Holy wheels

Holy wheels
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First Published: Wed, Apr 18 2007. 12 27 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Apr 18 2007. 12 27 AM IST
When buying a used car, you would normally look for accident history, usage pattern, maintenance record and the mileage, right? But what if the car’s previous owner is the current Pope? Would that change your buying pattern in any way?
A 1999 metallic grey Volkswagen Golf that was on sale on eBay was apparently owned by Pope Benedict XVI before he became Pope. Bids on the car surpassed $200,000 (Rs84 lakh), but this was below the undisclosed reserve price (the minimum price that has to be met before a sale is finalized on eBay). As a result, the car remained unsold when the auction ended on Saturday.
The car is currently owned by GoldenPalace.com, a casino based in Texas, US. It had bought the car from a German national in 2005. GoldenPalace.com said it was going to give 40% of the proceeds from the sale to Habitat for Humanity, Great Britain. With the car being in England, the online casino offered to pay for shipping it to the US. The German national had bought the car for a reported $13,500. Its appearance has changed since then; it now has ‘Pope Benedict Mobile’ and advertisement stickers plastered on it.
The auction had seen frenzied bidding, with the price doubling in the last 24 hours. Sources, however, suggested the Pope had not driven the car and did not have a driving licence. His private secretary was said to have bought the car for him in southern Germany, before taking it to the cardinal’s residence in Rome and registering it in his name. Whatever the case, it shows the power of the Internet and how people are willing to pay just about any price for something that has some fame in its history. Honestly, though, this is not a car one would buy, especially at this price. No matter who was the previous owner.
Bye-bye Flash?
Online streaming format wars have been out in the open for a long time, and now, the big daddy of software is entering the fray. Microsoft says it has signed up Major League Baseball, Netflix, a film portal, and others to offer online video and other media content through a new Web browser plug-in that the company is developing for use on Windows and Macintosh computers.
Microsoft says Silverlight will work in Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla Firefox, in addition to Internet Explorer. This cross-platform usability approach is almost a first for Microsoft, which has, till now, concentrated on its own offerings. The plug-in is designed to let browsers run programmes that combine elements of interactive media, animation and online video. The company is working on Silverlight and related design and development tools in competition with Flash and other Adobe Systems technologies. Silverlight is meant to let developers experienced in the company’s .NET system and tools, apply those skills to create new kinds of interactive programmes, said Forest Key, Microsoft product management director. Microsoft says it will release a beta version of the Silverlight plug-in at its MIX conference, which starts later this month. A final release date hasn’t been announced as yet.
Speculation is rife about why anyone would agree to install this instead of, or in addition to, Adobe’s Flash. The biggest reason is that it can stream high-definition video. It’s interesting when HD DVD and Blu-ray battles rage on that Microsoft would take this to the online level. The reason is strong enough, but is it giving Adobe a chance to hit back by the time high definition is truly available for the web?
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First Published: Wed, Apr 18 2007. 12 27 AM IST
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