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8/16/2006
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Yo! Reality's Over Here!

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Yo! Reality's Over Here!
2. Today's Top Story
    - Dell Recalls More Than 4 Million Laptop Batteries
3. Breaking News
    - Firefox 2.0 Delayed Until October
    - Report: Expect Offshore IT Services Firms To Grow
    - Blogs, Wikis, Forums Sway Consumer Opinion, Research Shows
    - Microsoft OneCare Snaps Up Second Place In Security Sales
    - Microsoft Delays 11 Patches To Push One
    - CA Plans To Cut 1,700 Jobs, Profit Falls
    - Next-Generation AMD Opteron Paves The Way For Quad-Core
    - HP, Lenovo, Others Unwrap Linux Offerings At LinuxWorld
    - Sun Server Customers Qualify For Power Company Rebates
    - Motorola Improves Wireless Roaming For Public Safety Workers
    - Google Calls In Developers For Code Jam 2006
4. Grab Bag
    - You Tube—Me Watch (BusinessWeek)
    - Google Sees Content Deals As Key To Long-Term Growth (Wall Street Journal)
    - RIAA's 'Abundance Of Sensitivity' Ends Harassment Of Grieving Family (Boing Boing)
5. In Depth: Digital Entertainment
    - IAC Takes Majority Stake In CollegeHumor
    - Sales Of Music-Enabled Phones Double
    - Twentieth Century Makes Movies Available For Windows Media Player
    - Google Adds Video Link To Home Page
    - Bully Video Game Draws Fire
    - Hooray For Broadband Hollywood
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Dell's Computers Are Hot, But Not The Company
7. White Papers
    - Web Self-Service: Making It Work
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"I like nonsense—it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope...and that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities." -- Theodor S. Geisel, a.k.a. "Dr. Seuss"


1. Editor's Note: Yo! Reality's Over Here!

Judging by the spate of news that hit this past week, the impending end of summer is causing people to disappear into technology-fueled fantasies. More power to them, I say.

The first evidence: Firefox (yes, the browser) ran for Prom Queen at a high school and gave the living candidates a run for their big-haired money.

A high school junior identified only as Joe, a Firefox fan and—one presumes—someone lacking a date to the big event, came up with the idea of nominating the popular open-source browser for queen. He created a blog, posted posters and flyers, sold T-shirts, and in general proved so successful at securing votes that school authorities became alarmed. They were forced to do what was almost certainly a first: forbid all browsers from being elected prom royalty. The Firefox for Prom King committee, which apparently didn't have the popular support of its softer side, folded up its camp, too.

This happened more than a year ago, but the Web site documenting the feat only spread through the blogosphere this week.

Pity the poor human contestants more, though: In a write-in campaign, two of them were defeated by their open-source rival.

In London, meanwhile, grown men and women this past month were prowling the streets engaged in high-tech play, with plots and characters inspired by computer games. Just yesterday, a three-week tournament of a 24/7 immersive game called Street Wars: Killers ended. Armed with cell phones and PDAs that provided them with ubiquitous connectivity to the Web, 200 participants were given instructions on who they were supposed to rub out and then sent out over the city to find and shoot their targets using water guns purchased at Toys "R" Us.

Gee, hundreds of people roaming the streets of London pretending to be killers in the midst of heightened security warnings about terrorism. As the Fark catchphrase goes: What could go wrong?

They weren't the only ones giving the British public a view of high-tech fantasy spillover into flesh-and-blood shenanigans. Last year, a British company called Mind Candy introduced Perplexcity.com, a live-action game played out in the real world that has become all the rage throughout Great Britain. Utilizing blogs, the Web, text messaging, and low-tech media (ads placed in newspapers), this game allows participants to participate in an unfolding story line about a fantasy city populated with virtual as well as real characters. The incentive (other than the fun of the chase) to join in: a buried treasure of 100,000 British pounds (about $180,000).

Then there's BotFighters, which allows you to create a virtual robot that "lives" online. You fight other robots using your cell phone whenever they come within a one-mile radius. How do you know when that happens? Your own personal GPS, of course.

Okay, I'm in. Where do I line up to drink the Kool-Aid?

And finally, the hospitality industry—where escapism, after all, is part of the business model—has now gone the extra mile. One of the industry's largest conglomerates, Starwood Hotels and Resorts—which owns, among other properties, the Sheraton and Westin chains—has decided to open a virtual version of a new line of hotels before breaking ground on its brick-and-mortar inns. The first of the real-world Aloft brand of hostelry won't be ready for almost two years. In the meantime, an Aloft inn is being built in the popular Second Life world, a 3-D virtual space with its own geography, culture, and currency.

Second Life securing a real-world brand name for its imaginary world isn't new—Wells Fargo, among others, jumped on the bandwagon some time ago. No, the most interesting aspect of this news is that Starwood actually expects to glean enough valuable data from the way online avatars react to the new hotel to help shape the one being constructed on Planet Earth. As bloggers at Techdirt note: "So the next time you check into a hotel from this company and there's nothing to eat (since SL avatars don't need food) and the bed is gone (they don't need sleep, either), you know who to blame."

How about you? How are you handling the end of summer? Thinking of disappearing from your humdrum life in favor of something more thrilling? Drop me a line at my blog entry and let me know.

Alice LaPlante
Alice.laplante@gmail.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Dell Recalls More Than 4 Million Laptop Batteries
The company says the Dell-branded lithium-ion batteries could overheat and pose a fire risk.


3. Breaking News

Firefox 2.0 Delayed Until October
There are approximately 40 bugs in the under-construction Firefox 2.0 Beta 2, and about 100 that need to be addressed before the final version goes out the door, Mozilla says.

Report: Expect Offshore IT Services Firms To Grow
Indian companies in particular are investing in remote infrastructure management, onshore data centers, and tools to automate application development and maintenance processes.

Blogs, Wikis, Forums Sway Consumer Opinion, Research Shows
Manufacturers are studying the growing phenomenon of consumer-generated reviews and other types of content and are trying to find ways to use this trend to their advantage, a new report says.

Microsoft OneCare Snaps Up Second Place In Security Sales
The company's first consumer for-a-fee security offering debuted at the end of May. By the end of June, it had grabbed 15% of retail security suite sales, said the NPD Group.

Microsoft Delays 11 Patches To Push One
The company has made delivering the patch for the vulnerability cited in security bulletin MS06-040 its highest security priority, letting other patches slide until later, a program manager confirms.

CA Plans To Cut 1,700 Jobs, Profit Falls
Layoffs and facility closures will mean $200 million in savings when complete in 2008, reports the company, which is suffering from accounting scandals.

Next-Generation AMD Opteron Paves The Way For Quad-Core
AMD's first major upgrade to its Opteron server processor includes hardware-assisted virtualization and use of second-generation double data rate memory.

HP, Lenovo, Others Unwrap Linux Offerings At LinuxWorld
Hewlett-Packard announced it will develop and support Debian, a top-ranked Linux distribution, while Lenovo unveiled a Linux-based workstation.

Sun Server Customers Qualify For Power Company Rebates
Buyers of Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers with low-power UltraSPARC processors are eligible for rebates of $700 to $1,000 per server from Pacific Gas & Electric.

Motorola Improves Wireless Roaming For Public Safety Workers
A new feature that's been added to MNM's Intelligent Routing suite automatically switches data between networks when users move around.

Google Calls In Developers For Code Jam 2006
The competition presents contestants with a series of problems that test their programming skills and creativity.

All Our Latest News

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In the current episode:

John Soat With 'Bad News First'
Dell recalls over 4 million laptop batteries, CA lays off 10% of its workforce as net income plummets, 67 million cell phones ship in Q1, and more.

Peter Gorenstein With 'Bet On Oracle'
APC's CIO says Oracle skills are very hot in the IT market.

Sacha Lecca With 'Roller Robot'
"Roller Walker" robot can walk on both rough and smooth surfaces.


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4. Grab Bag

You Tube—Me Watch (BusinessWeek)
Despite its exponential growth, is the popular video site running the risk of being outdone by aggressive competitors?

Google Sees Content Deals As Key To Long-Term Growth (Wall Street Journal)
Google has been under the gun from a number of media companies because of its determination to search through their content. Now Google appears to be changing its strategy by offering revenue-sharing deals to its former adversaries.

RIAA's 'Abundance Of Sensitivity' Ends Harassment Of Grieving Family (Boing Boing)
After a huge public outcry, the RIAA has dropped its lawsuit against the family of a dead man.


5. In Depth: Digital Entertainment

IAC Takes Majority Stake In CollegeHumor
Media mogul Barry Diller's Web content group has picked up a controlling interest in CollegeHumor.com, a comedy Web site that offers edgy material for the college-age crowd.

Sales Of Music-Enabled Phones Double
As expected, mobile phone sales dipped a bit in the first half of 2006, while sales of music-enabled phones rose to 10% of all shipments in the second quarter, up from 5% in the same period a year ago.

Twentieth Century Makes Movies Available For Windows Media Player
The multiyear deal with sister company Fox Interactive Media will kick off in October on the Direct2Drive site.

Google Adds Video Link To Home Page
The new link is part of a reshuffle in which Google dropped links to its search engines for books, discussion groups, and shopping, placing them in a dropdown box instead.

Bully Video Game Draws Fire
Anti-bullying forces in education and elsewhere are calling for a ban.

Hooray For Broadband Hollywood
Tinseltown and integrators are taking notice that consumers are spending serious money on downloadable Internet TV and movie content.


6. Voice Of Authority

Dell's Computers Are Hot, But Not The Company
Darrell Dunn points out that although Dell laptops have acquired a fiery reputation, the company is no longer hot when it comes to either Wall Street or customers.


7. White Papers

Web Self-Service: Making It Work
Many Web self-service offerings fail because they don't go far enough. Simply posting information about products and services on a Web site is no substitute for a complete online experience that empowers would-be customers to easily find, configure, and purchase the right products and services to meet their needs.


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