THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Apple laptops lose power
Reports of battery problems tarnish its new MacBook Pro laptop line. Plus: Antispam company blamed for blog outage.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Sometimes you're hot, sometimes you're cold. And neither's good when you're talking laptop batteries. Dell (Research), Hewlett-Packard (Research), and other PC makers have taken their lumps for battery problems over the years, and now it's Apple's turn. Still haunted a decade latter by memories of the exploding PowerBook 5300, Apple has quietly replaced the batteries in some customers' MacBook Pro laptops.* Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris denied that there was a recall, as some blogs had reported, calling the cases "very isolated." Early adopters who bought the first MacBooks off the line took the hit: Reportedly only the first two weeks' of production were affected. Still, it's an embarrassment for Apple. Rather than overheating, the affected batteries just lost their charge. Is that why Apple (Research) took "Power" out of its laptop line's name?

Wal-Mart shops for geek buyers

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How do you get computer hobbyists into the aisles of the world's largest retailer? Try selling them build-your-own-PCs. That's the latest strategy Wal-Mart (Research) is trying to beef up its electronics selection. Selling circuit boards, cases, and hard drives has up until now been the domain of specialty chains like Fry's Electronics. On Digg, enthusiasts expressed hopes that Wal-Mart's entry would let them build computers as cheaply as Dell (Research) could, thanks to the retail giant's buying power. But on Slashdot, some posters voiced fears that Wal-Mart would only stock low-end parts. One concern they didn't dwell on: Will all those geeks clash with the fashionista crowd that Wal-Mart is also trying to attract?

Antispam company blamed for blog outage

When Six Apart suffered a hacker attack earlier this week, the Internet shuddered: The onslaught -- an overwhelming flood of network traffic known as a "distributed denial-of-service attack" -- made the company's LiveJournal and TypePad blogging services unavailable for part of Tuesday, bringing down thousands of blogs. Now, it turns out that Six Apart may not have been the real target. Q Daily News reports that Blue Security, a spam-blocking company, reconfigured its Web servers to point the hackers' traffic away from them and towards its Six Apart-hosted blog instead. That crafty move resulted in the network assault affecting all of Six Apart's servers. Whatever the cause, former Goldman Sachs (Research) analyst Michael Parekh observes that random outages of important Web services may just be a "new reality" that Internet users have to live with.

Blog network launches new ad tool

In a further sign that blogs are coming of age, Federated Media, a blog network created by former Industry Standard publisher and Business 2.0 magazine columnist John Battelle, yesterday launched a new web-based, self-serve advertising tool. MediaPost's Online Media Daily compares the tool to a dating site, in which "the least experienced advertisers find the most appropriate blogs on which to place their ads." Federated currently has 50 blogs in its network including titles like Boing Boing, BuzzMachine, and Battelle's own Searchblog. While perhaps suited to small advertisers, the new system seems unlikely to appeal to big Madison Avenue agencies which may not be willing to learn a new system just to reach a relatively small amount of traffic -- and which also expect to negotiate custom discounts with publishers.

In an interview via instant-message, Gawker Media publisher Nick Denton typed out his concerns: "As a lazy publisher, I love the idea of automated ad trafficking, but can't see, in practice, any agencies wanting to do the work," he writes. "[This] could annoy agencies -- who might feel they're not getting the best deal if they refuse to go through the system. Also, FM's new system highlights one of the network's deepest flaws: A lack of consistency in ad sizes and placement." Despite these challenges, however, Denton concedes, "In the long-term, this is the way it will be done."

Note: An earlier version of The Browser stated that Apple had recalled batteries for its MacBook Pro laptops. Apple says that problems with the batteries are very isolated and there is no recall. CNNMoney regrets the error. Top of page

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