Business schools around the world often study the January 2000 merger of Time Warner & AOL under the headline “Worst Mergers In American Corporate History”. It is not unusual, or unnatural for content creation companies to enter the distribution market, but AOL and magazine publishing arm Time Inc. have dogged their parent companies earnings for years now. Looking to cut its losses, Time Warner announced on Wednesday that it was close to spinning off America Online, an acquisition that has cost the company more than $100 billion in shareholder value.
According to the filing; “Although the company’s board of directors has not made any decision, the company currently anticipates that it would initiate a process to spin off one or more parts of the businesses of AOL to Time Warner’s stockholders, in one or a series of transactions.” When asked about the future of Time Warner, CEO Jeffery L. Bewkes claims the future “may well include publishing” but made it clear that this could change at any time. The company is likely holding out on making any decisions about Time Inc. until the recession eases and it can see if weakening print sales are a result of the recession, or the shift of its readers to online mediums.
Time Warner has already spun off it's cable division, and is clearly looking to focus on content creation, rather than delivery. I also can't help but wonder whether or not an independent AOL would become an acquisition target for Microsoft. The ad network was one of the primary drivers behind the Yahoo talks, and this is one area that AOL still does reasonably well in.
Can AOL survive on it's own? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
For most users, Microsoft's Live Search is little more than a default setting on new installations of Internet Explorer. This perception is part of why Microsoft has always struggled to gain market share against Google & Yahoo who both hold the number 1 & 2 positions by a fairly large margin. Microsoft has struggled to come up with a strategy for sometime now, but it seems clear that its new strategy is to shed the past by dropping the Windows Live brand in favour of Kumo.
The timeframe for the redesign has been kept secret so far, but according to a forum posting on Neowin, Microsoft has started a clock in the lobby of its search headquarters that is counting down to June 2nd. This date, coincidentally enough, coincides with a speech being given by the head of Microsoft's online servi
ces division at the Search Engine Expo in Seattle. It is here that Dr Qi Lu is expected to formally announce Kumo and demonstrate the upgrades to the search engine. The timing also lines up well with a new ad campaign which is planned for the summer. So far Microsoft hasn't commented on Kumo specifically, and executives have hinted that it is but one of several names being considered at this point.
Early screen shots show several potential improvements that will allow searches to be broken down by relevant categories, making it easier to find information when you search for more general terms. For example; if you search for “Microsoft”, Kumo might give you a category for Windows, Office, Xbox, etc.
What do you think of Kumo as a brand name? What would you call it? And finally, will this get you to use Microsoft Search?
Let it not be said that the European Union is playing favorites when it picks on Microsoft. The powerful antitrust regulators have now set their sights squarely on Intel, and the fines could be much worse. The commission began investigating Intel’s sales practices in late 2000 when AMD filed its initial complaint. Both chip makers are US based, but European regulators are historically much more aggressive at punishing monopolistic behavior than their American counterparts.
The chip maker has allegedly been accused of giving large rebates to computer manufacturers and retail chains to carry Intel exclusively, or in some cases, to downplay the AMD offerings. In some situations, Intel is even accused of offering server chips below cost to help corner the market. Intel denied any wrong doing and according to Intel spokesmen Robert Manetta, “Over all, Intel’s conduct is lawful, pro-competitive and beneficial to consumers.” Intel has every right to be concerned over the investigation however, since the fines imposed are rumored to dwarf those faced by Microsoft. In the 2004 EU antitrust verdict against Microsoft, the software giant faced a fine of close to $663 million US. Intel on the other hand could be facing a penalty of $1.3 billion or more according to experts.
Intel currently controls around 81.9 percent of the global market for CPU’s, while AMD scrapes by with only 17.7 percent. A guilty ruling could put Intel into further hot water after being found guilty of anti competitive practices in South Korea less than a year ago. They are appealing the $19.5 million fine, but this is chump change compared to the $3.6 billion penalty the European union is capable of leveling.
A Taiwanese based research group has developed a speaker technology that can be worked into paper allowing for ultra thin devices, or even talking posters. "A lot of companies are interested in this product," said Chen Ming-daw, a research director at ITRI. "We don't have enough people to handle all the attention right now."
The new technology is being called Flexspeaker because in addition to being paper thin, it can also be rolled up or folded. Right now the goal for minimum sheet size is around 23.6” by 17.3”, and would cost roughly $20 USD each. Unfortunately this is too large to be used in our magazine, but that doesn't stop us from dreaming of the day when our pages can sing “Still Subscribe” to our beloved readers.
According to the researchers, the paper is made by sandwiching thin electrodes that receive audio signals and a pre-polarized diaphragm into the paper structure. Right now an adapter is required between the sound source and the paper, but plans are in the works to allow any stereo source to connect directly to the paper or even wirelessly over bluetooth. The primary limitation of the speakers at this point, is that they have problems with sounds below 500hz. This means that the heavenly baritones of our very own Nathan Edwards would need to be augmented by adding a subwoofer.
Love exploring Fallout 3’s irradiated wasteland, but – all the while – can’t help thinking, “Man, I wish VATS and S.P.E.C.I.A.L. were clunkier acronyms”? Well then, GSC Game World’s unfortunately underrated STALKER series might just hit the sweet spot. Better start sharpening your scavenging, trespassing, adventuring, loner-ing, killing, exploring, and robbing skills, though, because STALKER: Call of Pripyat’s coming this fall. (And yes, that is the acronym’s actual meaning.)
New features of interest include:
Photorealistic exclusion Zone – Pripyat town, Yanov railway station, Jupiter factory, Kopachi village and more, recreated by their true-to-life prototypes.
New story, a number of unique characters.
Extended system of side quests.
New monsters: Chimera and Burer. New behaviour and abilities for all monsters.
New A-Life system, created using the players' best-liked elements of the first two games in series.
Emissions considerably influence the world of the Zone.
Sleep function added into the game.
New player's interface.
Ability to continue the game after completion in a freeplay mode.
The game is developed on X-Ray engine v.1.6
New “A-Life” system? “Sleep function”? We’re sure it’s some kind of unintentional translation error or something, but that sounds like GSC’s trying to get gamers to take a hint and go do something other than game every once in a while. To which we reply: We can stop any time we want to; we just don’t want to.
AutoRun and AutoPlay, Microsoft's "dangerous duo" for launching programs from CD/DVD and other removable media types, have become among malware authors' favorite infection vectors - and Microsoft has finally said, "enough already!"
A research study by Forefront Client Securitycited by the Engineering Windows 7 blog determined that infections that can be started with AutoRun amounted to 17.7% of detected infections in the second half of 2008.
Although AutoRun was originally designed strictly for optical media, it can be used for other types of media. For example, you can create an autorun.inf file that adds the program on the media to the AutoPlay menu Windows displays, and change the default icon to make the malware program mimic a legitimate program. Conficker used this method to spread, as illustrated here.
Starting in Windows 7 RC, Microsoft has changed how both AutoRun and AutoPlay work:
AutoPlay no longer supports AutoRun on non-optical removable media. An autorun.inf file on a USB or other type of non-optical removable media will be disregarded. Only AutoPlay options that pertain to the types of files on the media will be listed.
When AutoPlay displays programs present on the media, the dialog now states that those programs will be run from the media.
To learn more about these changes, and to find out what other Microsoft operating systems will eventually get similar protection, join us after the jump.
Marco Tempest, Illusionist and newly discovered augmented reality guru, has recently put together a video showcasing his latest act, Augmented Reality Magic 1.0.
Tempest’s implementation of augmented reality allows observers of his act to view the routine through his eyes, with the assistance of some computer animation (reportedly thanks to C++, OpenFrameworks, OpenCV, ARToolkitPlus, MacCam and “other open source goodies”). Throughout the trick he manages to bring forth a floating birthday cake, materialize a (shrunken down version of the) moon, and levitate cards in a most demonic fashion.
If you’d like to see it in action, be sure to check it out here.
Google has recently announced yet another addon to their web-based Gmail platform, which allows you to add roughly 1,200 more emoticons to the selector tool.
Among the new emoticons are national flags, road signs, more animals and various animations. With a total of 13 categories (a huge boost on the two that come with vanilla Gmail) there’s a strong possibility that people will be able to carry out conversations without typing a single word. :\
Sure, Friday is already a pretty great day of the week (some might argue, the best). But, thanks to Valve, it just got a bit better due to a 24-hour trial of Left 4 Dead! Looks like that whole “last day of the work week” nonsense is going to have to wait another week for its chance to shine.
If you haven’t given Left 4 Dead a try yet, there’s no better time to give it a chance. According to Steam, “Beginning Friday at 12:01 am GMT, the PC version of Left 4 Dead will be available for a free 24-hour trial via Steam. The free trial will include access to the recently released Survival Pack DLC, which introduces a new multiplayer game mode and two additional Versus campaigns. Those who wish to give L4D and the Survival Pack a try may now pre-load everything needed to play with no obligation to purchase.”
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal! If you decide to take Newell and company up on this offer, be sure to join the Maximum PC Steam Community group, and take full advantage of our servers. Don’t say we never gave you anything!
UPDATE: Well ladies and germs, it looks like the fantastic Left 4 Dead trial that Valve Software is offering for today just got extended! You can play everyone’s favorite zombie apocalypse simulator all the way until Saturday at 5 PM GMT. And, if over the course of this weekend you decide you like the game enough to buy it, you’ll get a whopping 40 percent off of the retail price. Not too bad!
Starting yesterday, MSDN and TechNet subscribers have been able to download the Release Candidate (RC) for Windows 7, Microsoft's upcoming operating system. This latest version represents the final phases of development and is geared towards giving hardware and software partners a headstart in coding device drivers and services.
"Listening to our partners and customers has been fundamental to the development of Windows 7," said Bill Veghte, senior VP for the Windows business at Microsoft. "We heard them and worked hard to deliver the highest quality Release Candidate in the history of Windows. We have more partner support than we've ever had for an RC and are pleased to say that the Windows 7 RC has hit the quality and compatibility bar for enterprises to start putting it through its paces and testing in earnest."
That should come as good news to everyone who plans on upgrading once Windows 7 starts shipping. By contrast, Vista's release was the polar opposite to what Microsoft is claiming we can expect out of Windows 7. Driver issues, particularly with Nvidia hardware, plagued Vista's release, as did several performance hampering bugs.
If you're not an MSDN or TechNet subscriber, you still won't have to wait long to get your hands on the RC. Microsoft says it will make Windows 7 RC available to the general public on May 5, which is next Tuesday.