2nd > October > 2007 Archive

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Phoenix IT ready to get hands dirty with ICM

Phoenix IT yesterday said it was time to stop talking about integrating ICM Computer Group and time to start doing it. The board cautioned the "integration may cause some short term disruption", but the logic of the acquisition remains, well, strategic. Considering that Phoenix only bought ICM, a disaster recovery biz-cum-computer dealer, in June and shelled out nearly £108m - about 1.5 times revenues - for the honour, it is nice to know that the company hasn't had a change of heart. Yesterday Phoenix also reported it had nothing new to report on the trading front. Before entering its closed period, the company said that trading was in line with expectations for the six months ended 30 September. ®
Drew Cullen, 02 Oct 2007
Dell
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Two of three Dell accountants settle insider trading charges

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has settled with two of three former Dell accountants accused of insider trading.
Austin Modine, 02 Oct 2007
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Mobile the next AJAX frontier

It may still be baking as a technology, but that hasn't stopped Silicon Valley's vanguard from trying to squeeze rich internet applications (RIAs) on to mobile devices. The OpenAJAX alliance has kicked off a task force for mobile AJAX to explain how developers can become successful at building mobile mash-ups. The focus of the Mobile AJAX committee is educational materials and technical standards, the group said.
Phil Manchester, 02 Oct 2007
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Mobile phone meets designer stereo

Given the current trend of manufacturers creating phones with designer clothing companies, it's nice to see another joint offering Samsung and Bang & Olufsen - another consumer electronics company. Still, the device looks more like an inverted iPod than a phone.
James Sherwood, 02 Oct 2007

AMD readies Radeon HD 2950 Pro

AMD's ATI Radeon HD 2950 Pro graphics chip will debut on 19 November - a week after Intel's first 45nm processors, also aimed at gamers - it has been claimed.
Tony Smith, 02 Oct 2007
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Solar storm rips tail from comet

STEREO, NASA's satellite sent up to the heavens to examine the surface of the Sun, has captured the first ever images of a collision between a comet and a solar "hurricane". The force of the solar storm, a coronal mass ejection (CME), was so great that it tore the plasma tail from the comet. The tail comes off a comet. Credit: NASA's STEREO satellite In the sequence of four images, you can clearly see the tail of Encke's Comet brighten as the cloud of highly-charged solar material sweeps past. The comet's plasma tail is then detached and carried away by the ejected solar mass. The team of scientists working on the STEREO mission have combined the images to make a movie. They've also written up the discovery for the 10 October issue of the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters. Lead author and researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory Angelos Vourlidas, professed himself "awestruck" by the images. "This is the first time we've witnessed a collision between a coronal mass ejection and a comet and the surprise of seeing the disconnection of the tail was the icing on the cake," he said. It has been known for a while that plasma tails can be disconnected from their comets, but the mechanism by which it happened was somewhat mysterious. CMEs were on the list of suspects, but there was not enough evidence for a warrant. A coronal mass ejection is a vast quantity (billions of tonnes) of solar matter hurled from the surface of the sun at speeds of more than 2,000 miles per second. When they reach Earth, they trigger geomagnetic storms of such magnitude that satellites, power stations, and radio communications are all vulnerable to disruption. The scientists propose that the ionised gas of the CME interacted with the comet in a way similar to a magnetic reconnection event. In such an event, oppositely directed magnetic fields around the comet collide with the fields in the CME. The comet's fields are compressed, and suddenly link together, releasing a burst of energy that separates the tail. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Oct 2007
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Mobile VoIP waits on 4G networks

Mobile VoIP services have yet to make their mark on the telecoms market, despite the availability of suitable technology. Barriers to adoption might leave services languishing, at least until the rollout of next-generation mobile networks by carriers, according to panelists at a debate on the topic at the NetEvents summit in Malta last week.
John Leyden, 02 Oct 2007
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Samsung delays dual-format Blu-ray, HD DVD player?

Samsung has thrown its weight entirely behind its dual-format Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD player and will de-emphasis its BD-only offerings, online reports suggest. However, the two-format machine, the BD-U5000, may have been delayed.
Tony Smith, 02 Oct 2007
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Amazon: James Blunt is still a tedious w*nker

Yesterday we broke the important news that demobbed whining blueblood James Blunt is now officially a wanker. Since then, there's been some censorious skulduggery down at Amazon.co.uk, which was host to the British people's judgement. Instead of "akira, kt tunstall, wanker", the related searches for Captain Blunt are now "akira, kt tunstall, foo fighters". It's with thanks to our readers then, that we report that a search for "wanker" brings up both "james blunt" and "tedious". As far as El Reg's scientific scrutiny committee is concerned, that's an independent test and makes for irrefutable evidence - no matter where the Amazon red pen falls - that Master James Hillier Blount is definitely a wanker, and probably a tedious one. If the Hillier Blounts do get bored of James' tiresome nasal laments down at the family pile Mawley Hall this Christmas, we'd like to suggest they order "The Wanker Family Christmas Game: Hilarious fun for all ages with a special personal touch". It's just £7.99 at Amazon.co.uk. ®
Christopher Williams, 02 Oct 2007
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MasterCard customers hit by system failure

Anyone wishing to do a spot of early Christmas shopping last weekend may have had trouble making a transaction with their credit card due to a technical cock-up at MasterCard.
Kelly Fiveash, 02 Oct 2007
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M2M jumps beyond the line

Mobile WorkshopMobile Workshop Much debate about the use of wireless technology in business tends to revolve around providing mobile and remote workers with access to central systems of one kind or another. The growing popularity of notebook data cards and handheld email devices among professionals is probably the most obvious illustration of this, though recent Freeform Dynamics research tells us that around 50 per cent of organisations with sizeable field service operations are deploying handhelds to engineers, technicians, and so on.
Dale Vile, 02 Oct 2007
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American space self-monitoring plan delayed

America is delaying controversial plans to use satellites for spying on itself. It was announced yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not open its planned National Applications Office until legislators' concerns were addressed. The idea of the National Applications Office was that it would allow the use of powerful US surveillance and scientific satellites to support security operations within America itself. Spy satellites in particular normally work at the behest of agencies focused beyond the American borders. Under DHS plans, however, space intel would be obtainable by law-enforcement, disaster relief and security officials who would not normally have such access. This would perhaps boost border security, policing, counter-terrorism and even emergency management efforts by federal officials. But Democrats on the congressional oversight committee have viewed the plans with alarm, and have now won a halt to proceedings until the DHS clarifies exactly how the new satellite-surveillance office will work, for whom and what procedures it will follow. DHS Chief Intelligence Officer Charles Allen has now reportedly written to the Homeland Security committee chairman, saying that the Department "has no intention to begin operations until we address your questions." Allen said he plans to provide Thompson with "a progress report" this week, followed by a detailed briefing. "I look forward to working with you and your committee to ensure the National Applications Office enhances support to homeland security, protects US privacy and civil liberties, and is consistent with the Constitution and all applicable laws and regulations," the letter said. The US already has procedures for using spy satellites against locations within its own borders. An existing body, the Civil Applications Committee, handles such matters at the moment. According to the DHS, the proposed new office would offer better and easier access balanced by more layers of oversight. More from GovExec.com here.®
Lewis Page, 02 Oct 2007
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Sony Walkman NWD-B105 2GB MP3 player

ReviewReview With increasing hard drive sizes, the arrival of touchscreen technology and ever more features and falling prices, it's easy to forget the more humble end of the personal digital music player market. However, Sony's NWD-B105 proves there are still some good value and strongly featured products at the lower price points.
Lewis Caliburn, 02 Oct 2007
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British teens offered boozing qualification

British parents can stop worrying about their offspring being out-of-control boozepups. The education system is stepping in and teaching them how to get bladdered the socially-responsible way. Snakebite-addled teens can now try out for an "alcohol awareness certificate", The Times reports. The drinky diploma has been developed by the British Institute of Innkeeping and is accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. And if getting a certificate for learning about getting wasted wasn’t joy enough, the “qualification” will be worth half a GCSE, the paper reports, or more accurately an NVQ Level 1. All for a paltry ten hours of study, which is less time than most pub happy hours last these days. Sadly, the course seems heavier on theory than the vital practical skills. Candidates will be warned that binge drinking – which is, let's face it, an activity at which teens excel – can result in “poisoning or choking on vomit”. Which they’d know of course if they asked their grandparents about Jimi Hendrix. Kids will also be taught that excessive boozing could make them fat, and result in impotence and impaired sexual enjoyment. Obviously 15-year-olds shouldn’t be having sex, but then again, they shouldn’t be drinking either. Inevitably, the course will be slammed as just another example of dumbing down. After all, back in our day it took much more than ten hours' study to earn a boozing qualification. We demand a proper boozers' apprenticeship scheme, with a steady progression from shandy, to cider, to mild, to lager, to spirits, before a rigorous exam involving a ten pint session in the Vulture and Feathers before a celebratory prawn biryani flushed down with another five pints and a glass of Babycham. (Marks to be deducted for the production of pavement pizza.) ®
Joe Fay, 02 Oct 2007
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Sony e-book Reader turns over new leaf

In literary circles, first editions are often highly prised. However, Sony hopes the second edition of its Reader digital book, the PRS-505, will prove more popular than its predecessor, thanks to what it claimed was a much better display.
James Sherwood, 02 Oct 2007
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Mr WebTV skewers US patent bill

The man who invented WebTV thinks the US patent system is on the verge of ruin.
Cade Metz, 02 Oct 2007
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Japanese Wii sales rain on PS3 parade

Nintendo's Wii continues to dominate the Japanese games console biz, outselling Sony's PlayStation 3 by a factor of four to one over the past six months.
Tony Smith, 02 Oct 2007
Ingres

Ingres buys pair of system integrators

Open source database firm Ingres Corporation said yesterday that it has acquired a brace of system integrators as it swoops to gain ground in the global enterprise market.
Kelly Fiveash, 02 Oct 2007
BT
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Coding errors expose hidden area of BT site

Coding errors on BT's price calculator website have left 'hidden' web areas of the site exposed.
John Leyden, 02 Oct 2007
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Console peripherals promise Porsche-style driving experience

If you can't afford a Porsche, then the 911 steering wheel gaming kit will at least get you slightly closer to one. Peripherals manufacturer Fanatec claims the set gives PS3 and PC gamers the “genuine Porsche feeling”, but with an obvious cost saving.
James Sherwood, 02 Oct 2007

Discovery gears up for rehearsal launch

The space shuttle Discovery is primed and ready for launch. It arrived on the launchpad this weekend, and engineers are getting ready for a dress rehearsal of the launch. The shuttle is due to blast off for the International Space Station on October 23 under the designation STS-120. The mission will see Discovery deliver vital parts and equipment to the space station. The crew will add a module (called the Harmony module, or Node 2) to the ISS that will serve as a port for Japanese and European laboratories. They will also move the station's solar arrays to their permanent position, and redeploy them in place. "STS-120 is such a cool mission," said Commander Pam Melroy. "Node 2 is the expansion of the space station’s capability to bring international laboratories up. It’s the expansion of our capability to carry additional people. It has additional life support equipment that will allow us to expand out beyond a three-person crew. It’s this big boost in the capability which is really exciting." The mission will also handle a crew rotation. Mission specialist Daniel Tani will fly up on Discovery and remain on board the ISS, while current resident and flight engineer Clayton Anderson will fly home. Tani is set to return to Earth with the crew of mission STS-122, which is scheduled to launch December 6. The mission will be led by Commander Pam Melroy, and piloted by George Zamka. Other crew members include mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Stephanie Wilson, Doug Wheelock and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency. NASA has also assigned the crew for the next mission on the shuttle Endeavour, set to lift off in September 2008. This flight, STS-126, will deliver pieces of the space station that will make it possible for much larger crews to stay aloft. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Oct 2007
eBay teaser 75
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Skype pair happy to take the money and run

Skype's founders say they are happy to have shaken down eBay for $530m, despite missing out on the huge payday they would've scored if the service was a bigger success.
Christopher Williams, 02 Oct 2007
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US Special Ops buys hydrogen droid strato-comms tech

The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has decided to buy a hydrogen-fuelled robot plane which can cruise at 60,000 feet or more for five days at a time.
Lewis Page, 02 Oct 2007
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Eircom wireless security flaw revealed

A serious security flaw has been uncovered in certain models of wireless broadband routers supplied to up to 250,000 of Eircom's residential and business customers. The flaw allows the security encryption of an Eircom wireless network to be bypassed by outsiders, who can then "piggyback" on a customer's internet connection. In some cases, any files or data shared on the user's wireless network can also be accessed.
Stephen Errity, 02 Oct 2007
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Panasonic to ship 45nm chip ahead of Intel

Panasonic is set to become the first technology company to release products that consumers can actually buy and take home that contain 45nm chips, its parent, Matsushita, claimed today.
Tony Smith, 02 Oct 2007

Microsoft acquires shopping comparison tentacle

Microsoft has reheated a market many web watchers had assumed a busted flush with the acquisition of Jellyfish.com, the bastard child of a shopping comparison site and QVC. It's one of a crop of sites that offer shoppers cashback for buying from its affiliate merchants, who can decide how much to pay to the site by way of commission. As well as product searches, it runs reverse auctions in the style of a TV shopping channel, where the steeliest bidders can pick up a bargain. Microsoft squeaked news of the deal out overnight via its LiveSearch blog. The LiveSearch crew wrote: "We think the technology has some interesting potential applications as we continue to invest heavily in shopping and commerce as a key component of Live Search." It's likely that Redmond is most keen on Jellyfish.com's advertising back-end, which it claims protects against click fraud. It operates on a "pay-per-action" basis, rather than "pay-per-click", meaning users have to spend before the advertiser pays the site. Google is trialling a similar new model for its AdWords system. Google pretty much gave up on shopping comparison itself as a damp squib earlier this year when it cut off Froogle's oxygen supply, instead sharpening its e-commerce talons for its PayPal competitor, Google Checkout. At time of writing the Jellyfish.com site is unavailable. Financial details of the deal have been kept secret. ®
Christopher Williams, 02 Oct 2007
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NASA mulls strap-on astronaut carrier

NASA has come up with several concept vehicles for its planned future exploration of the Moon. Wannabe lunar wanderers should beware: Travelling across the hills and plains of our largest satellite will not be a dignified experience... Concept vehicles, per NASA, for future manned exploration of the Moon. The spacesuits have been made integral to the rover's main body. This has the advantage of allowing the astronauts free movement within the vehicle, but it does make the rover look a little like a bizarre prison transporter, with handcuffed astro-cons strapped to the exterior. We're not criticising, just making an observation. The rover would obviously be pressurised, and would have a range of roughly 125 miles. NASA says they would most likely travel in pairs, with two spacemen in each rover. This way, if one rover had any technical difficulties, the other could give the stranded explorers a ride home. NASA is still seeking design ideas for next generation spacesuits. The suits would have to allow a much greater range of movement than those used by orbiting astronauts, and would have to mass considerably less, if they are to be useful for exploring and doing science on the moon. NASA says it wants a contractor signed up by 2008. The Lunar Architecture team has also been putting together a pencil sketch mission plan. NASA has been thinking about sending small packages ahead of time that the landing mission could assemble. However, the team suggests this would be more difficult to handle, and take longer to get up and running than if NASA sent larger modules. The team is also mulling over a possible portable habitat module that could be relocated according to the needs of the mission. NASA wants to have people back on the moon by 2020. It plans to set up a base, probably at Shackleton crater, near the southern pole. Plans will be finalised by 2012, the agency says. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Oct 2007

Parents' fury at Google's copyright roadblock

Imagine if you walked into Scotland Yard to report a crime involving children, only to be given a telling off, before you'd opened your mouth, about the dire penalties for wasting police time. And that your complaints would be forwarded to a watchdog - and that you'd better come back with a lawyer. That's how a group of parents feel after seeing photographs of their kids defaced on Orkut. Members of Google's social network created "mash-ups" of photographs originally posted to Flickr - adding text, some of which contained sexual innuendo, for children as young as five. The upset parents turned to the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which permits private copyright holders to deal with infringement, without going through a lawyer. Now if you only read WiReD magazine or anti-copyright bloggers, you'd think the DMCA was only ever abused by corporate bullies: the Act is notorious for being deployed under dubious pretexts in a small number of high profile cases. However, it's also been used by thousands of individuals, including many artists, and remains the most powerful tool for the ordinary citizen to seek redress without expensive litigation. It's a question of filling out a simple form. Not that you'd ever guess from Google's page for DMCA complaints. The web advertising giant turns the presumption of guilt back onto the complainer. Google warns that if they're not sure they own the copyright, they may face $100,000 fines. Ominously, it says their complaint may be forwarded to "Chilling Effects" - which monitors vexatious abuse of the Act. That's enough to put anyone off - and it had the desired effect. Although the parents gathered hundreds of messages of support on Flickr - they were too worried about the consequences to fill out the short form that required Google to remove the infringing offensive material. Google's scary warning One parent, Dave from Nottingham, told us he thought Google should be trying harder to remove sexual content involving children - rather than put the frighteners on parents who complain about it. "The way that it's phrased is that you're going to be in serious trouble, and need to send us large amounts of cash. They put you off," he explained. "What they should say is 'send us an email, notify us, and we'll sort it out. They don't explain it to be as easy as it should be'." After we contacted Google last week, several Orkut profiles were removed. Google has subsequently deleted the Orkut profiles - but only after The Register got on the case. The company provided this statement on Monday - on the condition that the spokesperson should not be named: We have reviewed and removed several profiles on orkut.com that contain images of children taken from public Flickr albums. These profiles violated our Terms of Service and orkut Community Standards, and we are continuing to monitor carefully for reports of similar material. orkut takes user privacy and abuse cases very seriously, and we will always remove material that violates our policies upon receiving a report of its existence. The orkut team and the Flickr team are working closely together to make sure Flickr users know how to notify us that their photos have been posted on orkut.com without their permission. We understand that people want easy ways to control access to their photos, so in addition to our reporting tools, there are privacy options available on Flickr, such as settings to make albums viewable only to a chosen group. Google gets a little sympathy from copyright lawyer Struan Robertson of law firm Pinsent Mason. "It's a lesson to other parents that they might want to mark the photographs as private and for friends and family only - they should take them off the public area of Flickr if they don't want the world at large to see them," he told us. ...or not. However, Robertson urged the parents to take up the DMCA option: "I think Google and similar companies are justified in sending a message that vexatious threats won't be tolerated - but I can see why a copyright holder might be unnerved by legal language and threats of lawsuits," he said. "If they read it carefully they should be confident they're doing the right thing." A Google for the little guy? Google is busy deleting copyright-infringing material from its YouTube service at the request of Viacom. What a contrast with the face it adopts for individual copyright holders, such as Dave, as it warns them away from using their rights. So long as service providers like Google post such misleading and one-sided DMCA pages, individual citizens won't know what rights they have. For when it comes to "user generated content", the innocent "user" is at the bottom of the heap. "Empowerment" indeed. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Oct 2007
Flag China
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Chinese internet security response team under attack

A recent post by the team at the Chinese Internet Security Response Team to their English-language site indicates that some of the site visitors are experiencing an attack from the CISRT.org site as a result of an injected IFRAME tag.
Sûnnet Beskerming, 02 Oct 2007
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Cisco kicks UK distie for flogging counterfeit kit

A Manchester - based distie is to apologise publicly for selling counterfeit Cisco equipment. Gen-x it is also handing over supplier information and paying Cisco an undisclosed sum, in return for not being taken to court, CRN UK reports. in January 2005 Cisco made a test purchase from Gen-X IT, and then enlisted the help of Manchester Trading Standards. Officers seized "various counterfeit products", in a raid on Gen-x premises in September '05, the paper reports. ®
Team Register, 02 Oct 2007
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Mobile spying service leaked sensitive details to the masses

The makers of Mobile Spy like to tout their tool for secretly tracking calls and text messages on smart phones as the perfect way to monitor employees or teens or catch cheating spouses. According to F-Secure, the service was also a way to leak sensitive information to anyone with a web browser. For $20 per month or $100 for a full year, the service will monitor a single Windows-based smart phone. It's simple. Parents, employers or jilted lovers install the Mobile Spy software on a handset, then see every text message, incoming or outgoing phone number or web site address that passes through it by accessing logs stored on the Mobile Spy website. But according to F-Secure, up until recently, private information that was being monitored and was supposed to be available only to account holders with a valid password was freely available to anyone using a Mobile Spy demo account. Website URLs were configured to assign a unique message ID, such as 643, to each account. By altering altering the ID to, say, 34841, it was possible to read the text messages and other data belonging to other account holders, F-Secure claims. "You can put in different account numbers through the URL, and ID numbers are sequential," F-Secure's Jarno Niemela told ZDNet here. "You could pull every message on the service." F-Secure said Tuesday that the leak was plugged in the last 48 hours. James Johns, CEO of Retina-X Studios, which markets Mobile Spy, took strong exception to the F-Secure report. "The data leakage described is not possible with our servers," he wrote in an email to The Reg. "Anyone trying this method would receive a message denying access. Retina-X Studios takes customer privacy very seriously. We have tested all services to verify that this is not an issue. Johns didn't comment on a screen shot F-Secure included with a blog post that purported to document the leak. F-Secure had not responded to a request for comment at time of writing. The reported leak appears similar to one highlighted in July by Security Fix. According to that report, FlexiSPY also leaked customer details to the world through a URL vulnerability that sounds similar to the one F-Secure describes. ®
Dan Goodin, 02 Oct 2007
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Microsoft UK cracks another head over grey software

Microsoft has collared another pirate in the UK for flogging grey software on eBay. The software giant has scored £35,000 in damages against an internet trader for copyright violations and illegally importing cheap American software to Europe. R J Campbell and his company R J Campbell Ltd, which traded as "Software Price Beater," on auction sites, admitted to selling counterfeit software and so-called "parallel importing."
Austin Modine, 02 Oct 2007
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BEA balances VMware with Xen

Having snuggled up to VMware, the proprietary and expensive virtualization platform, BEA Systems is going to the other extreme by officially backing Xen. The middleware vendor is working to certify its recently launched WebLogic Server Virtual Edition against the free, open source Xen hypervisor by the end of this year.
Gavin Clarke, 02 Oct 2007
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Solarweb-powered Westcoast tidies up MS-licensing act

Westcoast has signed up to distribute Microsoft software through an automated licensing tool called licenseme. Its developer, UK-based Solarweb, says the technology cuts the "high error rates facing many in the channel".
Team Register, 02 Oct 2007
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The War on Terror's professional witness

AnalysisAnalysis The recent conviction of Mohammed Atif Siddique on terror charges highlighted the role of globetrotting professional witness Evan Kohlmann. Defenders in the US and UK have come to recognize him as a figure brought in to furnish opinions which are only of use to prosecutions in the frightening of juries. Kohlmann was also tapped by New Scotland Yard and the Crown in the well known case which resulted in the recent conviction of al-Qaeda's super-cyber 007, Younis Tsouli.
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Microsoft-loving (former) security czar calls for closed internet

Richard Clarke, the man who served President Bush as a special adviser for cyber security, has a five-point plan for saving the internet.
Cade Metz, 02 Oct 2007
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IBM upgrades brain-bending file system

IBM on Friday is releasing a new version of its General Parallel File System (GPFS) for serious data crunchers. The update, now version 3.2, features improvements to GPFS's policy-based file management system and offers speedier searches.
Austin Modine, 02 Oct 2007