World Tech Update, Feb. 12

Thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update,
I’m Nick Barber. Coming up on this week’s show space shuttle Endeavor blasts off, IBM
introduces a new processor and accompanying servers and the Google Snowmobile maps some
unusual places. We’ll start this week though with Iran where
the government is shutting down Google’s Gmail service within the country hoping to
quell opposition. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Iranian authorities
are trying to silence any anti government protests before they can get started. Government
opposition groups have called for protests to be held on February 11th, when the country
traditionally celebrates the anniversary of the Islamic Republic. Staying with Google, with the introduction
of Buzz, the company has added social networking integration to Gmail. The new service is built
inside of the webmail application and lets users share content similar to how it’s
done on Facebook and Twitter. You can update your status on either your desktop or a mobile
device. Buzz allows you to connect to other sites like Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader and
Twitter so that content from there becomes aggregated within Buzz. As of now, Buzz doesn’t
have a link into Facebook and without the two applications communicating that represents
a major gap in Buzz’s coverage. You also can’t update your Twitter status from Buzz,
information only flows one way for now. Space Shuttle Endeavour blasted into the pre-dawn
sky above Florida early Monday morning on a mission to deliver a new observation module
to the International Space Station. On board are two European modules Tranquility and Cupola,
which together are the last pieces of the non-Russian part of the ISS. Tranquility is
a connecting module while Cupola is a control room and observation area for robotic operations.
Cupola will be mounted to face the earth and will provide astronauts with a much improved
view of the planet and robotic operations being carried out in space. On Monday IBM introduced its latest Power7
processor, which adds more cores and improved multithreading capabilities to boost the performance
of servers requiring high up time. The Power7 has up to eight cores, with each core able
to run four threads. The Power7 chip will come with four, six or eight cores and run
between 3 gigahertz and 4.14 gigahertz. Even though the Power7 chips will deliver twice
the performance of older models, the newer chips will be four times more energy efficient.
The company also launched four Power7-based servers that will be available between mid
Feburary and mid March. Electronics giants Samsung and Sharp put nearly
three years of battling over LCD panel and module patents behind them on Monday with
a deal that ends all ongoing patent infringement disputes. Two recent rulings appear to have
provided in the incentive to settle. In December a court in The Hague ruled that Samsung had
infringed on Sharp patents and ordered a halt to imports of infringing products while in
January the U.S. International Trade Commission also began blocking some Samsung products.
A part of the settlement includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that allows each
company to use the patents of the other in their products. We have several items for you in our news
in brief this week. Toyota plans to recall around 400,000 of its Prius hybrid cars to
replace software that controls the antilock braking system. The global recall is in response
to driver complaints about poor braking performance under some conditions. The new software should
improve braking while ABS is active at low speeds. Google plans to build what it calls ultra
high speed broadband networks in some parts of the US. The fiber networks will deliver
1 gigabit per second connections to homes at prices that it says will be competitive.
The services would cover between 50,000 and 500,000 people. Sharp’s solar business will turn its first
annual profits this year as the demand for solar energy panels continues to grow. The
business unit is expected is generate an operating profit of 62 million after losing 179 million
USD in the previous fiscal year. Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader is heading
back to the shelves after being absent since the holidays. Despite scathing reviews about
the device’s sluggish performance and mediocre screen, Barnes and Noble was unable to keep
up with demand around the holidays. 60 counties worldwide celebrated Safer Internet
Day this past Tuesday. In Europe, the European Commission encouraged social networking sites
to tighten up their privacy settings to protect children. Less than half of the 25 most popular
social networking sites in Europe restrict access to kids’ personal data to their own
network of friends. European commissioner for information society and media Vivane Reding
said that she would like to see minors’ profiles set to private by default. The slogan
for Safer Internet Day this year is “Think Before you Post,” and this cartoon was released
to show the perils of what could happen if children don’t. (music)
(laughter) Well that’s our show for this week. Thanks
for joining us here on World Tech Update. To find out what’s coming up don’t forget
to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for news next week from Mobile World
Congress in Barcelona. As we head out we’ll leave you with video of the Google Snowmobile…think
Google Street view for ski slopes. I’m Nick Barber and for all of us here at the IDG News
Service thanks for watching and we hope to see you next week!

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