The Star's gaff, Acer's move up, Bartz in control

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Rick Astley is not dead If you read The Star today, you might be forgiven if you taught that April 1 arrived for a second time this year. During the afternoon, hoax news of Rick Astley's death emerged on CNN's iReport in a story written by Liz Sidoti (an anagram for "idiots"?), who claimed to be from Associated Press. For those unfamiliar with CNN iReport, it is a citizen journalism website that accepts submissions from users without editing or fact-checking. The Star, however, believed it to be true and carried the news on its website, and alerted its readers through SMS and Twitter account. Online news portal Malaysiakini also alerted the news to its subscribers via SMS, but did not carry the news on the website.  The Star is believed to be the only news organisation in the world to have published news of his death on its website. Following confirmation that the story is a hoax, both CNN iReport and The Star pulled the story down within minutes, and no cached version of the story exists. The morbid humour of celebrity death pranks have been going around the Internet following the deaths of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and most recently Billy Mays. Among the "victims" of these pranks include George Clooney, Jeff Goldblum, and Natalie Portman.

The Edge Malaysia did not flash the news because we believe that Rick Astley would never give us up, let us down, or desert us. Apple's tease A combination of nudity and Apple would always make the week's most-read tech story, as proved with the Hottest Girls app fiasco. Last Thursday, control-heavy company Apple – which once banned the release of an application that used the word “boobs” – allowed the Hottest Girls app created by Allen Leung to go into its App Store, and in doing so gave fanboys the opportunity to peek at “hot girls in various states of undress – including, for the first time ever, full frontal nudity.” The demand for the app predictably skyrocketed, only for Apple to remove it from the store hours later. "Apple will not distribute applications that contain inappropriate content," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said to the disappointed many. "The developer of this application added inappropriate content directly from their server after the application had been approved and distributed, and after the developer had subsequently been asked to remove some offensive content. This was a direct violation of the terms of the iPhone Developer Program. The application is no longer available on the App Store." Following previous app store debacles such as the Baby-Shaker and “I Am Rich” apps, one wonders if these applications were let through just to create a media frenzy on the web. After all, if Apple has a reputation for being such a controlling company, how could it let such an obvious violation go through?   Acer to overtake Dell According to the New York Times, Taiwan-based personal computer manufacturer Acer is poised to overtake Dell as the world's second-largest PC seller behind Hewlett-Packard. Acer's rise can be attributed to several factors, the article says, including the global economic slowdown during which the company made aggressive moves into the cheaper netbook market, while Dell struggled to get a foothold in the niche. Acer's rapid rise against Dell could be seen from last year when its market share grew by 3% to 10.9%, compared to Dell's growth of 0.1% to 15%. This year's 1Q results indicate that Acer is fast closing that gap, claiming 11.6% market share while Dell's further dropped to 13.6%. Gadget blog Gizmodo points out that the “biggest piece of the explosive growth puzzle” has been Acer's acquisition spree, which includes eMachines, Gateway and Packard Bell, which made Acer a multi-tier PC brand across the globe. In this strategy, Acer pitches eMachines as its most affordable brand, while Gateway and Packard Bell sell the more expensive and flashier computers in US and Europe respectively. Acer-branded products meanwhile are pitched to mainstream computer buyers everywhere. Pirates to plunder YouTube?  If you thought a jail sentence and a multi-million US dollar penalty could stop The Pirate Bay, think again. Torrentfreak reports that the notorious torrent-search engine is about to go live with its latest project, The Video Bay, which would enable users to share video clips without fear of copyright violations. According to the article, unlike torrent feeds, this future YouTube competitor would not use peer-to-peer technology to stream videos. Though the early beta-version is now closed off to the public, users can still view a demo of how it will  work, provided that they have a browser that supports HTML 5 tags such as Google Chrome 3, Safari 4, or the latest beta-version of Firefox. “This site will be an experimental playground and, as such, subjected to both live and drunk [en]coding, so please don't bug us too much if the site ain't working properly,” a statement on the site reads. A caveat “Don't expect anything to work at all” prominently displayed. The launch date of the site remains unknown, with Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde saying, “It will be done when it’s done, in the future, in like a year or five.” It will be interesting to see if this changes the way copyright law and content distribution is structured when it launches. No bias, no dice for Pirate Bay Speaking of Pirate Bay, lawyers for the website's four defendants – who were found guilty of copyright infringement –  have failed in asking for a retrial of the case. This follows accusations made by the defendants that Tomas Norstrom, the judge in the case, could be biased as he was linked to organisations such as the Swedish Copyright Association.

However, the Swedish High Court of Justice found no bias in Norstrom's judgement. “The court ascertained that such memberships do demonstrate a commitment to intellectual property issues, which could be considered by some to be in the interest of the plaintiffs,” CNET reports. “But it also pointed out that rights-holders' rights are protected by the Constitution, and so cannot be considered a conflict of interest if a judge endorses the principles behind copyright laws.” On April 17, the four defendants – Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström – were found guilty of having made 33 copyright-protected files accessible for illegal file-sharing via the Pirate Bay website and were sentenced to one year in jail. They were also ordered to pay a total of 30 million Swedish kronor (RM16.5 million) in damages to copyright holders Bartz takes control Give a hand to Yahoo's new CEO and president, Carol Bartz, who presided over her first shareholder meeting last Thursday successfully, and left shareholders and pundits confident that her reign over the troubled Internet company will be different from those of her wishy-washy predecessors.

Her reputation as an aggressive CEO remained intact as she answered shareholders' questions bluntly and critically. She even agreed with a shareholders' view that Yahoo's content was too fluffy. “If I see another Britney Spears thing, I am going to throw up," she said, adding that Yahoo could have a "fluff-o-meter" to let users decide on the amount of hard-hitting news they want. As to drawing comparisons with search-rival Google, Bartz says that shareholders shouldn't compare the two, as Google is a “pure search” company, while she sees Yahoo as an “online home” for users finding their place on the web. "A direct comparison to Google is not fair for Yahoo and frankly not relevant," Bartz says. She declined to field any questions regarding talks with Microsoft.  Despite not revealing any concrete strategies to move the company forward, the six-month CEO managed to pull off her first annual meeting with more confidence than her predecessors Terry Semel and Jerry Yang, who were criticised for their lack of proper direction and leadership qualities. Could this finally be the time that Yahoo figures out just exactly what it is? We hope so.  A live blog of Bartz's first annual meeting can be found here.