I'm taking a mini-vacation this week, and Internet access is spotty, so the news may be, too. The Magna Carta was sealed on this day in 1215. Goodyear patented the rubber vulcanization process in 1844. Celluloid was patented in 1869. Ford manufactured its 10 millionth car in 1924. The first commercial electronic computer (the LEO) was dedicated in 1951. Lennon and McCartney met for the first time at a church social in 1956.
Doogie Howser is 31. Courtney Cox is 40.
Firefox 0.9 is out and looking good.
- A new fast spreading virus, Zafi.b, disables firewalls and anti-virus software while spreading political messages in English, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Swedish, German or Finnish. The worm displays a message in Hungarian which translates into "We demand that the government accomodates the homeless, tightens up the penal code and VOTES FOR THE DEATH PENALTY to cut down the increasing crime. Jun. 2004, PÉcs (SNAF Team)." Wonder how they feel about the death penalty for virus authors?
- The Gartner Group is set to release a study that says nearly two million Americans had their checking accounts raided in the last 12 months.
- A Mission Viejo teenager has been sentenced to 33 months in prison for bilking Ebay customers and a local bank. The 19-year-old was ordered to pay $1.2 million two years ago for a fraudulent investment web site. Looks like he has a bright future as a television executive.
- Speaking of which, Paul Allen has been busy lately. His Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame opens at EMP in Seattle Friday. And next week the Allen funded SpaceShipOne will attempt to leave the Earth's atmosphere in a trajectory similar to Alan Shepard's historic 1961 flight. Allen and his partners aim to become the first privately financed team to create a manned space program.
- Tim Berners-Lee will finally reap his reward today as inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989. Berners-Lee will receive the first Millennium Technology Prize, awarded by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. The prize includes a cash award of one million Euros.
- MessageLabs says 76% of all email is now spam. The cost of dealing with spam has doubled this year. According to Nucleus, the average employee receives twice as much spam as last year, an average of 7500 messages, and spends $1934 a year handling junk email. And all this after the Federal CAN-SPAM act went into effect.
- Earlier this year the FTC declined to address the growing spyware issue, saying that Spyware companies should self-regulate. Now state and Federal legislators are responding with new anti-spyware laws. Utah has made installing programs on a PC without the user's approval a $10,000 offense. California, Iowa, and New York are considering similar laws. Dell announced yesterday that it's starting an anti-virus and spyware education program for its customers.
- PayPal is settling three law suits from customers who contend their accounts were illegally frozen. The company admits no wrong doing but will pay $9.25 million to settle the suits. As part of the settlement, PayPal agreed to change the way it handled dispute resolution.
- AMD has announced it is developing a dual-core chip for sale next year. Intel, Sun, IBM, and Apple have also announced chips that combine two processor cores onto a single die. Intel says it has already gone to silicon and will be shipping dual-core processors for PCs, notebooks, and servers by next year, as well.
- It's the battle of the email servers. Yahoo has responded to Google's Gmail service by upgrading its free email storage space from six megs to 100. Pay $19.99 and you'll get two gigabytes. The user interface will be improved, too. And 50 million addresses that have been dormant for over a year are being released.
- Apple launches iTunes in Europe today, but all is not sweet music. Independent labels are holding out, claiming that Apple is using its virtual monopoly of the online music business to squeeze the little guys. Apple has deals with the Big 5: Warner, Universal, BMG, Sony and EMI, but The Association of Independent Music says signing with Apple Europe would be "commercial suicide."
- Starz and Real Networks launched an all-you-can-download movie service on Monday. For $12.95/month Starz! Ticket will offer 100 movies at any given time, with 25 added and dropped each week. The service requires broadband because each movie is 500 megs. You can watch a movie as many times as you want until it's removed from the list of 100.
- Looking for 108 megabit Wi-Fi? Then you need MIMO. According to my pal Eric Griffith, writing in Wi-Fi Planet, the chipset from Airgo networks is being adopted by SOHOware, Planex, Askey and Taiyo Yuden and even Intel is reportedly looking into building MIMO into the next generation of Centrino systems. MIMO stands for multiple input, multiple output, and it's supposed to increase 802.11b, a, and g speeds considerably.
- There a good article in PC World on DVD and CD longevity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is testing blank discs and has come up with some interesting preliminary findings. "We've found the quality varies, depending upon the type of dye used to make the write-once discs and the manufacturer," reports Fred Byers, the information technology specialist who is leading the study. Byers is proposing an industry-wide grading system to indicate disc quality.
Listen in Tuesday at 6:45a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco.