24th > October > 2007 Archive

Microsoft
23

Ballmer: Microsoft will power the mobile revolution

CTIACTIA Steve Ballmer believes that Microsoft is the only company with "the wherewithal" to dominate the world of mobile computing. Appearing at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment, a massive mobile tradeshow underway in downtown San Francisco, the Microsoft supremo told show goers that the company has the upper-hand on the likes of Apple and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion because its Windows Mobile platform is so darn versatile. Windows Mobile plays nicely with both enterprise and entertainment applications, he explained, and it's open to third party developers.
Cade Metz, 24 Oct 2007
AT&T

Jesus phone raptures AT&T profit

AT&T posted a 41 per cent profit increase in the third quarter, largely attributed to iPhone sales. The $3.1bn net income compares with $2.2bn earned in the same period last year. Revenue nearly doubled to $30.1bn in Q3 from $15.6bn a year earlier. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the company activated 1.1 million iPhones since the product launched, with 40 per cent of those subscribers being new customers to AT&T. The iPhone followers were a hearty chunk of the 2 million customers that signed up in Q3 for wireless service, helping to boost mobile phone revenue 14 per cent from a year earlier to $10.9bn. AT&T says it has a total of 65.7m subscribers. Apple said yesterday it has sold 1.4 million iPhones through the end of September, and estimated 250,000 customers purchased the device with the intention of unlocking it from AT&T's cellular network. More about that here. AT&T's operating income for the quarter was $7.2bn, compared with $3.1bn year-over-year. The company reports it saved $2.8bn so far this year from its acquisition of BellSouth, about 70 per cent from expense (that's firing workers, cutting marketing costs and reducing operational expenses) and 30 per cent capital. The company expects to grab an additional $3bn for the full year, $5bn in 2008 and more than $6bn in 2009. ®
Austin Modine, 24 Oct 2007
49

Nasty PDF exploit runs wild

A day after Adobe patched a serious security hole in its Reader and Acrobat programs, miscreants are flooding email inboxes with malware-tainted PDF files that try to remotely hijack vulnerable computers. The malware, identified by Symantec researchers as Trojan.Pidief.A, is included in PDF files attached to a "fair number of emails," according to this blog entry. The spam typically targets specific businesses or organizations.
Dan Goodin, 24 Oct 2007
11

Ballmer again: AT&T and Verizon should rule the airwaves

CTIACTIA In a none-too-subtle jab at two of his biggest competitors - Apple and Google - Steve Ballmer has said that Microsoft will not bid for a prime portion of the US wireless spectrum. Following his keynote at CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment, a mammoth mobile tradeshow underway in San Francisco, the Microsoft CEO sat down to answer several canned questions from the show's master of ceremonies, ex-American football star and CTIA CEO Steve Largent. With question number two, Largent asked whether Ballmer had any intention of bidding for the so-called 700-MHz band, a slice of wireless spectrum due to be auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission early next year. "No, we don't, as a matter of fact," Ballmer answered. "Terrible as it is to our competition, we don't have plans to participate in spectrum auctions." You see, Google has openly flirted with a bid for the band, and the rumor mill says that Apple is toying with the idea as well. But Ballmer believes that wide-area wireless services should be left in the hands of companies like AT&T and Verizon. He thinks they're better suited to the task. "[Microsoft] may be broader in what we do than almost any company out there, but we think we have a core competence, and we think that the telecom industry and the service providers have a core competence," he said. At this point, someone in the audience started clapping. "Thanks, Dad," Ballmer said. But he quickly pointed out this was just a joke. And we're inclined to believe him. No one would clap at such a thing unless they worked for a big telco. Not even Ballmer's Dad. "It takes a real expertise to set-up networks, to invest in capital expenditure, to do the servicing of the networks, to provide the customer service 7 by 24," Ballmer continued. "That is a core capability." He also said that if Microsoft placed a bid, the telcos would get angry. "It would probably do a lot to alienate the telecom industry. It doesn't advance our goal, which is to take some very exciting [mobile] technology and put it everywhere." This goal was the running theme of Ballmer's keynote. Unlike his competitors, he said again and again, Microsoft plays so very nicely with rest of the mobile market. But in arguing that the big telcos should own the airwaves, Ballmer is satisfying his partners at the expense of the American consumer. Google doesn't want to run its own wireless network. It wants to sell spectrum to third-party ISPs, hoping to finally create some competition in the broadband internet market. That's the broadband market as a whole, not just the wireless market. Remember, the likes of AT&T and Verizon control not only the airwaves, but all those wired lines as well. Meanwhile, Steve Ballmer is arguing that we should maintain this status quo. Verizon and AT&T may agree with him. But that's about it. ®
Cade Metz, 24 Oct 2007
11

Gov egghead: Companies should have daily PT

One of the government's top social-policy eggheads has said that companies should have exercise periods for their staff, according to reports. Professor Julian Le Grand, a bigwig at the London School of Economics, outlined his plans during a speech to the Royal Statistical Society this week. His remarks were reported in the Evening Standard. The idea of the prof's plans is that rather than people opting-in to healthy lifestyles, they would be compelled to take active steps in order to do anything unhealthy. "It is not like banning something," said Le Grand to the assembled number-crunchers. "It's a softer form of paternalism." Thus, if you didn't care for corporate PT you would have to specifically choose not to join in; normally, your enthusiastic participation would be assumed. All companies with 500 or more employees would have to provide organised exercise sessions (and presumably associated showers, gymnasia and such). Likewise, those thinking of taking up the demon weed wouldn't be able to buy any snout until they had paid a fee and applied for their governmental smoking permit. One might also presume some kind of cooling-off period for people seeking to buy shitty deep-fried food, or maybe an obstacle course or something to be completed before you could reach the Sara Lee cakes at Iceland. Prof Le Grand claims input into many recent government notions, including the recent brainwave in which new kids are given some gov cash to kick off a savings account at birth. Families are then encouraged to top this up from their own resources, ensuring a decentish sum of money gradually builds up. Then, when the kid has become a teenager, the entire painfully-accumulated stash is automatically given to them to do with what they will, no matter what their parents may think of the plan. This pretty much ensures that it won't get spent on a deposit for a house, tuition fees or anything remotely sensible. (Some bitter old curmudgeons put away money for their kids' future in such a way that they can't blow the lot as soon as they turn 18, but this is without help from the good professor.) Le Grand also openly admits that he is "one of the principal architects of the UK Government’s current public service reforms introducing choice and competition into health care and education". ®
Lewis Page, 24 Oct 2007
35

W1NNT number plate vendor mocks L1NUX

UpdatedUpdated It's all go on the OS-flavoured eBay number plate auction front, and no messing. No sooner had we reported on the availability of the highly-desirable L1NUX combo, than the owner of W1NNT decided to cash in on his fortuitous registration assemblage. However, just to add spice to the kernel-fiddlers versus apologistas automotive head-to-head, the W1NNT vendor has added this to his blurb: PS - Being Windows, The user will be able to get into the car and drive with no specialist training required. Also, the addition of add-on components will not require time-consuming recompiling of the Kernel. W1NNT has as of right now failed to attract the miniumum starting bid of £1,500, while L1NUX currently stands at £5,300, with five days left to run on the auction. V1STA, meanwhile is still available for a cool £135,224.13. ® Update The original W1NNT listing was removed this morning and has now reappeared here. Bootnote Thanks to the various readers who alerted us to the latest must-have car enhancement.
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
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9

MoD slashes IT jobs

Computer specialist posts will be axed as part of the defence ministry's latest round of cost cuts. IT staff will be among 1,000 civilians to lose their jobs at the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Whitehall headquarters as part of a "streamlining programme".
Kablenet, 24 Oct 2007
12

MS and Turbolinux ink patent, single sign-on deal

Turbolinux and Microsoft are extending their collaboration agreement to improve interoperability and co-operate on research and development. Turbolinux customers will also be protected against possible future legal action by Redmond.
John Oates, 24 Oct 2007
28

Virgin Mary pebble provokes holy online bidding war

Bidding on a Virgin Mary pebble simulacrum picked up on a New Zealand beach had this morning reached a rather silly NZ$26,700 on Trade Me after the owner declared she wouldn't take less that NZ50k for the mineralogical marvel. The 1cm stone was discovered last year by Christchurch woman Lisa-Marie Corlet on Kaikoura's South Beach. According to stuff.co.nz, she didn't realise the significance of the find until she got home, and friends quickly advised her to cash in on the rock. Corlet, however, decided to hang onto the Holy Mother as a "good-luck charm". She confirmed: "I got it and I started having an awesome run of luck." That didn't last, however, and she eventually decided to auction off the artifact, mindful of previous Virgin Mary simulacra money-spinners. She said: "I won't take less than $50,000 for it. If someone is willing to pay $28,000 for a piece of toast, I'm sure someone out there would pay at least that for rock." Corlet's first auction was aborted after the winning bid turned out to be false. The relisting is evidently rousing the faithful to online economic excess, so it looks like the vendor's luck is about to change for the better once again. It's a case of caveat emptor, though, according to NZ's Catholic church. Spokeswoman Lindsay Freer said: "The church's approach [to purported Virgin Mary simulacra] is always very cautious because no one has ever seen Mary, so how would they know what she looks like?" ®
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
14

NASA sats snap California wildfires

While Southern California's firefighters battle to contain the wildfires which have provoked the mass evacuation of 500,000 people, killed at least one, and destroyed around 1,300 homes and businesses, NASA satellites have being doing their bit to record aerial views of the drama for posterity: The blurb explains: Smoke from multiple wildfires burning in Southern California, together with dust in Southern California, Baja California and mainland Mexico, swirl out into the Pacific and Gulf of California, respectively, in this false-colour visible image from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on NASA's Aqua satellite, acquired at about 7pm Eastern Time on 22 October. Strong Santa Ana winds are fanning the wildfires, among the most destructive in recent memory. NASA also has an image which "depicts the wind speed and direction of the strong winds blowing offshore from Southern and Baja California" captured by its QuikScat satellite. QuikScat carries a "SeaWinds scatterometer, a specialised microwave radar that measures near-surface wind speed and direction under all weather and cloud conditions over the Earth's oceans". More on the above pics and further updates are available here. ®
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
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StumbleUpon brings human touch to search

eBay-owned website rating service StumbleUpon has announced the launch of a new feature that will display users' opinions of a website or web page. The new "SearchReviews" service will be available to StumbleUpon users who have downloaded and installed the company's toolbar. Once this is installed, users will start seeing tiny coloured icons alongside links other "Stumblers" have rated, indicating whether people recommend or dislike the site.
Stephen Errity, 24 Oct 2007
10

AMD three-core Phenoms to ship March 2008?

Basic details have begun to filter through regarding AMD's three-core Phenom line-up, due to go on sale in Q1 2008.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
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Samsung unshutters 'first' 5Mp, 3x optical zoom cameraphone

Samsung’s G800 slider handset could easily be mistaken for the existing G600, if it wasn't for one element: Samsung claimed the new model is the world’s first phone to feature both a five-megapixel camera and a 3x optical zoom facility.
James Sherwood, 24 Oct 2007

AMD confirms November launch for 55nm 'RV670'

AMD has tacitly confirmed past claims that its next-generation GPU, codenamed 'RV670' and the company's first graphics chip fabbed at 55nm, will debut in the middle of November.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
1

Amazon sells 2.5 million Harry Potters

Amazon beat the Street's expectations for its third quarter but still seemed to disappoint traders yesterday. Shares fell sharply in after-hours trading after rising more than ten per cent during the day. The bookseller also showed exactly how low-margin a low-margin web business can be. Despite turnover of more than $3bn the company made just $80m in profit. Net sales for the quarter ended 30 September 2007 grew 41 per cent to $3.26bn and net profit was up 313 per cent to $80m. The biggest release of the year was the latest and last Harry Potter tome - Amazon sold 2.5m copies of the book. International sales from Germany, Japan, France, China and the UK were $1.47bn, up 40 per cent on the same period of 2006. US sales were up by a similar amount, 42 per cent, to $1.79bn. Amazon said over 290,000 developers have now signed up to use Amazon Web Services, up 25,000 from the previous quarter. ®
John Oates, 24 Oct 2007
32

Flaming kamikaze squirrel torches car

A New Jersey woman's Toyota Camry last week suffered a sciurine kamikaze attack during which a flaming squirrel fell onto the vehicle, slid into the engine compartment and provoked an explosion which destroyed the parked vehicle, the Jersey Journal reports. Lindsey Millar, 23, and bruv Tony, 22, were at home in Bayonne last Wednesday lunchtime when the incident occurred. The animal had apparently decided it was a really good move to chew through overhead powerlines directly above the motor, and was duly fried for its trouble. Tony Millar explained: "The squirrel chewed through the wire, was set on fire, fell down directly to where the car was. The squirrel, on fire, slid into the engine compartment and blew up the car." He added: "They're always coming around here, chewing through the garbage." Ms Millar is apparently fully insured for incendiary squirrel strike, although her brother concluded: "It's something to laugh about once she has a new car. It's not funny yet." As a rather poignant footnote, the Jersey Journal notes that the Millars' house is fully decked out in anticipation of Halloween, "complete with a tiny plastic tombstone on their front lawn". Tony Millar said the family "will consider dedicating the tombstone to the squirrel". ® Bootnote Thanks to Neil Pugh for the tip-off.
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
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Kazakhstan blocks opposition websites

Kazakhstan yesterday blocked access to several websites critical of the government, including the "main opposition outlets", kub.kz and geo.kz, Reuters reports. Kub - which said it said it had been "officially notified by the Kazakhstan Network Information Centre of its closure" - quickly posted a statement on another site which "linked the closure to its publication of sensitive telephone transcripts last week involving people it said were senior government officials". Abai Sakenov, administrator of geo.kz, reported: "I was notified yesterday of the suspension of the domain. I only found out about it last night." Reaction to the blackout has been predictable. One blogger thundered: "Are they completely mad? You can't stamp out freedom!" Maybe not, but back in 2005, Kazakhstan pulled the plug on borat.kz, home of Sacha Baron Cohen's "boorish, sexist and racist Kazakh television reporter", and threatened legal action against the Brit comedian. Borat enthused: "I have no connection to Mr Cohen and fully support my government's position to sue this Jew." ®
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
29

IT managers caught in employees' illicit networks

Illicit workplace "greynets" are enjoying enormous growth, with staff embracing the concept while BOFHs are left playing whac-a-mole. The FaceTime survey, of 700 US employees and IT managers, found an average of nine greynets in every company, with only one per cent of firms avoiding them completely.
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2007
44

Blu-ray outsells HD DVD 2:1 in US

US consumers bought almost twice as many Blu-ray Discs than HD DVDs in the first nine months of 2007, trade title Home Media Magazine has claimed.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
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66

GMail shakes IMAP out of coma

Google has slipped IMAP support into its GMail service, allowing users to manage their mail on the server and access it using different clients, with the status of their messages maintained.
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2007
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18

IBM patents making money from patents

Sometime computer maker and intellectual property clearing house IBM has threatened the fabric of space-time by attempting to patent profiting from patents. A filing at the US Patent Office, entitled "system and method for extracting value from a portfolio of assets" stages a landgrab on the thoroughly original idea of letting other people use your ideas.
Christopher Williams, 24 Oct 2007
Flag South Korea
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Korean software firm sues Microsoft

Microsoft has been slapped with a lawsuit filed by Korean instant messaging program developer Digito.com, which is claiming millions of dollars in anti-trust damages.
Kelly Fiveash, 24 Oct 2007

Sony 'shuffles' out multi-colour Cyber-shot T2 line-up

Sony's upcoming Cyber-shot DSC-T2 could become the iPod Shuffle of the digicam world when it goes on sale in Europe next month: the metal-clad machine will be available in a range of Shuffle-like colours.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
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Oracle and BEA swap public love letters

BEA invited Oracle to play kiss-chase yesterday, as the database vendor came over all tough and macho in its effort to acquire the middleware firm.
Joe Fay, 24 Oct 2007
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Dell debuts XPS desktop for video buffs

Dell's XPS line of desktop PCs isn't just for gaming, oh no. The computer giant last night launched a model aimed at video editors.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
9

Toshiba: integrated HD DVD would 'limit' Xbox experience

Microsoft will not build an HD DVD drive into a future Xbox 360 because it doesn't want to "limit the user's experience", an insider at fellow HD DVD backer Toshiba has said.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
32

US: Missile shield 'deactivated' until Iran tools up

US defence secretary Robert Gates, seeking to allay Russian concerns, has suggested that European elements of the planned American missile shield might be built but not "activated" unless a threat from Iran developed. Ongoing US efforts may in future produce a somewhat functional system of layered defences against ballistic missiles - even intercontinental ones capable of hitting the USA from rogue states such as Iran or North Korea. The part of the system which (at least ostensibly) has Vladimir Putin's back-up is the so-called Mid-Course Ground-Based Interceptor. This is the only thing which can touch intercontinental warheads as they soar through space, after boost and prior to re-entry. The Pentagon has claimed successful tests in recent years, but hasn't yet introduced complications such as decoys and countermeasures to its trials. The space interceptors and accompanying tracking radars need to be based somewhere not too far from the flight path of hostile warheads. In the case of any future Iranian weapon aimed at the US, this means putting at least some of the kit in Eastern Europe - specifically in the Czech Republic and Poland. Moves to site ten interceptors and a radar in these places have provoked a storm of protest and belligerence from Vladimir Putin's Kremlin, amid allegations that America seeks - right now - to build a shield capable of knocking back a strike by Russia's strategic-rocket forces. This is basically rubbish. The US cannot mount boost-phase attacks on Russian rockets, which is the only (possibly) cost-effective way of picking off multiple-warhead ICBMs. It can't defend very much of its home territory against plunging warheads, either. Mid-course space intercept is horrifyingly expensive - each interceptor is itself a biggish triple-stage rocket, not much cheaper than an ICBM - and it would have to eliminate not just thousands of warheads flying through space, but perhaps tens of thousands of decoys too. Even if the US could emplace interceptors carrying huge numbers of working, effective kill-vehicles in Eastern Europe, and could find some way of picking Russian warheads out of their cloud of accompanying chaff and decoys, Putin or his successors could still rip the heart out of the USA using missile submarines shooting from unknown locations. (It is true, lurking Russian subs have often been shadowed unawares by US and British forces, but it would be far from impossible for Russia to raise its game here - certainly in the timeframe of a real US space shield.) The real Kremlin concern is almost certainly the expansion of US/Western influence into Moscow's client-state/buffer zone, and associated undermining of Russian prestige and clout. It may not really be so much the Czech and Polish bases that are causing problems as other US demands; for instance that Kosovo's independence from Serbia be recognised, or that Russia stop selling advanced weaponry to Iran. The disproportionate missile-shield anger may be just Russia seeking to acquire/manufacture a new bargaining chip to be swapped in other negotiations. Hence yesterday's public US offer, intended to offer a face-saving route for Russia and also - perhaps - to somewhat reduce the value of the chip. "We would consider tying together the activation of the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic with definitive proof of the threat, in other words, Iranian missile testing and so on," Mr Gates reportedly said. This does seem fairly meaningless, to be honest - roughly equivalent to saying the radars will be mostly switched off until the US says different. Even so, there are signs that Russia may be up for anything it can present as a US concession - or perhaps that other quieter deals have been reached on other matters. After Mr Gates' remarks yesterday, the Guardian quotes an unnamed Russian official as saying: "We believe that the outcome of the talks is promising. We think a number of ideas the Americans raised in Moscow merit careful consideration. For example, we believe there is a need for a joint discussion of the Iranian missile threat." Watch this space... ®
Lewis Page, 24 Oct 2007
11

Chinese lunar orbiter on its way

China this morning sucessfully sent on its way the Chang'e One lunar orbiter from the southwestern province of Sichuan, amid much patriotic trumpeting of the country's technological prowess. According to Reuters, the 10.05 GMT launch of the 2,300kg orbiter atop a Long March 3A rocket was watched by thousands of space enthusiasts and tourists who'd stumped between 800 to 1,000 yuan (£48-£63) to enjoy the spectacle from viewing platforms at the Xichang Centre. Thousands of less well-off locals living within 2.5km of the launch site were evacuated "as standard procedure". Chinese TV carried "more-or-less" live images of the blast-off, and the Sina website quickly declared: "Without a doubt, the launch of the Chang'e One will again show the world that Chinese people have the willpower, confidence and ability to constantly scale the heights of science and technology." One female spectator chipped in with: "This is our first probe to the Moon, and it will be a symbolic event. I feel this is very important for us." While Chinese patriotic space zeal has evidently been stirred by Chang'e One - named after a mythical Chinese goddess who winged it to the Moon - the chief commander of the orbiter project, Luan Enjie, stressed today: "China will not be involved in a Moon race with any other country and in any form." Despite this, China has already announced its intention to send manned missions to the Moon with a view to mining helium. While the date for a human jaunt on the lunar surface has been knocked back from 2017 to 2024, the country is investing heavily in its space programme, including the construction of a fourth space port on the southern island of Hainan. ®
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
20

Developer deploys graphics cards to accelerate password cracks

Nvidia's GeForce 8 series of graphics chips can be used to crack Windows NT LAN Manager (NTLM) passwords 25 times more quickly than was previously possible, security software developer Elcomsoft has claimed.
Nick Hawkesmoor, 24 Oct 2007
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11

Bad security products thrive on confusion

The information security market is riddled with mediocre products because buyers are often sold on a story rather than having enough information to make a rational choice, a security expert has said.
John Leyden, 24 Oct 2007
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Cathedral gun battle game not blessed with gaming award

Controversial PlayStation 3 game Resistance: Fall of Man failed to take a gong at last night's British Academy Video Games Awards in London, a result that will surely have Manchester church-goers rejoicing. Wii Sports fans also have reasons to be cheerful.
James Sherwood, 24 Oct 2007
16

Jackie Chan records Olympic ditty

Action movie geezer Jackie Chan has apparently recorded an "officially-endorsed" song to celebrate the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, provocatively entitled We Are Ready. Chan reportedly spent no less than three gruelling hours in front of the mic during a quick trip to the capital to bang out lyrics such as: "Waiting year after year/ We can see into the future/ Together with hard work and sweat/ We've created the five different colours." Those inspirational (translated from the original Chinese, natch) lines are the work of one Peter Kam, who told AP a proper English-language version of the work was imminent. Rumours that this will contain the verse "Comrade Communist Party official/ Feel free to use my car/ My feet are at your service/ And the stadium's not too far" are unconfirmed. ®
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
12

Pure Digital Evoke 1S DAB digital radio

ReviewReview Going back a few years, Pure Digital's parent company, Imagination Technologies, only made chips and wasn't involved in the manufacture of radios in any way. So to come as far as the company has in such a short period of time is surely testament to its ability to deliver desirable and reliable products.
Lewis Caliburn, 24 Oct 2007
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Petrolhead-friendly Porsche phone to drive out next month

Carphone Warehouse has leaked the shipping date for the latest addition to the mobile phone poser set, Porsche Design's aluminium-clad P’9521.
James Sherwood, 24 Oct 2007
30

Police bail OiNK admin after filesharing raid

The target of yesterday's high-profile file sharing raid in Middlesbrough has been released on bail pending further investigation, Cleveland police said this morning. The man, who cannot be named, has not been charged with any offence relating to his alleged role in the OiNK BitTorrent site. He was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and copyright infringement. A message left by the record industry at the OiNK.cd domain says: "A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site's users." Yesterday, Cleveland police described donation-funded OiNK as having been "extremely lucrative". The force is "already on the trail" of "hundreds of thousands of pounds" coined by its operators, it said. Footage of the raid on the 24-year-old administrator's flat in a Middlesbrough terrace is available here. As part of the swoop, the IT worker's employer, a multinational chemical giant, was raided. The firm's UK representative could not be reached for comment today. According to this morning's police statement, documents and computers were also seized at the man's parents' address in Cheadle, Greater Manchester. Cleveland police said it would be carrying out computer forensics on the equipment it has seized. OiNK has been reported as a go-to site for pre-release music emerging from studios and record companies, and had gradually risen on the anti-piracy hitlist. One well-placed insider told The Reg that the industry's enforcement chiefs don't expect another private torrent network to reach the same level of popularity for some years. Invite-only P2P is not a major trend that rights owners are aiming to tackle as a priority, he said. Separately today, Lord Triesman, the parliamentary Under Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills, told the BBC that Labour would legislate if internet providers don't clamp down on file sharing. "If we can't get voluntary arrangements we will legislate," he said, in an interview sure to chill hearts at ISPs. He qualified the threat by saying talks between the music industry and the ISPs are "progressing more promisingly than people might have thought six months ago", and said he would prefer not to regulate. More here. ®
Christopher Williams, 24 Oct 2007
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Hypersonic hydrogen airliner to bitchslap Concorde

The European Union (EU) has agreed further funding for a European civil hypersonics project whose goal is to achieve passenger flights from Brussels to Sydney in "two to four hours", at speeds of Mach 4 to 8. The now-retired Concorde was capable of only a little better than Mach 2. The first phase of the so-called Long-term Advanced Propulsion Concepts And Technologies (LAPCAT**) scheme winds up early next year. LAPCAT I is run by the European Space Agency (ESA) which is separate from the EU. However, €4bn* of its €7bn* cost is funded by Brussels. One of the participating LAPCAT organisations is British firm Reaction Engines, which has put together design studies for a proposed hydrogen-fuelled hypersonic airliner catchily dubbed "Configuration A2". The A2 would be powered by Scimitar engines, a modified version of Reaction Engines' previous plans for a Single-Stage-to-Orbit reuseable spaceplane drive called Sabre. The planned A2 for 300 biz-class, next to today's 800-seat Airbus A380 cattle-hauler. The company describes this technology as "essentially a... rocket engine with an additional precooled turbo-compressor". Reaction Engines reckon the use of almost-liquefied air from the turbo will allow Scimitar/Sabre propulsion to operate without onboard liquid oxygen up to Mach 5.5. Unlike a ramjet or scramjet, this kind of engine can fire up happily while stationary on the runway, too, removing the need for a separate booster to get up to ignition speed. The airliner-optimised Scimitar job would also feature a special high-bypass mode, allowing it to operate fuel-efficiently at subsonic speeds. This would permit the economic use of longer overland routes, something which Concorde couldn't really do. "Unlike Concorde," quoth Reaction Engines, "the A2 vehicle has exceptional range (approx 20,000 km both subsonic and supersonic) and is therefore able to service a large number of routes whilst simultaneously avoiding supersonic overflight of populated areas. Its good subsonic performance enables it to service conventional subsonic overland routes..." The firm's engineers calculate that an A2 hyperairliner would be able to haul 300 passengers to Sydney in 4.6 hours, going subsonic where it passed over land but cruising at better than Mach 5 most of the way. The price would be about that of a normal business class ticket, they say, assuming that the hydrogen fuel was produced using electrolysis. (You want this, because the process is totally clean of itself - though the electricity of course may not be cleanly generated.) Normal industrial hydrogen made by steam reforming with natural gas would provide considerably cheaper tickets, but this process involves throwing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere - it would probably be worse in this respect than using ordinary airliners, not to mention current European/Russian political issues around gas supplies. But Reaction Engines reckon that pricey electrolysis-hydrogen hypersonic tickets would find a good market. "In principle the A2 vehicle could capture all of the current business and first class traffic due to the greatly reduced journey time," says the firm. It seems that the mandarins of Brussels agree, as Flight International reports today that LAPCAT II will kick off in a year's time with €10bn* of funding, though it didn't say how much of this comes from Brussels and how much from other channels. ® *Oops. For billion read million. It is only a design study. **Sheesh. You might as well have called it CHUTNEY (Civil Hypersonic Useful Technology Not Employable Yet).
Lewis Page, 24 Oct 2007

Next-gen Treo spied on web

A picture of a device claimed to be Palm's next top-of-the-line Windows Mobile-based Treo smartphone has surfaced on the web, allegedly by way of US carrier Sprint.
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2007
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Legal loophole allows Manhunt 2 to be sold in UK

Gory game Manhunt 2 can legally be sold to UK consumers as a download, despite the refusal of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to grant the title a certificate for sale as a physical product in shops.
James Sherwood, 24 Oct 2007
12

Operators say 'told you so' on iPhone security

Operator talking-shop the OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Alliance) has published its white paper on handset security, saying something along the lines of Symbian Signed is a good idea, and that if Apple had listened to it the iPhone would never have been cracked. The document (pdf) spends a lot of time explaining what mobile security is, and goes on to promote the OMTP ASF (Application Security Framework) which would solve all these problems, including the cracks in the iPhone. The iPhone was first cracked though an exposed debug port on the circuit board, and it's true that the OMTP Trusted Environment (recommended in the new white paper) states that: "Any unauthorised access to debug port features SHALL be prevented by the [System On Chip]." But it's a hell of a lot easier to say than to do, and Apple can be forgiven for leaving a pin accessible. Harder to forgive is the complete lack of layering in the iPhone security model - all applications run as root, with full system access, something that hasn't been an issue on Macs for years, and was even fixed by Microsoft in Windows Vista. The white paper makes a good argument for layering security, with applications only being able to access the resources they need. This is something Symbian features, but which Apple is going to have a hard time adding to the iPhone when it launches the SDK next year. Steve Jobs has claimed the iPhone will be protected by a new security model offering lots of access for developers, but with lots of security too - a combination that is also much easier to talk about than implement. With the iPhone architecture so fatally flawed it's hard to see how such a security model can be implemented by next year, but Apple could do a lot worse than read up on what the OMTP recommends. ®
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2007
42

Dead dog floors 68 Namibian villagers

Sixty-eight people from two Namibian villages ended up in hospital after "eating a dog that had died of disease", The Namibian reports. Said mutt from Oikokola in the Omusati region was killed by its owner last Saturday after falling ill, and he duly ordered the carcass to be incinerated. However, the good burghers of Oikokola insisted on tucking in, and shared the meat with villagers from neighbouring Onepandaulo. The result was 55 Oikokola residents and 13 fellow sufferers from Onepandaulo rapidly needing medical treatment. Some were tended at the local medical centre, while more serious cases required hospitalisation. Happily, local councillor Bernadinus Shekutamba Shikongo said "many of the people have since recovered", while the director of health of the Oshana Region, Dr Naftali Hamata, duly warned against "eating dog meat and the carcass of any sick animal". AP notes that dog meat is considered a delicacy in Northern Namibia, and people continue to enjoy its delights, despite animal rights campaigners' objections. ®
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2007
Microsoft
1

Microsoft offers pay-as-you-go CRM

Microsoft is banking on a pay by the month charging scheme to pull small businesses onto its customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
John Oates, 24 Oct 2007
71

Ubuntu's latest OS not so Gutsy

Ubuntu fanboys have been crying into their beers after discovering internet connection problems with Canonical's latest open source Linux distribution operating system, dubbed the Gutsy Gibbon.
Kelly Fiveash, 24 Oct 2007
24

Brussels arms bod: Don't buy Yankee deathware

The chief of the European Defence Agency says that EU nations must develop more sophisticated weapons technology jointly among themselves in order to be free of dependence on American exports. Specifically, Alexander Weis believes that European countries should club together to build spy satellites and heavy-lift helicopters. "Both programs would allow the European Union to close very important capability gaps," said Weis, according to a report yesterday by AP. EU nations collectively have very few heavy lift choppers, and those few are mostly US-developed CH-47 Chinooks or CH-53 Stallions. Heavy helicopters are really only made in America and Russia - Europe is even further behind the former superpower rivals in the spy-sats stakes. The European Defence Agency is part of the Brussels bureaucracy, intended to promote a thriving European deathware-industrial base. It is not the same thing as the fledgling EU military staff, a uniformed organisation which does plans and assessments for Euro military operations outwith NATO. According to AP: "The Agency was set up by the EU in 2004 with the aim of coordinating European defense procurement and development and eradicating wasteful duplication among European nations." This is to be done in this case by duplicating existing American and Russian tech capabilities in Europe, rather as in the case of the ongoing A400M military transport-plane project distributed across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Turkey. Europe could not build such aircraft until A400M got underway, but it will be able to in a few years. An A400M is projected to cost the British forces around £100m to acquire and will be able to carry 30 tons over a distance of 2,500 nautical miles. By way of comparison, smaller numbers of American C-17s thus far seem to be costing the UK £200m each including support: but they can carry nearly 80 tons to the same distance as an A400M - rather faster, too. Roughly speaking, you get a third more for your money buying American (probably more once support for A400M is factored in). The C-17 has been available for many years, too; the A400M has yet to arrive. Still, at least the Euro option involves no dependence on horrid George Bush for spare parts etc. That's worth something, isn't it? Well, no, actually. The A400M is chockful of American stuff. It would cost even more if it weren't. Numbers on the existing British-Italian Merlin HC3 and Future Lynx helicopters - as compared to imported American alternatives - are even worse, and the Merlin and Lynx too are brimming with US bits. Only a lunatic would recommend to the cash-strapped British MoD that it get involved in another project of this sort. That lunatic is named Alexander Weis, and we're paying for his thoughts. So we're not actually talking about being free of US influence here. We're just talking about paying well over market rate for our deathware - and sometimes widening our tech-support dependency beyond the EU, as in the case of A400M - so that some business guys here in Europe can make money off our taxes, and our armed forces can have less and crappier gear that arrives later. "We have to consolidate before we come to a real transatlantic cooperation," says Weis, apparently. No shit. Like we could consolidate our bloated, horrifyingly expensive helicopter biz for a start, by closing it, and cooperate with the Yanks by buying from them. If they got out of hand, we could buy or lease Russian, as we (and indeed the Americans) already do. The AP report is here.®
Lewis Page, 24 Oct 2007
Xen logo
1

XenSource preaches the joy of platform virtualization

InteropInterop The virtualization hypervisor belongs in server hardware - not in the operating system. So says Xensource, friend and partner of the operating system giants Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell. "Hypervisor will be delivered in hardware. In my view, it's a separate layer [from the operating system] because it's part of the box," Crosby told several hundred people gathered for his Interop keynote at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. "Platform virtualization is here to stay."
Paula Rooney, 24 Oct 2007
12

Appeals court rubber stamps FCC's DSL (de)regulation

Living in America? If you get your access to the internet through an independent ISP over DSL, your service might become more expensive soon. Or slow. Or disappear entirely.
Kevin Fayle, 24 Oct 2007
Symantec
5

Rogue ActiveX controls menace users

Flaws in ActiveX controls are being increasingly used to run security exploits. Arbitrary file overwrite and deletion flaws, typically exploited through ActiveX controls, are well on the way to becoming a new class of security flaw, according to net security firm Symantec.
John Leyden, 24 Oct 2007
Facebook
2

Facebook teams with RIM for Web 2.0 on-the-go

CTIACTIA Facebook has launched a fresh attack on the mobile market, unveiling a brand new version of its social networking service for BlackBerry smartphones as well as two new mobile hooks for its much-balleyhooed app development platform. With his morning keynote at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment, the mobile trade show now into its second day in downtown San Francisco, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz called the mobile market "his personal passion". Then he trumpeted two new mobile extensions for Facebook Platform, the fledgling API that encourages third-party developers build their own apps for the service.
Cade Metz, 24 Oct 2007
Microsoft
1

Microsoft frees up virtualization spec

Microsoft has placed the hypercall application program interface (API) for its Viridian virtualization server under the banner of its Open Specification Promise (OSP). But will it help company notch up more open source street cred? The hypercall API for Viridian, which comes as part of Windows Server 2008, enables developers to integrate non-Windows virtualization components with Windows Server.
Phil Manchester, 24 Oct 2007
Google
4

Small.biz flocks to Google Apps

InteropInterop Rapid innovation, not big R&D dollars, is driving adoption of Google apps at 1,500 new small-to-medium business customer sites per day and a few big companies such as Proctor & Gamble and GE. That's the message from Matthew Glotzbach, head of products at Google Enterprise, who during his Interop keynote ignored the existence of Microsoft Office Live Services. Instead he pointed to more than 100 new features added to his company's business software services since they debuted in February.
Paula Rooney, 24 Oct 2007
Massachusetts flag
10

TJX breach was twice as big as admitted, banks say

The world's largest credit card heist may be bigger than we thought. Much bigger. According to court documents filed by a group of banks, more than 94 million accounts fell into the hands of criminals as a result of a massive security breach suffered by TJX, the Massachusetts-based retailer.
Dan Goodin, 24 Oct 2007

IBM buys storage services firm NovusCG

IBM is bulking up its storage software division by buying privately held storage resource management firm, Novus Consulting Group (NovusCG). Financial terms were not disclosed.
Austin Modine, 24 Oct 2007
1

Storage Virtualization: A Register survival guide

Your bedside clock flickers 2:48 AM. You're still awake. Covered in a thin sheen of sweat, you heave yourself from your mattress and head for the window. Fresh air. That's all you need. The distant ebb and flow of traffic breaks the tomb-like silence of your bedroom. You close your eyes. It sounds like the ocean — or — no! You must stop thinking of the data center. But you can't. Storage virtualization.
Austin Modine, 24 Oct 2007
40

Swede with UK betting licence held in Amsterdam for 'breaking' ancient French law

France found itself embroiled in the middle of yet another internet gambling controversy Tuesday, after Dutch authorities arrested the CEO of Unibet - a Swedish online gambling provider with a history of run-ins with French authorities - on an outstanding French warrant. Authorities arrested Petter Nylander, a resident of London, at the Amsterdam airport. Authorities requested that he remain in the Netherlands until a judge could consider the French extradition request. Mr. Nylander remained defiant, and vowed to continue offering gambling services to the French market.. “We are doing nothing illegal because we have a license for Britain,” he told Dutch newspapers. “According to the European rules, if you have a license for one member state, you are authorized to use it in the others.” Jeux avec frontières Dominique Santacru, Mr Nylander's French lawyer, chimed in as well, ridiculing the arrest to the press. “Mr Nylander is the head of a registered business . . . and he is arrested like a common thief.” Charlie McCreevy, the EU Internal Market Commissioner, took a bleak view of the action against Mr Nylander as well, issuing a critical statement through his spokesman. “In our view, somebody might have been arrested who is innocent under EU law.” France has a long history of vigorously defending its longstanding monopolies on gambling, the Française des Jeux (FDJ), which runs lotteries, and the Parimutuel Urbain (PMU), which controls the ever-protectionist horse-racing industry. The controversial laws that govern the French gambling industry date from the 19th century, and have been used against several online gambling companies that have targeted the French market. Unibet, for whatever reason, has been a particular irritant to the French. French authorities arrested two Unibet executives last year in Monaco; prohibited the company from sponsoring cycling teams earlier this year; and even raided the French Poker Tour this summer to remove offensive, Unibet-branded poker chips. Unibet had sponsored the tournament. Ancien Régime Under pressure from the European Commission, France only recently agreed to consider opening its market to internet gambling firms licensed in other EU member states, and the central government seemed caught offguard by the latest contretemps. The Budget Ministry responded to the diplomatic row that followed the arrest by announcing that it "regretted" the timing - not the arrest itself? - of Mr Nylander's arrest and hoped that the lottery and racing regulators would drop the the questionable complaints against Unibet that underlie the arrest warrant that created this mess. Unibet had rather obstinately refused to appear before a French judge investigating the claims against the company, and the warrant went out. Whatever one thinks about Unibet's refusal to participate in the French legal process, until someone challenges the French legislation at the EU level, powerful economic forces will keep the illegal French monopolies in place. The tide continues to turn in the gambling companies favor.® Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office
Burke Hansen, 24 Oct 2007
9

Websites steamed after their Google PageRanks fall

The net is abuzz with speculation that Google is cracking down on link farms designed to artificially puff up the placement of websites after bloggers disclosed recent PageRank drops for more than a dozen sites. They include tuaw.com, which watched its PageRank fall from 6 to 4, and Engadget.com, SFGate.com, Forbes.com and WashingtonPost.com, all of which saw their rankings drop from 7 to 5. Webmasters don't take kindly when the engine that by some estimates handles 60 percent of the world's web searches suddenly deems their sites' content less relevant. Google has yet to explain what is behind the changes. (The company's PR handlers didn't respond to our email seeking comment for this story.) So bloggers have been trying to fill the vacuum by advancing their own theories. Theory No. 1 is that Google, the world's most profitable seller of paid links, is punishing sites that try to horn in on the action (and Forbes.com, ironically enough, recently published a decent primer on page ranking payola.) "Google's bean counter, naturally, would prefer that you pay Google for sponsored links instead," was how gossip monger Valleywag saw it. That doesn't make sense to us for a couple of reasons. First, Google's formidable legal eagles, recognizing the antitrust pitfalls of such a practice, almost certainly would put the kibosh on it before it ever got going. Second, last we checked, SFGate, Forbes and plenty of other sites that took a hit aren't in the business of selling links. At least not publicly. That leads us to the second, and more plausible theory: That Google is penalizing the large networks of blogs that use one property to prop up another. Under such arrangements, each site in the network posts links pointing to other blogs in the network, operating under the assumption that more links will translate into higher PageRanks. This is the theory being advanced by blogger Andy Beard, who reminds us here that Google Guidelines frown on "schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank". Assuming that's the case, that's probably a good thing. Google's algorithm was revolutionary because it was one of the first to gauge the usefulness of content based on how many other websites linked to it. The use of reciprocal links benefits purveyors of fluff at the expense of those who are generating authentic and useful content. Not that we can trust that this is what's truly at work here. One of the great things about being the dominant search engine is that even though you have the power to make or break countless other businesses, you don't have to explain your policies to anyone. So far, Google's lips are sealed. ®
Dan Goodin, 24 Oct 2007
For Sale sign detail
2

Green Grid snuggles with US lobbying group

The Green Grid is boasting it's buddied-up with the top US technology industry government lobbying group, and produced three new papers on energy efficiency.
Austin Modine, 24 Oct 2007