Hard News by Russell Brown

In the area

Steve in the area: the rumour that Apple Computer and Pixar chief Steve Jobs will be at next week's Return of the King premiere would seem to be bolstered by the fact that he's already on the right side of the Pacific Ocean.

Jobs has been in Japan this week to promote the company's first non-US-based Apple store, in the ritzy Ginza shopping district of Tokyo. The shop officially opens on Sunday, giving Steve time to fly to Wellington to see the movie and, presumably, have a look around Weta. If he is indeed coming, will he be wearing his Apple hat, his Pixar hat, or both?

Anyway, as Damian says, he'll be our man on the red carpet, and will be providing us not only with words, but - yes! - pictures. Looking forward, then. Meanwhile, Liv Tyler was dirty but beautiful (I confess, there's something about the idea of that that turns me on), there are hobbits all over our airliners, and there are reports that both Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen might be back for Jackson's King Kong.

Interesting Sludge Report: the US money supply is shrinking, and no one seems to know what it means.

Diebold, the company at the centre of the Scoop-driven story on dodgy electronic voting machines, has ATM problems too. In August machines at two American banks were infected by the Nachi worm. Huh? Yes - they were running Windows XP.

Why was Diebold running a multipurpose OS on a single-purpose machine? And having done that, why did it fail to install a security patch that had been available for more than a month? Presumably because while the Diebold architecture let the worm rewrite the ATM software, patches had to be locally applied by a service technician. Another black mark: the ATMs were listening to a whole bunch of ports they had no good use for. Well, duh. Ironically, Diebold is now bragging about providing "superior protection against software security threats targeted at automated teller machines."

Salon has a story on the gathering storm around Richard Perle, as the Hollinger scandal starts to bite.

An astonishing story in The Guardian this week revealed that the US military is paying off families whose relatives have suffered random killings at the hands of US troops. In many cases, the families have been paid a few hundred dollars on the condition that they relinquish rights to any further action.

Meanwhile, Cringely revives rumours of an Apple tablet computer based around enclosures that have been produced for the last few months by the Taiwanese company Quanta. Wireless and home entertainment-oriented, he reckons.

And the DeCSS guy is back in business - having apparently posted code allowing the relatively liberal DRM on the iTunes Music Store to be breached. He's claiming to be the people's champion, but might he not have had a better case for having a go at Windows Media?

And, finally, a vote of thanks to the departing editor of the Listener, Finlay Macdonald, who in his five years in the job has given the magazine a strength of identity that had been wanting for a long time. Like it or loathe, you know what the Listener stands for, and that's his legacy. I might add that he's been a good guy to work for. Cheers, mate.