The United States Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Apple's business tactics in the digital music field, according to a report in the New York Times.
Although the inquiry is described as preliminary, the Times quotes sources familiar with the investigation saying that "investigators asked in particular about recent allegations that Apple uses its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give another online retailer, Amazon.com, exclusive access to soon-to-be released music."
It might not sound like a lot on first glance, but the 36 extra seconds that the average Google.com visitor spent there last Friday playing Pac-Man adds up to a massive 4.8 million wasted hours.
According to a study by RescueTime, Pac-Man on Google--the search giant on Friday replaced its home page logo with a playable version of the iconic game--cost the economy a total of 4,819,352 man-hours and a whopping $120,483,800 in lost productivity. As RescueTime put it, you could hire every single Google employee, including co-founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, and get them for six weeks for that much money.
Still, it's hard to get too worked up over 36 extra seconds of time someone might have spent on Google.com. After all, how much time does the average person spend not doing work when other time-sucks come along, like presidential elections, sports championships, "Lost" finales, the death of celebrities like Michael Jackson and so on. Clearly, that number is an average, and so it masks that fact that some people probably lost most of their day Friday to Google's remake of the 30-year-old game.
Although Microsoft reorganizes itself in some way on a nearly annual basis, the departure of both Robbie Bach and J. Allard is clearly a big deal. Bach, 48, had spent two decades at Microsoft and was one of its four divisional presidents, while the 41-year-old Allard was a key visionary behind the Xbox game console and other Microsoft consumer efforts.Continue »
We're very sure these two will be right at the top of Steve Jobs' list of job candidates. Suure. Turns out that a couple of actors hoping for roles in an upcoming Apple commercial were so excited that they just had to tweet about it.
Here we go again. The intertwined world of social networks has led to another off-the-keyboard incident in someone's actual, non-virtual life. A 22-year-old waitress in North Carolina has been fired from her job at a Charlotte restaurant because of, yes, a facebook post.
We've already seen NFL players reprimanded for "inappropriate tweeting" (see Continue »
Microsoft shook up its entertainment and devices unit on Tuesday, with unit President Robbie Bach and Chief Technology Officer J. Allard both leaving the company.
Bach, who joined the company in 1988, is "retiring" and will leave the company in the fall, while Allard will be an adviser to CEO Steve Ballmer on "a specific set of projects," according to a Microsoft spokesman.
Read the rest of the article at CNET News.com. Meanwhile, here's the full text of the memo sent out to Microsoft employees announcing the changes: From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 8:01 AM
To: Microsoft - All Employees
Subject: Executive Leadership Transitions
After almost 22 years with the company, Robbie Bach has decided to retire from Microsoft. I have worked with Robbie during his entire tenure at Microsoft, and count him as both a friend and a great business partner and leader. Robbie has always had great timing, and is going out on a high note -- this has been a phenomenal year for E&D (the entertainment and devices unit) overall, and with the coming launches of both Windows Phone 7 and "Project Natal," the rest of the year looks stupendous as well. While we are announcing Robbie's retirement today, he will remain here through the fall, ensuring we have a smooth transition.
Concurrent with Robbie's retirement, I am making several organization changes to ensure we have the right leaders in the right positions as we set ourselves up for the next big wave of products and services. Effective July 1, Don Mattrick, who leads our interactive entertainment business, and Andy Lees, who leads our mobile communications business, will report directly to me. Don and Andy have built out strong leadership teams and product pipelines, and are well-positioned for the years ahead. Independent of Robbie's decision, J Allard (currently serving as senior vice president of Design and Development for E&D), will also be leaving Microsoft. Given his ongoing passion and commitment to Microsoft, he will remain as an advisor to me, helping incubation efforts, looking at design and UI, and providing a cross-company perspective on these and similar topics. With J's change in role, corporate vice president David Treadwell will join IEB to lead the core technology organization, reporting to Don. David has a great set of accomplishments at Microsoft, most recently working on the Windows Live Platform Services team. Over the next several months, Robbie and I will work together to finalize reporting and structure for the rest of his org.
Now that Office 2010 has been launched to business customers, Antoine Leblond, senior vice president in the Office Productivity Applications Group, will take a new role as senior vice president for the Windows Web Services team. This team brings together the integral Windows services that today deliver updates, solutions, community and depth information for the Windows consumer. Kurt DelBene, senior vice president in the Office Business Productivity Group, will take on all of the engineering responsibilities for the Office business.
Transitions are always hard. Robbie has been an instrumental part of so many key moments in Microsoft history--from the evolution of Office to the decision to create the first Xbox to pushing the company hard in entertainment overall. J as well has had a great impact in the market and on our culture, providing leadership in design, and in creating a passionate and involved Xbox community, and earlier being at the center of our work seizing the importance of the Web for the company. But most important, both have been great team builders with a strong record of attracting, coaching and growing talent. As a result, their teams are primed to continue to step up and deliver great products, great services and great results for the company. Don has led the Interactive Entertainment Business since July 2007, where he's significantly grown our entertainment footprint as well as our profitability. He can count as successes the evolution of Xbox Live, the launch of blockbusters like "Halo 3" and the much-anticipated "Project Natal." Previously, Don was president of Electronic Arts Worldwide Studios. Andy has led the Mobile Communications Business since February, 2008, and has been instrumental in reinvigorating our mobility efforts, bringing in new business and development talent and overseeing the creation of both KIN and Windows Phone 7.
As we finalize and ship so many of our key products ("Project Natal," Windows Phone 7, Office 2010, Windows Live Wave 4 and others) it is a natural time for us to look ahead and make sure we have the right talent in the right roles to fuel our next set of offerings. I am confident that the changes above will set us up well for the months and years ahead.
I want to close by thanking Robbie for the incalculable contributions he has made to Microsoft over the years. He will be greatly missed when he retires this fall, and I am glad that I'll have the opportunity to continue working closely with him between now and then. And as J makes a similar transition, I look forward to working with him in a new way.
Well, whaddya know? The mayor of the Big Apple also turns out to be quite the consumer of information technology and social media - not to mention being quite the name dropper.
"I am the proud owner of a new iPad. It's amazing. I told Steve Jobs the other day if he can improve on this it will really be amazing," he said during an appearance at a conference organized by the tech web site TechCrunch.
"Every time I play with it I discover something new. And so before this morning's conference I also updated my Facebook page, sent a Tweet, browsed my Digg feed and checked in at Foursquare. And I even posted a personal on Craigstlist. (laughter) I did. Wanted: Cleveland basketball star to save basketball in the Big Apple. Whether LeBron's reading it or not, I don't know."Continue »
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong wasn't yet at the company when it paid $850 million for social network Bebo two years ago, a purchase that's now considered to be one of the biggest tech industry M&A blunders of the past decade. On Tuesday, onstage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Armstrong said, "I don't know whether or not I would have bought Bebo. Looking backward, the answer's no, but in that time period with what was going on, maybe."Continue »
Dell will join the (increasingly-crowded) tablet computer fray next month when the Streak makes its debut in the United Kingdom.
The tech web site Engadget is reporting that the company has decided to delay the U.S. introduction until the unit gets launched in the rest of Europe - so, we're talking about sometime in the summer.
The existence of the Streak, which used to be known as the "Mini 5," has been known for quite some time. The company began talking about its plans at the January Consumer Electronics Show. More recently, CEO Michael Dell made showed off the device at an industry conference organized by Citrix Synergy earlier in the month. Earlier, today, however, the company made it official with a press release. (Interesting contrast between Dell and arch-rival Apple, where Steve Jobs protects product release information with Fort Knox-like security.)
The device, which runs on Google's Android operating system and comes with a 5-inch screen, will store up to 42 movies or 32,000 photos or 16,000 songs, according to Dell. Pricing was not announced. Other specifications include::
An ARM-based Processor
Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset and software platform with an integrated 1GHz processor
3G + WiFi and Bluetooth
A 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash
User accessible Micro SD expandable memory available up to 32 GBSeveral computer manufacturers have already entered the tablet computing market - Apple with its iPad perhaps the best known. But after its recent acquisition of Palm and its extensive patent portfolio, Hewlett Packard is widely expected to offer its own tablet device in the near future. The unanswered question for Dell - as well as HP - is whether it can successfully market the tablet to a consumer audience. Both companies have tried to expand into the consumer electronics business but have experienced uneven success.
Here's a video with a Dell executive talking about the product:
The Federal Communications Commission's plan to impose Net neutrality regulations just became much more difficult to pull off.
A bipartisan group of politicians on Monday told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in no uncertain terms, to abandon his plans to impose controversial new rules on broadband providers until the U.S. Congress changes the law.Continue »
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a planet being eaten by its parent star. For a minute, that sounds like a throwback to Greek mythology and the story of Cronus eating each of the children as they were born. But this one is for real.
In theory, scientists had previously concluded that planets will get absorbed by stars when they get too near each other. However, this marks the first time that the event has been recorded so clearly. Researchers made their observation by using a new instrument called the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph that was installed on Hubble last year.
The planet in question, called WASP-12b, is found about 600 light-years away in the winter constellation Auriga. This sun-like star is the hottest known planet in the Milky Way galaxy at around 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently, it is so close to its parent star that it can make the orbit around the star in slightly more than 24 hours.
WASP-12b is also being stretched into the shape of a football by enormous tidal forces. NASA says that the planet's atmosphere has expanded to almost three times Jupiter's radius "and is spilling material onto the star."
But we're likely to get a few more images before the final curtain falls on this show. The planet has another 10 million years of life remaining before it gets devoured completely
The news of the discovery appears in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Not long after Google acquired YouTube, the search engine offered $500 million in guaranteed revenue if Viacom, parent company of MTV Networks, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, licensed its TV shows and films to YouTube, records show.
News of Google's offer was revealed in documents released on Friday by a Manhattan federal court and reviewed by CNET. In March 2007, Viacom filed a copyright lawsuit against Google and YouTube and it has become one of the most watched legal disputes in the tech sector.
In a deposition given by Google Cofounder Larry Page on Oct. 1, 2009 , a Viacom lawyer handed Page a copy of a Google internal e-mail that the lawyer said showed the search engine's senior management "had discussed providing over half a billion dollars as a revenue guarantee to Viacom for its content to be displayed over YouTube and Google."
Later during the deposition, Stuart Baskin, a Viacom attorney, presented Page with copies of internal Google correspondence that he said showed Google had concluded by November 14, 2006--a month after Google acquired YouTube--that Viacom's video was the "most valuable content of any other premium content provider." Later in the deposition, Baskin said records showed Google's offer to Viacom was five times more than the guaranteed-minimum offered to Turner Broadcasting System and eight times more than one made to CBS (parent company of CNET).
According to Baskin's remarks during the deposition, Viacom wanted $700 million from Google. Though Google's offer never went anywhere, a source close to Viacom said this was not the only offer Google made nor was it the best. The offer seems to fly in the face of efforts made by YouTube executives to downplay the importance of Viacom's materials after the company ordered YouTube to remove unauthorized copies of its materials. The news also indicates Google made significant attempts to reach an agreement with Viacom prior to their legal dispute.
The revelation is just the latest intriguing information that has bubbled up from court records in the legal dispute the past several months. All these tidbits, however, may not mean much when it comes to deciding the case's crucial legal questions.
Read the rest of this article at CNET News.com.
The U.S. military this summer will equip special forces troops with a high-tech grenade launcher that has military experts in thrall. This is a different sort of infantry weapon - and not just because of the hefty $25,000 price tag attached to each unit coming off the production line. With built-in lasers and optics precision sensors, the so-called "XM-25 "Counter Defilade Target Engagement System" was designed to shoot around obstacles, and thus provide a solution for one of the age-old challenges faced by armies confronting dug-in opponents.
The weapon shoots 25 mm exploding "smart" rounds which contain embedded microchips, accurate up to 500 meters. The army says that the weapon can destroy targets which might otherwise be outside of a soldier's direct line of fire, such as a combatant who is crouching behind a window or below a wall. In other words, a solider will be able to take out opponents they can't see. (For more, see DefenseAerospace.com's write-up here as well as this piece in Popular Science, which offers the following summary:
The XM25 doesn't curve its bullets. Rather, it programs them to explode at precise distances. The soldier measures the distance to a target using a laser site and then dials in where the bullet should explode, such as at the corner of a building, raining down shrapnel. The bullet has a small magnet inside that lets it generate AC current as it spins and a microprocessor that measures those current oscillations to derive how far it's traveled.
If it works as advertised, the XM-25 may become a replacement for the M203,a decades-old grenade launcher that gets mounted under an M4 carbine. Here's an explanatory video along with a brief demonstration of the system being deployed in the field:
It was a good run but NASA has decided to discontinue efforts to reestablish contact with its Phoenix Mars Lander.
In a statement put out on Monday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that the NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, which flew over the landing site 61 times, had failed to detect any transmission emanating from the vehicle. Three other listening campaigns involving other attempts to establish communications similarly proved unsuccessful.
NASA said that an image taken from an orbiting spacecraft indicated that the vehicle, thought to be near the Martian north pole, had suffered severe ice damage to its solar panels.
The lander arrived on the red planet on May 25, 2008. Perhaps its most lasting legacy was the discovery that Mars featured diverse wet environments over the course of the planet's history. What's more, NASA said that the Phoenix had returned more planetary data than all other Mars missions combined. Among the Phoenix's other achievements, the agency flagged the following:
- Confirmed and examined patches of the widespread deposits of underground water ice
- Identified a mineral called calcium carbonate that suggested occasional presence of thawed water
- Found soil chemistry with significant implications for life and observed falling snow.
- Discovered perchlorate, an oxidizing chemical on Earth that is food for some microbes and potentially toxic for others
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Earlier this month, Intelstat's Galaxy 15 satellite began drifting out of control. At the time, the owner of a satellite that transmits programming to all U.S. cable systems expressed concerns that the rogue satellite would distupt cable programming across the United States.
Although there was virtually no risk of an actual physical collision between the spacecraft, there still was the possibility of interference.
Not to worry.
The company, SES World Skies said on Monday that programming transmitted by its AMC 11 satellite would not be affected as no collision - or near collision - occurred. Ditto for Comcast, Time Warner and Cablevision Systems, according to the Associated Press.
Intelsat lost control of the Galaxy 15 in April and was thus unable to steer the satellite. The circumstances of the outage remain unclear, though one possibility is that a solar storm disabled the unit's control systems. Both the Galaxy 15 and the SES-owned satellite operated on the same frequencies, which increased the possibility of potentially crippling interference.