Catch up on this week’s tech and science news with the latest TowleTech from our correspondent Daniel Williford.
AOL got some heat this week after posting a list of 20 million search queries that their users had conducted. They intended the information as research data, but were immediately criticized by a number of bloggers who were outraged at the breach of user privacy. As it turns out, many of the search terms gave personal data, including names, social security numbers, credit cards, as well as a lot of sexually-oriented topics. Though the user names were replaced with seemingly-anonymous ID numbers, users suggested that it was possible to identify individuals based on the various searches they performed. The New York Times did just that, and contacted a widowed, 62-year-old, Georgian woman and read some of her hundreds of searches to her. “My goodness, it’s my whole personal life. I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder.”
The poor press overshadowed AOL’s launch of a new video section of their site, which offers over 40 channels of free content, including clips, videos, entire episodes of television shows, and user-generated content from their Uncut service. "What sets AOL apart from its competition is the
breadth and scope of its other channels. It is here that AOL video
proves it isn’t some fly-by-night startup, but a company with the
backing of a media giant."
In other video news, MTV and Google partnered this week to begin showing episodes of MTV’s shows across Google’s advertising network. Websites that normally run Google’s text ads will be able to show MTV content to their users, making it both the first time that MTV has made content available outside of its site, and a new departure for Google’s hugely successful advertising model.
Google also signed a deal to become the search engine for MySpace, the second most popular website. Now maybe MySpace searches will actually be useful.
The New York Times released details on the hush-hush next offering from Motorola: the Motokrzr K1. It is basically an upgraded Razr, which will have some better features, a new look, and even be slightly smaller than the current Razr, and available in the next month. No word yet on pricing or carrier.
This week marked the release of Apple’s fastest computer yet: the Mac Pro. It features two of the newest Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors, and runs at speeds up to 3Ghz, which is two times faster than the Power Mac G5. It can be upgraded to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. That’s if you’re trying to map the human genome or are in charge of all CGI for the sequel of Superman Returns.
Sprint Nextel announced that it would begin work on a 4th generation cell phone network. In collaboration with Intel, they will use a WiMax technology that will allow for high-speed wireless Internet access.
A French company is betting that it has the hot holiday toy for the Christmas season. The Nabaztag is like a next-generation Tamagochi: this WiFi bunny is always connected to the Internet and communicates with its owner and other Nabaztags in sophisticated ways. It can read incoming e-mails and text messages aloud, change colors or ear positions to match the weather, and mirror the position of another Nabaztag owned by, say, your distant love. And if no one ever sends you e-mails or text messages or ear positions, it will be a physical reminder of your desperate, lonely existence in the shape of a cute bunny!
Visit our correspondent Daniel Williford at his blog, Until Today…