AnalysisAnalysis AT&T has apologized for the censorship of lyrics that were critical of US President George W. Bush during a webcast of a performance by rock band Pearl Jam at a recent Lollapalooza festival. During a performance of the song "Daughter" on Sunday in Chicago, the band segued into an improvised version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" - and frontman Eddie Vedder uttered the words "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush, find yourself another home." Not that the poor saps viewing the grainy footage on AT&T's Blue Room Web site would know. Those passages were cut from the webcast, the result, AT&T told Reuters, of "a mistake by a webcast vendor" that was "contrary to our policy." The company said it was working with the band to post the song in its entirety. The blooper is yet another reminder of how prudish we've gotten in the US, a nation that, ironically, likes to think of itself as open-minded and a bastion of free speech. By now, most people are familiar with the plight of the Dixie Chicks, who were banished from country radio stations after publicly confessing they were ashamed to come from the same state as Bush. And no one will soon forget the grilling Congress gave CBS executives after their network broadcast Janet Jackson's breast for one second during the 2004 Super Bowl. AT&T never did say what rationale the unidentified webcast vendor used in excising the political dissent, but we suspect it has something to do with watching its peers pay for their outspoken or risqué sins and saying, "But for the grace of God go I." An artifact of the grunge scene whose anti-authoritarian posturing is more attractive than the vast majority of its music, Pearl Jam has made a career out of sticking it to the man. In the mid 1990s, it boycotted Ticketmaster on the principle that the company was driving up the cost of concert tickets. So it's of no surprise that the band took to its website this week to pillory the censorship. "AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media," the blog said. In an age when rock and roll has become synonymous with selling cars and marketing political candidates, such concerns indeed resonate. But after viewing footage on YouTube of the cheesy sing-along-with-Eddie, we won't be checking back into the Blue Room anytime soon for an unexpurgated version. ®
Vonage is still smarting from that legal tete-a-tete with Verizon, but after throwing together a trio of patent workarounds, it's confident that a full recovery is on the way. Today, during an earnings call with inventors and industry analysts, the pioneering voice over IP company said that, thanks to its ongoing patent battle with the nation's second largest telco, it stomached $6m in litigation costs during the second quarter and struggled to attract new customers. Of course, CEO Jeffrey Citron believes there's light at the end of the tunnel. "I am very excited about our accomplishments this quarter and am confident we are taking the appropriate steps to turn our business around," he said. "The second quarter was one of transition for us, and I believe that we are turning the corner on one of the most difficult periods in Vonage's history." In March, after a federal jury ruled that Vonage was infringing on a trio of Verizon patents, Judge Claude Hilton ordered the company to pay $58m in damages and slapped it with a permanent injunction preventing it from using the three Verizon technologies. But the permanent injunction wasn't all that permanent. Vonage appealed, and the ruling was put on hold - though the VOIP maven still had to pay Verizon a 5.5 per cent per customer royalty on the patents as it waited for a new ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals. With today's call, Citron was pleased to tell analysts that the company has developed workarounds for all three of the offending technologies, and that two are already in place. "The company has taken steps to ensure that the workarounds do not infringe on the Verizon patents as construed by the court," he said. "The deployment of the workarounds is a significant step toward moving ahead with our business in the wake of the Verizon litigation." But this doesn't mean Vonage expects the Court of Appeals to side with Verizon. "While having the workarounds in place mitigates the impact of a potential negative verdict from the court, we look forward to the court's ultimate ruling and remain confident in the strength of our appeal." Meanwhile, the company added only 57,000 customers in the second quarter, compared with 166,000 in the first. Folks may have been turned off by the Verizon row - the district court originally ruled that Vonage wasn't allowed to add new customers while infringing technologies were still in place - but the company was also forced to slash its marketing budget in Q2, from $91m to $68m. ®
LinuxWorldLinuxWorld Having spent three years trying to get purchase on Oracle's mighty database business, EnterpriseDB is embracing Web 2.0 developers with a bundled version of Postgres. EnterpriseDB - whose existing database product is a version of Posgres that's sold under a commercial license and that the company claims is compatible with Oracle - has launched EnterpriseDB Postgres along with online Postgres support.
LinuxWorldLinuxWorld Novell's recently unpopular chief executive was doing more than reading from a crudely scripted speech when he told LinuxWorld to get with the program and deal with Microsoft and mixed source. Ron Hovsepian's keynote employed words that would have been considered heresy during the scandal-wearing glory days of LinuxWorld in San Jose, but today they raised barely a flicker, demostrating two important things.
Spoiler AlertSpoiler Alert A lot of people have been wondering what Harry Potter's future is really like. I have the answer: he's going to be an amateur detective. But nobody will know this, because he'll be working in a tech support call centre for Weasley Computers.
OGCbuying.solutions has cancelled its plans for a framework agreement on integrated solutions. The move halts a process that could have involved up to £1bn in business around efforts to implement the Transformational Government strategy. The tender document published in October 2006 said that the framework, under the Catalist brand, would cover solutions in which ICT was the driver for customer requirements.
Trolltech's Qtopia is a commonly used mobile Linux. It's used in a large number of different devices – from Sony's mylo communicator, to Motorola and Panasonic's Linux phones. While you might not have come across it in the Carphone Warehouse, it's a common platform in one of the biggest mobile markets going – China.
Nokia is to outsource most of its chip development to other manufacturers in order to reduce its R&D spend and concentrate on developing core chipset technologies. The Finnish firm, which is the world's largest mobile maker, said the new licensing and multi-sourcing model would allow it to broaden its pool of chip suppliers, while enabling the firm to focus on its core competencies in chipset development.
Online gambling companies based outside the European Economic Area are to be banned from advertising in the UK. The Gambling Act will be used to bar the advertising of over 1,000 websites. The Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) James Purnell has laid the proposal before Parliament today in a bid to crack down on rogue gambling operators. The ban will cover some big name gambling websites which are based in banned countries, such as William Hill Casino, Betfred Casino, and Littlewoodscasino.com. "I make no apology for banning adverts for websites operating from places that don't meet our strict standards," said Purnell. "Protection is my number one priority." The ban will apply to all forms of gambling advertising including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, taxis, buses, the tube, and some websites. If operators, publishers, broadcasters, and advertising companies accept adverts they could face fines or prison, said the DCMS. The DCMS said it had asked all countries which hosted gambling sites to apply to be "white listed", which means that DCMS would look at its regulations and decide whether to permit sites based there to advertise. Only two of the regions which applied to be white listed, Alderney and the Isle of Man, were approved. "Only Alderney and the Isle of Man were able to demonstrate that they had in place a rigorous licensing regime designed to stop children gambling, protect vulnerable people, keep games fair and keep out crime," said a DCMS statement. "The fact that only Alderney and the Isle of Man have been able to meet the high standards demanded by our white listing criteria shows how tough the Gambling Act is. Indeed, white listing has actually helped drive up regulatory standards in some countries," said Purnell. "The Isle of Man, for example, has made significant improvements to their regulatory regime in order to secure a place on the white list. This includes requiring all licensees to make contributions to problem gambling research, education and treatment in line with requirement on UK operators," he said. Among the most popular countries for hosting gambling websites are Antigua, Costa Rica, Canadian reservation Kanawake, and Netherlands Antilles. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
There is no evidence to support allegations that NASA astronauts have been flying drunk, NASA said this week. The space agency has been reviewing the last 10 years of missions, and says it has turned up nothing to suggest that crews have been hitting the bottle before missions, Reuters reports. This is despite earlier reports that astronauts were allowed to fly on two occasions when doctors considered them dangerously drunk. Administrator Michael Griffin said: "Right now, we've gone back 10 years and we can't even find where it would be a possibility there was crew under the influence on either a Soyuz or a shuttle." The allegations were made in a report by a panel of health experts, called in after former astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping. The idea was a review of the health and screening policies would determine whether or not NASA should be keeping a closer eye on its crews. Instead, it threw even more unflattering light on the agency, during what should probably be described as its annus horribilis. Griffin said it was his responsibility to investigate the allegations, but added that he would be "extraordinarily surprised" if there was any substance to the claims. ®
The government needs to do more to protect ordinary users from cybercrime and safeguard the growth of e-commerce, according to a report from the House of Lords' Science and Technology Committee.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has brought in sweeping new rules intended to prevent military personnel from releasing information which shows the MoD in a bad light. The new document, designated DIN 2007DIN03-006, was first discussed on the ARmy Rumour SErvice (ARRSE) forum yesterday morning. The Guardian has also covered it today, claiming an exclusive. The new rules say that: "Members of the Armed Forces and MOD Civil Servants must seek prior permission from [MoD media authorities] if they wish to communicate about defence via books, articles or academic papers; self-publish via a blog, podcast or other shared text, audio or video; take part in external questionnaires, polls, surveys or research projects, speak at conferences, private engagements or other events where the public or media may be present; or contribute to any online community or share information such as a bulletin board, wiki, online social network, or multi-player game. "All contact with the news media on any topic relating to official defence matters must be referred to the appropriate [official] staff. This includes letters to newspapers, contributing to online debates, taking part in radio or TV programmes, or contact with the media at outside events such as conferences. The responsibility to comply with the Official Secrets Act lies with the individual." The rules don't say anything new - it has always been a sacking offence for serving personnel and other MoD employees to contact the media or reveal information in public without authorisation from their line superiors. In the modern day it's a very rare line superior who would permit this without passing the matter up to the central media desk. Having written this article while still serving, your correspondent was telephoned and threatened with dismissal by Navy PR in 2004 - too late, as the resignation letter was already in. So there's nothing new here, really. The MoD says as much: "These are not new rules. These or similar have been around for years... They have been updated this year to reflect the findings of the Hall report [into the recent Iran/captured sailors fiasco] and changes in communication technology... "We want people to communicate what they do. But it must be properly authorised – by their boss and, if it is potentially newsworthy, by MOD centrally." But, in fact, there has been nothing actually done about the Iran/sailors clusterfuck. No heads have rolled. The foolish decision to use anti-submarine frigates for dangerous inshore board-and-search work has been retrospectively OK'd in a classified report. And nobody at all has been held accountable for the frankly bizarre decision to let editors bribe young, stressed personnel into signing fairytales ghostwritten by tabloid hacks. So this isn't about the Hall report. And it isn't about the rise of new media - that's been around forever now, and anyway the old rules covered it. One ARRSE poster's summary seems incapable of improvement: "This is a gag order pure and simple, poke it." And an exceptionally stupid one, as it doen't actually give the MoD any more power than it already had: yet it seems sure to provoke a lot of negative coverage, and quite likely upset a lot of serving people to boot. The British forces' morale is famously resilient, but this isn't really the time to be chipping away at it. Forces people keep their mouths shut about real operational secrets, not because they're threatened with disciplinary procedures, but because they're loyal to their comrades. At some level, after all, they aren't afraid to die; they won't be scared by a new document out of Whitehall. Meanwhile, leakers and whistle blowers will still be able to operate with impunity. Journalists will protect their sources, and in many cases could be overseas and not subject to British jurisdiction anyway. Soldiers will still be able to blog, post and upload - if necessary using untraceable connections, to be found in any internet cafe or open Wi-Fi box if nothing more skilful comes to hand. So this new diktat achieves nothing, while costing a lot in terms of goodwill and image. You really have to wonder about the MoD media chiefs - are they maybe some kind of sabotage factor, deliberately introduced by people who don't like the forces? Or what? ®
In a flurry of hyper-drive, telephone box powered activity, the Beeb has announced yet more guest stars for the forthcoming, much-awaited fourth series of Doctor Who. Hurrah, we say, as everyone's favourite OBG (Oldie, But Goodie) Felicity Kendall will be appearing in the show as Lady Clemency Eddison. Besides from that, former Blackadder actor, aka the Duke of Darling, Tim McInnerny will also make an appearance on the show. Filming has already begun on the next series, which will hit our screens in 2008, with Catherine Tate teaming up with David Tennant as the Doctor's latest sidekick. Beeb producers said that the Time Lord's adventures will include him dropping in on old enemy The Ood, which is a race of squid-like humans. There will also be an episode where the time-travelling hero will meet up with legendary crime scribe Agatha Christie. What a hoot. Dr Who exec producer and lead writer Russell T Davies said: "Visiting Agatha Christie has been on my wish-list for ages now, and for the Doctor, it's a real meeting of minds." Earlier this week we learned that Sir Ben Kingsley was being lined up to play classic baddie Davros - creator of the Daleks - in the next series of the Time Lord's capers through the outer reaches of the BBC canteen. But let us not forget that before we get to all this oozing, glorious British talent, Aussie delight Kylie will be on hand to give everyone all over the world a very special Christmas indeed. ®
During the transition period between technology formats, such from CDs to MP3s, consumers inevitably go through a period where they want 'all in one' players'. So, one designer has developed a concept MP3-cum-CD player that promises to play MP3 and traditional CDs, but in a way that’s anything but traditional.
Episode 28Episode 28 So the PFY and I are both on a quick junket to Paris and have managed to score seats in business class thanks to the combination of the Boss' short sightedness and the PFY accidentally stepping on his glasses until the lenses broke. "So what's this junket about then?" I ask the PFY while making the exact amount of eye contact with the stewardess that was recommended in an ebook on sleeping your way through the service industry. "Blah blah blah blah blah blah," (or something like that) the PFY says, while I'm finishing off my eye contact thing. "Sorry, what was that? I wasn't listening," I confess. "Blah blah blah blah blah blah." "Sorry. Sorry, she just came back, I'm listening now." "It's a two day conference on security web applications servers against attacks. Everything from SQL injection through to blah blah blah..." "Can I get you a drink sir?" the woman of my dreams asks. "Indeed you can!" I respond happily. "Would you happen to have a glass of The McCallan?" "The..." "McCallan," I say. "Eighteen year old by preference, but 12 would be ok." "Ah whiskey. We've got Johnny Walker?" "Tape head cleaner!" "Right - well can I get you anything else?" "Oh, well, I suppose I'd be alright with eight cans of Tennants Super and half a dozen packets of salt and vinegar crisps." "I'll have what he's having," the PFY adds. "I'm afraid we've only got four cans left..." "No worries," the PFY says. "Just give me the balance in cans of cider." ...A quarter of an hour later... "You were saying something about SQL injection?" I ask the PFY, now that my chances with the stewardess are as small as her lager, cider, and crisp inventory. "SQL injection methods are becoming more complex with a blah blah blah.." "Sorry," I say to the PFY. "She's got a friend." The PFY and I both turn our attention to a uniformed woman striding down from first class with a worried expression on her face. "Does... uh... anyone here know anything about in-flight computer systems?" she asks nervously. "Uh, not in-flight computer systems, but computer systems in general," the PFY says. "Anyone at all?" she asks. "I think what my assistant is suggesting is that we may be able to help you," I say. "What seems to be the problem?" With no other takers our stewardess is forced to make her way through the crisp bags and empty cans that hit the floor once the words 'computer systems' were mentioned. It's a reflex thing. "It's not serious," she assures us. "It's just that apparently the plane has an... um... three of five cluster quorum - if that's right - and one of the five has gone offline and another has an error. Apparently it can be fixed by in-flight diagnostics but they're not starting." "Well, you came to the right people!" I say. "We're bound to be able to help. Show us the way!" We proceed with the stewardess to the flight area and get pointed to an open plate behind a seat. "You're in luck!" the PFY says, playing with the tiny LCD debug panel. "It's Intel kit and it just so happens that I have a USB key with me with a Knoppix install on it. We could probably format the five machines, get rid of the Microsoft OS and install a much faster Knoppix install in no time." "I..." the pilot says, not knowing what the hell the PFY just said. "Do you need anything?" "Five...?" the PFY says, looking at me. "Make it six - best to be on the safe side," I say. "Six," the PFY says decisively. "Cans of Tennants Super." "Each," I say. "And some salt and vinegar crisps to go with the tramp juice." "Beer and crisps!?" the pilot gasps. "BACK OFF MAN, WE'RE PROFESSIONALS!" I snarl, whipping out my Knoppix USB key. "What do you want us to do?" the Co Pilot asks. "Get as high up as possible," I say. "We're going to have to reboot them all to change quorum when we go from Windows to Knoppix, so we'll need all the glide time we can get..." "I... ok" "And get a wiggle on with those lagers." ...a few minutes later... "Right," the PFY says, dropping the third empty can to the ground. "I'm ready!" "Me too," I say. "Control-alt-delete time." "I was just going to press the reset on the motherboards." "Works for me!" I say. >click< >click< >click< >click< >click< >WHAAAAAAOORRRRR< >WUMPF WUMPF WUMPF!< "Whoa," I say, turning to the PFY. "That was some turbulence. I was having a pretty strange dream." "Me too," the PFY says, rubbing his eyes. "We were at the conference and a crisis broke out and they needed someone who knew how to recover a Commodore CBM save tape and it just so happened I blah blah blah." "Sorry about that," I say to the PFY. "I was momentarily distracted by a uniformed woman striding down from first class with a worried expression on her face. Grab us a six pack of Tennants Super from your carry on will you?" BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Well-known former MI5 officer and 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Shayler has taken a further step along the path to fruitcakeville, suggesting to a TV news interviewer that he is the Messiah. Describing an occasion on which he had been anointed by a mystic representing biblical figure Mary Magdalene, the confused ex-spook told More4 News: "I felt a sense of peace, I suddenly realised why it had been how it had - why I seem to get such a strange deal from the universe, when I seem to be trying to tell the truth about everything." At one point, however, there was a hint that Shayler - famously dubbed "the spy who won't shut up" by the Sunday Times, the paper for which he had worked before becoming a spook - wasn't taking the Messiah business entirely seriously. Appearing to suppress a fit of the giggles, he told More4 that the Hebrew word for "king" - in this sense, the king of kings, messiah, what have you - is "chav". Shayler said there was an anagram on the rod of Aaron, a staff carried by Moses' brother in the Old Testament, predicting that he would arrive as the Messiah. The rod's hidden message is, according to this interpretation, "David Shayler, righteous chav". There's some support for this in the fact that Mr Shayler once wrote a novel which he described as "a gritty thriller about spies, sex and football" - sort of Footballers' Wives/WAGs'n'spooks fest - perhaps fairly chavvy. The tale was never published. If one accepts that a Messiah will appear and guide the human race into the correct path, there seems no reason why David Shayler wouldn't be the chosen vessel of the holy word. There is perhaps more reason to question other things he has said. For instance, Shayler told New Statesman last year that: "I believe no planes were involved in 9/11... The only explanation is that they were missiles surrounded by holograms made to look like planes... Watch the footage frame by frame and you will see a cigar-shaped missile hitting the World Trade Center." Before that, Shayler made some more intuitively believable assertions - that the UK's secretive Security Service (MI5) was riddled with incompetence, and that the foreign-office spies at the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, aka MI6) had been in touch with anti-Gadaffi elements in Libya during the 1990s - perhaps to the extent of providing financial and other assistance towards eliminating the good Colonel. It's also quite true that Shayler was subjected to an unjustifiably expensive and foolish government witchhunt after going public, which may have played some part in his progress towards eccentricity since then. The interview can be watched here. ®
Universal Music Group, the world's largest music label, has said it will temporarily allow the sale of thousands of its albums and tracks DRM-free. For the next few months, the likes of Amy Winehouse, the Black Eyed Peas, and 50 Cent will see the MP3 format of their music sold without copy protection technology. Universal said it will then be able to test the sale of songs unencumbered by digital rights management (DRM) for a trial period that will run from later this month until January 2008. Earlier this year, rival EMI climbed into bed with Apple in an agreement to make its entire catalogue of music available as a DRM-free download option for customers through the computer firm's online music store iTunes. Despite this, most major labels continue to insist on the use of DRM technology to curb internet piracy. But reliance on the technology isn't without its sticking points. DRM security has been proven to be less-than watertight and many consumers resent the copy restriction format. No surprise then that Universal has decided to dip its toe into the test bed. It said in a statement on Thursday that it will "analyse such factors as consumer demand, price sensitivity and piracy in regards to the availability of open MP3s". However, unlike EMI, there are no plans for Universal (UMG) to sell the DRM-free MP3s via iTunes. Just last month the two firms were involved in a public spat, with UMG aruging that iTunes pricing should be more flexible. There are several big retail names in the picture, however, with Google, Amazon and Wal-Mart all flogging Universal's DRM-free MP3s. ®
Editors' BlogEditors' Blog If computer game development is your thing, save your pennies and get yourself over to the Los Angeles Convention Centre. From 18-21 October, the Game Developers Conference is being held in association with the Entertainment for All (E for All) exhibition. Billed as a game career seminar, the conference will give attendees the chance to learn about the developer tools available, as well as what is involved in working in the industry. The E for All event will also provide the necessary inspiration by giving developers a chance to play the games. It could, of course, also prove totally deflating by demonstrating that your "stupendously unique idea" has already been done by half a dozen other vendors. Previous conferences have attracted some 16,000 delegates, so it will at least be a good place for wannabe developers to network. ®
China has announced plans to map "every inch" of the surface of the Moon as part of its ambitious space-exploration programme. The NSA (National Space Administration) also made no bones about China's commercial interest in space, telling reporters that the Moon holds the key to future generation of energy. Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the first phase of lunar exploration, is quoted on government-sanctioned news site ChinaNews.com describing plans to collect three dimensional images of the Moon. He also outlined plans to exploit the vast quantities of Helium-3 thought to lie buried in lunar rock. "There are altogether 15 tons of helium-3 on Earth, while on the Moon, the total amount of Helium-3 can reach one to five million tons," he said. "Helium-3 is considered as a long-term, stable, safe, clean and cheap material for human beings to get nuclear energy through controllable nuclear fusion experiments. If we human beings can finally use such energy material to generate electricity, then China might need 10 tons of helium-3 every year and in the world, about 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed every year." The country's space programme is split into three phases - the first is "circling the Moon", the second "landing on the Moon", and the third "returning to Earth". Earlier this year, the Chinese space agency outlined plans to launch the first probe in the second half of 2007. It has now also given a few more details of its plans for phase two, which will see an unmanned rover land on the lunar surface in 2010 and "meticulously" survey the area in which it lands. A sample-return mission is slated for 2012. ®
Panasonic has launched seven new Viera 1080p HD TVs. The range includes six plasma TVs ranging from 42 to 65in and a single 37in LCD TV, all with a selection of futuristic features.
US Navy boffins are seeking to kit out American military stores depots with hydrogen-powered forklifts, or - as they prefer - "hydrogen-fueled material handling equipment". Back in January, the Naval Surface Warfare Centre, crane division, issued a request for proposals seeking contractors to provide hydrogen-driven forklifts and fuelling stations to top them up, to "reduce existing oil consumption rates", and "initiate the transition towards a future hydrogen economy." The idea is that existing electrically-powered forklifts would have their current battery packs replaced by hydrogen fuel cells. "In total, [the US military supplies agency] operates over 3,000 forklifts, of which approximately half are electric-powered," say the naval sci-tech researchers. "Proposers are expected to offer at a minimum a complete power unit that is equivalent in form, fit, and function and equal or superior in performance to the lead acid or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery system currently used in these forklifts." In contrast to various other suggested uses for fuel-cells and hydrogen, this sounds relatively practical and achievable. Forklifts in a facility don't need to hold their hydrogen fuel for long periods, don't need long endurance, and can refuel as often as they like. The tricky problem of containing the hydrogen (or producing it on the spot) can be hived off into the filling-point infrastructure rather than happening in the vehicle. That said, it seems likely that the hydrogen used in the new forklifts will still be ultimately produced by burning ordinary hydrocarbon fuels in some form. Hydrogen technology is merely a means of storing energy generated elsewhere - just like the electric forklifts which are being replaced. However, the NSW-Crane programme might advance the state of the hydrogen art without being too inconvenient. Apparently, the Navy received four proposals. The winning bid was that from a Pennsylvania firm, Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. A $5,608,817 R&D contract was awarded on Wednesday, and work is expected to be complete by 2010. ®
Summertime Linux blues Well folks, the August doldrums are well and truly upon us. With the Reg newsroom resembling the Black Hole of Calcutta, but with less atmosphere, we're thankful to LinuxWorld for topping up the news. Novell boss Ron Hovsepian told the fanboys to accept its deal with Microsoft as part of the open source landscape. It made him unpopular, but other vendors at the show signalled that for them Microsoft money talks too, even if it does beat the drum for vendor-led rather than community-led standards. Novell also found time this week to team up with IBM to attack the application server market, and improve its SuSE data centre management tool. Oracle also rocked up at the show to calm fears it was about to blunder into the market, jeopardising Red Hat's position. Never fear, the mighty swinging coloured balls of Google are on the open sourcers' side. Open source virtualisation outfit Xen had a public whinge about VMware hogging all the money. As one commenter quipped, "hate the game not the player", lads. Predictably, the desktop debate reared its many ugly heads at LinuxWorld, reminding our US editor Ashlee Vance of "a dog humping a table leg", since "it's both fun and disturbing to watch, but ultimately there's very little payoff from the exercise". Hey, Mountain View is a quiet town y'all. Anyway, thanks to its deal with Dell, Canonical's Ubuntu remains in the ascendent, and enterprise Linux desktops will be common soon...honest. Rollins stone Dell had a biggish week. It signed a deal with Red Hat to OEM JBoss application server, the first time it's had a tier 1 server vendor on side. It's timely, given IBM's application server push with Novell (see above). The Texan firm also chucked a curveball at the virtualisation market with its plan to load hypervisors (probably from VMware or Xen) into flash memory to allow booting to a "virtual machine-ready" state. There's implications for virtualisation pricing. More here. Dell's Linux desktop program made it across the pond, with the announcement of a brace of UK Inspirions pre-loaded with Ubuntu. Now the dust has settled over Mickey Dell's reinstatement at the top spot, ousted CEO Kevin Rollins will collect $48.5m cash from options which had expired. Which is nice. They'd been frozen because of an accounts investigation. Back in the days when Dell mostly built and sold PCs, the news that Packard Bell looks set to go to Lenovo rather than Acer would have caused ructions in the boardroom. This week the big nobs were instead more excited by their purchase of software developer Zing, which should help Dell make a Zune-style Wi-Fi MP3 player. Yikes. When CEOs attack Dell's Rollins decided to maintain a diplomatic silence after his departure. Not so Lee Strafford, former boss of BT-owned ISP PlusNet. You can read his musings to friends on the "liars" who used to work for him here. He should get a job at Virgin Media. After announcing a Q2 customer exodus of 70,000 following its dispute with Sky, the cable monopoly could use someone a bit fightier to take on Murdoch. Lording it over security In the UK, the thundering powerhouse of democratic radicalism that is the House of Lords awoke from its summer slumber to deliver recommendations on internet security via the Science and Technology Committee. The Lords accuse industry and government of a "laissez faire attitude. A Treasury report agreed, producing a dismal asessment of government password security. Among other things, peers want legal liability for security bugs. Oo-er. Verisign suffered embarrassment when a laptop containing sensitive employee information went AWOL. Cisco patched some holes in voice software (and its financials showed it still has more money than God), as did Symantec for Norton Anti-Virus, and Microsoft for, er, everthing. IM software maker FaceTime had some explaining to do over how it exposed users' contacts. Plus ça change. Just as it was revealed the government's EDS-built probation database is spiralling out of control, another executive tentacle popped open the pork barrel on ID cards. Patent imbeciles Ofcom will legalise ultra wideband (wireless USB) devices as of Monday, 13 August. Vonage's flavour of VoIP still seems to be struggling, although it reckons it can get round its patent defeat by Verizon. Sharp said it will sue Samsung over patents around LCD displays. Another twist in yet another patent dispute, as Qualcomm failed to overturn a US import ban on phones using its chips because they infringe Broadcom's patents. In a double humiliation, Qualcomm also lost a suit over video patents. It kept its patents secret until the industry adopted a standard and then unleashed the legal hounds, the court found. Tough business this mobile chip lark. Nokia thinks so anyway, and will outsource most of its R&D. It also announced plans to incorporate Microsoft's new PlayReady interoperable DRM on its S40 and S60 handsets. Vista incapable Microsoft's desperation to get the PC builders on side with Vista came back to bite it in the arse when a judge ruled that two disgruntled consumers should be allowed to sue Redmond. The "Vista Capable" marketing campaign failed to mention that a lot of machines would only be able to run the Basic Edition, not the fancypants Aero interface. AMD: will dance for food Looks like Redmond could be in need of rebuilding some public goodwill. We've got a great idea. Why not give the $1.5bn it'll get to keep after its legal SWAT team overturned the MP3 standards case it lost to Alcatel-Lucent to down and out AMD? The chipmaker was forced to proffer the begging bowl to the same $1.5bn tune to shore up its debts. Despite being in the unaccustomed role of a profitable company, Sun said there would be more job cuts to follow the 3,700 casualties it announced earlier in the year. NZ thinks of the children That's it for now. There'll be more next week (we hope). Til then, keep it 4real. ®
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard got his own TV channel yesterday, admittedly only available to Orange customers watching on their mobile phones, but it's one up on a MySpace page. The channel, dubbed "Fat Frank TV" by some, will feature interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage of Frank's professional and personal life. Fans will be able to tune in to "Frank cooking Brussels sprouts", as well as "Frank playing with his dogs", and the unforgettable "Frank wrapping his Christmas presents" - all no doubt offering great insight into his footballing prowess. (Is he wrapping his pressies really early, or really late? Ed Orange is hoping Chelsea fans will enjoy the experience of Frank TV so much they'll sign up for more viewing on the move - perhaps some meerkats or motorbikes. Whether reality-TV style clips can really drive punters to watch TV on their phones, or if football fans really care if their midfielder likes Brussels', remains to be seen. The omens so far are not good. As indeed are the omens for Chelsea's upcoming season.®
The first 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel storage networking products are out, and could drive the final nail into the coffin of 10Gbit/s Fibre Channel. However, the new technology seems unlikely to stem the drift to iSCSI over 10Gbit/s Ethernet, although it might perhaps slow it a little.
SNIA, the Storage Networking Industry Association, has set up a task force and technical working group to address "green storage". The groups will develop resources to help IT managers understand and address environmental issues, the organisation said.
An unpatched flaw in drivers from ATI creates a means to smuggle malware past improved security defences in the latest version of Windows and into the Vista kernel. Microsoft is working with ATI on an update which security watchers warn might be far from straightforward to roll-out.
Sky's £125m buyout of Amstrad will face scrutiny from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), regulators have announced. The City watchdog will probe whether the deal will substantially reduce competition in the set-top box market. Amstrad already builds 30 per cent of Sky boxes. The OFT has the power to trigger a full inquiry from the Competition Commission. The same process launched the ongoing investigation into Sky's attempted purchase of a stake in broadcasting rival ITV earlier this year. When the Amstrad deal was announced at the end of July, shares in fellow Sky contractor Pace Micro nosedived. ®
Google has begun charging users for additional storage once they fill their free allowance, according to a blog post by one of the company's lead software engineers.
Evesham Technology chairman and founder Richard Austin appears to have performed an impressive U-turn over the reason behind the firm's current financial crisis, which has seen some 150 staff made redundant.
Nokia's N800 tablet is to get Mobile WiMAX connectivity in order to be used on Sprint's US WiMAX network next year, though it's probably keeping Wi-Fi and Bluetooth just in case. The N800 sits oddly in Nokia's portfolio of mobile phones, and the occasional set-top box. With VoIP it can make and receive phone calls, but calling it a mobile phone only causes confusion as it has no cellular connectivity - it slips between the converging technologies. But it is an excellent platform for Nokia, and anyone else, to try out new ideas and technologies. Being Linux based smoothes software development, and the relatively large form factor (compared to a phone handset) makes the addition of new technologies less complex. Anyone surprised by this endorsement of a non-cellular technology should remember that Nokia doesn't consider itself to be in the mobile phone business - it's in the personal electronics business, and proudly claims itself to be the largest manufacturer of portable music players and digital cameras. Nokia has patents in parts of the 3G standard, so would like to see that succeed, but it's certainly not going to cut itself off from alternative technologies if they provide another route into the pockets of punters. ®
Researchers from King's College London have raised the spectre of a new terrorist technique which would "kill an order of magnitude more people than a dirty bomb" and is "likely to incite considerably more fear". Writing in securo-thinktank journal Survival (short digest here - full article requires payment), James Acton, M Brooke Rogers and Peter Zimmerman lay out their thoughts. The article is called Beyond the Dirty Bomb: Re-thinking Radiological Terror. Essentially, the three academics have been inspired by the recent murder of Russian emigre Alexander Litvinenko, internally poisoned with radioactive Polonium-210. They have thought of a new abbreviation to describe mass radiological poisoning without the use of explosives - I3, for ingestion, inhalation and immersion. The idea is that terrorists might get large numbers of people to swallow, breathe, or be drenched with fluids containing deadly amounts of radioactive isotopes. The Guardian reports on the research this morning, and Guardian scribe Julian Borger spoke to Mr Zimmerman, who is professor and chair of science and security at King's College London. "The article does not provide details of the most devastating method of attack the authors have conceived, for security reasons, but Professor Zimmerman described one scenario using a water-soluble radioactive isotope widely used in hospitals and industry: 'I can then tap into the anti-fire spray in a theatre, and if I can trigger the spray, I can soak everyone in the room'," Borger wrote. Prof Zimmerman is talking about powdered caesium-137, widely used in radiotherapy machinery and such like. According to the UN nuclear watchdog, just such a nightmare scenario already occurred in Brazil in 1987. In that case, scavengers broke open a canister of caesium-137 from an old radiotherapy machine. Brazilian locals, thinking the glowing blue powder was pretty, circulated the stuff widely over the next week. Many rubbed it on themselves. Others ate food adulterated with the powder. In all, 237 people were reckoned to have been contaminated by the Brazilian authorities. Four of them died, and a major cleanup operation was required in the various affected homes and businesses. So, terrorists might get hold of some caesium-137 and put it into a sprinkler system, say in a theatre. Hundreds of people would then be drenched with a solution of the isotope. Probably they wouldn't start drinking it, though, and it's reasonable to hope that they might shower quite soon rather than rubbing the solution into their skins and waiting a week or so. Indeed, if it was known what had occurred, the best defence would be to leave the sprayers on until all the contaminated water had been washed off with fresh - such is a standard defence against fallout in military organisations. Royal Navy warships are fitted with deck water-spray points for precisely this reason. All in all, then, such an attack could be expected to be significantly less deadly than the Brazilian mishap. So it might kill one or two people tops. Why not just block the fire exits and do a bit of arson? You'd kill a lot more people that way, and you'd need even less knowhow. Why not sabotage some railway tracks, or do your arson in the Tube - Potters' Bar, King's Cross, here we come again. Why not sneak about taking raw chicken out of restaurant fridges at night, then putting it back in without the chef knowing. Why not drive an 18-wheeler into a school playground at 50mph? Why not pour oil out of a car window along the fast lane of the M25 just before rush hour? No need to bust into any hospitals or hang around the radioisotope bazaars of Central Asia for any of that, is there? And you'd kill a lot of people. Prof Zimmerman's proposal is a tough new control and licencing regime for all radioactive materials (bound to have a great effect on the NHS budget). Maybe his special undisclosed attack method really is so deadly as to justify this. He told the Graun that his secret plan "would be capable of killing several hundred, maybe upwards of a thousand, and paralysing a city without any question at all", so maybe it is. Still, what's next? Control and licencing of petrol, matches and prybars? Security cameras and alarms in every fridge? No, obviously not. Terrorist incidents with one or two figure death tolls are only different from the ordinary run of accidents and crime and deadly mayhem if we make them so. Perhaps Prof Zimmerman has thought of something new - 1,000 dead in one hit would be serious (your chance of survival as a Londoner, though? 99.99 per cent or better). But his caesium-137 sprinkler attack notion doesn't lend much credence to his arguments. Nor does his decision to publish now, before the suggested countermeasures are in place - which they surely will be presently, if his special-sauce attack plan is as advertised. Apparently, one of Zimmerman's co-authors, Brooke Rogers, would like to see an intensive information campaign to keep the public informed and prevent panic. We're doing our best on that one. It's hard to say that she and her co-authors are, though. ®
Batteries continue to be a hot topic for Sony, but not in a good way. Toshiba American Information Systems has announced the recall of some 1,400 Sony batteries used in its Satellite and Tecra notebook range.
HTC doesn't seem to be running short of ideas for smart phone concepts. It's rumoured the manufacturer has developed a new touchscreen handset and that it could also be working on a separate slider smartphone.
Chuck out your thermals: global warming is coming, and it isn't waiting for 2100. A new climate model predicts that by the end of this decade, there is an even chance that global temperatures will be hotter than 1998, the warmest year on record. The model, developed by scientists at the Met Office in the UK, suggests that the next couple of years will see temperatures stall, but after 2009, the thermostat will go up. It is the first climate model capable of making useful* short range predictions. The hope is that by thinking of climate change on a more short term basis, the researchers will be able to make useful predictions about likely extreme weather events such as floods and droughts a year or two in advance. This would give governments and other agencies time to prepare. The model allows researchers to look at the predicted rise in global temperatures for the finer details - the wobbles above and below the steadily increasing trend-line. For example: 1998 was a record breakingly hot year. But it was also an El Nino year, and the effect of that current shifting should be accounted for. The Decadal Climate Prediction System is based on a well-established model that was used to make predictions about climate over the course of the next century for the IPCC's most recent report. The boffins have taken into account ocean currents, such as the El Nino system, which they say have more of an influence on weather (vs. climate) in the short term. By including information about the state of the oceans and the atmosphere, the researchers can predict how these naturally shifting phenomena will affect the planet's climate. So, what is the outlook? For the next two years, we can expect these systems to keep a lid on the heat. Nevertheless, the team said overall temperatures would rise, and the further into the future the model looks, the better the odds of a record breaking year. By 2014, they say global temperatures will be up by a third of a degree. Dr Doug Smith, a climate scientist at the Hadley Centre and lead author of a paper published in Science, told the BBC: "We start with the present state of the ocean, and we try to predict how it is going to evolve." ® *Well, predictions whose usefulness is still to be determined, really. But at least we'll be able to test it reasonably soon.
Summer FunSummer Fun There's something about Google and news. Nothing brings out the autistic side of Google's corporate personality more than answering criticism about its handling of news material. Defending the service we see all the company's less attractive characteristics magnified: its utopian faith in the power of its algorithms, its cloth-eared obliviousness to objections, and its infantile and cloying belief that whatever it's doing is doing the world a huge favour. They're all there. Google News brings out yet another unsavoury characteristic too: the notion that whatever its algorithms may do, its staff are in no way responsible for them. It's thanks to your reporter that Google News today tags corporate Press Releases as such. When The Register first noticed that Google had introduced the practice of slipping PR matter into the news stream in 2003, the company at first said it didn't, then claimed it was a jolly good thing that we not only wanted, but actually needed. Since then, when faced with questions of systemic bias, Google has responded in a consistent way. It likes to claim that Huge, Ever Growing Pulsating Brain that's responsible for making these value judgement calls cannot be tampered with, and employees are merely there to polish the machines. Now, in the biggest development since the launch of the service, Google is to introduce a Comments facility to its Google News aggregator. It's a special kind of Comments section, however: only those "participants" in a story can respond. This is a particularly American answer to a specifically American "problem". After a promising start at the birth of the Republic, journalists grew weary of being beaten up by tycoons and magnates at every turn, and turned to the trappings of professionalism and to the Holy Grail of "objectivity" in defence. As Bruce Page wrote in The Murdoch Archipelago: "'Objective Journalism' was a specifically American outcome - an almost pedantic collating of alternative viewpoints with estimates of their relative values forbidden." This, Page noted, resulted in "a mechanistic 'objectivity' almost steganographic in character, with sheets of editorial boilerplate obscuring any gleam of judgement". Promising material for a computer scientist's algorithm, then, you'd think. Instead of "fixing the News", by perhaps producing some of its own, Google is offering to make the processes of reading non-news more mechanically efficient. It can't fail. To put this to the test, we've imagined how great moments in history may have looked if the Google News aggregator (with added Comments) was in operation. If you can do better, and you surely can, please submit an example by email (send email here). Extra points will be gained by presenting it with Google-News style HTML formatting, or as a "screengrab". We're taking a breather Yesterday's perfidious report on the French forces under my command contained several inaccuracies. It may be true that our incursions into Moscow have been temporarily suspended. But this is because I have permitted the victorious Imperial forces a few days off to go mushroom picking. To suggest this is a full scale "retreat" is nothing more than Prussian propaganda. Be careful - you may be next, mon beer-swilling freres. Emperor Napoleon I Posted by: corsica_rules October 18 1812 Gonzalez lost his contact lens We deeply resent the insinuations in Alfred E Lewis' report entitled 5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats' Office published by the Washington Post yesterday. Several random members of the public who had never met before and who I'd never heard of had indeed gathered at the Watergate Buildings at 2600 Virginia Avenue by kind inviation of the Democratic National Committee to watch a baseball game. One of these, Mr Gonzalez, had later returned to retrieve several items belonging to him that he'd left behind - including a lost contact lens, and a bottle of Havana Club which, for safe keeping, he had temporarily placed in a filing cabinet. The men were let in by a member of the building's cleaning staff who had fallen asleep under a table, and who unfortunately no one has seen since. The group got carried away and took pictures of Mr Gonzalez reuinted with his contact lens. In no way have I ever heard of these gentlemen or the Campaign for the Re-election of the President, whatever that might be. John Dean, Attorney General, White House Posted by: Deano Monday June 19 1972 you COMMUNISTS dont even know what a KILOBYTE IS!!! i can't believe this crap im getting about the 640kb ceiling in the new operating system we invented pcdos thats more than you hobbyists will be able to address for years with ur shitty tools like vi and sed id like to see a *nix editor take up even one tenth that so quit whining anyway if they ever invent a 1mb memory chip we need the other 384kb for ourselves cu on digg William Henry Gates III Posted by: billg August 31 1981 Now let's hear your "right to replies..." Click here to submit yours.
A dodgy spam definition update from Cloudmark has crashed users' email clients.
The boss of a British website design firm has received a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to hacking into a competitor's website.
LinuxWorldLinuxWorld It's becoming easier and easier to spot start-ups likely to fail. Take, for example, FastScale. This company's marketing team has done what you might think impossible by missing the point of a tradeshow. Officials at FastScale's LinuxWorld booth refused to give me a demo on their software, arguing that they don't really do that for reporters. "We're kind of anal about our presentations," one Fastscale representative told us. No kidding.
An American family just sold the stain on the floor of their garage for more than $1500. This may or may not be a sign from God. According to the The Associated Press, the stain looks like Jesus Christ. To us, it looks like a stain. Smudge on a driveway in Virginia After noticing some driveway sealant on the floor of their home garage, the Forest, Virginia family snapped a photo and chucked it onto the world's most popular auction site. A week later, another Virgina resident paid $1,525.69 for the sealant smudge - and the hunk of concrete beneath it. "I really never thought I'd get any [money], to be honest," said seller Deb Serio, a high school teacher who's received hundreds of messages about the smudge from around the world. "It's fun to see what people say and think about it." What does she think about it? She thinks it's a smudge, not a miracle. "There are some people who need this kind of thing to sort of start them on their faith journey. I don't," said the practicing Lutheran. "That's why I don't mind parting with it." The Reg can safely say that America is a country driven by two things: cash and Christianity. ®
Meat CastMeat Cast Semi-Coherent Computing goes penguintastic this week as I hit the LinuxWorld tradeshow in search of data center justice. Rather than the usual long-form type show with one guest, I've interviewed five people at the conference for your listening pleasure. I tried to cover a wide range of topics with the guests, including the major news at the show, the general vibe and some technology you may not have encountered just yet. The show kicks off with Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff, who bribed me with a beer before our interview session. I promised to pimp Illuminata's Perspectives in exchange for the booze, so here you go. Also in the show, you'll find BMC's Will Hurley talking about a Web 2.-fueled summer camp for systems management vendors, VNUnet's Tom Sanders telling us why LinuxWorld stinks and some friendly-propaganda from both Scalent Systems and SteelEye. FastScale could have made the show, but its workers were too busy boycotting attention - nice call, guys. Chris Hipp missed this round of SCC - code-named When Penguins Cry - but will return next week when we tackle data center efficiency with Rumsey Engineers. If you're a vendor with green computing on the mind and want to sponsor this show, you know where to reach me (and subsequently the thousands of people tuning into this program). Semi-Coherent Computing - Episode Four - When Penguins Cry You can grab the show from iTunes here or subscribe to the show via this feed. 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.®
The Pirates have touched down in the American desert, determined to protect the freedoms of internet users everywhere. Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting "statements of support," needing 200 voter signatures for official registration. As the U.S.-based arm of a worldwide "Pirate" movement, which now spans 14 countries across the globe, the party seeks a government that will "encourage, rather than smother, creativity and freedom." In other words, it gets very angry when the RIAA cracks down on people who swap songs over internet P2P services. "Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process," Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg. He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. "Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago," Jenson said. "Number one on the list is the RIAA's litigation" against P2P services and the people who use them. Jenson pointed to a well-known suit in Oregon, where the RIAA accused a disabled single mother of downloading gangster rap from Kazaa and insisted on deposing her ten-year-old daughter. Tanya Anderson denied using Kazaa and filed a counter-suit, claiming that the trade group illegally spied on her computer and pushed ahead with its suit even after it learned she was innocent. The RIAA eventually dismissed the case. "These people are completely acting outside the bounds of ethics," Jenson said. "They're eroding freedom of speech even as they claim to uphold it. In the end, it's all about the bottom line." But the Pirates claim they're not really pirates. They do not "support nor condone any unlawful distribution of copyrighted works." Which begs the question, "Why do they call themselves Pirates?" "We want these organizations to misconstrue our name. We can use that to our advantage," Jenson explained. "Then we can say, 'Well, you're misconstruing the constitution.'" ®