Tech digest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2006, 12:00am

London comes under the cloud of wireless Internet access
The City of London Corporation is partnering with private Wi-fi firm The Cloud to build a wireless network that will cover the entire city in the next few months. The Cloud will install the network hardware on lamp posts and street signs, allowing city workers and visitors to access the internet for high-speed browsing, e-mail, music and video anywhere in the city on wireless devices. The project will also support voice over Wi-fi services and secure access and private data networks for emergency services. Private users can opt for business subscriptions or pay-as-you-go accounts. The Cloud will allow service providers to use the network for a fee to provide services to customers. The firm already runs Wi-fi hot spots at Canary Wharf, the British Library and cafe chain Coffee Republic. Operators such as BT and Nintendo already use the company's network.

Japan launches sky-mapping satellite
Japan's space agency on Wednesday launched a satellite into orbit around the Earth, where it will map the sky using infrared wavelengths. The launch of the one-tonne ASTRO-F - first developed by Britain, the US and the Netherlands - follows a string of successes for the agency, which had struggled in the past. An M-V rocket carrying the sky-mapping satellite lifted off from Uchinoura, 1,000km southwest of Tokyo, later entered its planned orbit and flew normally, said Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spokeswoman Nobuko Sato. Japan has recently been racing to catch up with China, a regional rival that has put astronauts in space twice since 2003. China is the third country to send a human into orbit, after Russia and the US. Following Beijing's success, Japan - which put its first satellite in orbit in 1972 - said it was reconsidering its focus on unmanned missions while announcing plans to send its first astronauts into space and set up a base on the moon by 2025. The agency has launched two H-2A rockets from the remote, southern island of Tanegashima this year, each carrying observation satellites. Japan has also said it will launch two spy satellites by March 2007 to monitor North Korea and other trouble spots. Associated Press

Air-powered bike
Uruguayan Armando Regusci has invented a compressed air-propelled motorbike that will go on sale in Montevideo from April. The amateur !inventor runs the website He aims to build vehicles that will reduce society's reliance on oil by using renewable sources of energy such as compressed air. Agence France-Presse

Dell vs Dell
PC maker Dell is suing web designer Paul Dell over his homepage, according to a report in The Register. Mr Dell has been summoned to appear before the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris where the computer manufacturer is seeking about $1.4 million in damages for the name of the site and a further $4,625 for every mention of Dell on his website. It accuses the web designer of parasitism and unfair competition. Mr Dell is facing legal action from the US firm for the second time. In 2002, Dell took similar action but abandoned it when Mr Dell refused to give in to its demands. A group of his friends have set up to receive donations via PayPal to help fund his defence. Mr Dell also runs

Wing Lung Bank joins hands with IBM
IBM China/Hong Kong and Wing Lung Bank, one of the oldest Chinese banks in Hong Kong, have started an ambitious joint software development initiative at IBM's Shenzhen facility. The three-year arrangement, worth US$1.8 million, is expected to help transform the Chinese bank's products, services and customer channels, and support its expansion into the mainland. 'Establishing an offshore development centre in Shenzhen to handle some of the work being done in Hong Kong, requires extensive planning and strong knowledge of information technology, business processes and human resources,' said Philip Wu Po-him, executive director and chief executive of Wing Lung Bank. 'We're looking to capitalise on IBM's expertise in these areas, as well as their vast experience in doing business in China.' The co-development team will be located at a new facility inside IBM's Shenzhen Global Delivery Centre, one of three such IBM centres on the mainland. The team will streamline and modernise the processes and tools used by the bank to create its software applications. The agreement followed the recent opening of the bank's Shenzhen Nanshan sub-branch. Founded in 1933, the bank today has 40 offices and a total staff of more than 1,300. 'To maintain and grow shareholder value, banks must control costs by integrating core business applications, reduce risk with tighter information security, and diversify and grow with customer-focused initiatives,' said Dominic Tong Wah, general manager at IBM China/Hong Kong. IBM's so-called 'accelerated solution delivery' approach can reduce product development cycles by about 67 per cent and development costs by about 30 per cent for its banking clients.

Google on expansion drive in Southeast Asia
With an eye on international expansion, Google has set up a regional sales and operations base in Central to oversee all its activities in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. The internet search giant, a provider of online advertising programmes, last week also unveiled a new reseller strategy aimed at small- and medium-sized enterprises in Hong Kong. 'Google's advertising programmes have proven effective for advertisers around the world in conducting business online,' said Crid Yu, head of sales for Google Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. 'Our reseller partners are important to the success of Google AdWords here.' New authorised resellers in Hong Kong included PCCW Directories and AsiaPac Net Media. Google AdWords matches text-based advertisements to users' search queries, providing them with relevant information. The highly-targeted service enables any advertiser - regardless of location - to reach potential customers in any other part of the world from one interface.

$20m project kicks off at Chek Lap Kok Airport
Global information technology services supplier EDS said it recently started work on a technical and maintenance support project, worth about $20 million, at the Hong Kong International Airport. The 42-month contract has EDS partnering with Preston Aviation Solutions to support the airport's flight information display system, according to EDS Greater China business development director Samuel Suen Kit-chung. The project, which includes allocating and monitoring airport facilities, was designed to ensure that more than 40 million passengers, who pass through the airport every year, receive co-ordinated and real-time flight-related information. As the world's fifth-busiest international passenger airport and most active worldwide air cargo operation, the airport sees an average of 750 aircraft take off and land each day. It also has almost 60 scheduled passenger airlines and 15 all-cargo operators, which link Hong Kong to more than 140 destinations worldwide. Mr Suen said the flight data display facility was built and installed by the British subsidiary of EDS in 1997. That EDS unit has since provided technical support and maintenance services on an annual contract basis. The new services deal with EDS Hong Kong is expected to provide more value and help the Airport Authority Hong Kong lower the cost of running the city's air transport hub.

Yahoo hopes to boost advertising revenue
Yahoo has relaunched its Overture subsidiary in Hong Kong as the new Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions, with hopes of boosting its online advertising revenue from the local market. 'Search engine marketing is no doubt the hottest trend in Hong Kong as we continue to see a healthy growth in the use of online search engines. The re-branded Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions is committed to helping advertisers of all sizes and from all industries to capitalise on this boom,' said Alfred Tsoi Po-tak, managing director of Yahoo Hong Kong. Research firm Mindshare has estimated local internet advertising spending to reach US$171 million this year. Since its introduction as Overture in Hong Kong a year ago, Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions has promoted to local advertisers Yahoo's unique search engine marketing system. Based on the pay-per-click advertising model pioneered by the company, the system allows advertisers to pay only when internet users click through to their websites. A dedicated editorial team monitors the accuracy and relevance of search result listings and search keywords. 'We are also looking forward to working with more distribution partners to strengthen our number-one user reach,' Mr Tsoi said. Current partners include MSN Hong Kong and ESPNSTAR Multimedia. Resellers include PCCW Directories and New World Telecommunications.


CA unveils new enterprise automation software
CA, previously known as Computer Associates International, has unveiled new enterprise-automation software that combines multiple security systems into one product. Its eponymous Integrated Threat Management r8 software unifies new versions of the CA PestPatrol Anti-Spyware Corporate Edition and CA Antivirus products through a centralised web-based console, which helps corporate IT administrators find and resolve threats from anywhere on the network. 'With new virus and spyware strains emerging every day and spreading with increased rapidity, the vigilant defence of desktops with immediate distribution of up-to-date signatures is essential to the security of the enterprise,' said Antonio Cheung Kam-tong, country manager at CA Hong Kong. CA Integrated Threat Management r8 automatically alerts security technicians as soon as any new threat is detected in their environment. Seventy-five detailed, graphical reports - including a 'Top 10' virus and spyware list - are designed to enable security teams to swiftly isolate problems and respond to emerging changes in threat activity. A 'phone home' feature helps ensure all desktops are updated by enabling personal computers in the network to broadcast their status to a central management console. The product is available through authorised partners in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, with prices starting at US$60 per licensed user.?