July 6, 2006
Google Becomes an Official Verb
At least according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Does that mean I can Google on Yahoo!? And there is another new word, or in this case, phrase, relating to tech: mouse potato, which is the equivalent of a couch potato except sitting in front of a computer screen instead of a TV screen, just as I am doing right now. As television and computers and the Internet converge, will there be mouch potatoes? You heard it here first.
Net Nuetrality has a Comedic Side
The always entertaining John Dvorak of PC Magazine has an interesting article on Senator Ted Stevens and the Senator's take on net neutrality. Read it here.
July 5, 2006
Operating System Phone Home Continued
Microsoft was just hit with a second spyware claim over its Windows Genuine Advantage tool. This time the case was filed in federal district court in Washington State. Of course, the filers are seeking class action status. Hackers are apparently getting into the fun as well. A new worm is using AOL's Instant Messenger to masquerade as the Microsoft tool and installing itself on target machines. Once there it can download malicious programs and be used for denial of service attacks. Microsoft says it will scan and clean for the worm in the next release of its malicious software removal download.
In other news, Apple is unsettling some of its users with word that OS version 10.4.7 has a new feature called Dashboard Advisory which checks to make sure the widgets on someone's machine are genuine and up to date. No personal information is collected according to Apple. It is odd, though, that the check takes place every eight hours without announcement and cannot be turned off.
Is the future of operating systems going to be constant communication with their manufacturers? It's certainly possible with one way licensing agreements. While a company claims to be committed to an individual's privacy, that claim is based on a set of principles that could easily change as the needs of the manufacturer and even the government change in relation to data collection. Slippery slopes anyone?
Google Will Use Existing Trade Laws to Combat Market Abuse
Google has indicated through the statements of Google Vice-President Vint Cerf that it will use the courts and existing antitrust laws to combat market abuse if net neutrality provisions fail to make it into law. The latter seems to be less likely as attempts to add net neutrality provisions to the telecom bills circulating in the House and Senate were repeatedly shot down. Cerf's statements came while he was in Bulgaria covering issues of information technology and Internet access there.
Telecoms say they won't discriminate against a competitor as much as enhance customer services for their own products. Telecoms are chomping at the bit to offer video services which takes up huge amounts of bandwidth, which is really the issue here. Telecoms are forced to spend a great deal of money to upgrade their networks to add this capability and are looking for outside deals to help subsidize the effort. AT&T, for example, is just starting to test and publicize their U-Verse video service. Verizon is supposed to have a video service in the wings as well. These are still fledgling efforts. AT&T doesn't publicize channel line-ups per package because they are apparently still in flux.
There is a lot of fascination over adding another market player to compete with satellite and cable providers for video services. Everyone sees that as a good thing, more or less. Cable companies deliver Internet services in competition with telecoms but haven't indicated that they would vary web service speed. Telecoms, on the other hand, have been very vocal about wanting popular destinations to pay part of the freight.
The reality is that no one really knows what the market will allow if the Internet becomes a semi-toll road, hence the public posturing between entities in Congress and the FCC over the issue. In fact, there is no guarantee that video services over IP will be a success, less because of the basic technology than to service levels and pricing issues. Telephone companies were in the traditional cable business years ago and got out because it wasn't working for them financially. Google adds one more layer to the mix by invoking the existing trade regulation laws as a possible answer to market abuse.
As the Chinese might say, let a thousand lawyers go forth.