July 8, 2005 10:00 AM PDT

Week in review: Terror and technology

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system licenses, one server license for the Exchange calendar and e-mail software, and a single server license for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 (MOM)--along with the right to access the software from up to 50 computers.

Also on the software front, the European Parliament this week rejected a controversial measure that would have legalized software patents in the European Union. On Wednesday, 648 out of 729 members of Parliament voted to reject the proposal, called the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive.

The story got readers talking, including some who said the resulting lack of patent protection in Europe will diminish incentive to innovate.

But reader J.W. disagreed. "People who provide new ideas will do so anyway; they don't need legal crutches to do so," he said. "When the U.S. put a man on the moon, it wasn't the opportunity for patents that took them there."

Digital living
The number of people who download audio programs known as podcasts is set to explode over the next few years, according to a new report.

Researchers at the Diffusion Group predicted this week that the U.S. podcast audience will climb from 840,000 last year to 56 million by 2010. By that time, three-quarters of all people who own portable digital music players will listen to podcasts, up from less than 15 percent last year, the research group said.

PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Gateway are gearing up for an aggressive back-to-school buying season. And while the companies are targeting college freshmen with promotional prices for their latest revved-up desktop systems, many universities and colleges recommend that students use notebook computers.

Intel and actor Morgan Freeman's movie production company, Revelations Entertainment, have formed a new venture aimed at distributing first-run movies over the Internet. The new company, called ClickStar, is taking on an unfamiliar and potentially controversial role in Hollywood. Such services have historically been hampered by lack of content and Hollywood's fear of undermining DVD sales, but some experts say things may be changing.

Meanwhile, grassroots groups concerned about the next U.S. Supreme Court vacancy are mounting cybercampaigns they couldn't have imagined more than a decade ago, when the last seat was up for grabs. Both the conservative Progress for America and the liberal People for the American Way, for example, have created Web sites aimed at influencing the nomination and confirmation process.

Also of note
A group of investors has created a venture capital fund to raise $100 million to back start-ups and others developing technology based on the RSS Web publishing format...Yahoo has launched a new mobile search feature designed to let people send short text message queries and receive results via their phones...An outbreak of Trojan horse programs is hitting networks around the world...A security flaw in a widely used data compression technology could put many software programs at risk of attack.

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law enforcement
A German court found confessed Sasser author Sven Jaschan guilty on four counts of altering data and three counts of computer sabotage. The 19-year-old was given a suspended sentence of one year and nine months. He must also complete 30 hours of community service while on probation. The case is significant because authors of malicious code have typically proved difficult for law enforcement to track and catch.

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