Microsoft has struggled to recruit board members in the past, perhaps because it's a demanding job and the board is held accountable for...

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Microsoft has struggled to recruit board members in the past, perhaps because it’s a demanding job and the board is held accountable for antitrust violations.

But the company apparently found a way to fill the seats: It’s giving board members computers, Xboxes, software and peripherals.

Board members are getting up to $10,000 worth of goodies a year, in addition to the Tablet PCs they get to use while serving on the board, according to the proxy statement filed last week.

“Each year directors also may receive an additional personal computing device and a game device, each with associated peripherals, and Microsoft software and subscription services with an aggregate value up to $10,000,” the proxy says.

There’s more than swag, of course. Board members also get $50,000 a year, 4,000 shares of stock and an extra $10,000 if they serve on the audit committee or chair any of the committees.

Help wanted

Now that Kai-Fu Lee has a judge’s permission to begin working for Google in China, one of his first tasks will likely be weeding through more than 1,000 résumés.

Broadband spreads

About 42 percent of Americans have access to broadband connections at home as of August.

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

That many were sent to Google within five hours of an online posting that listed job openings at Google’s research and development center in Beijing, Chinese media reported last week. Among the openings: software engineer, product manager, wireless developer and China PR manager.

Google lifts gag

It seems Google is talking to online news outlet Cnet, after banning any communications with its reporters for more than two months (and threatening a yearlong blackout).

Google imposed the ban in retaliation for a story about the kinds of personal information available through a Google search, including the home address of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Maybe Google is starting to act like the 7-year-old company it is, instead of just a 7-year-old.

Then again, maybe not.

Google is planning a partner forum for 400 people later this month in Mountain View, according to the Search Engine Watch newsletter. Along with the heads of major companies, plenty of journalists and bloggers have been invited, but no news coverage of the event is actually permitted.

Hoop games

T-Mobile USA is finally getting some game.

Today, the Bellevue-based wireless provider is announcing a marketing partnership with the NBA and WNBA that includes T-Mobile promotions at games and basketball-related content on mobile phones.

T-Mobile’s deal comes in just after the buzzer: CTIA’s Wireless IT & Entertainment Show in San Francisco, the highly attended wireless industry conference that generated a flurry of news and deals, wrapped up Thursday.

Among other things at the show, Sprint talked about a relationship with the NFL that would enable subscribers to easily get team and game information. And ESPN showed off an upcoming sports-driven phone it’s about to market.

Nano no-no

Apple Computer‘s new iPod nano hit the market to rave reviews, but after a few weeks in a backpack or pocket, customers complained about scratched and broken screens.

Apple has offered to replace devices with broken screens and suggests buying a case to protect against scratching.

The nano is no hit with Motorola CEO Ed Zander, who vented to Macworld, “What the hell does a nano do?” or Microsoft division Co-President Jim Allchin, who complained that his lasted only one day.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or