Silicon Valley Morning Briefs

NYT confirms pay scheme
The New York Times on Wednesday confirmed reports it would start charging for access:  "Starting in early 2011, visitors to will get a certain number of articles free every month before being asked to pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the newspaper’s print edition will receive full access to the site."

WFC Makes Surprise Profit
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo announced this morning that it made a surprise profit in the fourth quarter, pulling in $394 million. This time last year the bank lost hundreds of billions in the same timeframe. Wells Fargo says its still dealing with bad loans but said it thinks the "the worst of the cycle is over."

President Obama of course has said he thinks banks that took TARP money should have those profits taxed.  Wells Fargo took - and repaid - TARP money though it probably did not need any emergency funds; the Treasury Department at the time "asked" many large banks - even healthy ones -  to take relief funds to essentially mask the banks that were in far more trouble.

Critics point out a special tax on bank profits is a punishment on the very banks that are doing the thing the TARP was *designed* to do - bring them back to health.

Microsoft to Issue IE Patch
Microsoft will announce more detail this morning about a patch for its Internet Explorer Web browser. There's growing evidence that Chinese hackers used a hole in MSIE to attack Google and other Silicon Valley companies.

There are often "holes" found in software, and Microsoft has a routine patch schedule. This new patch will be issued before the next scheduled software update.

Kids These Days
The Kaiser Foundation studied the behavior of children and found they interact with an electronic device for ALL OF THEIR WAKING HOURS.  Any moment not in school or sleeping is spent at least in part texting, listening to music, playing a video game, etc.

It's an interesting study, and I'm not sure most adults wouldn't have similar behavior.  I'm online for my entire 8 hour work shift, and then I drive home listening to podcasts on my car's iPod which I downloaded on the internet.  My car is able to tell me the traffic conditions and I can even pull up live weather radar through the Ford Sync system.  When I arrive home I fire up Pandora.  We used to think of "going online" as the beep-boop of a modem on computer.  Now I'm online all my waking hours.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is finally on Twitter, going from zero to 100,000 followers Tuesday afternoon alone. Far more interesting than who follows him is who *he* follows.  For instance, Ina Freid, reporter for CNET (she covers Microsoft full time) and weirdly enough Ashley Tisdale.

eBay will report profits after the closing bell this afternoon.  Just as interesting as how much money the company will make is the conference call after.  How will executives position the company?  Can they make eBay a household name again?  Where does the company fit in a world of and Craigslist?

Thanks for the (Dram) Memories
Samsung will pay Los Altos based Rambus oodles of money to settle a lisencing/patent issue before the whole thing goes to court.  $200M and a quarterly payment of about $25M for the next five years.  Rambus execs will have a conference call at 3 p.m. our time

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