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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Microsoft Offers Yahoo Board An Ultimatum

In a letter today, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has issued a deadline of 3 weeks to the Yahoo Board to strike a deal or else. “If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo board,” Mr. Ballmer wrote. “If we are forced to take an offer directly to your shareholders, that action will have an undesirable impact on the value of your company from our perspective, which will be reflected in the terms of our proposal.” I think that he means business...

Boring Lawsuit Filed Against Google For Street View Photos

Aaron and Christine Boring of Pittsburgh's Franklin Park area have filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Google over pictures of their home that appeared in Google's Street View. The Boring's contend that images appearing on Street View had to have been taken from their driveway, which they say was posted as a private road. Google's response has been to remove the offending images, and company spokesman Larry Yu says "We absolutely respect that people may not be comfortable with some of the imagery on the site," and "We actually make it pretty easy for people to submit a request to us to remove the imagery." The Boring's attorney Dennis Moskal says "Isn't litigation the only way to change a big business' conduct with the public?" adding "What happened to their accountability?"

I find this all a bit funny, how many people do you think actually viewed the photo's of their home before the lawsuit was filed? Don't you think that they have brought more attention upon themselves by going the litigation route rather than using the mechanism offered by Google? Or dare I say it, is money actually the motivating factor? Globe and Mail article here. Smoking Gun article here.

Friday, April 4, 2008 Sells For $2.6 Million

Chris Clark, 43, who has been maintaining the domain name for $20 annually since 1994 has accepted an offer of $2.6 million from an anonymous bidder after a week-long online auction. After hanging on to the name for 14 years, "I thought, 'Why don't I just try to see what the level of interest is?'" Mr Clark said, and apparently there was interest! His only regret, not buying more domain names in the 90's. Me too! BBC article here.

College Student Builds 1/2 Scale Tank For Paintballing

College Student, Will Foster, has built himself a 1/2 scale Tiger Tank! The tank, complete with a paintball firing turret and a rebuilt diesel generator for a motor is surprisingly agile and according to Foster has raised a lot of suspicion amongst the neighbours! Check it out!

This story courtesy of the Make Blog.

Jules Verne Hooks Up With Space Station

The European Space Agency's robotic space craft, the Jules Verne, made a near perfect docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday bringing tonnes of needed supplies. “The docking of the A.T.V. is a new and spectacular step in the demonstration of European capabilities on the international scene of space exploration,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency. Besides fuel, oxygen, clothing, food, and equipment, the A.T.V. delivered two original manuscripts handwritten by the ships name sake and a 19th-century illustrated edition of his novel “From the Earth to the Moon,” which will be returned to Earth at a later date. New York Times article here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Amazon Launches TextBuyIt - Text To Purchase Service

Amazon has just launched a new service that allows you to text in a product name, UPC code, or ISBN and get a response with whether or not the item is stocked. The query will return two matches at a time and prompt you for the sale. If you decide to make the purchase you will be prompted for confirmation by identifying the e-mail address associated with your amazon account and then phoned to complete the checkout details. As Wired eludes, this brings a whole new tool into the game of comparison shopping... I suppose that is why they support UPC and ISBN codes. Text to 262966 ("Amazon" on the keypad) and give it a try!

Consumer Market Getting Hooked On The Crackberry?

It appears as though the Blackberry is not just for business anymore. Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that it had a great 4th quarter beating all predictions, and co-CEO Jim Balsillie attributes much of the success to the consumer market. 2.2 million new customers, an increase in consumer-focused devices, such as the Pearl, and a partnership with Facebook Inc. have put smiles on the faces of RIM investors particularly when it was thought that the iPhone would put a crimp in Blackberry sales. Over 1 million Blackberry owners have downloaded an application that allows them to update their Facebook pages and this points squarely at the acceptance of the device on the consumer side. Check out the Globe and Mail article here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Microsoft Backs Report About Computer Human Interaction In 2020

The BBC is reporting on the release of a Microsoft backed report undertaken by 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology, that predicts how we will be using technology in the year 2020. Embedded technologies that have single purposes or little purpose what so ever, and even more pervasive connectivity appear to be the theme of the findings. I don't think that this should surprise anyone, but the article is a decent read. I'm heading out to find the report, hope it's available. Check out the video in the article, it's short but features some interesting applications.


Report is available here.

AT&T - First Microsoft Surface Deployment

This news is exciting for those of us who have been anxiously awaiting the roll out of the Microsoft Surface PC. AT&T is said to be rolling out the Microsoft Surface PC to select retail stores later this month. The fact that it's a cellphone retailer should not surprise anyone as the early videos of the device showed an application where users could place a phone on the surface and receive information about it and the plans that are available for that particular phone. "We believe in Microsoft Surface and what it can do for our customers," said Andy Austin, AT&T director of retail customer experience. AT&T got "very, very excited" when it first saw the Surface computers, he said. If you are in Atlanta, San Antonio, the San Francisco area, or New York City (2 sites) be on the lookout for the surface!

  • New York: 381 Madison Ave. and 350 Park Ave.
  • Atlanta: 3429 Lenox Road N.E.
  • San Antonio: 13127 San Pedro Ave.
  • San Francisco area: 1206 El Camino Real, San Bruno

  • According to Todd Bishop at
    Microsoft Press Release
    AT&T Press Release

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    International Olympic Committee Warns China About Internet Access During Games

    Inspectors dispatched by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said that China is obligated to provide journalists with web access under its Games contract. The final inspection before the games begin in August is currently underway and IOC's Kevan Gosper has said "There was some criticism that the Internet closed down during events relating to Tibet in previous weeks - but this is not Games time," Gosper added that "Our concern is that the press is able to operate as it has at previous Games during Games time." 30,000 journalists are expected to be in Beijing covering the Olympics. I suspect that if there are incidents during the games and Internet access goes down, there will be a very good technical reason for the coincidence... whether it reflects poorly upon the host nation or not. BBC News Story here.

    Virgin Group and Google Combine Forces in Virgle - Hope To Colonize Mars

    In what has become an April 1st tradition, Google's latest press release pokes a little fun at the rest of us. The release explains the company's plans to join forces with Sir Richard Branson Virgin Group President and Founder to start a new human colony on Mars named Virgle. “Virgle is the ultimate application of a principle we’ve always believed at Google: that you can do well by doing good,” said Google co-founder Larry Page. "We feel that ensuring the survival of the human race by helping it colonize a new planet is both a moral good in and of itself and also the most likely method of ensuring the survival of our best – okay, fine, only -- base of web search volume and advertising inventory,” Page added. “So, you know, it's, like, win-win." To be included in the original contingent of Virgle-ites the team will be selecting participants based on an "online questionnaire, video submission, personal accomplishments, expertise in scientific, artistic, sociological and/or political fields of endeavor, and inadequate Google and Virgin personal performance reviews."

    Monday, March 31, 2008

    Yahoo Launches Site Aimed At Women

    Yahoo! has announced a new site, Shine, that is aimed at the female demographic. Unlike other Yahoo! sites, Shine will be presented in blog format, with the newest items on top and commentary from an editor. The company is taking queues from advertisers who are looking for more ways to reach out to women between ages 25 and 54. “These women were sort of caretakers for everybody in their lives,” said Amy Iorio, vice president for Yahoo Lifestyles. “They didn't feel like there was a place that was looking at the whole them — as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter. They were looking for one place that gave them everything.” Whether this is true or not is yet to be seen, as Yahoo! follows Glam Media Inc. and iVillage into the market. The success of the blog format will be interesting to follow, at least from a blogger's standpoint.

    Microsoft Strikes Deal For Digital Content Through XBox

    The New York Times is reporting that Microsoft has struck a deal with Hollywood veteran Peter Safran's company to produce original shows for distribution on the XBox 360 platform. The intent is to appeal to the XBox demographic which is largely male and between the ages of 14 and 34. Safran's company, appropriately named "Safran Company", will produce short 10 minute scripted shows initially in the comedy and horror genres. The first of which are expected to be available this fall. “The Xbox is unique. It operates at a level outside of what we generally consider Web entertainment,” Mr. Safran said, adding that the new shows would be available only via XBox 360 but might eventually show up elsewhere.

    Sunday, March 30, 2008

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    Oldest Recording Of Human Voice - 17 Years Before Edison's Phonograph?

    US scientists have created a method of playing an ancient recording discovered by audio historian David Giovannoni, the recording created on a "phonautograph" which made etchings on soot-covered paper, is now believed to be the oldest recording of human voice. The phonautograph, a device created by a Parisian inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, was not capable of playing back the recording and so it had never been heard until now. According to the BBC "Lines were scratched into the soot by a needle moved by a diaphragm that responded to sound. The recordings were never intended to be played." and "To retrieve the sounds scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California made very high-resolution digital scans of the paper and used a "virtual stylus" to read the scrawls." For a listen to the recording click here, but make sure your volume is turned down... it's a little spooky.

    Hacker Attack On Epileptic Support Forum

    Wired is reporting that a group of hackers believed to be members of "Anonymous", the group that has targeted the Church of Scientology, injected javascript code last week into a forum run by The nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation. The code caused flashing animations to display in unsuspecting forum viewers browsers, which in some cases was enough to trigger migraines and seizures. "We are seeing people affected," says Ken Lowenberg, senior director of web and print publishing at the Epilepsy Foundation. "It's fortunately only a handful. It's possible that people are just not reporting yet -- people affected by it may not be coming back to the forum so fast." The site shut the forum down approximately 12 hours after the attack. This is a juvenile prank that could have serious consequences, let's hope that the perpetrators come to their senses and find other means of drawing attention to themselves.