A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fuzzy math 

For the benefit of you non-dotcommers out there, Slate explains the importance of unique visitors and page views in the online advertising world.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

What if Microsoft designed the iPod box? 

That's the question answered in this clip. Linked to by MS's own Channel 9. Robert Scoble says "ouch"
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Microsoft's Origami project 

Engadget has some pics of what the Origami Project is all about. It looks like more than just an iPod competitor (it has a stylus and a keyboard), but you never know.
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google did it again 

Another beta product - Google Page Creator allows you to create a website. Google host the pages.
Here's mine.
Now that EcoBlogIt has covered this, the whole world is onto it ! Here's what I got -

"Thank you for your interest in Google Page Creator!

Google Page Creator has experienced extremely strong demand, and, as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity. We will notify you as soon as we are ready to add new accounts. Thank you for your patience."

Oh well...
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eDonkey Gone 

ITworld.com reports that a heavily trafficked server in the eDonkey P2P network was shut down by Swiss and Belgium authorites. In a press release the Motion Picture Association of America also highlighted that the server in question , Razorback 2, was "a menace to society".

Oh and it held millions of copyrighted movies.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BlackBerry patent workaround released 

Or as RIM call it, BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition (MME). One of the patents held by NTP relates to the way that messages are stored on a network and this update seeks to provide a workaround.

In current usage a message from the in-house e-mail system (for example GroupWise) is transferred to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and then to one of RIM's Network Operations Centres (NOC). The message is then forwarded to the destination handheld via a mobile network from the NOC.When a device is out of coverage the message is stored at the NOC.

MME has two modes of operation - Standard and US. In US mode, the NOC is partially taken out of the picture and the BES takes on responsibility for storing and forwarding any messages when the destination handheld is out of coverage.

MME requires an update to BES and all handhelds and so is not a straightforward task. MME mode would be turned on by RIM if needed and administrators and customers would not need to do anything more once the BES and handhelds had been updated. RIM claim that performance will be unaffected, but the BES must have to do some extra work.

Gartner suspect that the MME is more of a bargaining chip than something that RIM would expect customers to adopt and, of course, the courts will need to decide whether it actually does mean that the patent in question is no longer infringed.

Although the case being brought by NTP refers only to BlackBerry devices and software sold in the US only, handhelds that roam to the US will need the update. When in the US, with MME activated by RIM, US mode MME will automatically be switched to by handhelds.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Orange super SIM 

The Times reports that Orange announced a "super SIM" at the 3GSM show in Barcelona last week. The SIM will be able to store half a gig of data - meaning that, for the fist time, a movie could be stored on a SIM card. If Orange were to use an open standard, then the opportunities for consumers are great - the ability to move contacts etc. from phone to phone easily would be fantastic.

My wish for the super SIM is simple - that it gets rid of the annoyance over where text messages, calls etc are stored - on the phone or SIM.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

Verdana - a design classic? 

Verdana, the classic web font was selected as one of the top 25 British design icons created since 1900, but the voting public didn't put it in to the top 10. An interesting account of how and why it was created is on the BBC Culture Show - Design Quest site, though.

Voting for the best was a tricky descision - have your say here.

Suprising that the iPod didn't make it onto the top 25 - maybe it's still a bit new to be a classic.
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Are patents a plague on the web? 

EcoblogIT has covered some of the issues around software patents, such as those held by Amazon and frankly I have a big beef with their award.

Patents have been awarded for things such as the way that Wi-Fi hotspots direct you to a login page and file locking on a file server. Of the vast number of software patents, many are frankly pretty vague (just look at some of those highlighted in the Amazon post linked to above) and rely on the fact that the awardee was the first person to go to the trouble of filing for a patent rather than the first person to think of what in most cases is little more than an idea.

A company called Acacia Technologies now has a pretty good business in chasing patent violators for license fees. Ok, so what's the big deal? Well, they own patents that cover use of streaming media, pop-up ads, offline browsing, laptop docking stations etc. etc. As I said Acacia are getting a name for themselves because they're actively going after individual patent infringers, but other patents are held by the likes of AT&T on the MPEG4 format....

Pretty soon using the Internet could become a more costly experience.....
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No Love for Notes 

According to this article in the Guardian, 119 million out of 120 million Notes users hate the client interface. It's unfortunate for Novell that they don't have the marketing saavy to capitalize on that.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

IM goes mobile 

The Guardian has a story that the big mobile forms are readying the release of a common IM facility for their customers. I've used VeriChat for a while and it's really good. It's use of "bots" - automated lookup services for news, sports scores, travel news etc - are something that really ought to be available in existing IM clients.
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where have you been?! 

Cool site that allows you to check off the countries you've visited and it will calculate what percentage of the earth you've been to:

Also available for visited states (in the US):

Then it gives you a link to share with your friends. Wow, my global one is pretty sad. My US coverage is a little better.
I saw this and my map looked a little sad, too - mainly because Europe is so small on the map!
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Friday, February 03, 2006

Sky's HDTV football preview 

There's a fair bit of scepticism around HDTV in the UK with many punters thinking that it's just a way for TV manufacturers to get us to upgrade our kit. This is more the feeling in the UK as current picture quality is better than in the US because of the greater number of lines (625 vs. 525).

HDTV UK has a review of Sky's HDTV football preview and it sounds impressive. As Sky used football to grow from zero to eight million subscribers, it looks like they're hoping to do the same with HDTV. HDTV UK fails to do the usual discolsure bit, though: the Sun is owned by News International which is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation that also owns Sky.
Hi Mike

we did say

'Well I know the cynics among you are thinking, err Murdoch paper and Murdoch TV network, but trust me Jonathan is spot on - football really is amazing in high definition.'

So we did the disclosure bit.

Cheers for the link though and I agree with a lot of what you say
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