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You may notice that there's something a little different around here. Don't worry, your eyes aren't deceiving you - the newsletter has had a complete redesign. It's brighter and snazzier and we hope you like it.

But don't worry - we're not all style and no substance. The newsletter's full of fascinating stories about flying cars, spam, research centres and people selling their lives on eBay.

Business as usual then really.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter. If you do, then why not take a peek at our blog?

Hazel Butters
Prompt Communications

Technology News

Experiment reveals the horrors of spam

UK By Duncan Heaney

According to McAfee, surfing the internet without the protection of a spam filter will result in the average user being bombarded with 70 spam emails a day. The company conducted an experiment, inviting 50 people from around the world to use the internet without any kind of anti-spam measures.

The experiment discovered that the US still stands as the most spammed country in the world, with the five American participants receiving an overwhelming 23,233 spam emails over the course of the experiment. The five UK participants received a total of 11,965 spam messages, sending the UK to fifth in the list of most spammed countries, behind the US, Brazil, Italy and Mexico. The least spammed country in the experiment was found to be Germany, which attracted only 2,331 messages.

The study discovered that spam was more than just a nuisance, however. It was a serious threat. Of the spam that was sent out, eight percent was classified as phishing messages. Participants also noticed a drop in the performance of their machines, as malware was installed from the websites they were visiting.

So, perhaps we should all appreciate our spam filters a little more.

Sky's the limit, claims Sir Clive

UK By Dave Wilby

You have to hand it to British entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair, when he has a dream he doesn't let it go easily. Although he made his name developing the world's first pocket calculator and early home microcomputers such as the ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum, for many he will be fondly remembered for his ill-fated electric personal transport system, the iconic Sinclair C5. Now over 20 years later, he has futuristic cars on his mind once again.

Sir Clive spoke to BBC Radio 4's iPM programme this week, revealing not only his immediate plans for the A-Bike, a lightweight, foldable bicycle, but also his belief that electric cars will soon be back in a big way - but this time filling the skies rather than our bus lanes. "Flying cars are technically entirely possible," he said.

"It would need to be automatically controlled because we can't all learn to fly. The vehicle would take off from your home and fly to wherever you want to go."

Interestingly Sir Clive doesn't use the internet. Despite admitting it is "wonderful and amazing", he finds it clouds his technical thinking. He's also still a bit miffed he didn't invent it himself: "It has totally surprised me. I utterly failed to foresee that."

ICANN says we can have any suffix we like

UK By Dave Wilby

After decades overseeing successive debates over which domain suffixes are suitable for release and which are not, website naming authority ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has now had a sudden change of heart and decided that businesses can pretty much choose any extensions they fancy.

Following a meeting in Paris this week, ICANN accepted a proposal that will allow organisations to move away from traditional top-level domain names (TLDs) such as .com or .org, and instead choose .LOL, .NYC, .DAD or whatever they like.

According to ZDNet, the new rules will come into play as early as next year, with new TLDs expected to cost upwards of £25,000 to deter cyber squatters. Hmmm, looks like my plans to secure the mail address dave@dave.dave might have been a tad premature then.

More people paying for free software

US By James Gerber

The 451 Group recently reported that venture capital funding for open source companies has risen for the second quarter compared to last year. Funding in the first quarter of this year was also abnormally high compared to prior years.

Funding is up 14 percent compared to last year's corresponding period. In fact, the capital raised in the first two quarters this year is just shy of the total amount of funding from last year ($321 million compared to $328 million). There was less investment in startups than usual, but that could be a factor of open source starting to mature.

In most major software categories, a dominant open source player has emerged or has started to emerge, which translates into less appeal for VCs to fund very-early-stage start-ups in those spaces. The difficulty in building a new open source company in an established space is in bringing together a critical mass of community to work on the project when other appealing options are already established. Even so, open source is booming and its clear potential means it now has money where its mouth is.

Microsoft looks for new ideas from a new office

US By Zachariah Hofer-Shall

Microsoft will soon launch its new 'Concept Development Center' in Cambridge, MA, reports. Residing across the street from Google's Massachusetts location and around the corner from Yahoo's recently acquired space, Microsoft's is expected to take up about half of the 17-story building at Kendall Square in Boston. This new address adds to Microsoft's regional presence, with three other offices and over 800 employees.

This is an interesting development. Microsoft has been in a dominant position with its Office suite and of course its operating systems, but with desktop applications making way for web applications and cloud computing, it has started to lose its undisputed supremacy. Increased competition has challenged the software behemoth in recent years as Open Source alternatives gain in popularity and Apple continues to pick up market share in the battle of the desktop. In a world where all your computer tasks took place in desktop applications Microsoft was king, but with ubiquitous internet connectivity the tech leader will be the one that powers the web. It seems that Microsoft knows this too because the new facility was created for exactly this purpose.

The appropriately titled Concept Development Center will be the home of designers and engineers, with the main focus of pushing new research for IT products. In an age when computing is changing so rapidly, there has never been a better time to push engineers for new ideas. Maybe the first idea will be to look around the crowded tech neighborhood to see if Google's left any projects lying around.

Man auctions life, is disappointed with selling price

UK By Duncan Heaney

An Australian man has sold his entire life on eBay for just under £200,000. Unfortunately, he'd expected to get a lot more.

Yahoo reports that Ian Usher had put his whole life up for auction - his house, his motorbike, his furniture, his job, even his friends.

Usher set up a site, 'A Life 4 Sale', which laid out his reasons for selling his life. It seems Mr Usher was suffering from a broken heart. "I met and married the best girl in the world," writes Usher. "However, after over twelve years together and five years of fantastic married happiness, I was hit with a bolt from the blue… I now live alone in a house that was being built for us to live in together... I am still surrounded by all the memorabilia of our years together."

After a seven-day auction, Ian Usher's life was sold for AU $399,300 (£192, 460). He had hoped to raise AU $500,000. Even so, Usher says it is enough for him to start a new life, and has set up a new site, '100 Goals in 100 Weeks', to chart his adventures from this point.

Tech Toon
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