10th > September > 2007 Archive
Advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi has put down in black and white what plenty of women around here have been thinking for ages: we want technology but we don't want it coloured pink or encrusted with fake gemstones.
Several weeks ago, security researcher Lawrence Baldwin dispatched an urgent email to abuse handlers at OptimumOnline, the broadband provider owned by Cablevision, warning that one of its customers stood to lose more than $60,000 to cyber crooks.
Tor advertises itself as a means for people and groups to improve their privacy. And when used properly, the distributed, anonymous network does just that. But a Swedish security consultant has used the very same system to gain access to login credentials for a thousand or so individual email addresses, including those of at least 100 accounts belonging to foreign embassies.
A police officer involved in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett - who went missing last Monday after taking off from hotelier Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, roughly 70 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada - has admitted he "may never be found", the BBC reports. Forty-five aircraft have scoured an area of 10,000 square miles in an attempt to pinpoint Fossett's presumably crashed Bellanca Citabria Super Decathalon. In the process, they have discovered the remains of six other aircraft, but no sign of Fossett. One sighting south-east of the Flying M Ranch intially raised hopes that he might have been located, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Nevada Civil Air Patrol Major Cynthia Ryan admitted: "Once again, you had your hopes raised and dashed." Although Lyon County Undersheriff Joe Sanford told AP there was "a possibility - that he may never be found", he remained optimistic, offering: "With the resources and assets we have, I feel comfortable we'll find the plane in the near-term. Whether it'll be by us, a hunter or a skier, we'll find it. I like to believe the glass is half full." The search process has been made considerably more difficult by the fact that Fossett didn't file a flight plan for his jaunt to reccy possible locations for an attempt on the land speed record. He did, however, have "full radio capability", but has ominously not made contact. ®
You know how you can volunteer to be a TV ratings guinea pig? And then they - Nielsen or whoever - attach kit to your telly so that they can tell everything you and all your thousands of fellow guineapigs watch, and so the ratings get compiled. Well, that system is flawed. It can't measure the telly you watch at the pub, the radio you hear at work etc etc. It doesn't usually know if you're actually there; the box could be blaring away to an empty room. It is often confused by PVRs or other timeshifting tech. Now, however, a Californian company called IMMI (Integrated Media Measurement Inc.) has decided to change all that. Most people are now aware that mobile phones can be used to locate their users; and the reasonably well-informed are aware that they can also be used as remote bugging devices, even when apparently switched off. (Some people have a struggle believing this; but it's not exactly aliens-at-Roswell stuff. This is a small computer with a microphone and a data radio. Who says the display has to light up for it to be working? Seriously: your phone can be used as a bug, though the necessary skills aren't common outside government agencies. Yet.) When you become an IMMI ratings person, the company gives you a mobile phone with special software in it. Every thirty seconds or so, the phone - without intervention from you - records a ten-second audio clip. Sending that off to IMMI via GPRS, EDGE, UMTS or whatever would be a tad expensive - not to mention having fearful privacy implications - so the phone processor boils the clip down to a 1.5kB "fingerprint." Every quarter-hour or so the phone datalinks to the IMMI servers and sends off all the fingerprints, time-slugged. Meanwhile, the IMMI servers are doing this with all the broadcast media the company is interested in. When your fingerprints come in, they are compared with the server data, and matches are recorded. The servers can look back a couple of weeks into the past, too, so TiVo or whatever isn't an issue. Voila! IMMI knows what you watch and listen to, while saving bandwidth and dumping what it considers "noise" - your conversations and so on. Or so they say, anyway. Amanda Welsh, IMMI's COO, was keen to emphasise that their phones are not bugs as such. She told MIT Tech Review: "If you're carrying our phone and you're planning a bank robbery while listening to a radio, all we know is what radio station you're listening to." IMMI is adamant that the "fingerprints" can't be turned back into useful audio. Similarly, though the company admits it would like to use GPS or mobile-network location tech to know where its guineapigs are when they hear things, it currently doesn't. Rather, you plug in a Bluetooth beacon in your home, and the phone knows if you're in or out; but, for now, that's all. "Although he would like to use GPS, [IMMI CTO] Al Alcorn says that it's currently cost prohibitive to buy this information from the cell-phone companies, which control it," according to Tech Review. Presumably what's meant by this is that IMMI can't afford mobile-mast location data; obviously cell networks have diddly to do with GPS satnav as such. Handsets with actual GPS receivers - which could send the location data to IMMI - are still rather expensive at the moment; often need cell-tower data to help them out; and they don't like it inside buildings, either. A cell phone is well adapted to IMMI's needs anyway. On top of that, the company reckon the fact that it's useful to the guineapig will mean it stays within reach. "The question is, 'If you forgot to take [the tracking device] with you when you went to work, would you go back and get it?'" according to Alcorn. "If it was your cell phone, you would. If it was just a passive brick that didn't do anything [else], you wouldn't." Clever stuff. But there still seem to be some gaps. Phones get left around the house, not necessarily within earshot (mike-shot?) of what their users are listening to. And several possibilities for abuse spring to mind. If this audio fingerprinting is as good and reliable as its cracked up to be, it surely wouldn't be hard to make up some unique, task-specific fingerprints and so monitor an IMMI subject using the company data. For instance, you could perhaps fingerprint the automated announcements on the London Underground trains, and thus know wherever your target went on the Tube. Or you might record a person of interest saying a commonly-used phrase such as "Hello darling," and thus, perhaps, be tipped off whenever someone met up with their illicit lover. And so on. If one weary Vulture can think of that much in five minutes on a Monday morning, it seems fair to say that the thing's riddled with loopholes. Still, you can't expect to be a guineapig and not suffer some horrible invasive experiments. The Tech Review piece is here.®
The largest ever catalogue of X-ray sources has been released by the team behind the XMM-Newton observatory. The newly released data-set contains more than a quarter of a million entries. Professor Mike Watson, the XMM-Newton Survey Science principal investigator from the University of Leicester, explains: "The 2XMM catalogue is the largest compilation of X-ray-emitting objects ever made, containing nearly a quarter of a million entries. This has been possible because of the longevity of the XMM-Newton mission and the highly sensitive instruments onboard the satellite." The observatory is a construction of 51 carefully mounted, nested mirrors, and is the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever built. The XMM Newton is named for its structure, (X-ray multi-mirror) and for scientific inspiration, Sir Isaac Newton. Since its launch in 1999, it has made almost 3,500 observations with its Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC). The X-ray sources it detected during this survey of the sky (running from February 2000 to March 2007) are all in the new catalogue. The XMM Newton has been involved in some seriously interesting and picturesque science. Just recently, it was used to identify distortions in space time, to identify the earliest recorded supernova, and to capture galactic scale fireballs rampaging through the galaxy. Dr. Simon Rosen, Survey Science Centre (SSC) project manager, said: "The 2XMM catalogue is a major resource for studying the violent universe and will keep astrophysicists busy for many years. In fact, with XMM-Newton in good health and the mission expected to continue its scientific operations for many more years, we can look forward to another catalogue with half a million X-ray sources in a few year's time." ®
Cap Gemini is to start flogging Google Apps to its big corporate customers.
Intel has begun the process of ridding itself of an entire generation of 65nm Core processors, to pave the way for 45nm 'Penryn' Core 2 chips, due to begin appear in November. Marked for termination: all the Core Solo and Core Duo CPUs.
Intel will take no further orders for the four-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor on 4 January 2008, the company has told its customers. And they'll have to get orders in before 2 November 2007, if they want the right to cancel at a later date.
AMD will early next year update its ATI Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 graphics chip series for DirectX 10.1's Shader Model 4.1, it has been claimed.
The organisation behind the .eu domain has suspended 10,000 domain names registered by a Chinese woman whom it accuses of being a cybersquatter. The woman, in retaliation, has filed a lawsuit in Belgium. EURid, the Belgium-based registry for .eu domain names, has blocked the names and has the right to strip the woman, Zheng Qingyin, of the names. EURid legal manager, Herman Sobrie, told OUT-LAW, though, that the organisation wanted to have a court strip Qingyin of the addresses. He said that case would take about a year. Qingyin has filed a separate suit objecting to the blocking of the domains in the Court of First Instance in Brussels. This is a fast-track case whose result should be known in a month, Sobrie said. "This Chinese woman has registered over 10,000 names, she is without doubt cybersquatting," said Sobrie. "We know she sells these names to people for serious prices. This is a phenomenon we don't like at all, but there is nothing illegal about this." EURid cannot take action against someone for cybersquatting; that can only be done by someone else who claims rights to a domain name. But Sobrie said that EURid had received complaints about the woman and had investigated further. "We as register can just stand there and look at it except in one situation, which is that maybe this registrant is not eligible to have a .eu domain," said Sobrie. Only people or organisations that are based in the European Union are entitled to hold .eu addresses. "We started asking for more information about her domicile. She said she was domiciled in London. At first we took that for granted, but we had indications that that was probably not true," he said. "We have serious doubts about the eligibility of that lady and at a certain point we thought we had enough reason to say that she wasn't eligible. Under the circumstances we preferred to sue in a Belgian court and have the names revoked by the court rather than do it ourselves and be sued." Sobrie would not detail the basis of EURid's suspicions ahead of the court case. He did say that he was sure that the woman was cybersquatting. "When we screen our data bank we see that some people have an amazing amount of names. Nobody needs 10,000 names," he said. "We had a lot of complaints from people complaining to us that they were contacted or they contacted the holder, who said 'make an offer and we'll sell it'. We know the prices were between €500 and €1500." Last year EURid suspended more than 74,000 domain names and sued 400 registrars for registering the names with a view to re-selling them, in breach of the contract between registrars and the registry. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Sun Microsystems has announced a comprehensive suite of programs and solutions to help customers design more energy-efficient, eco-responsible datacenters while saving money.
UpdatedUpdated Lord Justice Sedley's proposal to put everyone in the UK on a DNA database would be dependent on a British man's case against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights, according to a privacy law expert. Michael Marper is objecting to the retention of his DNA information on the Home Office's database, despite the fact that he has never been convicted of a crime. He has appealed through the English courts and the ECHR agreed earlier this year to hear his case. Sedley is an Appeals Court judge who this week proposed that to eradicate the imbalance of ethnic minorities on the DNA database, everyone in the UK, including visitors, should be put on to the system. The ECHR ruling could make that illegal, though, said Dr Chris Pounder, a privacy expert with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. "I think what is happening is that everyone is waiting for the decision of the ECHR in the case of Marper and everything will fall from that," he said. "If the ECHR comes out for Mr Marper then Lord Justice Sedley's idea would be a non-runner." The UK is one of the few countries in Europe that includes on its DNA database information from people who have been questioned by police but never convicted of a crime. Speaking to BBC News, Sedley argued that, contrary to received wisdom, it would boost the civil liberties of citizens to put everyone on the database because it would be fairer. He said that the current database was disproportionately full of information on people from ethnic minorities. Sedley was among the judges who ruled five years ago in Marper's case. Sedley considered "a universal DNA database" in that judgment. At paragraph 87 of that judgment, Sedley wrote: "...I would certainly not assume that a comprehensive national DNA database or samples bank, if one were to be lawfully compiled, would constitute an unacceptable invasion of privacy. It would be for Parliament to decide whether the intrusion and surveillance involved in assembling and maintaining such a resource is an acceptable price to pay for its advantages. Certainly the information available to this court suggests that, subject to these considerations, a universal DNA register would be a real and worthwhile gain in the endeavour to ensure that the guilty, and only the guilty, are convicted of crimes. In other words, whether it is the unconvicted population as a whole whose bodily samples are kept or only that section of it which has faced charges, the justification is the same." Pounder said, though, that having a complete database would be likely to tempt authorities to use it for a far wider range of purposes than currently planned in moves that could undermine subjects' civil liberties. "If the DNA of everybody is on the database then I think Lord Justice Sedley has just created a wish list to assume that the data would only be used for policing purposes," said Pounder. "If you have a database of everybody's DNA then the thing is sorting out paternity suits and absent parents and fathers who disappear off the scene. You can see that the pressures would make using the data for these purposes almost inevitable." The Government does not currently plan to implement the policy. At a Prime Minister's press briefing this week, the Prime Minister's spokesman confirmed that there were "no plans to introduce a universal, compulsory or voluntary national DNA database". In response to the suggestion that the phrase "no plans" could be interpreted as the Prime Minister having sympathy for an idea, the Prime Minister's spokesman said that there would be huge logistical and bureaucratic issues to deal with alongside civil liberties concerns. Pounder pointed out that logistical issues may not be significant. DNA samples could be taken when people are interviewed for an ID card or passport, he said. Pounder believes that to avoid the existing DNA database being used for increasing numbers of purposes an independent regulator should be established in order to ensure that the public trusts the database. "At the moment the database is subject to the control of the Home Office, which establishes the ethical considerations as well as controlling those who have access to the database," he said. "This is not a firm regulatory structure and my own preference is for a regulator independent of the Home Office who can sort problems out and who reports to Parliament and not to he Home Secretary." Such a proposal was made by the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee in 2005. It said that the independent regulation of any database was essential if the system was to retain the public's trust. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Is Sony's new portable music playar an attempt to cash in on the Rugby World Cup? With its ovoid shape, the Rolly certainly has a football feel, but instead of air, this ball packs in an MP3 player, funky coloured lights and a pair of loudspeakers. And it moves.
After weathering the dust storms of the past two months, the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have had their solar panels swept free off dust by kinder, gentler winds. With full power restored, the two explorers are now ready to renew their slow crawl over the surface of the red planet. Opportunity now stands on the crest of Victoria crater (pictured below), and is set to begin its descent as early as September 11 (Tuesday). The rover arrived at the edge of the crater in August. Mission managers have been scouring the images it beams back for suitable entry routes. The team wants to examine a band of bright rocks around 40 feet from the rim. The team hopes the route they have selected will give the rover good traction as it heads into the crater. But getting to the entry point is not the only challenge: the team also needs to make sure all of Opportunity's instruments have survived the scouring dust storms. Recent data from the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES) suggested the instrument, which is mounted high on the rover's camera mast, might be stuck, sending back images of the rover's mast, rather then the views of Mars. "If the dust cover or mirror is no longer moving properly, we may have lost the ability to use that instrument on Opportunity," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for the rovers' science instruments. "It would be the first permanent loss of an instrument on either rover. But we'll see." The loss of the instrument would not matter quite as much to Opportunity's exploration as it would on Spirit. Opportunity's twin has reached its long-term goal of the Home Plate plateau, an area of layered bedrock NASA describes as holding clues to "an explosive mix of lava and water". This region has an extremely diverse mix of rock types, making the Mini-TES invaluable in sifting through them. Opportunity will rely more on its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to investigate the bright band of rocks in Victoria crater. ®
NSFWNSFW Our female readers looking for an earth-moving experience are directed forthwith not to the San Andreas fault, but rather to the profoundly silly My Little Secret Talking Head mp3 vibrator - a "breakthrough in adult toys" that allows you to "download and listen to erotic audio fantasies or record your own for the ultimate in personalized pleasure". Good heavens above. The Talking Head boasts: full-function silicone vibrator with interchangeable shafts; 64 megabytes of Ram with built-in USB port; built-in microphone for voice and sound recording; two pre-recorded audio fantasies; PC and Mac compatibility*; and headphones and USB cable. Naturally, you're wondering just what "pre-recorded audio fantasies" involve. Look no further than the erotic audio playlist where Bergen the German Mountain Man deploys his doubtless well-filled lederhosen to scale hitherto unexplored climactic peaks. Quite what Bergen is saying we know not ("Guten morgen fraulein, would you like to chew this fine fat bratwurst?" or thereabouts, we reckon), but he did provoke a certain amount of weakness at the knees among the Reg hackettes. Well, we think it was Bergen's rugged tones that caused our sub Tracey to go and have a quick lie down in a darkened room, although it may have been the Talking Head's price tag - a cool $99.95 plus shipping. ® Bootnote *That's right - no open source support. Disappointing, but a recent survey by sexologists at the University of Banglaore revealed that 97 per cent of Linux Girlzzz can achieve orgasm simply by looking at a picture of Linus Torvalds while fondling their kernels - all without the assistance of Bergen the German.
NetApp today announced fresh NAS kit and software as it throws itself into a low-end scrap with EMC and HP.
Quocirca's changing channelsQuocirca's changing channels The IT industry is in danger of becoming an unnecessary apologist for environmental woes caused by the equipment it sells. While there is certainly room for improvement in the way IT procurement and infrastructure is managed, this must not be overshadowed by the more positive aspects that good use of IT can make to the overall greening of businesses. However, manufacturers and resellers of IT products and services need to get better at putting this message across. A lot of the bad press focuses on data centres and, indeed, these should be the starting point for any initiative to green the use of IT by businesses. The way in which the buildings, energy supply, cooling equipment, hardware and software associated with data centres can be adapted to improve energy efficiency are well recorded. But a point that is often missed is that these carbon economies can all be made because the data centre is a well structured and manageable environment. For many businesses the majority of energy consumed by IT will not be in the data centres, but in the numerous business locations it is there to serve. The office remains IT’s wild frontier, a jumble of PC, printers, monitors, branch servers, telephones and numerous other devices all in an uncontrolled environment. Moving more of this kit into the data centres and reducing the “office-IT factor” will give business more control over the energy consumed by IT. Of course a lot of kit needs to stay near the point of use, such as monitors, printers and telephones. Here standards and remote management can help. But moving branch servers into data centres, introducing thin-client computing where practical and serving remote users with web-enabled applications all have a part to play in reducing the “office-IT factor”. This is not just about the physical relocation of kit but also about the transfer of processing power out of the office and the reduction of network traffic by keeping the heavy lifting between “clients” and “servers” with the data centre. Some might point to a potential downside in that data centres can become a single point of failure for applications that were once widely distributed. But this can be mitigated through good management and failover facilities. Meanwhile, businesses are better able to account for IT energy consumption that enables them to substantiate associated environmental claims. And this is where the IT industry needs to get its message across better. Many IT applications can drive reductions in energy usage elsewhere in the business, for instance, reducing transport requirements and better buildings management. If it can be shown that executives are flying fewer miles, that employees’ car mileage claims are reducing, that supply chains really are more efficient and the buildings are cooled and heated more effectively though the use of IT, then genuine claims can be made that this is helping to reduce the total carbon footprint of a business. Most people do not want to see economic progress put into reverse, but at the same time most accept changes need to be made to many human activities to reduce their environment impact and allow prosperity to be maintained for the long term. Rather than being a negative factor in all this – perhaps more than any other activity that is berated for its energy consumption – IT has a positive role to play. Quocirca’s report “In Defence of the Data Centre” is free to Reg readers here. Copyright © 2007, Bob Tarzey is a service director at Quocirca focused on the route to market for IT products and services in Europe. Quocirca (www.quocirca.com) is a UK based perceptional research and analysis firm with expertise in the European and global IT markets.
The wraps come off Palm's latest Euro-centric smartphone on Wednesday, and while speculation has centred on the notion the device might be the company's upcoming Centro product, Palm has claimed it isn't.
The Great White Hope of the music business - and many network operators - has arrived in the UK. The music business hopes it will persuade people to start paying for licensed digital music, while operators hope it will persuade people to start using their expensively built, but under-utilised 3G networks. Vodafone will launch Omnifone's MusicStation service here on three new handsets in time for Christmas. MusicStation offers unlimited downloads, file and playlist "sharing" (we'll explain the quotation marks in a moment) with no additional data charges to the subscriber - all for £1.99 a week. The goal is "any song, anywhere". MusicStation, which operates out of the old Island Records HQ, has snagged the big four labels and about 30 carriers globally for its service, making it the biggest arrival since iTunes in 2003. Voda will bundle it with the upgraded, 8GB version of the Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson's W910i and an updated version of Samsung's touch screen & QWERTY phone the F700. It's shunned Nokia's new music flagship the N81, but given the prototype condition of the phone on its first public outing recently, that isn't such a surprise. More importantly, existing Vodafone subscribers will also be able to download the MusicStation software and sign up for a free trial. Omnifone says MusicStation runs on 70 per cent of the world's handsets. While industry analysts will peg MusicStation as a rival for services such as iTunes Store, Rhapsody or mobile eMusic, the newcomer will really put a much bigger proposition to the test: whether people want to pay for recorded music at all. They're all really competing with the convenience and rich repertory of unlicensed P2P services - and no licensed digital download service has captured the imagination, or the wallets, of the public. As a consequence, while music has never been so popular, next to nothing is being returned to the creators, producers and distributors. So the music business watches one licensed business whither away, while refusing to licence another. Because mobile offers easy billing, ubiquity, and the devices and networks are more controlled, it's long been touted as a potential saviour of the music business, and as the best way of competing with free downloads. Ominous figures from Japan confirm that no one has got it remotely right yet. Japan is closely watched, because of the high penetration of mobile networks, the high degree of socialisation around mobile devices, and its successful history for mobile services. However, last week, the Recording Industry Association of Japan (AIAJ), reported that the volume of licensed downloads had fallen for the first time, down to 111.6m in Q2 from 114.3m. How could MusicStation succeed where so many others - particularly subscription-based offerings - have failed? Well, there's no nasty data charge surprises, capping or quotas - since the £1.99 includes all data costs and unlimited downloads. (A £2.99 service runs on a PC or Mac and allows you to browse the catalog and acquire music from a desktop). Unlike eMusic, it has the four major labels and unlike iTunes or Napster, it's genuinely mobile. And unlike Nokia's beta Music Store, it runs on the majority of the world's handsets. But MusicStation's biggest advantage over the networks' own music stores is that it's much easier to use, is cross-carrier, and is very forgiving. So if you lose your handset or change operator, you don't lose your music. The user interface has received a lot of thought, and offers by far the best experience we've seen on a mobile. As for file and playlist sharing, it's actually encouraged. When one MusicStation phone receives a playlist from another, it's populated over the network. Because the songs are locked down with DRM, much depends on how Omnifone and the carriers market it. If it's sold as music acquisition, then it has flaws, since your collection disappears when the subscription ends. If it's sold as a "radio" service, then it offers a lot more value: such as caching and user control. Being able to call up any song on demand, anywhere, is certainly an attractive goal. But we'll soon see whether the public have an appetite for paying for digital music. It's competing with free. ®
UpdatedUpdated Security researchers have discovered a sophisticated botnet attack targeting eBay customers, particularly those in the UK.
A team of cryptozoologists is headed for the South American jungle to track down a legendary apeman said to terrorise villages and tear out cattle tongues. The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) has picked up sponsorship from a videogame firm to mount an expedition in Guyana in search of the Didi, also known as Mono Grande, reports Metro. De Loys' muck-throwing "ape" The Mono Grande myth was first recorded by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Cieza de Leon. In 1553 Cieza de Leon wrote that local people feared mysterious forest creatures they called maribundas. Alleged sightings continued to be reported by visitors to the north of the continent across the centuries. The most controversial report came from Swiss explorer Francois de Loys in 1920, who claimed his party was attacked on a river by pair of five-feet tall apes walking upright and waving tree branches and throwing their own faeces. The explorers shot the female dead and photographed it (pictured), but were greeted on their return to Europe with counter claims that the picture was merely a spider monkey with its tail concealed. The CFZ believes the Didi tales originate from a "living fossil" in the region: a surviving ground sloth that is assumed to have gone extinct 10,000 years ago. It's a more reasonable working hypothesis than any ape, since the highest primates known to have ever existed in South America are New World Monkeys. The expedition will head out in November. Predictably, the web is infested with cryptozoology fanciers, though in fairness the field has a long history with some spectacular successes. African stories of the gorilla were widely assumed to be folklore until it was finally scientifically described in 1847. Indeed, at least 25 new primates have been discovered since 2000, including Bolivian native Callicebus aureipalatii, also known as the GoldenPalace.com monkey. ®
ReviewReview The whole point of wireless is the freedom to connect to something from anywhere within an area rather than from a single, specific place. Icron's WiRanger wireless USB hub system stumbles at the first hurdle. Yes, its two units - the hub and the box that connects to your computer - link wirelessly, but both need mains-power feeds. Good for desktops, then, but not for a laptop-friendly experience.
"Service Strategy" is part of ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library), which is one of the, perhaps surprising, success stories of UK government computing. Originally, ITIL was a set of Operations-oriented “good practices” for IT Service Management: a non-prescriptive guide to the best way of doing things, backed up with ISO 20000, for people who wanted to certify what they were doing against ITIL. It was, and is, widely adopted outside of the UK. Now, building on this success, ITIL has been “refreshed” as a complete service management lifecycle framework. It is important to modern developers as it is, in essence, a “spec” for integrating IT with the business in a service-oriented environment.
LeftHand Networks is snuggling close to virtualization market leader VMware, to bring a SAN solution to that ever-elusive - and inconveniently ever-cash-conscious - market, the SMB.
Now that Apple's got its new, video-playing iPod Nano launched here comes SanDisk with an alternative it hopes will win over buyers with its sleeker lines and higher storage capacity.
When is a thin client computer too thin? According to Wyse, never.
The obsessive secrecy provided by the Patriot Act for certain domestic surveillance activities suffered a severe blow yesterday, as a federal judge struck down provisions of the Act that provided for expansive and secretive use of so-called "National Security Letters" (NSL) to obtain phone and email records. NSLs predate the Patriot Act, and were originally used by the FBI in relatively limited circumstances for counterterrorism or counterintelligence operations. NSLs are warrantless demands for information by the FBI that carry the legal weight of a search warrant without the usual judicial review required for the issuance of a search warrant. They are frequently used, ironically, to support FISA warrant applications. Provisions in the Patriot Act considerably loosened the standards for the issuance of NSLs, and their use by the FBI has correspondingly exploded since the passage of the Act in 2001. Prior to the Patriot Act, there had to be "specific and articulable facts giving reason to believe that the person or entity to whom the information sought pertains is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power." An NSL also required a senior FBI official to sign off on it. No longer. The Patriot Act lowered the threshold to "relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities." It also allowed the NSLs to be approved at the field office level. The changes allowed the FBI to cast a much broader net, since the information at issue only needed to be relevant to an authorized investigation - someone with no more than a phone or email contact with a suspicious individual was now a potential target. Internally, the FBI expanded the concept of "investigation" to include activities that had previously been considered "preliminary." Not surprisingly, NSL information requests expanded from 8,500 in 2000, before the Patriot Act, to 47,000 in 2005 - a number the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) considered to be underreported by almost 9,000 requests. One NSL may contain multiple information requests, but the trajectory was clear. Most controversial of all, the Patriot Act made it illegal for ISPs or Telcos receiving a request to reveal to the object of the request that the government had made an information request at all, even if the object of that request pro-actively asked. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued on First Amendment grounds on behalf of ISP "John Doe" back in 2004, and after Judge Victor Marrero struck down the provisions covering NSLs, Congress rewrote the offending portion of the legislation. Judge Marrero is still not satisfied. "The risk of investing the FBI with unchecked discretion to restrict such speech is that government agents, based on their own self-certification, may limit speech that does not pose a significant threat to national security or other compelling government interest," Marrero said. There are two reasons for Marrero's discomfort - one is the clear and negative implication for the fundamental right of freedom of speech, and the other is the complete lack of judicial oversight for NSLs. The Act as it is now essentially requires judges to take the FBI at its word, which undermines the constitutional principal of the separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches of government. The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to appeal the decision or not. Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
Europe, send your unwanted mobile phone to... Wales. Well, from November, anyway. In that month, the continent's largest cellphone recycling plant will open its doors for business by logistics specialist Excel.
A team from Nottingham University's archaeology department believes it has rediscovered the remains of an intact Viking boat under a Merseyside pub - originally unearthed in the 1930s by builders excavating the boozer's basement, but quickly reburied because they feared "an archaeological dig would disrupt their work". According to The Times, builder John McRae found the 10th-century vessel under the Railway Inn on the Wirral, "uncovered the bow and excavated 5ft" before his foreman intervened. McRae's son, also called John, recounted: "The foreman, who was called Alf Gunning, came along and said: 'For God's sake cover it up. We don't want an archaeological dig to stop the build.'" John McRae senior later passed the details on to his son, who "compiled a report and a sketch", which he sent to Liverpool University in 1991. That would have been an end to the matter, but one Professor Harding of Nottingham University "heard rumours of the boat from a local policeman, who was able to put him in touch with the younger Mr McRae". Duly armed with a ground-penetrating radar, Harding and his team went to investigate. McRae, now 69, said: "People thought it was just a myth. But we went up there with this ground-penetrating radar. When the results came back it showed the shape of a boat." Harding reckons the builder's description identifies the vessel as a Viking transport ship, a theory backed by Norwegian expert Knut Paasche, who said the 30ft vessel "resembled a transport ship". Harding elaborated: "If the boat had a keel and a sail it could have been used to go across the Irish Sea. If you had six blokes in there as well as the sail you would be able to shift it at quite a pace - up to 20mph. "It is a clinker vessel, which means it has overlapping planks, a design that came from Scandinavia and of which the Vikings were masters. If it is not directly Viking or built by the original Norse settlers then it was constructed not long after by their near-descendants. It is probably not a burial vessel. It is probably too deep for that and there is no mound." Harding is now looking for £2m to raise the ship, which he says is likely the only one in Britain with a surviving wooden hull. He explained: "The only ones in the British Isles we know about - unfortunately without any wood remaining - have been at Balladoole, Isle of Man, and Sanday, Orkney, with not much left to see apart from imprints in sand and some weaponry. "Waterlogged blue clay, in which the boat is buried, is the ideal environment for preserving material almost indefinitely - especially wood. It is an environment where bacteria can't grow. This is the same environment that the famous Viking ships in Norway - the Gokstad and Oseberg ships - were preserved in." ® Bootnote The first reader to make a quip about the ship probably having been stripped of all its fittings and left propped up on bricks will be banned from reading El Reg for a month.
New images from the Japanese infrared space telescope AKARI have revealed giant star-forming regions on the edge of the spiral galaxy M101. The findings suggest M101 is something of a special case, since star formation more usually happens in the denser central part of spiral galaxies. The galaxy is roughly twice the size of our own Milky Way, and located roughly 27 million light years away in the Great Bear constellation. The team made cross-spectrum observations with AKARI's Far-Infrared Surveyor (FIS), plotting the temperature of the galaxy's dust. Dust in galaxies is heated by nearby stars, and tends to be warmer in star-forming regions where there are more hot, young stars. Regions populated by older, sun-like stars tend to be relatively cool. In the image above, the cold dust is shown in blue, while the hotter dust is red. (Cunning, we're sure you'll agree). But unusually as the distribution of star formation is in M101, there is an explanation. Dr Stephen Serjeant from The Open University explains: "M101 had a near collision with a neighbour, and it could be that it yanked material out of its neighbour which is now raining down on one side of galaxy and triggering this star formation. It is unusual to find so much star formation at the edges of a galaxy - we normally expect this at the centres." M101 is known to have had a so-called "tidal" interaction with a companion galaxy, and observations show that gas is indeed falling onto the outer edge of the galaxy. The scientists say that how and why this is happening is not fully understood, but that future observations of other galaxies in the region should help fill in the details. The results (more details here) will be presented in the Annual Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Japan in September 26th-28th, and reported in the Publications of Astronomical Society of Japan. ®
UMPC maker OQO will next week launch an updated version of its Model 2 handheld in Europe, upping the Windows Vista device's processor and storage specs, and - if OQO does what it's just done in the US - a reduced price.
A year ago, hardly a week went by without news of a major municipal wireless project in the US, supporting free or subsidized access and a host of shiny business models. Now hardly a week goes by without news of the death of one of these plans.
Reg Technology PanelReg Technology Panel Over the past two or three years, zanily named social networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Flickr and Twitter seem to have come from nowhere to wheedle their way into just about every aspect of online life, both in business and pleasure. Such facilities share a handful of simple, but powerful core features: each will enable information sharing of some form, will have some kind of community orientation and will be constructed in a way that several of the blighters can be merged (or should I say, “mashed up”) into clever, multifaceted concoctions of collaborative capability. But just how much of an influence are social networking tools having on corporate life? The press abounds with stories of how on the one hand, people power has been given a new weapon (as in the case of Facebook vs HSBC), while on the other hand, corporations are blocking access to what is obviously a distraction to employees (for example, HSBC. Spooky.) What’s the answer? Dear reader, we have the answers, or at least you do. Hot off the analytical presses is the latest Register Reader Poll, which this time looked at such tools and the impact they were having. We’ll be digging into the data over the next few weeks, but before we do, it’s worth acknowledging that the responses should not be read in isolation. The self-selecting nature of web polls means that we’ll always get more respondents that are really positive about a certain area, than those that (frankly, my dear) couldn’t give a damn. While we shouldn’t spend too much time on the absolutes, however, there are some very interesting relative findings: particularly in home versus business use, for example. Getting down to specifics, when we asked about the following social networking tools, we found that there was significant use across the board. Apart from the (obvious) conclusion that YouTube should indeed be getting a bit worried, there can be no doubt about how important these tools are in the lives of many of our respondents. If we look just in terms of business usage, however, the picture becomes very different. Just thinking about the above tools, we see an order of magnitude difference in their use between business and pleasure – with the exception of LinkedIn, which is seen as a business tool. For this reason alone, whatever the pundits are saying, this casts serious doubt on the current relevance of (say) Facebook as a valid element of the business environment. Put bluntly, – if your staff are on Facebook, chances are they’re interacting with their mates. This doesn’t necessarily mean that social networking is bad for business. To avoid drawing such a conclusion it is perhaps worth focusing away from specific incarnations of the social networking phenomenon, towards the capabilities they offer. Looking specifically at blogging for example, you have told us that 32 percent of you write blogs, while 64 percent of you are reading them. If we look at this from business or educational terms, those writing blogs drops to below 10 percent but those reading blogs holds its position at roughly 44 percent. What can we learn from this? It would be simplistic to say that Facebook is bad for business and blogging is good, but the underlying message is that different tools may be adopted for different purposes and it would be counterproductive to tar them all with the same brush. “Different tools” doesn’t have to refer to just social networking, either. There is a concern across the business community that the web-savvy business youth finds the modern business environment constraining, given that they are so used to this wealth of collaborative facilities, but this could be a red herring. To paraphrase, “The kids of today think they’re the ones who invented collaboration!” but believe it or not, some very successful businesses were set up with nary more than paper and pen, never mind the telephone. We’ll be looking at age differences in collaboration in the next articles, but for now let’s draw a quite grounded conclusion. Social networking tools may in some ways be new, but they remain just collaboration tools: they serve a useful purpose, in their place. It would be as much of a mistake to believe they are going to change the world, as it would be to reject them wholesale. Whatever your situation, this is undoubtedly a fast-moving area. Whether you’re someone who believes Facebook will never replace face-to-face, or whether your business has been transformed by such tools, we’d love to hear from you.
Middle England is none too pleased with a Home Office campaign aimed at "reminding 'holiday virgins' to apply for their passports in good time to avoid missing out on the fun of a first parent-free holiday". The HO last month launched the initiative, with the Identity and Passport Service's Executive Director for Service Planning and Delivery, Bernard Herdan, explaining: "Of all potential holiday mishaps that could befall you, not getting to go away with your friends in the first place is perhaps the most disappointing. "Due to changes being introduced to prevent identity theft, fraud and forgery, from this summer first-time adult passport customers are advised to allow six weeks for their passport to be processed. They may also be asked to attend a short face-to-face interview as part of new anti-fraud measures being introduced into the passport application process. "We want to ensure that those who are going on their first unsupervised trip abroad don't get left behind because they didn't get their passport organised in time." Fair enough, you might think. However, the HO decided to back its message with an ad campaign with a decidedly yoof flava: Well, it didn't take the Daily Mail long to start choking on its Coco-Pops when confronted with the "pornographic" advertising campaign featuring the above "sleazy images", which "appear to encourage sex acts with strangers - at a time when another ministry, the Department of Health, is spending millions of pounds trying to reduce Britain's high rate of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections". The offending publicity drive - "appearing in magazines such as Nuts, Zoo, Glamour, Heat and Sugar and in clubs, bars and discotheques and which is aimed at young people who are intending to visit resorts such as Ibiza, Faliraki, Magaluf and Lanzarote" - actually features four images, two of which the Mail deemed "far too graphic for a family newspaper".* Tory MP Julian Brazier duly thundered: "They are nasty and a waste of money. It is amazing that the Home Office can find money for pornography while cutting back on budgets for worthwhile schemes such as prisoner rehabilitation and education." Michaela Aston, of the charity Life, chipped in with: "Given the latest surge in abortion rates and the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the UK, it is irresponsible of the Home Office to produce adverts aimed at young people which blatantly give the message that holidays are only about sex. These adverts will encourage even more risky sexual behaviour. They also seem at odds with the government's strategy to reduce teenage pregnancies." The Advertising Standards Authority has apparently already received four complaints about the ads - the work of Rainey Kelly (warning: website may induce Flash overload) - including one which "accuses the Home Office of encouraging holidaymakers to take mobile phone photographs of sunbathers without their consent and show the pictures to friends". A Home Office spokesman defended: "The campaign may be a bit racier than normal government advertising, but we've taken expert advice on how to get the message across to the 16 to 24 age group." In case you're wondering to what extent the HO's porno poster shocker could contribute to unwanted teen pregnancies, STDs and general debauchery, its own figures note that just "three per cent of those surveyed lost their virginity on their first holiday abroad (five per cent of males and two per cent of of females)." No doubt next year's totals will, in the wake of the government's Bacchanalia drive, show a marked improvement on these disappointing stats. ® Bootnote *And for El Reg too, we should stress. Shocking, just shocking.
UpdatedUpdated The German Government has told the country to avoid using Wi-Fi whenever possible, because of the possible risks to health, according to a report in UK newspaper The Independent on Sunday. According to the newspaper, Germany's radiation protection body also suggests that citizens refrain from using mobile phones, and try to reduce their general exposure to "electrosmog" from other electrical devices. Federal Office for Radiation Protection makes its recommendations on the basis that a possible risk has not been ruled out, rather than because an actual threat has been determined. It recommends avoiding exposure to Wi-Fi "because it is a new technology and all the research into its health effects has not yet been carried out", the IoS says. The paper reports that the government made the statements in response to questioning from the Green party representatives in the Bundestag, the country's parliament. The UK's Health Protection Agency had no comment on The Independent on Sunday's report, saying that its position remains as it ever was: that there is no consistent evidence to suggest that Wi-Fi poses a threat to health. Nevertheless, basic measurements should be done to determine what kind of exposures there are in schools and elsewhere, and as with every new technology, caution is the better part of valour. Update: We're told that the parliamentary question and answer (here, as a pdf) is not quite as one might have expected from reading of the original article. Our German is rubbish, though, so anyone with better language skills than ours is warmly encouraged to read the pdf, and get in touch with us by the link above. ®
Apple's new iPod Classic and iPod Nano will require new accessories if you plan to display the videos the players contain on your TV, it has been alleged. Apple has apparently blocked TV output from these new players when they're connected to old docks.
The European Commission has announced a review of the regulations that compel telcos to provide public call boxes that could lead to them being scrapped. The move will be celebrated at BT, which has been lobbying for years to scale back its public latrine maintenance business. Ofcom last published the results of a consultation on Universal Service Obligations (USOs) in March 2006. It said public call boxes were still essential for vulnerable and disabled people. Despite this recent ruling, a Green Paper from Brussels calls for a "wide-ranging debate" on all obligations under USOs, which also include provision to low-income households and providing internet access at at least 28Kbit/s to rural areas. Currently, local councils can veto any attempt by BT (or Kingston Communications in Hull) to remove the last phonebox in an area. BT told the Ofcom consultation this was unduly restrictive, since revenues had nosedived. The USO agreement was a key part of the deal that saw BT go private in 1984 with an intact network monopoly. Since then competition has increased as other fixed-line operators have been allowed to use the lines, but who can choose to provide services only where most profitable. BT has also argued that mobile operators should share the cost of maintaining phone boxes. ®
Unnamed Pentagon figures continue to get big ink for their thesis that Chinese military cyber assault is a threat of trouser-moistening magnitude. Last week's media bandwagon, initiated after Financial Times hacks in Washington obligingly got things rolling, is now thundering along unstoppably as foaming tech-dunce scribes pile aboard. On Friday it was The Times' turn to play ventriloquist's dummy. "Chinese military hackers have prepared a detailed plan to disable America’s aircraft battle carrier fleet with a devastating cyber attack, according to a Pentagon report obtained by The Times," says the Thunderer. Crikey - the aircraft battle carrier fleet, eh? (A rather excitable way, one might take it, of referring to one or more US carrier battle groups; each group consisting of a carrier plus supporting vessels. It's true that China doesn't like carrier groups, as they could interfere very seriously with any attempt to invade Taiwan.) Anyway - a carrier fleet, or something - disabled by a devastating cyber attack? That sounds pretty scary. Normally if you were going to "disable" a US Navy carrier group you'd want an enormous air or submarine force, and/or a load of hypersonic missiles, or maybe a very large nuclear bomb; something pretty damn major. Truly, this would be a "devastating cyber attack," indeed. And this is quality information. It's in a "Pentagon report obtained by The Times." That has to mean a serious intelligence document, surely - probably mega secret poop, the kind of thing that the US top brass rely on. It'll be pukka intel based on spy satellite intercept, maybe; or reports from undercover agents in China. Information that ordinary folk seldom see or even get to hear of, unless they're bigshot Times hacks. Or, you know, it could be a load of old cobblers that's been kicking about in the public domain for years. "The plan to cripple the US aircraft carrier battle groups was authored by two PLA air force officials, Sun Yiming and Yang Liping," says The Times. How on Earth did the "Pentagon" spooks get hold of the Yellow Peril's "devastating" new "cyber attack" plan, apparently capable of reducing a hundred billion dollarsworth of sea-going hardware to an irrelevance? If the Commies had something like that they'd keep it pretty secret - you'd think. The American spies who wrote the report "obtained" by The Times must have had to do something pretty amazing to get hold of the secret Chinese plans. Or maybe not, as in fact the "cyber attack plan" is a chapter in a technical reference book, openly produced by the Chinese academic press. Tactical Datalinks in Information Warfare was published by the Beijing Post and Telecommunications College Press in 2005. So actually the Pentagon spies just had to buy a copy of it. American spooks might have done that back in 2005; but if so they aren't telling. However, someone who is telling is Dr Larry Wortzel, author of the "Pentagon report" obtained by The Times. Who is Wortzel? Some kind of super-brainy Pentagon computer analyst nerd, probably. The one in the movie who gets bullied by the macho special-ops guys: but by God, he knows his computer stuff. Or, as we have here, a retired colonel with a PhD in political science from the University of Hawaii, who has also worked at Conservative Washington thinktanks. But he's written lots of books and stuff about China; and he's read Tactical Datalinks in Information Warfare. It's terrifying stuff, he says: "Sun Yiming and Yang Liping... have carefully consulted dozens of corporate websites and... technical manuals, to produce a virtual guidebook for electronic warfare and jamming to disrupt critical US... communications, computers, and intelligence..." The inscrutable little fiends! They've looked at our God-damn websites! And our tech manuals, which we often publish openly! Aiee! Well, that's it. The US Seventh Fleet may as well pack up and go home; a couple of PLA guys have done a Google search and written a book. All the hundreds of intensively trained electronic warfare guys in each fleet, and all their billion-dollar, triply-encrypted megawatt deathware have been sidestepped. And bizarrely, the PLA have chosen to publish their cyber attack plan to the world. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, crap. The PLA have next to no chance of seriously threatening the US navy any time soon. And if they did, they'd scarcely publicise their methods. And if that happened, you'd scarcely expect the Pentagon to be relying on political-science thinktank blowhards to analyse such a deeply technical matter for them. And then, supposing all of that had occurred, you wouldn't think the American brass would let their important intel get handed out to the British press. Again, they didn't. The "Pentagon report obtained by The Times" is a chapter written by Wortzel in a paper published last week by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army war college. The Institute is a defence-talking shop similar in nature to the UK's Royal College of Defence Studies: a place where senior government types go to have seminars and do courses and so on. In his screed, Wortzel cut-and-pastes in the same text on Yiming and Liping's book that he used in a previous mongraph of his last May, discussing the Chinese nuclear forces. Those two Chinamen will do to big up any threat you like, it seems. OK, theoretically this is a "Pentagon report," as the Institute is Pentagon-funded. The Reg has "obtained" the document too, by downloading it (pdf - page 197). It would be a lot more honest, though, to call it an essay, or a whitepaper, or a load of old strat-studies waffle. So let's just run that first Times paragraph through the translator. "Chinese military technicians wrote a book on electronic warfare two years ago, according to a bloke with a PhD in politics. We downloaded some of his stuff. He reckons the Chinese are getting more tech savvy." That's pretty weak. So is the rest of the piece: "The Pentagon logged more than 79,000 attempted intrusions in 2005 ... The Pentagon uses more than 5 million [networked] computers." That seems to be about 0.01 attempted intrusions per computer per year: an unbelievably low figure. If it's actually true, the US military can relax. The "cyber war" against Estonia last February gets trotted out yet again, too. "A massive cyber attack on Estonia by Russian hackers demonstrated how potentially catastrophic a preemptive strike could be on a developed nation," says the The Times. Blimey, yes; there's nothing north of Latvia but ruins, nowadays. Apparently Linton Wells, "the chief computer networks official at the Pentagon," said that the Estonia attacks “may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society". That seems to be true; many people are actually becoming less aware of the world around us, and bumbling off into some cloud-cuckoo land where the PLA can switch off a carrier strike force at the click of a mouse. This problem is probably most widespread among Times readers.®
You might not want to chip granny afterall. Studies on animals discovered high incidents of tumours close to the sites of RFID chip implants.
Chip monster Intel is upping its guidance for the third quarter - the day arch-rival AMD launches its Barcelona chip.
HP declared its intention to fight a long war against Cisco today, when it unwrapped its 8200zl series core switch units and promise a lifetime hardware warranty on the new kit.
Orange UK has shown off the pink LG Shine phone it plans to offer to UK consumers in the run up to Christmas - along with a rose-tinted Samsung F210, and salmon-hued W580i and W200i from Sony Ericsson.
Broadcom, manufacturer of set-top box chip sets and Qualcomm annoyer, has added Bluetooth to its set-top box reference platform; which should see the death of the infrared remote control within a couple of years. Broadcom sees non-line-of-sight remote control as just one capability Bluetooth adds. Connecting to inconveniently located phone sockets, a set of Bluetooth headphones or speakers, collecting content from mobiles and even the "synchronization of calendars, meetings, etc" are all within Bluetooth's capabilities, according to the company. It has always been possible, using the WAP profile, to deliver a customised interface to the screen of any Bluetooth phone or remote control handset, but the advantages of being able to control your TV from another room never seemed to justify the expense*. But the addition of the Audio Visual Remote Control Profile makes standard remotes possible, and proliferation of Bluetooth speakers offers a revenue stream for electronics manufactures looking to value-add, ultimately selling more electronics into homes.® * Your reporter created just such a bespoke system many years ago, but strangely is still seeking a backer to commercialise on the development.
UpdatedUpdated AOL has switched technology provider for its free security service for consumers from Kaspersky to McAfee.
British wartech-spinoff firm Qinetiq says its solar-powered robot plane has stayed up for 54 hours, surviving the hours of darkness on energy stored in lithium-sulphur batteries. Dubbed "Zephyr," the prototype High Altitude Long Endurance (Hale) flydroid airframe is made of ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre, allowing it to have an 18 metre wingspan but weigh just 30 kg. It's powered by amorphous silicon arrays "no thicker than sheets of paper". Attack of the fifty-foot electroplane. Apparently the potentially record-breaking flight was to a maximum altitude of 58,355 feet, and the Zephyr was able to carry "a surveillance payload" throughout. The tests were carried out at the US military's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. “The possibilities suggested by unmanned flight are truly exciting," said Qinetiq's Zephyr boss, Paul Davey. "With these trials Zephyr has secured its place in the history of UAV development. Both flights were achieved in the face of thunderstorms and debilitating heat in the hostile environment of the New Mexico high desert in the summertime. They have proved that an autonomous UAV can be operated on solar-electric power for the duration required to support persistent military operations.” Though Qientiq suggests that Zephyr or its like could be handy for various civil applications, there isn't much doubt that they're primarily looking towards a military customer base. Hale is a particular aspiration of the US Army, which would like to have spy platforms and comms relays that could lurk at 50,000-feet-plus for long periods, perhaps freeing the soldiery from dependence on planes and satellites. By the sound of it, Zephyr can lift a payload; but one might reasonably speculate that it won't have much power to spare. Most surveillance packages need a fair bit of juice, and some - such as synthetic aperture radar - need quite a lot. Even communications relay could be a bit demanding, especially given that the Zephyr needs to husband every erg so as to stay aloft through the night. Qinetiq says that the solar-powered plane has comfortably beaten the world unmanned-aircraft endurance record, previously held by Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk. However, Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) officials weren't present at White Sands, so the Zephyr flight "may not stand as an official world record." Given how secret many robo-aircraft projects are, one might suspect that the official world record isn't especially relevant in this particular category. Full details from Qinetiq here.®
Amazon and Google are colloborating to try and locate adventurer Steve Fossett, missing since last Monday somewhere in Nevada. Amazon has mobilised its Mechanical Turk using the "latest" images of Nevada and parts of California just deployed on Google Earth, and is asking people to scour snippets of imagery for Fossett's Bellanca Citabria Super Decathalon - described as "30 pixel wingspan by 21 pixels by length". Possible spots can then be flagged on Google Earth and passed onto the search team for further investigation. Nevada Civil Air Patrol Major Cynthia Ryan welcomed the initiative, but added it was "unlikely that Google Earth would have picked up anything that military satellites would not spot", the BBC notes. On Sunday, Lyon County Undersheriff Joe Sanford, part of the search team, told AP there was "a possibility - that he [Fosset] may never be found" - despite the efforts of 45 aircraft which had by then covered 10,000 square miles hunting down Fossett. As added spice to the tale, the admission by Ryan that military sats had already been deployed to cast an eye over Nevada will add fuel to the conspiracy theory that the Fossett search is actually a cover story, and the authorities are rather urgently looking for a 150 kiloton nuclear weapon which inconveniently detatched itself during the recent unscheduled TransAmerican B-52 nuke jaunt. Any reader participating in the Mechanical Turk Fossett hunt and who spots a swarm of black helicopters over Nevada should contact us immediately, and in the strictest confidence. ®
The rumors about VMware putting ESX Server on dietary supplements have been confirmed. The virtualization darling today revealed ESX Server 3i - a super-thin hypervisor that will be built into the memory of servers from companies such as Dell, HP and IBM. We've been writing about the so-called ESX Lite for some time now, particularly in conjunction with Dell. The Round Rock-based server maker plans to ship an appliance-like machine later this year that will include a hypervisor in flash memory. Such a move should lead to performance improvements by cutting application install and boot times and by letting vendors strip hard disks out of their servers to lower power consumption.
Our analysis of the prospects and possibilities for the new iPod Touch got readers very excited. Not a single reader used the words "locked-down, overpriced PDA", which would have been a natural retort. But not one person could get excited about YouTube, either. And you also sent in some excellent suggestions for trouserware too. The best of your thoughts tomorrow. Now recall that some enthusiasts noticed that early versions of publicity material for Touch featured Bluetooth, which didn't make it into the finished product. Is it losing yet more? One eagle eyed reader worries it might be. Apple has amended the publicity material from this (still visible in the Google cache) - iPod Touch with ... To this - iPod Touch without Of course, you say: this is just marketing blurb. And it's making a very long and cumbersome sentence shorter. Then again, it might just be a pitch to hurry up and buy your iPod Touch. Buy now! Before we take out something else useful... Apple has tweaked its post-launch marketing material before. Five years ago, Apple amended its guff for the PowerMac, which it was refreshing at the height of the 2002 Silly Season, after initially making this very exciting scientific breakthrough: Faster than light? Not for long We noticed, and readers piled in. In the end, the Reality Distortion Field hadn't punctured a hole in the space time continuum, and the metaphor was removed. Thanks to Julian for the tip®
Entire computing platforms have come and gone* in the time that it has taken AMD to shove the four-core version of Opteron known as Barcelona into end customers' hands.
Police have arrested a Seattle man over allegations he used P2P networks to swipe sensitive financial data from the PCs of file sharing fans. Gregory Kopiloff, 35, allegedly used the Limewire and Soulseek P2P networks as conduits for identity theft. Investigators reckon he used the software to scour users' systems on the hunt for income tax returns, student financial aid applications, credit reports and other documents that might give con men enough information about users to impersonate them.
Google isn't the only tech giant mulling over a big-money bid for a prized portion of the US wireless spectrum. Apple's thinking much the same thing.
Hungry for some attention, Dell will bring out the Big Man for any old thing these days. Take for instance the PowerVault MD3000i, Dell's new modular disk storage array featuring iSCSI support. Michael Dell himself was in San Francisco today to announce the new virtualization-friendly protocol option to the company's PowerVault boxes.
Site NewsSite News I have an apology for all the hardware geniuses and open source software experts out there. Due to some typing errors, last week's episodes of Semi-Coherent Computing and Open Season suffered from iTunes bungling. Those of you looking for the shows on iTunes were probably unable to find them. The problem is now fixed. You can spot Episode 6 of Semi-Coherent Computing - our chat on x86 boxes and virtualization - here. The first episode of Open Season, which was a raging success despite the iTunes issue, is here. Last and possibly least, my new book - due out in a couple weeks - is here. The book is much better than the title would indicate. I promise. Now back to your usual programming. ®