Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/21/weekly_21june/

Execs sweat while Home Office keeps poker face

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By Team Register

Posted in Business, 21st July 2006 13:12 GMT

Don't bet on Americans being dumb

We started this week with news that David Carruthers, the managing director of online gambling website BetonSports, had been detained for questioning while changing planes in the US en route to Costa Rica. Gambling online is illegal in the US. The law is not entirely clear - Congress is looking at new legislation at the moment - but US authorities obviously think the law is quite clear enough. And they seem quite clear on directorial responsibility too. Carruthers is being held in prison until his trial because he is considered a flight risk. There's more here on David Carruthers and America's distaste for gambling. Given Carruthers' high profile criticism of US gambling policy maybe he should have found a flight that went via Mexico City.

Team-ups of the week

Microsoft and Nortel are teaming up to make integrated voice and data products. The four-year deal was announced on Tuesday - the two will develop products together, share IP and jointly market services. Microsoft has already got the mobile side of its converged future set up thanks to a deal with Motorola, and Nortel should provide a few missing pieces. Go here for more on Microsoft and Nortel.

BT and Sage are working together to give accountants an easier way to manage phone bills. The two will work together to integrate BT's Billing Analyst software with Sage accounts packages. So no more going through pesky mobile bills. More here on easier managed phone bills.

On a sadder note Peter Hawkins, the man who first gave voice to the Daleks, died this week. He also created the "flobabob" language for Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men and voiced the robots in the Smash instant mash adverts.

It's not as funny/magic/clean as it used to be

Viz is an adult comic which has been running for 25 years. A few years ago it adopted the strapline "Not as funny as it used to be". The Geordie comic regularly printed letters from readers saying the same thing. The Reg remembers one of the Viz founders saying he first heard this said after just a couple of issues when they were still selling the magazine themselves in pubs in Newcastle. We'd link to a relevant interview here but Google has let us down - Google used to be much better at searching didn't it? Which brings us on to eBay - chief executive Meg Whitman admitted the auction site is losing its "magic". Apparently it's full of "identical, often poorly-priced items" - well who knew?

Inland Revenue: giving away your money

The National Audit Office is still as funny as it ever was. This week it had a look at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and it didn't like what it found. HMRC was accused of being over-generous in paying golden hellos to IT suppliers. The NAO accepted that multi-million payments to Capgemini were needed to encourage competition but questioned if they needed to pay quite so much. Money went to EDS and Accenture too - more here on how HMRC pays too much.

Great debates

This week saw a couple of stories which might help make sense of the arguments over “net neutrality” - the idea that the internet should treat all data equally or whether it would be better to favour some types of data over others – VoIP calls for instance. If you want a decent summary of both sides of the debate – to impress your mates with this weekend – then we can help. Not with your friends, obviously. Last week saw big-brained Vint Cerf and Dave Farber, a Carnegie Mellon professor, taking both sides of the fence at the Center for Amercian Progress. Andrew Orlowski covered the debate for us here – Net neutrality: yeah or nay If this whets your appetite, and this is an argument you're going to hear an awful lot more about, earlier this week we put up a technical, but not too technical, look at the issue from engineer Richard Bennett. He takes a practial rather than political look at the argument. More here.

To urr is human

Last week's story on Fish4's error message led to a flurry of alternative suggestions for the World's Greatest Error Messages. Make sure your favourite is there. And a quick apology. Very shortly after we put up the first story on error messages our website fell over. Revealing the Reg's very own error message.

Talking of mistakes, this week also saw the Chief Surveillance Commissioner (how many do we have?) warning that the police use of number-plate recognition technology may be illegal. Which might be bad news for Mr Plod. Especially as the police are rolling out Gatso 2 – or a “24-7 national vehicle database” which will track every vehicle on the roads and keep the data for two years.

Shorties and Quickies

Problems with counting clicks on internet ads? Click here. Just once...

When you climb to the top of the Monte

It’s been a long time coming, but Intel finally launched Montecito. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say it finally launched a chip and stuck the Montecito tag on it. Even a London taxi driver would be hard-pressed to negotiate the number of roadmap changes this baby’s had. It’s possible, just possible, that this dual core beast might finally breath some life into the Itanium project that’s been pulling downwards on Intel’s neck for most of this decade. But, then again, no.

Security scare of the week

Symantec warned that Windows Vista’s networking technology may actually be less stable - at release anyway - than its predecessors. The security/utility/whatever firm pointed out that its tests were only conducted on Beta code. Then again, that’s all we’re likely to have for a while yet.

Course, that particular nightmare’s all in the future. Possibly, the very very distant future. If you want to keep yourself awake at night right now, just consider that H.D.Moore has published code to help find malware via special Google searches. A great idea or a bad one, depending where you’re coming from and what you’re looking for.

Meanwhile, mal-contents are using twisted Powerpoint presentations and fake Google toolbars to trick the unwary into compromising their own systems.

You’ve earned it

Earnings season kicked into full gear, with IBM, AMD, Microsoft, Apple, Intel and a host of others unveiling their numbers. Close to home, Capita and LogicaCMG issued their figures, with the latter dropping hints about a “tightening labour market” leading to more use of contract staff.

Choose your sentence from the following list of options...

For once, though, the latest quarterlies were not the thing making Silicon Valley’s finest sweat. Rather, it was the SEC’s widening probe into stock option grants, with the Feds flinging criminal and civil charges at former Brocade CEO, Greg Reyes amongst others.The charges related to options Reyes approved for new hires, not for himself. Reyes’ lawyer said his client was innocent and would prove it in the courts. The rest of the world - or at least execs at the other 80 odd companies being probed by Washington - will be watching very closely.

Home Office looks for CIO - a job for lifers

Of course, the real tragedy is the effect this sort of action will have on the worldwide supply of senior IT executives. After all, the Home Office is set to suck up a CIO and whole host of other very senior IT execs to take control of its information strategy - you know, cakewalk jobs like sorting out the ID card database, the criminal records system, the immigration database. Seems this is all due to kick off, oooh, anytime now. Once he/she has jumped through all the recruitment hoops, worked notice/gardening leave, and found their desk the new CIO will have to dash off a "Home Office-wide IT strategy". No worries, though, they’ve got till December 2006 to pull it off. Potential candidates, particularly those with brewery/piss-up experience, can find out more here.

And in the end...

Microsoft pours a little open source over its virtualization strategy.

In the meantime, learn how to compute socially here. To go beyond social you might want some advice from the Vietnamese government here.

And, we can't tell you how the world will end, but it may be down to some trouble here.

Let's leave it there shall we? See you same place next week.®