Microsoft's MSN division has quietly launched a blog-aggregating service, called MSN Filter, and hired five freelance journalists to add...

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Microsoft‘s MSN division has quietly launched a blog-aggregating service, called MSN Filter, and hired five freelance journalists to add editorial content in television, technology, music, sports and other areas.


So far, Filter appears to have a lock on dull content. Last week, for example, with the headline “today’s crucial piece of gossip,” Filter disclosed that some newspapers say Jennifer Aniston is rebounding with Vince Vaughn. Crucial gossip?


The technology category was two days late with the news that a Korean man died after a 50-hour video-game marathon.


Filter’s editors are going to have to kick it up a serious notch to compete with all the noise on the Web. Otherwise, its old news and non-crucial gossip will be quickly cast aside.


Tracking workers


We’ve heard about companies recording employees’ keystrokes and Web-surfing habits. The latest trend is installing global satellite tracking systems on workers’ cellphones to monitor their every move.


To track the whereabouts of its plumbers, Roto-Rooter has started distributing GPS-enabled cellphones, according to Workforce Management magazine.


The company has already put the location-tracking devices in the hands of 200 technicians in an effort to shorten response times to customer calls.


In a couple years, Roto-Rooter says, all of its technicians will use the devices. Guess that means no more long coffee breaks at Chotchkies.


New consortium


A group of companies working on technology for radio frequency identification (RFID) — those tiny tags and sensors that help track pets, pallets and people — formed a consortium last week to simplify patent issues and push development forward.


Notably absent from the group was Intermec, a unit of Everett-based Unova and the biggest holder of RFID-related IP.


Intermec has clashed with other RFID companies over use of its patents. In July, the U.S. International Trade Commission sided with Intermec in voting to investigate claims that rival Symbol Technologies infringed Intermec’s patents.


Hot-spot comparison


Seattle may be a hub for wireless hot spots, but it’s not even close to London, Tokyo, Paris and Singapore. Those cities topped the list of places with the most wireless Internet connection points, according to the latest statistics from JiWire.


Download can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.