Microsoft's Game of Chicken
Apparently, Microsoft has found a way, premeditated or serendipitously, to
boost its flagging fortunes in the search arena. According to both comScore
and Compete, Redmond has had a search rebound, but it has little to do with
improved quality or growing user satisfaction. It's because of the
online game "Chicktionary."
Yep, you read that right -- the well-known game with the chicken theme that
lets users rearrange letters into words, and then launches a Web search for
"Chicktionary" is available on Microsoft's
Live Search Club Web site, which offers other games, as well.
But what appears to be drawing an increasing number of users are the prizes.
Users can earn points for every game they play, which they can then redeem for
products like Windows Vista and the ever-famous "Zoo Tycoon 2." Users
can also get the usual T-shirts and free song downloads.
Compete says the Live Search Club had almost no traffic in April but saw an
incredible bounce in May: up to 330,000 unique visitors. And last month saw
3 million unique visitors going to the site.
Who needs improved search engine technologies to catch Google and Yahoo when
all you have to do is play a game of Chicken?
The World's Fastest 75-Year-Old
I guess you never outgrow the need for speed -- Internet speed, that is.
Sigbritt Lothberg, 75, may well have set
an Internet speed record with the installation of a 40GB-per-second fiber-optic
connection in her home in Karlstad, Sweden. It's believed to be the fastest
residential uplink in existence.
Such speeds are reached using a breakthrough modulation technique that makes
it possible to send data between two routers that could be placed thousands
of miles apart and without the aid of any transponders located in between.
One example of its speed is that it allows Lothberg, a new Internet user, to
download a full-length film in 2 seconds flat. This sort of speed is several
thousand times faster than your typical residential uplink.
Why Buy When You Can Rent?
If you don't want to spend the money to buy green technology, now you can rent
Zonbu, a small PC maker, has unveiled
a very compact Linux-based PC that requires low power, operates silently
and doesn't have a hard drive.
The Zonbu PC, which fits in your hand, requires just 15 watts of power, compared
to the 175 watts needed by typical PCs. Company officials believe this could
save companies about $10 per month in energy costs, depending on how long it's
Users can buy a two-year subscription for online storage for between $12.50
and $19.95 a month. Or, if you want to go hog-wild, you can buy the unit for
$249 but without a storage agreement.
Intel's Good News, Bad News
Quarterly revenue and earnings reports from major chip makers have always served
as important indicators of the computer industry's overall health. But with
quarter financials this week, it was hard to tell what sort of shape the
industry is in.
The good news is the world's largest chip maker reported that earnings rose
some 44 percent, carried by the strong demand for PCs. However, the bad news
is that average chip processes were lower than expected, which was the reason
the company didn't hit its goal for gross margins.
"While demand for computers was strong, pricing remained competitive,
particularly in the low end of the personal computer market," said Paul
S. Otellini, Intel's president and chief executive, in a prepared statement.
But while Otellini said chip prices were down, sales of microprocessors were
up, which he believes is a good sign that the company's financial performance
will improve in this year's second half.
The company reported that revenue rose 8 percent to $8.7 billion for the quarter,
up from $8 billion for the same period last year. Net income was $1.3 billion,
up from $885 million.
Mailbag: Why Wi-Fi?, More
readers yesterday how they feel about Wi-Fi access. For his part, Ken doesn't
really see the value in "free" Wi-Fi that isn't really free:
I do like free Wi-Fi and do use it when I am in a hotel, but most businesses
do not really offer free Wi-Fi any longer. I used to try to get on Wi Fi at
restaurants or other shops, and would get a notice that I had to pay for access.
Since it was hard to find really free Wi-Fi -- and a motel Wi-Fi is not really
free since you have to rent a room to get it -- I just gave up on Wi-Fi and
bit the bullet for access through my cell phone. That has been the best because
anywhere I have cell service, I have Internet access.
I use Cingular, which costs me about $40 per month for unlimited Internet
access, but it has been great. I changed my phone over to an HTC Advantage
7500, obtained through Dynamism. Although the Advantage has Wi-Fi, I never
turn it on because I can do anything I want to do on a portable over the cellular
network. We have a normal-sized notebook computer we lug around with us when
we are traveling, and we often use it in a motel using the Wi-Fi there, but
we have had to fall back on my Advantage in some hotels because their Wi-Fi
service was too low-powered or had other issues.
The American Electronics Association reported recently that tech exports reached
$220 billion last year. Here's what one reader thinks:
The export figures indeed look discouraging, but perhaps they are just
the tip of the iceberg? It is my perception that even more valuable jobs than
those in the production of tech equipment are being shipped off-shore. I refer
to the help desk operations and technical support functions of many tech groups.
Have you tried to place a support call to Dell or Juno.com lately? It can
be a painful experience!
Where is the efficiency when you have to explain your issues three, four
and five times because of language issues? It saves the manufacturers great
amounts of dollars to handle it this way, and each of us that needs the 'service'
pays for it in wasted time and frustration.
And yes, you can share this with Dell, Juno and any other "American"
company that is exporting services across the ocean.
Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.