Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Batteries, Wii, spam: you must remember 2006

By Kate Bulkley, Mike Cross, Keith Stuart, Bobbie Johnson and Charles Arthur

The Guardian

Thursday December 21, 2006

Fires and delays held up Sony, rivals dissed the iPod, sex.com was sold for $1m and everyone got their 15 minutes on YouTube

Bill Gates, Microsoft's chief software architect and co-founder, will leave the company after 30 years in 2008 to concentrate on giving away his billions. Ray Ozzie will take the software reins.

Windows Vista, after five years inside Microsoft, will leave the Redmond HQ for the public domain in 2007, to rake in billions for the company.

Though Blu-ray and HD-DVD have grabbed headlines in their battle to succeed DVD, nobody yet knows which one to buy.

Including a Blu-ray drive in every Sony PlayStation 3 will lose the company about $100 per machine, at least initially.

Manufacturing delays to the Blu-ray drive delayed the PS3's European debut, which should now be in the spring.

First Dell, then Apple, then IBM, Toshiba, Panasonic, Fujitsu and Lenovo recalled Sony-made laptop batteries. In all, 9.6m were recalled, costing Sony $429m (219m).

Sony recalled none of its laptop batteries.

Nintendo makes a profit on every Wii it sells, heading for 4m as you read this.

Apple changed all its machines over to Intel chips , with only minor hassles (such as hackers running Windows on the machines, and trying to run OS X on Dell systems).

Apple released a program that let people run Windows on its machines.

Everyone has 15 seconds of fame on YouTube. From the angry Hong Kong "bus uncle" to Geriatric1927, anyone can be a star. Even fakes are welcome - ask Lonelygirl15, aka New Zealand actress Jessica Rose.

Startups can be pretty lucrative. Delicious sold to Yahoo, and YouTube, after just 18 months of existence, to Google for $1.65bn - theoretically, earning $20m a week.

Google is trying to do too many things, says chief executive Eric Schmidt. First for the chop was Google Answers. Why? Google wouldn't say.

WikipediaM isn't as bad as its critics say. In a much-disputed study last December, the science journal Nature rated its accuracy as comparable with Encyclopedia Britannica. Britannica rebutted this at length in March.

Wikipedia is getting more bureaucratic. A growing number of articles are "locked" against changes, and more require that you create a login before editing them.

Getting an article - such as a biography of yourself - removed from Wikipedia is very difficult. The more you complain, the more worthy you must be of inclusion.

Some domain names are still valuable. sex.com sold for $12million last January; last week vodka.com changed hands for a reported $3m.

Some domain names are pretty much worthless. To add to the tumbleweed of .info, .museum and .aero, Icann created new .eu and .mobi domains.

Spam has reached unprecedented levels, after a promising dip at the start of the year, due to "image spam" which defeats most filters.

Spam can be beaten, or at least managed, if ISPs adopt "authenticated SMTP" and demand that others do too.

MTV thinks anything you upload onto their sites is theirs in perpetuity, regardless of what you might decide to do with that (your) content.

BitTorrent's new mantra is that it is protecting content in the p2p space - an idea that was heretofore an oxymoron. But the movie studios seem to believe it.

Rob Glaser, the chief executive of Real Networks, thinks that iPod owners steal music: "About half the music on iPods is music obtained illegitimately either from an illegal peer-to-peer networks or from ripping friends' CDs, which is illegal."

Universal Music's chief executive Doug Morris thinks iPod owners steal music. "These [digital music] devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they [makers] all know it," he told Billboard. "So it's time to get paid for it."

All iPods come with a sticker saying "Don't steal music". Steve Jobs told Apple's designers to include it.

Originally, any iPod could have transferred music to any computer; Steve Jobs vetoed this, making it "pair" only with one.

Government is e-enabled. On average, 97% of your council's services are available electronically. Don't know how they managed it with meals on wheels.

Electronic conveyancing will be a reality for home buyers in 2009. Possibly more a reality than home buying, if you live in London.

A quarter of all taxpayers filed their returns electronically and the system didn't crash.

If you wanted directions from London to the Ardneil Hotel, Troon, one way to find them was by asking the government's Transport Direct website the way to the Channel tunnel.

Government bodies can pass your personal information around so long as it is in the public interest to do so.

Despite a pounds 5 million advertising campaign, five times as many people find government websites through Google than through the the official web portal direct.gov.uk.

Government IT projects succeed - but mostly when they're small and un-government-like, says the National Audit Office .

"Free" broadband isn't: you'll end up paying with your time or patience, or higher phone bills.

More than 75% of Britons now access the net from home by broadband.


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