I'm back in town after travels to Tahoe, New York, LA, and Raleigh/Durham. Here's some of what's been happening in technology this week. JJ Jackson, one of MTV's first DJs, died of a heart attack Wednesday night. He was 62. Now I know I'm getting old.
Congress approved Daylight Savings Time on this day in 1918. Nevada leagalized gambling in 1931. IBM pulled the plug on the PC Jr. in 1985. The swallows return to Capistrano today.
- New variants of the Bagle viruses discovered last night can infect you through email EVEN if you don't open the attachment. The virus also turns off some security and anti-virus programs, and disables firewalls. Run Windows update to protect yourself.
- Earlier this week the Dept of Homeland Security issued a warning about a computer virus named Phatbot described as a a "virtual Swiss Army knife of attack software." The virus spreads over the Gnutella peer-to-peer network and attempts to evade detection by anti-virus software.
- Just in the nick of time, AMD has announced a new chip with hardware virus protection. The chip will require an updated version of Windows XP to work.
- Fortunately, it looks like the latest Windows XP service pack is just around the corner. Release Candidate 1 went online Wednesday. SP-2 includes major security enhancements.
- For the first time ever, Microsoft has apologized for its monopolistic behavior. Wednesday an attorney for the corporation admitted in a Minnesota court that the company had been overly aggressive in defending its turf. "Yes, we acknowledge that and we apologize for it," lawyer David Tulchin said. Though he insisted that no laws were broken, he acknowledged that "the conduct involved competition that went over the line." Meanwhile Microsoft is facing big fines as settlement talks in the European Union broke down last night.
- Sony has announced dual-layer DVD recorders that can store almost twice as much as standard DVD recorders, 8.5 gigabytes. The drives should ship by June.
- US anti-drug officials say the Internet and cell phones are making it much harder to catch drug traffickers. According to Mark Malcolm, intelligence analyst at the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Latin American cartels use free electronic mail services to communicate with drug ring members around the world and hook up illegally to wireless Internet routers in cities to avoid being tracked to a land-based server.
- But it's not all bad news. Camera phones are also being used to catch criminals. In one case an Atlanta woman used her camera phone to snap a picture of a flasher. The picture was used to apprehend a high school principal who resigned as a result.
- According to Nielsen/NetRatings, 75% of all US households now have Internet access and women are more wired than men. Internet penetration for women aged 35 to 54 was 81.7 percent, compared with 80.2 percent for men in the same age group. For the 25 to 34 age group, Internet usage was 77 percent for women and 75.6 percent for men.
- Our fearless leader (for now), Paul Allen, has donated an additional $13.5 million toward the construction of a new 350 telescope array in Lassen National Forest designed to search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. He donated $11.5 million earlier.
- Don't buy an Xbox yet - rumors are flying fast that Microsoft plans to drop the price to $149 next month.