Author: Harta Glass

FTC lawyer sucked into Microsoft fold

If you’re a high tech company it’s important that you have offices in Washington DC, conveniently close to politicos you need to lobby.

That explains why Intel, Microsoft, Google and the rest have offices there, so they can woo and influence people with, albeit, the temporary power to cast, drop or amend laws. It is called democracy.

Democracy, of course, first came to pass in Greece but we guess the Mediterranean in those days was rich in fish and fruits, and quite warm, so people had plenty of time to philosophise and engage in other pursuits. Philosophy doesn’t seem to have sprung from the head of Zeus in the Siberian Tundra, although we at TechEye are ready to be persuaded otherwise.

No surprise then to read a report in the august Wall Street Journal that Microsoft has recruited a Federal Trade Commission lawyer to join its serried ranks. Perhaps it should have thought of that before it got itself into monopolistic bother.

The WSJ reports that Randall Long, who worked in the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, is to be a director of regulatory affairs for MegaVole. Microsoft is, of course, threatened by Google and Google is, of course, threatened with and by intelligence.

Intel and Apple are a bit more savvy than Microsoft, as the world plus its dog knows, and have already wooed away FTC people. Long, apparently, was the lead pleader investigating Google deals.

How serendipitous!

Taiwan contemplates banning mobile phones for kids

The Republic of China (ROC) is pondering whether to ban mobile phones at schools, reports the Taiwan News.

That follows a report earlier this week from the World Health Organization (WHO) that electric emissions from mobile phones posited a possible threat of cancer.

According to the Taiwan News, the Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association, said that kids under 15 should be banned from using mobile phones completely.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) is now contemplating whether such a ban should be implemented or not.

Now is the Wintel of Intel’s discontent

Netbooks are just so passé nowadays, don’t you think? Every vendor in the world has decided that after the success of the Apple iPad, they’ve just got to have a tablet.

And a whole raft of vendors is pinning its hopes on their little tablets managing to compete with Apple. A raft is singular. And the singularity is Microsoft and its famous Windows thing.

But just a little while ago, Dell was so firmly committed to netbooks, and no doubt its friend Intel and the Atom, that it had quite a range of them to sell.

Sources, however, tell TechEye that a cultural revolution inside Dell Inc changed all that, practically overnight and it was decided that a staggering 75 percent of its netbook models would be scrapped.

The big question is, of course, what kind of tablets people will want to keep taking. Having a Windows 7 based tablet isn’t necessarily the way people will go – it’s pretty clear from MWC in Barcelona this week that Android and ARM are the perfect storm.

And it’s also pretty clear that if Apple is scared of any competitor, it’s Android that’s the antagonist and not any Windows 7 based thing. Microsoft has pushed Windows tablets for years and years now, ultimately based on Fujitsu technology, actually.

No one cares that much about components any more – it seems that Wintel is, finally, reaching the winter of its discontent. Applications and content, and the ability to read your emails and surf the web are what people want.

It will be interesting to see how Intel and Microsoft react to this threat, despite spending countless millions on Atom processors and pushing the small thermal envelope. Microsoft’s devilish deal with Nokia is not necessarily going to square any circle, we think.

Techies like to share

I read recently that if you work from home you should never look out of the window in the morning – because then you’d have nothing to do in the afternoon.

An even bigger danger though is the distractions on offer in a home office…by the time you’ve put the kettle on, done the washing, fed the cat, had an in-depth conversation with the cat, read the paper and nipped out for milk, the day’s half gone. You might not have left the house or had any contact of the human kind at all.

And who’s to know if you’re still sat tapping away at your keyboard at 3PM in your PJs?

And so it is that co-working spaces for freelancers, start-ups and small businesses to meet, work and network are becoming increasingly popular for those in the tech industries.

They often offer cheap hot desking and room hire while being relaxed, flexible and a place to swap ideas and get support.

In the UK, there have never been so many shared workspaces for geeks.

In Brighton, East Sussex, one of the most popular co-working areas for techies is The Skiff, which aims “to take the best elements of a coffee shop (social, energetic, creative) and the best elements of a workspace (productive, functional) and combine them to give independent workers the chance to have their own, affordable space.”

According to those behind The Skiff, an open plan space in the trendy North Laine area of the city, it was built on the co-working philosophy developed by Citizen Space in San Francisco.

Prices vary, but it’s free for the occasional drop-in, whereas £160 a month gets you your own key and storage.

Down the road in Hove, there’s The Werks, a similar concept attracting creatives and new media types.

In London, there’s TechHub based at “Silicon Roundabout” in the Shoreditch/Old Street area. It’s designed to be a central meeting place for visiting entrepreneurs and investors as well as a venue for tech events and networking and shared workspace.

Elizabeth Varley, CEO of TechHub, says they are seeing lots of young people, start-up companies and tech entrepreneurs coming through their doors.

She says: “It’s so exciting to see more and more students coming out of university with a strong plan to start their own businesses, and many begin their start-ups while they’re still studying, which is great.

“It’s good too to see serial entrepreneurs starting again after the first or second (or more) business and providing excellent role models for the new generation of entrepreneurs.

“One of the things I love seeing at TechHub is people who previously didn’t know each other helping with advice, contacts or specific skills. Every day there are people huddling around a screen to talk through ideas and solve problems – entrepreneurs are really very giving of their time and expertise.

“We’re hosting a lot of events at TechHub, from technically-focused sessions run by Google, to themed events such as the Learning by Playing event on immersive games in collaboration with Pearson.

“Founders of tech start-ups are also telling us how much they love opportunities to meet each other and see what everyone’s working on at our Demo Nights and social events. It’s a great vibe and we’re always keen to hear from tech entrepreneurs regarding what they want.

“Co-working and co-location for the tech community are what we’re all about and have seen strong demand for drop-in desks and office space with flexible terms. Entrepreneurs want to be around like-minded people and it’s hugely helpful with focusing on your business and for knowledge sharing.

“The first TechHub has been created here because London is Europe’s hub for tech investment and there’s great creativity, innovation and an excellent skills base. As the tech cluster has grown very organically around Old Street, it made perfect sense for TechHub to be based here to help bring all these companies, and those further afield, together.”

A similar idea is the OpenCoffee Club, which organises informal meet-ups at different locations for people interested in technology, the web, business and the startup culture. Started in London in 2007, it’s since gone global with more than 80 around the world, from Bangalore and Budapest to Vancouver and Vienna.

OpenCoffee Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, for example, describes itself as “a melting pot event attracting entrepreneurs, hackers and software developers, designers, innovators, animators, techies, film makers and geeks as well as the investors, mentors, business advisers who support their efforts”.

There are plenty of other co-working spaces around the UK. Among them, Manchester city centre has FlyThe.Coop and Leeds has Old Broadcasting House – frequented by digital entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Edinburgh has screenWORKS – aimed at those working in the digital media and screen industries, and Birmingham has the Moseley Exchange.

TechEye’s very own techie James Crowley is a member of TechHub and an advocate of co-working. He says: “It’s great to be in a space like this with loads of people working on completely different things but with plenty of opportunity to share ideas and contacts across all sorts of things.

“Beats working from home or in a random office any day.”

More saucy details emerge over Hurd saga

The saga over the departure of former Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd seems to be refusing to away – with more allegations about his relationship with soft porn star Jodie Fisher emerging over the weekend.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal called “Accuser Said Hurd Leaked an H-P Deal”, Fisher’s lawyer is said to have sent a letter to Hurd back in June that contained an “explosive allegation”.

The letter from celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred alleged that Hurd told Fisher of HP’s plan to buy EDS while at a Madrid meeting that began near the end of March, according to the WSJ. HP revealed the $13.9 billion deal in May.

While the report says directors at HP had little reason to doubt Hurd’s assurance that this allegation was false, it suggests they “lost confidence he was being honest with them about his relationship with Ms Fisher”.

For example, the report states that Hurd had told directors he didn’t know Fisher acted in adult films. But investigators hired by HP discovered he had been peering at pictures online showing Fisher in pornographic scenes, including a site called

Meanwhile, the letter included an eight-page chronology of meetings between the two in hotels around the world. At some, people who’d seen the letter told the WSJ, it alleged Hurd sexually harassed Fisher, “in certain cases touching her body in sexually suggestive ways”.

The WSJ said the letter set off a chain of events, including much wrangling from the board over what to do about the situation.

It ended with Hurd and Fisher signing a pact that included a confidentiality agreement – and Fisher writing another letter declaring there were “many inaccuracies” in the earlier letter.

Hurd is said to have made a financial settlement with Fisher that was “de minimis”.

Soon after Hurd left HP, he was hired by Oracle.

Google stumps up $8.5 million to settle Buzz case

Search engine giant Google’s decision to make Buzz do things people didn’t want it to do has cost it dearly.

The company said it has reached a settlement in a lawsuit by Gmail users, alleging that Buzz breached their privacy.

Google is to set up an $8.5 million fund, most of which will be doled out to organisations concentrating on privacy and policy on the internet. It will also “make additional efforts to educate users on the privacy aspect of Buzz,” it said in a statement.

An unnamed Google spinner said that his company was satisfied with the agreement “and is glad to move forward”.  He claimed that Google has “always been committed to offering users transparency and choice in Buzz”.

The settlement has to be approved, but there’s no doubt Google hopes it has drawn a line over the Buzz thing.  It has yet to draw a line under the Street View furore – apart, apparently from the USA and the UK. Government organisations in both countries have appeared to come to the conclusion that Google is really Goodie Two Shoes.

Details of the class action are here.

Intel picks up cash from UK government

The UK’s minister of health has revealed how much his department lashed out on management consultancy and IT since the 7th of May this year – and it turns out one of the beneficiaries is chip giant Intel.

Simon Burns, the minister, revealed that 16 consultancies – including Intel – were beneficiaries of British taxpayers’ largesse, although it’s not clear what the consultants did for their money. Intel does have a healthcare division with patient monitoring gizmos.

Value of Contracts
Amtec Consultancy PLC
Gardiner and Theobald
Inventures Ltd
Loughborough University
Malcolm Hutchinson Assoc
McKinsey and Co Inc
Methods Consulting Ltd
Moorhouse Consulting
Mott MacDonald Ltd
PA Consulting Group
Quality Business Mgmt
Quo Imus Ltd
2020 Delivery

The same written answer from Burns revealed the IT companies that were winners in the same period of time. These were Ability Net (£554), CSC (£565), Gap Internet Communications (£2,048), Oracle (£68,040), Parallel Interactive Media (£21,900), Sapient (£8,128), SAS Software (£53,420), Simplisys (£10,311) and SPSS (£5,515).

Rosedale confirms he's left Linden Lab

As we exclusively reported yesterday, the acting CEO of Linden Lab has left that position to concentrate on growing startup, LoveMachine.

In a Second Life blog post, Philip Rosedale said that after four months as the acting CEO, Linden Lab has decided to search for a new CEO.

He said: “I’ll be leaving day-to-day management of the company and continuing in my role on the board, including helping in the search to find a great CEO….Bob [Komin] will lead Linden Lab while we conduct the search.”

He said that he will also continue his work with LoveMachine.

The bog entry is here.

Samsung dampens down 3D frenzy

A situation where you can sit on your sofa and watch indifferent 3D movies without wearing clumsy spectacles that cost a fortune isn’t likely to happen for another five or 10 years.

That’s according to hacks at the Wall Street Journal, privy to a briefing by Samsung visual display president BK Yoon, who said that 3D without glasses works far better on small screens.

There are reasons for that.

Some 3D systems, as we have reported, demand that people sit in exactly equidistant places on their sofas and settees, in their lounges and living rooms – otherwise they won’t be able to see the action at all. Not every household is so thoroughly regulated.

Further, senior fellow at Intel, Genevieve Bell, told us in September that wearing clunky glasses interfered with the flow of conversation in an average home, where people like to watch the google, sorry goggle box together.

And worse than that, there is a small percentage of people who can’t see 3D at all, while others experience vertigo and other distressing symptoms checking out the 3D boxes.

The Wall Street Journal report is here (subscription needed). What are these big vendors going to do about all the hype they’ve generated about 3D when the tech isn’t really there yet (or ever)?

Big three IT firms push for privacy bill support

Intel, Microsoft and eBay have put their weight behind a privacy bill aimed at protecting individuals’ personal data.

Bobby Rush, a Democrat rep for Illinois, and chairman of the House subcommittee on Consumer Protection, is introducing the “Best Practices Act” and although the three tech firms are backing the bill, they want some changes… well just fancy that.

Intel claims it believes that consumer privacy is a priority, but it, eBay and Microsoft don’t want a clause in that would let people sue firms for privacy breaches.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rush has welcomed the big three’s attitude towards more stringent Internet privacy rules.  Rush believes that consumers get the “short end of the stick” from the industry and doesn’t generally understand why individuals need to be protected.

The proposed act, however, is unlikely to get very far this year. Google hasn’t issued a letter backing the bill.