Dell Unveils Green Machine’s

Dell, in keeping with Apple?s Mac mini and HP?s Slimline series, have unveiled the Dell Studio Hybrid.

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Roughly the size of a motel-bible, the Studio Hybrid is roughly 80 percent smaller than the average size desktop mini-tower and uses significantly less energy, according to Dell. Dell also announced two new Inspiron PCs: the Inspiron 13 laptop and Inspiron 518 desktop.

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The Studio Hybrid, so called because it uses a mobile processor in a desktop, measures 8.8 by 3 by 8.3 inches, and comes in a variety of interchangeable external finishes and colour sleeves; bamboo, emerald, quartz, ruby, sapphire, slate, and topaz.

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The system is powered by Intel Core Duo processors ranging in speed form 1.86 GHz to 2.6 GHz, an comes with up to 4GB of memory and up to a 320GB hard drive. Customers have the option of upgrading the standard CD/DVD burner to a Blu-ray disc drive. The graphics are handled by Intel?s Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator X3100. The Studio Hybrid also comes with DVI and HDMI posts and an optional TV tuner and remote.

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“It packs a lot in that small package. It’s a small desktop, but it’s using a mobile processor, so what that enables is a high level of computing performance but in a smaller package because mobile processors are more thermally sensitive. Even though it looks small, it’s still a powerhouse,” Richard Shim, an IDC analyst, said.

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The Studio Hybrid is also designed to be environmentally friendly. Its all part of Dell?s promise to reduce the power output of its systems by 25 percent by the year 2010.

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“This is part of that movement, part of the general desktop PC market dynamics, where all the manufacturers are trying to get smaller and sleeker in an effort to be more energy sensitive and pay attention to style and design,” Shim said.

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To ensure that they are maintaining their green credentials, Dell are now using 30 percent les packing material and 75 percent less documentation than the average tower desktop, the company claims. The packaging materials used are also 95 percent recyclable.

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The systems go on sale on Tuesday. The Studio Hybrid starts at US$499. Personalising the system with a Bamboo cover will cost $130; however, other colours are included in the price.

Virgin Galactic:A Knight in Shining Armour

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Virgin founder, billionaire, and the UK?s favourite boss, Richard Branson has unveiled a new high-altitude jet that will allow tourists to reach new heights.

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The jet will act as the ?mothership? for a spacecraft, releasing it in mid-air so it can take two crew and six passengers on sub-orbital flights.

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Already over 250 people have already paid ?100,000 ($200,000) each to be among the first making the tourist trips.

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Business tycoon Branson predicts the vehicles maiden voyage will take place in 18 months time. For the grand unveiling of White Knight Two ?Eve?, crowds of engineers, dignitaries and space enthusiasts gathered inside a hanger in the Mojave Desert in California.

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Virgin Galactic has contracted aerospace designer Burt Rutan to build its spacecraft at his Scaled Composites factory in California. Before the craft can even take off, ?Eve? must undergo a rigorous flight testing programme, which begins in the autumn.

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The mother ship is a white, four-engine jet, designed to cradle SpaceShipTwo under its wing and release it a 50,000 feet in the air. Once separated, SpaceShipTwo will fire its hybrid rocket and climb some 62 miles (100km) above the Earth.

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Engineers still need to finish building SpaceShipTwo, which is now about 70 percent complete, according to Virgin Galactic.

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Mr Branson said the name of the White Knight Two reflected the pioneering spirit of his space tourism venture.

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“We are naming it Eve after my mother, Eve Branson, but also because it represents a first and a new beginning, the chance for our ever-growing group of future astronauts and other scientists to see our world in a completely new light,” he said.

China is Worlds Largest Net-using Population

According to official figures posted today from the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), China has surpassed the US as the world?s largest net-using population with more than 253 million people in the country now online.

The figure fly?s past the US total of 223 million, which was last checked in June. Net penetration in the US stands at 71 percent compared to 19 percent in China suggesting that it will vastly outstrip the US soon.

The development is significant as the US has had the largest net-using population since records began.

“This is the first time the number has drastically surpassed the United States, becoming the world’s number one,” said a statement from the CNNIC, the nation’s official net monitoring body.

The figures for 2008 are up 56 percent since last year, said CNNIC. Analysts expect the total to grow by around 18 percent per annum and reach a staggering 490 million by 2012.

Around 95 percent of those going online connect via high-speed broadband, which has had a consumer boost from deals that attempt to lure customers away from mobile operators.

Currently, China?s mobile phone users total around 500 million people.

Even though the users are increasing, net revenue for the country is still significantly lower than the US. In 2007, Analysys International said China?s net firms reported total revenues of ?2.96bn. By contract, the US reported total revenues of ?10.6bn.

London’s Oyster Network Crashes Again

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This morning commuters in London took advantage of free underground travel when technical problems brought down the Oyster ticket system.

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Gates were left open early this morning to allow commuters to continue with their day. Unlike that last time the Oyster system rolled over and died, the failure has not damaged peoples travel cards. Last time the system crashed 35,000 people had to have their cards replaced.

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Transport For London is stressing that this time no cards will need replacing. The MiFare chip on which Oyster cars are based, were recently cracked and cloned by Dutch researchers.

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A Transport for London spokesperson said:

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?There is currently a technical problem with Oyster readers at London Underground stations which is affecting Oyster pay as you go cards only.

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?Ticket gatelines have been opened to minimise any disruption to passengers whilst we resolve the problem. Oyster card readers on London Buses and on the Tram network are unaffected.

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?Cards are not being disabled as a result of the problem and we will automatically refund any passengers who may be charged the maximum ?4 fare as a result of not being able to touch in and out at the beginning and end of their journeys. Oyster card holders need take no further action.

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?We believe that this problem, like the last one resulted from incorrect data tables being sent out by our contractor, Transys.

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?TFL has denied this has anything to do with the two recent failures but it has been suggested that security updates to try and protect the system against cloned cards caused the problems.?

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The problem though has been solved, but how long will it be before it goes down again?

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?The problem has now been resolved and readers are progressively coming back on-line at stations,? said a further statement

Fake Facebook Account Costs Man ?22k

A businessman whose personal details were ?laid bare? in fake libellous entries on social networking site Facebook has been awarded ?22,000 in damages today against a former friend who created the profile.

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Mathew Firsht, who is the MD of Applause Store Productions Ltd, sued old school fried, freelance cameraman Grant Raphael, for libel and misuse of private information.

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Deputy Judge Richard Parkes QC dismissed Raphael?s claims that the profile was created by ?mischievous party gate crashers at his flat?, and awarded ?15,000 for libel and ?2,000 for a breach of privacy.

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Mr Firsht’s company, which finds audiences for TV and radio shows and provides warm-up services for live audiences, including the evictions on Big Brother, was also awarded ?5,000 for libel.

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Mr Raphael of created a false personal profile, and a company profile called “Has Mathew Firsht lied to you?”, from a computer at the flat where Mr Raphael was living in London, in June last year.

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Mr Raphael claimed that “strangers” who attended an impromptu party at the address that day sneaked off to a spare bedroom and created the profiles on his PC.

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The profiles were on the site for 16 days until Mr Firsht’s brother spotted them and they were taken down by Facebook.

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The judge heard that the private information concerned Mr Firsht’s whereabouts, activities, birthday and relationship status and falsely indicated his sexual orientation and political views.

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It said that he was “Looking for: whatever I can get” in terms of relationships and was signed up to groups including Gay in the Wood…Borehamwood, and Gay Jews in London.

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Mr Firsht complained about allegations that he owed substantial sums of money which he had repeatedly avoided paying by lying, and that he and his company were not to be trusted in the financial conduct of their business and represented a serious credit risk.

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He accused Mr Raphael of bearing a grudge against him since they fell out in 2000 and of creating a false Facebook entry with the aim of causing him anxiety and embarrassment.

Esquire Magazine Starting Something New

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Sounding like something from the distant future, Esquire magazine are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication by printing 100,000 special editions of its October 2008 magazine, by using a cover made from electronic paper. The cover will feature moving images and words that will move around the page, with the first ever e-paper advertisement on pages one and two.

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“The electronic display used on the Esquire magazine cover will be an electrophoretic flexible display,” said Jennifer Colegrove, Ph.D., an iSuppli analyst. “This is very significant, since electrophoretic display has been used on e-books, such as Sony eReader, Amazon Kindle, etc. It’s also used on mobile phones, etc.,” she said, noting this will be the first time such a display has been used as a magazine cover.

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?The technology is based on the principle of electrophoresis. Particles dispersed in a fluid generally carry an electric surface charge. E Ink’s technology utilizes millions of microcapsules – each roughly the thickness of a human hair or thinner – containing white and black particles,? explained Sriram Peruvemba, vice president of marketing at E Ink.

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?When an electrical voltage is transmitted across the surface of the paper – really a plastic film laminated to a layer of circuitry – the white or black particles suspended in a liquid carrier medium rise to the surface. Which color rises depends on the polarity of the voltage,? he continued.

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“That is the basic principle. When the black particles go to the top, you get a dark image. The white particles go on top, so you get the white,” he said.

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The microcapsules in their carrier medium can be printed using existing screen printing processes onto an array of surfaces including glass, plastic, fabric and paper.

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“The material used is the exact same material used to make paper white and the black particles we used are the same thing that makes ink dark. These are not exotic but are everyday products. So, we essentially are trying to replace paper with the same materials used in paper and ink with an electronic product,” Peruvemba said.

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Colegrove reckons that due to the technology’s relatively environmentally friendly nature and low cost, she expects flexible electrophoretic displays used for e-books and e-paper will grow to a US$1.7 billion industry by 2013.

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“The cost for low-resolution type electronic paper is not very high, but the cost for high-resolution type uses a TFT (thin film transistor) backplane, which triggers high cost. But we do see the cost declining in the next couple of years,” she explained.

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“The cost can be offset by its benefits: save papers, get fast news. Also, the light weight, thinness, ruggedness, low power consumption and sunlight readability of flexible electrophoretic displays are very suitable for electronic newspaper applications,” Colegrove added.

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Connected to a power source, the paper will retain the image for up to one year, Peruvemba pointed out.

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“You can update [the display] and it will have many years of life to it. In electronic newspapers, you can read the newspaper, put it down, and the image is retained. No battery power is used and when you come back it is still on the same ‘page,’” he concluded.

P2P Next Project Seeks Beta Testers

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Testers are being sought for technology that will allow television to migrate the net. The P2P Next project has created a beta version of software that can stream video across a file-sharing network.

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The European Union has sunk 19 million Euros into the project, hoping that the software the team creates can be used to create a Europe-wide online broadcasting standard. The P2P Next team are looking for thousands of volunteers to sign up to give the technology a suitable test.

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Many broadcasters, such as the BBC with its iPlayer, are already using the internet to allow viewers to catch up on programmes they have missed. Most of these systems use a central server that streams the programmes to user?s computers.

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However, most believe that to deliver this kind of TV through the net would be unsustainable when large audiences go online to watch shows.

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In an effort to create a system that can facilitate a large number of users, the SwarmPlayer uses the widely used BitTorrent peer-to-peer technology. In this type of system, those watching a video share data as they are downloading with other users (peers), who want to watch the same show online.

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The SwarmPlayer lets people download TV shows to watch later, lets users watch video?s as they are being downloaded and can even handle live broadcasts. The P2P Next project wants thousands of testers to install the software to see how the system copes with large numbers of people watching, to see if picture quality suffers as a result.

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Windows and Linux versions of the software are available with a Mac version due soon.

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To be involved you must have a broadband net connection speed of at least 600kpbs or higher. The P2P Next project is expected to run for four years, and the SwarmPlayer is likely to be the first of many prototypes they produce.

WebAnywhere:Helping Blind People Use the Internet

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With the help of screen-reader software, blind people can use a computer, but those products can cost more than US$1000, so you won?t see them in public libraries or at internet cafes.

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A new web-based application called ?WebAnywhere? has been developed by a computer science graduate at the University of Washington ? and best of all, it?s free. Unlike the traditional and costly programs, WebAnywhere is a web-based application that can make surfing the net accessible to the blind on almost any computer.

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The developer, Jeffrey Bigham, hopes that it will enable blind people to check flight times at an airport, plan a bus route at the library or to type up a quick email at an internet caf?.

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To actually get WebAnywhere running, a bind person need to get online which, without a computer set-up with verbal feedback, can be difficult. However, Bigham did plenty of research and found that many web-smart blind people often know loads of keyboard shortcuts and tricks, and when to ask for help.

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Once online, a user can use the WebAnywhere browser, which can link to and read out any page ? as long as the computer has speakers of a headphone socket. The program can read any page from top to bottom, or skip around the section titles or tab through charts.

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Lindsay Yazzolino, a blind Brown University student who has a summer job at the University of Washington said: ?WebAnywhere could benefit from some tweaking but it’s a big improvement over a total lack of public access.?

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Yazzolino said she would like a better search function and fewer keystrokes, but loves the fact the program is free.

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The program is open source and Bigham hopes that others will make improvements to it. Although he is not blind himself, he recognises the area as one that needs some programmers to get stuck in to.

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Bigham?s faculty adviser is hoping that commercial search engines will adopt WebAnywhere as a module. His dream is for web developers to keep blind people in mind when they design their pages, making information available to everyone.

UK Information Database:”A step too far”

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The decision to have a huge UK database of the details of all phone calls, emails and internet use could be ?step too far for the British way of life?, according to the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas.

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Security minister Lord West responded to the warning, saying: “It is very early days as to where we go on this, but the switch from traditional phones meant the entirely new communication methods had to be assessed,? he said.

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Reports claim that a giant database is planned for the government?s proposed Communications Data Bill. This has led the Information Commissioner to call in his annual report this week for a full public debate first.

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Mr Thomas acknowledged that “targeted and duly authorised interception of communications by terrorists and other suspects could be invaluable”.

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But warned that, ?people must still stand up for their fundamental liberties and freedoms.?

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“Lines have to be drawn somewhere, and there should be a full democratic debate about where exactly the lines should be drawn. Do we really want the police, security services and other organs of the state to have access to more and more aspects of our private lives,” he added.

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There has been speculation that the government was considering collecting information ? including numbers dialled, websites visited and location of mobile phones being used ? for quite some time now, because the government has talked about “modifying procedures for acquiring communications data” in the Communications Data Bill.

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At the moment police and intelligence agencies can ask telecommunications providers for information on phone calls made, texts sent and internet sites visited. Providers can query the request, which could go to the interception commissioner and another watchdog ? but under new proposals, that right would be removed.

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Lord West also issued a warning about the general lack of privacy in using the internet. He said ISPs could already assess “information about the consumer’s internet use for the provision of value-added services”. ?

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“People must realise – and I used to say this within the Navy – there will be more people look at your internet information than look at a postcard when you write it,” he told the House of Lords. ?People tend to forget that – and [that] it is used for quite legal purposes, some of it,” he added

Dr Horrible is Web 2.0 Hit

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Joss Whedon, the guy who gave us ?Buffy the Vampire Slayer? and ?Firefly?, found a way to keep himself busy during the recent Hollywod writers strike by creating a wacky musical about a mad doctor with an evil-mastermind-wannabe inferiority complex.

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Buts instead of his traditional TV route, he?s decided to go all Web 2.0 on us, and is using the net to show the world his talet.

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Using his own money, Whedon called some of his actor buddies and filmed on unused Universal Studios lots. The result of this is ?Dr. Horrible?s Sing-Along Blog?. With a hype machine created from the blogosphere, the amount of viewers of the first show crashed the web-sites servers.

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?Dr. Horrible? is the latest example of unique media content bubbling up from the internet to find an audience and gain publicity. The show joins a list that includes ?Quarterlife?, the Funny or Die web site and the web-only episodes of ?Gossip Girl?.

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Like some of those examples, “Dr. Horrible” is free of studio interference and traditional marketing. Then again, we’re not talking about bargain-basement entertainment made by amateurs: The team behind “Thirtysomething” created “Quarterlife,” and actor/comedian Will Farrell is behind Funny or Die.

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“If you’ve made your money and you’ve already got your fan base, then this is a great area of experimentation,” Bobby Tulsiani, online video analyst for JupiterResearch, told the E-Commerce Times. “It’s why big actors do independent movies: It allows them to stretch [their exposure]. … That’s kind of what the Web is emerging as: the indie equivalent.”

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While some independent movies generate lots of box office cash worthy of a major studio’s efforts, there hasn’t been a case yet where a Web-only production has successfully made the jump to mainstream media. NBC took a chance on a TV version of “Quarterlife,” but audiences didn’t seem to stick around past the quarter-hour. It was canceled after one episode.

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“The general theme seems to be [attracting a] large audience, but the potential for large revenues doesn’t match,” Tulsiani said. “The best position to be in, in some ways for these shows, is not the individual show itself, but the person or company that aggregates all these shows. If I can put 100 of these things – Lonelygirl, “Dr. Horrible” – in one place, like iTunes or Veoh, then I’m in a position to win because everybody comes to me to find these shows.”

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Two more commercial-free, 15-minute segments of “Dr. Horrible” are planned for online release this week, but Whedon reportedly has said that a movie and a Broadway show could be in the works. As of now, the only revenue generated by a show about a mad doctor who is forced to take voice lessons to work on his evil laugh is the US$1.99 that iTunes is charging to view all three episodes.

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?As of now, with online and traditional media both complementing and competing with each other, the challenges to match dollars to hype remain,? Tulsiani commented.

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“If the money isn’t here today, that doesn’t mean it won’t be here tomorrow. We’re foreseeing that march toward ad dollars,” he noted. “This is laying the groundwork for people to come along in later years and push this and pioneer it even further.”