Intelligent dustbins and Google will save us from aliens

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Yes, it's official, aliens are indeed in the custody of the US authorities at Roswell, New Mexico. But don't pack up the station wagon and head for the hills. Not yet anyway. It just seems that even the faceless men at Area 51 can come unstuck when it comes to working out who should, and shouldn't be given the privilege of working in the good old USA.

And 15 "aliens" working for a military contractor in the absurdly famous corner of the great South West were determined by the Immigration and Customs enforcement people to be "illegally residing and working in the United States". They're now en route to their places of origin, Which we suspect is more likely to be south of the border than beyond the rings of Saturn.

Indians in tiers over skills shortage

Of course, whoever the contractor was, we're sure their excuses will be along the lines of "it's all about the skills shortage". If it was plumbing, the stock UK response would be to get some Polish bloke in. If it's coding, it's let's get some Indian in.

Except even India is finding it hard to get enough coders. With wages up 23 per cent per year since 2001, trade body Nasscom is scouring the world's biggest democracy to test graduates to make sure they're up to the job of keeping the West's biggest IT firms ticking over. It's even developed a test to make sure candidates' English and other skills are up to scratch.

They're even looking in, heaven forfend, "second tier" cities, in a bid to spread work beyond the hotspots of Mumbai and Bangalore. Not surprising, since those cities seem to unexpectedly go down once a year when the utterly unpredictable annual monsoon sweeps up out of the blue to flood all and sundry.

While LogicaCMG makes skills shortage pay

And if India is experiencing a skills shortage, spare a thought for those European tech firms rummaging through the academic barrel.

LogicaCMG reported its H1 numbers this week. Revenue hit £1.243bn, up 39.4 per cent while net profit was £10.3m, down on the £23.7m it turned in last year.

All that business put the pinch on skills though, "with the supply of new graduates in developed economies becoming more limited". So, it has worked out a great way of getting round the ensuing wage increases - jacking up prices for customers who need higher skilled staff. It takes a highly trained consultant to work that one out.

And Serco has nothing to be scared of

Things were also looking up at Serco, where among other things, well let's just say concern about, you know, terror and stuff, have "done nothing to reduce awareness" of its mmm, security and defense related services. And as public spending has been squeezed, this has opened up more opportunities. Splendid stuff.

Grads' lightweight grid riddle

Shall we stick with skills shortages a while longer? Oh, go on. Think your next crop of grads are going to be impressed when you pass on that old laptop that's been sat on your desk since the finance chief before last got his marching orders? Think again.

Students at Southampton Uni have been given their own computing grid to play around on. OK, it's been described as a "lightweight grid", but even Jenson Button probably started with a Scalextric. In fact, he probably wins on it as well.

Security scare of the week

One of the key things those grid happy studes will be doing is looking at the security implications of grid computing. We wonder if they'll be running Windows on it?

El Reg revealed a security snafu at O2 this week. A sharp-eyed Reg reader (is there any other kind?) spotted an anomaly in the Telco's bill manager service that let him peruse the call records of other O2 customers. Being an honest sort, he told O2, which promptly shuttered the site, and admirably, put its hands up when contacted by us and said it hoped to restore the service sharpish.

Nice to know standards still exist.

Standards? Wi wait for the standards

Yes, the Wi-Fi alliance will start certifying 801.11n products from next March. The catch is the standard won't be carved in silicon until the following year. Nevertheless, the producers are "hoping" equipment certified to the draft standard will be compatible with equipment built to the final standard.

Intel finally gets to Tulsa

In other product news, Intel's Tulsa chips finally hit the streets. If you can't remember what Tulsa is, it's the big daddy Xeon for x86 servers with four or more sockets.

The new silicon apparently offers a 70 per cent boost over its predecessor, and the firm'll be hoping it drags the spotlight away from AMD's Opteron.

The next refresh, Tigerton, is due in the second half of next year, which means Tulsa's got a long stretch keeping the market entertained.

While IBM... also chucking around cores like the cleaner at the Magners factory, sticking a 2.1GHz Power5+ into its low end Unix systems and kitting them out with multicore modules. We haven't seen so many cores since French and Saunders did that really funny sketch about...anyway.

BSA wants a really big stick

In a move that will scare the parrots off corporate Long John Silvers everywhere, the Business Software Alliance has called on the government to mandate fines for companies that use unlicensed software.

The trade group - and remember, it is just a trade group - is demanding a "harder enforcement stick" with which to beat those companies that are a little lax in the management of software developers' IP.

The organisation is unhappy that most companies it fingers are simply allowed to go out and buy licenses, as courts generally can't impose punitive damages. The lack of fines is a major contributor to the UK's piracy levels, the BSA believes.

Why stop there, we say. At the very least, slapdash IT managers should be tagged, and sent to a large building in the wilderness and made to spend 23 hours a day in a small room with minimal light...What's that? That describes your day as it is anyway? OK, let's move swiftly along.

Google not trying to take over the world

On the other hand, you could just turn to Google. The search engine beloved by all, except a few trouble makers in China, has bundled a range of apps together which it will provide over the internet. These include its - Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Google Page Creator packages.

Just last week it unleashed a beta of its Writely word processor, and its spreadsheet has been around a little while now as well. We'd just like to point out now that Google is not, repeat, absolutely now, gunning for complete world domination. Absolutely not.

Attack of the drones

But if Google, or even the BSA, was going heavy on surveillance and enforcement, it might want to take a look at what's going in the UK. The UK's authorities are considering how to rejig aviation rules to facilitate the introduction of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (that's UAVs to them, or spy drones to the rest of us) by 2016.

This will open up marvellous new applications, such as monitoring environmental affects, looking out for fires, and, er, traffic and crowd control. The Aerial Asbo is just a twist of the joystick away.

Attack of the wheelie bins

Think that's far-fetched? Well, just consider that it only emerged last week that local authorities have been sticking RFID chips in wheelie bins to record how much waste individual houses get rid of. 500,000 of these smart bins have been deployed in a trial, which could be extended to the whole of the UK in two years.

Needless to say, this has prompted concerns that we're now about to get taxed on our rubbish. Or, put another way, another rubbish tax is coming your way.

Soon, the only way you'll be able to chuck your trash is by being a professional sportsman. On which note, we're chucking away our keyboard for the time being.

Have a great weekend - but be nice to your wheelie bin. Same time, same place, next week. ®

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