February 2, 2007 11:00 AM PST
Week in review: Visions of Vista? Buyer beware
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A case in point: Vista's networking feature--one of Allchin's biggest gripes a year ago. Now, when users connect to a new network, they are asked if it is a home, work or public network, with the operating system automatically setting firewall and other settings based on that decision. That's a far cry from what the system offered during early testing.
Microsoft wasn't alone in losing a key and longtime executive this week. Dell announced that Kevin Rollins resigned as chief executive and that company founder Michael Dell had retaken the helm of the PC company. In addition to announcing Rollins' departure, the company said it now expects its fourth-quarter results to be below analyst expectations for both revenue and earnings per share.
Rollins' departure comes after a terrible year for the company, during which it lost its lead in PC market share to Hewlett-Packard, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation into possible accounting improprieties. Several other executives have left the company in recent months, including Chief Financial Officer Jim Schneider, who was slated to leave the company at the end of January.
Rollins came to Dell in 1996 as the operations and business expert ready to help a 31-year-old Michael Dell make his direct-mail company grow. Together, the two built a PC powerhouse that changed the industry and made billions of dollars for shareholders. But their meteoric rise to the top of the tech industry slowed dramatically in 2006, Rollins' second year as Dell's CEO.
So what happened? Dell appears to have fallen prey to a common problem for those on top: quite simply, the world changed, and Dell did not change quickly enough.
A Massachusetts company next month plans to release a combination power generator and space heater, a system that can cut down on electricity bills, according to backers--at least while the heat is running.
Combined heat and power systems, already available for industry and large buildings, are designed to harvest heat that is normally wasted during the process of power generation. As fuel is burned to make electricity, the resulting heat is captured and piped through a home's existing hot-air heating system.
Climate Energy's system is designed around a Honda internal-combustion engine that burns natural gas to generate electricity. A heat exchanger feeds any captured heat to a furnace, which then distributes the hot air.
Certainly, cars are at the center of the alternative-energy movement, and a company that specializes in electric scooters and economy cars is jumping into the sports car market. Zap will try to bring an electric sports car to the market by the end of 2008. The vehicle is built around the APX, a concept car developed by England's Lotus Engineering. Lotus designed the APX to accommodate a gas-powered V6.
The design goals for the Zap-X, if met, would allow Zap to leapfrog ahead of electric-car makers Tesla Motors and Wrightspeed, in terms of how far the vehicle will go on a single charge. Zap said its car, which will sell for about $60,000, will go 350 miles before needing a recharge, significantly farther than either the Tesla Roadster or the car from Wrightspeed.
However, experts warn that it won't be easy to end our dependence on petroleum or reduce how much the world uses. The amount of energy per liter derived from petroleum is far greater than most of the alternatives, a worldwide infrastructure based on it already exists, and people tend to be lazy--seeking out alternative fuels takes some effort.
What will you fill up your car with in 5 to 10 years? It's hard to say. Several alternatives to petroleum and diesel, or ways to economize on them, have come forward in the past few years. News.com has prepared an FAQ to address each of their pluses and minuses.
Also of note
The FBI appears to have adopted an invasive Internet surveillance technique that collects far more data on innocent Americans than previously has been disclosed...eBay confirmed its decision to ban auctions for the characters, currency, weapons, attire and accounts of online games such as World of Warcraft...YouTube's CEO said the video-sharing site plans to compensate video creators.
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