Bits and megabytes...


Issue: "Troops hunt for weapons," June 14, 2003

Is 79 cents cheap enough for one downloadable song? A new service called Rhapsody claims to have "the world's largest online library of major and independent label music," including over 200,000 songs that can be burned to CD. This competes with Apple's iTunes (which charges a buck a pop) and offers an alternative to controversial underground song-trading services.... Microsoft and AOL settled their differences over Netscape and Internet Explorer. Bill Gates's company will pay $750 million to end a suit accusing it of anticompetitive tactics. This almost certainly comes too late to help Netscape, once the dominant Web browser, which now has less than 5 percent market share.... Shoot-'em-up video games aren't just a waste of time, according to the journal Nature. University of Rochester researchers say titles like Medal of Honor and Counter-Strike may sharpen the mind, improving players' visual skills. They said doctors could use action-packed games to help partially blind people. Also, soldiers might use them to better prepare for real-life combat.... Online megapower eBay lost a major patent infringement suit that may change how goods sell there. Now it must pay a $35 million judgment and may shell out millions more in royalties. The suit involves how eBay sells fixed-price merchandise with the "Buy It Now" button.... Say it isn't so: Ma Bell experimenting with spam? Forbes magazine raised the issue, reporting that some AT&T Wireless customers received an ad from the company via text message. It said the carrier claimed that sending in-house ads over its own network is allowed by its privacy policy; users can opt out of the ads.... The CIA is behind the times with technology, according to a report by Hoover Institution fellow Bruce Berkowitz. The agency "only slowly brought the Internet into headquarters, and took even longer to put it at the desk of each analyst," he complained. Mr. Berkowitz said that the Directorate of Intelligence is five years behind in computer power and lacks modern search engines and other basic tools.

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