Prompt Communications | Technology Newsletter Prompt Communications website
January 16

Only two weeks into the year, but the industry's already in full swing. Microsoft has thrown the thrown the curtains wide open on the Windows 7 beta. If you want a sneak preview of Vista's successor, you've got two weeks to grab it for free.

Intel is bringing cheaper educational computers to the UK market, while expectation is mounting that President-elect Obama will appoint his technology advisor to lead the FCC following his inauguration. Google's been getting hot and bothered about its impact on the climate, and poor little Ozzy has shown he's no Nintendog.

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Hazel Butters
Prompt Communications

Technology News

Windows 7 thrown wide open

UK By Dave Wilby

Microsoft this week suspended limitations on the beta download of its forthcoming Windows 7 operating system. This was a bid to accelerate user testing ahead of a proposed Christmas 2009 launch. For two weeks at least, it's an OS free-for-all.

CEO Steve Ballmer announced the public beta test during his keynote at CES (if you missed it, catch the video or PDF transcript). There was a surge in demand on 9 January, the original release date, which crashed Microsoft's official download site. As a result, Microsoft decided to expand availability to a much wider audience.

ZDNet UK quoted a corporate blog post by Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc in which he said: "Due to an enormous surge in demand, the download experience was not ideal so we listened and took the necessary steps to ensure a good experience. We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 beta and, as a result, we have decided to remove the initial 2.5 million limit on the public beta for the next two weeks."

Although unlimited copies of Windows 7 will now be available free until 24 January, please remember that Microsoft publicly bug tests its operating systems for a year for very good reasons - neither your work colleagues nor your family are going to thank you much if you wipe your relatively stable XP or Vista setup on a whim this week.

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'Google it' or don't?

US Media News By Laurie SantaLucia

A story based loosely on the findings of a survey conducted by Harvard physicist Alex Wissner-Gross had Google up in arms early this week. The rare bout of negative press stemmed from an article claiming that Harvard research results showed that web searches emit as much as 10 g of CO2 with each query. The news report blamed Google directly.

Google responded making a solid case that the study's findings are "many times too high." Wissner-Gross's findings say that 0.002 g of CO2 can be attributed to browsing your average website for every second it is viewed while sites with "complex video" emit even higher levels in the neighbourhood of 0.2 g per second. The article implied that the study's statistics compared the estimated 7 g CO2 emission from a single web search to that of boiling a kettle full of water at 12 g.

TechNewsWorld let Wissner-Gross defend his work and revealed that his study mentions nothing of Google and focuses exclusively on the web overall. Better yet, he denied having any idea where the kettle statistic came from.

Even if that were true, I can say confidently that the ROI of my average web search is much higher than that of making a cup of tea. If I'm made to choose, I'll stick with Google.

Don't believe this? Go ahead. Google it.

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Obama Classmate is Expected Nominee to Lead the FCC

US Media News By Maryellen Cronin

Although this has not been formally announced, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to nominate his top technology adviser, Julius Genachowski, to head the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Reen Hundt is a former chairman of the FCC, where Genachowski worked under him. He said: "Assuming he's nominated, Julius would be the very first nominee ever for the FCC who had previously been a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur and a tech executive."

Due to today's economic climate, the big broadband carriers have scaled back capital investments. The carriers' focus is on dense markets where there is an opportunity to turn profits quickly as opposed to the rural, lower income areas where the payback time is longer. Because of this, many areas of the US could be without viable broadband choices until there is a upturn in the economy.

With the diverse background Genachowski brings to the table, he has the knowledge, insight and experience to approach the issues the country is facing with a fresh perspective. Despite the shift in focus from rural to more dense areas from the big broadband companies, Obama still notes that broadband will be an economic driver for the US which can create job opportunities and improve the quality of life for Americans. In the past, the current FCC chief has sought ways to drive broadband into rural areas and has in turn opened up some opportunities, but taking the US to the next level may prove challenging.

Genachowski, 46, was the architect of Obama's drive to use the internet to raise funding for the primary and general election campaigns.

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Beware of the Wii

UK By Becky Cheers

With the arrival of Prompt's office dog next week, we were all alarmed to hear about the story of Ozzy, a five month old miniature Sheltie.

Ozzy's owner, Kathy White, was bowling on her new Nintendo Wii when Ozzy jumped up and collided with one of the remote controls. After he was hit in the temple, he lay still without moving or breathing.

Help was called upon from the White's next door neighbour, who ran to Ozzy's aid. Pene Honey checked Ozzy for a pulse, which was beating rapidly to begin with but then stopped. In a bid to save him, Honey breathed through his nose several times.

This seemed to do the trick as Ozzy then coughed and woke up. The miniature Sheltie was then rushed to the vets where he was diagnosed with brain swelling. Ozzy has been in recovery for a couple of weeks now and is almost back to normal.

White said: "I just want people to be aware of their environment, especially small dogs and children, so this doesn't happen to them."

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Intel's Classmate debuts in the UK

UK By Laura Beynon

A laptop, which has been produced by Intel for the developing world, will be making its debut in the UK next month. The machine known as the 'Classmate' has been converted from a traditional laptop to a tablet PC, making it easier for young children to draw and write more naturally on a computer.

The Classmate will be available to buy from high street stores such as Argos and online from Amazon with a retail price of £349. Schools will be able to buy it directly at a reduced price of around £260.

Last year the UK government announced that it was to distribute one million PCs to households in the UK who have small children with no access to a computer. It has begun discussions with Intel about distributing the Classmate PC to households under the scheme. This makes sense, since the Classmate PC is custom built to encourage children to start using computers and is preloaded with educational software, which is easy for children to use and therefore learn.

Gordon Graylish, the deputy general manager of Intel Europe said: "It is encouraging that the UK government has publicly committed itself to driving higher standards and better outcomes for children by breaking down barriers to achievement and tackling the link between deprivation and low educational attainment. Education through technology can have a profound effect on children."

I hope the government and parents understand the vital role the Classmate PC can have in transforming education in the UK, so that it is made available to as many children as possible.

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16 January 2009


Technology News

Media News

Tech Totals

Website of the Week

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Media News

US Media News US

By Melanie Hesketh

Geoffrey Fowler has transferred to the San Francisco office of the Wall Street Journal. In his new role, he'll cover e-commerce companies, internet companies and technology culture. Previously he was a reporter at the WSJ Hong Kong bureau and covered the Asian advertising industry and marketing.

Forbes has announced several promotions within its technology department. Kerry Dolan, formerly Forbes' senior editor, will take the helm as deputy technology editor and will continue to cover biotechnology, international business and clean technology. Staff writer Wendy Tanaka will now take on the role of deputy technology editor for Elizabeth Corcoran will serve as technology editor for both the print and online site. Senior editor Rebecca Buckman will add clean technology to her remit and Quentin Hardy will no longer serve as Silicon Valley bureau chief but will continue to work as a senior writer for the magazine.

Gartner analyst Kristen Noakes-Fry recently left the company, where she served as a security and privacy research director. Noakes-Fry's specialism was in technologies for maintaining security in offices linked to the internet, including business continuity planning tools, risk analysis tools, antivirus tools, digital and electronic signatures, and firewalls. A replacement has not yet been named.

Marketing Magazine's associate editor Rebecca Harris recently returned after being on leave. Lisa Hannam was serving as acting associate editor in her stead and has now left the magazine. Hannam formerly served as a senior editor for Maximum Fitness and Oxygen.

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By Melanie Hesketh

Stephen Khan has been appointed assistant news editor at the Guardian News and Media. Previously, Khan was associate news editor at The Independent and has also worked as the Scotland editor for The Observer.

Showreel, the print magazine covering all aspects of production in the film and television industries, has ceased publication. Its sister publication Newsreel closed in 2007. Both magazines were part of Showreel Publishing.

Chris Adams has been promoted from leader writer to assistant news editor at the Financial Times. Adams has held a number of positions at the FT including political correspondent, employment correspondent, economics correspondent and insurance correspondent.

Jeroen Bergmans is the new editor of Easyjet's inflight magazines, published by Ink Publishing. He will work on the redesign of the magazine which includes the launch of a new, user-friendly online travel portal. Previously Bergmans was the travel editor at Wallpaper magazine and also held the editorial director position at Travel Intelligence.

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Tech Totals

US Media News By Maryellen Cronin

Which technology will be the hottest this year, according to a Network World poll.

Cloud Computing: 21%

Virtualization: 19%

10G Ethernet: 11%

Unified Communications: 11%

802.11n: 9%

Green IT: 9%

Web 2.0: 7%

Other: 6%

Data Protection: 4%

Network Access Control: 3%

Total voters for this poll: 159

Website of the week

UK By Dave Wilby

1911 Census

Researching family trees has been one of the most popular online activities among home users since the very earliest days of the web. When the UK National Audit Office unlocked the 1901 Census online seven years ago, the site crashed after five days under an avalanche of one million visitors an hour. It didn't resurface for another eight months!

For the uninitiated, the 1911 Census is a record of everyone who lived in England and Wales in 1911. UK government ministers have been pushing for an early release of the revenue generating 1911 information since March 2004, and it finally went live this week.

You can search the many hundreds of thousands of records on this new National Archive resource for free, but fees are applied for downloading and storing more complete, scanned records of individuals. Fortunately there's also plenty of help and advice available for anyone delving into their family history for the first time.

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