Wednesday’s Weatherbeater

Wednesday, 7 January 2004, 4:57 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant about
CES starts tomorrow, but we’ve got the news today.

It’s Christmas in Ethiopia.

The first commercial transatlantic telephone service started on this day in 1927. The Air Force began production of the first US jet fighter, the Bell P-59, in 1944. The Newlywed Game premiered in 1967. AT&T released a $1500 video telephone in 1992.

  1. Homeless hacker Adrian Lamo says he’ll accept a plea bargain that will give him six months house detention. He’ll appear in court Thursday. FreeLamo.com will be renamed to LetLamoGoToTheMall.com.
  2. The Sprit has landed and is sending back spectacular pictures, but the Beagle II still fails to report. Rats.

    [BTW, will someone tell Nasa to put a Skip Intro link on their interminable front page Flash animation?]

  3. Intel has announced it will put up $200 million in venture capital to spur development of digital home tech. In his Thursday keynote at CES, CEO Paul Otellini is expected to announce new Intel TV chips.
  4. Microsoft says it’s continuing work on the Mac version of Virtual PC. Version 7 will support the G5 (the current version does not). Look for V7 in the “first half of this year.” Mac Office will be updated around then, too.
  5. 2004 will bring a whole new shape to the PC world. According to the Inquirer, this year Intel’s socket 478 will be replaced by socket 775 (AMD is updating its socket design, too), DDR RAM will give way to DDR-II and a new DIMM form factor. That means new motherboards in the BTX flavor, requiring a new case and power supply designs. And to top it all off, the PCI and AGP busses will be replaced by PCI-Express. Finally a reason to upgrade that lame old 2.4 GHz proc.
  6. Microsoft is still fighting the Blaster worm. The company released a removal tool Monday for the worm that first appeared in August, 2003. Apparently there are still many infected machines out there.

    WD Media Center

  7. I like this. A new external hard drive from Western Digital has a built-in eight-way media reader, front panel USB 2 hub, and push button backup. 250 GB for $399.

  8. Another CES announcement, Apex Digital plans a game console that plays PC games. The ApeXtreme will include a DVD player but a punchless Via 1.4 GHz processor for $400.
  9. The US has started fingerprinting and photographing some International visitors for instant background checks as they go through customs. 27 mostly European nations are exempt. Brazil responds by fingerprinting US citizens entering that country.
  10. HiDef radio is coming to a station near you. iBiquity Digital will show the new FM technology at CES.

Editor’s Choice Award

Wednesday, 7 January 2004, 5:01 am
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Editor's ChoiceI’m please to note that the Almanac just won Web Host Magazine’s 2004 Editor’s Choice Award.

Thanks, guys!

Tuesday’s Keynote

Tuesday, 6 January 2004, 3:50 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant about
Step away from the stuffed animal machine. It’s news time.

Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo keynote kicks off this morning. People have been lining up since 4am. We’ll have the details on Call for Help as soon as Steve stops talking.

Happy birthday, Mr. Bean. Rowan Atkinson is 49. Pan Am’s Pacific Clipper completed the first around the world flight on this day in 1942. Gibson patented the flying V guitar in 1958. Schoolhouse Rock debuted in 1973 with “Multiplication Rock.” (hum along now)

  1. The FCC has teeth. The agency fined Fax.com $5.4 million yesterday for sending unsolicited fax spam.

  2. Courts have filed a preliminary injunction against WhenU — a company that pops up ads for competitors when you surf to an e-commerce site. Don’t get too excited. WhenU has beat similar challenges in the past.
  3. Picketers are expected outside Macworld Expo today protesting flaws in Apple’s iBook laptops. Several hundred petitioners are complaining about unpublicized flaws in the iBook logic board that’s causing machines to drop like flies. Others are proposing a class action lawsuit. We’ve had all three of our iBooks die due to faulty logic boards so maybe there’s something to this.
  4. Bloomberg says the Google IPO is on track for April. This is the one everyone’s waiting for – the 21st century equivalent of 1995′s Netscape offering. The company is expected to be valued at somewhere between $4 and 10 billion.
  5. Meanwhile Yahoo is dumping Google and is about to launch a search engine war. CEO Terry Semel says, “we woke up in time.” Maybe but Mountain View is no Helm’s Deep.
  6. Microsoft afraid of Linux? You bet. With another couple of years yet before the next version of Windows the company seems a little worried about inroads Linux might make into its desktop market. Perhaps that explains the new “fact based” ad campaign that says Windows costs less to run than Linux.
  7. Online shoppers spent a record $18.5 billion during the holiday season, a 35% increase over 2002.
  8. If you weren’t one of them, here’s your reward. Dell has announced 0% financing on its consumer electronics for 12 months on purchases over $500.
  9. One thing you won’t see at CES this year: the Microsoft Smart Display. Launched at last year’s show inside a house custom built in the parking lot at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Wi-Fi enabled tablet never took off and according to c|net, Microsoft is dumping the product.

    Prototype Portable Media Player

  10. Microsoft is expected to launch an iPod killer, the Portable Media Center, at CES. I’ll take a look this weekend on the radio show. Will Steve launch a preemptive attack today at Macworld?

  11. Intel’s new Celeron M will offer Pentium M power savings to low cost laptops.
  12. SCO sent out 6,000 letters last week asking companies that use Linux to “prove” that there’s no infringing UNIX code in there. Novell is fighting back by filing for copyright on much of SCO’s code saying SCO has failed to meet conditions required by the transfer of rights back in 1996. SCO says Novell’s filings are fraudulent. Ooo. Penguin fight!
  13. Tivo says the DISH DVR infringes its patents. The company is suing EchoStar.
  14. America Online is adding a spyware killer to upcoming versions of AOL 9.0.
  15. DVD Jon has followed his death defying act in the Norwegian courts with a new hack that allows anyone to play protected iTunes Music Store songs using VideoLAN. “We’re about to find out what Apple really thinks about Fair Use,” says the plucky Scandinavian hacker.

Monday Moanings

Monday, 5 January 2004, 2:32 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant about
It’s a brand new year and brand new news.

Macworld Expo takes off this week in San Francisco. CES is on tap in Las Vegas.

On this day in 1920, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. They haven’t won a World Series since. Work began on the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933. First FM radio transmission in 1940. Bozo premieres in 1959. The Fellowship of the Rings enters the Mines of Moria.

Happy birthday King Camp Gillette (1855) inventor of the safety razor.

  1. Two new viruses to kick off the new year. A new virus is spreading rapidly via MSN Messenger. Jitux is non-destructive. Another virus, PE_QUIS.A worm, is destructive. It spreads via an email purporting to be a Christmas screen saver. Among other things it replaces all the ringtone files on your PC with Jingle Bells.
  2. It’s legal to backup your DVDs in Norway. The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Okokrim) has decided not to appeal its case against Jon Johansen, the developer of DeCSS.
  3. Meanwhile a Belgian group is suing record companies for copy protecting audio CDs.
  4. Spirit has landed successfully and is sending back images of the Red Planet.
  5. According to Neilsen//NetRatings, more than three-quarters of Americans access the net using non-browser applications. Top five net apps: Windows Media Player, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger and Real Player.
  6. The number of people using peer-to-peer file sharing to download music continues to drop dramatically. In a recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project the percentage of Americans who get their music from the P2P sharing applications dropped to 14% in the four weeks ending December 14. That’s down from 29% in March.
  7. Anti-Haitian comments in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City have prompted a lawsuit by Haitian-Americans demanding the game be banned in the US. RockStar had promised to remove the offensive scenes and made a public apology.
  8. Radio stations are turning on RDS, a little used feature that can broadcast text along with the music. Many cars have RDS capable receivers, but until recently few stations used the technology. Now stations are turning on RDS to broadcast commercials and that’s got some consumers up in arms.

Hop on the bus

Monday, 5 January 2004, 3:39 am
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Thanks to Paul Gans for this wonderful image…

The Leoville Bus

The bus has arrived. We’re back with all live shows Monday!

New Year’s News

Friday, 2 January 2004, 5:40 am
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All the news that's fit to rant aboutEnough time off. It’s back to work news hounds!

Hope you had a good holiday even if you didn’t get that aircraft carrier you wanted.

Begin the year with tech predictions. Forbes’s editors, Jon Fortt in the San Jose Mercury-News and Charles Arthur from the UK’s Independent all make interesting reading. I’ll make mine on the radio where no one will remember twelve months hence.

Samuel Pepys invented the blog on this day in 1660. Watson was introduced to Holmes in 1881. Röntgen announces his discovery of x-rays in 1896. Nathan Stubblefield makes the first public demonstration of radio in 1902. The ball dropped for the first time in Times Square in 1908. The UNIX epoch begins at midnight in 1970. It will end in 2038. Cigarette ads were banned in 1971. AT&T is split into eight regional Bells in 1984. The last new Far Side comic appeared in 1995.

Happy birthday Father Guido Sarducci, he’s 61. Bill and Melinda Gates celebrate their 10th anniversary today.

  1. We didn’t need the usual leap second last night. Seems the Earth’s rotation is no longer slowing, so there’s no need to adjust the length of the year. As usual, scientists are baffled.
  2. That’s Sir Tim Berners-Lee to you. The creator of the World Wide Web was on the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List and is now a knight or something.
  3. Sun has dumped the Cobalt line, just three years after paying $2 billion for the little blue server company. Kind of a shame, they were great boxes, but apparently most people just built their own. Sun will continue to support current owners for three more years.
  4. Jon Johansen, creator of DeCSS, the DVD decryption program, is off the hook. Last week a Norwegian appeals court cleared Johansen of all charges.
  5. AOL has released a list of the Top 10 Spam Subject Lines. And the winner is… “Viagra online.” Other winners include “Get out of debt,” “Get bigger,” and the ever popular “As seen on oprah.”
  6. As long as we’re talking lists, Yahoo! has released its top 10 searches of 2003. “Kazaa” is #1, “Harry Potter” #2. Google annual year-end Zeitgeist says “Britney Spears” was #1. The #1 brand search was Ferarri.

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