Monday, 12 March 2012

Wednesday We Want Money

More tales of corporate greed in today's thrilling tech news summary.

Venus will transit the Sun June 8 for the first time since 1882. The trip takes six hours. Kallahar only took six minutes to go from LA to Oregon.

James Gibbs patented the sewing machine on this day in 1857. The first night baseball game under lights was played in Ft. Wayne in 1883. Surveyor I made the first soft lunar landing in 1966.
Looks like the ad sales guys got to the Yahoo programmers. The new Yahoo toolbar, which contains a "spyware scanner" from Pest Patrol doesn't, in fact, remove the loathsome Gator and WhenU unless you check a box each time you scan. Yahoo has a partnership with Gator creator Claria. I'm sticking with Spybot, thank you very much.

And yet another entry in the Annals of Greed... Paul Graham wrote his "Plan for Spam" advocating the use of Bayesian filters in August, 2002. In December, 2002, Network Associates applied for a broad-based patent on anti-spam technologies including, what a coincidence, Bayesian filters. The pathetic USPTO just approved that patent. No word yet on how NAI will apply their patent, but it could impact every spam program out there including numerous free open source programs like SpamBayes and Spam Assassin. Symantec and Postini also have patents on anti-spam techniques. Read the discussion on Slashdot.


The original greedy buzzards, the record companies, are considering employing copy protection from Macrovision and SunComm that will limit the number of copies you can make of an audio CD. The protection could be applied to digital downloads, as well.


Sony is abandoning the Clié in the US, citing plummeting sales for PDAs. The company will focus on cell phones instead. Analysts say the increasing popularity of smart phones combined with a weak upgrade market in PDAs is killing the category. That's kind of a shame - Cliés were the most advanced of the Palm devices and the UX-50 with keyboard, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and camera may have been the coolest PDA ever.


Intel has announced three new Mobile Pentium 4 processors: the 538, 532, and 518 run at 3.2, 3.06, and 2.8 GHz respectively and are intended for desktop replacement notebooks. They're based on the 90nm Prescott chip. There's a new Celeron M, too, employing half the cache of the Pentium M.


Intel also plans to work with CollabNet to release the source code for a reference BIOS later this year in an effort to make PC boot-ups more consistent and reliable. The BIOS will be released under the CPL.


Sun says it will open source Solaris, its proprietary OS based on UNIX. Expect a licensing model similar to Java. COO Jonathan Schwartz said that while open sourcing Solaris was inevitable, Sun wants to avoid the splintering into distributions that's happened in the Linux world.


The first beta of Microsoft's Windows Media Player 10 should ship tomorrow. The chief new feature will be the ability to synchronize music libraries with MP3 players ala iTunes. Not surprising since Microsoft has announced it plans to take on the iPod with a device that will "look and feel as good" for as little as $50. CORRECTION: Paul Thurrott points out that Microsoft didn't say they were going to make the devices, just support them with software.


I'm going to Case Western in my next life. Students now have access to fiber in their dorm rooms, and there's a wireless 802.11g network campus-wide.


Strongman Robert Mugabe has clamped down on Zimbabwean ISPs, requiring them to notify the government of any "malicious" e-mail messages. Last year 14 people were arrested for circulating an anti-Mugabe email. ISPs say they don't have the technology to monitor all the emails going through their systems. Hey, just ask the FBI - we've got a great system here in the States.

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