iFive: Microsoft’s Slates Inbound, IBM Playing Jeopardy, Brits Back Assange, Kindle Sells Millions, Cuba’s Wikipedia

Tuesday’s early innovation news, to get you a head start on the day:

Fallout from this weekend’s Gawker hack continues: Analysis of the dataset reveals people really do choose weak passwords, and “123456” is far more popular than it should be. Meanwhile Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft, knows how hackers love to attack it, so it’s reset everyone’s password–directly fearing hacks inspired by the public release of Gawker data. And LinkedIn appears to have also notified users connected with Gawker to reset their passwords as well. On with today’s news:


1. Microsoft will reveal a slew of slate PCs at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) aimed at competing with the iPad, according to sources. Samsung is one partner, and its device has a slide-out keyboard, revealing how much closer to the “standard” model of computer MS’s efforts lie. The aim is to make them seem more business-like, rather than playful, in hopes of capturing the business classs.

2. IBM’s superintelligent supercomputer “Watson” will soon face human rivals on the show Jeopardy. It’s a test of artificial intelligence against human Jeopardy champions, but there’s real science and real cash at stake–a million dollars, all of which will go to charity if Watson wins (50% if he doesn’t).

3. A poll of the British public by CNN reveals that nearly 50% of people think the sex charges against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange are a trumped-up pretext so that U.S. can get its hands on him, and 40% say he shouldn’t be prosecuted for leaking the cables. In other words, the rest of the world thinks the U.S. is a bully.

4. Amazon’s revealed that fourth quarter Kindle sales reached into the “millions.” This enigmatic figure could be anything between two and nine million, but it’s more than were sold in 2009 in total. So why’s Amazon telling everyone now? It’s trying to stir up sales before the holiday season, and capture mindshare before January–which will be Apple’s month, thanks to the iPad 2.

5. Cuba’s officially launching its own Wikipedia-esque encyclopedia today, EcuRed. It has similar ideals to Wikipedia’s crowd-sourced entries, though moderators have the ultimate say on publication. The idea is to share views on Cuba, and the world from a Cuban point of view. Hence its propagandist tones, noting the U.S. “consumes 25% of the energy produced on the planet.”

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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