Monthly Archives: January 2009

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Discovering the many odd, amusing and unfortunate moments captured by Google Street View has become something of a sport for online voyeurs.

Just this week, eagle-eyed users spotted a South Dakota man toting a rifle in public, and a gent in Melbourne using the loo.

Also this week, a now infamous series of images emerged capturing one of the Google Street View cars hitting a deer in upstate New York.   (Google apologized and the images were removed.)

Add to this list a series of incredible Street View scenes from one road in Pittsburgh. All along Sampsonia Way, amazing random events seem to be taking place. Read more

  • Defying the grim global economy, reported a terrific fourth quarter, with profit up 9 per cent and sales up 18 per cent. The online retailer attracted customers with low prices and free shipping, and continues to benefit from the buzz surrounding its Kindle e-reader, the second version of which is expected on February 9. Amazon shares were up 13 per cent in after hours trading.
  • Other tech companies were not so lucky. Sony and Toshiba both reported losses, as the slowdown in consumer spending continues to hit the electronics industry particularly hard. Even Nintendo, recently buoyed by strong sales of the Wii, has the jitters. It cut its full year profit forecast by 33 per cent as a strong yen looks set to erode earnings.

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dead-parrot-sketch.jpgMatt Rosoff, writing on Cnet today, reports Microsoft’s increasingly irrelevant claim that the Zune is not dead – at least, not yet.

It’s irrelevant because, given the latest disastrous sales numbers, it’s now clear that the moment for the Zune device to make any sort of impact in the digital music business has passed. The battle over digital music is moving on. Read more

  • The weak economy and plummeting advertising revenue has prompted AOL to cut 700 jobs. The news comes shortly after Google wrote down its 2005 investment of $1bn in AOL. Once valued at $20 billion, Google’s new valuation puts AOL at $5.5bn. Kara Swisher, who broke the story, has chief executive Randy Falco’s memo to AOL staffers.
  • In Davos, Vladimir Putin gave Michael Dell a public smack-down. After Dell asked “how can we help” expand IT in Russia, Putin replied: “We don’t need help. We are not invalids. We don’t have limited mental capacity.”

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  • The senior management team that must run Apple in Steve Jobs’ absence is now complete. Mark Papermaster will soon be free to join as the top hardware engineer for devices like the iPod and iPhone, following settlement of a lawsuit brought by former employer IBM.
  • The wait time for an Amazon Kindle just got shorter. Amazon, the e-commerce company that had a breakout hit with its e-reader, looks set to announce the next generation of Kindles in New York City on Feb. 9. One clue that the new e-readers are ready: the Kindle order page now says units will ship in four to six weeks (until very recently the wait was 11 to 13 weeks). As Bits points out, “The device has been out of stock since November, after Oprah Winfrey touted the device on her show.”

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Google likes to talk about how it’s AdSense system supplies the lifeblood for much of the Web, feeding the adverts that generate income for many other websites. Through its network of advertising affiliates, Yahoo plays a similar role.

So based on the latest results from both companies, the rest of the Web must really be hurting. Read more

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ie8.jpgFacing a fresh attack from European regulators and with Google breathing down its neck, Microsoft could really do with something special from the next version of its Web browser. That would be one way to silence the critics who claim its dominance of the market has killed off innovation.

As it happens, there are plenty of good ideas in IE8 (a near-complete version of which was released today.) As often with Microsoft, though, some of these represent refinements of breakthroughs that were made by rivals rather than genuinely new ideas. The main new features in IE8 include: Read more


  • IPOs are a rare commodity these days, but that hasn’t stopped fuel-from-waste company Changing World Technologies from trying its luck. WR Hambrecht opens the books on an auction for the company, which has amassed losses of more than $80m over the past four years.
  • Analysts expect a big drop in sales for Texas Instruments for the fourth quarter. Slumping demand overall, and the decision by Nokia, TI’s biggest customer, to work with multiple suppliers, could make for a grim 2009 forecast as well.

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Internet security experts are growing increasingly worried about a new worm that is infecting millions of computers around the globe. The infection, known as “Conficker” or “Downadup,” is spreading through a recently uncovered vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. So far the worm has infiltrated business, government and personal networks, as well as consumer devices such as USB memory sticks.

Though it first appeared in October, Conficker has exploded in recent weeks. The rapid spread of the worm seems to be “the first step of a multistage attack,” according to the New York Times. Experts don’t yet know what the worm is designed to do, but fear the worst is yet to come. Read more

FlowerCreating a planet and helping flowers to bloom are a far cry from the usual death and mayhem meted out by hard-core video gamers.

But for those wanting to be creative rather than destructive and mellow rather than filled with adrenaline, the latest additions to the Spore franchise and the new Flower game for the PlayStation 3  can be recommended. Read more

Palm PreIs Apple limbering up for a courtroom punch-up with Palm over the Pre’s multi-touch screen?

Palm’s share price tumbled yesterday in the wake of remarks by Tim Cook, Apple chief operating officer, who said during Apple’s quarterly earnings call that the iPhone maker would use all its weapons to fight any rivals that “ripped off” its intellectual property (IP). Read more

Macbook ProRecession, what recession? Apple came out with some extraordinary numbers on Wednesday for the final three months of 2008.

Record revenues of $10.17bn and profits of $1.61bn were achieved as sales for other computer and consumer electronics makers slumped in the downturn. Read more

Mark Kingdon avatar, photo by Ina CentaurMark Kingdon, chief executive of Linden Lab, has announced two acquisitions that should further his strategy of making the Second Life virtual world more user-friendly, while cashing in on the booming virtual goods market.

The San Francisco-based company said it had bought for undisclosed sums the Xstreet SL and OnRez website-based marketplaces for virtual goods. Read more

Whenever a significant legal challenge is filed against IBM, it seems you don’t have to scratch the surface much to find Microsoft lurking somewhere in the background.

Take the complaint that has just been filed with the European Commission against IBM’s mainframe monopoly. T3, the Florida company that brought the case, was the recipient of a Microsoft investment just two months agoRead more


As we noted last week, today’s inauguration of President Obama is likely “to be the most photographed and filmed event of all time, thanks to the addition of user-generated content on the web.” The early results are in, and at first glance they are quite impressive.

Google’s GeoEye, the satellite it uses to create Google Maps and Google Earth, captured the estimated two-to-four million people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Read more

Barack Obama on his flickr streamThe presidential inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday is shaping up to be the most photographed and filmed event of all time, thanks to the addition of user-generated content on the web.

CNN and Microsoft are collaborating to create a 3D walk-through of the inauguration using thousands of photos submitted by members of the public. Read more

Wii PlayThe US video game industry proved its resilience to recession in December with the latest figures from the NPD research firm showing 9 per cent growth on the previous year and revenues topping $5bn in a single month for the first time.

Nevertheless, growth is definitely slowing  – down from 18 per cent in October – and console revenues only rose 2 per cent on the previous year. Read more

Carol BartzWhatever you think about Jerry Yang, he was at least cheap. During his 18 months or so as Yahoo CEO he earned approximately $1.50. In fact, if you consider what’s happened to his 4 per cent stake in the company, his wealth actually decreased by around $750m.

So what is there to make of Carol Bartz’s much more lucrative package? Read more