News Schmooze: Hackers, slumps and spies oh my!

Hitachi wants to give you an identity, the crusading hacker is sentenced and UK companies have woken up to the new, new economy

Forget all the clunky surveillance gear spies and private detectives rely on today -- all those long-range microphones, bugs, miniature video cameras and the like will be obsolete just as soon as Hitachi can get its little 0.4mm identity chip connected wirelessly to the Net. Then we and all our stuff will have unique Internet identity numbers and will be able to be tracked in real time throughout the globe... or at least wherever there's a wireless signal. Actually, judging by the typical mobile phone signal quality in the UK, we probably have nothing to worry about...

Raphael Gray, 19, had the unique idea of demonstrating how unsafe Internet shopping can be by stealing thousands of credit cards and posting them online, leading to criminals buying millions of pounds' worth of automobiles, Beanie Babies, takeaways and the like on somebody else's tab. Now he's been sentenced to three years of "community care", whatever that may be, with psychiatric treatment for his obsessive concern over the future of e-commerce. Perhaps Jeff Bezos, too, was hit on the head when young, leading him to lose sleep over whether he is delivering the highest-quality shopping experience possible to's users... but, somehow, The Schmoozer doubts it.

The UK gaming industry could apparently use some of Gray's motivation. Nowadays UK games developers just aren't geeky enough, according to a new survey, which finds that they are starting to get interested in having social lives and dating girls. This doesn't bode well for the future, apparently.

An analyst looking on in horror as Marconi revealed the grisly state of its quarterly results earlier this week commented, "If they see revenues fall by 15 percent now, why not more?". Investors, unable to answer the question, promptly caused one of the UK's most prominent tech companies to lose half its value.

At the same time Baltimore, the security company, and, the directory service, also got in on the act. Scoot's new chief executive has a novel idea for making money: get rid of two-thirds of your customer base and charge the rest for the service. In other words, the same plan that Slate Magazine came up with a couple of years ago, only Scoot doesn't have the mighty Microsoft backing it up...

The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: