It's been 10 years since Douglas Adams, science fiction author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, died suddenly and Twitter is alive with comments and references to the man and his works. Google has chosen a different theme for today's Doodle, though: The would-be 117th birthday of Martha Graham, the U.S. choreographer who helped pioneer modern dance.
1. Groupon's live offers service Now is online and functioning--adjusting Groupon's deal-a-day business model to a more location-based and live-updating system. It's only functioning in Chicago for now, but should soon roll out across the U.S. The news comes in parallel to rumors Groupon is aggressively pushing to file for an IPO, possibly as soon as this week, and possibly before its bankers have finished analyzing the offering.
2. A Belgian court has ruled Google infringes copyrights owned by online newspapers when it links to them or includes short passages from them in its News service. It must not now link to Belgian newspapers in French, or it faces a daily fine--Flemish newspapers are fair game, however. Meanwhile the Indian government has pushed ahead with strict web censorship laws in contravention to Google's advice--and will force the site to remove "offending" links.
3. On a more positive note, Google will today announce a line of Chrome OS-powered laptops that it'll "rent" to students on a $20-per-month basis that gives access to hardware and software. At $240 a year, that equates to a cheap netbook--but the monthly payments will appeal to some. Commentators are speculating it's really an experiment to test out the system before Google tries the same trick but aimed at business users.
4. Twitter has been used to circumvent strict British privacy rulings about publishing news on celebrities in newspapers, but the European court has just ruled against imposing stricter regulation on such reporting online and in print. Britain is considering its own set of rules that would attempt to curtail privacy invasions reported on Twitter and other social networking sites--but is likely to encounter jurisdictional difficulties as Twitter's based in the U.S.
5. Microsoft's purchase of Skype is now being questioned, with industry figures concerned AT&T and Verizon may be disinclined to work with MS. The networks are already concerned about the impact Google Voice will have on their mobile calling revenues, and since MS plans tight integration of Skype into Windows Phones and the Xbox, they may be reluctant to support MS-powered smartphones on their networks.