Breakfast Briefing: McKinnon decision, Windows 8 snafu, EU to impose graphics limits

This morning’s tops stories include news of Gary McKinnon’s extradition proceedings, a bug in the Windows 8 Mail app, insight into how tech companies feel about the Communications Data Bill, a petition for better broadband and HP’s rumoured interest in chipmaker AMD.

Breakfast Briefing: McKinnon decision, Windows 8 snafu, EU to impose graphics limits

May to rule on McKinnon extradition

Home secretary Theresa May is expected to rule on the extradition of hacker Gary McKinnon, who has been fighting being sent to the US since 2006. Asperger’s sufferer McKinnon doesn’t deny hacking into defence systems, but says he was only looking for evidence of ET, not national secrets.

According to the BBC, May could rule on his extradition today amid a possible shake-up of the extradition treaty with the US, which critics claim makes it too easy for the US to demand access to UK citizens.

The US claims the hack caused $800,000 in damage to its systems. Pretty cheap for highlighting a hole in the national security fence.

Windows 8 mail apps need late change

The combined messaging platform in Windows 8 that brings together Mail, People, Messaging and Calendar is, like other apps, being tweaked in the run-up to next week’s launch, but as ZDNet’s Ed Bott reports the most recent update has not gone smoothly.

According to Bott, problems include auto-complete not working for email addresses. However the blog documents workarounds and suggests the problem will be fixed by the 26 October launch. Nothing like cutting it fine.

Green rules to limit graphics cards?

A new set of environmental regulations out of – where else – the EU could limit the processing power of next-generation graphic cards, according to our sister-site bit-tech. “For companies who compete on high-power – in both meanings of ‘power’ – graphics products, it’s terrible news: it means that the days of dual-GPU boards with ridiculous power draws may be numbered,” the site reported. “Even high-end single-GPU models may be affected, and the restrictions don’t take into account computing performance – just nebulous ‘efficiency’ as rated by an estimation algorithm.”

Asus to unveil PadFone 2

Asus is set to take the wraps of its PadFone 2, a hybrid smartphone tablet device, at an event later today. The second generation of its Android-based mobile device is due to be unveiled at an event in Milan this morning. All it says in the event details is that the device is “intuitive”.

Could HP be interested in ailing AMD?
The Register has an interesting take on the rumours that AMD is about to embark on another round of heavy job cuts, suggesting HP might be in the frame to buy the company.

The Reg admits an HP takeover would be an “outside bet”, but argues that the company “must be getting pretty sick of being at the mercy of Intel with its Itanium line” and “might be able to gain some sort of edge by acquiring AMD for its server and desktop chips”.

It also concedes that “HP has so many other issues to wrestle with that it probably does not want to think about owning its own chip biz again”. And it’s not as if HP’s other recent acquisitions – most notably EDS and Autonomy – have done it many favours…

What tech firms think of the email snooping bill

Big Brother Watch has revealed exactly what major tech firms think of the Communications Data Bill – that’s the proposed law that will see companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google forced to collect and hand over communications data about their users, in case the authorities want it. While the data doesn’t include email content, it may include headers, for example.

The man heading up the bill, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism Charles Farr, said such firms “completely understand that a gap is emerging between the data that they have and the data that we require”.

Based on the testimony of the tech giants, that’s not entirely true. Facebook, for example, described the proposed law as “absolutely a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Yet the nut may not even exist, and we are not really quite sure how small it is if it does.” Nuts indeed.

Petition seeks legal right to better broadband

A disgruntled broadband customer has launched an e-petition with the government’s official site, calling for a legal right to 2Mbits/sec. The call echoes earlier demands from business groups and rural campaigners, but the petition will put more pressure on officials if it reaches the 100,000 signatures needed to prompt a debate.

The campaign may, however, be making life hard for itself by also demanding 50Mbits/sec for every home as a legal requirement by 2015. With 159 signatories to date, there is some way to go before the February 2013 closing date.

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