Yahoo to use Microsoft Search

Good news for Microsoft. They reached a deal with Yahoo for Yahoo to use Microsoft’s new and rebranded search engine called Bing to power Yahoo searches. This, along with Bing’s big advertising push, should help Microsoft greatly against Google. It will also help that Bing is the default search engine in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Add to that Mirosoft’s uptick in image coming from the Windows 7 operating system release in October and you have a good story of Microsoft on the upswing (ignoring previous story of course).

The bad news for customers is that we lost another competitor in the field of search. Implementing a good search engine requires not only computer and mathematical skills, but also a vast array of servers which hold search results and send bots out to crawl the internet for new content. Therefore a big company is needed to truly compete in search. (There are smaller search engines that are quite good such as Cuil, but these ventures still require a lot of cash and have yet to gain market share or brand awareness).

This deal leaves us with only two big search engines left. According to research firm ComScore the existing search market is:

65% – Google
19.6% – Yahoo (now to use Bing)
8.4% – Microsoft Bing

Yahoo will still manage their own ads, but apparently using all Microsoft technology.

Emergency Microsoft Patches

Bad news from Microsoft. Below is an excerpt from the Washington Post article titled Microsoft’s Emergency Patch Mess.

Microsoft today released a pair of emergency software updates (Redmond calls them “out-of-band” updates). Yes, that’s right folks: If you use Windows — and especially if you browse the Web with Internet Exploder Explorer – it’s once again time to update.

The backstory to these patches is a bit complex, so here’s the short version: A while back, Microsoft introduced several security flaws into a set of widely-used third-party software development tools, and today it’s correcting that error by issuing an updated set of tools. Another update tries to block attackers from exploiting those weaknesses while third-party software makers figure out how to fix their code with the updated tools.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most dire and far-reaching, Eric Schultze, chief technology officer at Shavlik Technologies, said he’d put the seriousness of today’s out-of-band patch releases at an 8.

“When I was at Microsoft, there were a couple of issues that we referred to as ‘Voldemort,’ meaning they were so nasty you didn’t even want to speak their names, and this one is kind of like ‘Son of Voldemort,'” Schultze said. “You really start to lose confidence in Microsoft’s security mechanisms when something like this happens.”

Wireless Video Sent to a Second Room

It is common for a household to have their DVR in their living room.  But how can you watch your recorded shows in another room?  If you’ve got Tivo, you can transfer some allowed shows between tivos but that requires paying for a second tivo and hence a second monthly fee.  A cheaper alternative is to send the video wirelessly to another room. The RF-Link AVS-5811 Audio and Video Transmission System is a cheap one time purchase alternative to having to pay for an extra tivo, cable box, or satellite box.

wireless videoThere have been wireless video systems in the past similar to this that just never worked very well.  This system improves upon those in 2 ways.  It has an IR repeater so you can bring your tivo remote in the other room and this catches the signal and sends it back to the tivo so it is like you have the box in the room.  Without that, you’d have to run back and forth changing shows.  The second improvement is that it operates at the currently less crowded 5.8GHz.  That gives it more of a chance to have less interference and hence a clearer picture.

There are a few downsides.  This is not HD.  It uses old standard RCA connections.  However, if you send a widescreen picture over it and then set your TV to display in wide mode, the aspect ratio will look correct.  The end result can be a good looking picture that just looks a little fuzzier than HD.  If picture quality is less important in your secondary room, then this is the ideal option.  The biggest possible downside is if you can actually get it to work or not.

The Amazon reviews show that plenty of people can get it to work but there are definitely situations that it won’t perform well.  The biggest factors are how many walls it has to go through and how far away it is.  Generally speaking, the further it has to go wirelessly, the less likely it will be to work well.  When it starts to underperform, you’ll see lines over the video as well as audio distortions or pops.  I recently set this up for a customer sending the signal about 20 feet through 3 walls.  It took about 15 minutes to adjust the directional antennas just right but we eventually got to a point with no audio or video distortions.  Now this customer simply brings their tivo remote into the second room and they’ve got access to the same shows they would in their living room.