News Schmooze: China gives up software piracy

Bill Gates conquers China, Ginger saves the world, and the Queen beheads Tux, the lovable Linux penguin

Ever-optimistic, Microsoft has convinced China to get many of its PC manufacturers to bundle Windows XP into new machines. The idea is that this will encourage more buyers to actually pay for the operating system, instead of getting a cheaper one with Linux and then overwriting it with a £2 pirated version of Windows. In a country where 90 percent of software is pirated, and which is entering the WTO next week, Microsoft comes up with an uncharacteristically diplomatic spin: "The intellectual property situation... has a lot of room to grow."

Chinese vendors licensed to sink piracy

Weary tech investors can finally take heart: the dot-com economy has crashed, but Ginger, the invention that was supposed to be Bigger Than The Internet has finally arrived. Now you know what to speculate on next: electric scooters.

Ginger launch takes hype biscuit

Okay, you've heard all the hype about the iPod, and you think Handspring's Treo wireless gadget looks pretty cool. Now you can get the best of both in the form of an iPod-like digital music player from eDigital called, er, Treo... like Handspring's Treo, except with a different pseudo-exotic accent. Confused yet? You will be when you learn that Treo is also a shoe, a pesticide and a household cleaning tissue.

Musical tribute to iPod and Treo

Here we were thinking the Queen was all hip to the techno-geek stylie thang, what with her dot-com investments and forward-thinking use of Linux on her own personal Web site, and then she goes and disses the Penguin in favour of Bill Gates. She'll be taking the skull-and-crossbones flag down from Buckingham Palace now.

Queen banishes Linux

Ah, the good old days, when you plugged your computer into your television set, perhaps mounted an 8K memory expander on the back and then sat down with a supply of Sugar Pops and Coke for a late night in front of the Sinclair Spectrum. Amstrad might be about to take you on a trip down memory lane by porting Sinclair games to your mobile phone, the Schmoozer hears.

Amstrad resurrects classic games for mobiles

Speaking of the 1980s, remember the Rubik's Cube? Well, those of us who consistently failed to defeat that little torture device will be chagrined to learn that a British guy in Chicago has made a Lego robot that can do it. It's pretty amazing; it scanns the colour patterns with a little camera and then using a C++ program to solve the cube in the minimum number of turns. The creator has also made a robot that solves the "Towers of Hanoi" puzzle, and some strange half-animal half-machine creatures. The Schmoozer started to get a little weirded out by the autobiographical computer code, though.

Lego Mindstorms Cubesolver

Compaq's latest way-cool idea is to bring SMS-style abbreviations to business types who use PDAs. The concept is that any day now you're going to be using a wireless PDA to write little messages and so there will, Compaq predicts, be a special business-speak for handheld-generated messages, comparable to the text abbreviations used by 10 year olds on their mobiles, except, like, for business. Thus "PDQ", which apparently "has the potential to become the new business-speak for hundreds of thousands of handheld computer users throughout the world". You get a list of PDA etiquette tips, including the immortal maxim "KISS and apply the law if more than four" (translation: Keep It Short and Simple and abbreviate words that are longer than four letters), and are exhorted to trendily leave out extra vowels. Somehow, the Schmoozer is reminded of one of those cringe-worthy corporate anthems (http://corporateanthems.raettig.org/).

"Mind your PDQs, I'm on my PDA"

The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.

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