UK’s Competition Commission has disapproved Project Kangaroo, a proposed Hulu-esque VOD service, which was supposed to provide video content – mostly free videos - from three of its joint owners, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. The fear of Kangaroo’s inevitable hegemony led the Commission to veto the alliance. The Commission felt that the video-on-demand service would have resulted in the “loss of competition” between its proprietors.
The three companies expressed their disconsolation in a joint statement. “We are disappointed by the decision to prohibit this joint venture. While this is an unwelcome finding for the shareholders, the real losers from this decision are British consumers. This is a disproportionate remedy and a missed opportunity in the further development of British broadcasting,” the statement reads. Although consumers would have most certainly devoured the service, the Commission's findings appear to be reasonable.
It’s been almost a year since we tested Pinnacle’s original PCTV HD Pro Stick TV tuner. In that time, Pinnacle has fixed many of the original product’s shortcomings. The new PCTV HD Mini Stick is even smaller than the original HD Pro Stick, which was itself the size of a fat USB memory key. You could easily chuck the 1”x0.5” PCTV HD Mini Stick in your bag and never notice it. The remote is also slimmed down considerably and could slip into your back pocket comfortably.
Rambus investors have found themselves riding a financial roller coaster filled with ups and downs contingent upon how the technology company fares in court. If you happen to be one of those investors, you better refill your Dramamine prescription. That's because a U.S. federal judge this week postponed indefinitely patent infringement cases filed by Rambus against several rival memory chip makers. News of the legal setback sent Rambus' shares hurtling downwards 22 percent in after-hours trading.
The defendants argued for the delay following Judge Sue L. Robinson's ruling on January 9 that the patent suit against Micron Technologies is "unenforceable" and that "spoliation" of evidence occurred.
"We are pleased that Judge Whyte recognized that the Delaware Court's unenforceability ruling impacts the patents asserted by Rambus in the California matter, and that he stayed Rambus' patent case against Micron," Micron general counsel Rod Lewis said in a statement. "We believe that Judge Robinson's thorough decision will be upheld on appeal."
Not surprisingly, Rambus holds a decidedly different opinion of the ruling. "While we are disappointed with the stay of the coordinated cases, it our expectation that the conflicting opinions of the district courts regarding document spoliation will go up together on appeal," Tom Lavelle, Rambus general counsel, said in a statement.
Update: GM Mark Jacobs confirmed that Mythic has seen a rash of lay-offs. However, he didn't dig into the who's and why's of this sad state of affairs.
Looks like the Fat Lady and Porky Pig are eying Warhammer Online as a possible next gig, though no contracts have been inked just yet. EA surreptitiously tossed Warhammer’s subscriber numbers into its recent investor call, probably hoping no one would notice the compact number’s squeaks and squeals. Unfortunately, the little tyke mumbled its way into an avalanche.
After announcing that Warhammer Online’s subscriber base has dropped from its rapid rise to 750,000, all the way down to 300,000, developer Mythic apparently axed 60-130 of its employees. Even worse, senior designers have reportedly been told to take a hike as well. Granted, this is only a rumor for now, but we’re seeking confirmation from Electronic Arts.
Regardless, though, things are looking grim for Mythic’s incredibly promising MMO. Here’s hoping the game’s upcoming series of live expansions can save this raid from completely wiping, but to be honest, we’re not hopeful.
See, economy? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Easily the coolest part of today’s TED event was Dr. Pattie Maes’s “Reframe” presentation on new technology interfaces. Maes, a researcher at MIT’s Media Lab, energized the crowd with a demonstration of a $350 piece of technology that her team dubs “the sixth sense.” Maes’s Fluid Interfaces research group collaborates on projects and inventions that augment the interaction between human and machine, including both visual and haptic interfaces that are far more immersive than our traditional keyboard and monitor.
Maes started by discussing the five natural senses that humans have developed over the past million years of evolution. These senses help us make important decisions in everyday life, including how we interact with other individuals and our physical environment. But arguably, the most useful stimulus we come across is information that we don’t have easy access to via these senses, such as large amounts of aggregated data and factual knowledge. Increasingly, all of this knowledge is being stored and made available online.
The question, then is whether we could develop (either naturally or artificially) a sixth sense to detect this meta-information that may exist and is relevant to our decision-making.
Read on to see what Dr. Maes and her team developed!
Bill Gates (the philanthropist, not the technologist) capped off the “reboot” segment of today’s TED speeches with a presentation about two of the important global problems the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been addressing since Gates retired from day-to-day operations at Microsoft: eradicating malaria and boosting education.
With regard to the Malaria issue, Gates noted that though the disease claims the lives of one million victims each year, this is a greatly reduced number from when Malaria was a global epidemic a hundred years ago. Now, the epidemic is centralized in poorer countries, whereas first-world nations have largely dismissed the problem. In fact, Gates noted more money was spent on developing baldness medication than on curing malaria – Malaria simply isn’t the rich man’s problem.
Gates then proceeded to release a handful of mosquitoes into the air, joking that there was no reason that only poor people should get malaria. These mosquitoes obviously didn’t carry the disease, though the surprise move drew more than a few nervous laughs from the 1,300 in attendance.
In between Tim Berners-Lee and Nandan Nilekani’s featured presentations at this year's TED conference, past-TED speaker Cindy Gallop announced the launch of her new website: Make Love Not Porn (NSFW, so we won’t link it). The feisty New York advertising exec, who last year gave a speech called “The Toyboy Manifesto” (about relationships between older women and younger men) started the site to debunk the myths that hardcore pornography is teaching about sex. Using some saucy language, Gallop claimed that internet pornography has become a de-facto substitute for sex education for today’s youth, and wants the site to become a open dialogue on the cultural meaning of sex. So far, the new site has only one entry.
If you check the list of hot topics on Twitter right now, you’ll fine #TED at the top of the list. That’s because today is the opening day of the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, a prestigious gathering of just over 1000 of the world’s most influential thinkers, entertainers, and futurists. This private event (registration costs $6,000, and that’s only after you’re invited) hosts a series a thought-provoking presentations aimed at stimulating the minds of attendees who are then encouraged to engage in an exchange of ideas throughout the week-long session.
Past speakers include Al Gore, JJ Abrams, and Jeff Bezos, who each gave provocative talks about their passions and innovations. This year’s lineup includes Green Auto Pioneer Shai Agassi, web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee, and one Bill Gates. The public typically has to wait several months before videos of these 18-minute long TED talks get uploaded, but we’ve received special access to the live stream of the main stage. Over the next three days, we’ll be posting recaps of tech-related talks to give you some insight into what goes on in this exclusive and enlightening forum. Keep tabs on our TED coverage by clicking this link!
For the many MaximumPC.com readers who wrote that two or three Windows 7 SKUs was all that Microsoft needs to offer, the news that Windows 7 will be available in six flavors (Starter, Home Basic, Enterprise, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate) may seem like throwing gasoline on an already-raging fire. However, before you start reformatting your Windows 7 partitions, take a look at Windows GM Mike Ybarra's reasoning. Here's a bit of it:
The first change in Windows 7 was to make sure that editions of Windows 7 are a superset of one another. That is to say, as customers upgrade from one version to the next, they keep all features and functionality from the previous edition...The second change is that we have designed Windows 7 so different editions of Windows 7 can run on a very broad set of hardware, from small-notebook PCs (sometimes referred to as netbooks) to full gaming desktops...
Although Windows 7 will be available in six SKUs, most of the emphasis will be on just two. To find out which SKUs are expected to do the heavy sales lifting and how the editions differ, join us after the break.
MySpace announced this week that they’ve happily booted 90,000 registered sex offenders from their social networking site. But, as some research would reveal many of them simply took this in stride and made their way over to Facebook to do their business.
Former New York City police officer John Cardillo, and now CEO of Sentinel, a security technology firm based out of Miami, has said that Facebook is a “safe haven” for sex offenders. Notably, Facebook isn’t currently a client of his service.
After these gentlemen were booted from MySpace he did a search on Facebook for many of the same names. “We found over 8,000 offenders on their site without much effort,” stated Cardillo. “My professional opinion is that the real number is 15 to 20 times that.”
Cardillo’s Sentinel works by searching a gigantic database identify sex offenders. The database of offenders consists of more than 700,000 names, photos, dates of birth, email and IM addresses, and other “important data points.”
Well, let’s think of it this way – at least they probably don’t have access to Google’s Latitude.