Saturday Snippets

All the news that's fit to rant aboutPlaying catchup with the tech news since 2003...

  1. The FCC has approved BPL: broadband over power lines, and utilities in Washington State and Ohio are moving to implement it. The technology could bring high-speed Internet to areas unserved by DSL and cable modems. The ARRL, which has been virulently opposed to BPL, said they were cautiously optimistic that the new rules would protect hams.
  2. Project Fluffy Bunny has seen the light of day. Google is extending its search business to your desktop. The new Google desktop search indexes Outlook and Outlook Express email, Microsoft Office files, filenames, web history, chat logs, and text files. It integrates into Internet Explorer, and future Google searches will include results from your own hard drive as well as the web in general. It's a great product considering the price, but I still prefer X1 for its speed and the wider variety of files it searches.
  3. It has been rumored that Google is also considering distributing its own Instant Messaging client. Experts who examined the code in the desktop tool says it supports its own IM protocol. Google's acquisition of Picasa some months ago gave it access to the IM code in Picasa's Hello program.
  4. Intel has announced it won't produce a 4GHz Pentium 4 after all. Overheating problems with higher clock speeds are forcing the company to focus its efforts on multi-core chips - single chips with two processors - and improving efficiency in the Pentium 4 line with larger caches.
  5. Meanwhile AMD continues its march to eclipse Intel. Tuesday the company will unveil the Athlon 64 FX-55 and the Athlon 64 4000+. The FX is currently the best performing desktop CPU on the market.
  6. Netflix is announcing that it's cutting its monthly fee from $22 to $17 because it expects Amazon to enter the business soon. Earlier this year Netflix raised its fee from $20 to $22 - but I guess that didn't work. The DVD by mail company's stock tumbled 41% in after hours trading on the news. Blockbuster responded by dropping its monthly fee to $17.49. Analysts say neither company can expect to make money at that price.
  7. More troubles for Bungie. Just days after announcing that Halo 2 for the Xbox is ready to ship, a pirated copy has leaked onto the Internet. The French language version is for PAL television sets and won't play without a mod chip.
  8. Apple's iTunes Music Store sold its 150 millionth song on Thursday. The store is averaging four million tracks a week. Beth Santisteven of Ignacio, Colorado bought the 150 millionth song: Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor." Apple sold two million iPods in Q4.
  9. Of course, Apple is not without competition. Starbucks is rolling out music burning stations in its coffee shops. Fifteen new Hear Music stations will open Monday in Seattle. Thirty later this month in Austin. A trial store has been open in Santa Monica since March.
  10. According to Dell's Consumer Spyware Initiative, 90% of PC users have been infected by spyware, and the majority have no idea what to do about it. The Internet Education Initiative has set up a spyware education page. Unfortunately it seems to focus on commercial tools from its partners, rather than the free and effective tools most experts recommend.