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Archive: Peter Whoriskey

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 12/ 4/2008

Does Obama Use A Zune?

Maybe it only seems like we are living in an iPod world.

According to the Philadelphia City Paper, President Elect Barack Obama was spotted listening to a Zune music player during a morning workout this week.

If so, he could do for the oft-forgotten Zune, what Jackie Kennedy did for pillbox hats.

"I've seen a Zune in action. I know what it looks like," according to writer Neal Santos, who reports occupying the treadmill beside the President-Elect.

The paper filed a follow up, undoubtedly in response to the high interest, clarifying that it had not been confirmed that the Zune he was using was actually his own. Maybe, they speculated, it had been borrowed.

Anyone else ever seen the soon to be POTUS Zune-ing?

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Posted at 3:05 PM ET, 10/ 8/2008

Gov. Palin's Alleged Hacker Indicted; Password Was 'Popcorn'

A 20-year-old student at the University of Tennessee has been indicted for breaking into one of the email accounts of Gov. Sarah Palin and then posting screenshots of personal information obtained there to a public Web-site.

David Kernell, the son of a Democratic state lawmaker, was led into a Knoxville federal court wearing handcuffs and shackles on his ankles today and was released without posting bond, according to the Associated Press.

According to the indictment, Kernell broke into the account,, by using Yahoo's password recovery tool. After researching and correctly answering a series of personal questions from Yahoo, Kernell was allowed to reset the password. He chose 'popcorn,' according to the indictment.

The personal information he discovered there included the email addresses of family members, pictures of family members and Gov. Palin's address book for her Yahoo email account. It was posted on

Learning of an investigation, Kernell "removed, altered, concealed and covered up files on his laptop computer," the indictment says.

Trial is set for Dec. 16. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 10/ 3/2008

Goohoo Delayed To Allow Justice Department More Time To Review

Google and Yahoo will delay the implementation of their joint advertising deal to give anti-trust lawyers at the U.S. Department of Justice more time to review the deal, according to a source close to the negotiations.

The additional delay will be less than a month, said the source who could not be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

When the cooperative agreement was announced on June 12, Google and Yahoo said they would give the U.S. Department of Justice about three and a a half months to review the deal. That time period has lapsed, however, and after meetings with Justice Department officials today, Google and Yahoo lawyers have agreed to delay its implementation.

Under the agreement, Google will provide advertising to run alongside some queries conducted on Yahoo's search engine.

Google and Yahoo said consumers will benefit because Google has a better way of matching relevant advertising to search queries. But critics said the deal would allow the two companies, who rank number one and number two in the booming search advertising industry, to operate as a monopoly.

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Posted at 11:41 AM ET, 10/ 3/2008

Microsoft's Mundie: U.S. Broadband Efforts 'A Total Policy Failure'

Craig Mundie came to Washington this week, and as Microsoft's chief strategic thinker, replacing Bill Gates in that role, he has a lot on his mind.

Watch what Mundie had to say about robot receptionists, holding on to our white spaces and how he's different from Bill Gates here.

During an hour-long interview at his company's downtown offices, Mundie spoke bluntly about a number of Washington and technology issues: the failure of the U.S. to keep up in the worldwide race to extend broadband Internet service to its citizens, how the Federal Communications Commission should handle the "white spaces" in the radio spectrum, and what he thinks of "the cloud," an automaton receptionist being planned at Microsoft's headquarters and other matters on the frontiers of computing.

Some of his strongest words were reserved for the country's lagging position in rolling out broadband Internet service -- depending on what survey is used, the U.S. may rank as low as 14th in the world. He notes that at home in Seattle, he pays twice as much for broadband service as he would in Tokyo, where speeds are many times faster.

"My view is the country has had virtually a total policy failure for more than the last decade relative to this," he said, and the situation is "getting worse faster than most people perceive."

Like Google's top officials, Mundie is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to allow the use of white spaces -- the portion of the radio wave spectrum in between the television stations -- for use of other devices.

As for computing, he said while there is a lot of talk about "the cloud," the idea that virtually all computing in the future will be done there is "bogus." For example, he predicts that the graphical user interfaces that all of us are accustomed to will one day be replaced by what he considers "natural user interfaces" -- that is, computers that we can talk to. But those computers, which will be able to see us and converse with us, will require vast computing power to handle "seeing" and "talking," and it makes more sense to have that power at home or in the office, rather than in the cloud.

As an example of that future, he talked about "Laura," an automated receptionist soon to be in use at Microsoft's headquarters. She will be able to see and converse with employees and arrange for them the shuttles that they need.

"It has all these mannerisms of a person," he said.

And finally, Mundie talked about where he and Bill Gates differ.

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Posted at 5:24 PM ET, 10/ 2/2008

What's A Song Worth? Still about 9 Cents, and iTunes lives

A federal panel ruled yesterday that song publishers and writers are entitled to 9.1 cents royalty for each song downloaded, a ruling that holds the status quo and apparently keeps Apple's iTunes in business.

In a proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board, song publishers had argued that the per-song fee paid to publishers should be boosted from nine to 15 cents.

But Apple's iTunes vice president Eddy Cue had warned that the hike could sink their popular download service, where songs routinely sell for 99 cents.

After the CRB simply held the rate today, representatives for all sides professed to be pleased.

"The fact that we did not get any cuts, we view as a big positive," said David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association. "It's a big victory for everyone who cares about music."

Israelite also dismissed the idea that a higher rate might have forced Apple to shutter iTunes.

"I found the threats to be hollow," he said.

Apple pays an estimated 70 cents per song to the record companies. The record companies pay the nine cent royalty fee to the publishers.

Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association, the trade group whose members include iTunes, and other online music stores, was similarly "pleased" with the decision.

"During this challenging time for the music industry and digital stores and services, we are pleased with the CRB's decision to keep royalty rates stable for the next five years," Potter said in a statement. "Keeping rates where they are will help digital services and retailers continue to innovate and grow for the next several years, which will benefit songwriters, artists, labels and publishers."

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"Live or Die" Internet Radio Dispute Goes Before Congress Tonight

Now the fate of and other Internet radio stations may lie with Congress. This evening the House is expected to consider a bill to extend the negotiations between Webcasters and the record labels and artists to whom they owe performance royalties. Internet radio outfits, led by the popular,...

By Peter Whoriskey | September 26, 2008; 05:38 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

ISPs Promise: We Won't Track You without Permission

At a hearing today before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, officials from AT&T and Verizon are expected to pledge that they will not engage in tracking customers' online behavior without their explicit consent. The move comes after a furor over some smaller ISPs using "deep packet inspection" -...

By Peter Whoriskey | September 25, 2008; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Think Tank: GOOHOO Deal May Be A "Black Hole"

A Washington think tank devoted to antitrust issues has issued a 19-page analysis of the Google-Yahoo deal that warns that the transaction has the potential to become "a black hole that swallows up Yahoo." "We believe that the transaction could be blocked on antitrust grounds," according to the report by...

By Peter Whoriskey | September 23, 2008; 02:35 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Justice Department Ready to Sue Google?

The news that the Justice Department has hired a well-known antitrust expert to review the proposed Google-Yahoo advertising partnership has set off speculation that the government is girding to take legal action against the tech colossus. But what exactly does the hiring of Sandy Litvack mean? According to sources close...

By Monica Norton | September 9, 2008; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Advertisers Not Backing Google/Yahoo Deal

Now we know that advertisers, and lots of them, don't like the idea of Google gaining more control over search advertising. Today the Association of National Advertisers, which represents 400 companies and whose board counts executives from some of the biggest, announced that it has written to the Justice Department...

By Monica Norton | September 7, 2008; 07:33 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Accidental Ad Blocker

Privacy advocates think the next version of Internet Explorer, the program that connects most of us to the Web, is a step in the right direction. Advertisers? Well, they're not so sure. The advertising industry is bracing for trouble from the next version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, details of which...

By Monica Norton | August 25, 2008; 07:30 PM ET | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)

Google Campaigns For White Spaces

Google announced today that it is seeking to develop grass roots support for its "white spaces" campaign at the FCC, its lobbying effort to convert some radio airwaves in order to provide wireless broadband access. The "Free the Airwaves" campaign invites consumers to sign a petition, create their own video...

By Monica Norton | August 18, 2008; 01:27 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

War of the Words

The rhetoric in the battle for Yahoo just got a little more personal. If he is successful in electing his slate of directors to the Yahoo board this summer, billionaire investor Carl Icahn says he will seek to remove Yahoo co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang, according to the Wall Street...

By Monica Norton | June 3, 2008; 04:42 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Search Deal for Microsoft, HP

Now Microsoft really, really wants consumers to use their search engine. In another bid to lure consumers away from Google and to Microsoft Live Search, Microsoft announced today that it has signed a distribution deal with Hewlett Packard, the world's largest personal computer manufacturer, that will put its brand in...

By Monica Norton | June 2, 2008; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Red Blog, Blue Blog

What kinds of news stories stir up liberals? What kind thrill the conservatives? Those questions likely won't be definitively answered soon, at least not by humans. But a team of Microsoft researchers, specialists in natural language processing and machine learning, has been trying to resolve them using the Web. The...

By | March 14, 2008; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

YouTube Works On Higher Quality Imaging

While has garnered millions of users around the world, not everyone has been thrilled about the picture quality. Sometimes it's grainy, or dark, or blurry. Some advertisers have shied away. And some film-makers have protested. But the quality is changing. Quietly this week, the company began experimenting - on...

By | March 13, 2008; 10:17 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

At Electronic Arts, Art Tries to Imitate Horror

The phrase that stays with me is "strategic dismemberment." It was meant in a good way. We're talking about a video game here, not human rights violations, and Alex Charlow, a youngish marketer for mega game-maker Electronic Arts, was describing a feature of a yet-to-be-released game known as "Dead Space"....

By Peter Whoriskey | March 11, 2008; 05:05 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


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