Channel wins the war, but salmonella wins the bacteria race to space

The revelation that the channel model wars are over seems like a good place to kickstart our review of the week's news in The Reg. And the even better news is that the channel won. So break out the champagne, sing some rousing songs and hug a total stranger, the enemy has been defeated and victory is yours.

For those of you concerned the battle might resume again at any instant, we refer you to the declaration by Canalys president and CEO Steve Brazier at Acer's international press jamboree that "the channel has beaten the direct model".

He also suggested that any vendors seeking to jump from a direct-only model into the channel (who could he have in mind?) should not expect a soft landing.

What goes down can't go up

Meanwhile, Acer revealed it plans to continue trying to defy the laws of PC price gravity by seeking to push up average selling prices (ASP) for its hardware even though it has failed to stop prices falling this year.

UK country manager Semmy Levit said the policy had failed so far because component prices had dropped and Vista had failed to set the world aflame. The Taiwanese vendor has decided the best way to try and reach its goal is to push up prices on an aggregate level by launching more products at the high end.

Frenchman cuts Acer ASP by 52 per cent

Levit could perhaps have also mentioned the effect on its average selling price of Frenchman Antoine Gutzwiller who singlehandedly reduced the price of a €599 Acer notebook by €311.85 to €287.15.

Gutzwiller won a lawsuit against Acer disputing the fact he had no choice but to buy the laptop with Windows XP, Microsoft works, PowerDVD, Norton AV and other software products pre-installed. The court of Puteaux in France ruled the PC giant should refund the €311.85 to cover the full cost of the software and pay €500 in fees.

If it's good enough for the French, it's good enough for the EU

While Gutzwiller's achievement may have been on a small scale, European think tank The Globalisation Institute was seeking to make it as wide as possible by calling for the EU to require all PCs to be sold without operating systems.

According to Alex Singleton, president of the institute, which is run by free market advocates: "There is no meaningful competition between operating systems for commodity computers. Microsoft's dominant position is not in the public interest. It limits the market and has slowed technical development to the prejudice of consumers."

Your face is a book but your nostril is $300m to $500m

Meanwhile, Microsoft was staying quiet on matters EU last week (probably a wise move) but it wasn't completely out of the limelight. According to The Wall Street Journal, the software giant was seeking to get down and dirty with the kids by acquiring a five per cent stake in Web 2.0 social networking operation Facebook for "roughly $300m to $500m". We estimate that's probably equivalent to a left nostril.

Red Hat on the up...

Returning to matters concerning operating systems, Red Hat reported a 28 per cent jump in second quarter revenues on the back of a significant rise in Linux subscriptions, which accounted for $109.2m out of total revenues of $127.3m. Net income was up 64 per cent at $18.2m. CFO Charlie Peters highlighted "robust demand for our open source solutions".

...or is it heading for tough times?

The results came two days after a prominent open source software watcher suggested Red Hat was suffering from indigestion in its efforts to assimilate JBoss.

Credit Suisse analyst Jason Maynard said Red Hat was "in a state of flux as the company works through its transition to a multi-product company. These struggles appear to be more pronounced than we had anticipated and will likely take longer to fix. In our opinion, these challenges are largely fixable but it won’t happen overnight".

The end is nigh. Sorry, we're just testing...

It was a busy week on the security front, although not quite as busy as those who received an alert from Symantec's DeepSight warning a devastating attack was underway might have been led to believe.

Enterprise customers received a message stating the ThreatCon scale had increased from one (all calm on the security front) to four (meltdown). You can imagine their trepidation, especially as Symantec has never issued a ThreatCon 4 alert before. Luckily, the alert was issued by mistake with Symantec blaming "product testing" for the error.

To prevent fraud, don't visit our fraud prevention site

No such luck for eBay where hackers posted sensitive information for 1,200 eBay users to an official online forum dedicated to fraud prevention on the auction site.

The information - which included user names, email addresses, and possibly their credit card numbers and three-digit CVV2 numbers - was visible for more than an hour to anyone visiting the forum.

An eBay spokeswoman said the posts were most likely the result of account takeovers and not of a security breach on eBay. She also said the credit card numbers contained in the posts were not those eBay or PayPal had on file for those users.

Security regulations prevent Unisys from countering allegations of security breaches

At least eBay could console itself with the thought it wasn't Unisys. The IT computer services company, which has a $1.7bn contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is in trouble for allegedly failing to detect data breaches linked to a Chinese-language website and trying to cover up its inadequacies by falsely certifying the DHS network was secure.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Unisys failed to properly install and monitor network-intrusion detection devices at DHS headquarters and the Transportation Security Administration.

House Homeland Security committee chairman Bennie Thompson urged DHS inspector general Richard Skinner to launch his own investigation, claiming the department was the victim of "incompetent and possibly illegal activity by the contractor charged with maintaining security on its networks". Unisys claimed the allegations were inaccurate "but federal security regulations preclude public comment on specific incidents".

Verified as gullible

Last but not least on the security front, ID thieves have started using the Verified by Visa scheme in their phishing emails, claiming users need to respond to enrol in the programme. One version of the scam has an email telling the punter: "Your Bank of America card has been automatically enrolled in the Verified by Visa programme. To ensure your Visa card's security, it is important that you protect your Visa card online with a personal password. Please take a moment, and activate for Verified by Visa now."

A couple of takeovers to takeway

It was a relatively quiet week merger wise. EMC was said to have paid out $76m for web-based automated backup outfit Mozy, which offers online storage to consumers and businesses.

In the UK, security integrators GSS and Peapod announced plans to merge and trade under the GSS brand, becoming one of the UK's largest security integrator and consultancy firms in the process with 2,500 clients and 60 staff.

The one we had to keep in

The OLPC, which has produced the $100 laptop for the third world, plans to give consumers in developed countries the chance to buy the machine for two weeks from 12 November. Under the Give 1 Get 1 programme, customers will be able to buy two XO laptops for $400 (£200/€285), one for themselves and another to be delivered to a child in a developing nation. The XO laptop is based around an AMD Geode LX-700 CPU, has a 7.5in LCD display, two USB ports, an SD memory card slot and Wi-Fi, and is encased in a "hard" case with built-in carry handle.

Secondary pickets get a Second Life

One of the most intriguing stories of the week involves a strike in Second Life by IBM's Italian workforce. Organised by the UNI union, the strike aims to hit the company's virtual islands, but will also maintain a traditional theme with real live pickets outside the company's Italian facilities.

The cause of the strike is a pay dispute between IBM Italy and its unions. The union is inviting anyone who has a Second Life avatar to join the protest. As there are no laws against secondary picketing, it will be interesting to see how things turn out. Will the spirit of Arthur Scargill rise again?

Don't eat eggs or chicken in space

We end with the news that those contemplating space travel might deem it wise to stock up on extra supplies of Domestos. A recent experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) has revealed that microgravity alters genes in salmonella to make it three times more deadly.

Given that the main effects of salmonella are diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal cramps, already significant inconveniences in an enclosed space, we shudder to think of the havoc a strain that was three times as virulent could wreak on a six month voyage to Mars. ®

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