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Seasonal and space unrest while Apple and Apple settle down

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Weather woes wither websites

Snow – just a few centimetres and the UK flaps around and falls over within minutes of its mention. A few weeks ago it was Southern Railway's website that stalled when more people tried to get travel information than servers could cope with.

This week it was the Met Office, home of all weather data itself, that collapsed under pressure from the threat of white powder. Anyone who went to the unavailable website would have seen the message: "The Met Office web site is currently experiencing a high level of demand from visitors to the site. We are sorry for any inconvenience, please try again."

Big businesses' inefficiencies

Large UK businesses are officially rubbish at securely disposing of bits of hardware, research suggests.

Less than half of UK companies take the time to destroy their old computers properly, while others prefer tanned man David Dickinson's approach to simply flog the lot. Just 17 per cent destroy data inhouse, while mobile devices failed to feature on the security policies of many firms.

Another report has revealed the energy inefficiencies businesses are creating through mismanagement of networks. An industry group has claimed US companies could be wasting as much as $450m a year through poor use of Ethernet networks.

Verisign to get security makeover

Verisign has pledged to spend $1bn bolstering its own security following a massive 12-hour long hacking attack on the internet earlier this week. The company is chucking bandwidth and more computers at the problem in a scheme it has, perhaps with some hyperbole, dubbed "Project Titan". The attack initially targeted domains ending in .uk but then moved to .org. Verisign wasn't attacked, apparently.

Disease experts hit by virus

The irony of it – those crazy hackers have been having their fun again – this time they released one of their own viruses on the website of the US Centres for Disease Control. Visitors to the website were infected by hacker-planted malware that was hidden there.

Samsung strikes deal with RIM

Research in Motion (RIM) and Samsung have dropped their handbags over a product name legal spat, and come to a financial agreement. Last year, RIM filed a lawsuit after it deemed the South Korean giant's email product "BlackJack" was branded too closely to "BlackBerry", The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Samsung has agreed to withdraw an attempt to register the logo.

NASA madness

It's been a bad week for NASA. The space agency is now trying to figure out if its psychological testing is up to scratch after astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested on charges of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, and battery. Nowak was released earlier in the week on $25,500 bail after appearing in an Orlando court where she was told to wear a tracking anklet.

Space is making headlines this week as scientists have found the moon's surface can accumulate a huge charge of static electricity - up to 4,500 Volts has been detected so far. Scientists say this could have "implications" (other than fuzzy hair) for those planning to colonise the big lump of cheese.

While astronauts would most likely be protected from any discharge by their suits, a spark from the surface could disrupt or even burn out electronic equipment.

OGC's slapped wrists...

The head of the Office of Government Commerce, John Oughton, has been told off by the Public Accounts Committee for failing to curb central government's huge bill for external consultants.

This goes against the primary mission of the OGC, which, as set out on its website, states: "The public sector can save lots of money by improving how they buy goods and services. OGC supports this by encouraging new ways of working, advising on procurement regulations, building supplier relations and opening up government markets to competition."

Super network collaboration – what's the catch?

Orange and Vodafone are to combine their mobile networks, allowing customers of each to roam between the networks in the UK. The deal will create a single 3G network, while each company will maintain their own quality of service, customer issues, and application portfolios.

Nokia's pre-Barca revamp

It's almost time for a flurry of news on mobile phones, as the industry convention 3GSM is set to kick off in Barcelona next week. In the run up to this, Nokia has announced two new products for its business range and revamped its hit communicator, the E61. One of them is the successor to the Series 80-based 9000 range, the E90, and offers a full QWERTY keyboard and widescreen display in a device with a sliding hinge.

Operator search engine

A group of European network operators are planning to build their own mobile internet search, reports suggest.

Apparently, Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia, and Cingular are said to be involved in secret discussions to take place at 3GSM, with the intention of agreeing a combined search strategy.

Biometric passport power down

The government has again been slammed for its handling of the biometric passport scheme. This time the National Audit Office says while the project came in on budget and on time it was not well-planned and faces numerous pitfalls as it develops. The two-year warranty on the chip (for a 10-year passport) is just one of the problems.

Meanwhile, shadow home secretary David Davies has asked the government to agree on some get-out clauses with companies contracted to build ID card systems so the Conservative government could ditch the scheme if elected to power. In a letter to Sir Gus O'Donnell, cabinet secretary, Davies wrote: "[I]t is incumbent upon you to ensure that public money is not wasted, and contractual obligations are not incurred, investing in a scheme with such a high risk of not being implemented."

Gorby gets gobby with Gates

Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev has called on Bill Gates to help a Russian school teacher facing jail in Siberia for using pirated software. Gorby’s plea is posted on his website blog, in which he "in no way questions the validity of the principle of liability for copyright infringement, but asks [Gates] to show mercy and withdraw claims to Alexandru Ponosov".

The letter says the teacher bought the computers for the school with pre-installed software on them. However, Russian piracy laws allow for punishment even for people who are unaware they are breaking the law.

All you need is love guys...

And finally, the legal dispute between Apple Inc and the Beatles' record label Apple Corps is finally settled. Apple, the computer maker, will now get all relevant logos and trademarks, but will license some back to Apple Corp - the music label. The ongoing court battle over trademarks will end and each company will pay its own legal fees. Other details of the settlement are confidential.

Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs said in his statement: "We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks."

We bet they feel the same way about you, Steve. ®

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