HMRC still looking for those disks, UK.plc looking for scientists

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Don't lie to your PC

Telling porkies to your PC can be a criminal offence. A gent this week was convicted of just this after making dubious discount claims to a computer running Renault's fleet scheme.

HMRC still looking behind the coffee machine

Her Majesty's Revenue is, we're told, still looking for the missing child benefit discs. We think they're properly lost now. But at least the civil service apologised for the gaffe.

Maybe they should have followed the more robust approach taken by a court in Ireland this week. Staff there decided not to risk losing any sensitive information which had been posted to them by shredding the whole lot.

The Dublin court rather sweetly asked people to write again if they'd sent anything in the last few days.

A hole? In Windows you say?

Microsoft was busy this week trying to track down a large hole in the Windows operating system. Details are sketchy, but it seems to be a hole in most versions of the software up to, and including, Vista.

Child database canned

Early in the week the UK government was reassuring us that the child database was completely safe. If you'd read about their attitude to the private information contained within the child benefit database you might have your doubts. By Wednesday they'd changed their minds and announced a delay to review its security.

Getting legal on illegals

New proposals were announced this week to punish companies which hire staff who do not have legal immigration and tax status. The punishment? Fines of up £10,000 per employee. We wonder how long before someone finds yet more illegals busy working for the Home Office.

Gov gaffes galore

Apart from destroying the nascent ID theft industry in the UK by handing out 25 million sets of addresses and bank accounts, the UK government did manage a bit of backtracking, or nearly. Alistair Darling said he may think again on setting a flat rate for capital gains tax.

Server sales

At least one company isn't suffering from the credit crunch. Gartner's figures for server sales in the third quarter showed growth of nearly nine per cent, and there was one particularly big winner.

Any old iron

In other hardware news, there was an odd investment in a mainframe firm this week. That's right, funding for a mainframe company... and it came from Microsoft.

Small mainframe firms nip at IBM

Speaking of mainframes, another mainframe upstart has joined in PSI's legal battle against IBM. T3 Technologies, also in a spat with IBM, has decided it wants to intervene in the long-running PSI suit. Small companies for sure – IBM excepted – but it shows mainframes never really die.

Novell and SCO

The legal battle between Novell and SCO looks like it will go to court. Chapter 11 looked like it was going to deprive us of a final showdown, but now the court battle is back on.

Christmas money

It was a good week for Sage with revenues for the year up 30 per cent to £1.16bn. The green one is still looking for a US boss, but is pretty confident for next year.

Unlike Dixons Store Group, which despite strong results sounded a warning that Christmas might not be all that merry.

Dell goes for French supermarkets

Action from Dell this week on its plan to move away from direct sales. The firm has done a deal with French supermarket Carrefour. Can it be long before it's in Tesco?

Judge debenched for jailing courtroom

Hats off to the US judge so infuriated with a mobile ringing in his courtroom that he banged up everyone in the room. Sadly, judicial authorities were less impressed and sacked the judge. We're hoping for an appeal.

Kids and science? They can't even spell it

Do you believe the children are our future? Could be a dark one. British kids have slipped from fourth to 14th in an international study on 15 year olds' sci aptitude. This, a day after their poor reading abilities were exposed to anyone that could still, er, read. We blame the parents. So, apparently, does the government.

Ford? I'm bloody perfect

You knew it was going to happen. Not content with sticking your motor-mouth salesmen into Fords, now the Fords are going to be motor-mouths themselves. The company will be punting voice activated cars in Europe before you know it.

Ofcom looks at numbers from the port side

The UK's telecoms regulator has told cellcos to get number porting down to a measly two hours by 2009. The telcos say two days – due next year – is quite enough, as they don't want customers to be rushed, or "slammed" from one unscrupulous operator to another. Heaven forbid.

Phone batteries not killers afterall

And remember, mobile phones can be dangerous. Though not as dangerous as they seemed on Thursday, when it seemed a Korean quarry worker had been killed by an exploding phone battery. It later emerged he'd been crushed by another worker's vehicle. The offending colleague then tried to cover up the accident by pointing the blame at the phone.

Microsoft brought to heel over multiple activation codes

If you don't like Microsoft's use of activation codes, you might be pleased to hear the beast of Redmond has been tamed by a small firm that has secured a patent on the use of multiple activation codes.

Microsoft has been ordered to pay z4 Technologies $140m by a US court. Microsoft doesn't appear inclined to take the verdict lying down.

Facebook changes bulb in beacon

At the other end of the IT fashion world, Facebook was forced to backtrack on its Beacon advertising program. This is the one that meant all your "friends" were told what you were buying from etailers who struck deals with Facebook.

Some people – believe it or not – thought this an infringement of privacy. Facebook said of course not. Then was forced to back down, and will now operate it on an opt-in basis.

Cisco admits VoIP flaw

Talking of privacy, Cisco confirmed that a bug involving its 7900 Series IP phones created a means for hackers to eavesdrop on calls. It has explained the flaw to users, and publicised workarounds.

We are the robots

Publishers and other webmasters should have a little more control over how the likes of Google index their content after the launch of the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP).

This replaces robots.txt, which dates from 1994 and which governed how pages could be indexed. The new protocol will include commands to govern how long content can be indexed for, and how much of an article aggregators can lift display. Google has given ACAP a cautious welcome.

Reg readers rolling in it – kind of

But the biggest news of the week? Reg readers aren't expecting their IT budgets to drop next year. Our Tech Barometer Survey showed most expect budgets to at least standstill, with almost a third expecting Santa, or the FD, to drop more money into their stockings for the year ahead. Get the full lowdown here.

So there you go. We're off to pub to decide what to do with all that extra budget we need for virtualisation. See you next week. ®

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