This Week's Hot News: April 13th - 17th

Bill Gates Patents Plasma Injector, for Your Car

Ever since he retired, gave up his throne and handed the scepter to Steve Ballmer, people have been wondering what Bill Gates is up to. Old news says Bill is hangin' out in his new office, designing logos for whatever his next company might be. New news says he patenting random things and this week, it's cars. Last week a patent filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 2007 and detailing an electromagnetic engine was made available for public viewing. Among the ten inventors listed in the patent--as well as Searete LLC, part of Intellectual Ventures--is none other than Mr. Windows himself, William H. Gates, III, and Microsoft's former chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold. As you read on, the patent starts throwing around words like particle beam igniter and plasma injector. Seriously. Hit up the original post for diagrams and the full story.

Time Warner Axes Tiered Bandwidth Plans

For all the whining, moaning and protesting that goes on these days, sometimes it actually does some good. Consumers, politicians and watchdogs have been airing their grievances about Time Warner's plans to introduce tiered bandwidth plans ever since the company first announced the idea and late on Thursday, Time Warner did an about face and shelved the idea. “It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing," said Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt. "While we continue to believe that consumption based billing may be the best pricing plan for consumers, we want to do everything we can to inform our customers of our plans and have the benefit of their views as part of our testing process.” Part of the consumer education TWC plans on offering includes free software that will allow customers to see how much bandwidth they use on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. What, so once they know much they use, they'll be more than happy to fork out the cash to pay for it? Gimme a break.

EA Breaks Law with Brass Knuckles

Nothing in life is free save for cheap laughs prompted by the moronic behavior of others. So maybe it's not "hot" news but we can all use a good giggle. EA is feeling the heat this week following an unfortunate promotional "toy" it shipped with the Godfather II. When companies ship press versions of anything, they often come with gifts or doodads that we'll more than likely never use. Sometimes companies get it right: One year Lighthouse sent me a bottle opener in the shape of a life-ring; permanent fixture in my kitchen. Sometimes they get it wrong: EA sent out actual brass knuckles with the Godfather II and what with Brass Knuckles (and the distribution of them) being illegal in most countries and 10 states, this was not a wise move. SOS signals were sent out shortly after they shipped, asking the press to mail them back (resulting in more "distribution" and law-breaking might we add) asap.

Guilty: The Pirate Bay Verdict

In news that a lot of you found really surprising, the four men up on copyright infringement charges in relation to The Pirate Bay site were found guilty. Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström were Friday sentenced to one year in prison each and ordered to pay collective damages of $3.6 million to movie, music and game companies. That said, don't put your TPB FTW shirts away yet. All four lawyers have vowed to appeal and Sunde, the group's spokeperson said that the initial verdict was expected but meant very little in the long run.

Mininova: Over 8 Billion Downloads, Faces Court

With all the fuss surrounding The Pirate Bay lawsuit, not a lot of attention is being paid to another BitTorrent search engine's fate hanging in the balance. Mininova scored its eight billionth download over last weekend and the masterminds behind the site are currently suffering the legal consequences. On May 28, 2008 the site administrators reported in a Mininova blog that Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN filed a lawsuit against the organization, stemming from a demand that site administrators place a filter into the search engine that would remove leads to copyright material. Neither BREIN nor Mininova could reach an agreement and BREIN has decided to push for a full-fledged lawsuit.

Amazon's "Gay" Glitch

One of the most controversial stories this week had to have been Amazon's "ham-fisted" error that saw tons of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender content de-ranked or removed from search results. While the company itself said over 50,000 titles had been affected, and no one genre had been hit any harder than the next, rights groups, bloggers and just about everyone else thanks to Twitter, were outraged at this supposed strike against GLBT content. Adding fuel to the fire were Amazon's comments to author Mark Probst, author of gay title, The Filly. The company said it excluded adult material from the search results and since those results are built on sales rankings, that feature is also removed. We're sure Probst is wondering why "Homiphobia: A History" had it's ranking removed while "Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds" was unaffected.

AMD Radeon HD 4890 X2's Coming

Late last week AMD clarified the immediate future of its line of Radeon HD graphics products, particularly the HD 4870 X2. According to AMD, its partners are now being selected and prepped for validation of its next major part, the HD 4890 X2. Reports are saying the new card will have both GPUs running at least 1 GHz core clock speed and depending on the SKU, customers should be seeing 2 GB and 4 GB cards. The specs are not fully confirmed yet, but we'll let you know when we hear anything different.

ZuneHD Sounds Too Good Too Be True

The latest in ZuneHD talk is that this device could be the missing piece of the puzzle for Windows Mobile users. According to WMPoweruser the new Zune will have a capacitive, multi-touch OLED screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio and TV out, from what looks to be a HDMI port on the side. The site goes on to say that the radio will now be HD and the device will support HD media playback, which will be available from the updated Zune Marketplace. Interestingly, it also says the ZuneHD will support 3D Xbox games. Reports are saying 16GB and 32GB models as early as the Fall. We're sort of hoping it will end up incorporating Microsoft's Project Pink and we'll see some kind of turbo ZuneHD phone that's completely WinMo free. Read more the full scoop on the ZuneHD here, or click here for more on the mysterious Project Pink.

  • burnley14
    Let Amazon rank their product searches however they'd like.
    Why is it that any time the GLBT community feels "oppressed," even unjustifiably so, everyone has to hear about it? Try de-ranking "Christianity in America" and watch all those same rights groups and bloggers jump for joy. And they claim to act in the name of fairness and equality?
    It's Amazon's site, they can do whatever they want without everyone huffing and puffing.
  • Tindytim
    it also says the ZuneHD will support 3D Xbox games
    I wonder if that would be some odd remote play type feature, although the input method doesn't appear to be suited to it.
  • randomizer
    Customs would have closed the borders and called for martial law if brass knuckles were found here.