23rd > August > 2007 Archive

Sonnet intros Firewire+USB, 12-in-1 card reader ExpressCards

Mac accessory specialist Sonnet Technologies has rolled out a pair of ExpressCard add-ins: a 12-in-one memory card reader for one, and a USB 2 and Firewire port adaptor for the other.
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2007
5

UK IP office offers trade mark guidance

The UK Intellectual Property Office will be offering advice and practical help on forthcoming changes to the Trade Marks Act in a series of events being held around the country in September. The reforms take effect on 1 October 2007 and reduce the number of cases in which the Trade Marks Registry will oppose a trade mark application. It will no longer oppose marks which conflict with prior registrations. The holders of prior marks will have to object themselves. The changes were contained in the Trade Marks (Relative Grounds) Order. The practical impact is that holders of international and Community Trade Marks (CTMs) will have to be more vigilant about trade mark applications in the UK. Each UKIPO event will last for around two hours and will include a presentation focusing on the trade mark system and the impact of the changes to legislation. The event will conclude with a question and answer session. "These changes affect every trade mark applicant and holder, and the office is keen to ensure that as many of our customers are made aware of the change in our procedures," said Robin Webb, director of trade marks at the UKIPO. The UKIPO events take place in London on 3 and 4 September, Birmingham on 7 September, Manchester on 10 September, Newport, South Wales on 11 September, Leeds 14 September and Glasgow on 17 September. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Aug 2007
7

Apple readies Mac OS X-based iPods?

Apple's iPod line-up will be revamped next month, it has been claimed, and the biggest change of all will be the replacement of the players' operating system with a version of Mac OS X, as per the iPhone.
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2007
40

Tidal power project fails to start on schedule

The UK's first working tidal power project, which was supposed to begin construction this week, has suffered a delay. Marine Current Turbines (MCT), a Bristol-based company developing tidal power machinery, had planned to commence installation of its initial SeaGen system in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. However, the specialist barge needed to plant the turbine tower in the seabed is unavailable, and the project has been put on hold. A SeaGen tide farm - one unit raised for maintenance. SeaGen turbines are basically simple propellors, mounted in pairs on a heavy pile sunk into the seabed. The big props are driven by fast-flowing tides, generating potentially useful amounts of electricity. Underwater maintenance is expensive even in benign conditions and prohibitively difficult in fast tides, so the propellor assemblies are designed to be raised out of the water for maintenance or repairs. MCT says the turbine blades spin slowly enough that they won't be a threat to sea life, and the company extols the zero-carbon, environmentally friendly nature of its power. The company, whose shareholders and partners include venture capitalists, offshore engineering concerns, and power companies, receives substantial government funding for its ongoing research programme, in line with the UK's aims of reducing carbon emissions. The tidal power engineers reckon they need more than five knots of flow at peak spring tides and 20 to 30 metres depth to be viable. They say their plan for renewable juice is superior to others because the energy produced is "as predictable as the tides... unlike wind or wave energy which respond to the more random quirks of the weather system" - an argument which could apply equally to solar power in the UK, too. Solar, wind and wave power are often criticised because they need standby generators - presumably hydrocarbon or nuclear fuelled - in place to cover inevitable power drops during calm and/or cloudy weather. Power in national-grid quantities is very hard to store meaningfully - it normally has to be generated as needed (unless you want to get into drawing juice from the millions of plug-in hybrids that might be parked at the time; though this will mean a lot of them burning petrol later that they otherwise wouldn't have, so you've still effectively used a hydrocarbon standby). The tidal lads, though, are being a bit naughty here in suggesting that they wouldn't need standby generators like wind, sun etc. Even though their SeaGen submarine windmill works with the tide going both ways, it won't produce a steady, reliable flow of power. Every seaman knows the "rule of twelfths" which says that in the hour after high tide one-twelfth of the total water will flow back out; the next hour two-twelfths; then three; then three; then two; then the final twelfth, until low tide is reached approximately six hours later. That's just a rule of thumb, but it's a fairly good one. Tidal turbines are going to vary from zero output at slack water to maximum when the flood and ebb are flowing at full speed; and the peak flow will vary between spring and neap tides too. The tidal turbine will operate on average at well under 50 per cent of what it must be built to take, and will dip to nothing four times every day. In other words, it will need full standby from somewhere, just like wind, wave and solar; and it will have to be inefficiently overengineered, just like them and unlike hydrocarbon or nuclear plants, which hatefully run at 90 per cent of max cap or better year after year. There's also a question of costs. MCT reckons the Strangford Lough SeaGen project will cost £8.5m and is rated for 1 megawatt - one would hope this is average rather than maximum output. Consumers pay about 10p per kilowatt-hour for their juice in the UK, but some of that reflects transmission losses and costs, not to mention profit margins. Being generous and saying that a generation facility might get 5p of revenue per kilowatt hour at the point of grid connection, SeaGen might make an average of £50 per hour - if indeed the 1MW rating is average. If that figure is a maximum it might rake in £20/hour tops over time. At the optimistic rate, assuming it costs absolutely nothing to run - obviously not true - it will have only just paid for itself when it wears out after its predicted life of 20 years. Or, to put it another way, it makes no commercial sense at all, barring a massive electricity price hike or equivalent government subsidy (paid by taxpayers - so a targeted price hike on those whose tax bills are a large part of their income - you and me, that is). Of course, SeaGen is a pilot project, and the figures can be expected to improve in future - but it's already had the benefit of an earlier pilot, the £3.4m, 300kW SeaFlow off North Devon. New Scientist spoke to Professor Dave Elliott, a renewables guru at the Open University. "Of the 60-odd [tidal power] projects I've seen, this seems like the best," he said. "The straightforward underwater propeller seems like the winner." Elliott reckoned tidal and wave power could eventually provide between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the UK's electricity needs. Maybe so, but we'll need backup hydrocarbon or nuclear for pretty much all of that, and the increased electricity bill - or tax bill, or some bill - will be a big old pillow to bite. ®
Lewis Page, 23 Aug 2007
6

Foxy Brown hauled off to jail

Foxy Brown is today languishing in jail after a Manhattan judge yesterday revoked her probation for "violating the terms of her release" following an alleged BlackBerry assault on a neighbour, Yahoo! reports.
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2007
9

Wrinkly, faulty geology uncovered on the moon

High resolution images sent back by ESA's SMART-1 lunar probe are helping scientists piece together the geological and volcanic history of the Moon.
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2007
channel
66

Stolen satnav guides thieves to owner's home

Police have warned drivers not to leave their journey home programmed into their satnav systems following the theft of a device from a car at Alton Towers theme park which directed ne'er-do-wells to the owner's Shropshire home where they promptly made off with a £20k Saab convertible.
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2007
Nokia
5

Microsoft and Nokia team up for Windows Live

Nokia, in conjunction with Microsoft, has released a version of Windows Live for its Series 60 handsets, with Series 40 to follow next year. The deal gives punters easy access to Windows Messenger, Hotmail, Contacts and Spaces, without so much as a nod to the network operators.
Bill Ray, 23 Aug 2007
intel new logos - artists impression
5

Intel shakes up multi-core chip branding

So farewell then, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad: come 1 January 2008 you will be no more, leaked Intel presentation slides reveal. The Centrino Duo and Pro brands are out too, it seems.
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2007
13

Astronauts bring space-grown bugs home

The crew of the space shuttle Endeavour has arrived back on Earth safe and sound, but not alone. The astronauts have brought a raging case of strep with them. Well, not so much a case, as sealed containers of space grown Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The cargo is being shipped to the University of Texas' microbiology and immunology department for analysis. Department chairman David Niesel was on the runway when the shuttle touched down, ready to take possession of the bacteria. Niesel and his colleagues want to try to work out how the bacteria change in microgravity, and determine whether or not the bacteria could pose a threat to a crew on a long space flight. Streptococcus pneumoniae is known as an opportunistic bacterium: that is to say that most of the time it is harmless, but will readily exploit a host's weakness and trigger a full-blown disease. "Strep pneumoniae is a very potent pathogen in people who are immunosuppressed - it's the number-one cause of community-acquired pneumonia, and a leading mediator of bacteremia [bacterial blood infections] and meningitis," Niesel said. "There's a decline in people's immune function the longer they're in the space environment, and it's been shown that other bacteria also alter their properties in microgravity - they grow faster, they tend to be more virulent and resistant to microbial treatment." The crew carried one of two sets of bacterial cultures with them to the international space station. Another sample was kept on Earth. Both sets of bacteria were exposed to exactly the same conditions, except for the microgravity, Niesel said, with the timings of changes to the bacteria's environments synchronised to the minute. "Now we have two snapshots of the bacteria frozen in time, grown with the same parameters except the microgravity part, and we should be able to see the differences that result when the bacteria see this unique space environment." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2007
Cybershot_H3_SM
1

Sony intros smallest 'high-zoom' digital SLR-alike

Sony's Cyber-shot digital camera range shows no signs of expanding - at least in physical dimensions that is. The H3 is the manufacturer's smallest ever digicam with a 10x optical zoom, but packs in an 8.1-megapixel lens and an output mode to display images on HD Ready displays.
James Sherwood, 23 Aug 2007
Sony PlayStation 3
22

Sony unveils PlayTV telly tuner for PS3

Sony has unveiled its forecast TV tuner for the PlayStation 3, enabling users in Europe to record and watch digital TV on their games console, Sky+ style.
Scott Snowden, 23 Aug 2007
12

Ofcom: the internet is for coffin dodgers and girls

The unstoppable rise of the internet as the umbrella medium for communications and entertainment is gathering steam, according to Ofcom's annual industry report. Across the whole population we're spending on average 36 minutes online every day - a 158 per cent increase on 2002. The 16 per cent of over-65s who surf manage to clock up an average of 42 hours a week. There's been a shift towards a more feminine internet too, particularly among the advertiser sweetspot of 25 to 34-year olds. In this age group 55 per cent of hours online are spent by women. Pensioners who use the web are online more than any other age group. More than three quarters of 11-year-olds have their own TV, mobile phone and games console, and seven per cent of 10-year-olds have a webcam for some reason. Elsewere, the report talks up a digital boom in Britain, and so Ofcom's importance as a watchdog. The average household actually spent less on communications services in 2006 - £92.65 per month - compared to £94.03 in 2005. Ofcom reckons this means consumers are getting more from the outlay by increased use of VoIP cutting phone bills and 40 per cent of the population saving on bundled services. At April 2007 53 per cent of homes had a broadband line. The rise of ADSL is noted in the report: cable broadband now accounts for only 23.5 per cent of the market, compared to more than half in 2002. Average headline download speeds in the last year have doubled to 4.6MBit/s this June. Unbundled lines accounted for nine per cent of connections in March this year, a threefold increase in 12 months. The tenuous link most advertised broadband speeds have with reality is recognised by the authors, though: "UK operators do not currently seem to see a business case for rapid investment in access networks which can deliver higher speed residential services, such as fibre to the home (FTTH) or fibre to the cabinet." BT's recent announcement it would deploy FTTH in newbuild sites could be a sign of that changing, they optimistically note. The report should give TV execs pause for thought. Advertising revenues fell last year for the first time since 2002. Nearly 80 per cent of PVR owners are using the kit to fast forward through ads and overall time spent watching TV dipped by four per cent on 2005 to an average of three hours 36 minutes daily. The whole 330 page tome is here. ®
Christopher Williams, 23 Aug 2007

Toshiba to launch 32GB SDHC card next year

Toshiba has announced what it claims - and it certainly looks that way from where we're sitting - is the world's first 32GB SDHC memory card. The catch: you'll have to wait until January 2008 for it.
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2007
Seagate logo
15

Seagate to start shifting SSDs

The CEO of hard disk drive (HDD) maker Seagate Technology has declared the firm's intention to enter the Flash memory market. Bill Watkins said in an interview with CNET that Seagate will begin shifting solid-state drives (SSD) based on Flash memory chip technology from next year.
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Aug 2007
1

Hackers prowl for Trend Micro vuln

Hackers have begun actively scanning for recently announced vulnerabilities in Trend Micro's ServerProtect product. Security watchers at the Internet Storm Centre (ISC) have noted a huge upsurge of traffic on TCP port 5168, associated with security bugs in ServerProtect (an enterprise software product designed to protect servers and storage attacks).
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2007
T200andT70_SM
4

Sony claims cameras able to 'see for smiles'

Researchers in Sony's digital camera labs must be suffering from aching jaws after developing its new Cyber-shot T200 and T70 cameras. The new snappers sport a smile mode that recognises grinning subjects and then automatically takes a shot, ensuring your album will only feature pearly white choppers from now on.
James Sherwood, 23 Aug 2007

3 confirms tenner-a-month data deal

Table of 3's mobile broadband tariffs, to be launched on 3 September. UK mobile operator 3 has officially disclosed details of its new tenner-a-month data deal for laptop users. Our story on Monday prompted punters to call the 3 sales line, only to be answered by reps who didn't know anything about it as the new tariffs had yet to be announced, and they had yet to be briefed. Well, the service goes live on 3 September with a phased roll out: Londoners inside the North Circular, England north of Birmingham, Scotland, and Ireland get access first, but by December the operator estimates 85 per cent of the UK population should be covered. It's 2.8Mbit/s HSDPA (what 3 calls "3Turbo"), and the prices are as we reported earlier this week. The Broadband Lite package starts at a tenner a month for 1GB (10p/1MB over), Broadband Plus at £15 a month gets you a 3GB bucket, and Broadband Max costs £25 a month for 7GB. The 1GB deal throws in an additional 280 text emails, 80 music downloads, and 20 hours of video streaming. The price of the USB dongle with which you access the network varies according to length of contract, the data plan you choose, and whether or not you're an existing 3 customer. It's free for all existing customers who take out 18 or 24 month contracts, for example, regardless of the plan. It's also free for new customers who take out the Plus and Max plans for 24 months. New customers otherwise pay between £29 and £99 for the dongle. Or you can just buy the dongle outright for £99. This, and 3's sales pitch that data is "not just [for] men in grey suits", indicates that it's making a broad pitch for "pro-sumers" rather than business users. The aggressive tariff undercuts T-Mobile's Web'n'Walk Plus plans, which offer laptop users "Unlimited*" web access via USB dongle or data card for £29 or £44 a month. Of course, adding Web'n'Walk to your phone costs only £7.50 a month, but the Fair Use policy explicitly states: "We do not permit use of this service to provide modem access for a computer or for peer to peer file sharing, internet phone calls or instant messaging. " Not that anyone does. No, sir. ® Bootnotes Finlay Dobbie points out: "You can add web'n'walk plus to your phone tariff for £12.50/month, then you can use your phone as a modem for your laptop. Which is cheaper than 3's forthcoming "Broadband Plus", just!" Michael J adds: "Hopefully they will at least tell you when you are getting close to the gigabyte. It may be that my days of smirking when other people in their cafes look at me curiously because my laptop is connected to the internet and theirs aren't are nearing their end." Declan in Eire hopes the service is better than 3's in the Republic: "There are over 1,000 posts in this thread regarding 3 Ireland's appalling service... Constant outages, wildly fluctuating speeds, no SMTP server..." No SMTP server?
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Aug 2007

August is great for holidays but it's no damn good for song titles

If you look it up on Wikipedia - the great reference source for people who can't be bothered trying to learn about anything - you'll find there's very little of interest about August. That's probably why so many people go on holiday during the month.
Billy MacInnes, 23 Aug 2007
Egg
32

Egg.com server cracks

UpdatedUpdated Online banking service Egg.com is currently unavailable to its customers and the firm is pointing the finger of blame at telecoms provider Cable and Wireless (C&W).
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Aug 2007

Intel said to have roadmapped 11 mobile Penryn processors

Intel will launch five 45nm laptop processors based on its 'Penryn' chip design it has been claimed, with a further three coming when the chip giant introduces the next generation of Centrino, codenamed 'Montevina'.
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2007
39

PlusNet blasts email into blackhole (again)

PlusNet, the terminally scatterbrained ISP, has permanently deleted customers' email again after it bungled the installation of an anti-spam appliance, it admitted this morning.
Christopher Williams, 23 Aug 2007
7

Enceladus' icy threat to Cassini

The Cassini spacecraft could be at risk of damage when it makes its next closest approach to the moon Enceladus. Mission managers have warned that the larger particles of dust and ice emanating from the southern pole of Enceladus pose a real threat to the craft. Enceladus, and all that dust. Credit: Ciclops The craft is due to pass the Moon next March, when it is scheduled to take a closer look at the jets of material. It might even pass directly through the jets. Analysis of data from the last fly by, back in 2005, suggests that the average particle in the plumes is much much smaller than anything that could damage the craft. But researchers are now working to determine whether or not the pressure of the jets would be sufficient to throw larger particles into the path of the spacecraft. Larry Esposito, a researcher at the University of Colorado, told Reuters: "These plumes were only discovered two years ago and we are just beginning to understand the mechanisms that cause them. A grain of ice or dust less than two millimetres across could cause significant damage to the Cassini spacecraft if it impacted with a sensitive area." Speaking at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany, Esposito said calculations suggested the chance of a dangerous collision was about one in 500. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2007
11

Is US Army ordering robot spy blimp?

The US Army seems to be moving to acquire a robotic spy blimp, able to float high in the sky for lengthy periods and monitor activities on the ground below. According to a routine Pentagon summary dated yesterday, Telford Aviation of Dothan, Alabama was awarded an $11,195,164 contract for "operational support for Medium Airborne Reconnaissance Surveillance Systems." The contract was awarded by the US Army's Communications-Electronics Command. Unmanned Spy Blimp. Credit: Telford Aviation. Telford Aviation is a company which provides leased aircraft, maintenance and parts to the civilian market. It's central operations are based in Maine: but it also has a "Government Programs" arm based in Dothan, Alabama. The Telford Government Programs office webpage has a section titled "Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)," under which it says: "Today Telford Aviation provides all operational support for a 30,000 cubic foot airship and is part of a research and development team developing a 80,000 cubic foot airship designed for counter terrorism, port security and border patrol. Telford Aviation expects to build and operate this system within the near future." The 30,000-cubic-foot ship is presumably the unmanned Skybus 30K, whose consortium of producers is headed by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the well-connected behemoth government tech provider. The Skybus 30K is described as a "testing and demonstration platform for a series of large airships," and was developed by SAIC and Telford at the Loring UAS Test Centre in Maine under a Navy contract. It was given an experimental FAA airworthiness certificate last month. SAIC says that the Skybus "can loiter for 30 to 40 hours, can travel up to 35 knots, and has faint visual, radar, infrared, and acoustic signatures." The Loring Development Activity, the business park operating on the old Loring airforce base, says that the Skybus "has the potential to support military surveillance operations." Putting all this together, it seems clear that the US Army's "Medium Airborne Reconnaissance Surveillance Systems" - not a term it normally uses - will be robot spy airships intended for ground surveillance. The US Army already operates tethered aerostat balloons for this purpose, and has previously trialled manned blimps. But now it appears to be moving forward with self-propelled robot aircraft. One might hope that the Army's interest is in spying on Iraqi insurgents and Taliban gunmen, using cheap-to-run airships which can lurk in the sky for days on end above the range of handheld anti-aircraft missiles. The manned airship in the 2004 trials was said to be able to comfortably exceed 10,000 feet if required, which would keep it safe from shoulder-launched missiles even if they could lock on to its feeble signatures. "The airship platform can provide a clear and detailed view of the activity on the streets below and yet stay out of the range of many weapon systems," according to a contractor involved in that trial. "The military could fly a controlled, quiet orbit over an area like Fallujah, day or night, and be able to locate insurgents placing explosive devices or setting up ambushes," added another. But other US government customers could fly a nice quiet orbit over other areas closer to home, too. SAIC thinks its baby would be good for "a variety of security and intelligence operations including border patrol, port security, survivor search, wildlife management and sports event monitoring." Of course, a blimp isn't all that different from police helicopters or - if you're very important to the Yanks - spy satellites, that we're all quite used to being watched by. If we live in Southwest Asia, we're also quite accustomed to a variety of robot planes too. But it costs like crazy to monitor people from above with most of those - especiually for any sustained period - and in many cases a target will know that the spy platform is there. (Even secret spy satellites are often tracked by enthusiastic amateurs.) Robo-blimps, by contrast, should be cheap, persistent and quiet, very hard to notice at night, and thus could bring with them an explosion in aerial spying activity. Analysts have been predicting their advent for some time. It appears that the day may be here.®
Lewis Page, 23 Aug 2007
2

Google enjoys summer of mobility

Google's vice president of search products, Marissa Mayer, has revealed a jump in mobile access to Google's services during May and June; a time when traffic usually drops off as users go on holiday. Google Maps has done particularly well, with the iPhone launch increasing traffic by almost 50% at the end of June. Google Maps has a huge hey-look-at-this factor, which quickly drops off once all the user's friends have been impressed (or politely pretended to be), so it remains to be seen how much of that traffic is sustainable. But access to GMail from mobiles also increased over the summer, as well as basic searching. The tens of millions of mobile searches daily are still only a drop in the ocean compared to desktop traffic, but an increasing one; and on a platform that Google, and others, are keen to make their own. Most of this is down to improved mobile capabilities, as well as better interfaces and improving data charges, the combination of which is starting to make the internet properly accessible on the move.
Bill Ray, 23 Aug 2007
AOL
7

AOL ID thief faces 7 years

A 23 year-old faces up to seven years imprisonment after pleading guilty to targeting AOL members via an elaborate and long running phishing scam.
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2007
SAP
1

SAP to show some A1S at last

After much talk, and with expectations growing, SAP has pledged a long awaited, "comprehensive update" on its planned A1S on-demand applications suite.
Gavin Clarke, 23 Aug 2007
channel
13

Broadband over power turns on both sides of the Atlantic

Sending broadband signals over electricity cable has always confused people. The Home Plug Alliance, began life offering a way of sending broadband signals around a home, and then started working on ways to bring broadband to the home with a related technology, while the Universal Powerline Association sort of did the opposite, developing strategies and components that could transmit 200 Mbps broadband signals in the low and mid voltage segments of power networks, but just as easily sending those signals around a home with the same or similar components.
Faultline, 23 Aug 2007
8

Xbox 360 Halo 3 kick-ass console priced

Amid the increasing interest in the Xbox 360 Elite UK launch tomorrow, pricing details and technical specifications for the Halo 3 special edition console - first seen back in July - have finally been released.
Scott Snowden, 23 Aug 2007
motoq_SM

Motorola tunes up the Q

Motorola has unveiled its latest handset Q-series handset, the Q Music 9m. The handset is a fusion of Treo and Blackberry looks, and an update to its original Q model targeted directly at mobile music lovers looking for plenty of storage and multimedia capabilities.
James Sherwood, 23 Aug 2007
Yoga_SM
2

Yoga rug gets hi-tech overhaul

There aren't many - or even any - yoga-buffs at Register Hardware. We always thought it pushed us too far outside of our IT comfort zone - until now. A design concept for a 21st Century yoga mat has been created, incorporating music, video and even conferencing facilities - but no mini-bar.
James Sherwood, 23 Aug 2007
Eclipse_SM
4

Eclipse's audio kit promises 'unstylish' music

The key to designing a stylish desktop speaker system is to not even consider style in the design. Apparently. So says manufacturer Eclipse, which claims there's no "styling" in its latest rig, only functionality.
James Sherwood, 23 Aug 2007

Cargo Cult Communicator stalls on runway

Production of Nokia's troubled E90 "Communicator" has been halted, the company has confirmed to Dutch trade paper Telecom. The device has been plagued by small production problems, but one rather larger design problem. Early adopters, some of whom have paid over $1,000 for the latest incarnation of the "brick", have complained about dust getting behind the fascia, and uneven feet (that's the phone's rubber feet, rather than their own).
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Aug 2007
For Sale sign detail
25

Hotmail hack punts person in peril scam

The Lads from Lagos have apparently expanded their repertoire to incorporate hacking into Hotmail accounts.
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2007
EU flag
9

EC accuses Rambus of 'patent ambush'

The European Commission has confirmed formal "patent ambush" charges against US memory chip designer Rambus.
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Aug 2007
Java
18

Sun boots workstation roots in favor of JAVA ticker

In a rather odd marketing ploy, Sun Microsystems will change its ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA. The ticker switch takes hold next Monday on the NASDAQ exchange. We're not sure what the flip gives Sun other than a constant reminder that it's the company behind Java. Sun already drives that point home pretty well - every chance it gets.
Ashlee Vance, 23 Aug 2007

VIA shows 1W x86 CPU

VIA has pledged to provide a version of its Eden x86-compatible processor that consumes just 1W when running flat out at 500MHz. Idling, the chip eats up a tenth of that total, making it what VIA claimed was "the world's most power-efficient x86 CPU".
Hard Reg, 23 Aug 2007
1

Datanet downed by power outage

Datanet, the UK business ISP, suffered a power outage in of its server racks this morning which crocked its customers' internet access and email for most of the day. MD Conlema McCallan said the failure affected the power distribution circuit, rendering the rack's uninterruptible power supply useless. The glitch has affected the "vast majority" of Datanet's customers, he said. When the servers were rebooted errors were raised, so engineers at the Heathrow site, operated by IX Europe, decided to rebuild the filesystem from scratch rather than apply a "quick fix". The aim is to ensure that no queued email is lost, which so far seems to be the case, McCallan said. Email should start coming through in the next one to two hours. Datanet operates service level agreements that have been breached by the outage. ®
Christopher Williams, 23 Aug 2007
22

DARPA looking to kickstart raygun tech

Rayguns are, um, on fire lately, with the US Army dishing out early contracts in its monster truck laser cannon race, Boeing planning a rather unimpressive blaster-equipped Humvee and the famous American nuke-toasting jumbo jet continuing to make headlines. Now the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon war-nerd bureau which loves nothing better than a long shot, has joined in. In a solicitation (pdf) issued on Tuesday, the military boffins are looking for nothing less than "a Revolution in Fibre Lasers (RIFL)". Fibre lasers are one of the types of solid-state laser, as opposed to chemically fuelled ones not usually seen as practical for mounting in anything but cargo planes. Fibre lasers generate a coherent beam using a specially made optical fibre, usually (in higher power applications) with cladding layers wrapped around the central core. American arms giant Raytheon, working with the US forces and Sandia National Lab, told Wired magazine it has used a bundle of fibre lasers with a total strength of 20 kilowatts to explode mortar bombs very quickly in tests - so quickly that it might be possible to build a system that could shoot down enemy salvos in mid-air. Most raygun fanciers, though, reckon that 100kW is the minimum for a proper blaster cannon which would be fun to have. Off-the-shelf combinable fibre laser amplifiers are currently limited to 200 watts each, according to DARPA: and it wants to push this up to 1kW to start with, then to 3KW in the next phase. That would mean a Raytheon/Sandia style bundle would scale up to 100kW or even 300kW, well into the proper-deathray range. The DARPA chaps, though - perhaps upset by people calling them mad scientists - try to avoid talking about blaster guns too much. They say: "High power fiber laser amplifiers that can be coherently combined will enable a broad spectrum of military applications ..." Oh really. Such as? Well, "...more effective [laser communications], target search and track, target identification..." Come on, out with it. You know you want to. Finally the boffins admit that what they're really after is "...ultimately, high power laser weapons". They reckon that if RIFL achieves its goals it will be possible to make laser weapons that weigh less than 5kg per kilowatt of power. Let's try out a few figures, then. An Accuracy International .50-calibre rifle - a massive brute, good for shooting through truck engines - weighs 15kg loaded. Instead of that you could carry a blaster weapon which might deliver 3 kilowatts to an enemy soldier. Depending on beam characteristics, atmosphere etc. that might be somewhat like pressing a steam iron against him. Nasty, but in the end you'd probably rather have the ordinary rifle. Boeing's raygun-toting Humvee, though, could probably deliver full-on 100kW beams with this sort of gear - and so shoot down enemy shells or mortar bombs at light speed. The massive army-lorry blaster-cannon project - or naval warship installations - should be able to put out megawatts, and zap planes or missiles out of the sky as soon as they rose above the horizon - perhaps changing the whole game. Still, it's important to remember that DARPA projects don't normally pan out.®
Lewis Page, 23 Aug 2007

Ingres breaks ice with JasperSoft

Ingres has rolled out its first software appliance using the Icebreaker open source chimera developed with start-up rPath. The database company has released the Icebreaker BI Appliance, integrating its Ingres 2006 database with rPath Linux and business intelligence tools from JasperSoft.
Gavin Clarke, 23 Aug 2007
1

Yahoo! Buys! German! Mobile! Ad! Company!

In the ongoing war for online ad dollars, Yahoo! has acquired Actionality, a German firm that specializes in mobile advertising. "We can confirm the acquisition of Actionality as part of Yahoo!'s ongoing focus on becoming #1 in mobile advertising," said a company spokeswoman. "Actionality’s team and technology will enable Yahoo! to continue to grow our early and strong leadership position in mobile advertising." The Munich-based Actionality offers technology that splices ads into handheld games and other content specifically designed for mobile devices, including cell phones. The company didn't respond to a request for comment, but we can report that it considers itself "your exclusive source for efficient and effective mobile marketing technologies and solutions." "Imagine having the opportunity to automatically place rich-media mobile commercials into any mobile content which your target audience uses. Actionality makes this possibility a reality," reads the company's web site. "Actionality focuses on providing you with the opportunity to redefine mobile marketing and how mobile content is branded, distributed, and monetized." Since the New Year, Yahoo! has done its best to keep pace in the rapidly-growing mobile market. In January, it introduced Yahoo! Go 2.0, a full suite of mobile services, as well as a new mobile search engine: oneSearch. Then, over the next two months, the company unveiled its own platform for mobile display ads and a new suite of back-end tools for advertisers, known as Yahoo! Mobile Publisher Services. Yahoo! Go 2.0 shrugged off its beta tag in the U.S. at the end of June, and the company is now offering specialized beta versions in 13 countries across the globe. But arch-rival Google has grabbed an early lead in the mobile market, thanks to the ample mind share it already owns on the desktop. According to the latest numbers from research firm M:Metrics, Google is the most-visited mobile destination in the U.S., reaching 62.48 per cent of the market, while Yahoo! reaches only 33.54 per cent. In the UK, Google's share slips to 30.94 per cent, but Yahoo! also takes a dive - down to 10.97 per cent. That makes Yahoo! the ninth most-visited destination in Britain. ®
Cade Metz, 23 Aug 2007
Broken mobile phone
47

A wardriving we will go!

One in three mobile workers worldwide routinely hijack wireless connections, according to a survey commissioned by the US National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Cisco. The Cisco-NCSA study paints a picture of lax attitudes for mobile security and disregard for the law - at a time when police on both sides of the Atlantic are coming down hard on "broadbandits" they catch jumping onto Wi-Fi connections (examples here and here).
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2007
Dell
1

Dell makes headway in server market

Dell regained a healthy chunk of the server market according to the analysts at IDC, suggesting "the new Dell" push has taken a foothold. Dell's revenue for Q2 jumped a little over 20 per cent compared with Q2 last year. At its current rate for growth it could soon be pushing Sun for the number three spot on the server charts. But IBM and HP, as always, dominate.
Austin Modine, 23 Aug 2007
18

NSA surveillance and the dream police

Memories are very personal things, over which we feel an intimate sense of ownership. Some people, such as spies, are sworn to secrecy over this or that incident, but, as one event or another washes over us, we typically aren't responsible one way or another for them. They are the historical cloth out of which we are cut. They are what makes us who we are.
Burke Hansen, 23 Aug 2007
14

Monster.com torpedoes rogue server as malware scam rolls on

Trying to contain damage amid reports that con artists are targeting online job sites, Monster Worldwide has shut down a rogue server that was siphoning personal information from the resumes of job seekers. The disclosure came amid new details of a Trojan that's amassed personal information on hundreds of thousands of people.
Dan Goodin, 23 Aug 2007
4

Vonage attacked by defunct rival

It's a bit like fending off a house fly while you're locked in mortal combat with Godzilla. As it continues to battle a multi-million dollar federal lawsuit from telecom behemoth Verizon, VoIP pioneer Vonage is now facing a suit from the remains of SunRocket, the Virginia company that recently shut down its internet-based telephone service. According to the suit, filed yesterday with the Court of Chancery in Delaware and tracked down by The Reg, Vonage illegally obtained a list of SunRocket's former customers after an unsuccessful bid to purchase the list straight from the SunRocket. SunRocket LLC - the company that stepped into the breach when SunRocket Inc. ceased to exist - seeks "injunctive and declaratory relief," hoping the court will prevent Vonage from using the list and order the New Jersey outfit to fork over some dough. When we contacted Vonage, the company was quick to play down the complaint. "We believe the suit lacks merit," said company spokesman Charles Sahner. "We obtained a VoIP subscriber list through an established marketing list broker. We were assured that the data was legally obtained and could be used without violating anyone’s proprietary rights." In early June, the suit says, the two VoIP companies promised a vow of silence as they negotiated a transfer of SunRocket's assets: "SunRocket and Vonage entered into a confidentiality agreement for the purpose of allowing Vonage to conduct due diligence for potentially entering into a business transaction, such as the acquisition of SunRocket or its assets by Vonage." In essence, SunRocket is saying that Vonage agreed not make use of information it was privy to during their negotiations. In the end, the negotiations broke down. On July 18, two days after SunRocket announced that its service was kaput, the company agreed to move its customers onto VoIP services run by Unified Communications Corp. and 8x8 - leaving Vonage as the odd man out. The suit contends that Vonage violated the confidentiality agreement by acquiring SunRocket's customer list from a third party and using it to drum up new business. Naturally, SunRocket believes this has damaged its deals with Unified and 8x8. Though Vonage acknowledges it discussed some sort of asset transfer with SunRocket, it won't admit that those discussions involved the customer list. Of course, that's the one SunRocket asset worth having. "We discussed a variety of arrangements, including the possibility of acquiring asserts of SunRocket, but in the end that didn't work out," Sahner said. Vonage also acknowledges that after the discussions broke down, it did indeed track down a list of SunRocket's former customers - and that the list was used to contact customers. But it claims that the list was legitimately obtained through a New York-based marketing firm called Paradysz Matera, a company it's done business with in the past. Paradysz did not respond to our requests for comment, but Sahner says that Paradysz obtained the list from a "data reseller". Is Vonage still using the list? We can't quite tell. "We haven't finalized plans for its continued use," Sahner said. Meanwhile, Vonage is waiting for the US Court of Appeals to rule on that mega-suit from Verizon. This spring, after a federal jury decided that Vonage was infringing on three Verizon patents, Judge Claude Hilton ordered the company to pay $58m in damages and slapped it with an injunction preventing forbidding the use of Verizon's technologies. After a Vonage appeal, a stay was granted, and a new ruling is expected sometime next month. With its latest earnings call, Vonage said that it spilled $6m in litigation costs during the second quarter. At the same time, the company lopped a sizable chunk off its marketing budget, and as a result, it's had trouble recruiting new customers. But CEO Jeffrey Citro also told investors that the company has developed workarounds for the three technologies said to infringe on Verizon's patents. ®
Cade Metz, 23 Aug 2007
homeless man with sign

Brocade Q3 profits down 56 per cent

Brocade's third quarter profits were down 56 per cent over last year, as the company coffers continue to be pounded by the purchase of McData and further compounded by hefty legal fees. The San Jose-based network storage firm today posted a GAAP net income drop to $10.7m, down from $24.5m a year earlier. The profits were hit by $18m in legal fees for "indemnification obligations and other related costs," as well as $4.1m in acquisition costs. The company would not break down what specifically the legal costs entailed or who exactly was being indemnified.
Austin Modine, 23 Aug 2007
12

Will VMware's sales double forever?

AnalysisAnalysis My friends in the financial industry keep lobbing the same question - how long can VMware keep up its growth? The answer to that query revolves around Microsoft and how competent it decides to be. VMware has doubled its employee count and revenue just about every year of its existence. Today, you find a virtualization software maker with about $1.2bn in annual revenue. In addition, VMware now has a market cap of more than $23bn, since it went public. The one-time niche vendor is worth more than Sun Microsystems and about as much as Adobe, according to the market.
Ashlee Vance, 23 Aug 2007