World Of Warcraft, The Virtual Playmaker
Forget the old business models of enterprise software and services, Vivendi's video games branch just posted one of its best margins ever, all thanks to a bunch of druids, goblins, orcs, elves, and fairies.
Solar-Powered Gadgets Gone Goofy
I'm as eager as anyone to see more products that can be fired up with solar power. But some gadgets should never have made it off the drawing board -- they're just too goofy. Like these.
Are Online Ads Losing Value?
For an industry that saw its revenue rise 25% last year to a record high, the online advertising business is in a bit of a funk. Mostly that's because of Google, which has seen its dominance in Internet ads erode, slightly, and watched its share price slide by 38% in the last four months.
Don't Discount The Threat Of Web 2.0 Terror
We've recently seen silly articles hyping the threat of terrorists using virtual worlds and other Web 2.0 sites for recruitment, planning, and training. And we've seen equally silly articles ridiculing the idea. The truth is that Web 2.0 tools are great for terrorism, for the same reasons they're great for legitimate projects. That doesn't mean we should shut down Facebook and Second Life to protect ourselves from instant, horrible death. But we do need to rationally evaluate possible threats.
Congress Tries To Drink Big Oil's Milkshake
If Daniel Plainview weren't fictional, he'd be howling bloody hell. Congress on Wednesday passed a bill that would yank $17.65 billion in tax breaks to oil companies and reallocate the savings to fund tax incentives for wind, solar, and other renewable energy technologies.
Join Us For GridTalk Friday On The Future Of Motorati Island
Join us Friday to look at one of the most active communities in Second Life: Motorati Island. The sponsors, headed by Pontiac, recently turned the island over to the United Spinal Association. Renamed Motorability, it's headed up by Patty Streeter, who will be our guest for GridTalk noon SLT.
Technology And The Big Foot Problem
Michael Specter's article "Big Foot," in the current issue of The New Yorker, examines some common assumptions about carbon emissions and how technology is going to have to step on the gas to tackle the climate change problem. It's worth a close read.
Virgin Atlantic's Biofueled Flight Plan Is Coco-Nuts
A Virgin Atlantic 747 topped off its fuel tank with the oil of 150,000 coconuts and flew from Heathrow to Amsterdam Sunday. The odor of pina coladas hanging over the economy cabin should have been a giveaway -- this idea is a stinker.
Hacker's Poised To Beat Apple's Latest Version Of DRM (aka C.R.A.P.)
One of the hotter memes over the weekend had to do with a cease and desist letter that the ever-litigious Apple sent to the operators of the Hymn Project. For those looking to remove Apple's copy protection technology (officially "FairPlay," but I call it "C.R.A.P.") from iTunes Music Store (iTMS)-bought content, the Hymn Project has been the go-to site for utilities that have managed to stay one
Join Us For InformationWeek Live Tuesday With Clay Shirky
Our guest, New York University's Clay Shirky, will discuss his new book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations, which describes how social networks like MySpace and Digg are allowing new kinds of collaborative action.
GM To Sire Hybrid Pony Car?
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning received a trophy, a ring, and his pick of Cadillacs for being the game-winning MVP of Super Bowl XLII earlier this month. But he won't be driving his new Caddy anytime soon.
Turning Work Into Play Is No Game
It sounds like techno-utopian silliness to say that businesses need to learn from online games how to make tedious knowledge-work more enjoyable. But many knowledge-work jobs are so deadly dull that the typical worker lasts just nine months -- in call centers, for example. Extend that by a few months, and businesses stand to save piles of money, said Byron Reeves, a professor in the department of communication at Stanford University.
Documentary Examines Mac Fanatics
An upcoming documentary interviews more than 50 "Macheads" in an unsuccessful attempt to figure out what makes the Mac inspire such loyal and fanatical devotion.
Obama Would Put A CTO In The Cabinet
Barack Obama plans to unveil his IT strategy, which will include making the job of federal chief technology officer a Cabinet-level position. He also wants to mandate open government meetings streamed over broadband and favors net neutrality.
Is Internet Censorship Doomed To Fail?
American companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo help authoritarian governments, such as China, censor the Internet. The companies' defense: Internet censorship is doomed and bringing the Internet into countries -- even censored -- will hasten the day when those countries are open. But critics say those arguments are self-serving and just plain wrong.
Satellite Smithereens Preferable To Graveyard Orbit
The U.S. Navy says it is "very confident" it blasted a defective spy satellite to bits with an interceptor missile Wednesday night. Its next order of business, after definitively confirming the strike today or Friday, should be to play up the positive environmental benefits of the mission.
Full Nelson: ClearContext Has a Fuzzy Outlook
I'm not an Outlook user, but most e-mail clients I have tried -- and even Outlook back when I used it -- seem pretty self-explanatory, so I'm a little unclear about the need for ClearContext. This product aims to make Outlook e-mail more manageable, more efficient, more automated. Maybe this is just one of those things where you don't know you're missing. Since our company is moving to Outlook in the next few months, maybe I'll have to see for myself.
Report From India: In The Villages, A Tantalizing Morsel Of Broadband
The farmers of Brahmanwada, a small farming village I visited this week in central India, use a shared Internet connection called e-choupal to check crop prices, so they can decide if it's worth hiring a truck to take their goods to market. It's an Internet success story. But things got really interesting when I asked them what information they'd like to get online that they can't yet, and the ideas started flying.
Can We Have Affordable Solar Energy By 2050?
Last week the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced a list of grand challenges for engineering in the 21st century. The goal was to identify what needs be done by the engineering community to help humanity thrive.
Join Us For InformationWeek Live -- Later Today
I'm pleased to report that Microsoft will be joining us at 3 pm Eastern time today for our InformationWeek Live session to discuss the company's big, upcoming server announcements. Microsoft plans to launch Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 on Feb. 27 -- the first server OS upgrade in five years, and the first database upgrade in three.
Join Us For InformationWeek Live To Discuss Microsoft's Enterprise Server Announcements
Microsoft plans to launch Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 on Feb. 27 -- the first server OS upgrade in five years, and the first database upgrade in three. The products are the foundation of Microsoft's lucrative servers and tools business. But with Microsoft fallen behind on key technologies for the server products, and challenges from competitors including Linux, can Microsoft maintain momentum?
Review: Leopard Grows Up With Mac OS X 10.5.2 Update
What's the main improvement in the three-day-old Mac OS X 10.5.2? Increased stability. With previous versions of Leopard, I had to force-quit a frozen application once or twice a day, but with 10.5.2, I haven't had to do it even once. "It just works" is once again a description of the Mac, not just wishful thinking, as it has been since Leopard shipped in October.
Valentine's Day For The Geek In Your Life
Valentine's Day is here once more. Scores of greeting card manufacturers, chocolatiers, and teddy-bear makers are frolicking giddily among the hills of green (money, that is), having convinced us again that telling that special someone "I love you" every other day of the year just isn't enough.
Best Buy + Data Loss = Lawsuit
Do a search for "I hate Best Buy" and you'll find a growing list of disgruntled customer blog posts and discussion threads. Needless to say, the electronics retailer is no stranger to business practice controversies. The latest tale of woe, however, opens up a whole new can of worms for the company, thrusting it into the arena of data loss.
Join Us Tuesday Afternoon For InformationWeek Live
InformationWeek Live this week is all about location, location, location. GPS-enabled mobile devices can give users the information they need when and where they need it. We'll talk with three experts on location-based services about where this technology is today and where it's going.
Planned Boycott Of eBay Proves Harm Of Monocultures
For the longest time, the term "monoculture" was synonymous with Microsoft. But eBay is probably another monoculture, and given the degree to which it so easily empowers businesses and individuals to engage in e-commerce, it also could be just as harmful, if not more so. Need evidence? You know it's a monoculture when, instead of switching to a competitor, an angry customer's only choice is to join other angry customers in a planned boycott.
Will Wright Demonstrates Spore At NASA
Below is a video of game designer Will Wright discussing his upcoming game Spore with an audience at the NASA Ames Research Center. Admittedly, this has very little to do with IT, beyond that fact that it involves computers. But it's fascinating technology and I can guarantee you that once it's released late this year, it will be sapping CPU cycles at my house. Happy Friday.
Nokia To Launch A Windows Mobile Smartphone?
The buzz mill is in full swing today. The latest claim to run through the blogosphere this afternoon is that Nokia is in talks with Mircosoft to use Windows Mobile on some of its smartphones. Say what?
Playing The Devil's Advocate About Microhoo
Daring Fireball's John Gruber says his gut feeling is that the Microsoft-Yahoo deal would be a disaster, but he notes that it could work out to be a triumph for Microsoft -- but only if Microsoft acts in a very, very un-Microsoftian way.
The Power Plant In Your Pants
Scientists have developed a knee brace that captures energy from a moving knee, much like regenerative braking charges a battery in a Toyota Prius.
Software Model Predicts College Football Recruits' Choices
A team of researchers is using SAS Institute's statistical software to predict which college No. 1 football recruit Terrelle Pryor will choose. Earlier this week the prediction model called for him to pick Ohio State; now it's saying he'll likely choose Penn State. Michigan has dropped to his No. 3 choice. Hmm, we'll see.
The Top 5 Reasons Nokia Should Bid On Yahoo
The entire tech universe is obsessed with Microsoft's attempt to take over Yahoo. The market has been waiting for this move for the last year, so most of the "analysis" coming from bloggers and industry pundits is well-rehearsed and polished, but hardly thought-provoking. Instead of rehashing this debate, I want to start another one: Why isn't Nokia bidding for Yahoo?
A Greener Bowl Game? Super
What else ya got? Super Bowl XLII (double extra large!) will be remembered for the stunning outcome on the field (Giants 17 - Patriots 14), not for the NFL's environmental efforts off-field.
Join Us Later Today For The Kick-Off Of The Brand-New InformationWeek Live
We're a little more than an hour away from launching our new series of events: InformationWeek Live, a real-time podcast featuring InformationWeek editors and top guests. Today's netcast is primarily a tech rehearsal, but a few of us editors will be there sharing perspective on the top headlines of the day.