Episode 070

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GLENN'S SHOWNOTES
 
 
Computerworld – CES – Wireless power on its way
CES – Wireless power on its way

 

Wireless power to recharge cell phones, laptops and other devices was demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show this week by at least two vendors whose products are expected to reach consumers later this year.

Splashpower in Cambridge, England, and Fulton Innovation in Ada, Mich., separately showed prototypes, but both said their products rely on a principle of physics called magnetic induction, or inductive coupling, where power transfers from coils inside two separate objects separated by air, water or other materials.

Splashpower's marketing materials described the power transfer process as similar to how electric toothbrushes are recharged when the brush is placed in a base connected to a wall socket, even though the base and brush have no metal connectors and transfer power when only plastic comes into contact with plastic.

GamePro | God save the Queen: She's now playing Wii
God save the Queen: She's now playing Wii (News)

 

Queen Elizabeth II is reportedly enamoured with Nintendo's Wii.

According to a tabloid source close to UK's The People, The Queen is showing signs of becoming a "Nintendo addict" after getting her aging hands on her grandson's newly gifted Wii.

Since 2001, Her Majesty has regularly upgraded her cell phone before deciding on a Blackberry which she uses today. She sends email (queen@england.gov maybe?), listens to an iPod

 

 

Music industry urged to drop download prices – News – Music Software
Music industry urged to drop download prices

 Terry McBride, CEO of the Nettwerk Music Group, which manages such best-selling acts as Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies and Dido, told the CES conference today that the music industry needs to "let go it's control and let consumers own their music" in order to survive

I believe there is a tipping point where price will compete with free," he said. "Right now our metric of measurement is iTunes at 99c [per track], but that represents only ten per cent of the marketplace. The other ninety per cent of the marketplace is [downloading music] free."

"I would say then have to say that the value of a song is not 99c but more like 10c," he said. "Imagine if we were to drop the price to 25c and capture 50 per cent of marketplace? With music and movies, the perception is that the cost is too high. It needs to come down."

The music industry needs to let go of control, he said, because "the concept of copyright law only exists to the music industry, not to the consumer."

One of the bands his company manages, Barenaked Ladies, was signed to major label Warner for the release of six albums until 2003. Offered a "multi, multi-million dollar cheque" to re-sign with the label to produce more music through traditional channels, the band opted instead to go it alone and try a few alternative means of distributing music.

Barenaked Ladies now record every single concert they perform and allow fans to purchase the recorded tracks on a USB stick or via download within minutes of the concert ending. They even offer downloads of the band's studio bed tracks (individual multi-track recordings of each instrument) to those fans that might want to remix tracks or create mixes with instruments left out to jam along to.

The decision, McBride says, "paid off handsomely." Last year was the band's second biggest ever from a financial standpoint.

"They have made the same amount of money as they would have if they sold five million albums," he said. "The music industry has a real issue with control," he said. "All the band needed to do is let go of that control."

Computerworld – Spam your printer from the Web? Researcher shows how
Spam your printer from the Web? Researcher shows how

A security enthusiast in the US has figured out how to send spam to a person's printer from an infected Web page.

 

Aaron Weaver has made a discovery the world could probably do without: He's found a way to spam your printer from the Web.

By using a little-known capability found in most Web browsers, Weaver can make a Web page launch a print job on just about any printer on a victim's network. The website could print annoying ads on the printer and theoretically issue more dangerous commands, like telling the printer to send a fax, format its hard drive or download new firmware.

Weaver has launched the attack successfully with both the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. Because the attack works only on network printers, a printer plugged directly into a PC would not be vulnerable.

Mac usage skyrockets in 2007 – PCs
Mac usage skyrockets in 2007

 Net Applications found that Mac operating systems represented 7.31 percent of Web traffic during December, but that figure shot up after Christmas to 8.01 percent on the last two days of the year. The increase was "nothing short of spectacular", Net Applications said.

The apparent increase in the popularity of Macs has coincided with the launch of Leopard, also known as OS X 10.5. Leopard's October launch proved popular with Mac enthusiasts, and sales in the first month were 20.5 percent higher by volume than those of the previous version, OS X 10.4.

In November, analysis conducted by King Research found that 90 percent of IT professionals have concerns about migrating to Windows Vista, while 44 percent are considering non-Microsoft alternatives, including OS X.

Gates donates $US10m for telescope in Chile – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Gates donates $US10m for telescope in Chile

 

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has donated $US10 million ($11.46 million) to help build a $US400 million high-powered telescope in Chile, media reports have said.

Another Microsoft alumnus, Charles Simonyi, has donated $US20 million to the project, according to news reports.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is expected to be operational as of 2015, is to be used by primarily by universities, laboratories and private groups.

The mountainside observatory in northern Chile, equipped with a high-power digital lens and built at an altitude of more than 2,500 metres above sea level, will be capable of taking detailed photos of supernovas, asteroids and other celestial bodies, and will be used to help create a map of the Milky Way.

Intel quits 'One Laptop Per Child' scheme – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Intel quits 'One Laptop Per Child' scheme

 

American computer chip maker Intel has withdrawn from a project aimed at giving millions of cheap laptop computers to children in developing countries.

Intel says it has ended its involvement because the board of the One Laptop Per Child project wants the firm to stop promoting rival machines.

The laptop is designed to be rugged enough to cope with conditions in developing countries.

Australia's annual linux conference 

 http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php?id=870609546&eid=-255

When

linux.conf.au opens on Wednesday January 30th and runs all day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We conclude with an Open Day on Saturday, February 2nd 2008. Special interest mini-confs are held before the conference on Monday and Tuesday.

Where

In 2008, the Parkville campus of the University of Melbourne plays host to linux.conf.au.

linux.conf.au 2008 in Mel8ourne, Victoria

Jonathan Corbet is an active kernel contributor, co-founder and president of Linux development community news site LWN.net, and the lead author of Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition. His renowned Kernel Report has been presented to audiences worldwide, and this year in Melbourne will mark his fourth appearance at Linux.conf.au. Here, Corbet offers Computerworld readers a sneak peek at the major themes behind this year's Kernel Report.

The real purpose of my talk is to bring attendees up to date with regard to what is happening in the kernel development community. It is a fast-moving project which is very hard to keep up with — the linux-kernel mailing list, alone, can run up to 500 highly technical messages per day. I do follow this community, though, and have gotten reasonably good at summarizing what is happening there — and making hand-waving predictions about what will be happening in the near future.

Computerworld – CES – Asus to super-size the wee Eee
Asus to super-size the wee Eee

 has confirmed rumours that it will enlarge upcoming versions of its hit Eee mini-notebook PC to accommodate 8- and 9-inch LCD screens, up from the current 7-inch LCDs

iTWire – Apple Store number two for Australia?
Apple Store number two for Australia?

  The story originated with MacTalk, which claimed "Quotes from Apple and Chadstone management confirm the new store, planned to open in Feb 08, soon after the flagship store in Sydney."

However, Apple Australia public relations manager Fiona Martin told iTWire "MacTalk did not confirm anything with us."

 

 
MARK'S SHOWNOTES
 
Mini-laptop expected at Macworld | Australian IT

Mini-laptop expected at Macworld

Scott Hillis in San Francisco | January 11, 2008

AS the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas winds down to lacklustre reviews, Apple is expected to grab the spotlight with an ultra-slim laptop computer and online movie rentals at its biggest annual show next week.

The new products are seen more as enhancements to Apple's current offerings rather than ones that pack the "wow factor" of last year's star attraction, the iPhone.

Next week's annual Macworld event in San Francisco is the favourite venue of Apple chief executive Steve Jobs to roll out new products and chart the company's course for the year.

His showman-like pronouncements also increasingly set the agenda for the computer and electronics industries, and have in recent years overshadowed CES, held in Las Vegas around the same time.

Apple gives no hint of what will be announced, so guessing what Mr Jobs has up sleeve is a favourite pastime of analysts and industry executives.

Intel investigated by US officials | Australian IT

Intel investigated by US officials

Don Clark and Chad Bray | January 11, 2008

INTEL's troubles with antitrust authorities spread to the US, as New York Attorney General Andrew M Cuomo announced an investigation into the chip giant's tactics against rival Advanced Micro Devices.

The state's investigators have served Intel with a "wide-ranging" subpoena for documents and information to determine whether the company had coerced customers to refrain from buying AMD chips, according to a statement issued by Mr Cuomo.

Intel dominates sales of x86 microprocessors, the chip design that provides calculating power for most PCs and server systems. In the third quarter, Intel accounted for 76.3 per cent of unit sales of those products, according to the market-research firm IDC.

Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, reiterated the company's position that its tactics are legal. "The microprocessor market is competitive and functioning as one would expect a competitive market to function," he said.

But AMD has long attacked Intel's practices and filed a private antitrust suit against the company in 2005 that is scheduled for trial in April 2009.

Mr Cuomo said the agency is examining whether Intel penalised computer makers for purchasing x86 chips from competitors, improperly paid customers for exclusivity and illegally cut off competitors.

Three other government bodies have sided against Intel after studying the situation. The European Commission issued a "statement of objections" against the company in July, a preliminary ruling that can lead to fines or other penalties. On Monday, Intel issued a confidential reply to those allegations, and the company said it will seek an oral hearing on the matter.

Austar dumps broadband for pay-TV | Australian IT

Austar dumps broadband for pay-TV

Nick Tabakoff | January 08, 2008

AUSTAR United Communications has made a surprise decision to sell all of its WiMAX regional wireless broadband spectrum to the Optus-led Opel consortium for $65 million and focus its attention on regional pay-TV operations.

The decision flies in the face of Austar boss John Porter's comments in October that a sale of the spectrum was unlikely.

"We don't need the cash," Mr Porter said at the time.

"Our instincts would be to try to partner with other companies" to build and operate the spectrum.

Yesterday, however, the regional pay-TV operator said selling the spectrum was best for the group, after negotiations with a number of parties, including Optus and the Seven Network, in recent months.

Austar last year made more than 30 staff redundant, including its entire wireless broadband engineering division, in what was seen as a clear sign it had abandoned any ambitions to be a sole operator of a regional WiMAX network.

It still appeared keen to be part of a joint venture vehicle with a larger company, which would have operated the network.

Austar corporate development director Deanne Weir said last night the company had discussed a joint venture to build and operate a WiMAX network, but it was never a definite outcome.

"We've never been fixated on building our network," she said.

Blu-ray takes lead in war with HD DVD | Australian IT

Blu-ray takes lead in war with HD DVD

Leo Lewis | January 10, 2008

THE sprawling consortium of technology and media companies assembled to promote the HD DVD format of next-generation, high-definition discs could be close to collapse after a spate of defections to the rival Blu-ray disc group.

As many as 20 companies that are members of the HD DVD Promotion Group could be preparing to remove their names from the alliance's 130-strong membership list.

The defections could, one Tokyo-based analyst said, represent the final nails in the coffin of Toshiba's HD DVD standard after a bitterly fought battle between the formats.

Eiichi Katayama, of Nomura Securities, said the battle between the formats, which display films and video games more sharply in an era of ever-larger television screens, was "entering its final phase".

The threatened exodus from the HD DVD format follows the decision of Warner Bros last week to back the rival Blu-ray disc format, whose main technology backers include Sony, Apple and Dell.

Telstra CDMA fate in Conroy's hands | Australian IT

Telstra CDMA fate in Conroy's hands

Adam Gartrell in Canberra | January 10, 2008

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has received a report that will guide his decision on whether Telstra can shut down its CDMA mobile network later this month.

Telstra's carrier licence conditions require it to continue to operate the CDMA network until Communications Minister Stephen Conroy notifies the telco he is satisfied that the Next G network provides equivalent or better coverage

Senator Conroy confirmed he had received the results of an independent Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) audit which sets out whether Telstra's new Next G network is up to scratch and ready to replace CDMA.

As reported in The Australian yesterday, Telstra's carrier licence conditions require it to continue to operate the CDMA network until the minister notifies Telstra he is satisfied that the Next G network provides equivalent or better coverage.

Senator Conroy, who is required to make a decision by January 21, said he intended to make a public announcement after carefully considering the ACMA report and other relevant evidence.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is also providing advice on whether equivalent services are being provided, such as voice calls, SMS, internet and pre-paid and post-paid options.

Meanwhile, Telstra has indicated it was unlikely to extend a planned "warehouse" period, which would give CDMA users who failed to switch over before January 28 an extra 28 days to join another network before they lost their numbers.

CDMA users who wait longer than 28 days after January 28 risk having their numbers given to somebody else.

It is understood that Telstra officials told opposition communications spokesman Bruce Billson during a meeting Tuesday they would consider extending the period.

Apple

Microsoft won't launch iPhone rival | Australian IT

Microsoft won't launch iPhone rival

Michael Shields in Frankfurt | January 10, 2008

MICROSOFT will not launch a product that competes directly with Apple's iPhone, chairman Bill Gates said in an interview with Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"No, we won't do that. In the so-called smart phone business we will concentrate solely on software with our Windows Mobile program," Mr Gates was quoted as saying in the interview published on Wednesday.

"We have partnerships with a lot of device manufacturers from Samsung to Motorola and this variety brings us significantly more than if we would make our own mobile phone," he said.

Apple's iPhone, which also plays music and lets users browse the internet, has been a big hit.

Matsushita to become Panasonic | Australian IT

Matsushita to become Panasonic

Kenneth Maxwell in Tokyo | January 11, 2008

MATSUSHITA Electric Industrial said it will change its name to Panasonic, its best-known brand, highlighting the growing importance of branding and marketing in the technology industry.

The consumer-electronics company, whose products range from state-of-the-art television sets to vending machines, also said it plans to invest 94 billion yen ($958 million) to expand chip production in Japan as it targets overall revenue of 10 trillion yen for fiscal year 2010. The target represents a 14 per cent increase from the company's revenue forecast of 8.78 trillion yen for the year ending March 31.

The move to adopt the Panasonic name, under which many of its products are sold in major markets, including the US, means the Osaka company is dropping the name of its founder as it ramps up branding efforts outside Japan to help combat stagnant demand for its goods at home.

The change, effective October 1, will cost the Japanese technology company 30 billion yen. It comes 90 years after Konosuke Matsushita started the company at age 23, making electric sockets and insulator plates.

In its statement, Matsushita described the name change as a "step forward to make the company a truly global corporation." The plan will be submitted to shareholders for approval at the company's ordinary general meeting in June.

President Fumio Ohtsubo made it clear at a news conference that the switch was related to perceptions of the company's brands.

YouTube – The official Cloverfield trailer
The official Cloverfield trailer

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