Global Dispatches

An international IT news digest

British UFO Hacker Loses Second Appeal

LONDON -- A British hacker who broke into U.S. military computers looking for evidence of UFOs lost an appeal of an extradition order last week in London’s High Court.

Gary McKinnon, of London, remains free on bail and could appeal the decision to the House of Lords, according to a High Court spokesman.

McKinnon is accused of deleting data and accessing information on 97 U.S. military and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. He was charged in a U.S. federal court in Virginia and could face up to 60 years in prison.

McKinnon challenged an initial U.S. extradition order in May 2006, but it was ultimately approved by U.K. Home Secretary John Reid. He then challenged Reid’s decision and lost that appeal last week.

McKinnon contends that he could be held in the U.S. as an “enemy combatant,” a status created for terrorism suspects.

McKinnon has admitted to hacking into the computers but says he never caused any harm. U.S. officials, however, say his probes caused $700,000 in damage and resulted in the shutdown of critical computers used by the military.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Capgemini to Oversee Queensland IT Project

QUEENSLAND, Australia -- The Ipswich City Council here has begun work on a multiyear effort to transform its supply chain, customer service and workforce management operations.

The council has hired Paris-based Capgemini to provide consulting services for the project, which is expected to cost $15 million Australian ($12.2 million U.S.).

Capgemini officials said the initiative will include the eBusiness software suite from Oracle Corp. along with products from Kronos Inc., Exor Corp. and Obsidium Software.

Phase 1 of the project is expected to take about 12 months, Capgemini said.

The Ipswich City Council mayor, Councillor Paul Pisasale, noted that he expects the project will result in “significant cost savings” that “will help us put more services back into the community.”

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

Lycos Service Ready For European Testing

HAARLEM, Netherlands -- Lycos Europe NV later this month will roll out throughout Europe a beta version of a service that links several trendy functions.

The service, called Jubii, includes e-mail, instant messaging, Short Messaging Service and voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, along with photo-, video- and file-sharing capabilities, said Jan Wergin, executive vice president of the service. Lycos Europe hopes the convenience and simplicity of Jubii will appeal to users.

Jubii was launched in the U.S. in February.

Lycos Europe, which is based in Haarlem, Netherlands, can’t use the Lycos brand name in the U.S., so it named the service Jubii, a Danish word for joy or fun.

The beta version includes 10GB of storage and up to 30 minutes of VoIP calls per day.

The final release of Jubii will feature 4GB of storage, and Lycos Europe will sell more storage as part of a premium paid service, along with VoIP minutes, Wergin said.

Pricing for the final version hasn’t been determined, he said.

Jubii will be available in Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K., Wergin said.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

BT Unveils Tools to Build Web 2.0 Features

LONDON -- BT Group PLC is testing an online service that promises to help small and midsize businesses add Web 2.0 features such as blogs, podcasts and click-to-call capabilities to their Web sites.

The service, called BT Tradespace, is aimed at businesses whose staffers have little or no technical experience. The beta version is available without charge, according to the London-based company.

Malcolm Pankhurst, owner of Backchairs Direct Ltd., a retailer in Sevenoaks, England, has turned to Tradespace to beef up his company’s Web site and make its ergonomic chair business more visible.

“It’s generally easy for people to find me, but I think more and more people are attaching themselves to specific communities,” Pankhurst said.

The service includes templates for building Web pages and tools for creating the Web 2.0 features.

BT did not disclose the cost of the service or when the final version will ship.

Mark Rowatt Anderson, a product development consultant in Edinburgh, said the service’s tools are impressive. “It makes it really easy for people to set up blogs and social networks for businesses that aren’t used to that,” said Anderson, who tested the service.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Ufida Software Ports ERP Apps to DB2

BEIJING -- Ufida Software Co. last week announced that it has ported its ERP applications to IBM’s DB2 database, hoping IBM can open doors to help it expand operations to more international markets.

IBM helped the Beijing-based software supplier migrate its products to the DB2 9 database and to WebSphere Application Server. Ufida’s applications previously worked only with Microsoft Corp.’s SQL Server database and .Net middleware.

Ufida said that it wants to expand its business beyond mainland China and is setting up offices in Japan and Hong Kong. The company noted that nearly all of its current customers are in China.

The company added that it is already working with IBM to jointly sell a package of the two companies’ products to an unnamed Tokyo-based company. IBM provided the initial sales connection and is helping Ufida localize and port its software for Japan, Ufida said.

Over the longer term, Ufida said, it will look to IBM to help it gain customers in Singapore and other parts of Asia.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

Texas Instruments Inc. and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, have agreed to conduct joint projects in areas such as digital signal processing (DSP), analog circuits and mobile wireless applications. TI will spend $400,000 over five years to fund research projects at the IIS. TI signed the pact to gain access to the institute’s expertise in DSP and analog circuits, said Richard Templeton, TI’s president and CEO.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

The European Commission’s directorate general for IT has signed a contract with BT Group for Internet access services. The four-year deal, with options for a four-year extension, could be worth up to €22.5 million ($30 million U.S.). The contract calls for London-based BT to supply, implement and manage Internet access services across Europe.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

BHP Billiton Ltd. has extended Computer Sciences Corp.’s application services agreement by two years. The extension is valued at $100 million Australian ($80.6 million U.S.). CSC will provide software development and maintenance support to the Melbourne-based mining company through May 2009. CSC has provided similar services to BHP since 2000 under a seven-year, $700 million Australian ($570 million U.S.) pact.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

Police have recovered a stolen U.K. National Health Service laptop containing the names, addresses and dates of birth of 11,500 children. The machine was one of three stolen from Nottinghamshire Teaching Primary Care Trust on March 21. An agency official said technicians are examining the laptop to determine whether the thieves accessed the data.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

The U.K. Department of Health has extended an outsourcing contract with CSC for two years, in a £20 million ($39 million U.S.) deal. CSC has provided the agency with infrastructure and application support services for its 4,500 employees since 2002. The new deal extends the contract to 2011.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Global Fact


Amount that small and midsize firms in the U.K. are projected to spend on data storage and data security products and services this year.

Source: Access Markets International Partners Inc., New York

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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