An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a very late short takes, screwy Microsoft patents, AT&T's competitors are smelling blood in the water, Nintendo keeps rocking and rolling, Dell, Steve Jobs not-so-RIP, and so much more...
Washington D.C. proved a smashing success with the kids last weekend, which shouldn't be surprising. The city is chock-full of amazing and free sights, including numerous first-class monuments and museums. It was a great time, and the kids were so exhausted from all the walking that they pretty much just passed out immediately at bedtime. Which was great, given that we only had a one-room hotel room.
This morning, my father passed out a couple of times, so he was rushed to the hospital, necessitating some hasty schedule changes today. He's fine, apparently, but as I write this after 2 pm EST, it's about 7 hours later than my usual start time. Please excuse this week's brevity.
Leo and I did record another episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week. It should be available sometime soon if it isn't already.
But wait, there more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed and the SuperSite Blog.
Microsoft Patents "Page Up" and "Page Down"
Microsoft this month was awarded a patent for--get this--the Page Up and Page Down keys that have graced PC keyboards since, well, there were PC keyboards. Well, to be fair, they didn't really patent the keys; they patented the process of paging up and paging down. According to the software giant's application, which was filed way back in 2005, the patent is for "a method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed." They should patent the space bar next. I hear that's a big deal in word processing too.
ITC Agrees to Hear Microsoft Mouse & Keyboard Complaint
The International Trade Commission on Thursday announced that it will hear Microsoft's complaint that a Taiwanese company, Primax Electronics, has infringed on its patents for computer peripherals such as mice and keyboards. Microsoft is seeking an order preventing Primax from selling its knock-off products. Having never heard of Primax, I looked them up, and sure enough, they're one of the approximately 13,000 spurious-looking hardware companies that clog the Hilton hallways between the hotel's casino and the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES (the Consumer Electronics Show). I'm surprised to discover that such a company would ever do anything underhanded.
AT&T's Wireless Competitors Jumping All Over iPhone Problems
With the iPhone 3G off to a less-than-desirable start, given the hardware, software, and wireless networking issues that customers have had in just the first month of the product's availability, wireless carriers that compete with AT&T, the iPhone's exclusive US distributor, are having a field day. And they should: AT&T always has been, and remains, the iPhone's Achilles heel, with a network so weak and unavailable I'm surprised there hasn't already been a class action suit launched against the company. "A phone is only as good as the network it's on," a full page newspaper ad by Verizon reads. Oh, Verizon, how I miss you so: I was a Verizon Wireless customer before I got an iPhone, and I'd pay big bucks to use Apple's device on Verizon's vastly superior wireless network. Sigh.
Good Times Keep on Rolling for Nintendo
It's hard to image how things could get better still for video game maker Nintendo, which continues to distance its Wii console from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 also-rans. But they have: The company this week raised its fiscal year earnings forecast a whopping 26 percent from its previous projection, thanks to better-than-expected sales of its Wii console and DS handheld system. Its new profit projection, up 60 percent to $3 billion, is even better. Nintendo now expects to sell 26.5 million Wiis in its current fiscal year, which ends in March 2009; it sold 18.6 in its previous fiscal year. To give you an idea how good that is, Microsoft has sold a grand total of 21 million Xbox 360 consoles so far. And that device has been on the market for three long years.
Dell Drop Surprises Analysts, Sends Market Reeling
There was a feeling this week before Dell announced its quarterly earnings that the good times in IT spending were coming to a close. But when Dell finally did announce those earnings, they were much worse than expected, sending the market reeling as analysts scrambled to explain how they missed all the obvious signs. Dell reported net income of $616 million on revenues of $16.43 billion for the second quarter. That income was the troubling bit, as it was down significantly from last year's $746 million figure. (Revenues, however, were up 11 percent year over year.) Dell says it was a bit too aggressive with PC price cuts in the quarter and was working to rectify that problem. Meanwhile, analysts are freaking out because they see corporate spending declining at ever-increasing rates. I will say this: Dell is coming out with an ever-expanding line of really exciting-looking computers. If you're in the market, check out their latest notebooks and desktops. I think you'll be shocked by how good they are.
Steve Jobs, RIP?
Not quite. Apple fanatics across the globe felt a vague stab of panic briefly on Wednesday when Bloomsberg--incorrectly, as it turns out--issued an obituary for Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Turns out it was just a publishing mistake: News outlets like Bloomsberg maintain biographies of famous people so that they can quickly publish an obit should anything unexpected happen. And apparently someone was working on Jobs' version and inadvertently tapped the "publish" button. We've all had similar moments with email messages, I'm sure, and my guess is that whoever did that felt that same helpless feeling that accompanies any such mistake. Anyway, in order to set the record straight, Steve Jobs is very much alive. It's just MobileMe that should be given an obituary.
Stupid Movie Ideas, Parts 27 and 28
So Aaron Sorkin, of "The West Wing" fame, wants to write a big screen movie about the founders of Facebook. I assume it will be a movie about people ripping off other people's ideas and then becoming famous and rich as a result, but maybe I'm missing the point. In related news, Brett Ratner (of "Rush Hour", um, fame) also wants to make a tech industry-related movie, this time about the video game "Guitar Hero." Seriously. Why not celebrate a real musician instead of a game that's really just about rapid-fire memorization and reflexes?
It's a holiday
Here in the US, it's the Labor Day weekend, so we'll be off Monday. See you on Tuesday. --Paul