Amid financial turmoil, James W. Keyes promised changes when he took over as CEO of Blockbuster this past July, and one of his first acts was raising online rental subscriptions and limiting in-store exchanges. That was August. Skip ahead four months and rates are going up once again, with the most dramatic increases hitting the 2-DVD and 3-DVD Total Access subscribers, who will see pricing go from $21.99 to $29.99, and $24.99 to $34.99 respectively. There was some speculation of the latest hikes being a hoax, but we've verified it's the real deal, and Blockbuster may have just dealt a winning hand to Netflix...
Land Lines Losing Ground
A new annual government report conducted by the Labor Department is expected to show, for the first time ever, home cell phone expenditures surpassing land lines. Last year land lines held a small lead with $542 spent on residential and pay-phone services compared to $524 spent on cell phone bills, and just six years ago consumers spent three times as much on land lines than on mobiles. The relatively sudden shift has service providers looking to change their business models and cash in on the growing trend.
European Lobby, FTC Disagree on Google-DoubleClick Merger
The FTC approved of Google's $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, but Google said they wouldn't close the deal without clearance from European regulators. While the EU has until April 2 to make a final decision, the European Commission has already voiced concerns to the EU, saying that the takeover would harm citizens with a "structure that almost certainly will be less respectful of user privacy." In addition to profiling concerns, the EC fears that advertising prices would go up and ultimately be passed on to consumers.
Firefox 3 Beta 2
Eager browser beavers can chomp on Firefox Beta 2, which is now publicly available for download. The new release sports improved security, better password management, easier add-on installation, one-click bookmarking, new graphics and font rendering architecture, performance enhancements, and a host of other improvements. You can snag the download here, though keep in mind that Beta software is prone to bugs. To quell curiosity without risking killing the cat, test this, and other potentially buggy software, on a free virtual machine.
Internet Explorer 8 Passes Acid2 Test
Right here on MPC, Windows guru Mark Soper posted a fix for those who found their IE6 and IE7 browsers borked after applying Microsoft's MS07-033 update, and moving forward, the company is talking up IE8. The new version passed the Acid2 browser test, a common measuring stick used to gauge standards compliance. Ironically enough, that could spell good news for alternative browsers, like Firefox and Opera, as developers can spend less time optimizing for IE and more time focusing on a unified standard. MS plans to release an IE beta in mid-2008.
Harvard Professor Proposes Flying Carpet
Professor Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan thinks flying carpets could be a reality, provided the rippling sheet could generate enough horizontal resistance to stay airborne. Not without a caveat, the sheet couldn't be more than 4 inches long or a tenth of a millimeter thick, and have to vibrate about 10 times every second, casting a wet blanket over Prince of Persia fans hoping to sail the skies anytime soon.