Google wants to Fly, Netflix is Grounded, and Mr. Mozilla is Hopping Mad
Some days we're overrun with dozens of small-but-interesting bits to bring you; other days, the stories are few and far between. Today was one of the latter days, but worry not, we've managed to pull out a few gems to satisfy your need for news. Though they may be few, they're certainly news to know.
First up is Big Search, moving further into the wireless market. As we reported a while back, Google was a bidder in the FCC's wireless spectrum auction which closed last week without a win for the G. However, it hasn't slowed them down, as they unveiled a grand plan today to utilize unallocated or "white" space in the former analog television spectrum to provide wireless broadband at speeds in the billions of bits per second. Yeah, you read that right, billions with a B — exponentially faster than today's mbps. The plan, which has apparently been dubbed "foolproof," faces a strong fight from traditional television broadcasters, but with Google's track record, we're not counting them out anytime soon.
Next up is a not-so-happy report, especially for the people Jonesing for their next video fix. Uber-rental site Netflix experienced a bit of a glitch today, as the entire Netflix site came crashing down along with their logistical and delivery systems. Netflix won't say what caused the flatline, but it must have been a doozy, as they went down around 10:00 AM Eastern time, and was still down eight hours later. Company executives confirmed that they had missed their shipping deadline, and were hopeful that shipping would resume on Tuesday. If you were planning to veg out to the Director's Cut of Beowulf this week — and we know you were — you'll have to wait a few more days.
Likewise, it has been a rough few days for Microsoft, as they were forced to admit that another bug they blew off as unlikely has popped up to bite them on the virtual tokus. This time it's an exploit of an Access-related .dll launched through Word documents as well as .mdb files that call up the vulnerable code. Microsoft reportedly told a researcher from Panda Security who reported the bug weeks ago that .mdb files were already considered unsafe, and since IE and Outlook block them, there was no reason to fix the vulnerability. With the entry of Symantec into the fray, armed with the Word-based exploit, the Empire has been forced to eat a bit of crow and will supposedly release a patch in the near future.
If Big Evil releases its patch via Automatic Updates, that had better be all they release, or Mozilla CEO John Lilly will be right there ready to take them to task. Lilly has been in the news over the weekend taking on Apple for pushing its Safari browser for Windows out to customers via Apple Software Update. It's not that they pushed out updates — he's all in favor of that — but rather that they pushed Safari out to all users, even ones who had never installed it before, and pre-ticked the install box. Lilly says the practice undermines the update system by installing entirely new applications through the update system, and doing it in a way that takes advantage of customer trust. Given the millions of iTunes subscribers and Quicktime users who have ASU installed, it's a pretty big honeypot, and apparently one Apple couldn't forgo.
Finally, there's a movement afoot in the UK to protect children from themselves on sites like Facebook. No, it's not a new effort to chase away predators, but rather to chase away potential employers. According to a coalition of children's charities, the practice of employers and education officials searching out information about candidates from social networks invades the user's privacy and unfairly discriminates against them. The main points of their argument focus on the ease with which fake profiles appear and false information is spread, as well as the extreme unlikeliness that thirteen and fourteen year olds are thinking about future career effects and college admissions when posting their emo poetry or slumber party stories. The move has yet to make it as far as proposed legislation, but the idea is seeing strong support from some very persuasive names, including the creator of the world wide web — Sir Tim Berners-Lee, not Al Gore.
With that, we're off to scrub our Facebook profiles and search out alternate sources of much-needed movie night relaxation.