Talk of the day

Published May 17, 2007

Halo devotees, circle this date - Sept. 25

Legions of Master Chief fans can now mark their calendars for Sept. 25. That's when Halo 3, the newest sci-fi video game saga and the first specifically designed for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 console, is expected to arrive on store shelves. The first-person shooter is the latest addition to the company's popular science fiction franchise in which an armor-clad human space soldier fights alien hordes in sprawling single and online multiplayer battles. Shane Kim, corporate vice president for Microsoft Game Studios, predicted sales would surpass those of Halo 2, which the company claims reached $125-million within the first 24 hours in 2004. The announcement comes as a "beta, " or test version, of "Halo 3" is being offered to consumers through June 6, allowing players to test out some of the game's multiplayer features ahead of schedule. Halo 3 prices will range from $59.99 to $129.99.

Yahoo your way around Europe ...

Yahoo Inc.'s online mapping service in the United States is now giving driving directions in 34 European countries as part of an upgrade aimed at luring traffic away from rivals AOL and Google Inc. Besides guiding U.S. motorists around Europe for the first time, Yahoo said it also will feature more landmarks and other visual cues to help people find their way around neighborhoods. In April, AOL's industry-leading Mapquest service attracted 49.2-million U.S. visitors, a 3 percent increase from last year, while traffic to Google's maps surged 49 percent to 30.8-million visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix. Meanwhile, U.S. traffic to Yahoo maps declined 5 percent to 29.4-million.

... While Google offers a universe

Google Inc., the most-used Internet search engine, will include images, book excerpts, news and video in its search results as part of a new program called Universal Search. Information included in Web search results will also include maps, local businesses and YouTube videos, Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products, said today at a briefing for reporters at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. "We can provide a much more holistic answer, " Mayer said. The company has developed a new set of formulas to determine where information appears on the page, she said.

FedEx to deliver with hybrid vans

FedEx Express is working with Azure Dynamics Corp. to develop a hybrid-electric power train for delivery vans, the shipping company said. After the development phase of the project, FedEx expects to buy at least 20 preproduction Ford E-450 delivery vans by next May.

IBM data lost in low-tech fashion

IBM Corp., one of the world's leading providers of encryption and other data-management technologies, is in the uncomfortable position of trying to solve its own mystery involving missing computer tapes with sensitive information about employees, including Social Security numbers, birth dates and IBM employment dates, as well as records of customer transactions. An outside vendor was transporting the tapes from one IBM facility to another on Feb. 23 when the tapes fell out of a contractor's vehicle in Westchester County, N.Y., just outside IBM's headquarters in Armonk.