News in brief

Short takes on this week's news

Shared services ‘could save Scotland £750m’
Scottish councils could save up to £750m by sharing back-office functions, such as IT, payroll and human resources, according to Scottish Executive finance minister Tom McCabe. He also said there would be a presumption against compulsory redundancies when seeking efficiency savings.

IBM offers access to SAP from Notes and Workplace
IBM is giving its users access to data held in SAP ERP systems through its Workplace and Notes applications. The integration between SAP and IBM applications costs from £87 per user for Workplace, but is free for Notes.

Morgan Stanley to pay £11.7m for US lawsuit
Morgan Stanley is to pay £11.7m to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. It reached the deal after failing to provide “tens of thousands of e-mails” relevant to an investigation by the regulator.Morgan Stanley has also agreed to adopt new procedures.

IP addresses to run out within seven years
The world will run out of IP addresses in four to seven years, analyst firm Frost & Sullivan has calculated. This is largely due to the growing popularity of smartphones and other mobile internet devices. The analyst firm highlighted anomalies – for example, China has fewer IP addresses than Stanford University, and the US Department of Defense has more than the whole of Asia.

BT prepares converged mobiles for businesses
BT plans to launch mobile devices for business users that can take calls over both Wi-Fi and GSM networks from early next year. The corporate fixed-mobile devices follow the launch of similar dual-purpose devices to consumers last year.

Icann drops proposals for xxx porn domain
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has dropped proposals to create a .xxx domain. Proponents of the idea had argued it would make it easier to identify and filter adult websites.

Boots insources 100 IT employees from IBM
Boots the Chemist is insourcing 100 IT staff, as it scales back its £710m outsourcing contract with IBM. The people being insourced work on Boots’ central IT functions, including its helpdesk, Epos development and support, batch scheduling and business analysis systems.

Electronic road tax scheme falls behind
The House of Commons Transport Committee has said the government’s electronic road tax scheme is facing significant delays, partly because of problems with the MOT computerisation project. The online scheme to tax vehicles was used by 200,000 drivers in 2005, and is due to be extended to include older vehicles this year.

Spyware infections leap in first quarter of 2006
The number of computers infected by spyware rose dramatically during the first quarter of 2006. Research by software firm Webroot revealed a 15% jump in infected machines compared with the last quarter of 2005. Trojan infections rose by 29%. The threats uncovered included a Trojan capable of taking screen shots of infected computers and e-mailing the contents to a remote website.

UK ID cards will be read remotely, says government
National identity cards will be fitted with a contactless chip that will allow them to be read remotely, the Home Office has confirmed. It said the chip was necessary to meet minimum international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The identity cards will be read by placing the chip on a reader after being unlocked using special characters printed on the card.


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