iFive: Alumina Spill, Pricey Pre-Pay Data, Gene Simmons on Piracy, Ballmer on Patents, Google Goggles on iPhone

It’s deadline day for those who “didn’t want it good” but “wanted it Wednesday,” but before you buckle down to work, here’s the early news digested:


Warm news for Windows fans–Apple fanatic Jon Gruber has pronounced Windows Phone 7 “really nice” and possibly better than Android. Leave that thought bubbling in your morning coffee, and read this:


1. Google Goggles is now available
on your iPhone. The next generation of search technology has arrived on
the world-leading smartphone–a nice, ironic synthesis of the highest
tech from two rivals. Get Goggling now, and you’ll find it’s fun.
Particularly when the system gets it wrong: Though it got a landmark
bridge right, it just suggested a match of an Abrams M1 tank for the
BMW I just snapped.

2. Pre-pay may be the next big thing in mobile data to hit the U.S., after success elsewhere in the world, and T-Mobile’s plans have just leaked out. Thing is, despite the benefits of no monthly fees when your mobile data plans aren’t consistent, T-Mobiles tariffs seem kinda weak: $10 earns 100MB of data (pathetically small!) or one week’s access, $30 nets 300MB (about half a movie) or one month, and $50 allows 1GB of downloads or 30 days. Yuck. But not too bad for tourists.

3. Whether you’re pro or anti music pirating, here’s something we can all be united about: KISS’s Gene Simmons opinion on the matter is insanely hypocritical. Why? Because when he spoke at a panel at the MIPCOM convention he said “Make sure there are no incursions. Be litigious. Sue everybody. Take their homes, their cars.” Easy to say from the comfort of your multi-million-dollar mansion, insulated against the real world, hey Gene?


4. Steve Ballmer speaking sense? Yes–it’s just happened. Speaking at the London School of Economics Ballmer noted that the patent system is better than no system, and Microsoft has paid out more than it’s earned in royalties, the “patent law was crafted in a day and age that preceded modern IT systems […] We think that the law out to be reformed to reflect modern times.” Patent trolls beware–MS has quite some political clout.

5. Yesterday a damn broke at a chemical dumping zone in Hungary, spilling
thousands of tons of toxic red alumina-laced mud spilling across
fields, homes, and roads. Four people are dead, over 100 were injured
all thanks to waste from an aluminum plant–producing metal for our
window frames, food wrappings an what-not. Now there’s news
it’ll take a year to clean up the damaged site, and tens of millions in
costs. A stronger hint than ever to recycle your aluminum cans, people.

To keep up with this news, and more like it, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)