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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Swiss bank drops suit against Wikileaks site

Swiss Bank Julius Baer Holding AG has announced that they have dropped their lawsuit against the web site Wikileaks. This comes less than a week after a federal judge ruled in favor of, stating it would be unconstitutional to take the site offline.
Swiss bank Julius Baer Holding AG (BAER.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday dropped its lawsuit against a whistle-blower Web site after losing a battle to keep the site from posting private account-holder information.
The bank dismissed the lawsuit against the Web site,, and Dynadot LLC, the site's registrar, without explanation in a filing in U.S. district court in San Francisco. It left open the possibility of filing another lawsuit in the same or in a different court.
A Baer spokeswoman said the company had nothing to say beyond the court filing dismissing the case.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White last week reversed his earlier order shutting down after Baer and Dynadot entered a settlement agreeing to take it down. White and Baer drew international criticism from free-speech advocates who said the order was an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech.
"A prior restraint should not issue against free speech no matter how serious the plaintiff's claim of wrongdoing may sound," Paul Alan Levy, attorney for Public Citizen Litigation Group, said in a statement after Wednesday's dismissal.
Baer, based in Zurich, had said the documents posted on invaded the privacy of account holders and others and made unfounded allegations of wrongdoing against the bank.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil-rights groups argued that Baer should seek other remedies, such as monetary damages after publication of the documents, rather than ban the Web site. The judge agreed.
White last week said from the bench that his earlier order raised "serious questions of prior restraint and possible violations of the First Amendment."
He also questioned whether the order was enforceable as several so-called mirror sites offering a back door to went up in the wake of his earlier ruling.


A Swiss bank on Wednesday moved to withdraw a lawsuit that it had filed against a Web site that it claimed had displayed stolen documents revealing confidential information about the accounts of the bank’s clients.
Lawyers involved in the case said the move by Bank Julius Baer most likely ends its battle against Wikileaks, a Web site that allows people to post documents anonymously “to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.”
The bank last month obtained an order from U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White in San Francisco that obstructed, but did not absolutely prevent, access to material posted on Wikileaks by turning off the domain name The judge’s action drew a flurry of media attention and a barrage of legal filings by media and other organizations arguing that the order violated the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.
After a hearing on Friday, Judge White withdrew that order, saying that he was worried about its First Amendment implications and that he thought it might not be possible to prevent viewing of the documents once they had been posted on the Web anyway.
In its court filing, lawyers for Bank Julius Baer wrote that the bank “may, at their option, later pursue their claims, including in an alternate court, jurisdiction or venue.” But lawyers for the organizations that filed motions to intervene and friend-of-the-court briefs said they thought it unlikely that the bank would attempt to continue litigation elsewhere.
“I frankly find it hard to think that they are actually going to try to do that, at least in the United States,” said Matthew Zimmerman, a senior lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “They may very well try to go after their former employee,” who the bank claimed had stolen and posted the documents, he added.
A call to lawyers for Bank Julius Baer at the firm of Lavely & Singer in Los Angeles was not returned on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr. Zimmerman speculated that Wikileaks might move the registration of its domain name to a company outside the United States, making it more difficult for an American court to exercise jurisdiction over it. Bank Julius Baer had named Dynadot, a company in San Mateo, Calif., that was the registrar of the domain name, as a defendant in the case, and the judge’s controversial order was aimed at Dynadot.
Garret D. Murai, a lawyer for Dynadot, said that as of Wednesday afternoon the owner of the domain name, John Shipton, had not transferred the domain name to a different registrar.
Roger Myers, a lawyer for Mr. Shipton, who is Australian and lives in Kenya, said his client may not yet have received word of Bank Julius Baer’s action.
Lawyers for the intervening parties in the case had threatened to try to recover legal fees in the case under a California law intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits, said Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer at Public Citizen who argued against the judge’s order at the hearing on Friday.
Mr. Levy said that the judge’s decision to withdraw his order would offer a powerful message in future cases in which plaintiffs might try to shut down Web sites because of the content they display.
“A judge who’s confronted with a request like the bank’s in the future is going to be much more reluctant to give this order,” Mr. Levy said. “The lesson of the case is going to be taken very seriously.”

Brain Scans Let Computer 'Read' Visual Activity

computer image mapping parts of the brain

"Brain Reading" Device Can Predict What People See

What's on your mind? Neuroscientists may one day find out

Venturing into the preserve of science fiction and stage magicians, scientists in the United States claim to have made extraordinary progress towards reading the brain.

The researchers said they had been able to decode signals in a key part of the brain to identify images seen by a volunteer, according to their study, published by the British journal Nature.

The tool used by the University of California at Berkeley neuroscientists is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a non-invasive scanner that detects minute flows of blood within the brain, thus highlighting which cerebral areas are triggered by light, sound and touch.

Their zone of interest was the visual cortex -- a frontal part of the brain that reconstitutes images sent by the retina.

Using two of their number as volunteers, the team built a computational model based on telltale blood-flow patterns in three key areas of the visual cortex.

The signatures were derived from 1,750 images of objects, such as horses, trees, buildings and flowers, that were flashed up in front of the subjects.

Using this model, the programme then scanned a new set of 120 brand new pictures to predict what kind of fMRI patterns these would make in the visual cortex.

After that, the volunteers themselves looked at the 120 new pictures while being scanned. The computer then matched the measured brain activity against the predicted brain activity, and picked an image that it believed was the closest match.

They notched up a 92-percent success rate with one volunteer, and accuracy was 72 percent in the other. The probability of this happening on the basis of chance -- i.e. the computer picking the right image out of the 120 -- is only 0.8 percent.

In an email to AFP, lead author Jack Gallant likened the task to that of a magician who asks a member of the audience to pick a card from a pack, and then figures out which one it was.

"Imagine that we begin with a large set of photographs chosen at random," Gallant said.

"You secretly select just one of these and look at it while we measure your brain activity. Given the set of possible photographs and the measurements of your brain activity, the decoder attempts to identify which specific photograph you saw."

The ambitious experiment was taken a stage further, expanding the set of novel images from 120 to up to 1,000. The first volunteer took this test, and accuracy declined, but only slightly, from 92 percent to 82 percent.

"Our estimates suggest that even with a set of one billion images -- roughly the number of images indexed by Google on the Internet -- the decoder would correctly identify the image about 20 percent of the time," said Gallant.

The researchers say the device cannot "read minds," the common term for unscrambling thoughts. It cannot even reconstruct an image, only identify an image that was taken from a known set, they point out.

All the same, the potential is enormous, they believe.

Doctors could use the technique to diagnose brain areas damaged by a stroke or dementia, determine the outcome of drug treatment or stem-cell therapy and fling open a door into the strange world of dreams.

And, according to one futuristic scenario, paraplegic patients, by thinking of a series of images whose fMRI patterns are recognised by computer, may one day be able to operate machines by remote control.

Even so, brain-reading is hedged with potential controversy.

Within 30 or 50 years, advances could raise fears about breach of privacy and authoritarian abuse of the kind that dog biotechnology today, the authors say.

"No-one should be subjected to any form of brain-reading process involuntarily, covertly, or without complete informed consent," they say.

Although the two subjects were also investigators, there was no risk that the outcome of the test was skewed by suggestion or subliminal cues, co-researcher Kendrick Kay told AFP.

"Decoding performance was evaluated on a dataset that is completely independent of the one used to estimate the computational model," said Kay.

"There is no plausible way that a subject could somehow make the evaluation dataset easier to decode by our computational algorithms."


Mind Reading? Brain Scanning Opens New Windows To Our Brain
Over the years, scientists have tried to uncover the mysteries of man’s most complicated organ: the brain. Today’s attempts incorporate modern technology with brain activity to obtain digital re-creations of thoughts, visual experiences or dreams.

The study was led by Jack Gallant, neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and published on March in the journal Nature. The technique involves brain scanning using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which monitors blood flow patterns within the brain and associates them with images shown to the subjects.

It’s not the best of this method so far, but it’s a step forward towards understanding and predicting brain activity. The experiment submitted two of Gallant’s team members, Kendrick Kay and Thomas Naselaris, to a series of 1,750 different pictures. Afterwards, the team of scientists selected 120 pictures the two hadn’t seen before and tried to predict which one they will be looking at by using brain scanning.

The predictions proved accurate in 72 percent of the time with one of the subjects, and 92 percent for the other subject. It’s a new accomplishment in accurately decoding brain activity, but scientists are just at the beginning of the road. The challenge ahead now is to decode brain responses from a whole new range of images, without knowing them first however.

“That is in principle a much harder problem,” said Gallant. You’d need a very good model of the brain, a better measure of brain activity than fMRI, and a better understanding of how the brain processes things like shapes and colours seen in complex everyday images, the report said. “And we don’t really have any of those three things at this time.”

The extension of future experiments could prove useful in all kinds of applications, but there is still a long way to go. For the time being, it is about “reading” visual activity, in the future, could be about reconstructing thoughts and dreams.

Jobs Says Flash Video Not Suitable for iPhone

On the day we finally get the iPhone SDK comes news that may put something of a dampener on it (unless Steve has a "One more thing" tucked up his sleeve): Adobe Flash isn't good enough for the iPhone.

In comments made at Apple's recent shareholder meeting, CEO Steve Jobs said that the iPhone doesn't support Flash because it runs too slowly on the device to be useful. The iPhone's lack of Flash has been one of the major complaints levied against it. He also said we won't see iPhone apps until "summer."

Adobe's Flash Player is used to play videos and other content on the Internet. Users have complained that the iPhone's lack of Flash support makes the browsing experience less rich than it should be. According to Jobs, Flash Lite doesn't go far enough, but the full-fledged Flash Player, which is designed to run on laptops, performs sluggishly on the iPhone. He said, "There's this missing product in the middle." He didn't go so far as to say that Adobe was working on such a product for the iPhone or any other product, and neither did Adobe.

In an Internet post last month, Ryan Stewart, Adobe's chief spokesman for its Internet-based applications, said, "No one aside from [Apple Chief Executive] Steve Jobs has any idea if or when it's coming. Everyone I talk to doesn't know anything."

Apple is introducing the road map for its iPhone SDK at an event tomorrow. Developers were likely hoping to find ways to support Flash on their own through the SDK. After Jobs' comments, that seems less likely. At the shareholders meeting, Jobs said that users will "see a lot of apps out there this summer." This lends more credence to the belief that the actual SDK will be not be made available tomorrow, but some time in the future. If Jobs believes that applications for the iPhone won't be available until this summer, that means developers are going to continue to be frustrated for a while.

That also means that the iPhone hacking community is going to continue to be busy innovating on the sly. Many believe that Apple will maintain rigid control over how iPhone apps are developed, approved, and distributed, with Apple taking a cut. Hackers probably will provide more useful apps in a shorter time frame, as is already evidenced by the services made available to unlocked iPhones.


Jobs Says "Not Likely" to Flash on the iPhone
Flash, in its current state, is not a good fit for the iPhone
first displayed, people have been wondering if there was going to be any kind of Flash support for the iPhone. Initially, I think the response from Jobs was "maybe", but I took that as a "nope." There are hundreds of reasons why Flash doesn't make sense on the iPhone, but I'll run through a couple of my own opinions as to why Flash, in its current state, is not a good fit for the iPhone.

File System. The Flash Plugin simply assumes the presence of a file system to which it has (limited, isolated, and secure) access. The iPhone file system is not open. Unlike Windows Mobile, you can't pop open an explorer window and browse around the contents of your phone.

Processing Power. The iPhone has a processor that is designed to be optimized for limited power consumption. The version of OS X that runs on the iPhone is designed to maximize battery life, as is Safari. Flash assumes it can suck whatever resources from the computer it wants. Even if every single Flash developer agreed to produce low-resource-consuming Flash files, how could the runtime be tuned to work in this environment in a way that is both practical and profitable? (you'll see that theme as I continue...)

Alternate UI paradigm. Flash is not optimized for touch interfaces. In fact, Flash has no idea what a touch interface is at all. It responds to clicks and mouseovers, and the iPhone has no concept of a mouseover. Any existing Flash sites or mini-apps would have to somehow compensate for that. If you've been to enough Flash-ridden sites, you'll know that there are tons of SWFs that rely heavily on mouseover and would simply be unusable on an iPhone.

Zooming and Pixel Depth. The iPhone is an extremely high resolution display, even though it is a small form factor. I think it has 3 times the pixel density of the average monitor. I don't even want to know what kind of headaches that would cause the developers trying to port the flash runtime to the phone. Surely a port could be made, but would it be practical or profiterable for either Apple or Adobe to do it?

Form Factor. I can't even count the number of Flash portions of web sites that do not scale when the page scales. Flash is fantastically easy in fixed-width mode, and when people do navigation bars, rollover strips, or some of the other extremely ubiquitous use cases for Flash, they do them in fixed width scale! Basically what you'd be looking at is any page with any of this non-scaling flash content on it would completely obliterate what is currently the most smooth and seamless mobile browsing experience available. It would prevent mobile Safari from being able to scale and zoom to other portions of the page not containing Flash. No port of the Flash runtime would prevent iPhone users from being assaulted by this experience. Any iPhone user who hit a page like this would flee in terror, just like people do now with other crappy mobile browsing experiences. Do you think Apple wants to give their users a crappy experience?

Security and Sandboxing. Flash can do things that JavaScript cannot. Flash can also do things that you simply cannot do on a mobile phone with a locked file system. Even if a port were possible and/or completed, if you thought the complaints about the Vista UAC were bad... just imagine what Apple fanatics would do if constantly being beaten over the head with security and sandboxing prompts and dialogs. "This page is trying to do something the iPhone doesn't support" ... WTF??! Steve Jobs is right in assuming people would rather see the "blue cube" of the missing Flash plugin than have to tap away a security violation dialog. At least with the blue cube, the important content of the page is still accessible.

The Canvas. I don't know about you, but I think this little HTML tag kicks ass. Using a little JavaScript and the Canvas tag, you can draw and animate to your heart's content.

Video. The iPhone uses H.264, which is, as far as I know, a more widely used video standard than Flash.
So, to sum things up:

If Apple were to create a Flash port for the iPhone, the nature of the exiting world of Flash applications would make the user experience terrible, and not up to Apple's standards. If Adobe were to create a flash port for the iPhone, the user experience would be equally crappy, and equally below Adobe's high standards for quality. Both efforts would require a large financial investment to produce something that most people would think sucked anyway, so its solid business that neither of them are very interested in creating the port.

I say leave Flash off the phone. The combination of the forthcoming SDK and the abilities granted to web developers by virtue of CSS3, WebKit extensions to CSS, Safari's advanced HTML support (including the Canvas tag!) all add up to a rich development environment that is wanting for very little and I don't think anybody who actually uses an iPhone on a daily basis really misses having Flash there... I know I don't.

CeBIT: AMD launches its 780 chipset

In a move to push its hardware standing when it comes to powerhouse mainstream computing, chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has used this week’s CeBIT fair in Hanover to unveil its new 780 chipset.

Designed to deliver “the ultimate mainstream computing experience,” AMD offers that its 780 chipset will enable leading OEMs and system builders to create PCs capable of providing full HD, best-in-class 3D graphics performance, enhanced scalability, and “rock-solid stability” for mainstream gaming, multimedia and commercial PC systems.

From a gaming perspective, AMD outlines that the 780 chipset is the perfect choice for those looking to appreciate the unsullied and detail-rich images and dynamic interactivity on show when playing the very latest power-intensive DirectX 10 software.

“ATI Hybrid Graphics Technology is achieved by utilizing AMD’s new integrated chipset, the 780G and one of the ATI Radeon GPUs,” explains AMD’s official blurb regarding the attainment of enhanced gameplay performance through higher resolution, higher frame rates, and higher image quality.

Further to that, AMD is touting the 780 as: the first AMD chipset that enables everyday computer users to play DirectX 10 without the aid of an extra graphics card; the first AMD chipset to deliver a full HD cinematic experience; and the first AMD chipset that powers a green PC.

“The AMD 780G chipset is breaking barriers. This is the first AMD chipset to integrate a powerful Microsoft DirectX 10 graphics core powered by ATI Radeon Graphics,” trumpets the California-based chipmaker. “Get impressive DirectX 10 gaming performance right out of the box for playing the latest 3D games. The AMD 780 chipset series is a gaming machine at an incredible value.”

Beyond its gaming benefits, the AMD 780 offers full HD entertainment via the enhanced colour vibrancy and “lifelike picture quality” attributed to ATI Avivo HD1 technology, while the chipset also allows users to connect to a wide selection of the latest high-definition panels while also taking advantage of ATI SurroundView, which supports as many as four monitors with the addition of a Radeon graphics card.

Along with optimal power management for added energy efficiency when coupled with the latest eco-friendly AMD processors, the 780 chipset is also flexible enough to be combined with AMD’s new Phenom processors along with existing AMD chips.

ADM New Production Policy
Advanced Micro Devices said Tuesday that it was closing a technology gap with its rival Intel, cutting about in half the time required to move to a new manufacturing process.

The company also said it would soon begin selling a new graphics chipset called the 780 Series, which, it said, enables low-priced computers to display graphics with the speed and clarity previously found on expensive PCs sold to video game players and graphic artists.

A.M.D., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., told guests at a computer industry trade show in Hanover, Germany, that it was on track to make the leap to 45-nanometer processing technology this year. Such a transition has historically taken A.M.D. about two years, but the company now says it will achieve it in 12 to 18 months.

Shrinking the size of the circuitry on chips allows chip makers to put more transistors on each chip, improving the chip’s overall performance and enabling longer battery life. Intel has long benefited from its ability to make a faster transition to new chip-making processes than A.M.D. Intel began producing its first 45-nanometer chips in late 2007. The current standard in the chip industry is 65 nanometers.

“They’re doing everything in their power to improve their position,” Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research, said of A.M.D.

The 45-nanometer products are being produced in A.M.D.’s plant in Dresden, Germany, using a process developed with I.B.M.

A.M.D.’s first 45-nanometer chips will be its Shanghai chip for servers and its Deneb chip for desktop computers.

“The launch of the A.M.D. 780 Series marks an uncommonly large step forward in mainstream PC capabilities,” said Phil Eisler, the corporate vice president and general manager in A.M.D.’s chipset division. Mr. Eisler said the chipsets would be available from a small number of PC makers this month, and more widely from larger PC manufacturers in the second quarter.

The new chipset follows A.M.D.’s announcement in January of a high-end graphics product that incorporates two chips on a single card, as well as a hybrid graphics card that speeds the display of graphics on cheaper PCs. With the 780 chips, A.M.D. is hoping to leapfrog a rival, Nvidia, the leading independent maker of graphics cards.

A.M.D. paid $5.4 billion for ATI Technologies, Nvidia’s chief rival, in mid-2006, but the company has been criticized by some financial analysts for paying too steep a price. Last year, A.M.D lost nearly $3.4 billion, much of that attributed to costs associated with its ATI acquisition.

“The jury is still out on whether the ATI acquisition made sense; we won’t know that for a couple of years,” said Mike Feibus, an analyst at TechKnowledge Strategies Inc. “But this is a sign that ATI is starting to stand up and dust itself off.”

Referring to Intel’s release of a new generation of processors last year called the Core Duo, Mr. McCarron said: “It’s not so much that A.M.D. has issues now, but that Intel has been coming on so strong. Moving to 45 nanometers helps A.M.D. become more competitive, and so will their getting aggressive about graphics.”

Over 30,000 Prizes Awarded To Office Live Workspace Beta

You would think that Microsoft’s initiative on Monday to open up the beta testing to the wide public, absolutely free of charge, is enough to raise interest in its latest creation: Microsoft Live Workspace, an online service combining the Office experience with flexible, intuitive service offerings.

They didn’t seem to think so, and doubled the announcement with a $100,000 sweepstakes for the U.S.-based users, awarding more than 30,000 prizes each day until May 11, 2008. All you have to do is register to the Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta testing, and you’re in for the prizes competition, which includes sweet rewards, such as Xbox 360 Elite Video Game Systems, Samsung Blackjack Ii Smartphone devices, 30GB Zune players, Expedia hotel and package coupons, and, of course, Microsoft Office Professional 2007.

The sweepstakes officially started on March 4, 2008 and will consist of 10 Prize Periods, at the end of which there will be one Overall Prize Period Drawing and seven Daily Drawings. Microsoft also offers bonus entry opportunities for uploading a document to Office Live workspace or by sharing a document on Office Live Workspace. The $100,000 cash grand prize will be given away on May 15, 2008.

Since the October opening of the beta testing – for a limited number of users only – Microsoft Office Live Workspace also started a collaboration with various universities and colleges across the U.S., meant not only to increase feedback on the service, but also to enhance IT collaboration and sharing experiences among students or within a classroom.

“Microsoft Office Live Workspace combines all the amazing ease of use that you expect from Microsoft Office with the convenience and security of Web-based storage,” said Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice-chancellor, information technology services and associate chief information architect, enterprise infrastructure at Vanderbilt University in a statement. “The best of both worlds allows you to collaborate, edit and share in ways that previously never existed. This is a great execution of a wonderful concept.”

The news service addresses to the 500 million Office users worldwide and is directed towards responding to customer demands, which tend to include online activities in everyday life. Microsoft Office Live Workspace will save over 1,000 Office documents and grant accessibility via the Internet.

More about

Microsoft said Tuesday it has made available for worldwide public testing a hosted version of its widely used Microsoft Office productivity software.
As part of the trial, users can access an English-language beta version of Microsoft Office Live Workspace, as the offering is called, from the company's Web site at no charge. Microsoft for the past several months has conducted a private beta program for Office Live that's drawn more than 100,000 participants, according to the company.

Office Live Workspace lets users store and access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office applications on the Web through any computer with an Internet connection -- even if the PC isn't running Office on its hard drive.

That means a mobile worker could, say, create a Word document at his or her office, upload it to the service, and then access it later from virtually any PC.

Without Office Live, that same worker would have to carry the file around on a flash device or e-mail it to himself. Still, the document could only be downloaded and opened on a computer running a Word-compatible application.

Office Live could also eliminate the insecure practice -- often used by executives on the go -- of downloading files to a public computer. Office Live users can store more than 1,000 documents on the service and also grant access authorization to their files to business colleagues and other third parties.

Office Live Workspace is part of the software-plus-services strategy that Microsoft unveiled last year. The campaign is meant to bolster the company's presence in the booming Web services market while protecting its multibillion-dollar packaged software franchise.

The effort has seen Microsoft roll out a number of Web services under its Windows Live brand, including an online storage site called SkyDrive and a social networking site called Spaces.

Microsoft's assault on the Web is in no small part a response to advances by archrival Google. In recent months, the search engine company has introduced a host of new online services. Of those, the biggest threat to Microsoft is Google Apps. The offering features free or low-cost versions of Office-style productivity applications that are hosted on the Web.

The advantage of Google's approach is that, unlike Office Live, users don't need to purchase any pricey boxed software for the service to work. The downside is that users for the most part can't get to the applications without an Internet connection.

Microsoft said it plans to roll out Office Live beta programs in languages other than English in the coming weeks.

yahoo board to resist takeover : Yahoo seeks more time to weigh alternatives

Yahoo delays board election to resist Microsoft takeover
Yahoo has extended a deadline for nominating candidates to its board to give it more time to fight off a Microsoft takeover.

Yahoo is reportedly considering other deals and talking with Time Warner about a joint venture with AOL.

Yahoo rejected Microsoft's $45 billion offer of Feb. 1 as too low. Microsoft still hopes to complete the deal, and one way would be trying to elect its supporters to the Yahoo board.

The previous deadline for nominating board members was March 14. Now it will be 10 days after Yahoo announces the date of its shareholders meeting.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Wanting to explore its options to a takeover by Microsoft, Yahoo took a step today to give it time to do just that.

The Internet portal said it is extending the deadline for nominating directors to its board. Previously, such nominations were due March 14. Now Yahoo will accept them until 10 days following the announcement of the date of its annual meeting, and pointedly did not set a date for that meeting.

The nomination process is important, because Microsoft - after having its buyout offer rejected by Yahoo - is threatening to nominate its own slate of directors to Yahoo's board who would presumably agree to the takeover.

Yahoo took the step to remove the distraction of a so-called proxy contest for control of its board and allow it to weigh other options, CEO Jerry Yang said in an email to employees sent this morning.

'In light of the current circumstances, this change removes an imminent deadline. Microsoft, of course, could still choose to name directors, but our objective here is to enable our board to continue to explore all of its strategic alternatives for maximizing value for stockholders,' Yang said.

Yahoo has reportedly been in talks with Time Warner about creating some kind of combination with the media company's AOL unit.

Adobe is in odd after iPhone Flash jab

""Flash and Flash Lite are a huge success. All major handset manufacturers worldwide license Flash today delivering a broad range of mobile devices ranging from feature phones to smartphones and consumer electronic devices. With more than 450 million Flash-enabled mobile devices shipped worldwide and 150 percent year-over-year growth we are on track to see 1 billion Flash enabled devices by 2010. Consumers demand a rich Web experience on any device and platform and Flash delivers just that. We look forward to our continued relationship with industry leaders to deliver engaging experiences to consumers worldwide."

Steve Jobs went face to face with Apple shareholders on the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday, answering a whole range of questions, from the iPhone, to plans for the future, retail achievements and objectives and a post-Steve Jobs era at Apple.

Apple’s CEO avoided to point out a name as a possible future successor, answering vaguely that any of the board of directors’ members is a potential replacement for him. Hard to imagine though Apple without Jobs, or the man capable of replacing Jobs not only in his job, but in his presence: it’s hard not to think of Jobs when you say Apple.

The iPhone was of course among the matters discussed, and Jobs promised more from the iPhone this summer, with a new set of applications coming our way. The Asian market remains one of Apple’s objectives for 2008, although nothing in particular has been said on this subject: “We will enter Asia with the iPhone in 2008… We will one day enter China, we’re not saying when, and we will one day enter India,” chief operating officer Tim Cook said at the meeting.

Information on future plans have of course been scarce, as usual, but one thing Jobs did say was that Apple will not opt for Adobe’s Flash Lite on the iPhone, as it is considered to be too slow for the time being, and unless it will suffer a performance-enhancement change, Flash Lite will not be supported on the iPhone.

The subject of Apple’s drop in stock price starting this year hasn’t been to intensely discussed, but Jobs was asked whether the company was planning to pay dividends to investors or start a stock buyback program, but Jobs denied the company has any plans in this sense. At the same time, one of the shareholders asked why the shareholders have not received a letter of reassurance on the share price, just like the employees did, but Jobs said they are focusing on the company, rather than on the shareholders.

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