Weekend Update 10.31.09–Heartbreaks, Heartthrobs and Heart Attacks


BoomTown’s week began onstage in front of thousands of chanting women. No, Kara wasn’t filling in for Oprah; she was doing something much cooler. She got snagged to moderate a panel entitled “Changing the World Through the Web” at Maria Shriver’s six-year-strong Women’s Conference. Kara’s panel included a group of VIPs from Facebook, Kiva, Blue State Digital–and the Twitterific Ashton Kutcher. With “Mission: Kutcher” accomplished, Kara followed up with the complicated world of MicroHoo and offered analysis on the still-pending search deal. Moral of the story: Commentators should give it time, and Carol Bartz should quit with the Jerry Yang jabs. BoomTown rounded out the week at TEDMED. The conference covered the scalpel’s edge of med tech. And yes, in case you were wondering, synthetic skin feels gross.

Digital Daily covered the real-time search war early in the week when Microsoft’s Bing search folks announced a nonexclusive deal with Twitter to feed on its data stream. The deal did put Bing out front for once, but no one knows if the new info source will turn into profits for either search group. In a post foreshadowing a grisly murder, John reported results from a ChangeWave research study that placed the iPhone within striking distance of overtaking the Blackberry from Research in Motion (RIMM) in the smart-phone market. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that grisly, but it’s Halloween. Digital Daily rounded out the week by adding the iPhone to the pantheon of cat, dragon, rat and rooster that occupies the rim of your Chinese restaurant placemat. Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone officially made it to China this week, though without its signature Wi-Fi, and at a much heftier price point.

Peter Kafka lives at the crossroads of media and tech, and that’s exactly where he was almost run down by the Windows 7 “Family Guy” episode. Microsoft (MSFT) apparently bailed out of the deal when it took a closer look at what was actually inside. From the “not so fast” files, Peter covered a report from Interpublic Group (IPG) noting that ad revenue isn’t quite as sunny as some have suggested. Grim economic times caught up to AllThingsD’s big brother late in the week when The Wall Street Journal closed its Boston bureau. The move resulted in nine job losses, despite significant resources being poured into the paper by parent News Corp. (NWS).

The leaves are changing color over at Personal Technology, and Walt sensed that chill in the air meant it was time for his annual fall computer-buying guide. Operating-system choice was a big discussion; but he also touched on the latest must-haves in the memory, graphics, processor and form-factor categories. With a cup of Earl Grey tea to fend off the autumn chill, Walt trudged out to Mossberg’s Mailbox this week and came back with a fistful of letters. He dutifully replied to a question about migrating Microsoft files to a Mac running windows, offered clarification on the Windows 7 upgrade process, and weighed in on the rumor of a pending Apple device below a laptop but above an iPhone.

Katie finished it all off with a deep dive on the two latest netbooks. The HP (HP) Mini 31 and the Nokia (NOK) Booklet 3G both offer high style compared with their competitors, and each boast much higher screen resolutions than previous models. Though she came down on the side of the Nokia, Katie remarked that neither option would disappoint.

Bundle up as you head out for tricking and treating, and learn from Weekend Update’s mistakes. Remember to check and make sure that scary face is actually a mask before you bring that new friend home.

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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