Yahoo has answered Google's Gmail challenge by cutting prices and adding storage for its e-mail services.
Users of the company's free e-mail had their online storage capacity increased from 4 megabytes to 100. Customers who were paying as much as $60 a year for 100 megabytes will have access to 2 gigabytes of storage for $19.99 a year.
"Our goal is to provide a full-featured service, and now we've taken storage off the table," said Terrell Karlsten, a Yahoo representative. "People don't even have to think twice about it."
Current free e-mail service users will get access to more space immediately, while paying customers will be upgraded when their current agreements end.
In April, Google began testing a free e-mail service that gives users 1 gigabyte of storage.
Yahoo is adding other features to its e-mail service, including an increase from 3 megabytes to 10 in the size files users can send or receive. It also is releasing as many as 50-million e-mail names that had been registered but have not been used for years, and removing graphical advertisements from its paid e-mail offering.
New Intel chips to bulk up on features
Speed used to be the main gauge of a computer processor. But Intel is adding features such as high-definition audio and video capabilities to its new chips aimed at the growing convergence between computers and home entertainment.
The chips, which will be released today, will use less power and generate less heat, according to Becky Brown, Intel's consumer desktop marketing manager. And because it packs more functions onto one chip, it will allow smaller, more stylish PCs to be built.
"We're excited about taking desktop PCs out from under the desk, into the living room," Brown said.
In addition, she said, the new chips will simplify setting up wireless networks at home, protecting data, and allowing people to plug headphones into any jack on the computer and have it recognized by the system.
"We're trying to take out the complexities of doing the kinds of things you're doing in the living room (with consumer electronics devices) with your PC in any room," she said.
Blog pioneer ends free hosting services
Dave Winer, a pioneer of an online journal format known as Web logs, thought he was doing people a favor by hosting 3,000 blogs for free.
So he was taken aback last week when he endured a barrage of criticism for deciding to stop the free service, an episode that reveals deep passions about blogging.
Winer launched his first Web log in 1997 and began hosting other people's blogs in 2000, when he headed UserLand Software, a Web publishing company.
After UserLand dropped the service to focus on selling blogging-related tools, Winer bought some servers and offered free hosting on Weblogs.com, a site that also tracks blogs hosted elsewhere, making it an important blogging hub.
Eventually Winer, now a research fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, found that running the free service took too much time and energy, especially because he has health problems that he declined to discuss. So he closed the free blogs.
"I can't have 3,000 people who depend on me for free stuff yelling and screaming at me, saying, "I need this now,' " he said Wednesday. "I gave and I gave, and I paid a great price."
Winer says bloggers who want their archived material can have it in a few weeks. He also hopes to connect them with other volunteers who will host blogs for free.
Linksys put hard drives on a network
External hard drives need no longer be tethered to a single computer.
A new product from Linksys allows such devices, which are commonly used as supplemental or backup computer storage, to be wirelessly connected to a home network, so multiple users can tap into the data like a central library.
The $99 Linksys Network Storage Link serves as a bridge between any external hard drive with a USB port and a router that is part of a wired or wireless network.
Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems Inc., also is partnering with hard-drivemaker Maxtor Corp. to co-market and collaborate on other products to help consumers store, access and manage their growing amounts of digital media files.
Antenna boosts cell phone reception
Although wireless carriers continue to expand and strengthen their coverage areas, most cell phone users are still familiar with static, dropped calls and "no service" messages.
The new Freedom Antenna, maker ARC Wireless Solutions says, presents a simple way to minimize those problems.
The antenna, housed in a thin piece of plastic 3 inches wide and 6 inches long, boosts a signal enough to add at least a couple of bars to your phone's signal strength display.
The antenna is available for $32 at Radio Shack stores; an $11 adapter, sold separately, is required to connect it to the cell phone's antenna port. It is compatible with most wireless phones on the market, the company says.
The Freedom Antenna can be left on a table or countertop in the house, on an office desk or conference table or affixed to a car window using the included suction cups.
It is small enough to carry with you if you're using your cell phone outdoors in an area with weak reception, though you will have to put up with a wire snaking out of your pocket or purse.
That a wire yields improved wireless service is perhaps a small paradox, but many users might be willing to live with it for the sake of a broader coverage area.
Virus found for Nokia cell phones
Russian antivirus software developer Kaspersky Labs says it has discovered the first virus capable of spreading through mobile phone networks.
If the Cabir virus penetrates the system, the word "Caribe" will appear on phone screens when the infected file is launched. The virus is activated every time phones are turned on.
The virus will not destroy software but can scan for other phone numbers to send copies of itself. No infections have been reported.
Cabir infects the Symbian operating system used in a number of models manufactured by Finish mobile giant Nokia Corp.
Talkback about digital photography
Readers can submit questions about digital photography for Times personal technology editor Dave Gussow and deputy photo director Boyzell Hosey at the Times Talkback site (www.sptimes.com/talkback)