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Technology

Google, iPod and more

Last Updated March 21, 2006

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Google unveils new stock search

Google released its latest "whoa-that's-cool" online tool Tuesday: Google Finance. It promises to do for stock quotes what Google Maps did for, well, maps.

Enter a (U.S.) stock symbol, such as GOOG, and get all the vital bits of data, a list of headlines on the company (provided by Google News, of course) and a stock graph you can play around with. Scroll, grab-and-drag and zoom in to one day or zoom out to cover several years.

Business sites covering the launch point out that Google is playing catch-up with its competitors, Yahoo And MSN, and its offering doesn't have as many features as those. But the same could be said for Google Maps when it first came out.

Google sued over PageRank

Staying with Google, Reuters reports that the search engine has been sued by a website because the site has dropped in rank in Google's search results. Kinderstart.com is a search engine and web directory for information on children and parental advice. In the lawsuit filed March 17, the site says its traffic dropped 70 per cent and its revenues 80 per cent after Google penalized the site in its search rankings in March 2005.

Google has been known to remove websites from its listings that fool its search engine into ranking it higher that its content would deserve. Google removed the German BMW website from its index for practices Google calls "webspam."

Another iPod model "at risk"

Could Apple's top-of-the-line iPod be going the way of the do-do? Or, at least, of the iPod mini?

Apple Insider, a news and rumours site, reported March 17 that Apple has informed retailers that the 60GB version of the iPod is on its "at risk" list. According to the site, that could mean Apple may make changes to that model of iPod, or drop its price or replace it with a newer model.

On Tuesday, CNNMoney.com wrote that an analyst who follows Apple says the "at risk" memo to retailers means that the 60GB version of the iPod is on the way out. Shaw Wu of American Technology Research told clients he believes Apple is making way for an iPod capable of playing wide-screen video and that comes with wireless Bluetooth headphones.

French lawmakers approve bill to open digital music

France's National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, approved a new online copyright bill Tuesday. The law would force Apple, Sony, Microsoft and other companies to open their proprietary music formats so that their rivals can produce products and services that are compatible.

The law, if passed, could mean French customers would be able to download music from iTunes and play it on a Sony Walkman digital music player. Or, as some analysts have speculated, it could mean Apple would pull out of the French market entirely.

This all sounds good to Cory Doctorow, of the blog BoingBoing.net, who campaigns against music formats "crippled" with digital right management (DRM) systems. But, he asks, will open-source developers be able to get licences for the formats and write programs that can play them?

CDs players make way for mp3s in economic "basket"

Another indication that digital audio players are in and CDs are out: Economists tracking inflation in the U.K. have stopped looking at portable CD players and turned their sights to the mp3 players.

The Office of National Statistics said Monday that more Britons now use digital music players than personal CD players. The office is removing them from their "shopping basket" of goods used to calculate inflation and adding more current items, such as mp3 players, flat-screen TVs, digital camcorders and music downloads.

Video games getting respect, for a change

Last week, France inducted three video-game creators into its Order of Arts and Letters, the country's highest award for culture.

This week, Wired Magazine's cover story is written by Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims. In his article he argues that video games inspire creativity and problem-solving, and critics of video games, who are rarely players of video games, see only the negative aspects of gaming precisely because they aren't gamers themselves.

"Imagine that all you knew about movies was gleaned through observing the audience in a theatre – but that you had never watched a film. You would conclude that movies induce lethargy and junk-food binges. That may be true, but you're missing the big picture," he writes.

Some users of Digg, a technology news site that linked to Wright's column, wondered whether it was all a thinly veiled promotion for his upcoming game, Spore. (Speaking of which, there's a video demo of Spore, narrated by Wright, up on Google Video that makes my nerd-endings tingle.)

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