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Technology

WiMax future may start in Chicago

Chicago -- The future of wireless communication may have its start this year in Chicago, industry observers said.

The service known as WiMax can roll television broadcasts, phone service, Internet connections and other data transmissions into one high-speed pipeline.

WiMax was given a corporate push Wednesday, when Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp, put together a $14.5 billion partnership involving $3.2 billion in investments from Google Inc., Comcast Corp., Intel and Time Cable Inc.

Regional tests of the system could begin in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington by year's end, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

Chicago may see WiMax first as it is close to the home of equipment supplier Motorola Inc., the newspaper said. Clearwire expects the system could go national by 2010.

MySpace lets users share their profiles with other sites

MySpace, the most popular social networking site on Thursday outlined a data-sharing program under which its users will be able to share their profiles, photos and friends on other Web sites.

Grand Theft Auto 4 Sales strike above $500m mark

Grand Theft Auto IV, the latest installment of the hit GTA video game franchise, racked up first-week sales of more than half a billion dollars, after selling over 6 million units globally.

RF Micro Still Bleeding


You don't even have to read beyond the headline of wireless chipmaker RF Micro Devices ' (Nasdaq: RFMD) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report to see that things haven't been getting better lately. Last quarter, my investing antennae snapped to attention when the report opened with the announcement of a stock buyback. This time, news of a significant restructuring at the company sent my warning sensors into overdrive.

Gates says Internet still a Microsoft goal

Tokyo -- Software giant Microsoft Corp. has ended its pursuit of Internet search engine Yahoo! Inc., company Chairman Bill Gates said in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday.

Gates said the company would pursue "an independent strategy" in its pursuit of a bigger share of the online advertising and Internet business, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Formal talks to purchase Yahoo! ended last weekend, three months after Microsoft bid $44.7 billion for the company.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Gates said Microsoft "will make the advances that give people a great choice there."

In South Korea on Tuesday, Gates said Microsoft was still open to forming partnerships with other Internet companies.

Microsoft owns 1.6 percent of Facebook, the second-largest social network Web site behind MySpace.

MIT building low-cost solar concentrator

Cambridge, Mass. -- A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students are building a prototype power concentrator that they say might revolutionize the solar energy field.

Led by MIT mechanical engineering graduate student Spencer Ahrens, the team is assembling a 12-foot-square mirrored dish capable of concentrating sunlight by a factor of 1,000. But it's being built from simple, inexpensive industrial materials selected for price, durability and ease of assembly rather than for optimum performance.

Ahrens said the goal is to make a dish that, in mass production, can be competitive in cost with other energy sources and produce heat for space heating and electric power at the same time.

"The technical challenge here is to make it simple," Ahrens said. "We're using all commodity materials that are all in high production."

Sprint Nextel close to closing WiMax deal

Overland Park, Kan. -- U.S. telecommunications giant Sprint Nextel and Internet service Clearwire are close to announcing a joint WiMax venture, sources said Wednesday.

The project of creating a high-speed wireless Internet service for cell phones and laptop computers is valued at about $12 billion, The Washington Post reported.

Internet and telecommunications giants Google, Intel, Time Warner and Comcast are providing $3.2 billion to get the venture on its feet, the report said.
Sprint would own 51 percent of the business, which would be run by Clearwire's Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Wolff, the source said.

The new company will be called Clearwire and have its headquarters in Kirkland, Wash., the source said.

The companies may announce the deal this week, the Post reported.

Leaving So Zune?

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was bold enough to walk out on Microhoo. Will it be brave enough to bail on its Zune, as well?

No, Mr. Softy isn't ready to throw in the towel on its portable media player just yet. The company has recently started selling television show episodes and broadened the social-sharing functionality of the devices. 

Yahoo!'s Decker Doubles Down


If you think walking a mile in Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) CEO Jerry Yang's shoes is tough these days, imagine being Susan Decker.

Improved RFID system is created

Atlanta -- U.S. scientists say they've designed a system capable of simultaneously measuring and testing hundreds of radio frequency identification tags.

The new system allows the measurement of the signal strength of tags hidden behind other tags, said Georgia Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Gregory Durgin, who led the research.

RFID tags are used for applications that include inventory management, toll collection and airport luggage security.

The tag absorbs some radio frequency energy from a reader signal and reflects it as a return signal, delivering information from the tag's memory.

If several RFID tags are in the vicinity of a reader, the reader usually communicates with the tag transmitting the most powerful signal first and then puts it to "sleep" to prevent it from transmitting repeatedly. Then the reader moves to the next most powerful signal. This process can be very time-consuming.