TowleTech V. 36

TowleTech V.32A rare white dolphin called a Baiji which lives in the waters of China has been declared extinct this week after scientists spent six weeks searching the waters with zero sightings. A similar search in 1997 turned up 13 sightings, showing that the dolphin was on the verge of extinction. According to the website of the conservation group involved with the search, the Baiji’s death marks a more than disturbing turn of events: "Regarded in China as the ‘goddess of the Yangtze’, the 20 million year
old river dolphin was one of the world’s oldest species. The Baiji is
the first large mammal brought to extinction as a result of human
destruction to their natural habitat and resources."

TowleTech V.32Brian Lam put himself and the popular tech blog for which he writes on the line with a surprising claim: that he not only has seen an iPhone, but that it will be announced on Monday. The full text of the post reads: "Gizmodo Knows: iPhone Will Be Announced On Monday. I guarantee it. It isn’t what I expected at all. And I’ve already said too much." Will Apple announce a cell phone Monday or was Gizmodo just trying to get a few extra votes in the Weblog Awards? I suppose one thing is for sure: only Gizmodo knows. Meanwhile Business 2.0 has an insightful article on why the iPhone might not ever happen.

TowleTech V.32Sunspot 930 is at it again! The flamboyant spot sent up a massive solar flare earlier this week that caused a sizable geomagnetic storm here on the blue planet,
according to an advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration. The storm can cause damage to power grids or
communication systems, but can also lead to stunning auroras.

TowleTech V.32VoIP provider Skype done gave the world free unlimited calling earlier this year, but it was only ever meant to be temporary and now this year is about over. Still, the flat rate of $29.95 for a year of phone service is a pretty fair deal, and signing up before January cuts that in half for the first year.

WiimoteTowleTech V.32After reports of damage caused by flying Wii controllers, Nintendo recalled the strap on the wireless remote, offering to replace it with a sturdier version. As notes, the company also took the chance to remind users of a little common safety sense when playing. "Hold the Wii Remote firmly and do not let go. For example, in Wii Sports bowling, the proper way to let go of the ball while bowling is to release the "B" button on the Wii Remote—DO NOT LET GO OF THE Wii REMOTE ITSELF."

TowleTech V.32Cingular is testing out a new cell phone in the Big Apple that includes a handy little feature: your credit card. Forget camera or MP3 player — these new phones have an embedded MasterCard PayPass, which uses RFID that lets you pay by waving the phone in front of a sensor. PayPass sensors are built into registers at McDonalds and AMC theaters and even some Coca-Cola vending machines.

TowleTech V.32One of the reasons that Google is a billion-something dollar a year company is the fact that they sell their internet search technology to businesses for use on their private "intranets." Meanwhile the Goog has made plenty of enemies giving away high-quality products that its competitors were previously charging for, but now Yahoo has stepped up to give them a taste of their own medicine. Yahoo teamed up with IBM to offer a free business-level search tool for private intranets, which can index and search up to 500k documents.

TowleTech V.32XM Radio launched a new seasonal station that offers an alternative to the barrage of Christmas music that takes over at this time of year. For 8 days starting tonight, Radio Hanukkah will play Hanukkah-themed songs with interludes by Jewish celebrities. "This could be refreshing. Who knows? Maybe non-Jews will start loving these songs too," said one fan.

TowleTech V.32UCLA alerted 800,000 students, faculty, and alumni to a data breach this week after it was discovered that "a sophisticated computer hacker" illegally accessed a database of personal information that included social security numbers and birthdates.

TowleTech V.32Photographer and freelance tech writer Jason Rowan posts an efficient write up of the new Nokia N93, a cell phone that includes a 3.2 megapixel digital camera. Said Rowan: "After you
get over the techno-lust and nervous fumbling the N93 inspires I started to find the
old Ready Steady Pendergrass touch coming back to me."

TowleTech V.32Two major Anti-Virus software makers issued dire warnings about the state of malicious internet attacks and scams in 2007. While email has been the most common avenue to personal data, mobile devices, IM, and social  networking sites all offer new ways to steal identities and scam users, according to Trend Micro and McAffee spokespersons. If my theory that the majority of these evil online deeds are a conspiracy by the companies that sell people protection against them, then surely they’re the ones who would know.

Daniel Williford is our TowleTech correspondent.

You can visit him at his blog, Until Today