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Filter - Cynthia L. Webb
Divorce Court, Toy Story Style

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_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Court Pours Cold Water on Porn Law (washingtonpost.com, Jun 30, 2004)
Microsoft's Momentary Reprieve (washingtonpost.com, Jun 28, 2004)
WWW.Danger.Net (washingtonpost.com, Jun 25, 2004)
AOL Orders the Spam Special (washingtonpost.com, Jun 24, 2004)
SBC Bets $6 Billion Against Cable (washingtonpost.com, Jun 23, 2004)
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Apple's Tiger To Roar Soon

Apple is readying its new operating system, dubbed "Tiger." Chief executive Steve Jobs gave a preview of the soon-to-be released system yesterday at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. He "showed off some of the 150 new features of Tiger ... including a search engine function that lets users quickly locate files in the computer by typing related words or phrases. The fifth major version of Mac OS X won't be out until sometime in the first half of next year. However, it will be loaded with new and improved features, such as a revamped iChat, an instant messaging program that can accommodate up to 10 people for simultaneous voice chat or as many as four people for a video chat," The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Jobs and Apple used the occasion to poke fun at competitor Microsoft: "Jobs didn't pull any punches in noting that Tiger, which will have features like a search function that Apple is calling 'Spotlight,' will be available more than a year ahead of Microsoft's next-generation Windows operating system Longhorn. The Redmond, Wash., software giant has also been talking about a search function in its operating system, but Longhorn likely will not be out until at least 2006. Apple played off that theme with large banners that read: 'Introducing Longhorn'; 'Redmond, start your photocopiers'; 'Redmond, we have a problem'; and 'This should keep Redmond busy,'" the Chronicle said.
The San Francisco Chronicle: Apple Shows New OS, Big Flat-Panel Displays

Apple's new Spotlight search engine "borrows from the search engine used in iTunes, but is able to pore through the contents and hidden data of many types of files. 'It finds stuff that you would never be able to find by hand,' he said. Tiger will sell for $129 when it is released next year and will be officially known as Mac OS X version 10.4 Tiger," CNET's News.com said. "To hear Mr. Jobs describe it, the problem of searching for information on a personal computer is one of the most troublesome issues facing the computer industry, and one that Apple - which today has only 5 percent of the PC market - will be the first to solve," the New York Times reported. CNET's News.com: For Apple's Tiger, The Keyword Is Search
For Apple's Tiger, the Keyword is Search
The New York Times: Apple Putting More Focus On Simplifying Searching (Registration required)
WWDC: Apple Previews Mac OS 'Tiger,' Tiger Server

Dan Gillmor of The San Jose Mercury News wrote that "Microsoft is planning big advances in its next operating system, code-named 'Longhorn' and probably coming out in 2006 or 2007. Powerful searching is one such feature, though Microsoft appears to be going about it in a different way than Apple. For all the bravado, there's serious business at stake. This week's Apple conference is, after all, aimed mostly at software developers, and they are the key to whether the Mac will survive. Jobs bragged about the availability of some 12,000 OS X programs, but the fact remains that some important applications are available only on Windows, which retains an overwhelming market share."
The San Jose Mercury News: Apple CEO Creates A 'Reality Distortion' Field That Makes Even Skeptics Nod Their Heads In Awe (Registration required)

Sour Apple?

One feature of Apple's planned Tiger operating system is getting panned by claims that it copies another developer's creation. "Arlo Rose is outraged at the similarity of Apple's Dashboard, previewed earlier Monday by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, to his Konfabulator, a $25 Macintosh program. Both programs allow easy access to small programs called Widgets, which can perform a number of useful little tasks," CNET's News.com said. "Apple, for its part, maintains that Dashboard is the company's own creation, noting that Widgets have long been a part of Mac OS X and the NextStep OS. 'The goal isn't to be like anything else,' Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said in an interview. 'It's not his stuff. What we've done is ours.'"
CNET's News.com: Developer Calls Apple's Tiger A Copycat

The Mercury News's Gillmor also wrote about the Dashboard feature in his column today: "Jobs got my attention as well with something called 'Automator,' an application that will make it much easier for regular folks to wire together various functions from various applications, to save time and automate repetitive activities. An example from Monday's show was a series of automated steps downloading photos from a relative's Web site, putting them into the Mac iPhoto image-organizing, then loading them into DVD-making software and, finally, creating a DVD slide show complete with a soundtrack and fancy transitions between slides. Normally, this is done with a technique called scripting, a programming method. Apple's own AppleScript isn't difficult to learn, but Automator makes the process almost drop-dead simple," he wrote. "Apple has never been shy about adopting other people's good ideas, and there's already some controversy over a feature called 'Dashboard,' which collects a bunch of small software programs people use frequently -- such as calendar, address book, calculator or weather forecasts -- and brings them to the forefront for a quick display at a keystroke. Dashboard looks a lot like a currently available shareware application called 'Konfabulator,' (www.konfabulator.com), which does pretty much the same thing."

No Sparing This Flat

Apple yesterday also announced plans for a sleek 30-inch flat panel screen. The company "introduced a 30-inch flat panel display -- its largest yet -- in a sleeker and trimmer housing, which adds to the 20-inch and 23-inch displays it already offers. That new offering puts Apple up against other PC companies that sell large flat panels, such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.," Reuters said. The Associated Press said "the aluminum-encased flat-panel monitor, which will also come in 20- and 23-inch versions, are compatible with Windows PC machines as well as Macintosh computers." The tech gadget site Gizmodo has a photo of the new product.
Reuters: Apple Previews Next Version of Mac OS X
The Associated Press via The San Jose Mercury News: Apple Previews Next Major Upgrade of Mac Operating System (Registration required)

Microsoft's Spam Hunt Continues

Bill Gates outlined his company's efforts to fight spam in an e-mail to customers yesterday. Gates said "the actions of spammers over the past year have reinforced our conviction that current filtering technologies are not enough. Knowing that only a small percentage of their output will get past today's filters, spammers have responded by significantly cranking up the volume of emails they send. So networks are burdened with even more junk than before. According to some surveys, email traffic now consists of nearly four spam messages for every legitimate one. Clearly, we must find additional ways to counter spam. Microsoft is working on a number of new technologies and strategies that we believe will bring significant improvement."

The Wall Street Journal said that while Microsoft "has used e-mail filtering technology called SmartScreen to reduce spam with its MSN and Hotmail services and its Outlook 2003 software, Mr. Gates wrote that spam remains 'a costly drain on time and resources and, as a carrier of worms and viruses, a significant threat to computer security.' He declared that 'filtering technologies are not enough.' Mr. Gates said Microsoft is adding tools that would combat the forgery of e-mail sender addresses and allow senders to 'qualify' their messages so they can guarantee delivery. ... In addition, Mr. Gates said Microsoft is developing technologies to detect and block 'dictionary attacks,' in which spammers send e-mail to a random assortment of names associated with a company or e-mail provider and then harvest the real addresses by culling those that generate bounce-back messages."
The Wall Street Journal: Bill Gates Details New Technology To Fight Spam (Subscription required)
CNET's News.com: Gates Issues 'Progress Report' On Spam

Gates also said Microsoft is responding to viruses and other online threats faster. "Microsoft is cutting the time it takes to blitz viruses but needs personal computer users to turn on their auto-updating features to help it combat potentially dangerous attacks, Bill Gates said on Monday," Reuters reported. "We will guarantee that the average time to fix will continue to come down," Gates said in Australia, the wire service said. "The thing we have to do is not only get these patches done very quickly ... we also have to convince people to turn on auto-update."
Reuters: Gates Says Microsoft Cutting Virus Combat Time

Microsoft Courts Developers Too

Apple is not alone in trying to attract developers to its products. Microsoft is doing some wooing of its own. The New York Times reported that "Microsoft is making a bid today to win over new developers with a stripped-down line of products including a free database and inexpensive developer tools. The new offerings -- called 'Express' versions of more feature-packed Microsoft products -- are intended for the 18 million people worldwide who write useful programs, but do not make their living as software developers. These amateurs, who outnumber professional developers by about three to one, include high school students, small-business owners and soccer moms."
The New York Times: Microsoft To Offer Streamlined Products Aimed At Programmers (Registration required)

The Express developer tools were unveiled at the company's TechEd Europe conference. "The lightweight editions of its Visual Studio line and SQL Server database are meant to expanding Microsoft's presence among students and hobbyists. Microsoft executives also confirmed that beta versions of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 are 'imminent.' Completed products are expected in the first half of next year," CNET reported. According to John Montgomery, director of marketing for Microsoft's developer division, "Microsoft is targeting a large population of people--the company estimates that there are 18 million nonprofessional programmers, compared with 6 million professionals--who want cheap or free products appropriate for building business applications. Often, nonprofessionals use Web-oriented tools, such as FrontPage or Macromedia Flash, which are suitable for front-end design but not database-driven business applications, he said."
CNET's News.com: Microsoft Targets Amateur Programmers

Meanwhile, Reuters yesterday said Microsoft "will provide an unprecedented amount of source code to licensees for its latest Windows CE operating system for electronic devices and allow them to own innovations they make to the software, the firm said on Monday. The move is designed to satisfy diverse customers using the Windows CE software in everything from automatic teller machines to mobile phones. It comes amid a growing challenge from the Linux operating system, which can be shared, copied and modified freely, enabling it to run on almost any computer hardware."
Reuters: Microsoft To Let Partners Own CE Innovations

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.

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