3rd > August > 2007 Archive

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NetApp shares shocked by profit warning

In briefIn brief NetApp stock plunged nearly 20 per cent in after hours trading when the storage supplier warned first quarter revenue may be down further than previously expected.
Austin Modine, 03 Aug 2007
Microsoft Office logo
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Office 2008 for Mac succumbs to Redmond disease

Mac fans looking to Microsoft to deliver them from a three-year-old desktop productivity suite will have to wait a little longer. Office 2008 for Mac will be released during the first quarter of next year, missing the previously promised end-of-2007 shipment date, Microsoft said Thursday. Release to manufacturing is slipping to December. Office for the Mac was last updated in 2004.
Gavin Clarke, 03 Aug 2007
Warning Speed Camera

Watching the watchers: high tech snooping

Black Hat BlogBlack Hat Blog There are two rules in Las Vegas. One: everything is twice as big as you think it is and therefore twice as far away. Two: wherever you need to get to is across a casino.
Wendy M. Grossman, 03 Aug 2007
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Charities turn to text to tackle gangs

Two organisations in Southwark are launching an SMS service designed to help people in gangs or those affected by gang crime. Launched in response to community concerns about gang crime and violence, the Gangs Advice Training and Exit Strategy (GATES) project will provide two free services, a text alert service and a telephone advice line. A joint initiative between Victim Support Southwark and youth agency Kickstart, the scheme will kick off in earnest over the first weekend of August 2007 after a soft launch at the end of July. Pat Green, borough director at Victim Support Southwark told GC News on 2 August 2007: "The text service aims to inform young people about events that are going on in the community, while the advice line gives people information about youth services available in the borough." Subscribers will receive two free texts a week, which could be in the form of an alert, a poll, or a competition. Examples of alerts might include: Kickstart Youth Inclusion programme is providing free sports training for young people aged 16-24. Call... After the recent shooting a community meeting will be held at... Meanwhile, surveys might include questions such as: "If you owned a gun and Southwark ran a gun amnesty would you deposit your gun?" and "Do you feel safe in Southwark?" According to Green, the polls facility will also help agencies gauge what the "temperature" is like among young people in terms of these issues, while also making the service a two-way communication tool. Running alongside the text service, a free advice line will provide information and guidance to people who are concerned about gang activity or who have fallen into the wrong crowd and do not how to break free. People wishing to remain anonymous can do so, as the services do not require users to give their name or address. Abi Goodwin of Kickstart said: "The GATES service will not only provide advice on leaving a gang and crime prevention, it will also highlight free sports and social programmes that young people can get involved with. "However, the GATES services are designed to help the whole community, from young people in gangs to all those affected by gang crime, including family members, local residents, teachers and community leaders." Anita Reid, serious and violent crime caseworker at Victim Support Southwark, added: "Recent events in London have caused a growing concern about gang crime in the local community. The text alert service will allow them to receive and retain information that can help them avoid and escape gang crime." 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.
Kablenet, 03 Aug 2007
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Info chief warns on audio recording

The Information Commissioner's Office is warning that CCTV must not be used to record conversations between members of the public. The ICO has launched a consultation on its new draft CCTV code of practice, in which it states that audio recording is "highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified". If a CCTV system is equipped with a sound recording capability, it should always be turned off or disabled, the ICO says. The code of practice is aimed at organisations which routinely capture images of individuals on CCTV, in order to help them comply with the Data Protection Act. It reflects technological developments and changes to the way CCTV is used to monitor individuals. The growth of video systems with audio features is one key area covered. In another new move, the ICO is encouraging organisations to carry out an impact assessment to determine whether CCTV is justified, how it will be operated, and what effect CCTV may have on individuals. The code also provides advice on the retention and use of CCTV images and outlines circumstances when it would be appropriate to disclose images captured on video, such as to the police when investigating a crime. Jonathan Bamford, assistant commissioner at the ICO, said: "It is clear that use of CCTV enjoys a lot of public support and can have benefits such as helping with the detection of crime. However, it can be extremely intrusive, putting law abiding people under surveillance. "It is essential that the public is confident that CCTV is being used responsibly and for a proper purpose." The consultation on the draft code of practice closes on 31 October, 2007. 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.
Kablenet, 03 Aug 2007
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45nm chips for the Xbox on the cards?

Chartered Semiconductor has begun development of a 45nm CPU, prompting speculation that the chip could find its way into the Xbox next year. Chia Song Hwee, president of Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, told analysts the firm that the market can expect a 45nm chip within 18 months.
James Sherwood, 03 Aug 2007
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Slickr player makes a bold promise

Venzero has created a multimedia-packed device which it claims "fulfils all your multimedia dreams". The Slickr measures 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.98cm, weighs 57g, and touts a 2.83in TFT QVGA screen capable of displaying 1.6 million colours - which is comparatively more colours than the iPod's 65,536.
James Sherwood, 03 Aug 2007
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Epilepsy-triggering advert given the green light

A television advert for watches which caused a woman to have an epileptic seizure has received the approval of advertising regulators. The advert, for watches from Dolce & Gabbana (D&G), has not been banned. A woman who suffered from photosensitive epilepsy complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) having suffered a seizure after watching a short part of the advert. She said the advert was irresponsible and inappropriate for broadcast. D&G said it had submitted the advert to an industry standard test for triggering photosensitive epilepsy, the Harding FPA test, and that it had passed. The ASA said it was not inappropriate for the advert to be broadcast. The advert contained footage of people in a studio or disco environment, which involved quickly-cut images and flashing light sequences. Media regulator Ofcom investigated the advert and found that while sections exceeded the maximum allowed three flashes in a second it was not clear if it had breached other rules and there were no clear breaches of the rules overall. Under the Harding test the advert passed. While the advert at times exceeded the guidelines for flashing amplitude and frequency, the flashing area did not exceed more than the permitted 25 per cent of the screen. "We acknowledged that this ad had been tested for extended flashing and had not failed; we understood that no flashing sequence in the ad lasted for longer than about one second," said the ASA's ruling. "In view of the fact that it had passed the Harding test and, through manual analysis, no breach of the guidelines was discernible, we considered that it was not inappropriate for the ad to be broadcast." The ASA said that the guidelines could not necessarily protect everybody. "We understood that, in some cases, if the subject was particularly vulnerable, photosensitive epilepsy could be triggered by broadcast content that had incontestably conformed to guidelines and that the guidelines and the testing provisions in place could not altogether remove the risk of a seizure through photosensitivity for all viewers," it said. "Although the Ofcom Guidance Note was drawn up with the aim of reducing risk to viewers, the 'flickering' nature of all television pictures meant that it was impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of television causing seizures in viewers with photosensitive epilepsy." The organisation behind the Olympic Games due to be staged in London in 2012 recently ran into similar controversy. A promotional film for the games shown on its website portrayed the Games' controversial logo diving into a swimming pool using flashing images. Epileptics claimed that the film caused seizures. Charity Epilepsy Action said that the film did not meet Ofcom's guidance on flashing images and photosensitive epilepsy. "We took immediate steps to remove the animation from our web site while checks are being conducted," said the Games organisers in June. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 03 Aug 2007
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BOFH: Dodging the auditors

Episode 27Episode 27 "Oops," the PFY says, looking away from his screen guiltily. "What?" "I think I've just dropped the indexes from the financials database." "Ok," I say. "No need to panic, we can probably recreate the indexes on the fly from the table data." "Yeah, no." "No?" "I dropped the tables as well." "So what you meant to say when you first said 'oops' was 'oops I've deleted our financials database.'" "Yeah." "Backups then," I say. "You didn't delete them as well did you?" "No, no, they're automated - the finance people schedule them for 11:30pm from their web interface. The only interaction I have is to change the incremental tape each morning when it's ejected and the full tape every monday when it's ejected ." "And when was the last time the full tape ejected?" I sigh, fearing that this conversation is dragging a little. "Uhhh," the PFY says, rolling his eyes a little. "Three weeks ago." "THREE WEEKS AGO!" I gasp. "You mean those idiot beancounters haven't scheduled a bloody full backup in THREE WEEKS! It'll take days to roll that forward!" "Oh they've scheduled them alright," the PFY says. "They've just not run." "WHY HAVEN'T THEY RUN?" I ask, gritting my teeth a little. "It's because of the financial policy change," the PFY says. "Policy change?" I prompt, wondering if the PFY has suddenly become unable to form a sentence complete with subject, object, verb, adverb and intelligence. "Yeah, you know about three weeks and two days ago the Beancounters changed the way in which they would pay recurring invoices?" "No, but go on." "They decided that if an invoice was a recurring one that varied in amount month to month the fixed component of the bill could be paid in advance but the varying portion should be paid for in arrears." "And whatever that means has... some effect on backup scheduling?" "WHAT IT MEANS contractors like us who are paid in advance would get paid their normal time in advance but their overtime in arrears." "Uh-huh - and this means?" "It means that there would be a two month gap between successive overtime payments when the policy was enacted." "...Three weeks and two days ago?" I reply. "Yes. Which means that if you operate as I do - on a month to month basis - by then end of the month you have no money left." "Yes, but you'll still get paid every month, just not your overtime - for one pay." "But in the case where you commit your monthly income to substantial mortgage repayments on a studio apartment in the West End..." "Oh!" I say. "So you're broke for a month!" "Two months actually," the PFY sniffs. "And because you're broke you can't even afford the time to put a tape in the backup drive?" "No..." the PFY says. "You can afford to put tapes in but you don't for... personal reasons?" "THERE'S A TAPE IN THE BLOODY DRIVE!" the PFY snaps. "So why haven't we taken a full backup properly?" "Because the backups are timed to occur at 1:00am on Monday morning." "Still not with you..." "Well at 12am, I've been doing some database maintenance which takes about 90 minutes to complete." "So why not run the maintenance after the backups?" "I can't, because the accounts payable payments are processed and transferred to the bank at 3am." "And you wouldn't want to impact my chances of getting paid," I say. "No. So I run it at 12 and it takes till 1:30." "Yet still the backups don't start at 1?" "No, because I have to change the system clock to be 3:01am before I do my maintenance." >CUE RAT AROMA!< "What exactly does your database maintenance entail?" I ask, fearing the worst. "I select all the accounts payable transactions in the database which ran three weeks and three days ago, order them by payee and drop anyone who isn't me." "And run the payment with the timestamp which would have occurred had it been a legitimate payment going to the bank." "Yes. And then when that's done I set the clock back to the proper time, which is generally 2:30 or so and the real run goes through." "Wouldn't that mean you had lots of duplicate payments for the same day." "It would - if I didn't delete the row when I get into work - from there and the audit table." "A plan so complicated I need a memory upgrade and a maths coprocessor to understand it. So why did you delete the tables?" "I was looking through the financials package manual..." "A manual?! You HEATHEN!" "...and happened to notice that the audit table has it's own audit table which is available to the auditors..." "AND THE AUDITORS ARE COMING THIS WEEK!" I gasp, finally realising. "Indeed," the PFY sighs, confession over with. "You realise they take a hardcopy of the audit table's audit table every night?" "You're kidding!" "Not at all. They made it mandatory last year when I managed to replay a desktop order enough times to build my own Beowulf cluster - though they couldn't prove anything." "So what do I do?" "You mean, what do you do now that you've push the company into a possible crisis of investor confidence by manipulating our financial systems and ruining any possibility of a quick backup?" "Uh... yes." "Start a small fire with the paper audit logs - they're kept in the head beancounter's bottom drawer, then buzz every second incremental tape with the bulk eraser so they can't roll forward." "But won't they still be peed off that we didn't do backups?" "Not when we blame it on the SAN again - because of >flip< >flip< fibrechannel aspherical monochromousity." "Ah, F.A.M!" the PFY says. "And I'm guessing you'll be faking web pages for Google to find?" "Already done it. Although that's my second cluster down the toilet.” "That's what I like about you," the PFY says. "You're a people person!" BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 03 Aug 2007

Emerging markets drive mobile shipments

A total of 258 million mobile phones were shipped worldwide in the second quarter, up 11 per cent on the same period in 2006. That's according to a Strategy Analytics, which reveals that the number of handsets shipped globally rose by four per cent from 247 million units in the first quarter of 2007.
Charlie Taylor, 03 Aug 2007
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Hitachi sees double with Blu-Ray camcorders

Hitachi has trumped recent rumours that it was prepping a Blu-ray camcorder by releasing a brace of devices using the technology. One model records HD content onto a Blu-Ray disc while the other also records onto a hard drive.
James Sherwood, 03 Aug 2007
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Vodafone pulls Facebook ads

UpdatedUpdated Vodafone has withdrawn advertising from Facebook following the revelation its campaigns were running alongside the British National Party's official presence. Two Facebook groups representing the crypto-racist organisation have clocked up 150 and 31 members respectively. By comparison, the non-aligned group "A Chief Export of Chuck Norris Is Pain" has 12,550 members. Paging white Satan... Vodafone said it will resume Facebook advertising once more robust controls over bookings are in place. As of writing, ads for Pipex and Prudential Healthcare are appearing on one of the groups. The controversy demonstrates that despite the hype over targeting on the internet, advertisers have little control over what their brand is associated with. The BNP bust was made by marketing mag New Media Age. After extensive investigations, The Register can reveal that Vodafone rival Orange's adverts are running on the group "Aryan Satan Worshipers" [sic]. Sick.® Update 10.45am Monday: Pipex rang to say they've pulled their ads too.
Christopher Williams, 03 Aug 2007
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Cheesed-off spooks give up on duff spy-sat

Further admissions of expensive technical disasters have emerged from the United States' secretive spy-satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Lewis Page, 03 Aug 2007
BT

BT tries French IT services outfit for size

BT said today it has put forward a €60m cash offer to buy a division of French IT services firm CS Communication and Systèmes.
Kelly Fiveash, 03 Aug 2007
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Will the iPhone be iPwned?

LAS VEGAS - The Apple Store at the Fashion Show Mall has a solid crowd for a Monday afternoon and it's easy to pinpoint the favourite. A dozen iPhone stations collect at the front of the store, and they are rarely lonely. A stylish 20-something couple laughs as the man snaps a picture of the woman and shows her the screen. A brown-haired woman wearing a UNLV t-shirt moves her fingers over the display and smiles as the device responds. The ready touches and kid-in-the-candy-store smiles are likely just the reaction that Apple CEO Steve Jobs hoped to elicit with the device.
Robert Lemos, 03 Aug 2007
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False positives run amok in Vista anti-virus tests

The first independent tests of anti-malware products on 64-bit Windows Vista revealed a rash of false positives. Of the 20 products submitted for testing to independent security certification body Virus Bulletin, six generated false positives when scanning a set of known clean files.
John Leyden, 03 Aug 2007
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Oklahoma offers War on Terror numberplates

Residents of Oklahoma can exchange their dull old number plate for one which makes clear their support of Bush's "Global War on Terror". The personalised plate comes with a picture of the Twin Towers with an American eagle, sporting a 9-11 ribbon. Below your car registration number is the slogan "Global War on Terror" to make clear where your loyalties lie. The bizarre plate, yours for just $37, is not alone. The state offers more than a hundred such plates ranging from "Choose Life" or "Masonic Fraternity" to "Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor". We assume you should aim for a donor in the event of an unavoidable crash - at least then there's a chance they'll patch you up with bits of the person you've crashed into. There is even a numberplate to show your interest in hot air ballooning. All the US forces, active and retired, have their own plates, as do the Benevolent Order of Elks and the National Rifle Association. For those of a liberal bent you can show your support for adoption, child abuse prevention or stick a "Square and Round Dancers" license plate to your truck. Thanks to BoingBoing.net for alerting us to this. All the plates are here.®
John Oates, 03 Aug 2007
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Betfair tears up all bets on Polish tennis championship game

Peer-to-peer betting exchange Betfair has cancelled all bets taken on the tennis match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello yesterday. A statement put on the site today reads: "Following consultation with the men’s professional tennis tour, the ATP, Betfair has decided to void all bets placed on Thursday’s 2nd round match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello at the Orange Prokom Open. "Betfair suspended settlement of bets at the conclusion of the match yesterday because of concerns over irregular betting patterns. The company has taken this action in the interests of maintaining integrity and fairness in all our markets." The match was part of the second round of the Orange Prokom being played in Poland. Nikolay Davydenko retired in the third set of his game against Arguello due to a foot injury. Aguello goes through to the quarter finals. Betfair has a team of staff who monitor betting for suspicious activity.®
John Oates, 03 Aug 2007

Dancing to the tune of a company-sized cash register

The summer seems to be all about shopping for the tech industry this week. The sun has come out, and with it shareholders have approved takeovers, said yes to investors, and generally got on with the business of buying businesses. The biggest noise on this side of the pond was probably to do with a little computer firm called Amstrad... The Sky's the limit Where were you when you heard the news that BSkyB had agreed to pay £125m for Amstrad, Sir Alan Sugar's set-top box manufacturing firm? Happily, chairman Alan Sugar will not be fired, although since he is in line for a £35m payday if the deal goes through, he could certainly afford to retire. Truly the end of an era. BSkyB's acquisition of Amstrad was not the only deal being done this week... The tech industry's summer shopping spree We brought you the rumours of an impending takeover at Evesham. Next, there was the sale of Xansa to French IT services outfit Groupe Steria. Dublin-listed satellite TV and communications equipment firm Vislink has confirmed the acquisition of US company Focus Communications for $5.5m, and Dutch telco KPN is eyeing a €766m bid for struggling IT services company Getronics NV. More acquisition action as private equity group Terra Firma snaps up music group EMI for a tasty £2.4bn, while Disney grabs itself a piece of this social networking thing buying children's site Club Penguin in a deal which could run to $700m. Dell has agreed terms on a £340m acquisition of software solutions and licensing services provider ASAP and private investors have ponied up another $20m of funding for Action Engine, self-styled leader in the on-device portal business. Intel: monopolising headlines Post the EU's announcement that it would open an anti-trust investigation into Intel's business practises, rivel chip-maker AMD has gone on the offensive. It claims to have a study showing that 43 per cent of Intel's profits are a result of monopolistic practices. Register here Post the collapse of domain registrar RegisterFly, and the chaos that ensued, the non-profit organisation "entrusted with the technical stability of the internet we all know and love" (ICANN) has opened its Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) to public comment. Firey Fox updates Mozilla has pushed out a new version of Firefox that fixes a brace of security bugs, barely a fortnight after its last update. Are browsers all destined to be software sieves? More trouble for products starting with "i" The BBC's iPlayer launch has also struggled, with download limits getting the thumbs down from users, particularly the Free Software Foundation's which launched a venomous attack. Managing users, BOFHs, and herding cats Taking a load off the shoulders of busy IT departments trying to keep track of who is doing what on their networks, Facebook this week decided to break itself, so users were forced to get on with their work. Meanwhile, IT staff at UMG would like some overtime please, for all that server watching. Is it right or wrong? Ask Google Google is one of several tech firms to file a complaint about the wording of copyright infringement warnings. Apparently, the terms used are just plain threatening and misrepresent the rights of the, er, rightsholders. The firm also threw its toys out of the pram about patent trolls, declaring the US patent system "broken". Industry watchers will know this is not the first time this argument has been put forward. Outsourced to glory Staff at Xerox's Ballycoolin factory who were to move to IBM when their jobs were outsourced, might be looking at pink slips, after all. Number crunchers at Big Blue plan two rounds of job cuts, each seeing 450 positions further outsourced to central Europe. Lock ups A man who pretended to be from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and was charging companies to register under the Data Protection Act has been jailed for 20 months. Christopher Williams of Hoole, Chester, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court. The judge in the case said the ruse was "a well planned and sophisticated offence led by greed and cloaked in officialdom". Banking downtime Intelligent Finance (IF) hit a system upgrade catastrophe on Sunday which left the internet banking service severely disrupted for nearly two days. A classic case of best-case planning, the firm admitted, with a spokeswoman declaring: "We had huge confidence that the upgrade would go smoothly, so this really took us by surprise." You live, you learn. Anyone for a game of brand values Microsoft is the most valuable technology brand in the world, according to Business Week magazine's latest ranking of global brands released Tuesday, but lost out to CocaCola in the overall list. Other tech names we cannot live without are HP and Intel. Google, despite its fears of becoming a verb, made it into the top 20. Vista service pack on the horizon Microsoft has said it plans nothing more than a beta for its first Windows Vista Services Pack (SP1) for the rest of 2007, and is not giving dates on a final release date... Gloomy doom for servers? Are low end servers under threat from virtualisation? Or will the gadget fiend's desire for more shiny kit just keep burning, and keep an industry chugging along? As ever, it depends who you ask. Shockingly, analysts are less optimistic than low-end server-makers. Carousel rides Carousel fraud is the big thing in the UK these days. If you aren't sending your products on tax evading journeys, you just ain't hip. According to KPMG Forensic, which monitors fraud figures, there was a total of 107 fraud cases in the six months leading up to June this year, which had a total value of £594m. The quick fire cash flow round Toshiba raises forecast as profits head north in Q1. Sun is also in the black. The firm posted healthy fourth quarter revenue of $3.84bn, and said the benefits of its continuing cost cutting programme were starting to show. This very welcome news triggered a 10 per cent jump in its stock price. Things are also looking good at Telefonica-owned mobile operator O2, which has shown steady growth, with revenues up 10.4 per cent. The UK firm said it was managing to convert more pay-as-you-go customers over to contract deals. PC manufacturer Lenovo boosted its results some 13 per cent for the quarter, leaving everyone there smiling. Not such a cheery picture over at Ingram Micro. Sad faces all round, we imagine, as the distie posted a second quarter loss and noted the loss of its COO Kevin Murai, who stepped down. More bad news from Alcatel-Lucent as the newly merged firm posted continuing losses. It blamed integration issues after the merger, and slow sales for the results. And finally... Entertain yourself with a delightful take on the (in)famous Steve Ballmer Monkey Dance, in the style of an iPod advert. Nice. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Aug 2007
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Wanna stick USB 2.0 to your network?

Anyone fed up with having to plug peripherals into their laptop - or run a desktop PC as a peripheral server on the network - could find a USB network server useful, according to Keyspan.
Bryan Betts, 03 Aug 2007
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Stem cell fraudster made 'virgin birth' breakthrough

The investigation into frauds committed by Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk has revealed that he unwittingly made a sought-after stem cell breakthrough. In the course of research, which culminated with false claims that stem cells had been extracted from a cloned human embryo, Hwang's team succeded in extracting cells from eggs that had undergone parthenogenesis. In humans, parthenogenesis occurs when an unfertilised egg develops into an early stage embryo. It's a natural phenomenon which, in mammals, ends with the embryo being rejected by the womb. However, some animal species, such as the Komodo dragon, quite commonly reproduce by "virgin births". The ability to extract embryonic stem cells produced by parthenogenesis means they will be genetically identical to the egg donor. The upshot is a supply of therapeutic cells for women which won't be rejected by their immune system, without the need for cloning. The world first was discovered by Harvard and University of Cambridge geneticists who analysed Hwang's results as part of the inquiry into the scandal. In his discredited research papers, Hwang said he had removed all the egg donors' genetic material. ®
Christopher Williams, 03 Aug 2007
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Genetic researchers fill 1TB a week

Fresh from its recent sinister triumph, the Wellcome Trust says that its research into genetic diseases is generating such huge data volumes that it has had to buy an extra 42TB of SATA disk arrays, 30TB of which are already full.
Bryan Betts, 03 Aug 2007
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BigFix drops freebie patch advisory service

BigFix is to cease support for the long-running consumer version of its Fixlet Central security patch advisory service from the end of August.
John Leyden, 03 Aug 2007
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US considers $33bn sci/tech funding package

The US House of Representatives has called for $33.6bn of funding for science and technology research. The cash is part of the "America Competes Act" (seriously, who names these things?), which was waved through by a thumping 367-57 vote. The package outlines state grants worth $150m for various education schemes, as well as more substantial investments in the National Science Foundation, the science programmes at the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The bill also calls for publicly funded research to be made available to the public. It had the backing of the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and major technology trade associations, CNet reports. Texas Instruments CEO, and head of the Semiconductor Industry Association Richard Templeton, said in a statement: "Increased support for basic research and math and science education is the key to maintaining US leadership. Today's action by the House demonstrates that Congress understands that connection." The House minority leader John Boehner said the bill focused on the wrong areas. He said American firms were being hampered in a globally competitive market by stringent regulations and high corporate taxes. Other critics wondered where, in the face of a hefty federal deficit, the money outlined in the bill is going to come from. Indeed, mere approval of the bill does not guarantee the money. Real-world cash allocation is subject to congressional votes and presidential approval. But if the bill gains the support of the Senate in a vote later today, it could lay the ground work for three years of serious investment in science and technology programmes across the US. The EU's last science and technology research package, which covers projects that run up to 2013, was voted through last November. It allocated some €54bn to the area, a 40 per cent increase on the previous package. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Aug 2007
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Sony recalls 350,000 cameras

Sony has announced a recall of 350,000 digital cameras. But there's no need to reach for your fire extinguisher, because this time the recall is focused on the metal casing of one model that has the potential to cut or scratch users.
James Sherwood, 03 Aug 2007
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Meng cops plea in CHIP-ICE 'ware espionage bust

An alphabet soup of federal plods claimed a first yesterday, as one-time Cupertino resident and former Chinese national Xiaodong Sheldon Meng copped a plea to illegally exporting military software. It was alleged that Meng, originally from Beijing, had worked for Quantum 3D, a technology house based in San Jose. He was employed both in California and as a consultant in Asia. Specialist techno-feds snapped the bracelets on Meng last year, charging him with 36 counts of "stealing military application trade secrets... to benefit the governments of Thailand, Malaysia, and China." Quantum 3D makes various military products, including viXsen™ and nVSensor™ software, used for "precision training of military fighter pilots in night vision scenarios". Meng has now pleaded guilty to two specimen counts of benefitting "a foreign government, instrumentality, or agent", and to exporting viXsen without a State Department licence. Under the terms of the plea bargain he can now be sentenced to a maximum of two years' jail and up to $1.5m in fines. Meng is currently out on bail, with the bond set at $500,000. He will be sentenced by the US district judge in San Jose next January. The Meng manhunt involved feds from the US Attorney's Office Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs & Border Protection (CBP). The Department of State and the Department of Defense also provided assistance. "This conviction, the first in the nation for illegal exports of military-related source code... should serve notice to others who would compromise our national security for profit," said CHIP chief Kenneth Wainstein. Wainstein added that the Meng bust was only part of CHIP's "efforts to keep America's critical technology from falling into the wrong hands". "One of ICE's top priorities is ensuring that US military products and sensitive technology does not fall into the hands of those who might inflict harm upon America or its allies," added ICE boss Julie Myers. Special Agent Charlene Thornton, head of the San Franciso FBI office, was pleased too. She said the three year ICE-CHIP-led taskforce had won "a victory in the struggle to ensure the economic security of Silicon Valley and the United States". The Meng crackdown seems a little inconsistent with other stances taken by the US government, which only days ago gave the nod to British arms firm BAE's purchase of US company Armor. BAE has often received very sensitive US military technology, including in recent times special access to the F-35 stealth jet programme, perhaps including such things as "stealth technologies like the F-35's radar-absorbing paint", not to mention assistance in modern submarine-design techniques. BAE has since landed consultancy contracts in which it will show Spanish builders how to make submarine pressure hulls. The company is now building a stealth demonstrator aircraft for the UK government. The Department of Justice is in fact investigating BAE, but not for exporting America's sensitive technology; rather, for allegedly paying off Islamic royalty to win jet-fighter sales. And meanwhile, the Armor buy has been approved and a treaty is being negotiated to further free up movement of US military tech to the UK. Funnily enough, BAE won an order for new warships from Malaysia last year - one of the very countries Mr Meng was busted for dealing with. Perhaps Mr Meng would have done better to base himself in London, rather than Taiwan. ®
Lewis Page, 03 Aug 2007
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Google builds own phone

Google is trying pull US telcos round to its way of thinking with plans for a handset optimized for its online services. The precocious Silicon Valley company has reportedly spent millions of dollars prototyping cell phones tailored to its search, email and a planned new browser.
Gavin Clarke, 03 Aug 2007
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Nokia to jump on music download bandwagon?

Nokia is on the verge of launching its own iTunes-like music downloads service, if rumours are correct. Online reports suggest the handset vendor is to unveil the service later this month, alongside two new music-oriented handsets.
James Sherwood, 03 Aug 2007
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Origins of the assault rifle

What is an AK47? In short, it’s an assault rifle: and this is just the first of many misleading death-tech terms we’ll encounter. (Gun bureaucrats of all nations seem to delight in confusing the outsider.) For those not up on the history of shooters, here's an introduction.
Lewis Page, 03 Aug 2007
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El Reg meets Gen Kalashnikov

The Register spoke to the General through his translator, Anna, when he visited the UK in 2004 to launch his AK-branded tipple. El Reg meets the general. Have you found this Western mass-marketing experience to be culture shock? I had no real experience of business, and I am only really starting to learn it now. It is very different from what I am used to, but then I have seen a great deal of change taking place in the world. You fought in WWII, where did you see combat? I was called up for the Red Army in 1938. I served in a special military unit in Kiev, where I finished at tank mechanical school. I was a young man at the time; I had a low army rank of senior sergeant. I was the commander of a T34 tank – which has not become obsolete, even today. I made several improvements to equipment used in the tanks and then I fought in The Great Patriotic War in 1941. In October of that year, there was heavy fighting near Bryansk and I was wounded. While I was in hospital I began to work on the idea of the rifle. Were you frightened when you were wounded? A war itself is frightening. People die, people who are innocent, on both sides. I was certainly frightened, it is scary. Are you aware of how much of a cult status the AK-47 has? This cult status did not appear because everyone was praising me, it appeared as the result of good reliability and good design of my weapons. It works with no delays, in any conditions, it is easy to produce and easy to maintain. It was created to defend my country against an enemy with superior weapons. It seems to be the weapon of choice for freedom fighters and rebels... People who do something illegal also want to use something that is reliable. In this way, you can’t really blame them because they want to survive too. I am unhappy to see my arms being used for crimes. It’s said that in 1860, Sarah Winchester, from the famous family who developed the Winchester Repeater rifle, was haunted by the ghosts of all the people who had been killed with that gun. Do you have regrets? What I do regret is that these arms have not been used for what they were designed, because I designed those arms to defend my country. Designers are not to be blamed for their products being used illegally; it is the politicians who can’t come to a peaceful solution. How did you go from arms to alcohol? About five years ago, the management of a factory that made vodka contacted me and asked if I would lend my name to a brand of vodka that would be produced locally. What’s the Russian way of drinking vodka? If you drink vodka you have to eat well also. We do not abuse it; it is drunk in moderation, as a way of celebrating friendship. Didn’t the Red Army soldiers have vodka as part of their rations in WWII? Yes, we used to always have vodka with us. You have to remember that our winters are very cold, a little vodka used to boost spirits and give a warm feeling inside. Were there ever problems with soldiers getting a bit tipsy? You couldn’t say it never happened. Of course, some people could handle it better than others, but in my country we have a saying, which is the rough equivalent of ‘each family has a black sheep’. Could you handle your vodka? I could hold my own. I used to have a little canister in the tank, where I would accumulate the vodka, and when my boys were cold, I’d give them a little drink. ®
Scott Snowden, 03 Aug 2007
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AK47: the open-source weapon that took the world by storm

FeatureFeature Sixty years ago, a former tank sergeant named Mikhail Kalashnikov submitted an assault-rifle design to the Red Army for trials. It was selected as the new personal weapon for most Soviet soldiers, and designated Automat Kalashnikova 1947 – AK47 for short. That designation went out of official use in 1959, but to this day “AK47” is probably the world's most widely-known gun name. Just as open-source Linux - the "communist" software, according to Steve Ballmer - has made Linus Torvalds famous, the genuinely communist open-source AK has given Mikhail Kalashnikov a profile at least as high. The AK47 and its successor designs are the most widely-used firearms on the face of the planet.
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That sinking into a vat of beer Friday feeling

It's Friday afternoon. The sun is shining. And everyone is down the boozer when they should be at their desks getting through all that ugly paperwork before the 5pm bell sounds. Apparently, Employersafe reckons all this job-dodging-Facebook-playing-pink-shirt-wearing-just-one-more-it's-Friday-afternoon malarkey is costing UK businesses £50m a year. We would tell you a lot, lot, lot more about the dip in productivity at desks around this little grey island of ours. But hey, about now you're just trying on those beer goggles for size and who are we to stand in the way of all that weekend bump 'n' grind. Besides, it's Friday and we really can't be bothered....zzzzz. Oh, all right then, if you really wanna know more about software that can discipline slackers, go here. ®
Kelly Fiveash, 03 Aug 2007
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Scientists explain Saturn's mysterious, moonless ring

Saturn's gauzy G-ring is being swept into its orbit, grain by grain, from a region of icy chunks on its inner edge. So say researchers working on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft in the 2 August issue of the journal Science. A single bright arc on the inside of Saturn's G-Ring. Credit: Ciclops Most of Saturn's dusty rings are associated with a moon: for example, it is thought that the moon Enceladus' leaky bottom creates the E-ring; and the F-ring can trace its origins to the moons Prometheus and Pandora. But the G-ring doesn't have a moon, and its origin has been a mystery. But now researchers say they have uncovered a mechanism that explains how it is formed. In the ring's inner edge there is a region of relatively large particles that extends roughly one sixth of the way around the circumference of the ring. It is about 250 kilometres wide, much narrower than the full 6,000-kilometre width of the G-ring. The large particles are broken up by constant impacts from micro-meteoroids, and as plasma in Saturn's magnetic field moves through the region, the finer, dust-sized particles are swept up to form the G-ring. "Distant pictures from the cameras tell us where the arc is and how it moves, while plasma and dust measurements taken near the G-ring tell us how much material is there," said Matthew Hedman, a Cassini imaging team associate at Cornell University, and lead author on the Science paper. The arc is thought to be a relatively long-lived feature, confined by the gravitational influence of the moon Mimas. Part of Hedman's research involved constructing a model that demonstrated the mechanics of this confinement. Further, the research has revealed that there must be plenty of unseen material in the arc - chunks ranging from pea-sized to small boulders. In total, the arc's mass is equivalent to that of an ice-rich moon around 100 metres across. The team plans to take a closer look for the missing material when Cassini passes through the region again in 18 months. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Aug 2007
IBM

IBM goes to Princeton Softech

Technology services behemoth IBM said it has signed an agreement to acquire privately held Princeton Softech Inc for an undisclosed sum.
Kelly Fiveash, 03 Aug 2007
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Free Wi-Fi aims to snag Mondeo man

Anyone logging onto one of the UK Wi-Fi locations run by free-hotspot.com and online-4-free.com this summer can expect to have to wait through a video advert for the new Ford Mondeo, before they get the promised free internet access.
Bryan Betts, 03 Aug 2007
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Brian May going for astronomy PhD

Proving that it does take brains to play in magnificent rock bands, Queen guitarist Brian May is to submit his doctoral thesis this week. What is the subject you ask? Why, the formation of zodiacal dust clouds, of course. Although we cannot imagine why anyone would chose a life of big-haired Rock'n'Roll glamour over dusty astronomy texts and the solitude of the night skies, May ditched the books in favour of playing guitar with the band. But it seems that his interest in astronomy did not wane, and 36 years later, he's finished his research. According to the Beeb, May was in Tenerife recently, at the Observatory of the Roque de Los Muchachos in La Palma, making his final observations. He made the first observations in 1971. He is due to present his thesis, entitled Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, before the examining board at Imperial College, London, on 23 August. May has also published a book on astronomy with arguably misogynistic boffin Sir Patrick Moore. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Aug 2007
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Fun with passports and paperclips

Black Hat BlogBlack Hat Blog The best tax is the tax the other guy pays; the best hacks are the ones that only affect the other guy; the funniest technical glitches are the outages of the other guy's microphone. No such luck: David Thiel is exploring the ways that downloaded media files can be hacked. You have nothing to fear but your bittorrent habit.
Wendy M. Grossman, 03 Aug 2007
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EU monitors roaming compliance

The EU is providing an easy reference for customers wanting to see if their network operator is offering minimal compliance with the new Eurotariff, or if they're one of the lucky few who are exceeding the newly mandated caps on European roaming charges. Mobile network operators in Europe had until July 30 to offer the new Eurotariff to their customers, and they've got until the August 30 to activate it, but many operators have decided to offer rates even lower than the €.49 outgoing/€.24 incoming maximum allowed under the new rules. A couple of operators were late to implement the new tariff, and a fair few won't be activating it until the September 1, but compliance has generally been pervasive. In the UK Orange and T-Mobile are doing the minimum necessary to comply with the law, while 3, O2 and Vodafone have better rates and Virgin Mobile hasn't replied to the EU questionnaire as yet. Anyone outside the UK can check their own network on the EU list.®
Bill Ray, 03 Aug 2007
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TimeUK mounts $22m Evesham bail-out

UpdatedUpdated Troubled British PC maker Evesham Technology has been thrown a $22m lifeline by TimeUK founder, Tahir Mohsan. Evesham, which blamed the closure of the government-backed Home Computing Initiative (HCI) for landing it in financial hot water, said most of its stores will close under the restructure.
Kelly Fiveash, 03 Aug 2007
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Red Hat delays Global Desktop

Red Hat is tapping the breaks on the release of its Global Desktop Linux operating system to put in more tricks. The company announced today the software's once expected July roll-out has been delayed until at least September. Product manager Gerry Riveros told Reuters Global Desktop won't be out until Library Card Sign-Up Month in order to investigate adding technology that allows users to view a wide range of video formats on their computers, including DVDs and streaming media.
Austin Modine, 03 Aug 2007

Mingling requirements

More moves are in train to bring Requirements Management (RM) out of its fusty corner of esoteric technical argument and into the mainstream of applications development planning.
Martin Banks, 03 Aug 2007
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The Scouts go grid

The Scouts are getting into grid computing - yes, it seems that "Dyb dyb dyb" now means "donate your bits". Scouts all around the world are being encouraged to join a team that's donating its spare CPU cycles to the World Community Grid, which provides processor power for medical research.
Bryan Betts, 03 Aug 2007
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Ban the internet! It's full of worms and iPlayers

CommentsComments The internet is a blight on our fair society. The iPlayer, viruses and The Register are testament to that fact. The Professional Teachers Association has voted to ban the internet and Wi-Fi from schools. It's a sensible proposal from a sensible organisation. You seemed to think otherwise:
Robin Lettice, 03 Aug 2007

Tibco backs Ajax with message bus

Tibco Software has increased its open source credentials by handing over the core of its PageBus messaging software to the Open Ajax Alliance. The move follows last October's release of its General Interface Ajax application toolkit as a free open source package.
Phil Manchester, 03 Aug 2007
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Pirate Bay to resurrect Suprnova.org

Swedish anti-copyright group Pirate Bay will reopen Suprnova.org, which used to be the most popular BitTorrent indexing site. Suprnova disappeared in 2004 as legal storm clouds gathered. Currently the domain hosts a link dump, but Pirate Bay reportedly plans to restore Suprnova in its original design in "a few days". The former operator of the site told TorrentFreak: "The domain was doing nothing. I know that domain has some nostalgic value and some people would be more then happy to see it back online. I don't use it, and [The Pirate Bay] is the only team that I know will use it correctly." More here.®
Christopher Williams, 03 Aug 2007
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Amazon joins Google in assault on eBay's PayPal

As eBay continues to fight off calls for the addition of Google Checkout to its online marketplace, here comes another big-name PayPal alternative.
Cade Metz, 03 Aug 2007
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Coding legend Antony Jameson gives supercomputers wings

Meat CastMeat Cast If you're on a flight and Antony Jameson's code crashes, hold on tight. You're in for a wild ride. Dr. Jameson's elegant computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes have become the gold standard in the aeronautics industry. Companies ranging from Boeing to business jet makers depend on his work to get the most out of their aircraft designs. As a result, Jameson has become a living legend and received the prestigious Elmer A. Sperry award for engineering in 2006. (There's a copy of Jameson's award presentation in PDF here.) Chris Hipp and I had the pleasure of interviewing Jameson this week for Semi-Coherent Computing. The show marks the first time that Jameson has discussed his life and work in such detail. A playful craft design from Jameson As part of Semi-Coherent Computing, we promised to deliver some history of computing programs, and this episode - code-named Precious Bodily Fluids - fits into that category. Given the nature of the topic and Jameson's generosity with his time, we've expanded the show to one hour. North Korea's greatest fear You'll discover how Jameson developed a passion for flight and transformed a career that could have stayed in the ivory towers of academia into a very practical pursuit. In addition, you'll hear about how Jameson's work drove the need for some of the earliest supercomputers and how his codes have saved us all tremendous amount of money via cheaper commercial flights. Jameson in Studio Reg If that's not enough, we talk flying cars. Those of you curious about Jameson's work can find his Stanford page here. Don't be shy about sending feedback on the shows and suggestions for future shows to hardware (at) theregister.com. Semi-Coherent Computing — Episode Three — Precious Bodily Fluids You can subscribe to the show via this feed or grab it from iTunes here. As always, special thanks go out to legend in the making Todd Phelps for letting us use his song "You Can Call Me Daddy Tonight." You'll find Phelps's web site here and his MySpace page here.®
Ashlee Vance, 03 Aug 2007
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Lenovo moves to the country

Flushed with a nearly 13-fold income jump in its first quarter, Lenovo hopes to extend its lead in China by targeting the country's poor, but expansive rural market.
Austin Modine, 03 Aug 2007
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Yahoo! to stream web-only US Prez debate

Not to be outdone by Google and YouTube, Yahoo! will soon host the first web-only U.S. presidential debate. Also set for the sites of co-sponsors Slate and The Huffington Post, the September 12 streaming-video event will feature all eight Democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, The Washington Post reports. As with the recent CNN/YouTube debate, which aired on nationwide cable television, this debate will allow tech-happy voters to submit video questions via the web. But in contrast to the CNN/YouTube face-off, the Yahoo! event will only be broadcast online, additional questions will be taken in real-time, and everyone will be spared Anderson Cooper. Hosting duties will be handled by PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose. The Post, whose parent company owns Slate, also says that viewers will have the ability slice and dice the online broadcast. They can choose to watch nothing but Hillary Clinton, for instance, or filter out everything but questions on Iraq. It's unclear if this can be done in real-time at time of the initial broadcast. Yahoo!, Slate, and The Huffington Post did not immediately respond to requests for clarification. The debate comes at a time when Yahoo! is working overtime to make up lost ground to Google and YouTube in the web video race. Bloomberg reports that by the end of year, the company will completely revamp its video offerings, adding music videos, movie trailers, television shows, and sports highlights as well as content created by internet users. "One of our strategies is to put video everywhere you are on the Internet," said Mike Folgner, Yahoo's general manager for video. "We're going to build a much better destination for you to access all this different content." According to Folgner, record companies including Universal Music Group and the EMI Group will provide music videos, the Associated Press and CNN will fork over news clips, and sports highlights will arrive from the National Football League and Major League Baseball. This past May, according to research firm comScore, three out of every four American internet users streamed video from the web, viewing 8.3bn separate streams, and 21.5 per cent of those streams were served up by Google. Yahoo! accounted for 4.6 per cent. ®
Cade Metz, 03 Aug 2007

SPEC dishes out MPI test

The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) has released a new benchmark suite that measures the performance of clusters running the much-loved - and much-despised - Message-Passing Interface protocols. SPEC's new MPI2007 serves as a new brand of supercomputing benchmark. The fresh test suite helps distinguish the performance of CPUs, memory, communications interconnect, compilers and the shared file system in clusters. The benchmark ignores other components such as the OS, graphics or I/O system. "SPEC saw the need within the research and science communities for a standardization benchmark suite based on real MPI applications," said SPEC chairman Kalyan Kumaran. "As with all of our benchmarks, SPEC MPI2007 benefits from SPEC's nearly two decades of experience in establishing source code and data sets, measurement tools, run rules and peer review that help ensure comparable and repeatable results." The software test has two sets of metrics; one running from the CD without any tuning and a peak metric option, which allows for tuning of compilers and compiler flags to get the best performance. The measurements are normalized against a reference system to produce a "bigger-is-better" metric. The current reference is an eight-node cluster of Celestica A2210 systems with AMD's Opteron processors connected via GigE. The software supports 32 and 64-bit architectures, and runs on Linux, Unix and Windows. A medium-sized data set in SPEC MPI2007 scales up to 512 processors. SPEC is currently working on larger data sets. Thus far, AMD, HP, QLogic and SGI have hopped aboard the benchmark test. The results are available at SPEC's website here. SPEC MPI2007 is available now for $800 on DVD. The new suite joins SPEC's other high performance computing benchmarks, HPC2002; for parallel and distributed architectures, and OMP2001; for shared-memory parallel processing. ®
Austin Modine, 03 Aug 2007
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Music industry rebuffed across Europe on file-sharing identifications

A German court has refused to order ISPs to hand over user details to the music industry. The incident is not the first in Germany, and follows the opinion of a European Court of Justice Advocate-General backing the stance. A court in Offenburg, Germany refused to order ISPs to identify subscribers when asked to by music industry groups who suspected specified accounts were being used for copyright-infringing file-sharing, according to German news service Heise Online. The court said that ordering the handover of details would be "disproportionate", and that the music industry had not adequately explained how the alleged actions of subscribers amounted to the "criminally relevant damage" needed to force the identification of users. The ruling follows the publication two weeks ago of an Advocate-General's opinion prepared for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which said that countries whose law restricted the handing over of identifying data to criminal cases only were compliant with EU Directives. Advocate-General Juliane Kokott produced advice for the ECJ on a Spanish case in which a copyright holders' group wanted ISP Telefonica to hand over subscriber details to it. Kokott said that details did not have to be handed over in civil cases such as Telefonica's, and that they only had to be handed over in criminal cases. The ECJ does not have to follow an Advocate-General's advice, but does so in over three-quarters of cases. Another German authority had made a similar decision earlier this year, according to Heise Online. The chief prosecutor's office in Celle refused to offer a handover because it said that substantial damage had not been shown, and that it doubted that music industry representatives would use the evidence to bring a criminal case. If European authorities begin to refuse to order the hand over of subscriber details in civil cases it will severely hamper the music industry's attempts to take civil action against file sharers. In most European countries, including the UK, copyright infringement is only a criminal offence when conducted on a commercial scale. Most individual file-sharing would be unlikely to count as a criminal offence. The ECJ's Kokott said that EU Directives allowed for countries to have laws refusing to hand over data except in criminal cases. It was on one such law that Telefonica relied in its case. "In the first instance the court ordered Telefonica to communicate the requested information," said Kokott's opinion, in an unofficial translation from the Spanish produced by OUT-LAW.COM. "However, Telefonica opposed the order, alleging that in no situation could it hand over the details given that under article 12 of the [Spanish] IT services and E-commerce legislation, this data could only be handed over in a criminal investigation or where it was required for reasons of public safety or national security. Only in these cases could a service provider be obliged to hand over the data that by law it is obliged to keep." The Spanish court in that case asked the ECJ to rule on whether or not it should order Telefonica to hand over the details in a civil case, or whether giving details would breach data protection and privacy laws. Kokott said that she backed Telefonica's view that ISPs are obliged to hand over details only in criminal cases, and not in civil cases. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 03 Aug 2007