Microsoft to tighten ties with Facebook chat?Steve Ballmer implies (oh so subtly) full interoperability between Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger.

Intel to sink funds into factories — Despite the downturn, the giant earmarks $7 billion for its chip manufacturing plants over the next two years.

Obama anoints Melissa Hathaway cybersecurity czar — The former aide to president Bush’s intelligence director plans to evaluate current measures to secure government networks from spies and terrorists.

Cisco’s on the hunt for acquisitions — With $30 billion on hand (more than any other technology company), Cisco is hungry for acquisitions, especially in the consumer electronics market.

Intel’s new Itanium late to the party — Now 10-years-old, the lackluster Itanium will see a new version . . . about six months late (or 18 months, based on when it was first announced).

N.J. utility shines on solar — Public Service Electric and Gas, the largest utility company in New Jersey, plans to install solar panels on 200,000 power line poles over the next five years.

TotalMusic finally shutters — Sony BMG and Universal Music Group have pulled the plug on their innovative music streaming service, deeming it too speculative for the tough-knocks economy.

Tech capital still flowing across the pond — 2008 saw the highest level of investment in UK and Irish tech companies since the dot-com bust of 2001, just over 1 billion pounds.

Google TV Ads catch up with DVRs — The AdWords channel that lets advertisers buy and measure response to TV commercials can now provide viewership data for time-shifted programs.

IBM unveils more efficient infrastructure offerings — The computing giant says its new offerings will help clients build more integrated, efficient and even eco-friendly infrastructures.

VC Stephen Fowler is most hated man in America after appearance on Wife Swap — The former Aspen Ventures general partner apologizes for his bad behavior on the reality show and, oddly, resigns from the boards of two environmental nonprofits. Valleywag has more.

iRobot founder spins off new startup — Helen Greiner, co-founder of iRobot, has launched a stealthy new venture called The Droid Works to work on unmanned aerial vehicles.

VUDU slashes set-top box price — The company has halved prices on both models of its movie set-top box from $299 to $149 and from $999 to $499, respectively.

Pikum plays its last hand — The online social gaming startup has shut its doors despite $5.92 million in capital from Virgin USA and First Round Capital.