What a difference a year makes, particularly for Ebay, who received considerable flack from its membership over a series of new policies introduced. At one point, users had become so incensed over the policy changes, which included increased listing fees and alterations to the feedback system, that sellers united for a week long boycott. By some estimates, auction listings dropped by 13 percent during the boycott.
But that's old news, and this week the auction site beat Wall Street expectations on earnings and revenue, which analysts attribute to cost cuts and continued growth in both its Skype and Paypal ventures. Year-to-year Paypal revenue spiked 11 percent, with Skype doing even better and reporting a 21 percent increase. News of the better than expected earnings sent shares of Ebay up over 8 percent today.
Not all the numbers were as favorable, however, with Ebay posting a first-quarter net profit of $357 million, or 28 cents per share, down from $460 million, or 34 cents per share a year prior. Revenue was down 8 percent to $2.02 billion, but still above the $1.95 billion expected.
Google yesterday made available an updated version of its Chrome browser to prevent cross-scripting attacks, whereby visiting a malicious site with Internet Explorer could cause Google Chrome to fire up, open a bunch of tabs, and load harmful scripts.
"An error in handling URLs with a chromehtml: protocol could allow an attacker to run scripts of his choosing on any page or enumerate files on the local disk under certain conditions," Mark Larson, Google Chrome program manager, wrote in a blog post. "If a user has Google Chrome installed, visiting an attacker-controlled web page in Internet Explorer could have caused Google Chrome to launch, open multiple tabs, and load scrips that run after navigating to a URL of the attacker's choice."
The attack wouldn't work if Chrome was already running, Larson added. A new version of Chrome -- 126.96.36.199 -- is now available and will prevent the attack from working regardless. The update is supposed to be rolled out automatically, but in our case, we had to manually force the download. You can do so by clicking on the wrench icon in the upper right corner, select "About Google Chrome," and click on Update Now.
It's been a tough year for tech all around, a fact which will be underscored when Microsoft reports a year-over-year drop in quarterly revenue for the first time ever. Not even the end of the dot-com boom over a decade ago managed to stop Microsoft from posting an increase.
Current forecasts suggests Microsoft will post quarterly revenue of $14.15 billion for its fiscal third quarter, down from $14.45 billion in the same quarter a year prior. Earnings per share are estimated to be 39 cents, down from 47 cents. The lackluster numbers come just a week after Intel suggested the PC market had bottomed out.
Moving forward, Microsoft cautioned it doesn't expect sales to quickly return to where they were in recent years, and instead to expect slow growth. That could depend on whether or not the software giant is able to release Windows 7 this year or not. While new operating systems can only do so much to push PC sales, the hope (from computer makers) is that Windows 7 could help spur a holiday rush if released early.
Available in alpha form for the past several month, Canonical has officially released its newest version of Ubuntu, 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope). Canonical says it will maintain its latest open-source OS until 2010.
Ubuntu 9.04 brings a new kernel to the table, version 188.8.131.52, as well as several other features. Some of these include:
Faster boot time
Latest GNOME 2.26 desktop environment
Better handling of mutliple monitors
Latest X.Org server 1.6 with support for several new videocards
Wacom tablet hotplugging
Ext4 file system support
Brasero 2.26 (all-in-one CD burning application)
Also new to the latest version of Ubuntu is a Netbook Remix version. According to Canonical, the Netbook Remix brings even faster boot speeds, a "built-for-purpose interface" that keeps favorite applications and websites a click away, enhanced power-management features, and easier switching between networks. Canonical says it has tested its Netbook Remix version on a range of netbook models, including Acer's Aspire One, Asus' EeePC 1000, and Dell's Mini 9.
And now, a letter from the future, courtesy of older Nathan Grayson’s toaster/time machine combo:
“URGENT WARNING: SEND THIS TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE. IF YOU RUN OUT OF PEOPLE, GET MARRIED AND MAKE MORE.
Hello there… oh, hold one second…. Right then, where were we? Oh, right – the warning. Uh, just another quick break. No, really; this is the last one. It’s just that, you know, I’m smack dab in the middle of a quick Peggle match and, wouldn’t you know it, I’m so, so close to finally smashing that little silver ball right through the high score I achieved the day after I dropped out of college.
Oh, yes, college just ended up not being your cup of silver balls bouncing everywhere every time I close my eyes. You know, what with Peggle taking up all your study time and whatnot. After they put the ungodly addictive casual game Peggle into World of Warcraft with a free, no-hassle add-on on April 23, 2009, they decided to jam it into every appliance that registered on the visible light spectrum. Cars, calculators, dogs – you name it. Complete and total submission was unavoidable.
So, I’m just gonna go check out a few Peggle hints now for some please send help. Really, it’s probably best that I skedaddle now anyway; people are probably starting to wonder why – even though the entire world is in an apparent state of technological and cultural stagnation – we’ve managed to invent cheap, compact time machines and fuse them with common household appliances. Er, I fear I’ve said too much.”
It sure is a good thing we received this message in tim—oh lord it's April 24 we're all doomed!
Well, it looks Time Warner’s bad streak is far from over – it wouldn’t just end with their undeserved feeling of superiority. In the small city of Wilson, North Carolina, they’re working to destroy local Internet providers, just so that they can inject their own overpriced offering.
Available today in Wilson, NC, you can get expanded basic cable with 81 channels, 10Mbps (download and upload) Internet service, and digital phone service with unlimited long distance to the U.S. and Canada for $99.95. A similar package from Time Warner comes with six less channels, lower upload speeds and costs $137.95 as an introductory rate (which will no doubt skyrocket after a few months). But now, with some help from the North Carolina State Senate, Time Warner is working a bill that will potentially cripple or ban local service, and even prevent local services from getting any funds from the broadband portion of the stimulus package.
In response, the city has spoken out big time against the move, creating a blog that’s pushing for the state government to prevent the bill. Brian Bowman, Wilson’s Public Affairs Manager writes, “I have a 10Mbps up/down connection at my house. Can’t get half that from the cable company. I buy it directly from the City of Wilson. After less than a year of residential service, almost 3,000 Wilson citizens are subscribing to Wilson’s fiber optic network. Local businesses can get up to one Gbps.” He continues, “Bottom line, these companies are using your state lawmakers to protect monopolies. It was wrong in 2007 when a similar bill died in the house and it’s wrong today.”
Honestly, Time Warner. Have you no shreds of decency? This is genuinely despicable behavior.
Recent postings on the Microsoft Partners website suggest that Redmond's about to pour a refreshing glass of Win7 RC the first full week of May.
Although the Microsoft Partner Program page that Neowin.com posted last week has since been updated to remove the Download Windows 7 RC button, the newest version of the page now notes that May 7 (two days after the reported public release of Windows 7 RC noted in the earlier version) will be Windows 7 Virtual Partner Readiness Day.
Does this indicate that Microsoft is delaying the public release of Windows 7 RC by a couple of days? We won't know until later, but early May continues to look like RC time.
Oh flash memory, you’re capable of such wonderful things. Thanks to your extremely compact size, you’ve made it possible for EagleTec to release the absolutely tiny flash drive, the EagleTec Nano.
The EagleTec Nano, which comes in two sizes (8GB and 4GB, running $33 and $22 respectively) are so small that they manage to make the nano receivers that come with today’s Logitech mice look big! Plus, it reads at 15MB/s and writes at 6MB/s. Not too shabby.
If you’re interested in grabbing one of these, you can find them here.
That’s right folks, everything is bigger in Texas (oh yeah, I went there). Texas Memory Systems recently announced a monster of a 2U shelf rack, and it’ll hold up to 5TB of single cell flash memory.
The rack drive will be able to deal with 250,000 sustained I/O’s per second, go through 3GB of data per second, and has an 80 microsecond write latency. It’s being claimed that for performance of this caliber using an HDD setup, it’d cost a half-million dollars and eat up 20 times the power.
Having to replace a $2,000 notebook after it's been swiped from under your nose is bad enough, but it's only the tip of the iceberg for business owners, Intel says. According to a study on notebook security commissioned by Intel and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, laptops lifted from airports, taxis, and hotels around the globe end up costing their corporate owners an average of $49,246. That number reflects "the value of the enclosed data above the cost of the PC."
Somewhat surprisingly, it's not the CEO's computer that holds the most value, but a director or manager, the study says. Analyzing 138 instances of lost and stolen notebooks, the study values the average senior executive's laptop to be $28,449, whereas a director or manager's laptop is worth twice as much at about $61,000 each.
The well-timed (or strategically-timed) study comes shortly after Intel's "Poison Pill" Anti-Theft PC Protection technology finds its way onto a pair of Asus notebooks.