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.
Speaking of patents, Wired reported that a "patent recently obtained by Microsoft for its Palm-sized PC product line is raising concerns among intellectual property experts who say it could be used to demand licensing fees from other mobile-device makers. ... In its patent application, Microsoft said the purpose of the now-patented technology is to make it easier for users to launch applications by either double-clicking a button or holding one down. But the wording of the patent is drawing fire from some critics of the patent office, who view it as another example of how companies are obtaining patents that are either overly broad or apply to technologies already widely in use."
Wired: When Two Clicks Equals One Patent
Head's Up Microsoft Customer Service
Some wireless Internet users say they are regularly getting dropped connections when using the Windows XP operating system, Wired reported. "Here are the symptoms of the problem: A Wi-Fi-enabled computer running Windows XP is working fine one minute, pulling up Web pages and processing e-mail. Then, for no reason, the connection drops, websites fail to come up and the e-mail flow stops. The small wireless connection icon in the taskbar says the signal from the access point is strong, so the problem isn't that the user wandered out of radio range. The icon even shows that the computer's Wi-Fi hardware is sending information to the access point -- it's just not getting anything back," the article said. Microsoft's reply? "We don't have data that suggests Windows XP drops wireless connections more than any other system," Greg Sullivan, lead product manager in Microsoft's Windows division, told the publication "Wi-Fi configuration in Windows XP is much different and easier than in previous versions."
Wired: Windows XP Bedevils WiFi Users
Meanwhile, CNET's News.com reported on the case of Hotmail user Alexandria Felton, who is miffed that her e-mail files were permanently lost due to a glitch. Microsoft says the case was isolated, the article said. "In a statement, Microsoft said 'issues' have occasionally beset its Hotmail service, although the most recent case appears to have affected only Felton's free account," CNET said. "In this case specifically, it appears to be an isolated incident that is not recurring within our customer base. We are working to understand how the customer's data was lost, but we are not able to recover the customer's files," Brooke Richardson, product manager for MSN and Hotmail, wrote in an e-mail.
CNET's News.com: Hotmail Incinerates Customer Files
Another Open-Source Headache
Is it a fair fight when South America's biggest country gets in a tussle with Bill Gates & Co.? Brazil's leaders don't seem to be worried as they embrace the open-source Linux operating system in a number of government offices. Now Microsoft has gone on the offensive, with the company's head executive in the South American country blasting the Brazilian government. "Microsoft Brasil's president, Emilio Umeoka, said that ideology led Brazil's government astray when it decided to adopt Linux's free software in public sector computers. 'If the country closes itself off again -- as it did when it protected its information technology, 10 years from now we will wake up and be dominant in something insignificant,' Umeoka told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. 'My boss once said: "Irrelevance is the beginning of the end",' the Brazilian executive of Seattle-based Microsoft Corp. said."
Reuters via The Washington Post: Microsoft Brazil Decries Government Use of Linux (Registration required)
AOL: You've Got Closure
America Online can cross one more legal battle off the long list of suit it faces. Time Warner's Internet unit "said it settled class-action lawsuits regarding account cancellations with former AOL and CompuServe members. The Internet service provider denied liability in relation to the allegations but agreed to settle to avoid the cost of further litigation and to resolve an ongoing matter, the company said. The settlement agreement will result in the dismissal of cases that had been previously certified as class actions in Oklahoma and California" and refunds will be ponied up for misbilled AOL and CompuServe subscribers, The Wall Street Journal Online reported.
The Wall Street Journal Online: AOL Settles Class-Action Lawsuit (Subscription required)
Harry Potter and the Hackers of Cyberspace
The next Harry Potter movie installment, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" opens today in North America. With every blockbuster movie comes hype, sold-out shows ... and an Internet worm? "British software and services company Sophos reported that infections by the three-month-old 'P' variant of Netsky have risen dramatically over the past week, thanks to the worm's ability to disguise itself as a Harry Potter game or book," CNET's News.com reported.
CNET's News.com: Harry Potter and the Worm of Doom
BBC News noted that other Netsky.P versions "have masqueraded as nude photos of Britney Spears, Eminem MP3 music files and illegal software. 'Echoing a technique used in 2000 by the Pikachu worm, Netsky.P targets young computer users by sometimes posing as content connected with the Harry Potter books and movie franchise,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos" in a canned quote picked up by the BBC.
BBC News Online: Potter Mania Fuels Pesky Virus
Computer viruses overall are on the rise, according to Sophos. "The number of new viruses released on the Internet in May hit a 2-1/2-year high last month, an anti-virus vendor says. Five new viruses released in May made Sophos' Top 10 for the month. Included are Sasser, Netsky-Z, Sober-G, Bagle-AA, and Lovgate-V, the company said Wednesday. Sasser led the pack in the number of infected machines reported," InformationWeek said, picking up the Sophos virus report.
InformationWeek: New Viruses Hit 30-Month High
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