. The patent, filed with the US patent and trademark office, would allow for more targeted, relevant and context-sensitive ads, according to Microsoft. "Targeted advertisements is highly valued by advertisers because it allows placement of advertisements that are theoretically of greater interest to a particular audience member than blanket advertising," Microsoft's filing said. Aside from the usual competitive concerns of the dominant supplier of PC operating systems further integrating its applications, this time with the internet to dive online ad revenue, Microsoft's patent is packed with the usual thorny knot of security and privacy concerns. These include spying on, storing and streaming data from personal files stored on a PC plus information on the users' computing activity to advertisers, plus the potential for hackers to attack machines by cracking both the data store and data stream. Microsoft's envisions a "context manager" that would gather data from "various data sources" with a "profile manager" and "profile database" storing data "over a period of time" for use in "refining context data for advertisement selection." An "advertising manager" may control the relationship with suppliers and the interface, meaning a "word processor may display a banner ad along the top of a window... while a graphical ad may be displayed in a frame associated with the application. A digital editor for photos or movies may support video-based advertisements." The advertising manger would also "log ad placement results and may even take steps to verify ad consumption" for enforcement of contractual relationships, of course. Sun Microsystem’s former chief executive Scott McNealy once lectured us long and hard on losing our online privacy to the internet. Looks like you can kiss farewell to the anonymity of using a PC, too.®
Expand Networks has developed an Oracle-specific software module for its Compass WAN acceleration gear, and claims that beta testers and its own labs are reporting anything from five to 65 times performance gain as a result.
North Wales Police is going all-IP with a new network that'll put unified communications - including videoconferencing and IP telephony - into all 75 of its cop-shops.
With a month to go before Sony's slimmed down second-generation PSP hits the shops, reports have already begun circulating about less cosmetic changes to the console's design, including a battery adjustment among other tweaks.
UpdatedUpdated British terror-plods will be given real-time access to the massive camera network operated in London to support the Congestion Charge, it has been reported. The city transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), uses 1,500 cameras and Automatic Numberplate Recognition technology (ANPR) to record the number and location of most vehicles which move within the Congestion Charging zone, in order to check that drivers have paid their fees. Until now, when police needed to access the database of vehicle times and locations, they had to request information on a case-by-case basis. The BBC reports that the Metropolitan Police's new Counter Terrorism Command is understood to have used TfL's camera data in tracing the movement of the cars employed by blundering wannabe jihadi dunces last month in a wildly incompetent series of "attacks" which injured nobody except one of their own number. Tony McNulty, the minister for plods'n'spooks, said: "The infrastructure will allow the real-time flow of data between TfL and the Met. "The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police believes that it is necessary due to the enduring, vehicle-borne terrorist threat to London. "The Met requires bulk ANPR data from TfL's camera network in London specifically for terrorism intelligence purposes and to prevent and investigate such offences." Mr McNulty said that the home secretary had exempted TfL and the Met terror-plods from certain bits of the 1998 Data Protection Act, which would otherwise have made the scheme illegal. It was stressed by the Home Office that the TfL data could be used only for national security purposes and not to fight ordinary crime. (Apart, presumably, from the ordinary crime of not paying one's congestion charge.) Jacqui Smith, home secretary, also said there was an "enduring vehicle-borne terrorist threat to London." It was claimed that this belief did not rest solely on last month's terror-bungle and associated media frenzy. According to the Beeb, "the Home Office said discussions were underway on giving police greater access to data before the discovery of the two car bombs." These were not, in fact, car bombs in any real sense, any more than a camper van with a gas stove and a toolbox in it. The Home Office assertions of an enduring car-bomb threat seem reasonable, however. Just six years ago in 2001, for instance, the capital was struck by four genuine, effective car bombs placed by old-school Irish terrorists. All the same, if that kind of real danger was the reason behind this latest extension of counter-terror powers, the move would surely have taken place as soon as the Congestion Charge stood up in 2003. It seems quite clear that in fact Ms Smith and Mr McNulty have been stampeded into tightening the grip of the surveillance state by an otherwise totally ineffectual "attack" - or have sought to use it as justification. It seems that even the most crassly stupid terrorists can, in fact, strike effective blows at the foundations of the British state. In this case, at the rule of law.® Update It has emerged since last night's briefing that in fact the Home Office wants to give the police real-time access to all ANPR camera data as the technology is rolled out nationwide - and the notional glass wall between terror-plods and ordinary coppers would be removed. Effectively, police and spooks would then be able track any car (or, more accurately, any numberplate) around the country in close to real time. There was no intention by the government to reveal this desire on the part of the Home Office, but details were inadvertently included in background documents released last night. Officials and ministers clearly understood how controversial the idea of routine vehicle tracking could be. Even the TfL hookup, ostensibly for terror purposes only, was rated as "highly controversial," and it was understood that a national real-time system employed against everyday minor offenders could draw "Big Brother" allusions. Conversely, it was feared that there might be calls for blood should a successful terror attack occur without any preparations to use ANPR for security having been made. One thing's sure: the Home Office has shown its hand now. It's safe to say that if ANPR is widely implemented, sooner or later UK officialdom in general will start using it to monitor people. Maybe not right away, but eventually the temptation will prove irresistible. Not just the spooks and terror-plods, but the taxman, Child Support Agency, headteachers at oversubscribed schools, traffic cops, repo men, bailiffs, motor insurers ... they could all prevent crimes, frauds or other naughtiness using ANPR. And do make sure your jealous lover/spouse/stalker doesn't work for one of these organisations, won't you. Actual criminals and terrorists who know what they're doing will continue to use freshly-stolen, duplicated or otherwise 'clean' plates - maybe yours! But the rest of us may have to get a lot more law-abiding in years to come. The new revelations are reported in the Guardian and elsewhere.
The Department of Health ignored procurement guidelines and pursued a back room deal with an informatics company, according to a committee of MPs. Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the Department of Health for agreeing a joint venture with health informatics company Dr Foster without putting the deal out to tender. In a report published today, the influential committee says the department failed in its duty to be open with Parliament and the taxpayer because the deal went ahead without being fair and open competitive, and contrary to public sector procurement guidelines. High quality data on NHS performance is central to the government's reform agenda and in April 2005 an arm's length body, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, now called the Information Centre, was set up to improve the collection, analysis, and use of health and social care information. But the Department of Health recognised that the Information Centre lacked some of the necessary skills and expertise and decided that the quickest way of acquiring these skills was a partnership with the private sector. It entered into exclusive discussions with Dr Foster, a health informatics specialist, without any attempt to identify other possible providers, the report says. KPMG advised the department that Dr Foster had an indicative valuation of between £10m and £15m. But in February 2006 the Information Centre paid £12m for a 50 per cent share of the joint venture company, Dr Foster Intelligence. This was 33 per cent to 53 per cent higher than its financial advisers' indicative valuation of a half share, and included an acknowledged strategic premium of between £2.5m and £4.0m. Edward Leigh, chair of the committee, said: "Without the competitive pressure inherent in a tender process, the department's Information Centre simply cannot demonstrate that it paid the best price for its 50 per cent share of the joint venture. "Certainly, the £12m that it paid, £7.6m of which went straight into the pockets of Dr Foster's shareholders, was between a half and a third higher than its financial advisers' evaluation." The report concludes that the department should remind its non-departmental bodies and Commercial Directorate that best practice is to advertise such opportunities appropriately, and to offer health informatics work to open competition. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
iTV ConiTV Con Questioning whether Apple TV has what it takes to bring internet television to mainstream consumers, chip-maker AMD continues to call for a less-fascist internet-to-television setup based on the good ol' personal computer. As the company points out, this "Active TV" initiative is part of a shameless scheme to sell more chips.
The use of smartphones and other communications technology by senior managers and CEOs is driving a more flexible approach to working, a new survey has revealed. Survey respondents reported that they often participated in conference calls from home, sent or received emails while attending meetings, or used their smartphone to keep up with work while at personal events such as weddings or funerals. The survey, which focused on manager-level employees and above, was carried out in the US, the UK, and Australia by Avaya, Inc. The "always-on" nature of mobile communications has affected people's personal lives too. A separate study also released Tuesday shows that British people spend an average of 10 months of their adult lives talking on their mobile phone, making on average of 88,000 calls totalling over 7,000 hours in length. The CPP Phonesafe study also found that women spend on average two months longer than men chatting on their mobiles over their lifetime. And although mobile phones are a constant presence in people's lives, the survey also showed that users aren't ignorant to the many ways of avoiding talking to people on them. Eighty-four per cent said they "screen" calls and would ignore them if they didn't want to speak with the caller, while 68 per cent admitted making up an excuse in order to end a call. More than a quarter pretended their battery was running out and another 12 per cent said they were running late for an appointment. Mothers were the most frequent recipients of these tactics - a quarter of people said they were the most difficult to get off the phone. Both surveys suggested that some people will answer their phone whatever the circumstances. A quarter of British people admitted to answering their mobile while on the toilet and one in five will take a call while having a bath. For their part, smartphone users are twice as likely to answer their device while on the toilet as regular phone users, and senior managers were much more likely than their staff to have participated in a conference call wearing only their pyjamas or a bath robe. © 2007 ENN
First PersonFirst Person Can you run a business using a MacBook? No, is my answer. My experience with a new MacBook, which turned out to be a complete and utter lemon, and my battle with Apple's derisory customer service nearly sent me bananas, lost me thousands of pounds worth of freelance journalism and consultancy work, and left me with a burn mark on my arm. This camel's back was truly broken.
Oracle's Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN) has landed its third big partner since a launch nine months ago that had Wall St predicting Red Hat's impending death. The market's number-one database vendor announced on Tuesday that Symantec has certified its datacenter software with Oracle's Enterprise Linux alternative to Red Hat. Symantec follows in the footsteps of EMC and Hitachi Data Systems.
Mobile operators have reported increased revenue from services other than SMS in the first quarter of 2007 when compared with the same period last year. Global mobile data revenues from services other than SMS (short message services, or text messaging) exceeded $10bn in the first three months of the year, according to Informa's World Cellular Data Metrics (WCDM). Non-SMS revenues for the quarter came in at $11.3bn compared with $8.1bn for the equivalent period in 2006. The 2007 figure represents nearly one-third of the first quarter's total mobile data revenues of $34.3bn. Out of 70 operators tracked by Informa, the proportion of data revenues coming from non-SMS differed widely. Ireland's O2 reported that 20 per cent of its data revenue was coming from non-SMS services. This figure was towards the lower end of the scale, with the highest proportion of 70 per cent being reported by Korea's KTF. Vodafone Egypt reported a figure of just one per cent. The same Informa report shows that SMS remains a very popular technology, however. Worldwide SMS traffic was up year-on-year by around 50 per cent to more than 620 billion messages sent during the quarter. SMS revenues were up 23 per cent over the same period. The higher increase in SMS traffic compared with revenue is explained by the trend towards lower SMS tariffs and the greater availability of bundled packages. © 2007 ENN
Intel's 45nm 'Penryn' processor architecture gets ever closer, and as we near the release of the first CPUs based upon it, chip-by-chip details are beginning to leak out. The latest: Intel's plans for mobile processors.
US storage specialist WiebeTech has created what it claims are the world's largest capacity portable external hard drives, offered in 200GB and 250GB versions.
Police have formulated a cunning plan to protect Durham Tees Valley Airport from al-Qaeda kamikaze attack - crack teams of vigilante planespotting anoraks, the Telegraph reports. Local cops have convened a meeting with "aircraft enthusiasts" aimed at recruiting them as the "eyes and ears" of the War on Terror™. Durham police's detective superintendent Neil Malkin explained: “We have thought for some time the planespotters may be a very useful source of information. They are at the site on a regular basis and could potentially be the first to spot any suspicious activity. This idea has worked in other areas and if there are sufficient numbers interested, it could be just as effective up here.” Durham cops were quick to stress that the cunning plan was mooted before the Friends of Ozzie launched their chilling attack on Glasgow Airport, and indeed Bristol Airport deployed planespotters back in March as part of its "Airport Watch" scheme. Durham Tess Valley airport's services manager Nicola Baines said: "Such a scheme will allow the police and other agencies to share information more easily and effectively." Passengers, however, are not convinced that anoraks will prove an effective fighting force against terrorist apocalypse. Call centre worker Danielle Newport, 20, took time before jetting off to Tenerife to tell the Telegraph: "I can't believe some geeks in bobble hats are supposed to protect us from hardened terrorists. The police might live to regret this because they'll be getting hundreds of calls from the spotters. "If terrorists have targeted a plane and you are on it there is nothing a plane spotter can do to help you. It's a crackpot plan." Fellow passenger Steven Doherty, 38, chipped in with: "It sounds a bit like desperate measures to me. What are we going to have - vigilante plane spotters attacking potential terrorists at airports? "Realistically, if something is going to happen there is very little anything can be done to stop it. The only reason the attack failed at Glasgow airport was because the terrorists messed up - it wasn't the police that stopped them." Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Ashok Kumar, diplomatically offered: "At first sight it seems a bit odd, but then we do have neighbourhood watch, and that does help the police in their work. However it can be no substitute for proper policing and tight and tough security from professionals, who know the kind of threat they and we could be up against." ®
Mashups are, of course, the "new black" in the world of web services, but building them does mean getting access to data on different databases and services - and that can sometimes be a bit of a problem. So a web server that is aimed at making that task a great deal easier may be worth a look.
Ofcom has issued a second document on number portability, recommending that customers be able to instantly move their fixed and mobile numbers between networks. Number portability, the ability to take your phone number with you when you change networks, increases churn - and thus competition - wherever it's been introduced. But while the UK was one of the first places to introduce the capability, it now lags behind many countries in the speed and complexity of the process. Part of the problem is that numbers are allocated to network operators, and when a customer takes their number to another network, the original operator (known as the donor provider) is still responsible for forwarding connections to that number. If the donor provider suffers technical or financial failure, the ported numbers all get disconnected. This system also relies on the donor provider agreeing to forward connections, as notified through the issuing of a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC), and processing that can take up to five days. Ofcom would like to see a central database of ported numbers, which would be responsible for forwarding calls to the appropriate network and would allow networks to take responsibility for a number without waiting for the donor provider to issue any code or other paper work. Of course, this would make slamming (moving customers onto a new network without their knowledge) a great deal easier, but Ofcom "expect[s] industry to take all reasonable steps to ensure that accelerated processes for porting mobile numbers continue to protect consumers from the risk of mis-selling and slamming". The ability to instantly port numbers, and the deadline for building the system, is open to debate until 10 September, but Ofcom would like to see the whole system operational (for mobiles at least) two years from then. ®
No, not "valley" as in John Ford's 1941 classic movie based on Richard Llewellyn's 1939 best-seller about a close-knit, hard-working Welsh coal-mining family at the turn of the twentieth century. Nor "vampires" as in the somewhat less classic episode from the Masters of Horror TV series that introduced the "V-word" concept. It's not even the euphemism increasingly being used to avoid saying "Vietnam" when analysing current events in Iraq. No, we are referring to that current IT hero, Mr Virtualisation and, in particular, to his pairing with that latest industry poster-child, Ms Green Computing. Is this a celebrity couple to match the Beckhams now they have left for the sunnier climes of LA?
Derbyshire's finest have been entertaining netizens recently with a world-class demonstration of why vans and floodwater don't mix: According to internal police sources, the aquaplod in question were "Special" constables, aka "Play Cops", and are "now all in deep water" as a result of their mishap. As the Blogger in Blue puts it: "Classic stuff and proof, my informant tells me, that lack of intelligence is no bar to joining Derbyshire Police." ®
Tomatoes are often mistaken for vegetables and so this fruit-branded vendor will be hoping its latest tiny portable video player, dubbed simply Video, doesn't get mistaken for something else, like a credit-card, a pack of ciggies or a matchbox.
The rumours were true. Research In Motion (RIM) has officially confirmed its development of the BlackBerry 8820, the first handset in its history to feature built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. It also supports Micro SDHC memory cards.
Losing a remote control down the back of the sofa could soon become a thing of the past, thanks to two Australian boffins' development of a TV controller system operated entirely by hand signals.
Computer services firm LogicaCMG reported a decline in its first half revenues, ended 30 June 2007, but expects the full year to be back on track.
Mozilla has pushed out a new version of Firefox that fixes a number of security bugs, including a high-profile bug involving launching Firefox from Internet Explorer.
A Scottish prosthetics company engaged in publicising its new bionic hand claims to have achieved significant advances in its field - and says servicemen injured in combat "love the more robotic look" of its technology.
TutorialTutorial Storing an XML document in a relational database has its limitations. XML’s hierarchical structures do not map well to relational database structures. That’s where an embeddable (non-relational) XML database has advantages over a relational database. Oracle database (since Oracle 9i database R2) provides the Oracle XML DB feature to store and query XML documents in an XMLType data type column, but you still need a DBA to manage the Oracle database.
Warner Music Group (WMG) has said it will not be making an offer to buy-out its rival EMI. In a dance-off that puts Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? to shame, Warner had been holding in there for several years to bid for the struggling music firm. But it hasn't been alone in its attempts to woo EMI into its sizeable bosom. Private equity group Terra Firma has long been in the picture and always looked to be EMI's favoured dance partner. WMG concluded that it was unable to justify trumping Terra Firma's 265 pence per share bid with an offer of 300 pence per share to buy the firm. Hot on the heels of the announcement, the EMI board has advised its shareholders to accept Maltby Ltd's (a company formed by Terra Firma) bid, which has a deadline of 1pm (GMT) tomorrow. More from EMI here, and Jane Fonda, here: ®
An Indian company has released a "paan-flavoured" condom aimed at the country's prostitutes who apparently like nothing more than chewing on the pungent mix of betel nut and spices wrapped in tobacco leaves, Reuters reports. Hindustan Latex Ltd developed the tasty prophylactic in association with public health organisation Family Health International in the hope of preventing STDs in India's ladies of the night. Extensive taste testing revealed that sex workers would rather suck paan than chocolate, banana, or strawberry. Family Health International's Sanjeev Gaikwad confirmed: "The community loved it as most of the sex workers chew paan." Hindustan Latex will doubtless be hoping its new product proves more palatable than the "Crezendo" condom, which recently caused a bit of a rumpus since it's fitted with a vibrating ring and therefore might be classified as a sex toy - illegal on the sub-continent. ® Bootnote It's official: Indian prostitutes will in future be referred to on El Reg as "paan-handlers".
A 20-something Chinese woman made a creditable pitch for the world's thickest DVD pirate title when she attempted to flog her wares to West Yorkshire Trading Standards, the Evening Standard reports.
The European Commission (EC) has formally endorsed DVB-H as the preferred standard for digital TV signals to be broadcast to mobile phones, though the business model for broadcast TV is still open to debate.
A German chap who demonstrated his frustration with his PC by throwing it out of the window escaped a fine when police oficers decided they rather sympathised with his actions.
For all ex-Microsoft, now EA Sports man Peter Moore's claim that the PS3 isn't doing too well in Japan, the latest sales figures from that country show the Sony has shifted a darn sight more next-gen consoles than Moore managed.
Lite-On is to knock 15 per cent off the price of its internal Blu-ray Disc writer, the LH-2B1S, in a bid to boost the popularity of the next-gen optical disc format in Europe.
Oracle released 45 security patches on Tuesday as part of its latest quarterly patch update, one less than expected. The updates cover various flaws in products including Oracle Database, Application Server, and E-Business Suite, among others. Some of the patches cover flaws in multiple products.
American and international sat nav stakeholders have advised that the US government should never again degrade the civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) signal.
Four inmates of Oklahoma's El Reno federal prison were yesterday indicted for what must rate as the most audicious prison break scheme in history, the Washington Post reports. Clayton Heath Albers, Carl Ervin Batts, Barry Dean Bischof and Russell Dean Landers are alleged to have copyrighted their names then "demanded millions of dollars from prison officials for using the names without authorisation". Specifically, the four "sent demand notices for payment to the warden of the...prison and filed liens against his property". They then hired someone to "seize his vehicles, freeze his bank accounts, and change the locks on his house". Believing this had been done, the quartet of master criminals told the warden he wouldn't get his property back unless they were released. Sadly, they didn't know the guy they'd hired was an undercover FBI agent, and they now face a possible six (more) years in prison and a $250,000 fine on a "conspiring to impede the duties of federal prison officials" rap, plus up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on a charge of "mailing threatening communications with the intent to extort". A fifth member of the gang, William Michael Roberson, was also indicted on both charges. His role in the affair is not noted. ®
Fresh from its first USB turntable, Ion has expanded its single-model set by adding two additional turntables into the mix, each offering new looks and improved feature sets.
A 16-year-old Norfolk lad got more than he bargained for when he successfully bid £95 for a PS2 on eBay - the console plus €65,400 (£44k) in cash, the BBC reports. Police are currently holding the wonga - which arrived with the games console at the teen's Norfolk home back in March and was reported by his parents - under the Proceeds of Crime Act. According to the BBC, magistrates gave Norfolk cops until September to trace the owner, at which time the case will return to court. The family could then apply to claim the funds under the Police Property Act, although the powers-that-be can obtain a further order to hang onto the booty pending further investigation. An eBay spokesman said: "We know that eBay is a great place to pick up a bargain, although in this case, we agree that the contents of the parcel were somewhat unusual and we will assist with any inquiries the police may wish to make." ® Bootnote As an interesting twist to the tale, the Beeb notes that the PS2 was "missing two games" when it arrived. Anyone want to work out how many shoot-'em-ups you can get for 44 grand?
ReviewReview The personal multi-media category is a crowded one and has risen to a very high point in terms of consumer awareness. However, it is still relatively young and product feature development is coming thick and fast. A bit of fresh thinking can go along way. And LG are as fresh as they come.
T-Mobile has dodged a massive investment in telco kit ahead of the launch of mobile TV and other bandwidth sucking services by striking a five year managed network deal with BT. The deal, worth several hundred million pounds over the five years, will mean BT takes responsibility for connect the mobile firm’s base stations to its core network. This will initially be done via leased lines, before the links are shifted to Ethernet. The network will, no surprise here, be compatible with BT’s 21st Century Network, which at some point will break out of its trial comfort zone of Swansea. T-Mobile said the deal will provide it with a “key stepping stone” towards next generation services, and give it the network capacity to support high bandwidth services such as mobile TV, and music and video downloads. More importantly, perhaps, it means T-Mobile doesn’t have to build its own network, “allowing it to benefit from reduced risk and reductions in capital and operational expenditure.”®
In a flurry of broadband selling activity, several firms are gunning for your brand loyalty. If PC World customers tie themselves into a two-year broadband contract with Orange, the computer retailer has said it will give away a "free" laptop worth over £300.
Google is developing an automated tool for finding common web application vulnerabilities. The tool, dubbed Lemon, is still in development by the ad-brokering giant's security researchers but is already been used internally. It's unclear whether or not Google will release the vulnerability testing tool more generally. Free vulnerability scanners, such as Nessus, already exist while firm such as eEye and Foundstone market commercial products.
Roaming internet access specialist iPass is getting into device security via a deal with Symantec. It is integrating Symantec's Sygate Enterprise Protection software into its client package - this includes USB lock-down, device health-checks, policy enforcement, application authorisation, and other features.
A conservation group has warned that sharks could be extinct within a generation unless people lose their appetite for shark fin soup, Reuters reports. WildAid today called on the Chinese government to act to protect several at-risk species - including Basking, Great White, and Hammerhead - which face increasing pressure as the country's taste for the soup grows with increased wealth. According to WildAid, the Chinese account for more than 90 per cent of the world's shark fin consumption, "traditionally served in soup at...wedding banquets and occasions when the host wants to impress guests with expensive dishes". The organisation's executive director Peter Knights told a news conference: "These animals have been here for 400 million years and they may disappear in one generation, not to provide people with basic food, but for a solely luxury item." WildAid president Steve Trent added: "Precisely the role China plays is one of unsustainable demand. The demand for shark fin soup as it now stands, and as it's set to increase, cannot be sustained by wild shark populations. This is a role where the Chinese government can show genuine global leadership and can help many other countries around the world that are extremely poor and less well resourced, to protect their shark populations." According to a WildAid report in May: "Between 26 and 73 million sharks are traded globally each year, while reported world trade in fins has nearly tripled from 4,900 metric tonnes in 1987 to 13,600 metric tonnes in 2004." Trent gloomily commented on the figures: "Recent research has proven that many shark species and populations have experienced precipitous declines over the past 20 years, some by as much as 99 per cent." ®
Yahoo!'s first quarter financial results may have been a tad disappointing, but that hasn't stopped Jerry Yang and the gang from acquiring a hefty stake in Indian internet advertising company Tyroo Media. The move comes less than a week after Yahoo! finalized its purchase of U.S.-based ad firm RightMedia, part of an ongoing battle with Google and Microsoft over online ad dollars.
Whole Foods chief John Mackey ate organic humble pie Tuesday, as he apologized to shareholders for making anonymous posts about his company on Yahoo's financial message board. Mackey's mea culpa comes as company directors announced they have formed a special committee to conduct an internal investigation into the postings. But it looks like the US Securities and Exchange Commission has beaten them to the punch. "I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards," said Mackey in a brief statement on the company's website. "I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me." Mackey's life as a troll began in 1999 when he started posting on the financial message board as "rahodeb" — an anagram of the name of his wife, Deborah. Rahodeb quickly became an outspoken regular on the board, praising and defending Whole Foods with the equally enthusiastic virulence used to attack and shame the company's competitors and nay-sayers. rahodeb "The writing is on the wall. The end game is now underway for OATS," Rahodeb wrote on the forum in March. (OATS is the ticker symbol for rival Wild Oats.) "Whole Foods is systematically destroying their viability as a business — market by market, city by city. Bankruptcy remains a distinct possibility for OATS IMO if the business isn't sold within the next few years." Rahodeb even went so far as to suggest insider stock manipulation at Wild Oats. Mackey's shenanigans were brought to light when a document filed for a Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit referenced a rahodeb quote. ® Bootnote A bonus nugget from rahodeb's career: "John? Is that you?" joked a member of the board in 2005, amazed by rahodeb's insight into the company. "Oh yes, 'the John Mackey identity theory.' I've heard it a few times before on this Board. Belive [sic] it if you wish since it enhances the value of what I write," rahodeb responded. "lol...I was just breaking your stones...but if you do work for the company in some cpacity [sic], GET BACK TO WORK!! :)"
Oracle is bulking up its system security capabilities through the acquisition of privately held Bharosa for an undisclosed sum. Bharosa software will control and secure access to systems built with Oracle applications and middleware.
eBay today reported a 50 per cent increase in net profit, with its Marketplace, PayPal, and Skype businesses all showing growth. For the quarter ending June 30, the auction king's Marketplace revenues totaled $1.29bn, representing a growth rate of 26 per cent, while PayPal revenues reached $454m, a 34 per cent increase. And with Skype signing big partnerships with WalMart, Toshiba, and SalesForce.com - not to mention the addition of 24 million new users - its revenue totaled $90m, a 103 per cent increase over the $44m reported in the second quarter of last year. "The second quarter of 2007 was a very good one for the company, highlighted by accelerated revenue growth, consistent operating margins, and great earnings and cash flow growth," said eBay president and CEO Meg Whitman. In all, the company reported quarterly revenues of $1.83bn, a 30 per cent year over year increase. That translates to a net profit of $376m. eBay's Marketplace business includes all worldwide eBay auction sites, classified ads sites, Shopping.com, Rent.com, and the secondhand ticket site StubHub. According to Whitman, auction revenue received a significant boost from the introduction of the iPhone - even though Apple's status symbol was on sale for only the last two days of the quarter. "In the U.S., year over year growth was up by about two points," she said. "Categories like jewelry, entertainment, and electronics - driven primarily by iPhone sales toward the end of the quarter - demonstrated particular strengths." Well, that's what she said. But the company insists that auction performance still isn't "where we think it can be" in the U.S and in Germany, which is getting most of the company's attention in Europe. In preparation for the Christmas buying season, the company will soon redesign the eBay home page, improve search and support, and officially launch its eBay To Go service. Now in beta, eBay To Go is a way of posting auctions and other eBay content to third-party web sites. "eBay To Go is exactly the kind of product that we think demonstrates the innovation that's driving toward our goal of re-engaging our users and making the auction experience fun," she said. Though the company's big priority is to accelerate growth in the U.S. and Germany, Whitman also pointed to improved performance across other parts of Europe. eBay UK delivered "strong revenue growth." eBay France just announced its 10-millionth registered user. And Italy delivered "high double digit revenue growth." Like the iPhone, eBay's first U.S.-based Kijiji classified site arrived at the very end of the second quarter, and Whitman has high hopes for the site's performance in the coming months. "We believe our success with Kijiji outside the U.S. is a great indicator of what can be achieved here, as we expand the buying and selling options of people around the country."®
Juniper Networks swung to a profit during the second quarter of 2007, spurred by an increase of product and service sales as companies buy more equipment to handle internet traffic. The company reported a $86.2m profit for the second quarter of 2007, compared to a $1.21bn loss in the same period last year.
Microsoft has successfully rigged its search traffic. The company recently introduced several online games than shamelessly bribe people to query its moribund Live Search Engine, and according to web research firm comScore, these games gave the engine a significant traffic boost last month.
Every quarter IBM orders investors to pay attention to a particular product group as the driver of its success. For this year's second quarter, IBM has promoted the software division as its savior. That's software - not services. Got it? IBM sold a lot of stuff during Q2. In fact, it sold $23.8bn worth of goods and services, notching a 9 per cent increase in revenue over the same period last year. Revenues increased just 6 per cent in constant currency. Net income rose a healthy 10 per cent to $2.3bn, despite increased costs. All told, IBM ended up posting earnings per share of $1.57 - up 17 per cent from $1.31 in last year's second quarter.
Dell is bolstering its managed services business with the purchase of privately held SilverBack Technologies. The deal is expected to expand Dell's presence in the managed services game - configuring and running remote systems - and comes just a week after chief executive Michael Dell said acquisitions are a part of the company's turn-around strategy.