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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Microsoft extends Xbox 360 warranty to 1 year

CNET News.com: "Just in time for last-minute holiday shoppers, Microsoft has extended the Xbox 360's warranty from 90 days to one year, bringing it in line with the warranty lengths of rival game consoles from Sony and Nintendo.
The extension is retroactive, meaning that someone who bought an Xbox 360 in the United States or Canada and paid for repairs within the last year is eligible for reimbursement. In many other countries, a one-year warranty already is standard.
'Customer satisfaction is a central focus and priority for the Xbox 360 system,' Jeff Bell, a marketing vice president at Microsoft, said in a statement Friday.
Microsoft also said reimbursement checks for repairs done in the last 12 months will be sent out automatically in about 10 weeks. Contact information for warranty questions is available on the Xbox support site. "

Xbox Live challenge is to reach masses, say observers

CNET News.com: "Letting video game players compete against others online has distinguished Microsoft's Xbox 360 console from Nintendo and Sony rivals, but casual gamers have yet to embrace the service in droves.
Xbox Live allows free game downloads, video chat sessions and more, but its main success is allowing gamers to play competitively against others online, often in violent games. Some 4 million subscribers pay $50 per year for the service.
But the runaway success of Nintendo's new Wii, a game console that openly caters to the mass market, has underlined the importance of more casual gamers to the industry. The console debuted in mid-November and is expected to sell 4 million consoles worldwide by the end of the year. "

Friday, December 22, 2006

Social network sites battle to befriend US teenagers

FT.com / Companies / Media & internet : "At seven years old, Cyworld is a veritable veteran in the world of social networking. A dominant force in South Korea, where up to 90 per cent of under 20s are believed to be Cyworld members, the website is now looking for eyeballs in other parts of the world.
Top on the list of new targets is the US, the world’s biggest media market.
The American appetite for social networking appears to be just as robust as the Korean. Teenagers spend hours each day sending each other messages, pictures and videos. By some measures, more time is spent making and seeking entertainment on the internet than watching television – at the very least online chats are often done on laptops in front of the television."

Yahoo China wins unfair-competition lawsuit

CNET News.com: "Yahoo China has won a lawsuit it brought against a local search engine operator over unfair competition, Yahoo China's owner, Alibaba.com, said on Thursday.
Beijing's Second Intermediate Court ruled that Beijing Sanjiwuxian Internet Technology, operator of the Qihoo search engine, must stop competing unfairly and compensate Yahoo China for damages and legal costs, Alibaba said in a statement.
Beijing Sanjiwuxian was also required to make a public announcement clarifying 'incorrect allegations,' the statement said, without specifying the size of any possible damages. "

Microsoft seeks patent covering Web feed readers

CNET News.com: "Microsoft has filed for two patents covering technology used to organize and read syndicated Web feeds, such as those delivered via the widely used Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, family of formats.
The pair of applications were made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for what appears to be the first time on Thursday, following the expiration of a requisite 18-month window in which applications are generally kept secret. "

World of Origami still unfolding

CNET News.com: "This spring, Microsoft attracted huge buzz for the Origami prior to its launch, but as details emerged and the products hit the market, they were roundly criticized as overpriced and underpowered. "

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Police use YouTube to help nab murder suspect

CNET News.com: "A video posted on the ultra-popular Web site YouTube has helped Canadian police find a man they believe responsible for a murder.
Police in the southern Ontario, Canada city of Hamilton said on Thursday that they uploaded a one-minute, 12-second clip from a surveillance tape onto the video-sharing YouTube site.
The video, which showed suspects arriving at a local nightclub for a Sean Price hip-hop concert, garnered media attention and was viewed more than 30,000 times.
'This is the first time Hamilton police have utilized video Web posting in an investigation, and to the best of its knowledge, the first time that law enforcement has ever used it as a direct investigative tool,' Staff Sgt. Jorge Lasso told a news conference. "

Yahoo's Sue Decker has a big to-do list

CNET News.com: "In January, the woman many believe is the heir apparent to run Yahoo made a very public splash by bluntly saying she didn't expect her company to beat Google at the search game anytime soon.
'We would be very happy to maintain our market share,' Sue Decker, Yahoo's chief financial officer, reportedly said. Decker's frank assessment caused major ripples at Yahoo's Sunnyvale, Calif., office. Some executives believed she had been misquoted. Two search vice presidents even posted a Yahoo corporate blog distancing Yahoo from Decker's comments and reaffirming the company's commitment to search."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Google Steps More Boldly Into PayPal’s Territory

New York Times: "SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 19 — Steven Grossberg, who sells video games online from his home in Wellington, Fla., recently sent an enticing offer to 20,000 customers: $10 off any purchase over $30 using a new payment service, Google Checkout.
Traffic on his site more than tripled, and best of all, he said, Google picked up the tab for the promotion.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I’m selling the product. Google is getting tons of customers to sign up for Checkout. Customers are happy because they are getting a monster deal.”
And Google is not charging merchants any processing fees through the end of 2007. "

Police blotter: Google searches nab wireless hacker

CNET News.com: "Matthew Schuster began work as a computer technician for Alpha Computer Services in Wausau, Wisc., in 2000. Schuster provided technical support for a wireless Internet system called CWWIS and also was a paying subscriber to CWWIS for his home.
Schuster was fired in May 2003. His home CWWIS account was terminated and the balance of his monthly payment refunded. But he continued to use CWWIS by using 'access information' belonging to Alpha customers such as the Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau--and, according to the FBI, he intentionally disrupted CWWIS as well. "

YouTube to meet Japan media over copyright worries

CNET News.com: "YouTube executives will meet with Japanese media firms that complained to the video-sharing site about copyright infringement, according to a Japanese organization.
YouTube is to send a delegation to Japan in response to a letter from the Tokyo-based Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, or JASRAC, complaining that the site allowed users to post and view copyright TV shows, movie clips and music videos, the group said in a statement late Tuesday. "

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Digg continues to battle phony stories

CNET News.com: "Digg continues to crack down on users who plant phony stories on behalf of marketers, recently deleting a user who posted a story about a company that offered to compensate him.
The news aggregate site, which allows users to play editor and decide the value of a news story, deleted the user account belonging to Karim Yergaliyev, one of Digg's top-rated users. Digg spokesman David Fonkalsrud, who confirmed that Yergaliyev was booted from the site for violating the company's terms of service, said Yergaliyev was reinstated days after he acknowledged the infraction, apologized and promised never to do it again. "

3D tech will search for just the right photo

CNET News.com: "Start-up Polar Rose plans early next year to launch technology designed to more efficiently search for photos on the Web.
The Swedish company essentially takes a two-dimensional photograph and extrapolates it into a 3D model. A computer then takes the 3D model and searches for photo matches on the Internet and in public photo sites like Flickr.
The company announced early Tuesday that it will start conducting field tests with select users in January and then launch a public beta later in the first quarter. "

Judge stops Brit from selling Hotmail lists

CNET News.com: "Microsoft has stopped a U.K. man from selling lists of e-mail addresses that were then being used by spammers.
The technology giant took to court Paul Martin McDonald, who through his company Bizads sold e-mail addresses that were then used as spam lists. Microsoft sought and was granted a summary judgment against McDonald, arguing that his actions had caused Microsoft to suffer loss and damage to the goodwill it enjoyed as owner of the Web-based e-mail service Hotmail.
The judge agreed with Microsoft that Bizads had breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), a U.K. law that includes regulations designed to halt the sending of unsolicited e-mail."

Monday, December 18, 2006

NASA-Google partnership ready for liftoff

CNET News.com: "The NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed a formal agreement to collaborate on projects ranging from studying scientific-data search technology to using Google Earth flyovers for the moon and Mars.
The R&D partnership was announced by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in September 2005, but a year later representatives from both Google and NASA Ames acknowledged that there were roadblocks. Monday's announcement finally solidified their agreement and gave hints as to what some upcoming products of the partnership may be.
The NASA Ames Research Center, which specializes in science and engineering projects, is located at Moffett Field in California, on former Navy land that's a stone's throw from the big names of Silicon Valley--including Google's campus in Mountain View. This year, research at NASA Ames has included heat shield technology, the commercialization of space exploration and wildfire monitoring."

Feds take porn fight to Google

CNET News.com: "Federal prosecutors preparing to defend a controversial Internet pornography law in court have asked Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and America Online to hand over millions of search records--a request that Google is adamantly denying.
In court documents filed Wednesday, the Bush administration asked a federal judge in San Jose, Calif., to force Google to comply with a subpoena for the information, which would reveal the search terms of a broad swath of the search engine's visitors. "

Online Gaming, Italian Style

Wired News: "MILAN, Italy -- Italians have been gambling on the lottery for centuries. Before the peninsula even became known as Italy, locals were playing some form of sweepstake; 16th-century Genovese, for example, bet on which nobles would be drawn for political seats.
Now it's a state-run business worth 5.5 million euros a year, and it has just gone online.
Most Italians buy scratch-and-win tickets at the downstairs café, picking up the scratchers while getting a cappuccino or pack of cigarettes."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Microsoft speeds up phishing shield for IE 7

CNET News.com: "Microsoft has quietly released an update for Internet Explorer that fixes a problem with the browser's phishing shield.
The feature that protects against fraudulent Web sites, new in IE 7, in some cases could bog down computers running Windows, according to an article on Microsoft's support site published Tuesday. This could happen when a Web page contains many frames or when a user browses many frames in a short time, the company said.
'When you use Windows Internet Explorer 7 to visit a Web page, the computer may respond very slowly as the Phishing Filter evaluates Web page contents,' according to Microsoft. 'Internet Explorer 7 evaluates the whole Web page when you browse a frame. Therefore, CPU (central processing unit) usage may be very high.' "

Yahoo's IM update: A Trojan horse of surprises

CNET News.com: "Yahoo said late Friday that it has fixed a bug in its newest version of Yahoo Messenger that changed a user's mail preferences without his or her consent.
But the company has stopped prompting customers to update the software until it can sufficiently test that the fix works, said Yahoo spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten.
'We're testing the fix until we can get it behaving the way we want it to behave,' she said.
Yahoo Messenger 8.1, when it was released Friday, automatically installed a Yahoo Mail icon in a user's system tray and changed the user's default mail settings to Yahoo Mail, said Karlsten.
Yahoo had alerted 73 million users worldwide (or all those using its IM service before November 2) to download the latest software version, which includes free or low-cost PC-to-PC calls among its chat features."

Time magazine names you 'Person of the Year'

CNET News.com: "You were named Time magazine 'Person of the Year' on Saturday for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet content from such sources as blogs, video-sharing site YouTube and social-networking site MySpace.com.
'For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you,' the magazine's Lev Grossman wrote.
The magazine has put a mirror on the cover of its 'Person of the Year' issue, released on Monday, 'because it literally reflects the idea that you, not us, are transforming the Information Age,' Editor Richard Stengel said in a statement. "

Microsoft speeds up phishing shield for IE 7

CNET News.com: "Microsoft has quietly released an update for Internet Explorer that fixes a problem with the browser's phishing shield.
The feature that protects against fraudulent Web sites, new in IE 7, in some cases could bog down computers running Windows, according to an article on Microsoft's support site published Tuesday. This could happen when a Web page contains many frames or when a user browses many frames in a short time, the company said.
'When you use Windows Internet Explorer 7 to visit a Web page, the computer may respond very slowly as the Phishing Filter evaluates Web page contents,' according to Microsoft. 'Internet Explorer 7 evaluates the whole Web page when you browse a frame. Therefore, CPU (central processing unit) usage may be very high.' "

Friday, December 15, 2006

Google puts the domain in Apps for Your Domain

CNET News.com: "Google is beefing up its Google Apps for Your Domain package of Web-based applications by including domain name registration services. As part of the service, Google hosts e-mail, calendar, chat and Web-publishing applications that organizations can offer employees and others. The update set to launch Friday lets businesses register for domains ending in .com, .net, .org, .biz or .info.
The Google Apps for Your Domain, which is in beta, is free, but companies registering for a domain will pay $10 a year for that subscription. Google is partnering with GoDaddy and eNom on the registration services. The company will offer a premium Google Apps for Your Domain service for a fee early next year, said Raju Gulabani, director of product management for Google Apps for Your Domain. "

Google puts the domain in Apps for Your Domain

CNET News.com: "Google is beefing up its Google Apps for Your Domain package of Web-based applications by including domain name registration services. As part of the service, Google hosts e-mail, calendar, chat and Web-publishing applications that organizations can offer employees and others. The update set to launch Friday lets businesses register for domains ending in .com, .net, .org, .biz or .info.
The Google Apps for Your Domain, which is in beta, is free, but companies registering for a domain will pay $10 a year for that subscription. Google is partnering with GoDaddy and eNom on the registration services. The company will offer a premium Google Apps for Your Domain service for a fee early next year, said Raju Gulabani, director of product management for Google Apps for Your Domain. "

Microsoft, Baidu form paid-search partnership

CNET News.com: "Microsoft has teamed up with Chinese search site Baidu in a strategic partnership centered on paid search listings.
Under the terms of this agreement, Baidu's paid search listings will appear on the search results pages of the Chinese versions of Microsoft sites such as MSN and Live Search. This is expected to go into effect later this month."

Attack code published for third Word flaw

CNET News.com: "A third security flaw in Microsoft Word has emerged, according to some security companies, and a researcher has published code for it that could be used to launch an attack.
Secunia and McAfee said Thursday that a buffer-overflow flaw in the word-processing application could crash a computer and ultimately let an outsider run code on a vulnerable PC.
But Microsoft said it could not confirm the existence of the vulnerability on Thursday, noting that it was still investigating the issue. "

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Yahoo!: Turning Peanut Butter into More than Peanuts

TMCnet: "If you haven’t heard, Yahoo! is restructuring. There is something called a peanut butter manifesto that has been circulating for months saying the company is spread too thin. As you may recall, recently Yahoo! was a big proponent of producing and distributing video content. In fact Media chief Lloyd Braun was hired to launch video content as part of Yahoo! services. This turned out to be a futile effort as evidenced by the fact that both COO Dan Rosenweig and Braun are now leaving the company."

Fox sites top Yahoo as most-visited on U.S. Web

CNET News.com: "Spurred by the popularity of MySpace, News Corp. sites have overtaken Yahoo sites as the most viewed by U.S. Internet users, according to new industry data cited by News Corp. on Tuesday.
According to comScore Media Metrix data, News Corp.'s Fox Interactive unit said the total of its pages viewed by the U.S. Web audience jumped to 39.5 million in November from 38.7 million in October.
Meanwhile, Yahoo's total pages viewed fell to 38.1 million in November from 41.6 million in October. Microsoft ranked third, falling to 17.9 million in November from 19.3 million. "

Microsoft pulls Mac security update

CNET News.com: "A security update issued Tuesday for the Mac version of Microsoft Office was posted in error, the software maker said. The company encouraged consumers to uninstall the patch, which is still being tested.
'Due to human error, they were accidentally published to the public Web sites before our full testing release process was complete,' a Microsoft security official said Wednesday on the company's Security Response Center blog. 'As soon as we discovered the error, we moved quickly to address it and remove the pre-release binaries from our public sites.' "

Google launches patent search site

CNET News.com: "Google has added another piece of search software to its arsenal, with the launch of Google Patent Search.
The patent search site, launched as a beta on Wednesday night, is designed to sift through the approximately 7 million U.S. patents by a variety of parameters including filing date, issue date, patent number and inventor.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company may have made a name for itself with the simplest of standard Web search engines. But its niche search software--for geographic data, literature and road maps, to name a few--has been a major part of what has propelled Google to the top of the Internet's pecking order."

Sony Confesses To Creating 'Flog,' Shutters Comments

MediaPost Publications: "ANOTHER FAKE BLOG SCANDAL IS roiling the blogosphere.
This one--the latest in a string of stealth marketing efforts--involves a 'flog,' or fake blog, created by viral marketing firm Zipatoni to promote the Sony PSP. The blog, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com, was supposedly authored by an amateur hip-hop artist 'Charlie'--whose cousin, 'Pete,' craved a PSP under the tree.
Written in faux hip-hop and Internet lingo, the phony blog, which went live at the end of last month, quickly raised suspicions. Last week, some readers conducted a WHOIS search, which unmasked the site's registrars as Zipatoni. "

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

IBM and Yahoo team up on corporate search

CNET News.com: "IBM and Yahoo are teaming up to offer a free data-search tool for businesses, a quirky move challenging Google and other corporate-search specialists in a blossoming market.
IBM already sells a business-focused search product, OmniFind, that lets organizations comb through internal documents. This free new edition of OmniFind will be limited in the number of documents it can query, but it will combine the results with Web searches powered by Yahoo. "

Google unveils unorthodox stock option auction

CNET News.com: "Google plans to start an unorthodox stock options program in April that will allow employees to sell their vested options in an online auction, the search giant announced late Tuesday.
Traditionally, employees have two ways to deal with stock options: exercise (take ownership of) them once they have 'vested' and sell them at the current trading price, and pay back the company for their so-called strike price (that's typically the trading price the day the options were granted), or hold on to them after exercising them. "

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Google tunes into radio ads

CNET News.com: "Google is allowing some of its existing online marketers to use its automated advertising system to broadcast ads on radio stations around the United States, the company said on Thursday.
The beta test of Google Audio Ads is the result of the integration of technology from Google's acquisition of radio advertising company dMarc Broadcasting nearly a year ago.
The test is limited to just over 20 Google AdWords customers and more than 730 stations, including XM Satellite radio, said Ryan Steelberg, head of radio operations for Google and a co-founder of dMarc. "

TV networks may form anti-YouTube cabal

CNET News.com: "Four major TV networks are considering creating a jointly owned Web site to offer their programming online rather than have to chase down pirated clips on YouTube, a source close to the talks confirmed Monday.
Fox, Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal have been in talks over the last few months, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous. 'We are approaching it seriously,' the source said. 'They are ongoing and preliminary discussions... Everybody wants to figure out the right (online business) model.' "

Searching for safety

CNET News.com: "Winnie the Pooh and Tweety stand ready to wreck havoc on your computer.
According to a survey released Monday by security company McAfee's SiteAdvisor, online searches for even the most innocuous terms can be dangerous to your PC's health. For example, the terms found in the Google Zeitgeist category of 'childhood favorites'--including 'Winnie the Pooh' and 'Tweety'--turned up risky sites in 6.7 percent of search results.
The survey, which updates one conducted in May, evaluates the safety of search results returned by the top five search engines: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN, Time Warner's AOL and Ask.com. McAfee SiteAdvisor compiled a list of 2,500 popular keywords and evaluated the first five pages of search results for each keyword, analyzing them for malicious content. "

Yahoo opens ad system upgrade to newcomers

CNET News.com: "Yahoo said Monday it is opening up its new advertising system for testing by newcomers and potential converts from rivals, marking progress in its long-awaited upgrade.
The search marketing software system, known by its code name 'Panama,' has been available since October to existing Yahoo customers, and this week is being made available to new advertisers who sign up for a Yahoo advertising account. "

DIY games for the Xbox

CNET News.com: "Microsoft released free developer tools on Monday that will allow amateurs to make their own video games.
XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 is a framework for creating games with the C# programming language and a content pipeline for incorporating 3D-rich content. It includes libraries of 2D and 3D content that can be applied to games. XNA games can be played on the Xbox 360 itself or a Windows PC. The development tool package is free to download, though a subscription service is required for developers to share the games they create with anyone else with an Xbox 360."

Wikipedia founder remakes Web-publishing economics

CNET News.com: "Free software is about to get freer.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Monday that his for-profit company, Wikia, is ready to give away all the software, computing, storage and network access that Web site builders need to create community collaboration sites.
Wikia, a commercial counterpart to the nonprofit Wikipedia, will go even further to provide customers--bloggers or other operators who meet its criteria for popular Web sites--100 percent of advertising revenue from the sites they build. "

Thursday, December 07, 2006

BSkyB and Google to become broadband bedfellows

CNET News.com: "British Sky Broadcasting said on Wednesday that it would tie up with Google to deploy the leading Internet search company's suite of search, advertising and video functions on its broadband service.
BSkyB Chief Executive James Murdoch told reporters that the British firm would launch an online user-generated video sharing site, its own e-mail service and a search portal.
He said the satellite broadcaster planned to have the first of the new offerings up and online by spring and then look to move things ahead 'pretty fast.'
Revenue generated by click-throughs on sponsored links would be shared between the two. Other financial terms of the agreements have not been disclosed. "

Spyware fighters go after MP3 search site

CNET News.com: "Two antispyware watchdogs are urging federal regulators to take action against a music search Web site that they say is a front for malicious software.
FastMP3Search.com.ar, registered in Argentina, advertises itself as a search service for music files, but instead tricks people into loading a host of malicious applications onto their PC and opens computers up to further cyberattacks, according to StopBadware.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology.
'In the past year, we've come across dozens of malicious programs available on hundreds of Web sites, and without question, the FastMP3Search.com.ar plug-in tops our list of the worst actors,' said John Palfrey, co-director of the StopBadware coalition. "

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A revamped Yahoo turning to users

CNET News.com: "Yahoo users will likely see less entertainment programming and more consumer-created content as part of a broad reorganization that funnels more than a dozen product groups into two operational units, experts said on Wednesday.
The company announced late on Tuesday that it was eschewing its product-aligned structure in favor of one focused on users and on advertising customers and partners. As a result, seven product groups are being merged into one group called Audience, and another seven into a group called Advertisers & Publishers. The Technology Group will provide the infrastructure to support the operational groups. "

Word hole exploited in zero-day attacks

Tech News on ZDNet: "A yet-to-be-patched security hole in multiple versions of Word is being exploited in cyberattacks, Microsoft warned late Tuesday.
The attacks are 'limited,' according to a Microsoft security advisory. The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker is developing a security update that addresses the vulnerability, it said.
The vulnerability is similar to previous so-called zero-day flaws that have hit Office applications in recent months. An attacker could rig a Word file in such a way that he would gain complete control over a vulnerable PC when the file is opened, Microsoft said in its advisory. "

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hacking away at ATM security

CNET News.com: "Bloggers were abuzz this morning over a new report on MSNBC about possible attempts to undermine the security on ATMs. The Web site claims that Israeli researchers have discovered a 'fundamental weakness' in the security system banks use for PINs for debit cards.
And someone is already trying to exploit that weakness. MSNBC got hold of a Secret Service memo that indicates organized criminals in Russia are 'systematically attempting to subvert the ATM system and unscramble encrypted PIN traffic.'"