Friday, June 05
Broadcasting & Cable hears word that the confirmation hearing for Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s pick for FCC chair, may happen on June 16th.
Thursday, June 04
The New York Times “Bits” blog landed an interview with new U.S. C.T.O. Aneesh Chopra. The full interview should be checked out, but this section is worth highlighting:
When I asked about his goals for the job, Mr. Chopra walked over to his desk and grabbed one page of what appeared from a distance to be a PowerPoint deck, which he described as “my ‘theory of the case’ document.” It listed Mr. Chopra’s four objectives, as presented recently to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. They were:
Economic growth through innovation
Addressing presidential priorities through innovation platforms
Building the next-generation digital infrastructure
Fostering a culture of open and innovative government
Yet more evidence that the Obama administration is serious about bringing broadband to every corner of America.
In far happier—if disastrous for productivity—anniversary news, this week marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of Tetris. Scientific American marks the occasion:
Creator Alexey Pajitnov at the Moscow Academy of Science programmed the iconic falling-block game in June 1984 for a Soviet computer system called Electronika, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Reuters news agency cites June 6 as the date that the first playable version of the game was born.
“The program wasn’t complicated,” Pajitnov told the U.K.‘s Guardian newspaper. “There was no scoring, no levels. But I started playing and I couldn’t stop. That was it.”
As usage goes up, so do the number of domain names added to the wilds of the Internet. In fact, a new report from Verisign finds that at the end of the first quarter of 2009, there were 183 million domain names registered—an increase of 12% over 2008.
Via USA Today comes new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau on Internet use. The numbers are quite impressive:
According to a new report by the Census Bureau, Internet use tripled from 1997 to 2007.
Sixty-two percent of U.S. households used the Internet from home; 18% did that in 1997.
Among those using the Internet in 2007, 82% did so using a high-speed connection. Just 17% used dial-up.
Some more findings: Mississippi and West Virginia rank lowest when it comes to Internet use, and just 19% of people without a high school diploma are online.
Twenty years ago today, pro-democracy student protesters were crushed by the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square.
In leading up to the anniversary, the government had started blocking such popular social networking sites as Twitter and Flickr, fearing that the protests would flare up again. But as the Guardian UK reports, such censorship hasn’t stopped an online protest from taking place:
Chinese internet users are rebelling against an internet crackdown brought in on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Twenty years after the pro-democracy protests that claimed the lives of hundreds – or even thousands – of unarmed civilians in Beijing, a number of websites appear to be making a veiled protest at state censorship by referring to the date sarcastically as “Chinese Internet Maintenance Day”.
Wednesday, June 03
With the $7 billion in grants marked for broadband expansion now delayed, the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners is asking the government to let individual states have a seat at the table in order to address their specific needs. Reports InformationWeek:
NARUC leaders wrote to leaders at the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) on Friday, asking them to consult with states to make sure that stimulus funds flow quickly.
“The recent announcement that funds are now targeted to be released at the end of the year has an unfortunate and undoubtedly unforeseen unfair impact on grant proposals,” they wrote. “By December winter conditions in many states will, at a minimum, certainly inhibit construction activity. It appears this delay in releasing the funds is related to perceived difficulties in processing and reviewing the anticipated flood of applications each agency is likely to receive.”
NARUC said the states could help speed up the process, but without their help federal organizations will struggle to effectively review thousands of applications that are expected to pour in.
This concern about weather affecting buildout was addressed by Goeff Daily of App-Rising back in February, when he wrote:
I have a serious problem with us accepting that half a year is the best we can possibly hope for. Why? Because I’m a Minnesotan by birth so I know that if money doesn’t get out until August or September that means very little broadband’s going to be deployed this year. Why? Because it gets very cold in Minnesota very early.
We need to recognize that for the northern third of the country you can’t lay a lot of broadband in the winter and it’s winter from at least October until April.
If we’re going to get any stimulus effect out of these dollars this year we need to find a way to make capital available right away so that shovel-ready projects can start deploying immediately.
When it comes to major government projects, delays are inevitable. But regional weather patterns are, for the most part, predictable, and should certainly be taken into consideration when federal grants are applied.
A new report out of U.C. Berkeley finds that despite privacy policies, a number of companies and online services are enjoying loopholes in order to gather information from users. The San Francisco Business Times reports:
Using trackers called “web bugs,” third parties collect user data from many popular web sites, and sites often allow this, even though their privacy policies say they don’t share user data with others.
“Web bugs from Google and its subsidiaries were found on 92 of the top 100 Web sites and 88 percent of the approximately 400,000 unique domains examined in the study,” the authors found.
Sites with the most web bugs were for blogging — blogspot and typepad were No. 1 and No. 2 on the list in March, and blogger was No. 4. Google itself was No. 3.
Online advertising depends on a certain amount of user information. But as the advertising medium matures, the only privacy fight is only going to become more intense.
As broadband makes the leap from computers to televisions, social networking sites are finding room to expand. Case in point: Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that its popular video game console Xbox 360 will soon offer Facebook and Twitter access, allowing gamers to tweet and update their status while their shoot aliens and crash cars.
Cellphones and other distractions have long been the scourge of educators. But one professor at the University of Texas at Dallas is embracing, of all things, Twitter. Read Write Web has the scoop:
Teachers are always trying to combat student apathy and University of Texas at Dallas History Professor, Monica Rankin, has found an interesting way to do it using Twitter in the classroom.
Rankin uses a weekly hashtag to organize comments, questions and feedback posted by students to Twitter during class. Some of the students have downloaded Tweetdeck to their computers, others post by SMS or by writing questions on a piece of paper. Rankin then projects a giant image of live Tweets in the front of the class for discussion and suggests that students refer back to the messages later when studying.