Beth Callaghan

Recent Posts by Beth Callaghan

Weekend Update 2.21.09


This weekend, is distributing awards for Best Performance in a ToS Slapdown, Fastest Disappearing Subscriber Base, and Best Conference to Attend in February If It’s Cold Where You Live. If all involved keep their remarks on topic, things should move along quickly.

BoomTown followed this week’s Facebook drama from the first rumblings of dissatisfaction (and jaded irony) with the copyright changes in the social network’s Terms of Service on through to full-on rallying cries by the likes of Perez Hilton for mass desertion. The drama ended–for now–with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public apology and rollback of the changes. If you don’t speak Facebook, you’ll be relieved to know that BoomTown has provided a handy translation. Also, Yahoo (YHOO) CEO “Hurricane Carol” Bartz found an appreciative audience in BoomTown for her Friday Memos, which discuss topics as closely related as the company’s maybe-impending reorg and Saturday night chick flicks.

MediaMemo noted this week that on the Web, the New York Times really is the paper of record, as it beats the online reach of its print counterparts almost as handily as Gawker Media beats the reach of the Los Angeles Times. And Comcast (CMCSA) is feeling the subscriber pinch–it lost more on the basic end and added fewer on the high-end than analysts expected, which is especially bad news during hard times, when people traditionally cling to their cable as they might cling to a security blanket. Elsewhere in the content wars, Hulu was at the center of some interesting questions: Was the content provider forced off of Boxee by the big cable companies? Why did it disappear from CBS’s (CBS) And maybe most interestingly, how can the cable guys build their own Hulus?

Digital Daily reported that Sprint’s (S) subscriber base is shrinking too, though CEO Dan Hesse is optimistic about the future, which includes the debut of Palm’s (PALM) new Pre handset. The company is “bullish” about its potential. Google’s (GOOG) adventures in Italy took an interesting turn this week, wrote Digital Daily. The family pressing charges against four of its executives–in reaction to a video in which classmates taunt their son, who has Down Syndrome–decided to drop them. The court, however, is allowing the case to proceed without the family’s involvement. And U2 learned the hard way this week that all it takes is one leaked digital copy of an album–in this case, their latest effort, “No Line on the Horizon”–to facilitate the distribution of millions of unauthorized copies.

In Personal Tech, Walt Mossberg test-drove Unigo, a new site aimed at providing first-hand info on colleges to students (and parents) during what can be a truly stressful time. In Mossberg’s Mailbox, Walt offered advice on working with Microsoft Publisher documents on a Mac, improving searches with Surf Canyon (even the beta version) and using a smartphone as a modem. In the Mossberg Solution, Katie Boehret took a look at, which aims to offer an insider’s view of real estate, and in a special MossBlog, Walt and Katie reported from the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona–not a bad place to go in February, especially from Washington, D.C.

More next week.

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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