Friday, April 03
Skype, the software that allows users to make calls over the Internet, among other things, recently released a free application for the iPhone. Within two days the application had already been downloaded over a million times—averaging six downloads every second.
On a related note, it was reported last month that Skype is now the world’s largest long-distance phone company. The future of the phone is online.
There’s been much chatter that Amazon’s Kindle—the little eBook reader that could—is set to revolutionize the book industry. Enter media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who’s looking to get in on the action. Via TechFlash:
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is setting his sights on the growing electronic book market. Speaking at a cable industry event in Washington, D.C., Murdoch said his News Corp. is investing in a mobile device for reading newspapers, with a bigger screen than Amazon.com’s Kindle, according to the Wall Street Journal. There were few other details, but Murdoch’s embrace of e-books could shake things up for Amazon and the other players in the space.
Murdoch, owner of the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, among others, obviously has the deep pockets and media properties to kick-start a downloadable newspaper future. It’ll be interesting to see how other journalism companies react.
Google’s massive server farms have, until now, been mostly kept in a shroud of secrecy. But Ars Technica was recently given unprecedented access:
Each Google server is hooked to an independent 12V battery to keep the units running in the event of a power outage. Data centers themselves are built and housed in shipping containers (we’ve seen Sun pushing this trend as well), a practice that went into effect after the brownouts of 2005. Each container holds a total of 1,160 servers and can theoretically draw up to 250kW. Those numbers might seem a bit high for a data center optimized for energy efficiency—it breaks down to around 216W per system—but there are added cooling costs to be considered in any type of server deployment.
The full report, though filled with techbabble, is worth checking out.
This isn’t broadband related, but for those of us who grew up with the two Terminator movies (the third one doesn’t count), today’s news out of the UK is cause for worry:
A science-savvy robot called Adam has successfully developed and tested its first scientific hypothesis, all without human intervention. This hints at a future where robots could spare lab assistants and post-docs some of the drudgery of research.
“We’ve now demonstrated that Adam can do some novel biology work,” said Ross King, a computer scientist and biologist at Aberystwyth University in the UK.
Adam’s first achievement involved discovering that certain genes in baker’s yeast code for specific enzymes which encourage biochemical reactions in yeast. The robot scientist then ran an experiment with its lab hardware to test its predictions, analyzed the results, rinsed and repeated.
The researchers boast that robots like “Adam” will help scientists in a number of ways—at least until the day they become self-aware, capture military and financial systems, and overthrow governments around the world.
TechCrunch is reporting that word of Google possibly buying Twitter is making the rounds.
Why would the search giant want to purchase the 140-character leader? Clues may be found in another TechCrunch article posted in March:
More and more people are starting to use Twitter to talk about brands in real time as they interact with them. And those brands want to know all about it, whether to respond individually (The W Hotel pestered me until I told them to just leave me alone), or simply gather the information to see what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.
And all of it is discoverable at search.twitter.com, the search engine that Twitter acquired last summer.
People searching for news. Brands searching for feedback. That’s valuable stuff.
Responding to the rumor, Twitter posted a carefully worded blog post:
It should come as no surprise that Twitter engages in discussions with other companies regularly and on a variety of subjects.
Our goal is to build a profitable, independent company and we’re just getting started.
Update: The site All Things Digital is saying the rumor is bogus:
In fact, Twitter and Google (GOOG) have simply been engaged in “some product-related discussions,” according to one source, around real-time search and the search giant better crawling the microblogging service.
Said a source close to Twitter: “There was a discussion with [Google executive Marissa Mayer’s] group about real-time search and about product stuff. It was a couple weeks ago. It was very preliminary…and that was that.”
More importantly, said another source about the idea of an imminent acquisition or serious or even early talks: “Seriously, no negotiations, no deal, nada.”
Thursday, April 02
Online DVD deliverer Netflix has announced it recently delivered its 2 billionth DVD—and they reached that number in just under 10 years. GigaOm does the math:
Using a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation, that works out to an average of 605,326 DVDs a day or about 25,221 DVDs an hour, 420 DVDs a minute or 7 DVDs every second.
Now that’s impressive.
Today’s New York Times has a story on how netbooks—cheap laptops designed mainly for the Internet—- are about to shake up the PC industry:
Personal computers — and the companies that make their crucial components — are about to go through their biggest upheaval since the rise of the laptop. By the end of the year, consumers are likely to see laptops the size of thin paperback books that can run all day on a single charge and are equipped with touch screens or slide-out keyboards.
The industry is buzzing this week about these devices at a telecommunications conference in Las Vegas, and consumers will see the first machines on shelves as early as June, probably from the netbook pioneers Acer and Asustek.
“The era of a perfect Internet computer for $99 is coming this year,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, the chief executive of Nvidia, a maker of PC graphics chips that is trying to adapt to the new technological order. “The primary computer that we know of today is the basic PC, and it’s dying to be reinvented.”
AT&T has already announced a trial in Atlanta of offering consumers a netbook for $50 if they sign up for an Internet service plan, and other Internet providers are expected to follow suit with experiments of their own.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine won’t make it into theaters until May 1, but an estimated 100,000 people have already seen it via a leaked copy that made the rounds on various pirate sites. Now the film’s studio, 20th Century Fox, is gunning for the culprits—and they’ve called in the F.B.I. to investigate.
Via the popular movie site Ain’t It Cool News comes the studio’s official response to the theft:
Last night, a stolen, incomplete and early version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was posted illegally on websites. It was without many effects and had missing scenes and temporary sound and music. We immediately contacted the appropriate legal authorities and had it removed. We forensically mark our content so we can identify sources that make it available or download it. The source of the initial leak and any subsequent postings will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law - the courts have handed down significant criminal sentences for such acts and the last person who committed such a crime is still in jail. The FBI and the MPAA also are actively investigating this crime. We are encouraged by the support of fansites condemning piracy and this illegal posting and pointing out that such theft undermines the enormous efforts of the filmmakers and actors, and above all, hurts the fans of the film.
Good news for those who like to waste company time trolling YouTube and Facebook: a new study from researchers in Australia has found that visiting social networking sites while on the clock actually improves worker productivity. No, really. Yahoo News has the scoop:
The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive than those who do not.
Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said “workplace Internet leisure browsing,” or WILB, helped to sharpened workers’ concentration.
“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” Coker said on the university’s website
It’s not all good news, however:
However Dr Coker says that it is important such browsing is done in moderation, as internet addiction can have the reverse effect. “Approximately 14% of internet users in Australia show signs of Internet Addiction – they don’t take breaks at appropriate times, they spend more than a ‘normal’ amount of time online, and can get irritable if they are interrupted while surfing.”
Everything in moderation…
(h/t: Read Write Web)
Evidently there are a lot of file sharers and online pirates in Sweden, of all place. Via Ars Technica:
The EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) requires all member states to adopt tougher protections against piracy and counterfeiting. Sweden’s own implementation of the law went into effect on the first day of April and had an immediate effect; Internet traffic passing though the country’s main exchange points fell nearly in half.
Most likely the dramatic drop-off won’t last too long, but the fact that the threat of being unmasked as a file sharer was enough to kill have of Sweden’s traffic in a single day is interesting—and will no doubt provide much fodder for digital rights groups.