Web radio may survive after all. Today, America's online radio royalty police - aka SoundExchange - agreed to cap per channel fees at $50,000 for each individual broadcaster, a big win for sites like Yahoo! and Live365 that serve up thousands of channels to listeners across the web. SoundExchange continues to haggle over further changes to the new royalty rates issued by the U.S. Copyright Royalty board this spring - rates that threatened to bring down the entire industry - but broadcasters are confident the two sides can ultimately reach a compromise. “We are encouraged by today’s announcement,” said Jake Ward, a spokesperson for SaveNetRadio, a coalition of internet broadcasters including everyone from Yahoo! to WebRadioPugetSound. “This agreement is a clear sign of progress in the ongoing negotiations between webcasters and SoundExchange and a very good first step toward a viable solution." In March, the Royalty Board laid down new rules that would require broadcasters to pay $0.0008 per song per listener. That's retroactive to 2006, and by 2010, the base rate would jump to $0.0019. Plus, the board called for a $500 per channel minimum royalty. The new rates were due to kick in on July 15, but as broadcasters protested on Capital Hill, SoundExchange - the organization charged with collecting the new royalties - held off on collection in order to negotiate a compromise. On Tuesday, SoundExchange said it would reduce per listener royalties for smaller broadcasters, but several have already rejected the offer, saying it still prevents them from staying in business. Two days later, its cap on the $500 per channel minimum has been met with open arms, but SoundExchange has included two conditions: webcasters must provide the organization with comprehensive records of songs being broadcast, and the Digital Music Association, which represents many broadcasters, must work with SoundExchange to "evaluate" what's known as "streamripping," the practice of recording songs as they're broadcast over the net. ®
We've been hearing for years that MySpace and other social networking sites can represent a gaping chink in an otherwise hardened corporate network. Now a London-based security consultant has created a tool that proves it.
Update:Update: Just as 3 launches its £10 tariff in the UK, its service in Ireland has been suffering incompatibilities, slow speeds, and complaints, forcing the company to waive a month's subs as it struggles to get the service usable. The service advertises speeds of up to 3.6Mb/sec, but users have been complaining that speeds between 100 and 200KB/sec are the most they can hope for, and even those only appear in short bursts separated by disconnects long enough to interrupt any download in progress. With limited ADSL availability in the country, 3 Mobile Broadband is being sold as an alternative: "Perfect for home users with your desktop PC or Mac", as well as for laptop users on the move. But as revealed by a recent service message, the company has had problems supporting FTP and VPN connections, as well as streaming services and NetMeeting, but more problematic is its inability to connect users to their (non web-based) email. Part of the problem is how the mobile operator hides all its users behind a single internet (IP) address, in common with all the mobile operators. This is good from a security viewpoint - it's impossible for users to be attacked over the internet. But it causes real problems for peer to peer applications, and if one user's malware-infected PC is sending SPAM then the whole customer-base can find themselves blacklisted. We spoke to 3 Ireland who assure us that all the problems, baring the IP addressing, have been fixed*: so any readers still experiencing slow connections and application problems are welcome to get in touch. Update: We got the following statement from 3 Ireland on Friday 24 August: "Outlook is not working consistently due to to the IP addressing issue mention in the piece, we are looking to rectify this with an SMTP server installation and hope to have this fixed asap."®
Meat CastMeat Cast Ah, data center efficiency. The big vendors have embraced this topic like an admin embraces a bag of Doritos. Luckily, we're here to separate fact from fiction. Episode 5 of Semi-Coherent Computing has Chris Hipp and me interview Rumsey Engineers founder Peter Rumsey. The folks at Rumsey Engineers know their stuff, having built data centers for the likes of Bank of America, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and the University of California at San Diego's Supercomputer facility. Peter and Chris have been locked into green computing, power consumption issues and unique cooling techniques for years. In this show, they share a bit of wisdom and set the record straight as to which vendors, energy concerns and standards bodies have their acts together. This is a must listen episode for anyone in the data center realm that has power consumption or infrastructure design as a concern. So go ahead and tune in to Episode 5 - code-named the Gelsinger Co-Efficient. Semi-Coherent Computing - Episode Five - The Gelsinger Co-Efficient You can also grab the show off iTunes here or subscribe to the show via this feed. The curious will find Rumsey Engineers here. We also touch on the extensive data center efficiency work done by Lawrence Berkeley and the data center event held by the Rocky Mountain Institute back in 2003. As always, send any feedback to hardware @ theregister.com. Enjoy. ®
Gaming peripherals specialist Razer launched its latest mouse this week, pledging a rage-topping level of sensitivity and a firefight fast response time. Separately, Microsoft unveiled a Vista-friendly gaming mouse of its own.
A utility claimed to be the world's first software tool for unlocking the Apple iPhone was launched yesterday, even as hardware hackers said they'd figured out how to get the same result by tweaking the gadget itself.
Southampton has outsourced its IT services to Capita, despite criticism of the procurement process and concerns about local jobs. Southampton City Council has signed a 10 year IT outsourcing contract with Capita to upgrade the authority's IT systems and improve its "Gateway" contact centre.
US Customs are feeling pretty pleased with themselves after busting a stealthy "semi-submerged smuggling vessel" packed with $352m of Bolivian marching powder. The unlikely craft was spotted on Sunday off the coast of Guatemala in the Eastern Pacif by a Florida-based US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) P-3 Orion aircraft, which guided a US Navy ship to intercept. The four smugglers aboard duly scuttled the vessel and were subsequently taken into custody along with 11 bales of charlie weighing in at 1,210lbs. CBP estimated the value of the contraband at $352m. P-3 aircraft operating from Jacksonville have "coordinated more than 32 metric tons of cocaine interdictions this fiscal year worth $2.2bn", according to the CBP. They (and their crews, the CBP helpfully adds), "operate throughout the United States, Central and South America prosecuting any threats to United States and its citizens". ®
We're obliged to the reader who alerted us to the agreeable news that Microsoft will compensate deserving 419 victims to the tune of £100,000 a head. The email bringing these glad tidings is worth reproducing in full, and your attention is drawn in particular to the links kindly provided by the Lads from Lagos to back their pitch. It appears El Reg is required reading in the net cafes of Nigeria...
Another runner has jointed race to be first to release the world's smallest USB Bluetooth pick-up. Japan's Princeton today launched its PTM-UBT3S, pledging to bring it to market in September.
The figure behind controversial business schemes has failed in his bid to gain control of the .com internet address consisting of his name. A site that criticises his activities has been allowed to keep the name. In arguments before the World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) domain name arbitration panel, Australian body Consumer Protection described the man, Stephen Cleeve, as a con man. Its website contains links to and excerpts from a number of articles from the BBC, News of the World, and others detailing Cleeve's business exploits. Cleeve argued that the domain name was being used to tarnish his reputation and that of his businesses and to disrupt those businesses. Consumer protection said that its "website does not tarnish the complainant's [Cleeve's] name as it is the activities of the complainant that tarnish his name not the reporting of them". Cleeve argued that "the respondent [Consumer Protection] continues to use the domain name in dispute and continues to intentionally degrade and smear the name of the complainant and intentionally harm his business activities". Consumer Protection said, though, that Cleeve is free to take legal action over the content of the site, but that that should not alter its right to own the address. "If there are libellous contents on the respondent website, the complainant should take the issues up with the appropriate court but no action has been taken, only threatened, as the respondent believes that there are no grounds for any action," it said in the case. In order to gain control of an internet address through the WIPO dispute resolution process, a complainant must satisfy three tests. That person must show that the domain name in dispute is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark held by the person; that the owner of the address has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain, and that it was registered and is being used in bad faith. In order to gain control of the domain the person must show that all three conditions are satisfied. Failure on just one will mean that the original owner can keep the domain, though both parties are free to resort to court action after a decision from WIPO. The WIPO panel said the domain was identical to Stephen Cleeve's trade mark in his own name, which he registered in 2006. It found, though, that Cleeve failed to show that Consumer Protection did not have legitimate rights in the name. "The panel finds that the respondent's use of the disputed domain is to establish a website for criticism and commentary about the complainant's business activities. This constitutes legitimate commercial use and fair use within the meaning of the policy," said the ruling. Cleeve also failed to prove that the domain was being used in bad faith, in part because his trade mark registrations took place more than a year after the domain name was registered by Consumer Protection. "When a domain name is registered before a trademark right is established, the registration of the domain name was not in bad faith because the registrant could not have contemplated the complainant's non-existent right," said the ruling. "The merits of the complainant's assertions that the respondent's claims are defamatory and libellous are beyond the scope of the present proceeding and to the extent that the complainant wishes to pursue the issue should in the panel's view be adjudicated in an appropriate judicial forums," it said. Struan Robertson, editor of OUT-LAW.COM and a technology lawyer with Pinsent Masons, said the case could make others think about their own online identity and brand management. "If you Google someone's name or brand and the first results are negative, as was the case here, you have a problem whether the comments are true or not," he said. "Consequently we're seeing a shifting focus in the Search Engine Optimisation business. It's becoming an increasingly important aspect of wider brand management and protection strategies and it's wrong to always see it as just a marketing exercise." "SEO should not just be about getting your site ranked higher than all rivals," said Robertson. "There needs to be attention on the ranking of third party results that comment on your brand. Some firms have begun to specialise in helping their clients to promote the good third party results and, in doing so, burying the bad." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
There are some forces that just cannot be stopped. Block the path, and they'll just go round some other way. Fortunately, here in Devon, where Dartmoor has had no difficulty absorbing the recent rain, that's not a topical observation about the state of my living room. But it is certainly topical on the net.
The Department of Health (DoH) has launched an interactive website to support efforts to raise life expectancy in deprived areas. The Health Inequalities Intervention Tool has been set up to help primary care trusts (PCTs), practice based commissioners and local authorities in Spearhead areas (the fifth of areas in England with the worst health and deprivation) to understand how the life expectancy gap of their local populations can be improved. It shows current life expectancy for each of the 70 Spearhead areas and the relevant gaps with the rest of England. The tool shows the diseases that contribute to low life expectancy in each Spearhead area and provides a "ready reckoner" for the major interventions that can help narrow the local gap quickly, based on real data. It can also help PCTs to calculate the number of local people who are likely to need treatment for cardiovascular disease. The Department of Health wants a 10 per cent reduction by 2010 in the difference between the Spearhead areas and England as a whole for life expectancy at birth. Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Our task now is to support local NHS and local authority service planners, commissioners and frontline staff to deliver on those targets, and this is an excellent example of giving staff in Spearhead areas the tools to do the job and to do it well." Although it is improving in all areas of the country, the gap between life expectancy in Spearhead areas and the rest of England is continuing to widen. In 2003-05, the average life expectancy in England was 76.9 years for men and 81.1 years for women: but for those living in Spearhead areas it was 74.9 for men and 79.6 for women. About 13,700 fewer people aged between 30-59 years old would have died in Spearhead areas during this period had the death rates in those areas been the same as in the rest of England. Dr Bobbie Jacobson, vice chair of the Association of Public Health Observatories (APHO) and director of the London Health Observatory, said: "Our tool is the first of its kind to provide hard edged, local evidence to planners and commissioners, on the causes of their life expectancy gap and how it can be reduced. "The tool is easy to use and saves local agencies time and analytical effort. More importantly, we hope it will help Spearhead authorities to close the gap." This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
A North Carolina teenager who decided the best way to cool his Xbox's overheating power supply was to stick it in a bowl of water was knocked unconcious by the resulting electric shock and earned himself a trip to hospital with "minor burns to his right hand and foot". According to local news reports, the 14-year-old Brevard youth was having a spot of bother with his console which would shut down every five minutes. His mum told the press he "thought the problem was likely linked to overheating" and duly "tried to fix it on his own based on tips he found online". This apparently involved wrapping the offending power supply in plastic and tape and dunking it in said bowl "while it was still plugged in". His mother explained: "When I left to go next door he was playing a game but when I got back he was laying on his back on the floor and unconscious." The young man was subsequently detained overnight at the local Transylvania Community Hospital. ® Bootnote Thanks to Danny Caldwell for the tip-off.
The personal assistant to California National Guard's commanding officer was "placed on leave" on Wednesday pending a probe into the content of his personal website howtokillpeople.com. According to the Contra Costa Times, Senior Airman Travis Gruber of Sacramento - who's been Major Gen. William Wade's aide for a year - didn't actually provide handy tips on how to kill people, but rather let rip against "African-Americans, Jews, Asians, women, gays, and people with physical handicaps". The paper lists a catalogue of shockers, including "several pictures of Gruber holding what appear to be automatic weapons, including one of him pointing a gun at black people in tribal garb", an attack on Arnold Schwarzenegger "whom he trashes in a posting that questions the governor's intelligence", and a no-nonsense statement reading: "I, honestly, would like nothing more than to assist in the wholesale slaughter of every idiot on the face of the planet." Gruber claimed on the website to be 26, and made no reference to his National Guard post other than alluding to a job that "allows him occasional access to the governor and others". He referred to his boss as "the big guy" and noted that "when once ordered to drive 'the big guy' to Oakland earlier this year, he loaded a shotgun with extra shells and filled a pistol 'to the brim with hollow-point' bullets because he feared entering the city unarmed". Just to be certain of attracting the right kind of attention, Gruber wrote of Schwarzenegger's wife Maria Shriver: "Could you imagine waking up, as a child, to the gaping maw of this demon?" Sure enough, the National Guard put Gruber on "paid administrative leave" as soon as it learned of the site. Spokesman Lt. Col. Jon Siepmann said investigators will "look into the content of the website and make a determination into whether any of it is a violation of military law and regulations". Former National guard commander Gen. Frank Schober noted it's a crime under military law for a soldier, "including an enlisted member of the National Guard" to use "contemptuous words" against public officials. He suggested Wade might "deal with it humanely and get this man the help he obviously needs," adding: "I don't know if he should be court-martialed. The website seems so far out there. But we certainly don't comment on the governor publicly. We don't do that." The former commander of the state Army National Guard, William Wenger, offered: "The question has to be asked why an individual with this type of access wasn't vetted more. He would be privileged to a lot of confidential information and conversations. He might be asked his opinion on important matters." The offending website is currently pretty well shut down, and simply offers the following statement: If you're coming here from the Contra Costa Times article or the associated press story; this is the entirety of the statement that I released to the author of the article. This website is comprised of my personal thoughts, feelings and sense of humor and as such does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of The California National Guard, The California Air National Guard, The United States Air Force or any of the commanding officers that represent those organizations. I was under the impression that I was writing anonymously and in that writing I have never mentioned my relation to any of those organizations due to the nature of my opinions. How Mr. Peele acquired that information is beyond me.The purpose of the website is political satire, social commentary and an outlet for my opinions. In no way, shape or form do I condone acts of violence or aggression and this website is not a learning tool for those activities. Certainly some may find the sense of humor and opinions represented here as dark and distasteful; and that may very well be. However it is my sense of humor and these are my opinions alone.I’m sorry if I have misrepresented or left a black mark on the California Military Department, The California National Guard or The United States Air Force. I have the utmost respect for all of these organizations and would not want my website or opinions to tarnish their good names. Very Respectfully Travis
IBM and Microsoft are both launching unified communications bundles - software which will allow management of email, VoIP calls, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
Rentokil has announced it will deploy "James Bond-style technology" to battle the UK's burgeoning rat population - estimated by experts to have risen by 39 per cent in the past seven years and now totalling up to 100 million individuals. Exact details of the rat-busting tech are not noted, except a vague reference to "infrared detection systems", but it's clear that cloaked Rentokil vans, rodent-seeking autogyros, and laser-armed Rolex Oyster Perpetuals are just a matter of time, and indeed necessity. Rentokil's UK pest control business MD Jed Kenrick warned the Times it was "clear that the number of rats and mice was growing at a significant rate". He fingered climate change, the fact that "bin bags were being left on the street for far longer", and water companies cutting back on sewer baiting as contributory causes. Kenrick elaborated: "There is more rubbish on the street, discarded burger and kebab boxes, and bins are not collected as often. But there's also the weather. The milder winter means more wasps, rats, and mice are surviving, and with the wet weather mice are more likely to seek shelter in the home." However, before you all run screaming to Q to demand exploding bolas and dart-firing cigarettes, bear in mind Kenrick's final words of wisdom: "You have to remember as well that our perception of the problem is increasing. Our standards of cleanliness are getting higher all the time." ®
US reality TV "star" Nicole Richie is apparently none the worse for the wear after serving a hellish 82 minutes of a four-day drink-drive sentence, the BBC reports. Richie, 25, was hauled off to the Lynwood celebrity hang-out jail - recently favoured with a quick visit from Paris Hilton - and duly fingerprinted. She didn't, however, get as far as the cells, since she was then released "based on her sentence and federal guidelines". In an apparent attempt to prevent the US's prisons bursting at the seams with ne'er-do-well celebutards and Blackberry-chucking rapstresses, "inmates sentenced to less that 30 days for non-violent crimes are usually released within 12 hours", the Beeb explains. Richie was nabbed last December driving the wrong way down a motorway. She subsequently coughed to a "driving under the influence of drink and drugs" rap, and was sentenced to four days' jail. The judge also handed down three years' probation and ordered her to attend a drug treatment programme. Having escorted his client from chokey, Richie's lawyer Chapman Holley assured the awaiting press: "She was really treated like any other inmate." Reports that a weeping Richie added that her slammer ordeal "felt like a 100 minutes" are unconfirmed. ®
Yes, I know this sounds a bit like the eighth Harry Potter book. In fact, what I want to discuss are some implications of data governance that I don't think everyone has thought through yet.
A BitTorrent admin convicted of uploading movie files is being forced to ditch Linux if he wants to use his PC. Scott McCausland (AKA sk0t), the ex-admin of the EliteTorrents BitTorrent tracker, was sentenced to five months imprisonment after he confessed to uploading copies of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith just before its theatrical release. He was also sentenced to a further five months of home confinement and slapped with a monitoring order after he was convicted of "conspiracy to commit copyright infringement" and "criminal copyright infringement".
Sony's battery boffins seem to have learnt some lessons from the previous few month's, ahem, problems. They've developed a battery that generates power from sugar and, they claim, can create enough power to run an MP3 player.
Ever wanted to go on strike, be part of that feeling of solidarity on the picket line, but felt too cowardly to take the risk? September should see just the opportunity for you. That is when Rappresentanza Sindacale Unitaria IBM Vimercate (RSU), the official trade union representing IBM's 9,000 workers in Italy, is planning a most novel form of industrial action – a strike on Second Life – and it wants as many avatars as possible manning the picket lines.
Nintendo's Wii is now the world's best-selling next-gen videogames console, having this week nosed past the Xbox 360. The Microsoft console has been available to buy for the best part of a year more than has the Wii.
ReviewReview Apart from a sneaky bit of Xbox 360 gaming at lunchtimes in the Register Hardware offices, we've always been fairly hardcore PlayStation fans, having grown up with the Sony console series since its 1995 launch. Could Microsoft's new machine, the Xbox 360 Elite, persuade us to change allegience? Well, yes, it could...
A customer poses the question: 'Dell, Dell, Dell, where art thou lovely electric pink laptop you bigged up a little while ago? What's that you say? There's too much dust in the paint and so all you can give me right now is a, er, tuxedo black one.'
Many Xbox 360 gamers claim they're smokin' hot drivers at the likes of Forza Motorsport 2. But now they risk really proving it, thanks to a power-supply flaw with Microsoft's Wireless Racing Wheel that can cause it to overheat and smoke.
Google, google everywhere and not a drop to drink Google says it will probably bid for a share of the US's wireless spectrum, due to be carved up for auction in January next year. The firm also announced substantial investment in China, where it currently plays second fiddle to homegrown search engine Baidu. The company piled cash into "four or five" local websites, including Tianya.cn. Playing nice Microsoft and Cisco promised compatibility this week, pledging that their products will work well together, despite competing for market share. Cisco chief John Chambers said the two companies have invested about $40m for joint work and have over 140 people involved with the two companies making nice. Cisco also announced fixes for a swathe of vulnerabilities in its IP phone. The flaws render the phones vulnerable to crashing. The 7940/7960 hansets are affected. But patches are not always good news, as we shall see. IP making too much progress? A survey from Dimension Data suggests companies are failing to unify their IP-technology policies at the cost of security and stability. Thirty-seven per cent of the 390 companies surveyed are already using VoIP, with 34 per cent looking to invest in the next two years. In the UK the figure is closer to 42 per cent, and as much as 85 per cent in India. Patchy service Security and stability indeed. Skype blamed last week's outage on the effects of Microsoft's Patch Tuesday. The firm said the effect of so many machines rebooting and subsequently trying to log onto the Skype VoIP network triggered system instability and a prolonged outage of almost two days. Customers have been offered a free week to compensate. The IP telephonists were not the only ones to suffer from outages. Online bank Egg.com, the perenially beleaguered Plusnet, and business ISP Datanet all registered bad weeks, too. Egg.com's online banking service went down this week. The firm said service provider C&W was to blame. Plusnet admitted bungling a spam appliance installation, resulting in yet more customer email being permanently consigned to the big trash can in the sky. Meanwhile, Datanet suffered a power outage in one of its server racks, which took out the power distribution circuit, interrupting the UPS. Not good news for customers wanting to access their emails. Feeling insecure Deliberate nastiness has also been afflicting online services. Recruitment site Monster.com was hit by a Trojan. The misbehaving malware made off with more than 1.6 million customer records. According to Symantec, the nasty executable encrypts files in the affected computer — and leaves a text file demanding the victim pay the attackers in order to recover the data. This week also saw the much-mutating Storm Worm wiggle its way into the headlines, under the guise of emails bearing subject headings such as "User info," "Membership support" and "Login information". The worm's creators kept the malware's tactics changing, and the dodgy "have you seen these photos" emails flying through cyber space. Pinch me. Am I dreaming or is it 1 April? Google and Microsoft have gone to war over open source software. Yes, you read that right. The beast of Redmond submitted the Microsoft Permissive License to the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Cynics, including Google's Open Source supremos, are sure the firm is up to no good, but MS declares itself innocent of all malodorous doings. Microsoft in, ex-Sun out Keeping the balance, Sun's former software chief has announced diminished enthusiasm for open source ware. Now ensconced in Adobe's creative business department, he says there is a difference between the needs of the community and the users. On the move And with that, let's see who else is swapping jobs, or not, this week. AMD's flashy, big-talking marketing chief Henri Richard appears set to leave the building ahead of the company's biggest product launch of the year, while Salesforce.com is set to redeploy CFO Steve Cakebread internally. He's now in charge of expanding outside the home market. Steve Burch, the chief executive of UK cable monopoly Virgin Media, surprised industry watchers by quitting the firm. Family and personal reasons were cited. COO Neil Berkett will take the reins, for now at least. I think this pink slip is yours More redundancies are on the way at CSC UK. The outsourcing firm announced it would be making more compulsory cutbacks in a conference call. Absolute numbers still to be decided. From bricks to clicks Online sales in the UK rose a whopping 80 per cent, year on year, with figures for July coming in at £4.2bn. This is the first time online sales have topped the four billion mark. In probably related news, high street entertainment retailer ChoicesUK is headed for administration. For sale? The battle for NHS software outfit iSoft has flared up again with the news that Aussie group IBA has moved to gazump the bid from German firm CompuGroup Holding that was accepted in July. The new offer has been bankrolled by a £120m cash injection from Allco Equity Partners, an Aussie investment fund, and now goes to the board for consideration. CSC's influence could still be crucial, as iSoft has obligations to the firm under the terms of its NHS contracts. Meanwhile, Yahoo! has snapped up Actionality, a German firm that specialises 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. Trading marks Confused by changing trademark rules in the UK? The UK IPO has issued guidance for businesses on the changes, which are designed to make it easier to register a mark. The Trade Marks Registry will no longer oppose marks which conflict with prior registrations: the holders of prior marks will have to object themselves. Legal wrangling The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has smacked former Brocade CFO Michael Byrd with eight counts of fraud related to backdating stock options. The commission alleges that Byrd ignored warnings that staff were tooling around with the options. Charges filed today in Federal District Court in San Francisco stipulate that he was aware of the misconduct, but never tried to account for the expenses or disclose them to investors. Meanwhile, a US Federal Court has decided to allow customers to sue AT&T. The San Francisco court decided that the clause in AT&T's wireless contract prohibiting customers from bringing class action suits against the firm is "unconscionable" in the face of the consumer's right to sue whomsoever he or she pleases. 3, it's a magical number Mobile operator 3 is set to offer budget mobile data to UK punters. According to reports, three new tariffs will see the firm match the most attractive offerings from T-Mobile, starting from £10 a month. Initially, the firm denied the price announcement, but confirmed the details just days later. iPhones for Europe Rumours fly that T-Mobile, Orange, and O2 are to sell the iPhone in Germany, France, and the UK respectively. Reports suggest the operators have agreed to give Apple 10 per cent of all revenue generated from iPhone users. The companies concerned have dismissed the story as speculation and rumour. Game, handset, and match 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. Dell serves up news server Dell will host a major storage product unveiling in September. The Register has learned that Dell is set to unveil a new iSCSI system called MD3000i. The firm also regained a healthy chunk of the server market, according to the analysts at IDC. 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. And finally... It wouldn't be right to round off the week on such a serious note. We also brought you news this week that Homer Simpson has made it into the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations, and that Cadbury's bringing back the Wispa. Now that's some chunky chocolate news. ®
Alcatel has slashed the price of its latest no-frills mobile phone - but only for three days. Over the UK Bank Holiday weekend, the already cheap as chips OT-E201 will sell for less than the price of a takeaway.
A customer poses the question: "Dell, Dell, Dell, where art thou lovely electric pink laptop you bigged up a little while ago? "What's that you say? There's too much dust in the paint and so all you can give me right now is a, er, tuxedo black one."
It might be the summer bank holiday across most of the UK, but at least two services to aid travellers are unavailable this Friday afternoon. Anyone trying to add credit to their Oyster card on the Transport for London website is out of luck. The page says: "Important site maintenance means Oyster Online is temporarily unavailable". The page has been unchanged all day. We called Transport for London (TfL) this morning, but no word yet. Meanwhile, anyone trying to update the information on their TomTom GPS is also out of luck. A message there reads: "The TomTom PLUS section is currently unavailable due to maintenance. Our apologies for the inconvenience. Please try again later." A Reg reader who told us about the problems said: "I bought a TomTom 520 from Halfords today for the long weekend - the guy in the shop said it was the fortieth they'd sold today. So loads of people must be having problems." To be fair to TomTom, a charming spokeswoman told us the firm was sorry for the problems caused by migrating servers and asked us for the details of the Reg reader who was having trouble so they could try and help him out. (Take the next left after the roundabout, that sort of thing?) TfL is here and TomTom is here. Happy bank holiday to readers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. ®
Channel 4 has confirmed the UK's viewing public will not be subjected to another outing of human zoo Celebrity Big Brother - at least until 2009. The broadcaster has done the decent thing in the wake of the Shilpa Shetty racism kerfuffle and decided not to go ahead with next year's confinement of c-list social inadequates for the gratification of the unwashed masses. According to the BBC, Channel 4 head of programmes Julian Bellamy said: "After the race row, it was constantly in the press and part of the national conversation at a time when traditionally it was off our screens - it feels like it has never been away this year." However, C4 may resurrect CBB in 2009, and Bellamy reckons the show "will benefit the format in the longer term as it will have a bit of breathing space". Bellamy had the brass neck to insist the racism rumpus had not played a part in the regrettable decision, but rather that a "general issue of supply and demand" had made it harder to book celebrities. This argument is unconvincing. Les Dennis was unavailable for comment today but is reportedly "gagging" to get back into the CBB house on the proviso that he shares it with someone from any 1980s US TV show whatsoever and is given first option on getting a mouthful of Jade Goody's spicy kebab. ®
Queen guitarist Brian May will henceforth be known as Dr May, as the axe-slinger has finally been awarded his PhD. May presented his thesis, entitled Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, to the examining board at Imperial College, London, on 23 August. The academic scrutineers gave May a category two pass, which means he needs to make some changes to his work. "You can call me Dr May!" he said, upon hearing the news. He told reporters he felt very comfortable using the title, since he had worked very hard to earn it. He told the BBC the viva was "very, very tough", and that he is keen to continue his research. Dr May began work on his thesis back in 1971, before the lure of spandex and big hair temporarily overcame his academic ambitions. But 36 years after he made his first observations, the Dr returned to the Observatory of the Roque de Los Muchachos in La Palma to gaze at the skies once more. Dr May, we salute you. ®
Nokia's decision to recall 46m mobile phone batteries is going to cost their manufacturer, Matsushita, up to $172m, the Japanese company admitted today.
In a recent piece on red-giant star Mira, we rather foolishly suggested that the "comet-tailed" body was travelling across the heavens at roughly 150,000 times the speed of the average sheep.
A 33-year-old London man has pleaded guilty to driving a Porsche 911 at 172mph on the A420 in Oxfordshire, the BBC reports. Timothy Brady, of Harrow, was snared in a routine speed check near Kingston Bagpuize, and admitted his high-speed escapade at Oxford Crown Court. He denied a further charge of aggravated vehicle taking, and will be sentenced in September. Brady's impressive velocity rap "is thought to be the highest recorded in the UK for such an offence", the Beeb notes. ®
Kingston Communications, recently rebranded as KCom, has lost its connection to BT and, therefore, the wider world beyond the Humber. Several concerned Hull residents, and Reg readers, got in touch to say they could not access bt.com or other sites on the BT network because of a routing problem. KCom provided us with the following statement: The KCOM Group and other Internet Service Providers are experiencing a general network issue that has been affecting Internet and Email services across the UK today. This fault has resulted in some customers experiencing intermittent Internet and Email service. Whilst this network fault is outside of our control we are working with network providers at the highest level as a matter of urgency to resolve this issue and return to a normal service. Hull is the only city in the UK with its own independent telecoms company. ®
Hubble has snapped a gorgeous shot of the rings of Uranus*. I can see rings around Uranus. Credit: NASA/Hubble The picture is extremely rare because the rings happen to be tilted perfectly edge on to Earth, an alignment that happens just twice every 894 years as the planet orbits the sun. NASA points out that the last time the rings were aligned like this, no one actually knew the planet's rings existed. The picture, taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, shows what appear to be spikes emanating from the planet's poles. These are the edges of Uranus' 13 rings, and they are actually poking out from its equator. The planet is a bit of an oddball because it is orbiting the Sun on its side, with its axis almost parallel to the path it takes around our star. Uranus is the second farthest official planet from the sun (apologies to any residual Pluto fans). It was confirmed as a planet by William Herschel back in 1781, although the earliest recorded sighting was in 1690, when astronomer John Flamsteed catalogued it as a star. The planet appears blue because of the large quantity of methane** in its upper atmosphere, which preferentially absorbs red light. ® *Stop sniggering at the back. **We'll not say it again.
Cryptographic researchers have identified a practical attack against the KeeLoq car anti-theft cypher. KeeLoq serves as the cryptographic underpinning of several car anti-theft mechanisms distributed by Microchip Technology.
Microsoft and Yahoo! have signed a pact with the Chinese government that "encourages" the big name web players to record the identities of bloggers and censor content. So says Reporters Without Borders, an organization that fights for journalistic rights across the globe. The French advocacy group reports that at least 20 blogging services, including Yahoo!.cn and MSN.cn, have agreed to the new "self-discipline pact" laid down by the Internet Society of China, a spin-off from the Information Industry Ministry. Under the pact, the services are encouraged to store the real names and contact details of Chinese bloggers and delete "illegal and bad" information from user comments. The pact doesn't require the services to register bloggers under their real names, as was previously proposed, but Reporters Without Borders is adamant that the agreement will significantly undermine free speech. "This decision will have grave consequences for the Chinese blogosphere and marks the end of anonymous blogging," the organization said. "A new wave of censorship and repression seems imminent." The worry is that the government will now have the power to finger Chinese bloggers and punish them for material it doesn't approve of. "The Chinese government has yet again forced Internet sector companies to cooperate on sensitive issues - in this case, blogger registration and blog content," Reporters Without Borders said. "As they already did with website hosting services, the authorities have given themselves the means to identify those posting 'subversive' content by imposing a self-discipline pact." This is a particularly sensitive issue for Yahoo! The company is facing a US lawsuit over journalist Shi Tao, who was jailed after the company delivered information about his web doings to the Chinese government, and the case has sparked an investigation in the US Senate, following claims that Yahoo! tried to cover-up its involvement in the jailing. When we asked Yahoo! about its new pact with the Internet Society of China, it referred us to a company called Alibaba, which "manages" Yahoo!'s China arm. We contacted Alibaba as well, but the company didn't immediately respond. Initially, we didn't hear back from Microsoft either, but the company told The Los Angeles Times that it would not ask bloggers to reveal their identities. "The document makes some recommendations that Microsoft does not support," said Adam Sohn, director of Microsoft's online services group. "We will not implement real-name registration for blogging in our Windows Live Spaces service." Which makes you wonder why the company has agreed to sign the pact. Update Eventually, Microsoft did get back to us, and though they couldn't grant us an interview, they were much more forthcoming than Yahoo! When we asked it the company had indeed signed the pact and what effect it would have on policies, this was its response: On August 21, MSN China, a joint venture between Microsoft and Shanghai Alliance Investment, Ltd., did sign - along with the other major Internet Service Providers in China - a self-regulatory code of conduct regarding blog services, sponsored by the Internet Society of China. Such self-regulatory codes are an effective means of helping to protect our customers from cybercrimes and other threats to online security and privacy, and to promoting a safe, friendly environment in which to enjoy our services. The principles expressed by the ISC document are broadly in line with what other countries and industry groups have adopted in such self-regulatory codes, including commitments to promote online safety and to prevent misuse of services. While the self-regulatory code does make some recommendations that Microsoft does not support, it should be emphasized that these are indeed recommendations only, and we retain discretion to determine how to best achieve the overarching goals of the agreement. In particular, we do not plan to implement real-name registration for blogging in our Windows Live Spaces service in China. Microsoft believes the Internet should be fostered and protected as a worldwide vehicle for reliable information and communications, personal expression, innovation and economic development. We therefore believe that, around the world, government actions taken to address security, safety, or other concerns, and which impact free expression and privacy, should be taken with deliberation and restraint. Microsoft also supports international dialogue and bilateral consultations to promote the consistency of national actions and to maximize the openness, security and reliability of the Internet platform, including the development of a clear set of principles that should guide global Internet companies providing services around the world. To this end, Microsoft has joined with a diverse group of companies, academics, investors, technology leaders and human rights organizations to seek solutions to the free expression and privacy challenges faced by technology and communications companies doing business internationally. This effort aims to produce guiding principles, methods for governance and accountability, and to create a forum for collective action and shared learning on free expression and privacy matters. So there you have it. The company does not plan on registering bloggers with their real names and contact details. Of course, at least 19 other web services have also signed the pact. ®
Domain name parking service NameDrive restored its services on Friday after coming under a concerted and ferocious denial of service attack from unidentified hackers. The motives for the attack remain unclear but NameDrive reckons crackers expanded vast resources to flood its website with spurious traffic. NameDrive offers a service that allows domain owners to "park" inactive domains. Targeted ads are placed on these parked domains, enabling owners to rake in a percentage whenever visitors to the domains click on the ads. These services have now been restored while the firm works on restoring its home page. The firm is reassuring customers that their commission would not be affected by the attack. NameDrive said it has defences in place to combat denial of service attacks. The ferocity of the latest attack took it by surprise, however. "We deal with a DDOS pretty much every day, but even our sophisticated defenses our somewhat overwhelmed by this," a posting on its blog states. The attack started Thursday at around 15.00 GMT and remains ongoing, a later post explains. "In addition to the 600K domains we have parked on our system, our servers were being hit by XX,XXX false connections per second for over 24 hours. The attack is increasing as we speak and has been since it began. "We estimate that just to keep up this attack, it has cost the aggressor at least five figures and possibly six figures to initiate and sustain. This wasn't poor defenses on our part, it was the use of overwhelming force and financial resources on theirs," it adds. Around 100 domains parked at NameDrive were recently linked to a spam Trojan campaign. NameDrive said the denial of service attack was unrelated to this assault. ®
CommentsComments Bad things have been happening to the male anatomy this week, with torchings and glueings being sustained. Well-known extensions (cars and guns) get a fair mention too. We begin with a sticky situation.
Another Dell laptop has burst unexpectedly into flames. This one, an Inspiron 9200, spontaneously combusted this week in Columbus, Ohio. The blaze was caught on camera.
Whenever a single monolithic company has launched against the globe spanning iTunes, Apple has been able to move the goalposts and push further and further towards a monopolistic market share of online music, but this week a genuine challenge has emerged, one that we are certain will dent the success of Apple, and we suspect that it will be reflected in the company’s share price before too long. The move, to bring RealNetwork’s Rhapsody to Verizon handsets, with the support of Viacom’s MTV, was attributable almost entirely to Apple’s launch of the iPhone with an exclusive relationship with AT&T. In short Verizon HAD to do something, and this is that something. Rhapsody becomes the music service behind Verizon’s VCast Music service, while MTV’s URGE music service will be merged into Rhapsody, which will become Rhapsody America, and be run by the current General Manager of MTV Network's URGE, Michael Bloom. Existing user names for URGE will work straight off in Rhapsody. Viacom’s MTV Networks will put in some of its own cash, but also back a $230 million five year note for the venture, giving it a 49% stake, and leaving RealNetworks which will also contribute some cash, with 51%. It’s a fairly compelling picture and is the first major step towards consolidation of online and cellular music services which will polarize the world. When kids watch MTV they will be pointed towards it, when people subscribe to cellular handsets through Verizon they will be reminded of it, and it drops ARPU right into the palm of the hands of Verizon Wireless. The simple truth is that we all predicted that Apple iTunes would be eaten alive by little bites from the cellular industry, over a long period of time, and Apple with its typical foresight said let’s take the game to them and launched its own phone on its own terms. But that just meant that serious players are now taking Apple more seriously, sooner, and there are multiple advantages here that are not initially obvious. First off this pitches Apple’s MP3 and Flash memory enemies, Samsung and LG Electronics, which make many of the first line Verizon handsets, directly against Apple. Samsung is probably the only company in the world that can get its hands on flash memory to store songs more cheaply than even Apple, which two years ago bought up around 30% of global NAND Flash production for its iPods. Verizon Wireless has no love of Apple and is still smarting after it had to pay Broadcom through the nose to import handsets for its new EV DO rev A network which will also do the job of competing head on with the touchscreen interface of the iPhone. This was because of an indiscretion by supplier Qualcomm, which the court believes used power saving patents that belonged to Broadcom. Verizon will now do whatever it has to, to make these new devices successful. Secondly Verizon will deliver all of this on handsets which are CDMA enabled, so instead of the waning powers of GSM, the technology that Apple aimed its first iPhone at, Verizon will have the latest, hottest phones from the CDMA community to deliver the service on. Apple is already up against the subscription based Rhapsody service through RealNetworks’ partners, including Best Buy, SanDisk and TiVo. SanDisk is the second biggest retailer of MP3 players in the US, and they could all become further integrated into the service and the new brand. But with news services around Europe all pre-announcing new Apple partners this week, which include T-Mobile in Germany, Orange in France and O2 in the UK, it is pretty clear that 45 per cent owner of Verizon Wireless, Vodafone is NOT among them. My friend's enemy We had always thought that Vodafone would not align itself with the enemies of Verizon, and that also it likes to cut profitable and easy to work deals, and would not accept the kind of terms that Apple was rumored to be insisting upon. There will be some immediate betting that the 232 million customers that use Vodafone's service, the largest outside of China, could be tempted to become part of this "get iPhone" initiative. Back in January 2006 Vodafone, launched its own interactive music service in conjunction with Sony NetServices called Vodafone Radio DJ. The service streams music to both 3G mobile phones and PCs for a flat monthly subscription, identical as a business model to Rhapsody. But the service is really a radio service with little control over what you listen to. So Vodafone may well come to believe that the new US initiative could seriously damage the iPhone, and iTunes, and then it might shutter this service or add to it and join the push to build Rhapsody America into perhaps Rhapsody Global, assuming that it can sign overseas versions of its content deals. But even if Vodafone does not come on board, the global distribution of MTV, which can recommend the service, will have huge appeal to other operators, because MTV Networks operates on 135 television networks, and can be seen from 171 websites and reaches 496 million people around the world. With that kind of support, this deal can internationalize to the benefit of all the partners. This pretty much leaves online and cellular music controlled by a handful of services lead by iTunes. Musicnet powers many of the smaller music services around the world including many that are Microsoft compatible such as the Zune device and can work with its new PlayReady DRM system. But Musicnet will have lost at least one customer since until now it numbers MTV’s URGE among its clients; Nokia can still provide several millions songs through its purchase of Loudeye over a year ago, and Sony’s Connect collection is still operating, such as through Vodafone. If I’ve forgotten anybody, it's because they are, as of now, forgettable and that perhaps includes Wal-Mart, Amazon, eMusic and Napster, because without the support of a cellular operator, most services are doomed, if not to closure, then to irrelevance, over time. Finally there is the issue of video. Verizon is just one customer for MediaFLO mobile TV, and it has launched in some markets already under the VCast TV brand. It already had a VCast cellular streaming business that is relatively successful. This will now line up against Apple iTunes on a Video iPod as a source of portable video, but can increasingly target deals with MTV and its parent Viacom, majority owner of the Paramount studio. The cellular music war in the US is sure to spill over into the rest of the world during the remainder of this year, and that can only mean one thing, that the Apple franchise will begin to erode in percentage terms, but that the market for music on handsets will go through the roof over the coming 18 months to two years. Copyright © 2007, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
After howls of pain from gaming addicts everywhere, 2K Games has eased the draconian DRM restrictions on its much ballyhooed new title BioShock. In the wake of the game's launch earlier this week, countless users - including a senior associate editor with PC Gamer - complained that BioShock's SecuROM copy protection software was ruining their lives, and though the company was initially slow to respond, 2K has now posted a solution to the official BioShock site: The Cult of Rapture.
ReviewReview Ah, the ultra mobile PC (UMPC). This is the one device in the computing kingdom that I want to work well more than any other. The latest turn in my ongoing hunt for a super lightweight, compact computer led me to Raon's Everun UMPC. Here we find a product with a novel, albeit predictable take on the UMPC concept that has been shipping since about mid-year. While not overwhelmed by the device, I'm encouraged that the UMPC crowd seems set on marching towards something that could actually replace a chunky laptop.
AnalysisAnalysis A dispute over some open source software used for model railroads resulted in an important decision last week, involving the scope of open source licenses and the remedies available when they are violated. The decision has triggered alarm in the open source community, with a prominent open source licensing advocate charging that the court fell asleep at the switch in its legal analysis of the case.
After months of hyping, Intel is rolling out an update to its vPro technology featuring improved hardware-based security and manageability tools for its chips. The latest rev of vPro will see the introduction of Intel's hardware-based Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), which the company says will defend PCs against attacks aimed at stealing sensitive information. Using virtualization, TXT can isolate an application within the hardware particulars and a memory partition, which will stop all other hardware or software from accessing the application. TXT also allows new software to be booted into a trusted state. When the application is removed, it purges all the application's data and information from the system. "Today, most security software runs above the OS," said Intel exec Robert Crooke, speaking at an event here. "and there's some great security software out there — but it leaves the computer vulnerable to attacks to that software and on the operating system level." In addition, vPro will ship with the third generation of Intel Active Management Technology (AMT). The engine helps manage, inventory, diagnose and repair PCs even when the system is turned off or has suffered an OS or hard drive crash. The new version of AMT will allow IT to isolate an infected PC from the corporate network. vPro also now supports new standards from Desktop Mobile Working Group (DMWG), which is a specification for compatibility across PC hardware and software developed by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). The platform's embedded trust agent has been certified by Cisco, providing 802.1x compatible manageability that's not dependent on OS-availability. The agent allows Cisco's customers to manage systems — again, even if shut down — without lowering the security on 802.1x networks and Cisco Self-Defending Network products. The fresh vPro package ships with the latest version of Intel's Core 2 Duo processor and Q35 Express chipset, which the company says will give 30 per cent greater performance than the previous generation while significantly reducing power consumption. Desktops and notebooks with vPro will be sold to OEM vendors such as Dell, Lenovo and HP. ®