Computer Tech News – December 1, 2010
Posted Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 by
Comcast vs. Netflix. EU vs. Google. PCs vs. Tablets. These and other breaking stories from the world of high tech in this week’s Computer Tech News.
Comcast Declares War on Netflix
The cable giant Comcast is holding Netflix and its users as economic hostages in a move that will soon test the long-cherished concept of “net neutrality.” Comcast has announced that Netflix must either pay a special fee or its streaming downloads will be slowed, making viewing movies and TV shows from Netflix frustrating at best. The federal government is currently considering whether or not to allow cable and satellite companies to deliberately slow or otherwise interfere with transmissions from companies who don’t pay for “premium” services.
EU Investigating Google
The European Union (EU) is launching an antitrust investigation into whether Google is deliberately manipulating its search results to harm its smaller rivals and steer more traffic to its own services. If Google is found guilty, the action could result in billions of dollars worth of fines. Can Google program its search engine the way it wants or does great power indeed bring with it great responsibility? The European courts will make their decision soon.
For Many, Tablets Will Supplant PCs, Expert Predicts
With Apple iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tabs flying off the shelves, it may not be long before tablets become the primary computing choice of many consumers. So predicts Ranjit Atwal, research director for Gartner, a major technology research firm. Atwal predicts that by 2014, tablets will “displace” an astounding 10 percent of PC sales and will soon be viewed as the “primary computing platform” for many users. However, Atwal does not believe the PC’s days are numbered; traditional computers will still be needed in most business and professional environments.
Microsoft Files Patent for Next Generation ‘Touch Screen’
Microsoft has filed a patent application for a “next generation” touch-screen that gives users the feeling of pressing buttons when they touch it. The light-induced, shape-memory polymer display screen has a special layer consisting of a shape-memory polymer activated by ultra-violet (UV) light. The UV light would “command” the shape-memory layer to create “buttons” on the screen as required. This could provide users with a virtual keyboard that would closely mimic a traditional fingers-on-keys experience, yet could change on demand as required. Experts believe it could be 10 years before this kind of technology makes its way into the commercial market.
New Light-Pulse Chips Will Enable Ultrafast Computers
Although computer speeds have increased every year, processing power remains constrained by the limits of copper wiring and connections. Now, engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed the first ultra-compact, low-power silicon chips to transfer data by light pulses. Working like miniature versions of the optical connections that maximize connectivity between home theater components, the microscopic light pulse emitters should allow computers to transfer data at rates many times faster than even today’s fastest machines.
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