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Less Government and StopNetRegulation.org report that the recent publication of the Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality regulations in the Federal Register is the final step towards illegal implementation on Nov. 20.
Last December, the FCC imposed new job-killing regulations – without Congress ever writing law giving them the authority to do so. The Commissioners also did so in defiance of the D.C. Circuit Court, which just eight months earlier unanimously ruled that the FCC doesn’t have the authority.
Arm yourself with more information, then call your congressman. Pronto.
Stung by a Stingray
Meet the Stingray. This one’s not a sea creature. It’s one of many new law enforcement technologies being employed to track you, often without a search warrant.
The use of the Stingray is prompting constitutional debates about whether the Fourth Amendment is keeping up with the times. The cell phone tracking device will pinpoint a mobile phone even when it’s not being used on a call.
Meanwhile, in a somewhat related story, as the FBI currently investigates allegations that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. might have hacked the phones of 9/11 attack victims, U.S. Sen. John Rockefeller, chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, is calling for an investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to determine if any U.S. laws were broken. News Corp is the parent company of Fox News and several newspapers. Phone hacking … hmmm … Stingray?
Facebook will decide which posts are important to you
Do you want Facebook selecting what’s worth reading from all your friends’ updates? According to Facebook engineering manager Mark Tonkelowitz, that’s exactly what Facebook is doing with its newly revamped home page. It provides a news feed that determines which of your friends’ updates will be “featured at the top” of your page.
As Facebook continues to evolve, Tonkelowitz explains, “When you pick up a newspaper after not reading it for a week, the front page quickly clues you into the most interesting stories. In the past, News Feed hasn’t worked like that.” But now, “all your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top.”
The change was met with mixed reviews. However, Ticker, another new feature might quell complaints.
Tonkelowitz wrote: “Ticker shows you the same stuff you were already seeing on Facebook, but it brings your conversations to life by displaying updates instantaneously. Now when a friend comments, asks a question or shares something like a check in, you’ll be able to join the conversation right away. Click on anything in ticker to see the full story and chime in – without losing your place.”
Also, Facebook has increased its character limit on posts to 5,000 and has rolled out a floating navigation bar.
Google: Internet Goliath?
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt did his best last week to convince a panel of U.S. senators that Google is not unfairly using its dominance to smother competition. Schmidt told the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee that despite accusations, the company isn’t barring competition via its search algorithm that determines which Web pages are listed first.
Schmidt hoped to convince both legislators and regulators that Google’s growing business portfolio should not be restricted, even as its business practices are undergoing Federal Trade Commission scrutiny. Schmidt reportedly argued that its business expansions are “legal and good for consumers.”
The former Google CEO’s testimony took place on Capitol Hill last Wednesday. One Google critic and competitor said Google has been anti-competitive. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman argued that Google rigs search results and claimed the company has abused its market dominance in the search arena.
Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah said, “Google is in a position to determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet. In the words of the head of the Google’s search ranking team, Google is the biggest kingmaker on Earth.”
Up to 70 percent of all Internet searches by computers and 95 percent of mobile searches are done by Google, percentages that could be considered monopolistic under current regulations.
We’re keeping an eye on this.
End of spoken phone conversations?
A recent study shows that most adults prefer to text their messages rather than have an actual conversation. Why? Is communication evolving? Or do we avoid confrontation?
Conducted by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the study revealed that one out of three adult cell phone users who use text messaging prefer to be contacted via text when someone wants to reach them.
“Young adults are the most avid texters by a wide margin,” the study found. “Cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day – that works out to more than 3,200 texts per month – and the typical or median cell owner in this age group sends or receives 50 messages per day (or 1,500 messages per month).”
Share a photo via text message!
From the Twitter Blog: “Sending a text message (or SMS message) is one of the easiest ways to share information. SMS is currently available in about 80 countries and nine languages and usage continues to grow. Nearly four billion SMS messages are sent and received on Twitter every month.”
Now you can share your photos on Twitter via text message. Just enter the text of your Tweet as you normally would, attach a photo to the message and send to Twitter. This feature is currently available with AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Cellular South in the U.S.; Vodafone, O2 and Orange in the U.K.; Vodafone Italy; Rogers Communications in Canada; VIVA Bahrain; and TIM Brazil.
Savor the irony
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the man responsible for the high-profile leaking of secret U.S. government files, wants to block the publication of his own – wait for it … unauthorized autobiography.
Unauthorized autobio? Yep. Evidently Assange hired a ghostwriter to pen his memoirs and then changed his mind about publishing it.
According to a CSM report, “The decision to publish the unauthorized autobiography is the result of a contractual dispute. The 40-year-old founder of WikiLeaks sold Canongate the rights to his memoir last year and began working with a ghostwriter on the book. Canongate sold rights to more than 30 publishers around the world, including Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. Meanwhile, Assange recorded more than 50 hours of interviews about his life. At the time, Assange had said he hoped the book would be ‘one of the unifying documents of our generation.'”
Canongate Books, an independent British publisher, released “Julian Assange: the Unauthorized Autobiography,” last week against Assange’s wishes.
Between its covers: “Assange’s life from his Australian childhood to his time as a teenage computer hacker to the founding of his controversial website and subsequent legal troubles.”
The Financial Times noted the irony “that the operator of the world’s largest whistleblowing site, responsible for releasing hundreds of thousands of secret documents, will himself find his private comments aired in public is likely to raise a smile among diplomats and politicians around the world.”
Sometimes it feels like somebody’s watching me
“Somebody’s Watching Me” was the debut single by R&B artist Rockwell, released on the Motown label in 1984. The song’s lyrics related the narrator’s paranoid fear of being followed and watched. It featured former Motown artists Michael Jackson on the chorus and Jermaine Jackson on additional backing vocals. – Wikipedia
Those who had concerns that OnStar had too much power in its ability to track cars, monitor conversations and even shut off the car’s engine were right. The system does watch you.
And last week, GM announced that its GPS system still “watches” car owners even after they’ve canceled their OnStar service.
According to Wired, Adam Denison, a spokesman for the General Motors subsidiary said, “What’s changed [is that if] you want to cancel your OnStar service, we are going to maintain a two-way connection to your vehicle unless the customer says otherwise.”
Info collected may be shared with law enforcement agencies, other public safety agencies, credit card companies, and third-party marketing groups. OnStar video?
A bite at the Apple on October 4
I love Pandora! I have mine tuned to Antonio Vivaldi Music for hours of classical music enjoyment. And now, after more than a year of planning, design, engineering and beta testing, the online music channel has launched a brand new website. The cool blue redesign features HTML5 and unlimited free listening. Other features include simplified station creation; shared music with friends; enhanced listener profiles and a new music feed; a prominent new “share” button; stations with their own URLs; improved control; a new shuffle feature; and enhanced artist information.
Bits & Bytes
Better late than never?
In the “How did we miss this?” department, last June TIME magazine came out with its list of Best Blogs for 2011. Best sites, best Twitter feeds, Twitter controversies – everything is included, from politics to pop, tech to travel. In short, whatever TIME determines to be the … well, the best.
My “top website” – c’est magnifique!
Every now and then we come across a website worth mentioning. Kuriositas is one of them. It features a variety of interesting curiosities found in animations, architecture, art, places, nature, science, space and things just for fun.
A recent post about astronomical timepieces of Europe is as instructive as it is beautiful. And check out the underground salt mine near Krakow, Poland. Though subterranean, it is positively celestial, complete with rock salt crystal chandeliers. You’ll spend some time here, so get comfy before you click. Oh, one more thing: While you’re there, be sure to read about the stumbling blocks.
The Time Capsule
Now playing at the Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.
Congratulations to WND readers Ruth Fennell of Gallatin, Tenn., and Janice Horne of Lebanon, Tenn., who were among the first to correctly guess actor John Travolta in his portrayal of Gov. Jack Stanton in the 1998 movie “Primary Colors.” Directed by Mike Nichols, and nominated for two Oscars, the film also starred Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates. Adapted from a novel by Joe Klein, “Primary Colors” is the tale of a southern governor (a thinly veiled caricature of Bill Clinton) who is running for president. The story is told from the perspective of Henry Burton (played by Adrian Lester), a young African-American who is Stanton’s campaign manager.
The quote was: “I’m going to tell you something really outrageous. I’m going to tell you the truth.”
This week’s quote: “But because the government considers you children who might be too disturbed or distressed to face this reality, or because you might possibly lynch those involved, you cannot see these documents for another 75 years.”
Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Please be sure to add your town and state. Good luck!