Welcome to another edition of the Prompt newsletter.
In this week's issue, we report on accusations of Google duping the US government, take a look at some of the world's weirdest computers, and how methanol fuel cells are set to become the next big thing.
Plus we explain how sewers may become a pipeline for super-fast broadband in the UK, and find out how technology is affecting marriage and divorce today.
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Google ensures open access for C-block spectrum but did it dupe the US government?
By James Gerber
Accusations from US GOP lawmakers are unfolding this week in the wake of Google losing its bid for ownership of the lucrative C-block spectrum, recently auctioned off by the government to provide a fertile and vacant transmission spectrum.
The C-block spectrum is a block of airwaves that was previously occupied by TV broadcasts. With American TV forced to become fully digital in 2009, this block will be left vacant. Verizon Wireless, the second largest mobile phone provider in the US, won the spectrum with a $4.74 billion bid, edging Google's offer of $4.71 billion.
What is in question is whether Google knowingly chose to lose its bid. With deeper pockets than Verizon, Google could have almost certainly won the bid if it chose to do so. Google's bid triggered a clause that if there was a bid higher than $4.6 billion, open-access requirements would be granted over the network. This translates to more devices being able to use the network, more content access for consumers, and of course, more potential advertising revenue for Google (especially with its mobile phone platform, Android, which is set to be released soon).
Something good coming up from the sewers
By James Gerber
No longer a place where only waste goes, sewers are now on the verge of becoming a pipeline for ultra-fast broadband. According to BBC News, UK regulator Ofcom is studying the country's underground network of tunnels carrying waste for this end.
Some companies are already offering broadband through the sewers in both France and the UK. France has three operators providing blazing fast broadband to homes at speeds between 50 to 100 megabits per second. To put this in perspective, Ethernet speed is becoming cheaply available through existing infrastructure.
With this new development, we hope the idea of Smell-O-Vision doesn't get resurrected for IPTV.
Apprentice UK quote of the week
"I'm a businesswoman with a lot of balls and a lot of front."
Winning project leader Helene Speight describes herself. Just try not to think about it too much.
US Media News
eWeek has had to make sudden and drastic staff cuts to its editorial team, following the recent announcement of a significant drop in quarterly revenues by its owners, Ziff Davis Enterprise. As of April 15, senior security editor Lisa Vaas, editor at large Steven Vaughn-Nichols, senior news writer Renee Boucher Ferguson, and senior editors Paula Musich and Peter Galli will no longer work for the company. No replacements have been announced.
Matt Hines has resigned from his post as senior writer for InfoWorld. Prior to joining InfoWorld, Hines was a senior writer for eWeek. He also previously worked as a staff writer for CNET News.com and as lead technology editor at Work.com. No replacement has been announced.
The Wall Street Journal is gearing up to launch a new lifestyle magazine, titled WSJ., in September. WSJ. will cover a variety of topics related to the lifestyles of its wealthy readers, including fashion, property, cars, and philanthropy. The magazine will be edited by Tina Gaudoin, who was appointed to the role in January. Ellen Asmodeo was recently appointed publisher of WSJ. Asmodeo has worked for American Express Publishing for 17 years and was most recently president of brands for Louise Blouin Media.
UK Media News
Hayley Pinkerfield has been appointed features and digital editor at Haymarket's Revolution magazine. Pinkerfield has previously held a number of roles with the the media group, including senior reporter, web editor, and reporter on Haymarket's HR magazine.
Steve Myall has been appointed senior reporter at thelondonpaper, one of London's evening freesheets. Myall was previously a reporter for the Mail on Sunday.
Matt Turner has joined Financial News as an online reporter. He was previously a journalist for contract publishers, Engage Group, where he worked across several public and private sector internal magazines.
City AM has promoted Jeremy Hazlehurst from diary editor to features editor. Hazlehurst will be replaced by Victoria Bates, who will now edit the Capitalist daily dairy and will continue to cover news and features. Johanna Thomas-Corr, arts editor, will now also be deputy features editor. City AM is a free daily business paper distributed on weekday mornings in the City of London and Canary Wharf. It combines analysis of business news and lifestyle features.
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+ 4.89 million
The world's weirdest computers
By Dave Wilby
Not everything about computing is cold, calculated and logical. If you don't believe us, then check out the great article in this week's NewScientist listing the ten weirdest computers. To get on the weird list, a computer has to boast more than a vodka cooled chipset or an airbrushed PC case in the shape of Leona Lewis – in fact, it needs to have evolved beyond mere electrical pulses and circuitry.
From bottom to top, the weirdest computing technologies are apparently: optical, quantum, DNA, reversible, billiard ball, neuronal, magnetic, glooper, mouldy and water wave. Intrigued? Get the full picture and you'll also discover photonic crystals, qubits, fluorescent proteins, cyborg moths, blob-bots and perceptrons.
Celling fuel to power gadgets for longer
By Dave Wilby
It feels like there's always one company or another promising to deliver cost-effective methanol fuel cells that will revolutionise the way in which we power our techy toys. This time it's the turn of MTI Micro, and of course this time they really mean business, according to a report on News.com.
Mass produced working fuel cells will be on sale to the public by 2009, claims MTI, displacing lithium ion batteries as the power source of choice for all our portable electronic needs. Fuel cells will last twice as long as batteries and can be recharged in seconds by squeezing in more fuel. Methanol cells create energy when oxygen and methanol react with catalysts in a membrane, leaving just electrons, recycled water, and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide as by-products. Mobile phones and digital SLR cameras are likely to be the first beneficiaries of commercial fuel-cell technology.
Read more about our fuel cell future on the Prompt Tech Blog.
Marriage the 21st century way...
MSN has published a story that will warm the hearts of techies everywhere. When Bernie Peng, a financial software programmer from New Jersey, decided to ask his girlfriend to marry him, he popped the question in a rather unique way.
Bernie reprogrammed his girlfriend Tammy Li's favourite video game, 'Bejeweled', to ask for her hand in marriage when she reached a certain score. When Tammy reached this target, a ring and a marriage proposal appeared on screen. Wooed by this romantic, but uniquely nerdy, proposal (and who wouldn't be?), Tammy Li said yes.
Peng posted the good news on his blog, along with details of what he had done. The news filtered out, and now PopCap games, the company behind Bejeweled, will fly the couple to Seattle as part of their honeymoon. In addition, the company is supplying copies of the game to hand out to wedding guests. PopCap claimed that, while most games companies would disapprove of manipulating their code, it didn't mind in this case. "It won him a woman. As a bunch of geeks we have to say, 'Bernie, hats off to you,'" said a spokesman.
It's like a modern day fairly tale.
...And divorce the 21st century way
Is YouTube the next battleground in divorce cases? A YouTube video, in which one Tricia Walsh-Smith angrily explains the details of her upcoming divorce, has been shooting round the Internet at speed. The Register reports that the video is worrying lawyers, who have described Walsh-Smith's video diatribe as a "scary new step" in acrimonious divorces.
It really is the kind of thing you have to see to believe, as captions such as 'Nasty, Evil Stepdaughter', 'Mean, Bad Husband, and 'Poor Vulnerable Tricia' pop up on screen. Walsh-Smith's lawyer claims that she was acting out of passion, and that she is a "victim who is holding her head up".
Her husband's lawyers say that they are "kind of appalled", and other divorce specialists believe that the footage is unlikely to be well received by the judge. It's quite easy to see why.
Website of the Week
with Sean McManus
This website offers all the thrills of the ZX-81, with a platform game constructed entirely from ASCII characters. There are lifts, melting platforms and monsters to dodge. It starts easy, but that's just training you for the brain-busting puzzles that come later. There's a screen editor, and a whole host of user-contributed levels but beware: many of the unofficial designs are impossible to complete.
We hope you find the Prompt Communications newsletter an interesting read. For any feedback on our newsletter, or to discuss how we can help you with your technology PR, marketing, social media/blogging initiatives, copywriting or surveys, please contact us using the details below. We are always delighted to hear from you.
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