Thursday, April 02
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.
Wednesday, April 01
In a move that will surely be explored by other Internet providers, Time Warner Cable has announced a plan for metered pricing on its web access. As Business Week reports:
In April, Time Warner Cable will begin collecting information on its customers’ Internet use in the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio and in Rochester, N.Y. Consumption billing will begin in those cities later this summer. In Greensboro, N.C., the billing changes will begin sooner. Spun off from Time Warner (TWX) this month, Time Warner Cable had been testing a plan to meter Internet usage in Beaumont, Tex., since last year.
By charging a premium to the heaviest broadband users, much the same way cell-phone providers collect fees from subscribers who exceed their allotted minutes, Time Warner would upend a longstanding pricing strategy among Internet service providers. Typically, phone and cable companies charge flat fees for unlimited access to the Web. “We need a viable model to be able to support the infrastructure of the broadband business,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt says in an interview. “We made a mistake early on by not defining our business based on the consumption dimension.” Time Warner Cable has 8.4 million broadband customers.
Quoted in the article is IIA Ambassador Craig Moffett, Senior Analyst of Sanford Bernstein:
“To put it mildly,” says Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, “the decision to limit data consumption can be expected to have profound implications for [consumer] behavior.”
Time Warner is exploring four broadband tiers, ranging from $29.95 to $54.90 a month, based on usage. They join AT&T and Comcast in exploring tiered pricing.
IIA’s newest Broadband Ambassador is Jason Brennan, a partner at Stream Companies in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Stream Companies is an award-winning advertising agency that specializes in working with companies with advertising budgets between $500,000 and $5 million. In addition to traditional advertising, Brennan specializes in new media strategies and in helping clients use Internet applications to improve internal marketing. Brennan has experience working with a wide array of clients, including the automotive industry, food and beverage companies, educational institutions, financial services firms, and companies that build wireless communication infrastructure.
Brennan says broadband Internet services have helped his business grow, and he is a firm believer in the idea that broadband can expand economic and educational opportunities for all Americans, improving their quality of life. “Available technology and funding is closing the gap, but we have a responsibility to connect all Americans,” Brennan said. “We must look at future broadband technology in such a way that spurs economic development and heightens social responsibility.”
IIA is now one of the 175 million members of Facebook. Check us out.
Diving into this day of pranks—and having fun with print media’s current woes—British newspaper The Guardian announced to its readers that it was abandoning print in favor of reporting news via social networking fad Twitter. From the paper’s site:
Consolidating its position at the cutting edge of new media technology, the Guardian today announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter, the sensationally popular social networking service that has transformed online communication.
The move, described as “epochal” by media commentators, will see all Guardian content tailored to fit the format of Twitter’s brief text messages, known as “tweets”, which are limited to 140 characters each. Boosted by the involvement of celebrity “twitterers”, such as Madonna, Britney Spears and Stephen Fry, Twitter’s profile has surged in recent months, attracting more than 5m users who send, read and reply to tweets via the web or their mobile phones.
Here’s a report from the paper’s archive, in tweet mode:
OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*
Tuesday, March 31
Over in the UK, a new proposal would allow the government to keep tabs on how citizens use popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Civil liberty watchdogs are, predictably, up in arms about the plan. And as the BBC reports, so are some politicians:
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said the websites contained sensitive personal details and he was concerned information could leak from any government-controlled database.
The Independent newspaper quoted him as saying similar plans to store phone and email records threatened to be the “most expensive snooper’s charter in history”.
“It is deeply worrying that they now intend to monitor social networking sites which contain very sensitive data like sexual orientation, religious beliefs and political views,” he said.
Facebook’s official response is that the proposal is “overkill.” As for the government’s response:
A spokesman said: “The government has no interest in the content of people’s social network sites and this is not going to be part of our upcoming consultation.
“We have been clear that the communications revolution has been rapid in this country and the way in which we collect communications data needs to change, so that law enforcement agencies can maintain their ability to tackle terrorism and gather evidence.”
In-flight Internet is moving full steam ahead. From the Wall Street Journal:
American Airlines plans to equip another 150 planes this year with Internet service, in the latest sign that high-altitude Web surfing could become standard fare on domestic flights in a few years.
The AMR Corp. unit began offering wireless Internet to domestic customers on 15 of its Boeing 767-200 planes last August. Now, it plans to install the service on 150 of its MD-80 planes in 2009 and start equipping another 153 of its Boeing 737-800 planes in 2010 for use on domestic flights.
American plans to charge $7.95 for using hand-held devices, and between $9.95 and $12.95 for laptops, depending on the length of flight.