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Fusion: SP2 update, Kazaa slips


Microsoft says it has distributed about 106 million copies of its major security update for the Windows XP operating system. Microsoft completed work on the update, called Service Pack 2, more than two months ago. It has since been gradually distributing the big fix through automatic and manual downloads and via CDs. About 80 million of those copies have gone to consumers or small businesses who opted to let Microsoft automatically deliver updates and security fixes as they became available. The company initially said it hoped to deliver 100 million automatic downloads by the end of October. Microsoft has intentionally metered the downloads out slowly, to avoid clogging networks and to monitor for any unexpected problems.


Kazaa s long-standing position as the most popular online file-sharing software appears to be over. Last month, the daily average of file-swappers on the FastTrack peer-to-peer network, which includes Kazaa and related programs, was surpassed for the first time by users on the eDonkey/Overnet network, according to online tracking firm BayTSP. EDonkey/Overnet averaged 2.54 million users a day while FastTrack averaged 2.48 million, the firm said. Kazaa users make up the largest proportion of FastTrack, said BayTSP spokesman Jim Graham. Graham said there has been a steady decline in Kazaa users and a commensurate rise in eDonkey users since BayTSP began monitoring file-sharing networks 18 months ago for piracy on behalf of film and music companies. Kazaa quickly became the most popular file-sharing software following the demise of the original Napster network, which shut down in 2001 after losing court battles with the music industry. The usage figures are based on numbers displayed by the file-sharing programs. The data are inflated by an unknown number of bogus users, actually entertainment company plants, who constantly load fake or incomplete copies of popular songs and movies to thwart file-sharers.


Sharp plans to stop selling its Linux-based handheld computer in the United States, another sign of the slowing market for personal digital assistants. The New Jersey-based subsidiary of Sharp said the company will continue to sell PDAs in its home market of Japan but has made a business decision to cycle out of business development activities for the Zaurus SL6000 in the U.S. market. Sharp, which introduced its Zaurus PDA in 2002, did not further explain its decision. However, analyst research shows that Linux-based organizers have not caught on with consumers in a market dominated by handhelds running operating systems from PalmSource and Microsoft. Also, sales of basic PDAs are slowing down while sales of its smart-phone cousins are rising. Smart phones are handhelds that combine cell phone and PDA organizer features.


A quarter of online Americans have taken advantage of one of the Internet s true powers: the ability to let users collectively decide whether to trust a product, service or individual. Such reputation systems are found on sites like eBay, where members rate fellow buyers and sellers, and, where customers review books and other items. Other sites are devoted to rating consumer products, movies and even schoolteachers. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 26 percent of adult Internet users have posted a rating. The telephone-based survey of 1,399 Internet users was conducted May 14 to June 17 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


The 54 Mbps keychain adapter from Buffalo Technology is a wireless adapter that adds Wi-Fi connectivity to PCs and laptops, but with an extra measure of mobility. The device, about the size of a cigarette lighter, plugs into a computer s USB port, as do other wireless adapters of that genre, but it also includes a built-in installation feature: when plugged into a computer for the first time, it automatically installs the necessary drivers and opens a wizard to install Wi-Fi connectivity software, also known as client management software. No installation CD is needed. The device (model WLI-U2-KG54-AI) costs about $60 and is available online at and at electronics stores. It works with popular Wi-Fi routers and hot spots that use the 802.11g and 802.11b standards.


Join Web editor Kevin Cesarz for a live chitchat on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2. We will be taking your questions and comments all day and through the evening on this important day.



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