Weekend Update 01.23.10–The Bated-Breath Edition

We’ve all seen it, that spiro-graphed, color-splotched invitation to Apple’s Jan. 27 event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. Weekend Update isn’t on the inside, but we hear rumors that Jobs will storm the stage dressed as Moses, carrying the new tablet, which will be made of stone, under his robes. Apparently, that’s where it’s been hiding all along. Either that, or Weekend Update is going a little nuts from “tablet fatigue.”

Before we got to rumors, plans and all important educated guesses, AllThingsD spent the week doing reporting about real companies with products you can actually buy.

Walt’s column wasn’t exactly its normal, gadgety self this week. Maybe he’s saving his strength. Instead of the newest thing that won’t be leaving your pocket, he covered a service that claims to help you remember everything. Evernote, with its adorable little elephant logo, aims to be a sort of digital filing cabinet in the cloud, allowing you to save information, images, notes and just about anything else that can be digitized. Walt had good things to say all around, even if the available apps didn’t give every device the same functionality. Weekend Update liked the auto text-recognition feature that makes pictures of text searchable. We’ll never carry a business card home again. Neither rain nor snow nor tablet rumors can keep Walt from his appointed rounds at Mossberg’s Mailbox, and this week he grabbed a couple questions about e-readers, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Internet Explorer 8 and the right laptop for the young and litigious. Walt cleared up the myth that e-books can’t highlight text (even if they don’t do it in color yet), and then moved on to a question about what IE8 refers to as “accelerators.” Before tying up the mailbag strings for anther week, he also gave counsel to a future counselor. He recommended a moderately priced Windows 7 laptop or a Macbook for the incoming law student, though he suggested it would be a good idea to check with the school and current students for specific needs. Weekend Update thinks that last bit is extra good advice. Katie was busy this week testing the latest Bluetooth earpiece from Aliph’s Jawbone line. The Jawbone Icon is the first earpiece to run with a software package that allows the addition of apps just for the earpiece. Overall Katie thought the Icon represented a step forward for Bluetooth earpieces but hopes for upgrades to the app suite will bring more robust features. Oh yeah, and she was glad that they finally got rid of those tricky hidden control buttons.

At MediaMemo, Peter gave us the continued saga of e-magazines and the world’s slowest moving electronic construction project. It looks like the Time Inc. e-mag prototypes won’t be part of Wednesday’s Apple (AAPL) event even though there was a lot of hullabaloo over the company’s Sports Illustrated prototype. Condé Nast, on the other hand, has declared its GQ mag-as-app tests a success. No word yet on who will be three-quarters naked on the first 10-inch screen edition. Completing the out-with-the-print, in-with-the-electronic trifecta was Peter’s post about the New York Times pay-wall announcement. The Times claims it will erect a metered wall in 2011, which seems like an awfully long time in the shifting sands of the Web. Outside partners may be playing a factor, and some speculate that the 2011 date is just a declaration that New York Times Company (NYT) will be waiting-and-seeing. Peter doesn’t see what that would accomplish and cites experts who assert that a year isn’t an unreasonable amount of time to build a complex pay wall with necessary features.

Digital Daily was on the ball this week with John’s signature hard-hitting hilarity. His early report proved correct when sources suggested that the EU’s approval of the pending Oracle (ORCL)-Sun (JAVA) acquisition was nigh. Not to leave the tablet news out in the cold, John asked some important questions about a future tablet’s data consumption habits, and thinks it might end up in a class of its own. A big, beautiful screen means big, beautiful images and video, which mean gloriously huge file sizes. Hooray for Wi-Fi. To round out the week, John covered a story about Google (GOOG) co-founders Larry and Sergey planning to sell about $5.5 billion in stock over five years. We’re not sure whether the proper term is “cashing out” or “cashing in,” but they are going to be doing a lot of one or the other. The stock sale will remove them as a two-man majority voting block, but their remaining 47 percent will assure that their velvety duet will continue to ring clearly at board meetings.

Boomtown led off with some viral video for the ages. Jimmy Fallon one-upped the “pants on the ground” video by performing the sarcastic ballad as Neil Young. We’re not sure the audience caught that it was Jimmy right way, in part, because Young was making the TV rounds about that time, and in part, because Fallon does a surprisingly good Neal impression. Kara asked her readers to vote on the new tablet’s name, making “iPad” her own prediction. Kara has an eerie way of getting this stuff right so Weekend Update is gonna go ahead and get that tattoo this weekend. Kara finished the week with a quick post about her trip to Sundance and all the geektastic happenings there. Kara’s Winnebago, which we call “Operation Rolling Thunder,” was crammed full of wife, kids, mom, dog, and maybe a few stowaway Bay Area indie filmmakers who tied themselves to the undercarriage. Read the post; there’s never a dull moment on a Swisher expedition.

AllTingsD is back on Monday with some great new stuff to feed that techie habit. And don’t forget to set your homepages here Tuesday (as if they weren’t already) to see live photos and blogging from Apple’s big unveiling. We’ll see you there, and will be sure to let you know if Jobs does, in fact, part the Bay in his walk from Marin to San Francisco that morning.


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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post