Linux specialist Levanta has issued a fresh release of its flagship software that brings a host of new high-end management tools. Before we dig in to the new features in Levanta 6.0, let's travel over to the company's press release for the product. "Levanta today announced a family of no–compromise data center automation solutions for growing Linux environments. With the release of Levanta 6.0, Levanta adds end–to–end automation capabilities to its existing best–of–breed line of Intrepid Linux lifecycle management solutions." That's a no-compromise, end-to-end, best-of-breed solution for lifecycle management, in case you missed it. Classic stuff.
30-year-old single mother of two Jammie Thomas appeared in court today in Minnesota to answer allegations that she illegally shared 1,702 songs on the Kazaa file-sharing network. Thomas is the first of approximately 26,000 US citizens accused by the Recording Industry of America of illegal file-sharing to reach a civil judge and jury. Most have settled with the RIAA, rather than face its litigious might. Thomas said she had rejected such offers because she refused to be bullied. The RIAA is seeking over $1.2m in compensation. The suit will focus on only 26 songs for damages, as set by federal law, of $750 to $30,000 for each alleged copyright violation. Thomas' council, Brian Toder, says the record companies haven't proven that Thomas shared the songs. The RIAA says the lawsuit will "communicate that there are consequences for breaking the law and encourage fans to turn to legal online services." The RIAA claims on February 21, 2005, investigators at SafeNet found the 1,702 songs being shared under Thomas' online handle, "tereastarr" and her IP address. The RIAA said Thomas has used the screen name online for "many years," leading them to believe it was her. There are no claims that either child — ages 11 and 13 — were involved in the music sharing, although the RIAA has historically gone after the parent first. Shortly after receiving settlement letters from the labels, Thomas had the hard drive in her PC replaced at Best Buy. She says the switch was made to repair the drive, while the RIAA accuses Thomas of attempting to conceal evidence. The RIAA will perhaps be hard-pressed now to produce evidence that Thomas was in fact the one sharing the music. On top of unavailable evidence, on Monday, her attorney succeeded in having 784 documents thrown out of court because the RIAA missed a deadline. Jury selection and opening arguments began this morning in Duluth federal court. US District Judge Michael Davis presided over the trial. It is expected to conclude on Thursday. ®
Four years into its NetWeaver strategy, SAP is finally putting its middleware in the hands of individual developers through a subscription-based licensing package. The world's largest business applications vendor said Tuesday it's making the full NetWeaver stack available to individual developers for the first time under a one-year development and evaluation license, along with four of its Java and ABAP tools.
eBay may soon offer online banking. It would seem. This afternoon, while fielding questions about PayPal at Santa Clara University conference obsessed with "trust online," chief information security officer Dave Cullinane seemed to indicate eBay is interested in extending the popular online payment system to its logical conclusion.
Users of encryption technology can no longer refuse to reveal keys to UK authorities after amendments to the powers of the state to intercept communications took effect on Monday (Oct 1). The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) has had a clause activated which allows a person to be compelled to reveal a decryption key. Refusal can earn someone a five-year jail term. Part III of RIPA was in the original Act but was not activated. The Home Office said last year that it had not implemented the provision because encryption had not been as popular as quickly as it had predicted. It launched a consultation which culminated in Part III being made active on 1st October. The measure has been criticised by civil liberties activists and security experts who say that the move erodes privacy and could lead a person to be forced to incriminate themselves. It is also controversial because a decryption key is often a long password – something that might be forgotten. An accused person might pretend to have forgotten the password; or he might genuinely have forgotten it but struggle to convince a court to believe him. Section 49 of Part III of RIPA compels a person, when served with a notice, to either hand over an encryption key or render the requested material intelligible by authorities. Anyone who refuses to decrypt material could face five years in jail if the investigation relates to terrorism or national security, or up to two years in jail in other cases. Controversially, someone who receives a Section 49 notice can be prevented from telling anyone apart from their lawyer that they have received such a notice. The Home Office said that the process will be overseen by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Chief Surveillance Commissioner. Complaints about demands for information must be made by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. "The Tribunal is made up of senior members of the judiciary and the legal profession and is independent of the Government. The Tribunal has full powers to investigate and decide any case within its jurisdiction, which includes the giving of a notice under section 49 or any disclosure or use of a key to protected information," said a Home Office explanation of the process. The Home Office said that the actions were consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK Human Rights Act as long as the demand for decryption was "both necessary and proportionate". "The measures in Part III are intended to ensure that the ability of public authorities to protect the public and the effectiveness of their other statutory powers are not undermined by the use of technologies to protect electronic information," said the Home Office. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
The European Commission has launched an anti-trust investigation into chip maker Qualcomm. It is the third chip or memory competition case launched by the commission since July and follows a recent commission competition court victory over Microsoft. A competition law expert has said that the case highlights how confident the Commission now is on anti-trust matters in the wake of the Microsoft judgment last month, and said that national competition authorities would follow its lead. The case concerns accusations first made against Qualcomm by rival chip makers in 2005, when Nokia and others made a formal complaint to the Commission. The complaint alleges that Qualcomm abused the fact that its technology was chosen for use in the technical standard used for third generation (3G) mobile phone technology. "Essential patent holders should not be able to exploit the extra power they have gained as a result of having technology based on their patent incorporated in the standard," said a statement from the European Commission. The investigation will focus on the issue of whether the licensing terms and royalties imposed by Qualcomm are, as alleged by the complainants, not "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory," it said. "In a context of standardisation, a finding of exploitative practices by Qualcomm in the WCDMA licensing market contrary to Article 82 of the EC Treaty may depend on whether the licensing terms imposed by Qualcomm are in breach of its free, reasonable and non-discriminatory commitment." The commission said it would conduct an in-depth investigation as a matter of priority and that there was no fixed timetable under which it must operate. In August, the commission accused memory maker Rambus of abusing its dominant market position and conducting a "patent ambush". In July, it issued formal charges against chip giant Intel after a six-year investigation into anti-competitive practices allegedly carried out by the firm. It said that the company had an "overall anti-competitive strategy". Competition law expert Guy Lougher of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said tthe flurry of activity indicated a change of priorities at the commission. "It is interesting because there has been flimsy commission activity in relation to intellectual property licensing, it is a policy area the commission has been more reluctant to get involved in than cases of pricing and exclusionary issues," he said. "On the back of the Microsoft case the Commission is becoming more aggressive and interested in these areas. The Microsoft case has encouraged the Commission to take a harder stance." Lougher said these cases could have a knock-on effect at a national level as well as a European one. "Patent policy and standard setting is a very important area, and it is important to have accessible standards," he said. "I think this is an area we will see more activity from the commission on, and that will mean there will be more activity by competition authorities taking their lead from the commission." "The commission tends to be a trend setter and authorities have mirrored the commission. If it is actively engaged with the inter-relationship between rules on abuse and intellectual property protection then we will see national competition authorities take more of an interest," he said. The Microsoft case which Lougher said has given the commission new antitrust confidence related to a 2004 commission anti-trust ruling against the software giant for freezing out competitors using its 95 per cent control of the operating system market. The European Court of First Instance ruled last month that the Commission judgment was correct. Microsoft may appeal. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Panasonic yesterday unveiled its latest Blu-ray recorders, pitching the three Diga-brand models as the 'world's slimmest' machines of their kind.
The roll out of a new version of the Government Gateway will allow for increased traffic and more e-enabled public services. A partnership comprising the Cabinet Office e-Delivery Team, Atos Origin, and Microsoft have launched Version 2.0 of the Government Gateway.
Sky's purchase of 17.9 per cent of ITV was anti-competitive and against the public interest, the Competition Commission has ruled. It could force the broadcaster to sell the shares which are now worth over £200m less than Sky paid in 2006.
Rumours that Sony is preparing a cut-price 40GB PlayStation 3 may have been dismissed by the consumer electronics giant as "speculation", but evidence is mounting that just such a box is indeed coming later this month.
UK telecoms firms must keep phone call logs for a year under legislation which comes into force today. But an industry trade association said the new rules will make "little practical difference" to telecoms providers that already store such data for billing purposes. The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2007 are intended to ensure that security services have a reliable log of mobile and fixed-line phone calls to be used in investigations. They are also designed to ensure a uniform approach across the industry. The content of calls should not be retained under the new regime. Instead, the law requires companies to keep certain communications data, including the number from which a call is made, the customer's name and address, any number dialled, the date and time of a call and the telephone service used. Additional data for mobile calls must also be retained, including geographic location data. The regulations say telecoms firms must keep the details necessary to identify the caller or sender and recipient of every telephone call made for 12 months. The data must be stored "in such a way that the data retained can be transmitted without undue delay in response to requests". The new law implements most of the EU's Data Retention Directive. That directive was passed to ensure that valuable data is available across Europe as a tool to prevent, investigate, detect, and prosecute criminal offences and in particular organised crime. The new rules do not apply to internet activity, so details of websites visited, emails sent and received, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls need not be kept. That will change, though. The directive requires that member states extend their retention rules to internet data by 15 March 2009. The Federation of Communications Service (FCS), a trade association for the mobile and telecoms services industry, said the regulations are unlikely to disrupt a telco's business. Members of FCS include many small communication service providers, as well as a few bigger providers, notably Kingston Communications plc. Heavyweights like BT and the major mobile networks are not members. FCS manager Michael Eagle told OUT-LAW: "We are advising our members that they are unlikely to have to keep any information that they don't currently keep. They should not be talked into buying expensive new data storage systems as the industry already requires a certain level of sensible due diligence. "The reality is that nothing much has changed. The new legislation will make little practical difference as most telecoms providers keep certain information for billing purposes and customer records," he added. "That information would be enough to meet the requirements of law enforcement agencies. There is no need to keep more data that you are ever likely to be asked for." The law provides that the Secretary of State may reimburse any expenses incurred by a public communications provider in complying with these Regulations. According to ComputerWeekly.com, the Government has budgeted a total of £6m to meet these costs. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
3Com's sale to Huawei Technologies and Bain Capital for $2.2bn marks the end of a company which pioneered Ethernet and network computing, and once owned Palm.
Suddenly, Apple's apparent downer on third-party iPhone software development becomes much clearer. Taiwanese moles claim the company is considering founding future iPhones on the next generation of Intel's Ultra Mobile Platform.
Microsoft has restyled and expanded its Zune portable media player collection with three new models, including a pair of Flash-based players.
A doubling of overseas card fraud is pushing up industry losses even as domestic fraud decreases. Total credit card fraud losses increased by 26 per cent in the six months to June 2007 to £263.6m compared with £209m in the first half of 2006, according to figures from UK banking industry association APACS.
Toshiba has cocked a snook at the 11in OLED TV Sony announced this week and pledged to bring a 30in model to market effectively within the next two years.
OpinionOpinion How often have you heard the excuse of blaming blown project budgets on unanticipated systems integration costs? For good reason, nobody wants to do customised point-to-point integrations if they can help it - it's difficult if not impossible to leverage the work.
ReviewReview Thanks to a recent and long overdue amendment to the UK's 1949 Wireless Telegraphy Act, it's now possible for those of us living in these sometimes benighted islands to use an in-car FM transmitter iPod adapter without fear of the long arm of the law feeling our collars for impinging on someone else's spectrum by running a pirate radio station, albeit one with a broadcast footprint a few meters in diameter.
Police sealed off three streets in central London on Monday as they investigated a suspected chemical terror attack that turned out to be a Thai chef brewing up a particularly pungent burnt chilli sauce. The three hour lockdown in Soho saw a Hazardous Area Response Team Unit and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus engaging in a 24 style hunt for the source of a cloud of acrid smoke, The Times reports. However, instead of trapping a bunch of wild-eyed ne'er-do-wells who hate us because we're free, cops instead surrounded a huge cooking pot primed with 9lbs of smouldering dried chillies at the Thai Cottage Restaurant. Further analysis of the suspect substances, together with intelligence gleaned from the chef brewing up the fiery mixture, revealed they were in the process of being turned into a batch of Nam Prik Pao. The potent mixture may well cause burns and discomfort if abused, but is usually deployed with nothing more lethal than a bowl of prawn crackers and a bottle of cold beer. A Scotland Yard spokesman told PA: "The street was closed off for three hours while we were trying to discover the source of the odour." It's not the first time innocent cooking materials have morphed into potential bio-terror attacks. Just last month, police in New Haven Connecticut came down hard on a running club that used a trail of flour to mark a trail. They, understandably, assumed the baking ingredient could well have been anthrax. ®
Japanese electronics giant Sony has teamed up with German-based chip maker Qimonda to design dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips for consumer and graphics applications.
Palm CEO Ed Colligan has confirmed the new Palm OS won't be finished until the end of 2008. Originally scheduled for release by the end of this year, the operating system's launch date has continued to be pushed back, despite the added attention of the engineers freed up by the scrapping of Foleo last month.
At last, scientists have delivered conclusive proof of what many people instinctively knew - booze makes you clever. Top boffins at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, by studying the mental performance of specially-created transgenic rats well supplied with drink, have found that moderate daily alcohol intake conferred "heightened cognition". Kiwi brainbox Maggie Kalev said she "thought it was worth pursuing, since ethanol drinking is such a common pattern of human behaviour... This is similar to a glass of wine protecting against heart disease, however the mechanism is different". Scientific American covered the pleasing biological breakthrough last week, under the headline "Don't forget: Drink a Beer - or Two - Daily!" That, of course, is excellent health advice; now backed up by cutting edge Kiwi genetically modified alco-rat research. But in fact it doesn't have to be beer, and Kalev says the brain-enhancement effects kick in at "approximately one to two drinks per day for some people or two to three for others, depending upon their size, metabolism, or genetic background" - based on the equivalent blood alcohol levels to those found in her thirsty mutant rats, anyway. It seems the rats were separated into three groups. One was put on a fairly hefty booze intake equivalent to five or six beers a day; another lot got a ration "equivalent to a level of consumption that does not exceed [the] legal driving limit" - though disappointingly they still were not allowed to drive cars. The third, luckless group of rodents were put on a temperance regime. After four weeks of heavy, moderate, or no drinking, the rats were tested to see how their brains had been affected. Unsurprisingly, the most alcoholic rats showed signs of impairment, seeming unable to recognise familiar ratty toys. According to SciAm, the booziest murines also exhibited the symptoms of the lachrymose drunk. They "performed better than their normal brethren on the emotional memory task", suggesting that they had started to ramble on tiresomely to the other rats about their ex-wives or similar. "People often drink to 'drown sorrows'," according to Kalev. "Our results suggest that this could actually paradoxically promote traumatic memories and lead to further drinking, contributing to the development of alcoholism." So remember - drinking is for happy occasions, not sad ones. The greatest revelations, however, came with the moderately-thirsty group who had the equivalent of two of three cheery ales a day. These upstanding correctly-lifestyled rats trounced the teetotallers in every area. One test in particular involved the small furry Kiwis being given an electric shock whenever they walked on a black-coloured area inside a cage. Faculties unhinged by a steady regimen of tea and fruit juice, the third group were unable to remember that the black area was painful, paying a grisly electric price for their abstinence. Regrettably, however, it appeared that in the case of alcohol brain therapy more is not better. Boffins were agreed that drinking a lot is - couterintuitively, perhaps - actually worse for you than having no booze at all. But having no booze is bad too; which means that po-faced killjoys who want to put up the already outrageous grog taxes are effectively saying that only the rich can be clever. So the best thing is to have a couple of beers each and every day without fail, even if you don't want them. Or you could have wine instead, and so benefit your heart as well as your brain. Skipping days is bad for you; especially if you then try to catch up later and drink several days' dose of brain-booster in a oner. ®
Google has assimilated the hosted security and compliance features it picked up in its $625m acquisition of Postini into its corporate email service and more than doubled the capacity of inboxes to 25GB. The free Gmail inbox offered to common webplebs remains at 3GB.
Nintendo's taking better care of Wii remotes by issuing them with protectives. The company is offering free silicone Wii Remote Jackets to existing customers and will, from 15 October, include the protective slips with new consoles.
Pink products may be a downer for many women, but Sony has at least a good reason for releasing a selection of salmon-hued hardware: it's all in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness Month over in the States.
US police have arrested a man suspected of launching a distributed denial of service attack against volunteer security community CastleCops earlier this year.
A PhD student at Stanford has published research indicating that the low numbers of women in science, maths and engineering-related fields is not caused by any gender-related tendency to be bad at hard sums. Rather, the ladies avoid these fields of endeavour simply because there are so few females already present, and because of the nasty blokey environment thus engendered. Mary Murphy, working towards a doctorate in social psychology, led research on both male and female undergraduates from the tricky-calculations departments. The test students were shown videos of a pretend summer boffinry conference in their subject areas. One video depicted a dream world in which such a conference was 50-50 gender balanced; the other showed a more realistic scenario with three blokes to every woman. The undergrads were wired up to sensors while watching the vids, and had to answer questions. The tests were designed to measure "physiological arousal... vigilance... sense of belonging and desire to participate in the conference". "The results are telling," says the press release. It appears that the women watching the realistic video swarming with men experienced faster heartbeats and began to sweat. They also became "more vigilant to their physical environment". It appears that even relatively innocuous signs of a hard-sciences kind of atmos around a place can be a problem. "Throughout the testing room, Murphy planted cues related to Math, Science, and Engineering such as magazines like Science, Scientific American, and Nature on the coffee table and a portrait of Einstein and the periodic table on the walls," according to the release. Women students already upset by the male-dominated video apparently noticed these a lot. Murphy theorises that these scary masculine posters and mags may have drained the ladies' flustered brains of what little capacity they had left. This could be why girls - who normally ace boys at school - still lag behind the chaps in the boffinous subjects. "It would not be surprising if the general cognitive functioning of women in the threatening setting was inhibited because of this allocation of attention toward maths, science and engineering-related cues," Murphy wrote. Curiously, neither of the vids made the chaps in the test group get sweaty or aroused. However, unsurprisingly they - like the women - would have preferred to attend the conference that had all the girls. Murphy - clearly no fool - reportedly says that "while it’s interesting that both men and women want to be where the women are, the motivations of men and women for wanting to be there are probably quite different." (Mental head slap.) The paper resulting from all this is called Signaling Threat: How Situational Cues Affect Women in Math, Science, and Engineering Settings. It's published in the October issue of Psychological Science, which is "ranked among the top ten general psychology journals for impact", apparently. The journal scribes reckon the research demonstrates that ladies' fear/dislike of maths, science, engineering etc - and thus their under-representation in these fields - is not "endemic to women". Rather, it is "attributable to the situation". Murphy hopes that it will "inspire greater motivation to attend to such cues when creating and modifying environments so that they may foster perceptions of identity safety rather than threat". Or in other words, girls would beat boys at maths too if they didn't keep putting up their horrid Einstein posters, periodic tables and other tools of masculine dominance. ®
Sony's 40GB PlayStation 3 will cost €400 ($566/£277) in Europe, if a product page posted on an Italian retail chain's website is to be believed. It's expected to cost $400 (€283/£196) in the US.
The war between Apple and the hackers is heating up, after a 'fix' for the recent iPhone update was posted online. Apple's recent update for the iPhone's firmware rendered unlocked iPhones - those that had been modified either through software or other means to work outside of AT&T's network - unusable, and the firm has so far refused to back down from its hardline stance.
InterviewInterview Rumors of the demise of Texas Instruments' (TI) Hollywood mobile TV chip are exaggerated, according to Yoram Solomon, director of strategic marketing, industry, and standards at the company.
One of the favourite public refrains of the FOSS movement is that Windows is too expensive, and that Microsoft swindles consumers, governments, taxpayers, penguins, and orphans. In the interests of balance, we'd like to draw attention to Novell's forthcoming release of openSUSE 10.3, available for pre-order on its website.
The long-delayed European sat nav project Galileo was plunged into fresh controversy last night, as a plan by Brussels officials to solve funding problems met political opposition. Galileo has been bogged down for some time now due to lack of funds for its construction. Originally this cash was to have been supplied by industry in return for the privilege of operating Galileo. However, industry was doubtful as to how much revenue could actually be wrung from Galileo users, given that the civil signal of the US armed-forces' Global Positioning System is available for free. Earlier this year it was agreed by European national governments that public money would be used to make up the shortfall, amounting to approximately €2.4bn. However, the exact details of the funding changes and their consequences for the ultimate control of Galileo remained unclear. Last month the European Commission (EC), naturally enough a citadel of Europe-as-a-superpower aspiration, proposed finding the money from the European Union budget. The Commissioners' plan would not involve any further money being supplied to Brussels by national taxpayers; rather, the idea was to raise the cash mostly from "unspent" farm subsidies already budgeted for. Last night, however, it was reported that the EC plans had failed to find universal favour among national governments. The BBC reports that ministers from Britain, the Netherlands and Germany are opposed to the Brussels scheme. Reportedly these governments - large net contributors who pay more into the EU than they get out - would prefer that the taxpayer rescue money for Galileo was delivered via the European Space Agency (ESA) rather than the EC. "The German government does not agree with the Commission's proposal in this form," said Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee at a Luxembourg meeting of transport ministers. The ESA, despite its name, is nothing to do with the EU and is not under the control of Brussels, though there is a framework agreement on cooperation between the two bodies which is due for renewal next year. ESA also has a small transatlantic element, in that Canada has a seat on its governing council and participates in its projects. Nations contribute to ESA sat nav programmes on an optional basis. If construction funding for Galileo were channeled via the ESA, the EU/EC government in Brussels would presumably have relatively little say in how the sat nav system was run. Conceivably, it might become a politically neutral service guaranteed to operate regardless of wars, disputes etc. Brussels, by contrast, is widely suspected of seeing Galileo as a tool of military and strategic policy, just as GPS could be for the United States (of America). EC Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot has been quoted as saying that "Galileo is a strategic project for the EU. We don't want to depend on the GPS signal, as the United States can step in at any time for military reasons" and that "the debate still needs to be open" on military aspects of Galileo. National finance ministers will now discuss Galileo, and a final decision is expected from heads of state in December.®
Microsoft's Halo 3 is only the UK's second fastest selling game ever. Analysis by sales monitor Chart Track has positioned it behind Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, despite Microsoft's shoot-'em-up being bought by one in three UK Xbox 360 owners during its first week on sale.
The veteran BBC TV composer and arranger Ronnie Hazlehurst died on Monday night. His long career at the corporation produced some of the most (irritatingly) memorable theme tunes: including The Two Ronnies, Reggie Perrin, Last Of The Summer Wine, Blankety Blank and the Morse Code theme for Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. But when his obituaries appeared yesterday, there was an odd addition to Hazlehurst's canon. Apparently he had emerged from retirement a few years ago to co-write the song 'Reach', a hit for Simon "Spice Girls" Fuller's creation S Club 7. "There could only be one source for this," suggests Shaun Rolph, who tipped us off. And yes - you can probably guess what it is: A couple of seconds in Google takes you to a real, primary source, EMI Publishing, where the correct credit for 'Reach' is hidden in plain view: Cathy Dennis and Andrew Todd. The MCPS confirmed to us that the royalties are split 50:50 between the two composers. So who fell for this? Step forward BBC News, the Grauniad 2.0, the Independent, the Times, The Stage and Reuters - who all cut and pasted the phoney factoid from Wikipedia without a second thought. The Times' obituary writer professed to be surprised by Ronnie's late-career comeback - but not so surprised he felt the need to check. Hats off to the Telegraph, however, for not supping from the poison cup of Web 2.0. (For you trainspotters: an anonymous edit introduced the hoax into the entries for both Hazlehurst and the song last month; an editor spotted the hoax on the WWiki's page about the song, but not the page for the composer. Subsequently, diligent Wikipedians even corrected the spelling of "Hazlehurst" - but not the false information itself.) Wikipedian corrects spelling mistake - fails to spot hoax Recently, Tom Melly wrote here about how lazy hacks could look no further than Wikipedia for biographical information about his late father George - and rightly put the blame for the spread of misinformation on the journalists themselves. But this is the first case of obituarists being hoaxed in such large numbers. It's as well Wikipedia hasn't branched out into the Funerals and Tombstones business. Yet. Adds Shaun: "He was at the Beeb for 20 years and they clearly just spent five minutes on Wikipedia to prepare his obit. I'd feel happier if he had written Reach. I'd like to have seen S Club going through Hebden Bridge in a tin bath." ® Bootnote With fantastic timing, the Guardian Arts blog asked yesterday, "Could the birth of literary software herald the rise of robotic authors?". Er... they're working on it, folks - starting with robotic reporters.
The persistent rumors that Cisco is close to making a WiMAX infrastructure acquisition resurfaced at WiMAX World last month, with most of the independent WiMAX vendors in the frame. Aperto, Airspan and Navini were all mentioned, though Alvarion and Redline were generally considered the frontrunners, since both already work quite closely with Cisco.
InterviewInterview Database legend Jan Baan is a man on a mission to kill old software business models and shake up IT departments everywhere. But how is the self-proclaimed "passionate, crazy old guy" going to do that? Baan reckons the answer is through simplifying business process management (BPM) software, not by building it to last but instead by building it to change.
Microsoft has been sending out mixed messages about its antitrust stance against Google's swallow of online ad broker DoubleClick. Reuters reports that Jean-Philippe Courtois, head of Microsoft International, said in Paris yesterday: "The question is not for Microsoft to have specific views... as in all markets, it is for the regulator to see if the competition is right."*
Paleontological digging among the rocks of Utah has revealed a new species of dinosaur. The beast, dubbed Gryposaurus monumentensis, is a duck-billed creature dating back 75m years to the late Cretaceous period. It would have been a vegetarian, able to consume just about anything that could grow. According to Terry Gates, lead author of a paper detailing the find: "No plant stood a chance against G. monumentensis". G. monumentensis would have had up to 300 teeth, ready to tear into the nearest tasty-looking leaf. But it would also have had backup teeth ready to go, the researchers explain, meaning that it could have had as many as 800 teeth in its skull at any one time. "It was capable of eating most any plant it wanted to," Gates notes, "although much more evidence is needed before we can hypothesise on its dietary preferences." A Pennsylvania furniture maker called Duncan Everhart is credited with finding the skull way back in 2002, but it wasn't until 2005 that researchers from the Utah Natural History Museum realised the significance of the discovery. The skull was originally missing fragments from the nose region, but a store of bones in the California museum allowed the team to confirm that the find was a new species. The dinosaur is one of several new species to have been dug up from this particular region, known as The Grand Staircase. Other locals include a Velociraptor-like carnivore named Hagryphus, a tyrannosaur, and several kinds of horned dinosaurs. "This is a brand new and extremely important window into the world of dinosaurs," said Scott Sampson, another palaeontologist with the Utah museum. "As each new find such as this new Gryposaur is made," Titus said, "it is placed into the greater context of an entire ecosystem that has remained lost for eons, and is only now coming under scientific scrutiny." ®
Security giant Check Point has played down the seriousness of reports of multiple vulnerabilities in a supposedly locked-down version of its flagship FireWall-1/VPN-1 security software.
AT&T will provide telecommunications and network management services to IBM and its customers in a pact that will generate $1bn a year for AT&T over the next five years. AT&T will also buy more technology services from Big Blue. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AT&T said it would transition an undisclosed number of IBM employees located in more than 30 countries.
Reg Technology PanelReg Technology Panel According to a new report from UK research firm Freeform Dynamics, mobile operator Orange, and your very own El Reg, email is still the dominant application on wireless handhelds, and that's unlikely to change for at least two years. "While interest in mobile access to a range of corporate systems such as CRM and ERP is steadily growing, messaging is still the primary driver for investment in handheld technology for business professionals," writes Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics' research director, citing the experiences of over 750 businesses and IT professionals who responded to an online survey. Nearly fifty per cent of respondents said that email was their most "important" mobile app. Meanwhile, SMS ranks number two on the report's list of important wireless apps, followed by CRM and ERP, machine-to-machine tools, and instant messaging with PCs. The report confirms that RIM's Blackberry platform is still the market leader for mobile email, followed by the mobile tools embedded into Microsoft Exchange. About 27 per cent of the survey's respondents use the Blackberry Enterprise Server and almost 10 per cent use the Blackberry Internet Service, while almost 25 per cent use native Exchange tools. But Freeform urges businesses to consider other names as well. "It is worth investigating other options...that sometimes provide greater freedom in terms of device support and/or systems integration," Vile says. Many of these options, the report continues, are well suited to small businesses: "Mobile operator branded relay services and total hosted email offerings with a mobile access option particularly address the needs of smaller businesses, so there is nothing practical or technical now standing in the way of any organisation moving forwards with email on the move, regardless of its size and requirements." You can read the entire white paper here (PDF). ®
Perhaps you heard this story bouncing around the internet a couple days ago: a kid in Russia survived a two-hour flight from Perm to Moscow by hanging on to the wing of a Boeing 737. If your bullshit meter didn't go off, we're here to correct that. Take our hand. Surely someone would have noticed. The boy, of course, didn't catch a ride on the wing as several stories about the incident suggested. That's impossible unless you happen to be a T-1000 Terminator. Lacking in liquid metal mimetic polyalloy and you're pretty much boned. The error came from a mistranslation of the Russian newspaper Tvoi Den, which first carried the story. What 15-year-old Andrei Scherbakov did do was ride in the wing of a plane. Or to be accurate, the wheel well of a plane. Hey, sometimes a story is too fantastic to fact-check. But surviving was still impressive. Darwin is demanding a do-over. According to reports, after running away from home last week, the boy hitchhiked to the airport at Perm and snuck into the wheel well of a 737 passenger plane. Shcherbakov managed to survive temperatures of minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit for the colonies) on a two-hour flight from Perm to Moscow cruising at about 900 km/h (560 mph). The boy reportedly went on the lam to his grandmother's village after a family argument. When he arrived at the village, he decided to go on. When the plane landed, the boy collapsed on the tarmac. His arms and legs were reportedly so frozen that rescuers couldn't remove his coat and shoes. He was taken to the hospital in a half-conscious state. When he arrived, the boy complained his hands were burning. Riding a Jet 101 According to Russia Today, Shcherbakov was taken back to Perm when his family could not afford the expensive treatment. “Right now his condition is satisfactory. He doesn't have a fever and says he feels fine. He's also pretty active. He'll be in hospital for two or thee weeks, because the extent of the frostbite is still being determined, but we're all optimistic,” said Dr Natalya Pavlenko at the children's hospital in Perm where he is being treated. Perm airport is still trying to find out how he sneaked on without anyone noticing. A spokesman for the airport said the weight and balance engineers checked the compartments for technical failures, but did not check inside them. He added that this will now be obligatory. Few wheel well stowaways survive their flight. If they don't perish from the frigid temperatures, there's the asphyxiation as oxygen is depleted at high altitudes in the unpressurized compartment. Survive that, and the landing gear lowering at 1,500 feet often does the trick. ®
Microsoft and IT services firm LogicaCMG have teamed up to dish out their own version of The Factory. But don’t worry, they haven’t gone all 1960s, artsy-fartsy Warholian on you, it’s just a bit of marketing spin from the software mammoth and its "strategic" partner LogicaCMG. Dubbed the Service Factory, the new program has been created to quickly punt Microsoft’s Connected Services Framework product onto the telecoms market. The firm has even added a 2.0 figure on the end of the word Telco to prove how serious this new partnership really is. Financial terms were not disclosed, so don’t expect to see silkscreen dollars hanging in a gallery near you anytime soon. The full Microsoft press release is here.®
A misfired attempt by one subscriber to change the email address he used for receiving messages caused a storm in the a US Department of Homeland Security's mailing list today. Instead of sending a message to the list administrators, job-changing security consultant Alex hit the reply-to-all button. His message was sent to every subscriber of the DHS's Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report. Attempts to recall this message were futile.
Yes, that's right. You call it the European ISV Convention. IT Europa, the UK-based channel newsletter-cum-research org, has named the date for its second annual gig for European ISVs - it runs from 6-8 February 2008 in Frankfurt. Qualifying ISVs get to go free of charge and can listen to speakers on topics such has the "implications of SOA and SaaS on application delivery, mobility and unified communications, and strategies for collaboration and creating value". Does this float your boat? Then shuffle over to the organisers for more info. If you have got this far, you almost certainly know that ISV stands for independent software vendor. And if you didn't know what the acronym meant, then we can confidently say that this is not the show for you. ®
August numbers are in from Context, the European PC market watcher, and they show that the Vista is anything but Buena for Microsoft. Vista Business, the, um, business version of Vista, Microsoft's new operating system, slowed during the month, to grab a measly 13 per cent of unit PC sales through Europe's top IT disties.
Two U.S. men are fighting over an amputated leg that was stowed in a barbecue smoker. One man says he purchased the leg when the smoker was auctioned off by a storage facility in Maiden, North Carolina. The other says the leg was once attached to his body. When doctors amputated John Wood's leg following a 2004 plane crash, The Charlotte Observer reports, he asked if he could keep it, hoping it could be buried alongside him when he died. The doctors complied, and until his electricity was cut off, Wood kept the leg stored in his freezer. After that, he hung it on a fence post in his front yard. Then he lost his house too. So he tucked the leg into a barbecue smoker and moved it to a local storage facility. But Wood had trouble keeping up with monthly payments, and last week, the facility sold the smoker at auction. It was purchased by Maiden's Shannon Whisnant, who soon phoned 911. A TV station in nearby Spartanburg, South Carolina tracked down a recording of the call: Dispatch: "What's the problem there?" Caller: "I got a human foot." Dispatch: "Have a what?" Caller: "A human left foot." Dispatch: "What's your name?" Caller: "My name is Shannon Whisnant, and it's plum nasty. Got me grossed out." Whisnant passed the foot on to the local police, and once the police decided it wasn't criminal evidence, they sent it to the local morgue. But now Whisnant wants it back. And so does Wood. Our Artist's impression: cost us an arm and... Whisnant has been charging adults $3 and children $1 to look inside the empty smoker, and now he thinks he can make even more money with the leg itself. Smoker receipt in hand, he tried to retrieve it from the morgue, but the morgue wouldn't oblige. Now, after consulting with a lawyer, he hopes to form a partnership with Wood. "It's a strange incident and Halloween's just around the corner," Whisnant told The Charlotte Observer. "The price will be going up if I get [a stake in] the leg." Wood just wants the rest of his body. "He's making a freak show out of it," Wood said of Whisnant. "He wants to go on 'The Tonight Show' and he wants to sell it to the National Enquirer." This morning, one loyal El Reg reader sent us an email, asking if our American correspondents could answer two questions related to this story: 1. What relevance does an amputated leg have to Halloween? 2. Why will Americans pay to look in an empty barbecue smoker? Well, we have answers: 1. As Halloween approaches, Americans spend large amounts of money on things the rest of the world isn't likely to understand. This could include a peek at an amputated leg. 2. American spending habits remain much the same when it's not Halloween. So now you know. ®
ARM’s big reveal today of its latest processor design came with the clear message that the company will use its market weight and mobile heritage to fend off challenges from Intel.
MySQL today stopped being a reseller for MaxDB, the database formerly known as SAP DB. MySQL, best known for its eponymous open source database software, had been a reseller and developer of MaxDB since 2003. Presumably this was at a time when SAP didn't consider the product to be so very important.
A Texas company has sued AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, claiming that all four web giants have infringed its patent "for conducting business transactions over the Internet". Performance Pricing Inc. filed suit last week in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, a popular place for patent infringement suits. The company insists that four of the biggest names on the net are stepping on its patent with their ad technologies, including Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and the Google-powered AOL Search Marketplace. "Defendants have used, and continue to use, Plaintiff Performance Pricing's patented technology methods and systems that they make, use, sell, and offer to sell, without Plaintiff's permission," the suit reads. "Plaintiff seeks damages for patent infringement and an injunction preventing Defendants from making, using, selling, or offering to sell technology claimed by the patent without Plaintiff's permission." Think that's dodgy English? Wait 'til you read the patent. Dubbed "Systems and methods for transacting business over a global communications network such as the Internet," the patent describes a method "for conducting business transactions over the Internet, allowing buyers to reduce the price of the selected product/service based on the buyer's performance during a collateral activity." Yes, this is a business process patent. Paying the ultimate price "Sellers offer the product/service within a specified price range, and buyers accept the offer, in exchange for the opportunity to close the transaction at the lowest price offered by achieving a high score during the collateral activity," the patent continues. "The ultimate price is within the agreed upon range, but is determined based upon the buyer's performance during the collateral activity." The patent also says that this process can be applied all sorts of activities - both online and off - including video games, electronic board games, sports betting, and card games. According to Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University law professor and tech law blogger, the suit resembles the sort of "lawsuits that we're concerned about when we worry about patents being used as a way of shaking down people for cash as opposed to advancing social interests". Congress is considering a bill that would overhaul patent litigation, and both Google and Microsoft have lobbied in its favor. The bill would make things more difficult for plaintiffs like Performance Pricing - but it might undermine legitimate startups as well.®