News Schmooze: The end of the merger marathon

HP and Compaq voted, Google bowed to cult pressure, and Eidos revealed the new - Goth - Lara Croft

The HP buyout of Compaq looks set to go through, although there will probably be scenes reminiscent of the last US presidential election as HP counts its too-close-to-call proxy votes. Compaq investors had little trouble passing the deal by a massive majority, since it stands to net them all fat profits. One wonders how enthusiastic the employees are about all this, given that if the companies do get together, there's going to be an extended game of Russian roulette as bosses decide where those 15,000 job cuts are going to come from.
HP-Compaq merger hits home stretch
Houston, we have a merger A lot of people seem to use Google as a substitute domain-name system these days, which makes it even more disturbing when special interests can easily get listings removed from Google's databases. That's just what's happened in the case of Xenu.net, aka Operation Clambake, which criticises the Church of Scientology, and in particular founder L. Ron Hubbard's assertion that humans evolved from clams. The Scientologists say the site infringes their copyrights, and made Google take down all links to Xenu.net under a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As is the case with many such disputes, they don't even have to prove anything; Google removed the links to avoid trouble. How long before, say, political parties and Microsoft get up to the same thing?
Cult forces Google to remove critical links
Speaking of Microsoft, the company got up to some fun and games at CeBIT last week, foiling Sony's plans to let people have fun with PlayStation2 games. This is apparently against the show rules, not that anybody minded before. A Microsoft exec complained -- though he denies it -- and CeBIT organisers forced Sony to remove the consoles.
Microsoft spat with Sony sees PS2s removed from CeBIT
Morpheus, the popular file-trading system, is also getting sneaky. New software released after the company decided to stop paying fees to Kazaa contains a clever little browser application that intercepts requests for sites like Yahoo!, secretly redirects you to a different partner site, and then passes you on to the site you originally requested, making it look like the partner site is referring traffic. There's definitely something sleazy about this, but the Schmoozer still doesn't find it as irritating as those DHTML ads that wait until you start reading a Web page and then interrupt everything with an animated commercial.
Morpheus tracks user surfing habits
In far more important news, Eidos revealed its latest real-life model for Lara Croft this week, along with a preview of the next game, Dark Angel. It's Tomb Raider, the Goth edition: there's lots of gore, murky settings where it's hard to see anything, and Lara has even been redesigned with thick Robert Smith eyeliner. Perhaps a soundtrack from Sisters of Mercy?
The Tomb Raider returns
Who says computers are antisocial? In a demonstration that friendliness is alive and well on the Internet, tens of thousands of instant messaging users fell for a "social hack" this week that allowed pimply teenagers to "own" them and zombify their machines into their distributed denial of service attack networks. This was achieved by simply offering them stuff they needed, like antivirus software or porn, often a weak spot among computer users.
IM users hit by widespread 'social hack'
This doesn't have a lot to do with social hacking, but Stuart King, who is apparently a Victorian police inspector, although living in the 21st century, managed to make repeated internal fraud memorable with his striking description: "If someone keeps pulling down your pants every week...you become used to it." What is it exactly that these Australian police inspectors get up to in their spare time?
Internal hacking: Stopping the mole within
Good news for broadband users in England -- or at least in Devon -- well, in Buckfastleigh, Devon, to be exact. Drawing back from plans to broadband-enable all of Great Britain, the government is apparently setting its eyes on the more modest goal of enabling one town, where "the local school, hospital, town hall and library will all be given a high-speed Internet connection." The Schmoozer supposes London will have to wait a bit longer then.
Government to fund broadband town
Broadband town will be blank slate
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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