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Archive for April, 2007

GENEVA — The U.S. has failed to change its ban on Internet betting to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that said the legislation unfairly targets offshore casinos, the global trade body said Friday.The ruling opens the door to possible commercial sanctions against the U.S.

In a 215-page decision, a three-member WTO compliance panel sided with the twin Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which has argued that Internet gambling is a lucrative source of revenue and provides an income for hundreds of islanders.

The Geneva-based trade referee has said Washington can maintain restrictions on online gambling, as long as its laws are equally applied to American operators offering remote betting on horse racing.

Shares in London-listed gaming stocks rose after the announcement. Leisure & Gaming PLC closed up 11 percent at 19.75 pence (38.9 cents), while PartyGaming PLC rose 4.5 percent to 52.25 pence ($1.02), after initially surging by 16 percent. 888 Holdings PLC climbed 3 percent to 124.75 pence ($2.46).

“It vindicates all that we have been saying for years about the discriminatory trade practices of the United States in this area, and we look forward to the United States opening its markets,” Antiguan Finance Minister Errol Cort said in a statement.

Washington claimed victory in the WTO’s initial ruling two years ago because the body recognized its right to prevent offshore betting as a means of protecting public order and public morals. But the U.S. acknowledged Friday that the latest decision was a setback.

“The compliance panel did not agree with the United States that we had taken the necessary steps to comply with the WTO recommendations,” said Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She added, however, that “nothing in the panel’s report undermines the broad, favorable results that the United States obtained from the WTO in April 2005.”

Washington still has yet to say if it will appeal the compliance panel’s findings. A final ruling upholding Antigua’s claims would allow the twin-island nation to seek trade sanctions on the United States for its failure to comply.

To avoid the penalties, the U.S. government would then have to either permit Americans to gamble over foreign-based sites or eliminate exceptions for off-track betting on horses, including over the Internet, as permitted under the 1978 Interstate Horseracing Act.

Nevertheless, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will ease access to companies with servers licensed in the nation of 80,000 people — whose legal efforts were largely bankrolled by British-owned Internet gambling operators.

The U.S. Congress caught the industry by surprise last year when it added a provision to a bill aimed at improving port security that would make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to settle payments to online gambling sites. President George Bush signed it into law on Oct. 14.

The decision closed off the most lucrative region in a market worth $15.5 billion last year. Several British-based Internet gaming companies and a handful in Europe and Australia subsequently sold off or shut down their U.S. operations, losing around 80 percent of their combined business in the process.

The arrest last year of two British Internet gambling executives while traveling through the United States also highlighted the U.S. government’s escalation in its battle against the industry.

Peter Dicks, the former chairman of Sportingbet, was detained in New York but released after former New York Gov. George Pataki declined to sign a warrant extraditing him to Louisiana, where he was wanted on charges of illegal online gambling. Former BetOnSports PLC Chief Executive Officer David Carruthers remains under house arrest in the St. Louis area awaiting trial on federal charges from the U.S. attorney’s office based on the 1961 Wire Act.

On Friday, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said BetOnSports founder Stephen Kaplan was arrested late Wednesday in the Dominican Republic. Kaplan is named in a 22-count criminal case as the company’s top official.

Antigua filed its case in 2003, contending that U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling violated trade commitments the United States made as a member of the WTO. U.S. trade officials disagreed, saying that negotiators involved in the Uruguay Round of global trade talks clearly intended to exclude gambling.

Antiguan authorities also argued that restrictions barring U.S. residents from betting at offshore casinos were harming efforts to diversify its economy. Antigua, a former British colony in the Caribbean, had been promoting electronic commerce as a way to end the country’s reliance on tourism, which was hurt by a series of hurricanes in the late 1990s.

There are 32 licensed online casinos in Antigua, employing 1,000 people and generating yearly revenue of around $130 million. Seven years ago, its casinos had annual income closer to $1 billion.

Antigua is the smallest country to successfully litigate a case in the WTO’s 12-year history.

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Microsoft has filed nine lawsuits and issued more than 50 cease-and-desist letters as part of its long-running campaign to clamp down on international software smuggling.

The lawsuits allege that companies in Jordan and elsewhere posed as academic resellers to obtain hundreds of thousands of copies of discounted Microsoft Windows and Office system software intended for students.

Microsoft claims that these companies reaped “millions of dollars” in illegal profits by allegedly selling the software to internet retailers in the US rather than supplying it to the students.

Many of the internet retailers allegedly made hefty profits by selling the software at retail prices to unsuspecting American consumers who were deceived into buying software that was not licensed for their use.

“Jordan has invested heavily in transforming itself into a fully-fledged knowledge economy,” said His Excellency Eng. Basem Rousan, Jordan’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology.

“Companies that break Jordan’s intellectual property laws will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Investigations are being pursued in other countries where a similar scheme has been used.

The lawsuits were filed in federal courts in California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Nevada and Montana.

“To those who say software piracy is a victimless crime, I would say this case tells a different story,” said Bonnie MacNaughton, senior attorney at Microsoft.

“The defendants in these lawsuits and others are charged with profiting from selling clearly marked educational software to unsuspecting retail customers who were not licensed to use it, potentially depriving students and schools of the opportunity to benefit from the latest technologies.”

EDirectSoftware.com, one of the largest alleged offenders, has already agreed to settle Microsoft’s lawsuit out of court for more than $1m in cash and property.

Other merchants that received cease-and-desist letters have agreed voluntarily to stop selling the software, which is clearly marked ‘Student Media’ and ‘Not for retail or OEM distribution. Not for resale.’

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Businesses will spend $1bn on business process management (BPM) tools worldwide this year, as they attempt to gain a competitive edge, according to analyst firm Gartner.

Janelle Hill, research vice-president at Gartner, said, “The competency of a business to change its processes more frequently

will be the main differentiator between one company and another. BPM will be the next killer application of IT.”

The IT director has a key role to play. Research from Gartner suggests that IT directors will take more responsibility for business processes over the next five years. There is a growing number of products which IT directors can implement to automate business processes and improve operational efficiency.

BPM tools are designed to automate business processes using workflow. Significantly, Gartner has not identified any of the major software providers doing much work in the BPM space. Hill said, “It is not quite a mainstream market. There are more than 170 suppliers and the leaders are not household names.”

While IT directors needed to think strategically about process improvement Hill recommended they take a tactical approach. “Start with a strategic design of the process to improve, assess development skills then pick one of the best of breed providers, but recognise the supplier may be acquired or may merge.

Although process management has previously been very popular during a downturn, Hill said, “We think business conditions have funadmentally changed due to globalisation and the internet, leading to the commoditisation of products.” This pressure is sustained and is leading many organisations to look inwards at operational efficiency and process management, she said.

One user of BPM technology is mobile operator Orange, which has been using the technology to help it keep pace with the fast-paced world of mobile communications. Paul Tuffs, a programme office manager at Orange said, “BPM frees people up to think creatively and gives them a structure so they can see what is going on and who is responsible and accoutnable for different parts of a business process.”

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If you don’t know high def from high heels, and the thought of even going into an electronics store makes your eyes glaze over, this is for you.

Rich Demuro, a senior editor at technology Web site CNET.com, offers some new tech toys that are in touch with their feminine side.

Here’s the latest in fun (and pink!) gadgets to satisfy both the inner geek and girly girl:

1. Digital camera
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 $399.99.

  • Casio 7.2-megapixel EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7, the most powerful zoom in the stylish EXILIM® series of compact digital cameras.

  • This new model is the world’s slimmest digital camera with a 7X optical zoom lens. Easily fits in a shirt pocket or small purse.

  • “Auto Tracking AF” function follows moving subjects, keeping them continuously in focus until the photo is taken.

  • Anti Shake reduces blur due to shaky hands and subject movement, using high shutter speeds and high sensitivity settings.

  • Electronic camera shake compensation function eliminates blur when shooting in movie mode.

  • Records 16:9 wide-aspect movies compatible with wide-screen TVs.

2. Pink laptop
Sony VAIO C Series Laptop, Pink, Green & Silver Colors, $1,449.99.

  • Designed to express personality, new line of slim notebooks comes in five hip colors.

  • Backed by an Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor, the VAIO C model also has plenty of power for high-speed computing and an energy-efficient battery life so you can enjoy games, music and movies longer.

  • Weighting in at about 5 pounds.

  • The model also serves as a well-equipped home theater away from home. It features a 13.3-inch widescreen display (measured diagonally).

3. Pink XM radio
XM Radio Pink Pioneer Inno, $199.99.

  • Support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s fight against breast cancer. $30 from each inno sold and activated go to the Komen Foundation.

  • Live XM when portable or docked.

  • MP3 (WMA) storage and play.

  • 50 hours storage of XM recordings.

  • Compatible with XM + Napster.

  • Built-in wireless FM transmitter.

4. Fashion phone
Nokia 7380 Fashion Phone, $359.99.

  • Accentuated with leather, cloth, metal, and ceramic-inspired finishes.

  • Glass mirror display with light-enhanced effects.
  • Capture the spotlight with a 2-megapixel camera.

  • 2-megapixel camera.
  • Video streaming.

  • Bluetooth wireless technology.

  • Shared memory of 52 MB for user data: contacts, text messages, multimedia messages, ringing tones, images, video clips, calendar notes, to-do list, and applications.
  • Integrated music player for MP3/AAC/M4A formats.
  • FM radio (requires stereo headset, sold separately).

  • Ring tones: Video ringing tones, MP3, AAC, MIDI-64 ringing tones.

5. Designer computer mice
Pat Says Now designer computer mice, $30 to $25,000.

  • Pat Says Now is Switzerland’s first manufacturer of individual computer mice.

  • Featured on show: a ladybug, a bunny rabbit, a leopard print mouse.

  • Company even sells a $25,000 diamond-laced computer mouse.

6. MP3 WATCH
Origim’s Superior Lady Diamond MP3 Watch D01, $109.99.

  • All in one: MP3 Player for 3D Music (MP3, WMA, ASF), 512 MB Flash USB 2.0 drive to carry digital photos, documents and music all together.

  • Built-in Digital Voice Recorder with MIC allows you to record 18 hours conversation.

  • Max play time: 6-8 hours for full recharge

  • Color: silver dial with pink bank .

7. Designer Shoe Wheel
By Rakku, $65.

  • The Shoe Wheel is the brainchild of designer Danilo Torro, who formed a Hong Kong based company manufacturing private label fashion collections.

  • Alternative to piling up his family’s shoes in the corner of their spare bedroom.

  • Paying homage to the Shoe Wheel’s Asian Roots, Torro and his partner, Lori Quon, named their company “Rakku,” meaning “rack” in Japanese.

  • This model fits shoes up to men’s size 10.5

 

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If you don’t know high def from high heels, and the thought of even going into an electronics store makes your eyes glaze over, this is for you.

Rich Demuro, a senior editor at technology Web site CNET.com, offers some new tech toys that are in touch with their feminine side.

Here’s the latest in fun (and pink!) gadgets to satisfy both the inner geek and girly girl:

1. Digital camera
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 $399.99.

  • Casio 7.2-megapixel EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7, the most powerful zoom in the stylish EXILIM® series of compact digital cameras.

  • This new model is the world’s slimmest digital camera with a 7X optical zoom lens. Easily fits in a shirt pocket or small purse.

  • “Auto Tracking AF” function follows moving subjects, keeping them continuously in focus until the photo is taken.

  • Anti Shake reduces blur due to shaky hands and subject movement, using high shutter speeds and high sensitivity settings.

  • Electronic camera shake compensation function eliminates blur when shooting in movie mode.

  • Records 16:9 wide-aspect movies compatible with wide-screen TVs.

2. Pink laptop
Sony VAIO C Series Laptop, Pink, Green & Silver Colors, $1,449.99.

  • Designed to express personality, new line of slim notebooks comes in five hip colors.

  • Backed by an Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor, the VAIO C model also has plenty of power for high-speed computing and an energy-efficient battery life so you can enjoy games, music and movies longer.

  • Weighting in at about 5 pounds.

  • The model also serves as a well-equipped home theater away from home. It features a 13.3-inch widescreen display (measured diagonally).

3. Pink XM radio
XM Radio Pink Pioneer Inno, $199.99.

  • Support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s fight against breast cancer. $30 from each inno sold and activated go to the Komen Foundation.

  • Live XM when portable or docked.

  • MP3 (WMA) storage and play.

  • 50 hours storage of XM recordings.

  • Compatible with XM + Napster.

  • Built-in wireless FM transmitter.

4. Fashion phone
Nokia 7380 Fashion Phone, $359.99.

  • Accentuated with leather, cloth, metal, and ceramic-inspired finishes.

  • Glass mirror display with light-enhanced effects.
  • Capture the spotlight with a 2-megapixel camera.

  • 2-megapixel camera.
  • Video streaming.

  • Bluetooth wireless technology.

  • Shared memory of 52 MB for user data: contacts, text messages, multimedia messages, ringing tones, images, video clips, calendar notes, to-do list, and applications.
  • Integrated music player for MP3/AAC/M4A formats.
  • FM radio (requires stereo headset, sold separately).

  • Ring tones: Video ringing tones, MP3, AAC, MIDI-64 ringing tones.

5. Designer computer mice
Pat Says Now designer computer mice, $30 to $25,000.

  • Pat Says Now is Switzerland’s first manufacturer of individual computer mice.

  • Featured on show: a ladybug, a bunny rabbit, a leopard print mouse.

  • Company even sells a $25,000 diamond-laced computer mouse.

6. MP3 WATCH
Origim’s Superior Lady Diamond MP3 Watch D01, $109.99.

  • All in one: MP3 Player for 3D Music (MP3, WMA, ASF), 512 MB Flash USB 2.0 drive to carry digital photos, documents and music all together.

  • Built-in Digital Voice Recorder with MIC allows you to record 18 hours conversation.

  • Max play time: 6-8 hours for full recharge

  • Color: silver dial with pink bank .

7. Designer Shoe Wheel
By Rakku, $65.

  • The Shoe Wheel is the brainchild of designer Danilo Torro, who formed a Hong Kong based company manufacturing private label fashion collections.

  • Alternative to piling up his family’s shoes in the corner of their spare bedroom.

  • Paying homage to the Shoe Wheel’s Asian Roots, Torro and his partner, Lori Quon, named their company “Rakku,” meaning “rack” in Japanese.

  • This model fits shoes up to men’s size 10.5

 

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Postini today said it plans to provide security, administration and archiving services for Gmail, Google’s (Quote) on-demand e-mail service.

With some 50,000 customers and over 12 million individual users, Postini is already considered the leading vendor of on-demand e-mail archiving and administration services. Winning Google’s hand further differentiates Postini from Message Labs, MX Logic and other competitors in the space.

The move also positions Postini for future growth in the small- and medium-sized business (SMB) market when and if Google’s on-demand productivity tools start gaining traction.

Postini also announced a raft of new services and enhancements to existing offerings today, including a Web-based portal that customers can use to manage their own personal settings and preferences, and restore accidentally-deleted e-mails.

The self-help aspect of the service allows companies to reduce administrative costs while giving business users greater control over their experience.

“It makes users feel more empowered,” said Dan Druker, executive vice president of marketing for Postini.

Postini also introduced a set of new investigation management tools that help customers comply with e-discovery regulations, such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

These rules, amended December 1, 2006, make companies treat e-mail, instant messages and other electronic communication in the same manner as paper documents for litigation purposes.

Because the costs of searching for relevant documents manually are very high, the new investigation tools not only help companies remain in compliance, but also save customers money; features of this tool-set include saving search criteria for reuse, preventing documents from being deleted, and setting expiration dates for litigation holds.

Postini also announced new Web security features, including real-time network reputation triggers that detect and defend against bot-net attacks, and a feature that identifies potentially hazardous sites that come up during a Web search.

The service, which works on popular search engines like Yahoo , Google and MSN , also allows users to access safe portions of certain sites while preventing them from going to areas that violate company policy.

Druker noted that this helps companies remain compliant with internal and regulatory requirements without impinging unnecessarily on employee productivity.

MacAfee’s (QuoteSite Advisor is similar to this in many ways, except that Site Advisor does not allow users to access parts of a site and not others.

The Web-based administration console, which allows customers to delegate administration at either a regional, department or individual user level will help Postini move up-market from the SMB space, noted Gartner analyst Peter Firstbrook.

He also noted that the agreement with Google gives Postini the advantage of learning some early lessons that will help them in the long run. “It’s not a big money-maker for them — but it’s a feather in their cap.”

Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, further suggested that Postini could well end up providing security for Google Apps, which is also being marketed to the SMB market.

“If you’re looking at storing your data on Google servers, working on Google documents and spreadsheets and all the rest, you’d need a very secure infrastructure,” he told internetnews.com.

“So Google Apps could be a very natural extension for both of them.”

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ISPs have been told to improve procedures for reducing unsolicited bulk email (UBE) by the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA).

UBE – or spam as it is more commonly known – is the subject of a new report by ISPA which recommends that its members adopt better practices to deal with spam and educate customers as to how they can stop their PCs being turned into ‘bots’.
“Effective abuse procedures should be in place to make reporting easier. Customers need to be educated on the nature of UBE and how to protect their PCs with firewalls and anti-virus software,” said Jessica Hendrie-Liaño, chair of the ISPA Council.
ISPA is a trade association for companies that provide internet services. It has been around since 1995 and promotes self-regulation within the industry.
One of the proposals is that ISPA members should ensure that all email generated within their own networks can be attributed to a particular customer or system, in order to stop spam at the source.
“ISPs hate spam. It saps valuable bandwidth, can compromise the integrity of a network and affects the performance of mail servers. Combating spam costs ISPs and their customers very significant amounts of time and money,” said Mrs Hendrie-Liaño.
The news comes on the same day as a UK-based company released a solution which it claims is 100 per cent effective against spam.

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