eBay has announced (or rather, confirmed) that they are indeed planning to acquire VOIP provider Skype in a deal worth up to $4.1 billion when all is said and done. eBay CEO and President Meg Whitman comments, “Communication is at the heart of community and e-commerce, making Skype a natural fit for eBay,” but I’m more inclined to believe it’s something of a power play made to keep Google or Yahoo from getting there first. Regardless, I’m pretty confident eBay won’t mess with a good thing, and hopefully we’ll see some enhancements and additional features brought into the mix as a result.
Read More | Skype
According to an article at BBSpot, it seems Windows XP will be the last OS to display the infamous Blue Screen of Death upon crashing. Instead, Windows Vista users will be treated to a game of solitaire from the Solitaire of Death Screen while waiting for IT support help. The cards backs will be none other than blue in color and will appear when “Windows reverts to less ideal operation for reasons unknown.” This new screen is ideal for those whose computers crash while at work, because, as Bill Gates puts it, “Let’s face it, these users were probably playing solitaire before their PC crashed so falling back to the SOD will not inconvenience them.”
Edit: I was wondering how long it would take before a reader figured out it was a satire article. Gareth, contact us for your prize!
Read More | BBSpot
Reversing a decision made in January that allowed Microsoft’s Office 2003 XML format to be used within the State government, the State of Massachusetts has given Microsoft’s proprietary formats the “thumbs-down.”
According to the revised plan, only the OpenDocument file format, which is supported by Open Office, and Adobe’s PDF format are to be acceptable for document exchange. According to Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Desktop software that supports OpenDocument and PDF in the future is acceptable; Microsoft’s proprietary XML formats are not.” The state plans to develop phased migration plans from Microsoft Office to Open Office, with a target date for implementation of January 1, 2007.
However, there has been criticism over the definition of Adobe proprietary formats (protected by several patents) as being acceptable while Microsoft’s proprietary formats were unacceptable. The “powers that be” in Massachusetts, however, seem to have made their decision - and leave an uneasy feeling about just how great their “commitment to open source” really is.
Read More | ArsTechnica
Ad/Spyware vendor 180Solutions is begging the public to reconsider their opinion of their difficult to uninstall and privacy invading product, blaming all of their problems on “affiliates”. The 180Solutions platform offers annoying popup advertisements and an invasion of a users privacy in exchange for “free media, games, and other entertainment”. While the battle against spyware and adware wages on, it’s amazing that companies like this Bellevue, WA-based company continue to try to install invasive software platforms to pump their sleazy wares.
Read More | Broadband Reports
According to Reuters, hackers or modders that tinker with their Blu-ray players may be subject to their devices being remotely disabled. The feature, operated through a required connection between the player and the internet, could monitor the device and shut it down if any changes are made to hardware or internal firmware. While this may not affect the mainstream user, having an outside entity attempting to control and monitor yet another component of home entertainment is sure to cause waves in the tech-savvy community, especially for those used to tampering with regional coding in their current DVD players. In the battle against HD-DVD for format legitimacy, the mention of this feature will certainly put a damper on Blu-ray.
Read More | Reuters
This actually makes a lot of sense, but is something that we don’t often think about. Apparently, the way that Blockbuster Online, Netflix, and similar services send mail is a big problem for the USPS, despite the large amount of revenue these services generate for the postal service. The size of the mail envelopes do not conform to standards set long ago, which the machines used to process mail go by. As a result, rental DVD’s can either be forced into the machines, resulting in breakage, or separated and sorted by hand. Many solutions have been proposed, but none accepted at this point. Still, it is an interesting read.
The problem with CD/DVD mail is that the rules, designed to ensure that mail pieces claiming discounted rates can be processed on letter sorting machines, are useless in evaluating CD mail designs. Most CD/DVD mailers that comply with letter processing regulations are not compatible with letter processing equipment. CD/DVDs are not paper and present unique processing challenges. The USPS processing plants have learned the differences between paper and plastic the hard way. As marketing has pushed for more CD/DVD mail, postal operations have had to contend with more pieces that are incompatible with their equipment. Currently, the two largest companies presenting this non-compatible automation mail are NetFlix and Block Buster; but they are not the only customers with mail piece design problems. New guidelines must be developed to ensure that CD/DVD mail, claiming automated letter rates, is capable of being processed on USPS letter sorting machines.
Read More | Postcom
Less than one day after offering a Mac Mini test drive, it seems Apple has suddenly pulled the plug on the offer. While no explanation has been given as of yet, Apple affiliates have received an e-mail from LinkShare stating:
As a follow-up to an email we sent you this morning, please note that the Mac mini Test Drive promotion is no longer offered at the Apple Store. We have dynamically updated the banners and landing pages for this promotion, so if you are featuring this promotion on your site, they will automatically update to another promotion. Please be sure to update your Mac mini Test Drive text links. The rest of the promotions featured in today’s email are still live.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Apple Store Affiliate Program
While it may not have been a big deal for most, seeing as how it was more of an extended return policy mascarading than a great deal, it’s still quite odd to see it pulled barely a day after going live with it.
Read More | The Unofficial Apple Weblog
The internet is abuzz with rumors and speculation. A number of iPod media sites have received an invitation to a special Apple event on September 7th with the tantalizing line “1,000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again.” included with each one. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has reached an agreement with Cingular to offer a Motorola cell phone capable of playing songs from the iTunes music store. With news like that from a reliable source like the WSJ, the iTunes phone (iPhone?) can’t be far off. Elsewhere speculation on a 2GB or 4GB iPod shuffle, possibly with a screen, will be launching at the same time. With a sassy line like “here we go again” Apple might even be dropping a video capable iPod line, thus completing their digital media trinity.
Read More | Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)
When the Apple iPod first came out, the product was known for having batteries that didn’t seem to last too long. If you haven’t heard, someone actually took Apple to court over this and finally a settlement has been reached. Buyers have until September 30 to file the paperwork for battery replacement.
A preliminary settlement was reached in May. Under the terms of the deal, buyers of first- and second-generation iPods with battery issues who bought their iPods on or before May 31, 2004 can get either a $25 check or $50 in credit at an Apple Computer store.
Those who bought third-generation iPods on or before May 31, 2004 can either get a $50 credit or send their iPod back to Apple and have the battery fixed or get a replacement device.
Read More | News.com
The San Diego Computer Museum officially closed on August 27th and will be packing its bags before November. Currently, this non-profit organization is seeking volunteers to pack up the exhibits and help them move. They are also asking for donations for boxes and bubble wrap. Up to now they don’t have a new fixed location, but they need to leave as their current building has been purchased and will be repurposed. On a lighter note, this exhibit totally rocks. You can tell it’s ancient since Macs haven’t carried floppy disks since the Clinton era.
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