Microsoft Cutting Xbox Prices
- By Peter Varhol
In response to a recent price cut by the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft has
said it is dropping
the retail price of its Xbox 360 Premium
model by $50, to $349.
The move comes on the heels of the surprising success of the Nintendo Wii,
a lower-end console that pioneered tactile feedback, enabling the user to participate
in more active games.
While individual games can be highly profitable, Microsoft has yet to turn
a profit on the Xbox hardware business it launched in 2001. The company has
forecast a profit in 2008, but a recent acknowledgement of high rates of failure
for the hardware systems has prompted analysts to call for the company to divest
its hardware business.
Will a lower price lead you to buy an Xbox 360? Challenge me to a game at [email protected].
Are Laser Printers Hazardous to Your Health?
A study published by researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane,
Australia last week cast some interesting information on the office hazards
These researchers provided detailed emission
measurements of 58 laser printers inside a typical office. Laser printer
emissions, believed to be related to the toner powder used in the printers,
were tracked and the printers ranked as non-, low, medium or high emitters.
Ironically, HP printers had the biggest presence in the high-emitter category.
While HP has not disputed the volume of emissions measured from its printers,
it claims that such emissions do not represent a health risk. In fact, the researchers
themselves don't go so far as to make such a claim, instead concluding that
further research is needed.
Check out the study here
Who's afraid of HP laser printers? Not me. How about you? Come clean with me
at [email protected].
Congress Looks Into Yahoo Involvement With Imprisoned
In the ongoing debate surrounding government use of search data, Congress continues
to look into Yahoo's
role in the imprisonment of Chinese journalist Shi Tao.
In this round, lawmakers want to know if Yahoo misrepresented the company's
role in a human rights case in China that resulted in a 10-year prison sentence
for the journalist.
Yahoo claims that it didn't know the nature of the investigation against Shi
Tao, and in any case was required to comply with China's laws in the matter.
This and other similar cases are defining the debate regarding Internet companies'
responsibilities across international boundaries. China has made it clear that
doing business within its borders requires cooperation with the government in
Would you pass on a market with a fifth of the world's population? Sound off
to me at [email protected].
Nokia To Use Microsoft DRM
Cell phone leader Nokia has said it will license Microsoft's PlayReady digital
rights management (DRM) software and use
it in its own platform for digital content use.
The company believes that the use of DRM will significantly increase the rate
of growth for cell phones' entertainment uses.
Yet DRM is shrouded in controversy. Many believe that its use actually impedes
the growth of digital content on mobile devices. What's your opinion? Mail me
at [email protected].
Mailbag: Your Thoughts on E-Passports and E-Produce
yesterday on a recently discovered vulnerability in passports equipped with
RFID chips. Would you still trust these e-passports? Here's what some of you
had to say:
The short answer to your question is "NO!" RFID technology
is still in its infancy and there has been much comment on the security of
these devices. I don't believe that there is any RFID device at this point
that can boast 128-bit encryption that conforms to DES standards. Until that
time arrives, I will not trust the RFID passport. I will be placing my passport
in a faraday cage while in storage or in my pocket to greatly minimize the
possibility of the unauthorized sharing of my personal information.
If you want a passport without the RFID, apply now. Since they've had
such a rush on passport renewals, they aren't putting the RFIDs in currently.
I sent my passport renewal in as expedited around the first week in July and
had it back in less than two weeks without an RFID in it. It's now good for
10 years; no RFID to worry about until 2017. Not sure when they'll go back
to the RFID version, but I guess I lucked out.
week's CompTIA survey of the most influential technologies of the last 25
years placed Internet Explorer at the top. One reader thinks IE didn't get there
without some help:
IE? We wouldn't have the IE we have now if it wasn't for Netscape. Word?
We wouldn't have the Word we have now if it wasn't for WordPerfect. Even though
I agree that Windows 95 was very influential, we wouldn't have that if it
wasn't for the Mac graphical OS.
If anything is influential from Microsoft, it is Microsoft's marketing
power (which I don't discount at all) and its ability to borrow the good bits
from other vendors.
Meanwhile, here's another vote for the Opera Mini, which one reader nominated
yesterday for the most-influential list:
I agree with Fred that the Opera browser is a small wonder. I purchased
the Nintendo DS Browser for my Nintendo DS Lite game console, although it
does not allow any plug-in. But I am able to surf the Net and read Gmail in
any hotspots available in Singapore. One more thumbs up for Opera.
Finally, here are some of your thoughts on Amazon.com's
attempt to revive the online-grocery business model:
I'm a big fan of online groceries -- and, by the way, Peapod didn't completely
die. We order from it every week or two, and it saves a ton of time. And,
since it's affiliated with our local grocery store, the inventory is similar
(albeit smaller). I think partnering with local chains is key to making it
Tuffins! Tuffins for sale! Expiration date yesterday!
All it takes is one or two unhappy employees or a madman manager to ruin
this market. Instead of sending out goods with the longest expiration date
(by the way, if you do not know it, a store always hides it freshest products
behind the oldest), they will be tempted, if not forced, by management to
do this. I have seen this in action.
Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].
Peter Varhol is the executive editor,
reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software
developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees
in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university