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Tech Roundup: Web 2.0 Party, NComputing Scores, IBM Virtual Tour, More

One thin-client per child -- The One Laptop Per Child folk have been pushing for cheap machines, but the thin-client forces may have an economic upper-hand. The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is purchasing $70 thin-client machines from NComputing for the 1.8 million children in 5,000 elementary schools it has. The total bill of $80 million includes hardware and software that will supposedly let children run full suites of Windows- or Linux-based applications while saving the state $20 million from what a PC-based implementation would cost, slashing 90 percent from the electric bill, to boot. Nice contract if you can get it -- and they can get it since they tried. [Source: VentureBeat]

So much for tech stock safety -- Tech, telecom, and web stocks are supposedly headed for the outhouse, according to analysts, who are cutting share growth and share price forecasts as quickly as they can find them. But that is the assumption, with the evidence still to come. Certainly third quarter is the time you want to look because that should include the high volumes of holiday sales, at least for Intel. But for Apple? The company is announcing new models that haven't made it into the channel yet, and so haven't provided recognizable revenue. Google? Well, much of spending is down because of the credit crunch and that includes advertising, so no surprise there. And eBay? It's trying to switch from its historic center in auctions to single-priced sales. Could it be that this is partially manufactured doom and gloom? Why not add in IBM? Oh, that's right, the company had a killer quarter and is expecting to make its original numbers for the year. Spoilsport. [Source: BusinessWeek, BNET Industries Technology Blog]

Virtual life in Forbidden City -- Speaking of IBM, the company has done something interesting in concert with the Palace Museum: create a virtual experience of China's Forbidden City. The site, www.beyondspaceandtime.org, offers a 3D virtual world, using some of the techniques developed for such sites as Second Life and some of the MMORPGs. Using avatars, users navigate the city as they might do in reality, but they can also exercise less realistic capabilities, like lifting a building off the foundation and examining it from various perspectives. IBM is going to be involved in a series of these "philanthropic cultural projects" to create good PR as well as show off its ability to massive scale software applications. Can you say advertising for cloud consulting? The one thing that seems less virtual about this is the 203 MB download that the Windows version of the visiting program requires. [Source: Financial Times, The Forbidden City: Beyond Space and Time]

Web 2.0 entrepreneurs head to cypress and video their party -- From the while-Rome-burned department comes this story of Web 2.0 twenty-somethings heading to Cyprus and having "a week of reflections on life, love, and the Internet," which sounds as though they were going to party like it was 1999. Unfortunately, the video of them singing "Don't Stop Believing" was taken off the net. Maybe they figured, in the face of financial crisis, that belief alone wasn't enough. Or maybe they were embarrassed by images that could be construed as self-indulgent and evading responsibility of what they might have been doing back in the office. In the group was Facebook's Dave Morin and Aaron Sittig, Apple's Jessica Bigarel, Brittany Bohnet from Google, Drop.io founder Sam Sessin, and Mike Hudack, co-founder of Blip.tv. Oh, and Wall Street Journal technology reporter Jessica Vascellaro. Undoubtedly she was just there for the story. Right. Lord knows there hasn't been enough going on back home. [Source: Silicon Valley Insider]

Microsoft Office faces stiff web app competition -- Washington, D.C. has decided to ditch installing Microsoft Office on PCs and instead move employees to Google's web-based applications. The contract is worth an estimated $500,000 a year. If isolated this would still be interesting. But there's apparently been other examples, like GE moving first to Google and then to Zoho Business because of privacy concerns and probably the lack of interest in ads popping up. In response, Microsoft has forged ahead with online document sharing that still requires installing Office on every desktop, which is the exact situation that companies are trying to avoid by moving to web apps in the first place. It must be scary thinking that the only way to avoid seeing one of your two main cash cows tank is by starting to serve steaks yourself. [Source: Ars Technica]

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