The Tech 10: SoundExchange Cuts Deal, Yahoo Plans Video Makeover and Teen Geek Frees iPhone

Note: John Paczkowski is on vacation and won’t be writing or posting videos until he returns Monday.

To keep you abreast of tech news while he’s away, we’re compiling a daily digest of 10 must-read tech stories. We’re calling it the Tech 10 and it appears below.

  1. Music to their ears: SoundExchange, the recording-industry group that has been in a protracted battle with Internet radio companies, has reached a deal with them on royalties. The Associated Press reports that SoundExchange would cap fees at $50,000 a year for Webcasters offering more than 100 channels–down considerably from the much higher per-channel tax it had sought to impose.
  2. Playing catch-up with YouTube, Yahoo plans to revamp its video portal. Miguel Helft of the New York Times writes that Yahoo will consolidate the Internet site’s somewhat messy video interface into a more interactive one enabling users to view and share videos and compile playlists. Of the plans, Helft quotes Mike Folgner, general manager of Yahoo Video: “We’re going to make it a more cohesive experience. Video is going to be everywhere on Yahoo.”
  3. hackediphone.jpg

  4. A teenage hacker from New Jersey has picked the lock that links the iPhone to AT&T. According to the Associated Press, 17-year-old George Hotz, using a complicated procedure involving both software and soldering, unlocked an iPhone from AT&T and was using it on T-Mobile’s network, freeing the handheld for calls overseas using carriers outside the U.S. After announcing the feat on his blog, Hotz put the reconfigured iPhone (pictured, left) up for sale on eBay.
  5. Google goes Gotham? Bloomberg is reporting that the Internet search titan is in talks to provide online transit guides in New York City and environs. The guides, which are already available in more than a dozen cities, including Dallas and San Diego, show how to navigate transportation systems and could greatly expand Google’s revenue from ad sales to restaurants, hotels and other businesses that serve the nine million commuters in metropolitan New York.
  6. IBM may take elements of its Jazz collaboration software open source. According to IDG News Service, the tech giant is considering open-sourcing some of the lowest layers of the framework, which makes software development easier, so people could “build on the kernel,” said a member of the Jazz management committee.
  7. Sweet juice: Sony has developed a battery that uses sugar as an energy source. TMCnet reports that test cells of the battery have 50 milliwatts, so far the world’s highest electrical output for the so-called passive bio batteries. Sony engineers proved they work by putting four together to power a Walkman.
  8. And in an industry where power is everything, Via Technologies has produced a processor that consumes a maximum of one watt of electricity. Reporting on the development, PC World notes that the Eden ULV chip will be used in mobile devices and embedded applications.
  9. Manhunt 2, the sequel to Rockstar Games’ eponymous video-game gorefest, got a break in the form of a less-severe rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. According to CNET blog Crave, the board changed the rating from “adults only” (the equivalent of an NC-17 for video games) to an M-for-mature after Rockstar eliminated some ultraviolent content. The new rating means that companies like Sony and Microsoft will allow the game to run on their players, clearing the way for sales pegged to Halloween.
  10. Decrying its role in “promoting” child prostitution, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is calling on online classified-ad service Craigslist to police itself better, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In a letter sent this week, Franklin asked the Web site to toughen warnings for personal ads and pages that offer erotic services and to delete postings advertising sexual services for sale. An Atlanta vice officer claims that Craigslist and similar Web sites facilitate 85% of the sexual trysts men in Atlanta make with underage youths.
  11. News this week of a study that linked gender with color preference promptedhellokittylaptop.jpg Shiny Shiny (the self-described “girl’s guide to gadgets”) to assemble a selection of pink laptops. We eyed the Hello Kitty model (pictured here) and concurred that this was indeed a laptop that only a girl (of either sex) could love.

–posted by Associate Editor John Sullivan

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus