I’ve decided that the best format for News Bits is to put them at the beginning of the week rather than the end. To that effect…

Google Earth is now available for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Less features than the regular Google Earth app but still fun. By the way, you can see the Mines “M” from Google Earth…check it out!

If you have a Mac, you can now stream Netflix movies online within OS X. Nice feature, especially with Netflix’s growing instant-watch catalog. Additionally, Netflix streaming will be available on the TiVo , and in HD on the XBox 360.

Heard of the Amazon Kindle? How about Oprah? Put the two together and you get $50 off the Kindle, so it’s now a cool $309. Contrast this to the new Sony eReader, weighing in at $400…I’ll take the internet-connected Kindle, thanks.

One of the high-speed internet networks powering the Mines campus, along with most colleges and research institutions, is the National LambdaRail. Soon, regular companies will be able to get a piece of the supercharged internet action, thanks to DarkStrand . Don’t worry; there’s plenty of internet to go around, with 300 gigabits per second of capacity available right now on the network.

Introducing yet another brand buzzword into the internet equation, Microsoft introduced its Azure (cloudless?!?) “Cloud” platform to the spotlight at last week’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC). Azure seems to be a mix of online computing power (like Amazon Web Services, which includes their S3 data storage system) and current Windows Live services. The software giant also showed off the latest build of its new operating system, Windows 7 , which will probably ship in time for back-to-school 2009. Additionally, their upcoming office suite, Office 14 , will have an online version available, among other enhancements, a la Google Docs. Last but not least is Windows Media Player 12 , with an eye to getting out of the way when you’re just trying to play a random track instead of diving into your music library.

Using AOL Hometown, AOL Pictures, AOL Journals, Xdrive or Bluestring? Grab your data now; the services will be going offline in the near future.

Wal-Mart has relaunched its music store as a DRM-free, all-MP3 affair. Downloads are as inexpensive as 74 cents, plus tax, apiece. Hot Topic (yes, the clothing outlet) is doing something similar, albeit with more standard (higher) per-song pricing.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is this month. Two words: do it.

GMail users can now chat with mobile phones via SMS , a nice added bonus for people on that system (myself included).

Watch out! If your bank login page looks different than usual, you may well have been infected with a rather nasty “trojan” malware app.

Having problems getting to websites on your Sprint phone? You’re one of those affected by a complete Sprint blockade of Cogent traffic after Sprint determined that Cogent (a big, dirt-cheap internet backbone provider) was sending too much traffic in Sprint’s direction, and not receiving enough traffic back. This “push me, pull you” system of internet traffic is called “peering”, and happens free of charge to both parties when they agree that both are receiving mutual benefit. Sprint, mostly a high-price-per-megabit-per-second, ISP-focused system, decided that Cogent (whose highly inexpensive bandwidth offerings make it ideal for web site hosting, along with some ISP use) wasn’t “playing fair”, so for now “you can’t get from here to there” is an all too real problem on the internet for some people. Basically, Sprint wants Cogent to pay for the rather self-imposed traffic imbalance (probably a majority of Sprint customers can’t go elsewhere easily). Cogent seems willing to “wait it out” until Sprint decides to turn on the internet taps again, in the meanwhile giving a free 100 megabit connection (both upload and download speed) to anyone within Cogent’s immediate service area, who is affected by this “peering dispute”. On the other hand, if you’re using the Mines campus network, Comcast, Qwest, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T or CricKet, you aren’t directly affected by this “inter-rift”. If you are, simply connect via VPN into the Mines network, or use a proxy like Kroxy and you’re routed around this internet blackhole (seriously, that’s a networking term for such an event as this).

UPDATE: Sprint has grudgingly turned connectivity back on with Cogent, while “working on a long-term solution”. Sounds to me like the company just got too many customer complaints to leave the inter-pipes broken for too long…

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