Gadget News You Can Use

Wow - has the high tech news been flying hot and heavy, from names you might expect - like Dish Network and Logitech - and some you might not, including the FBI and the State of Pennsylvania. Here come the bullet points (no need to duck.)

Taking Down Cybercriminals: The FBI announced yesterday that it's taken down the largest cybercriminal ring in the world, the Estonia based botnet Esthost. Security software company Trend Micro helped the Feds in the two year investigation, which uncovered a scheme to redirect the computers of  millions of  unsuspecting users  to rogue servers controlled by the cyber thieves. Among the 500,000+ infections in the U.S. were computers belonging to  NASA.

It's The Law, Don't Text: Governor Tom Corbett went to an AT&T retail store in Camp Hill yesterday to sign SB 314, the legislation that bans texting while driving on Pennsylvania roads. Getting police to  enforce the law may not be easy, though. In Philadelphia,  where driving and talking with a phone to your ear is illegal (and easy to spot,) offenders are rarely chased down by the law, though the crime will certain enhance their blame factor in an accident.

Holiday Wish Lists:  No surprise, tablet computers and  e-readers are looming very high on holiday gift wish lists, along with video game systems, TVs, MP3 players and  (somewhat surprising) laptop computers. So said analysts Shawn DuBravac and Steve Koenig, at a  pre-holiday CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) briefing. Their most interesting findings - Black Friday will officially kick off at many stores at midnight on Thanksgiving night, rather than 4 or 5 a.m. the following morning, ruining many employees' holiday celebration. Also, manufacturers and retailers are running on much "leaner" inventories  this year, so shoppers who wait too long to buy popular items will have to settle for "the best of the rest," said DuBravac.

Our Last Tax-Free Online Shopping Year?: Unlike the previously proposed "Main Street Fairness Act," the so-called "Marketplace Fairness Act" introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wedneday has won bi-partisan support, and even an endorsement by Amazon. The measure creates a mechanism by which remote sellers collect and remit sales taxes from online consumers. The bill has won Republican support by including a small business exception for online companies with gross annual receipts of  less than a half million bucks.

A "Big Mistake": While a significant software upgrade of its Revue set top box for Google TV is  looming, any day now, Logitech has "no plans to build another box" for the service, said chairman and acting president Guerrino De Luca in a company webcast yesterday.  The company made a "mistake of implementation of giant nature" in backing the system last year with mass production of a $300 box and keyboard package, and only has moved through its inventory by dropping the price to $99 -  a major (but not only) factor in the $100 million hit the global company took in its fiscal year.

Another Concession Headline: "Adobe ceases  development on mobile browser Flash." Yeah, just as Steve Jobs  predicted.  the world's makers of mobile phones and tablets  have moved to more secure and more energy efficient HTML5 content  coding.  Even the latest Microsoft mobile phone operating system (7.5) boasts it.

Dishing the DISH: There's "lots more news coming" from Dish Network at the International CES in January, hinted CEO Joe Clayton in a chat this week. Between  all the terrestrial spectrum and satellite-based Hughes Communications direct-to-home internet service which the company now controls, we're thinking Dish may soon be offering  a "triple play" bundle of TV, phone and internet service akin to what Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FiOS  serve us. If the AT&T buyout of T-Mobile is approved "the FCC and the government are going to demand a new player to come in to replace T-Mobile and guess who has all the spectrum and assets to do that?" said Clayton. And if that merger doesn't happen, Dish could have a potential partner in T-Mobile, he added.