Broadband News

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Under the Radar -- week ending July 17th

18 Jul 2009 | 01.11 Europe/London
Under the Radar may have been more off the radar than anything in recent weeks but don't worry: after a brief hiatus it's back. This week people have been worried about viruses that aren't PC, downloading with the stars and playing cops and robbers.

With all the hubbub in the news about swine flu (the best advice apparently being to stay at home and paint a big red cross on your door) the emergency services have been worried even our broadband maybe not be immune. In response, BT issued a statement saying that its "network is in a strong position to cope with the expected demands in home working" - which is presumably reassuring to someone. (I haven't got time to worry about things like that: I'm too busy singing "Ring a ring o'Roses.")

Over in the States, Google's been proving it's not immune to the economic downturn, posting a mere 19 per cent increase in profits. "It's too early for us to tell when the recovery will materialize," sniffed CEO Eric Schmidt. But it's good news for Microsoft: it looks like people actually want its new operating system. The demand's been so high that all the copies of Windows 7 that was pre-disposed to be cheaper than all the rest have sold out - the Redmond giant had made a certain number available for £50, fuelling a sales surge that pushed its OS to the top of Amazon's sales charts in what was obviously by no means a carefully-planned marketing strategy. Will the popularity persist at the new £80 price point? Perhaps not if punters in Europe learn the only way they can upgrade Vista machines is by wiping their hard disk.

Meanwhile in the merry old land of Oz, police are driving round on the hunt for the menace to society that is the unsecured wi-fi network. And they're not the only ones: Queensland Police Detective Superintendent Brian Hay says "the crooks are out there driving around trying to identify these [open] networks" too. We'll be waiting for the film adaptation of this exciting duel. Australians have also been finding that their broadcasting laws may constrict what they can and can't write about online. Bloggers beware.

Stephen Fry's admitted to the illegal downloading of a copy of his mate Hugh Laurie's quirky medical show, House. He decided to keep the announcement hush-hush by telling a whole festival audience. "Making an example of ordinary people is the stupidest thing the record industry can do" he said, making you wonder if he of 500,000 Twitter followers still counts as an "ordinary person." It seems he may have missed the boat regarding illegal downloading though, with even The Pirate Bay going legit as a pay site.

And if you want to get a glimpse of a possible future, 3D webcams have landed. Caution: the future may hurt your eyes more than you expect. Do not adjust your screens.