A whole lotta shakin’ may be going on

Tired of pushing all those buttons on your cell phone? Some Japanese handsets slated to hit stores in March are designed to solve that problem: They respond to shakes, tilts and jiggles.

The new phones come equipped with a tiny motion-control sensor. Just jerk your cell phone in the air in a variety of two-step patterns – such as left followed by down – to program your phone to scroll or jump to e-mail or other features.

It takes a bit of practice, and in many cases it’s far easier just to endure the hassle of pushing buttons.

But Vodafone K.K., the Japan unit of the British mobile giant, sees potential for entertainment.

The sensor not only detects direction but also speed and force. In one game, players can aim their cell phone in various directions like a gun to shoot zombies. In another, players swing the handset like a golf club, making a virtual ball pop around on a virtual course.

Junk mail takes a hefty toll: Time wasted deleting junk e-mail costs American businesses nearly $22 billion a year, according to a new study from the University of Maryland.

A telephone-based survey of adults who use the Internet found that more than three-quarters receive spam daily. The average spam messages per day is 18.5 and the average time spent per day deleting them is 2.8 minutes.

The loss in productivity is equivalent to $21.6 billion per year at average U.S. wages, according to the National Technology Readiness Survey produced by Rockbridge Associates, Inc., and the Center for Excellence in Service at Maryland’s business school.

PDAs are MIA: Worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants declined for the third straight year, according to a new report.

Shipments of basic handheld PDAs lacking telephone capabilities shrank to 9.2 million units in 2004, down 13 percent from 10.6 million units in 2003, the Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC said. It’s the first time in five years that sales dropped below 10 million units.

The digital gadgets first popularized by the original PalmPilot in 1996 have been facing increasing competition from the so-called smart phone, which combines organizer functions with cell phone capabilities.

“This drop stresses the urgent need for vendors to evolve their devices beyond personal information management,” said David Linsalata, an IDC analyst.

PDA shipments from palmOne Inc., the industry’s pioneer and top seller, fell by 9 percent to 3.7 million units in 2004, from 4 million units in 2003.

What were they thinking?: Volkswagen has agreed not to pursue further legal action against two Britons who posted a spoof advertisement on the Web suggesting the company’s cars are so tough they can withstand a suicide bombing.

In return, the two men, Dan Brooks and Lee Ford, have admitted filming the spoof and formally apologized to Volkswagen, company spokesman Hartwig von Sasz said. The two have pulled the video from their Web site and agreed not to make any further unsolicited ads for the company, von Sasz said.

“We don’t need this kind of attention,” von Sasz said, adding the company viewed it as “an attack on our global good name.”

In the ad, a dark-haired, dark-skinned man wearing fatigues and an Arab head scarf gets behind the wheel of a black Volkswagen Polo, a model slightly smaller than the popular Golf. The man drives up beside a sidewalk cafe and detonates a bomb, causing a blast inside the car that fails to damage the outside.

“Polo. Small, but tough,” then appears on a black screen, beneath the blue-and-white VW logo.

Google adds domain name service: Add domain name registration to the portfolio of Google specialties.

Google Inc. is now an official seller of Internet addresses following approval from the Net’s key oversight agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Don’t count on buying names from Google anytime soon, though. Google says it sought approval as a way to potentially save thousands of dollars yearly in transaction fees for the names it already owns or will buy.

The status also could give Google access to internal data on domain name ownership, which the company could use to better evaluate the credibility of Web sites indexed by the search engine, said Marissa Mayer, Google’s director of consumer Web products.

Like many large companies, Google registers hundreds of names a month, including misspellings and trademarks.

One registration in particular, for “gbrowser.com,” has prompted widespread speculation that Google has plans for its own Web browser. Fueling the discussion is Google’s recent hiring of Ben Goodger, one of the lead developers of the Mozilla Firefox browser.

From Herald news services

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