Tech Roundup: White Space Ahoy, IBM Debt, Google Walks, Diebold Sued, More

Last Updated Nov 6, 2008 5:46 AM EST

WiFi on steroids -- The F.C.C. voted 5-0 to set aside some spectrum, the so-called white space frequencies that lie between broadcast channels, to allow development of technologies like wireless broadband. Broadcasters oppose the decision out of concern that future devices using the spectrum could cause interference. Broadway producers are also concerned that the wireless microphones used on actors and crew members could also face interference. However, it looks like the fat lady already sang. [Source: New York Times]

Cracks in IBM's fiscal fortress? -- Jon Fortt of Fortune made an interesting observation about IBM: it's swimming in $34 billion in debt. It borrowed most of that money to do some lending itself, helping its customers buy products. It's not that Big Blue is hurting. Far from it, given its last quarterly earnings and insistence that its original earnings target for the year is still achievable. The question is how well its customers will fare. It's tempting to say that companies in the position to get credit from IBM in the first place are unlikely to fail, but then they used to say that about a number of investment houses and banks that are no more. [Source: Fortune, BNET Industry Technology Blog]

Google says never mind -- Google has officially given up on the advertising deal with Yahoo. You can hardly blame management there, as the DoJ said that it would file an anti-trust lawsuit should things have proceeded. Maybe even Jerry Yang will start thinking that attention from Microsoft is starting to look pretty good about now. [Source: ZDNet Between the Lines]

Diebold sued for using free software -- The copyleft movement that wants intellectual property to be free is as adamant about licensing terms as the commercial technology industry. At least, that's what Diebold has just learned. Artifex Software, which created the Ghostscript PDF code under a GPL license, is suing the maker of voting machines for incorporating the product into its own commercial offering. Artifex requires that any use incorporating its software must be licensed under the same terms and is seeking $150,000 in damages as well as an injunction against Diebold being able to sell the product in question. [Source: Ars Technica]

Intel drops ultrawideband -- It was just the other day when WiQuest, one of the big ultrawideband players (if you can call anything in that market big) called it quits, and Aleron just bought the UWB assets of Stonestreet One. Now Intelhad killed off any in-house development of the short-range wireless technology that was supposed to have the same bandwidth as USB 2.0. Apparently no one inside Intel wanted to sponsor the work. They'll buy rather than make -- that is, if there's anything left to buy when they actually want it. [Source: BNET Industry Technology Blog, Ars Technica, EE Times]

Dell tightens belt -- and everything else -- Dell is going the austerity route: undertaking a hiring freeze, offering buyouts, asking for people to take unpaid days off, cutting the number of contract workers, and reducing travel expenses. These are attempts to cut spending in addition to the $3 billion target the company had previously set. Michael Dellrecently gave a keynote address at a event. One big message: invest in information technology to save money and get efficient. Or else you could just lay everyone off. [Source: Wall Street Journal]

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.