27th > September > 2007 Archive

Adobe
11

Adobe gifts internal file permissions to unwashed masses

A scripting error in Adobe's website gave outsiders broad access to internal files on the company's webserver that could prove valuable to malicious hackers trying to penetrate its security.
Dan Goodin, 27 Sep 2007
channel
9

Code dandy Transitive adds laptop, legacy Solaris/SPARC plays

Software shifting specialist Transitive continues to better define its magical play. In recent weeks, the company has reworked its product portfolio to go after Legacy, Sever and Workstation segments, while also strengthening ties with blade server maker Egenera and AMD.
Ashlee Vance, 27 Sep 2007
4

Sling Media intros simplified Slingbox

Sling Media has revamped its UK Slingbox TV-over-the-net gadget line-up, a move that will see the year-old Slingbox Pro finally come to Britain, alongside the global launch of a brand new Slingbox, the Solo.
Tony Smith, 27 Sep 2007

Sling states SlingCatcher release plan

Sling Media will release its promised SlingCatcher 'Sling Player for TVs' device in the US by the end of the year, the company said yesterday. It'll arrive in the UK in Q1 2008, it told Register Hardware.
Tony Smith, 27 Sep 2007
5

Yahoo!'s insanity over Zimbra and Google's plan to rule open source code

AudioAudio What in heaven's name was Yahoo! thinking by purchasing Zimbra for a stunning $350m? Well, Matt Asay, Dave Rosenberg and I cover everything you could ever want to know about this deal in Episode 3 of Open Season. Insight? Hilarity? Ego-fueled punditry? Yep, it's all there. If Zimbra's not your thing, that's just fine. We also discuss Google's super-secret project that may or may not be happening around creating a new open source software licensing model. It's a rich stance for a company that sucks down way more open source code than it puts back, but then Google is rich - and how. The fresh dish of Open Season also looks at Microsoft's woes with Europe and MuleSource's new On Demand offering. As usual, those of you who want to skip the punditry can head to section two of the broadcast where we try and talk about things that are actually helpful for open source businesses. That section kicks off at about Minute 37. You'll find the complete show notes below and can, as always, send feedback to software at theregister.com. I've seen the show stats and know that there are thousands and thousands of you tuning into the show. We'd really like to get some more feedback from you people, so that the show meets your needs. So, please speak up! Open Season - Episode 3 You can subscribe to the show on iTunes here or grab the Arse feed here. True believers can do their Ogg Vorbis thing here. Thus Spoke Zimbrarichstra Yahoo buys Zimbra, also a Talking Heads song Matt scores the Open Source Gold Rush Zimbra desktop is not that good - doesn't work, but they still deserve the money Outcast - the PR firm you want when carpet bombing is your thing What does this give Yahoo!? Why an enterprise branded kind of thing Did Red Hat make a mistake by passing on Zimbra? Maybe so, but there's still time to buy Alfresco Red Hat absorption skills very low, although MuleSource is available Citrix's XenSource buy a moment of irrational exuberance Dave spent time with Red Hat CEO and was moved Matt is a big Red Hat softy, although he sees hard realities Microsoft vs. The World - Oh, okay - vs. Socialist Europe Microsoft at war with the EU Back off, bureaucrats. Open source doesn't need your stinking help Who cares about Microsoft anymore? Oh, right Google to Change the World with New Open Source License Subhead - We might be making this up Chris DiBona chimes in on open-discuss - Google's licensing guiding principles Google delivers PR kick to groin Er, Google, where are your contributions? "We'll write around your crappy license Mule on a Cloud Mule On Demand Bus on a Cloud - Dreams on a Biscuit Alfresco plays hide and seek with hosted CMS Dave has launch day breakdown Salesforce, you cruel, cruel master Part 2: Open Source Business Advice - Minute 37 Where is open source software used? - Global 2000 vs. The Little Guy Who do you touch and where do you touch them? Dave touches 7 of the Fortune 50 Use demand generation software, stupid. You're a data company Speeding the evaluation period or at least improving it Alfresco has evaluation framework coming - it has exercises Dave and Matt attend meetings. It's about time. How Sun has maneuvered with OpenSolaris Ashlee's book always available and including an interview with /.'s Rob Malda Celebrate Firefox Long live Eudora!! Stay away, Thunderbird OpenOffice is languishing. Can IBM save it? Thanks for your ears. ®
Ashlee Vance, 27 Sep 2007

SlingPlayer Mobile released for S60 phones

Own a Slingbox and a Series 60 - aka S60 - mobile phone that you'd like to be able to steam video from one device to the other? Now you can. Sling Media has posted a version of its SlingPlayer Mobile app for Symbian handsets for all to download.
Tony Smith, 27 Sep 2007
triangular warning sign featuring exclamation mark
3

Stats office deal sparks confidentiality fears

A union is warning that the privacy of sensitive information could be put at risk by a statistics agency IT deal. Proposals by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to outsource its IT functions to Fujitsu Services have prompted fears from the civil service union over confidentiality of data.
Kablenet, 27 Sep 2007
1

Lobby group calls for police database access for prisons

Some deaths in custody could be averted if the Prison Service had access to the Police National Computer, an independent forum has said. The Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody says it wants a more joined-up approach between the Prison Service and police to reduce the number of deaths in custody from non-natural causes. Publishing its first annual report, the forum has found that around 600 people die each year in custody. Although many of these deaths are through natural causes, some follow as a result of apparent suicide attempts and some from other non-natural causes. The forum believes that some of these deaths could and should have been prevented. One practice that could help avert unnecessary deaths is improved communication between the Prison Service and police. The forum says if prison staff had access to the Police National Computer (PNC) they would be able to make better risk assessments. "By allowing the Prison Service to enter data, the police would also be more aware of safety issues when the person concerned is next dealt with by police officers", says the report. But differences have surfaced between the two bodies as to how and when this should happen. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice refused to elaborate on these differences, but said the vast amount of sensitive data on the PNC meant that widening access to a tool that was "for the police, by the police" raised a number of issues. She told GC News: "Dialogue is ongoing between the Prison Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to improve data sharing between the police and prison services, while protecting the security of the sensitive information held." The Prison Service currently has read-only access to limited data held on the PNC database to assist with risk assessments of individuals. An interim solution is in place for individual prisons to inform their local PNC bureau by phone or fax of any prisoner at risk of self-harm. Forum chair John Wadham told GC News: "We believe that there are many advantages to the Prison Service having access to, and being able to add information onto, the PNC. "We understand that there are cost implications and issues of data protection to be taken into account but, in our view, shared access to PNC could help the two organisations to communicate crucial information about an individual's risks and vulnerabilities. We will therefore continue to focus on bringing together police and Prison Service representatives to take this forward." The work of the forum includes deaths of people in prison, police stations, immigration detention and secure mental hospitals. It also covers those who have been released from custody and are under supervision of the National Probation Service. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 27 Sep 2007
9

Magazines go online in iTunes-esque move

A new online newsagent is hoping to galvanise the Irish publishing market by selling magazines online. Mymagonline.com, which is based in Dublin, is hoping to become the iTunes of the publishing world by offering readers PDF versions of Irish publications. These can be downloaded directly to a PC. The magazine appears on screen the way it does in hard copy format, and any interactive content is also provided. The site is trying to tap into a growing audience. According to recent Nielsen/Netratings research, 83 per cent of readers reading downloaded magazines online have never purchased a printed copy. Current titles on offer include Irish Garden, PC Live and Car Buyers Guide, and the magazines are available for a discount, typically up to 40 per cent. "The service does for magazine publishing what iTunes has done for music, delivering magazines to readers in minutes with just the click of a mouse and providing publishers with a shop window on the web," said Barry Baker, chief executive of Mymagonline.com. "Our aim is to deliver a wide range of quality magazine content to a time-poor target market, on a highly accessible web platform that has been designed to grow as our business does. Our offering complements traditional media outlets and allows content providers access to greater readership and expanded advertising." The project has been set up with the cooperation of the Periodical Publishers Association of Ireland (PPAI), and will launch in the UK in 2008. "Digital downloads is one of the new growth areas in content delivery. Whilst print is always at the core of our business, this service will make it easier for publishers to attract a new type of online reader, providing new opportunities for generating revenue through online sales and enhanced advertising," said Richard Power, chairperson of the PPAI. © 2007 ENN
Ciara O'Brien, 27 Sep 2007
3

Canadian privacy commissioner slams TJX data policy

The leak of 45 million people's credit card information was caused by retailer TJX gathering too much data and not protecting it properly, according to the Canadian privacy commissioner. The commissioner has published the results of an investigation into the company, which found that the unprecedented leak was foreseeable. It found that the company's processes had failed to protect customers, and how simply keeping so much information is "a serious liability". "The company collected too much personal information, kept it too long and relied on weak encryption technology to protect it – putting the privacy of millions of its customers at risk," said privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. "Criminal groups actively target credit card numbers and other personal information. A database of millions of credit card numbers is a potential goldmine for fraudsters and it needs to be protected with solid security measures," she said. "The TJX breach is a dramatic example of how keeping large amounts of sensitive information – particularly information that is not required for business purposes – for a long time can be a serious liability." The commissioner's office conducted an investigation but has not taken TJX to the courts, which it has the power to do. It said that it had made recommendations to TJX during the course of the investigation about how it could improve its systems and that TJX had complied with its requests. "We are of the view that TJX contravened the [law] concerning the collection and retention of personal information held by it," said the commissioner's report. "We are pleased, however, that TJX has agreed to implement our recommendations to the extent that [we] consider the matter to be resolved." The investigation was carried out by the privacy commissioner and the privacy commissioner of Alberta, a Canadian province with different privacy laws to the national laws. They investigated TJX and its subsidiaries Winners Merchant International and HomeSense, the shops it operates in Canada. The commissioner found that TJX had failed to comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Alberta's Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). The company did not manage the risk of a breach, it failed to encrypt data strongly enough, it did not monitor its systems well enough, it did not act in accordance with payment card industry standards and it collected too much information. The investigation also found that the company did not even have adequate reason to collect all the information that it did gather. "The investigation also found the company did not have a reasonable purpose to collect driver's licence and other identification numbers when unreceipted merchandise was returned," said a statement from the commissioner's office. "TJX stated it asked for this information as part of a fraud prevention process to identify people frequently returning merchandise. It retained the driver’s license numbers – an extremely valuable piece of information for identity thieves – indefinitely," it said. The office of the commissioner said it would not take action against TJX because the company had already complied with its requests. The office has told the company to improve its security and privacy practices in specific ways. "[The commissioners] are pleased the company has agreed to follow these recommendations," said the office. The commissioner is an officer of the Canadian Parliament and has the power to conduct investigations, compel people to give evidence, and take action through the courts based on Canada's privacy laws. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 27 Sep 2007
50

Microsoft: New Live Search 'as good as Google'

Microsoft yesterday used its Silicon Valley outpost, just down the road from Google, to unveil a "major update" to the web's third most popular search engine. And, yes, it's only been a year since the last major update. Bill and the gang plan on re-launching Live Search every 12 months.
Cade Metz, 27 Sep 2007
11

Tulip tries to buy back Commodore brand

Dutch manufacturer Tulip Computers has announced it wants to buy back the Commodore brand it sold to Yeahronimo Media Ventures in 2004 for €22m. The computer maker is planning to bid $1 a share for the US computer firm Commodore, valuing the company at $81m.
Jan Libbenga, 27 Sep 2007

US retailer Target lines up pink iPod Shuffle for charity

US retail chain Target has begun offering an exclusive pink iPod Shuffle, part of its programme to support breast cancer charities.
Tony Smith, 27 Sep 2007
15

Space station barney kicks off in India

It has cost billions upon billions and it isn't finished yet, but partners in the International Space Station project are already arguing about when it should be shut down, according to AFP reports. The various agencies' positions are as follows: In the red corner (not political statement, just a handy colour) we have NASA, which says it has no plans to do anything at all with the ISS for more than five years after its completion. In the blue corner, we have European Space Agency (ESA), which says (roughly) if NASA is going, it won't be picking up the budgetary slack. In the green corner, Russia wants the station's life to be extended. The remaining partners, Japan and Canada, are not showing their cards quite yet. The Europeans are not happy, however, with the US plans to pull out. According to pundits, ESA takes the view that five years is too short a period to run the ISS, given the enormous investment. But since the US picks up the lion's share of the running costs, NASA is calling the shots. Speaking at the astronautics congress in Hyderabad, southern India, ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain said: "If NASA is staying, we are ready to follow. If NASA is quitting, I shall not propose to ESA to pay part of the cost that NASA is covering today. ESA is not prepared to pay NASA's share when NASA has left the space station." NASA estimates that it spends roughly $2.3bn of its annual budget just keeping the space station running. Now that the political emphasis in Washington has shifted so emphatically towards manned space exploration generally, and the moon in particular, NASA clearly has an incentive to focus beyond low-Earth orbit. The space agency says lunar bases are the future platforms for manned exploration of our solar system. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Sep 2007
14

Federal judge slams Patriot Act

A federal judge today struck down provisions of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, adding fuel to the politically charged debate over the controversial law. US District Judge Ann Aiken slammed Patriot Act amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for eviscerating the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects against unwarranted government searches, and can only be modified by further constitutional amendment. Judge Ann Aiken ruled that FISA "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment". "For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised." The case was brought by Brandon Mayfield, a Portland attorney whose life was turned upside down by the feds after he was mistakenly fingered by the FBI for involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Mayfield settled for $2m, but retained the right to challenge the Patriot Act in court. Judge Aiken dismissed the government's arguments with extreme prejudice, accusing the US attorney general's office of "asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so". Mayfield accused the FBI of violating the 4th Amendment by conducting warrantless searches of his home and office. We suspect certain Orwellian elements on the American right have always wanted to do away with that particular inconvenient part of the Constitution. Terrorism paranoia has provided the perfect storm of hysteria needed to wash away such ancient and fundamental rights as habeas corpus, or the right against self-incrimination - the Patriot Act assault on the Fourth Amendment is only part of a broader effort. The Cheney Administration has an insatiable hard-on for this particular brand of proto-totalitarianism, and will no doubt appeal the ruling. ® Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
Burke Hansen, 27 Sep 2007
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12

VoIP says hello to the iPhone

UK-based VoIP provider Truphone last night demonstrated its ability to place a VoIP call from an Apple iPhone, as well as some Facebook integration.
Bill Ray, 27 Sep 2007

IT vendors: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Reg Technology PanelReg Technology Panel It's been well over a year since we asked for your views on the organisations you buy IT products and services from. But today sees the welcome return of our The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Vendor survey. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly helps us paint a picture of the supplier landscape, praising those that are performing, shaming those that aren't - and getting a handle on how relevant those so called "hot topics" we all keep hearing about really are. So what are you waiting for? The survey should take you no more than 10 minutes to complete, but it does depend on how much you want to put in. Click here to get started. The results will be posted as soon as our number bods have finished crunching all your data, so make sure you keep checking The Register for what is shaping up to be an interesting read. Last year we were inundated with responses, and if you haven't seen them already a copy of last year's results can be downloaded here. ®
Team Register, 27 Sep 2007
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22

Hint of next PS3 spied on web

Whether it's the rumoured 40GB cut-down model or not, there does appear to be a further Sony PlayStation 3 console in the works. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website currently lists a PS3 with the model number CECHG01 and its certification as a 'good neighbour' wireless device.
Tony Smith, 27 Sep 2007
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Avnet to gobble up Acal

Electronics distie Avnet said today that it will acquire the IT solutions arm of Storage Area Networking (SAN) reseller Acal plc for a cash consideration of £41m.
Kelly Fiveash, 27 Sep 2007
8

A little more Conversation, to get in on the action

Nokia Beta Labs has launched Conversation, a free application for S60 third edition handsets that provides an additional tab to your contacts application, showing conversations you're having and with whom. The ability to see one's messages organised by person, rather than date and time, is something Treo and iPhone users have enjoyed, and now the rest of us can see who we've been talking to, as well as when we spoke to them. You can limit the display to messages related to people in your contacts book, or sort messages by time or person, as well as continuing the conversation from within the application. But what's really interesting is the speed with which a feature like this can be implemented and integrated in response to a competitive threat. iPhone users have been raving about threaded messaging, so Nokia responds by adding the feature to its devices. Maintaining a development environment and community is expensive, but it is in the speed with which features can be developed and deployed that the investment pays off. ®
Bill Ray, 27 Sep 2007

Samsung SGH-G600 mobile phone

ReviewReview The latest handset to join Samsung's stylish sliderphone line-up is unashamedly image conscious. However, the G600 is all about its photographic features rather than its flash looks, being one of a few mobiles to boast a five-megapixel camera.
Simon Lorne, 27 Sep 2007
Warning: biohazard
21

Jailed worm author offered job by victim

A Chinese virus writer sent to jail for four years earlier this week has been offered a well-paying job by one of his victims.
John Leyden, 27 Sep 2007
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Sharp rolls out latest Blu-ray recorders

If there’s one sure-fire way to push a next generation format, such as Blu-ray, then simultaneously releasing a whole host of recorders must be it. Sharp's done just that and announced a whopping four new models for every wallet size.
James Sherwood, 27 Sep 2007
28

Japanese to patent transparent frog

Japanese boffins have used artificial insemination to breed mutant frogs with transparent skin. The scientists reckon this will make biological research - not to mention school biology lessons - signifcantly less messy and traumatic, as it will no longer be necessary to cut the slime-filled creatures up in order to examine their innards. "You can watch organs of the same frog over its entire life as you don't have to dissect it," enthused noted Hiroshima University* sunroof-amphibian man Professor Masayuki Sumida, according to AFP. The new, handy, patent-pending sunroof frog. Look but don't cut. Sumida and his team of batrachian-bothering boffins produced the new see-through-packaged critters by breeding carefully selected mutant albino frogs. The pale-skinned pond dwellers' offspring came out opaque owing to the presence of dominant regular-type genes, but by breeding these genetic carrier frogs together the crafty researchers obtained breakthrough batrachians with built-in windows. It seems the new special frogs - derived from regulation rena japonica japanese browns - are transparent even as tadpoles. This provides hours of fun for committed frog fanciers as "you can see dramatic changes of organs when tadpoles mutate into frogs", according to Sumida. He believes the secret of the see-through creatures will be so commercially valuable that he plans to patent them. It might seem impossible to prevent unscrupulous breeders producing illegally pirated sunroof-frog copies to be sold in supermarket carparks, but in fact Sumida's biotech has built-in BRM (Batrachian Rights Management). The glassy frogs can have children, also transparent, but the following generation die at birth. If you want to look at a frog's guts without slicing it up, you'll have to pay licensing. Sumida's plans don't stop there. He reckons a move forward from simple eugenics to actual genetic modification could produce new and still more innovative frog technology. The good professor envisaged an exciting new type of transparent amphibian which would glow luminously when it developed cancer, for instance. Obviously, glowing see-through cancerous batrachians are great; but indeed this news is no surprise when one considers the other amazing capabilities of the moist miniature marsh-dwellers (for instance the ability to sweat hallucinogenic drugs, antiseptic ointment, insect repellent, or even glue). Surely it can't be long until some clever scientist employs Sumida's patented batrachian boffinry to develop a pocket-sized variety which can dispense a refreshing mindbending chemical, be used to stick notes to the fridge, deal with insect bites, and light up a dark hallway. One would be able to tell how much loopy juice, glue etc was left in the little fellow's reservoirs simply by looking, of course. And in extremis the adaptable amphibian could be sold to a passing Frenchman as a tasty snack. Frogs. Is there anything they can't do? ® *There's no connection between local availability of mutant frogs and the 1945 bucket of sunshine from the States, apparently.
Lewis Page, 27 Sep 2007

Channel wins the war, but salmonella wins the bacteria race to space

The revelation that the channel model wars are over seems like a good place to kickstart our review of the week's news in The Reg. And the even better news is that the channel won. So break out the champagne, sing some rousing songs and hug a total stranger, the enemy has been defeated and victory is yours.
Billy MacInnes, 27 Sep 2007
29

Note to despots: You can't kill the internet

The latest reports from the turmoil in Burma say at least one person died and many were wounded today when police again shot at protesters on the streets of Rangoon. Until now, one of the most striking things about the monk-led uprising has been the volume of information that has been escaping about the usually secretive regime's activities. Citizens have been using mobile phones, cyber cafes, and according to some reports, internet connections controlled by foreign embassies to get news to the outside world. Blood on the streets [via ko-htike.blogspot.com] The junta now seems to have recognised that worldwide communications networks make the kind of hammer blow it delivered when it murdered 3,000 democracy campaigners in 1989 a difficult PR proposition. According to free speech advocate Reporters Without Borders, they've swooped to cut off channels over the last few days. Happily, it doesn't seem to be working too well, thanks to the ingenuity of the Burmese people. According to The Asia Times: Thanks to the growing global proliferation of proxy servers, proxy sites, encrypted e-mail accounts, http tunnels and other creative workarounds, the cyber-reality in Myanmar [Burma] is actually much less restricted than ONI's research indicated." A 2005 Study by Havard's OPenNet Initiative (ONI) had said that Burma's internet censorship "was among the tightest in the World." The pressure group Democratic Voice of Burma has up-to-date accounts of the uprising here, and the BBC is posting first-hand reports here. London-based blogger Ko Htike's site features more eyewitness accounts and pictures of the military crackdown. He reported at 3pm today (Burma time): right now they're using fire engines and hitting people and dragging them onto E2000 trucks and most of them are girls and people are shouting The few professional journalists operating in the country are delivering reports via satellite phones that the regime cannot interfere with. Despite the growing international outcry over current events, an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Wednesday mustered only a "statement of concern". Burma's near neighbour and trade partner China has by all accounts led moves to block sanctions. The European Parliament called on China and Russia to drop their opposition to sanctions today. China is, of course, expert in supressing online dissent itself. It'll play host to the world at the Olympics in Beijing next summer, and cannot afford a bloodbath on its doorstep as it tries to sell "new China". According to The Reg's technical team, we've had 216 readers visit us from Burma since 1 September. Good luck to you if you're still reading. ®
Christopher Williams, 27 Sep 2007
16

Dawn on its way to the asteroid belt

Dawn, NASA's mission to the asteroid belt, has at last launched successfully. At the time of writing, NASA mission managers were still waiting for the Delta II's second and third stages to fire, but so far it is all looking good. Lift Off! Image credit: NASA Dawn was originally slated to depart early this summer, but lightning storms kept it pinned down on the launch pad. The most recent delay was to allow more time to fill the rocket's second stage, bad weather having forced engineers inside. But Dawn is finally on its way. Now it has to travel across the inner solar system to the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists think the asteroid belt is full of the debris from the formation of planets. Dawn is on its way to study Ceres, officially a dwarf planet and the largest body in the asteroid belt, like Pluto, which it will reach in 2015. Ceres is thought to hold a layer of water ice roughly 40km below its surface. But first it will stop off at Vesta, a large asteroid roughly half the size of Ceres. It should reach this target as soon as 2011. The two targets are very different from one another, and are thought to have been formed by totally different processes. NASA describes them as a bridge from the rocky bodies of the inner solar system to the icy regions of the gas giants. Vesta is a rocky body, whose surface seems to be basaltic rock, or frozen lava. It has a giant crater at one of its poles, created by a massive collision millions of years ago. This smash blasted out some 200,000 miles of rock that scientists believe are responsible for roughly five per cent of all asteroids we find on Earth. Ceres, meanwhile, is believed to contain large quantities of ice. If only 25 per cent of its mass is water ice, it would hold more fresh water than there is on Earth. Some researchers believe it is not only possible that the dwarf planet holds ice, but that liquid water may flow beneath its frozen crust. It is also possible that it has frozen poles. Dawn's goal is to work out what processes were involved in the formation of Vesta and Ceres, and hence the early dynamics of our solar system as a whole. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Sep 2007
6

NASA holds vomit-comet docs v robosurgeons trial

NASA is to carry out a contest between human and robotic surgeons in conditions of zero gravity this week. Competing fleshy and machine medics are even now carrying out a variety of procedures aboard C-9 military cargo aircraft soaring in parabolic arcs high above the Gulf of Mexico. NASA is interested in the robo-surgeon technology as it could one day be used to treat astronauts who had been injured or fallen ill on missions, without the need to include a Dr McCoy style spacegoing sickbay and surgical team. However, the doc-droid gear was originally developed under military auspices, with a view to treating battle casualties far from established medical facilities. It was trialled earlier this year in NASA's undersea space simulator lab off the Florida coast, too. Artist's conception of a robodoc at work. Nasty case of zombie plague there. In addition to checking that the robot can use steel to heal in microgravity, its designers also want to see if it can handle extra gees and random motion from turbulence. They reckon this could be handy in earthbound applications, perhaps allowing surgery to be carried out safely aboard aircraft in flight - or even trucks on bumpy roads. The M-7 automated surgeon involved in the trials is made by SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organisation. "SRI is at the forefront of medical robotics technology that can benefit humans in dynamic, moving environments," according to Thomas Low, boss of SRI's Medical Devices and Robotics programme. "In previous experiments, SRI successfully demonstrated how robots can be manipulated remotely and set-up with minimal training. We are now extending that technology to movement and weightlessness, critical elements of any space travel program." The idea is not that the M-7 itself can do surgery, but that it can offer a remote human the ability to operate just as if he was working on a patient in a motionless hospital theatre, rather than one strapped down in a vibrating medevac chopper or transport plane (or in NASA's case, a spacecraft which might be in free fall, under thrust or even tumbling). The machinery is supposed to iron out the inputs of the environment. During this week's trials, manual and M-7 surgical teams will make incisions in six-inch squares of simulated human skin and then suture them up again. They'll also try to delicately slice the skin without harming the pretend "fascia" layer - the fibrous net which separates real human skin from innards. While this is going on, the plane will be soaring and plunging rollercoaster-style between 24,000 and 32,000 feet. And may the best flesh-cutter win. SRI's release is here, and coverage from Scientific American here. ®
Lewis Page, 27 Sep 2007
28

Greenland's super-melty summer

The higher peaks of the Greenland icesheet spent longer melting this summer than any summer since 1988, according to a NASA funded study. The research revealed that enough snow melted in Greenland this year to cover the surface of the USA more than two times over*. Image of the so-called 2007 Greenland melting anomaly. Credit: NASA This so-called melting anomaly is calculated using microwave data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imaging radiometer. It refers to the difference between the number of melting days occuring in 2007 and the average number of melting days during the period 1988 to 2006. Oddly, the increased melting was predominantly concentrated in higher altitude regions. "When snow melts at those high altitudes and then refreezes, it can absorb up to four times more energy than fresh, unthawed snow," said Marco Tedesco, a research scientists at the Joint Centre for Earth Systems Technology. "This can affect Earth's energy budget by changing how much radiation from the sun is absorbed by the Earth versus that reflected back into the atmosphere. Refrozen snow can also alter the snow density, thickness and snow-water content." Tedesco said the results came as something of a surprise, and demonstrated just how complex the environmental systems of our planet are. Overall, the time spent melting in Greenland this year was up 30 per cent on the average for the last two decades. This isn't a record peak, but could be indicative of a trend towards longer periods of melting in the region. Tedesco noted: "Aside from contributing to direct sea level rise, melting especially along the coast can speed up glaciers since the meltwater acts like a lubricant between the frozen surface and the bedrock deep below. The faster glaciers flow, the more water enters the ocean and potentially impacts sea level rise." ® Click here for a larger version of the picture, with appropriate scale. *What this is in sheepsecs/multiples of Wales is left as an exercise for the reader.
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Sep 2007
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59

Hospital's brand new '£1m' server room goes up in smoke

An investigation has been launched at Leeds' famous St James' hospital after a server room disastrously overheated, permanently frying a new computer system for storing patient x-rays.
Christopher Williams, 27 Sep 2007

BenQ touts skinny, touchy-feely digicam

We were quite keen when BenQ announced today the world's slimmest camera. But then we found the Taiwanese company had qualified the claim by stating its DC T800 is the world's thinnest digicam with a 3in touchscreen.
Tony Smith, 27 Sep 2007
Warning: two way
14

Pyramid flies white flag in Microsoft grey market row

Microsoft has settled a copyright infringement dispute with UK-based Pyramid Distribution over so-called "parallel importing".
Kelly Fiveash, 27 Sep 2007
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11

Foam hinders Halo 3 disc scratching down under

Not all gamers buying Halo 3 Limited Edition packs received a scratched disc. Copies sent out to Australia apparently contained a cunningly hi-tech device to stop the disc from being damaged.
James Sherwood, 27 Sep 2007
8

Cambridgeshire letter bomber found guilty

A former Cambridgeshire school caretaker, accused of carrying out a nationwide letter-bombing campaign, was today found guilty as charged at Oxford Crown Court. Miles Cooper, 27, of Cherry Hinton near Cambridge, had denied eight counts of causing bodily injury by means of an explosive substance and two counts of using an explosive substance with intent to disable. Cooper was also charged with making explosives, with an alternative charge of possessing an explosive substance. The jury convicted him unanimously on all counts including making explosives. During the trial, Cooper did not deny that he had made letter bombs and sent them to various addresses around the country. However he denied any intention to cause injury or harm, saying that his actions were a protest against excessive governmental surveillance and control in Britain. According to reports, the 27-year-old was particularly aggrieved at the fact that his father Clive Cooper's DNA signature had been retained on the national police database despite his acquittal following a 2003 assault charge. Miles Cooper's devices reportedly employed small low-explosive charges triggered by pull initiators from party poppers. The first one which functioned was designed to shoot a nail at its victim, and following packages used glass fragmentation. It was accepted by the prosecution that none of the devices were powerful enough to kill. Victims said they had suffered hearing damage and glass embedded in hands and stomachs. DVLA worker Karen Andrews, who opened the final device, told the court she was expected to suffer tinnitus for life. Police described Cooper's bedroom in the house he shared with his mother as "basically a bomb making factory." Fireworks, matches, party poppers, and three improvised devices containing "potassium, chlorate, perchlorate, magnesium, silicon, iron, phosphate and sulphur" were found. The three devices were described by their maker as "incendiaries" and by prosecutors as "explosives." He will be sentenced tomorrow morning.®
Lewis Page, 27 Sep 2007
channel
7

Experts fret over credit card compliance

Efforts by the credit card industry to boost merchant security are likely to flounder unless tighter regulations are accompanied by punishments against transgressors.
John Leyden, 27 Sep 2007
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1

D-Link switches to green to make more green

Another day, and another tech vendor turns the colour of the Incredible Hulk.
Kelly Fiveash, 27 Sep 2007
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32

Gateway launches iMac-alike all-in-one PC

Gateway has unveiled its latest all-in-one desktop PC, dubbed simply the One. Sitting somewhere between an Apple iMac and Sony's Vaio LT series in terms of looks, the slimline 19in machine also sports a unique power-brick-cum-port-replicator.
James Sherwood, 27 Sep 2007
53

Adopt this dog or we'll kill it

Those among you who remember when it was all fields round here may also recall the famous January 1973 cover of National Lampoon which carried a pic of someone holding a gun to the head of a rather worried looking mutt and the headline "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog". Well, a US "nonprofit national shelter outreach program" has decided to adopt the same no-nonsense approach to selling its wares - but in this case it's for real. Yes indeed, cue heartstring-tugging stuff down at dogsindanger.com, where visitors are greeted by a snap of some wretched canine and a reminder of just how long he or she has left before a last walk to the euthanisia room. The group behind the hard sell is The Buddy Fund, which hopes that "highlighting the fact many unadopted dogs are euthanized by shelters with scarce space will spur people to take them in". The fund's Alex Aliksanyan told Reuters: "This is happening ... in our country, in our back yard. It's been kept underneath a blanket of niceness and sweetness. So we said, 'Let's put the truth in front of the consumer - either do something about it, or at least realize you're a partner.'" Aliksanyan stressed: "It's not a happy site with puppies running around. It's not meant to be that. We're taking it the other way around. We're saying these pets are going to die. Look at their faces." And in case the pleading eyes of the Death Row inmates don't fully do the trick, dogsindanger.com throws in a continuously updated "As you are reading this x dogs have been killed" tally. That's a nationwide stat, of course, but we're pleased to announce that The Buddy Fund's animals who do suffer the "dead dawg walking" ordeal are at least afforded a suitable memorial. ®
Lester Haines, 27 Sep 2007
Cisco

Cisco borgs call center software maker Latigent

Cisco Systems is to buy Latigent, a Chicago-based call center software maker, for an undisclosed sum. Latigent's web-based software specializes in business intelligence and analytics reporting tools, and will be assimilated into Cisco's customer contract business unit.
Austin Modine, 27 Sep 2007
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15

Blueberry heir loses libel suit against drunken lothario

Let this be a lesson to you all: if you sell tickets to a New Year's Eve party boasting an open bar, make sure that the booze doesn't run out at 10:30. Fail in that, and people will trash you on the internet, and there won't be a damn thing you can do about it, even if you sue the operator of the offending website for defamation.
Kevin Fayle, 27 Sep 2007
6

Verizon lifts pro-abortion text message ban

Verizon Wireless has reversed a decision to "reject a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program".. Verizon last week claimed it had the right to prohibit “controversial or unsavory” text messages, and duly judged Naral Pro-Choice America's plan to allow people to sign up for its "highly controversial" messages as out of bounds, the New York Times reports. One of the group's recent missives read: "End Bush's global gag rule against birth control for world's poorest women! Call Congress. (202) 224-3121. Thnx! Naral Text4Choice". Naral Pro-Choice America's prez Nancy Keenan told the NYT: "No company should be allowed to censor the message we want to send to people who have asked us to send it to them. Regardless of people's political views, Verizon customers should decide what action to take on their phones. Why does Verizon get to make that choice for them?" A fair question, and Verizon today issued a statement reversing its decision, which declared: "The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect, and we have fixed the process that led to this isolated incident." Spokesman Jeffrey Nelson continued: "Upon learning about this situation, senior Verizon Wireless executives immediately reviewed the decision and determined it was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy. That policy, developed before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages, was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children." And just to be sure everyone understood just how Verizon is defending the right to free debate, the statement concluded: "Verizon Wireless is proud to provide services such as text messaging, which are being harnessed by organizations and individuals communicating their diverse opinions about issues and topics. We have great respect for this free flow of ideas and will continue to protect the ability to communicate broadly through our messaging service." ®
Lester Haines, 27 Sep 2007
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12

Two US computer engineers charged with espionage

A US federal grand jury has charged two computer engineers with stealing microchip designs to sell to the Chinese military. California residents Yuefei Ge, 34, of San Jose and Lan Lee, 42 of Palo Alto have been indicted under charges of conspiracy, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.
Austin Modine, 27 Sep 2007
Oracle

Oracle embraces old Java apps in next IDE

Oracle has come a step closer to releasing the next version of its popular Java integrated development environment (IDE), by posting a second technology preview.
Gavin Clarke, 27 Sep 2007
Google

How to expose Gmail contacts without really trying

Google security lieutenants can't get a break. Over the past week, they've taken a public pounding, following reports of at least four previously undisclosed holes that included new cracks in Gmail and weaknesses that jeopardize the privacy of those who rely on the site to organize photos or administer their websites.
Dan Goodin, 27 Sep 2007
10

FCC wireless plan torpedoed by Google-loving mega-startup

The Federal Communications Commission is facing criticism from both sides of the great 700-MHz debate as it prepares to auction off a prime portion of the US wireless spectrum. Earlier this month, Verizon asked the US Court of Appeals to smack the FCC for changing its auction rules, and now über-startup Frontline Wireless is telling the FCC it hasn't changed them enough. As Verizon works to maintain a tight grip on the wireless market, Frontline is siding with Google in an effort to inject a little more competition. In a recent FCC filing, the startup insists that FCC rules for the 700MHz band have undermined a Congressional mandate to allow "small businesses [and] new entrants" into the market. In a petition filed with the Court of Appeals, Verizon badmouthed the FCC's new "open access requirement," which would allow consumers to attach any device and any application to a portion of the 700-MHz band, due to be auctioned off in January. The mega-telco likes the status quo, where it controls devices and applications. Unhappy with the status quo, Frontline is pleased with this open-access requirement - but it's peeved the FCC hasn't included a "wholesale requirement," which would force the winning bidder to share the band with other ISPs. Run by several veterans of past wireless wars, including former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, Frontline envisions a wireless market where a wide of a range of carriers offer unfettered access to the internet. And it says that Congress has called for this sort of wireless nirvana with amendments to the US Communications Act. In filing a "petition of reconsideration" with the FCC, the startup insists that the commission's 700-MHz rules - laid down with an official order on August 10 - have undercut this push for new competition. "The commission should repair the damage the order inflicted on the goal of promoting small business/new entrant participation in spectrum-based businesses," Frontline's petition reads. "Congressional mandates require this outcome, and the commission itself made findings that new entrants would promote the policy goals of competition and innovation in the wireless and broadband markets." Yes, the petition was written by a team of lawyers. According to Jonathan Kramer, a telecommunications attorney with the Kramer Telecom Law Firm in Los Angeles, this sort of FCC filing could lay the groundwork for legal action against the commission. "Petitions for reconsideration are a customary tool used to introduce additional views and rebuttal into the FCC's rule-making process," Kramer told us. "An underlying purpose in filing for reconsideration is to help set the stage for the petitioners in potential litigation against the commission, just in case the commission isn't persuaded by the reconsideration petition." So Verizon has already gone to court over the 700-MHz rules. And now its rivals are gearing up for a fight back. Like Frontline, Google has fought heavily for new competition in the market. This summer, before the FCC laid down its rules, the Mountain View outfit said it would pony up $4.6bn for a 22-MHz portion of the 700-MHz band - if the commission included both open access and wholesale requirements. This "C Block" portion has indeed been designated for open access, but since the FCC has sidestepped the wholesale requirement, it's unclear if Google will bid. Without a wholesale requirement in place, the band is more attractive to the big telcos, and they may be willing to place higher bids. That $4.6bn figure is the "reserve price" for the C Block. If the FCC doesn't get a bid of at least that much, it will rejigger its rules and hold another auction. To wit, it could remove the open access requirement. Worried this might happen, Frontline has also told the FCC that this reserve price is much too high. So the fight for the 700-MHz band is a bit like a chess match. And the clock is ticking. Congress has also mandated that the FCC hold its auction by January. ®
Cade Metz, 27 Sep 2007
Hynix

Hynix leaves DRAM market spotless

Hynix, the Korean computer memory maker, is fleeing the DRAM spot market - because prices are too low. That's not the spin the company is putting on the decision, telling Reuters that it wants to "enhance our flexibility and strengthen our position in the contract market".
Drew Cullen, 27 Sep 2007

Oracle teams with Dell, EMC for warehousing

Oracle launched a data warehouse initiative today by teaming with Dell and EMC to produce an easy to deploy, pre-configured data warehouse hardware and software package.
Austin Modine, 27 Sep 2007
12

Brazil braces for TV soap-induced blackout

Brazil's power generators are on Defcon red in anticipation of a whopping power surge at the end of hit soap opera Tropical Paradise, which could theoretically blackout the entire country should the flow of juice prove inadequate. According to AP, TV Globo says 90 per cent of the nation's TV viewers will be glued to their sets on Friday "to learn who murdered the scheming villain Tais and to find out if Bebel, the Pygmalion-like prostitute, will live happily ever after". An anonymous power company spokesman explained: "We are worried about a possible blackout caused by a sudden surge in electricity at the end of the program. When it is all over, millions of people will get up from their armchairs and sofas to turn on the lights of their living rooms, open the refrigerator for a cold beer or heat a meal in the microwave oven." Mercifully, he added that "extra generating capacity is customarily geared up for during soccer games and other programs that attract large audiences", so the powers that be have plenty of previous experience to allow them to judge the total megawatts required to cover 150 million shaken Brazilians simultaneously opening their fridges in search of a beer after learning Bebel the Pygmalion-like prostitute was finally carried off into the sunset by an Albanian human slave trafficker. For those of you not familiar with these so-called telenovelas, a good one will become a national obsession running over the average 200 episodes. And if you're thoroughly sick and tired of fellow office workers banging on about their favourite contestant in Big Brother, you should count yourselves lucky you don't have to sit through relentless analysis along the lines of "so, do you think Teresa the mulatta slave girl will eventually succumb to the charms of Jose, the cruel yet devilishly handsome son of the sugar plantation owner, or will he sensationally reveal that they are in fact brother and sister after his father's dalliance with Dolores the feisty housemaid?" ®
Lester Haines, 27 Sep 2007