Weekend Update 11.14.09–Keeping Your Heads and Data in the Cloud

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If you follow AllThingsD, and Weekend Update hopes you do, then one thing you’ve come to value is the special way the staff gets around the world to cover the important stuff and report it straight from the geek’s mouth. This week, our bicoastal brigade brought the tech news as it happened, and in Boomtown’s case, from 30,000 feet.

Kara came out swinging this week over Meg Whitman’s insistence that the Skype acquisition by eBay should be put in her “win” column. Whitman, former CEO of eBay (EBAY), is running for governor of California, and Kara had her spin detector set to maximum. Speaking of dystopia, Kara covered the release of Ken Auletta’s new book, “Googled: The End of the World as We Know It.” Auletta posits that Google (GOOG) is more Spock than Kirk and lacks important emotional intelligence. He made similar accusations about another subject of his recent works: Microsoft (MSFT). Insert sarcastic gasp here. Kara rounded out the week with a flight aboard the airship “Broadband,” aka Virgin America. It seems as though Facebook is everywhere these days, and on this day in particular, Facebook was just a few rows behind her in the person of a PR guy from the company. The moral is that maybe the greatest thing about that speedy in-flight Internet is farming out the awkward seatmate talk to your email inbox. Kara did get an invitation to Facebook’s Washington, D.C., offices out of the deal.

Digital Daily opened the week with an invasion of droids. No, John wasn’t stuck in front of an Xbox playing Terminator; he was covering the release of the first 100,000 units of Motorola’s (MOT) newest iPhone competitor. John also covered Apple’s (AAPL) opening of a “significant store” in New York this week, which may shed light on the company’s future retail strategy. John sees potential for the newest store to serve as jai-alai palace, should the whole iPhone thing not work out. And just in case Kara’s story about Google’s lack of feeling wasn’t frightening enough, John brought us a look into the search giant’s designs on the software space occupied by Microsoft Office. While Google claims to have no plans for domination of office productivity, it sure seems like it would like to paint the whole cloud Chrome.

Peter gave us the cold hard facts about the projected costs of the coming AOL spinoff, as he began the week in somber tone. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AOL estimates losses will run to nearly $200 million and end employment for up to 1,000 people. Nothing gets Peter up from that kind of low quite like a good session with “The Office,” and this week’s episode was just too good to pass up. The team at Dunder Mifflin did a little Wall Street Journal paywall pole-vault right on screen. Commentary on recent “Murdochian” events or not, Peter thinks it’s just good TV. MediaMemo covered the pending AOL spinoff from the other end this week and addressed the biggest problem in the room head on: AOL is going to enter a space it hasn’t filled since the days when the sound of “you’ve got mail” meant you were high tech. Google runs the yard now, which will make it harder for AOL’s old dog to play with the comparatively young pups.

Most people think bigger is better, but in the strange world of tech columnists, small reigns supreme. Walt’s Personal Technology column this week covered three new laptops with some very sleek features to please the holiday consumer. New offerings from Toshiba, HP (HPQ) and Lenovo came under the Mossberg microscope, and all were pronounced impressive, if a bit pricy. Walt’s semifavorite is the Lenovo, but his preference for the slim, light design admittedly came at the heavy expense of limited battery life. The trip to Mossberg’s Mailbox this week yielded answers on pressing questions from potential Motorola Droid owners, a person hoping to make the move from a Palm (PALM) PDA to an iPhone, and from an older computer user thinking about making the switch to Apple’s new bigger-screened iMac. Over at The Mossberg Solution, Katie reviewed the new BlackBerry Bold from Research in Motion (RIM), which seemed to have 10 percent more features and a similar reduction in size. The newest model wasn’t quite as Bold as its predecessors, Katie found. Many features originally reserved for this higher-end model have been passed down to the rest of the product range. Her advice: have a look at the Tour or Curve 8900 before going Bold.

Tune in next week to get the 30,000-foot view on the wide world of tech from the road-ready AllThingsD team. Let’s hope we can get Wi-Fi on that flight too.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik