Wednesday, March 25
The Obama administration, expanding on its pledge to use the Internet in order to hear the concerns of citizens, has started a web page allowing Americans to submit questions. From the web page:
The White House is open for questions.
We invite you to participate in our community-moderated online town hall. Submit your own question about the economy and vote on submissions from others. We also encourage you to include a link to a video of yourself asking your question (ideally 30 seconds or less), but text submissions are all you need. Come back on Thursday to watch the President answer some of the most popular submissions live at WhiteHouse.gov.
At the moment, over 17,000 questions have already been submitted.
In an attempt to remain competitive with NetFlix, Blockbuster Video has penned a deal with TiVo to bring streaming movie rentals to TVs. Via Ars Technica:
Blockbuster has hopped on the TiVo bandwagon to bring Blockbuster’s digital movie library directly to the popular media center. The companies announced Wednesday that Blockbuster’s OnDemand service would be integrated into TiVo Series 2, Series 3, HD, and HD XL units in order to offer content for rental and purchase. To balance out the deal, TiVo DVRs will be sold at Blockbuster stores throughout the US and on Blockbuster’s website.
Blockbuster CEO Jim Keys elaborated on the companies’ joint plans for the future. “Ultimately, our vision is to work with TiVo so that their subscribers can access movies not only through our OnDemand service but also from our stores and through our by-mail service as well,” Keyes said in a statement. “Regardless of a film’s availability—through VOD or on DVD—we want to work with TiVo to provide their subscribers unprecedented access to movie content.”
China, long at the forefront of blocking the Internet form its citizens, has once apparently blocked YouTube — again. The reason, the BBC reports, are videos that show Chinese police beating Tibetan monks and other civilians.
Tuesday, March 24
While Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo duke it out for video game console space in living rooms, a new start-up is hoping consumers will ditch game boxes altogether. Via the New York Times “Bits” blog:
Steve Perlman wants you to throw away your video game console.
Later on Tuesday, Mr. Perlman, a Silicon Valley veteran who is a former principal scientist at Apple and the founder of WebTV, will unveil his new company, OnLive, which he says has the potential to radically transform the $46 billion worldwide video game market.
When it begins operations later this year, OnLive will offer subscribers a selection of video games that are hosted online and can be played on at any time, on any television or computer — Macintosh or PC — including low-cost computers without sophisticated graphics chips. (To play on the TV, people will need a small, hand-size micro-console, which OnLive says it may give away free.)
Digital distribution of video games — long desired by game developers, since it would pretty much kill the lucrative used games industry that they receive no revenue from — has been coming for a while now. OnLive might just kick the shift into high gear.
President Obama has picked Democrat Jonathan Adelstein to oversee the distribution of $2.5 billion in grants and loans to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas.
Monday, March 23
With smartphones gradually taking over the phone marketplace, allowing people to jump on the Internet no matter where they are, it’s becoming more challenging for parents to monitor what their children see and do while online. Enter an innovative new application for the iPhone which, as Read Write Web reports, makes “net nanny” software portable:
For $14.99, the iWonder application doesn’t just block web sites, it also lets parents see exactly what sites their children visit. Parents can view this data remotely from either their iPhone or their home computer (Mac or PC). The application also integrates technology developed by Life Record Inc. for iWonder which allows parents to simply touch a button in order to shut down the device from afar.
The company touts that their software can even save a child’s life: “For example, if you see traffic from your child’s iPhone or iPod touch looking for information on suicide, explosives or other alarming material you will know instantly. If your child is on My Space and is talking to a pedophile, you will see the profile of that person, and any activity between them and your child.”
While that may be true in a handful of cases, for most kids, just knowing there is a monitoring application on their device will probably keep them out of trouble on the net, the same as with a monitored home PC.
As Hollywood struggles with the problem of digital piracy, independent filmmakers turning it into a tactic. Via TechDirt:
It looks like yet another filmmaker has realized that obscurity is a much bigger threat than piracy. Matthew Krum lets us know that the makers of the movie BLANK have decided to release the movie on all torrent sites, while also offering up a DVD version and a donation offering on their site.
Yet another example of the rise of broadband turning traditional marketing and distribution models on their heads.
Nearly half of high school graduates who had computers and Internet access at home went on to college. Among students who didn’t have computers and Internet access, the college enrollment rate fell to one in four.
“Bringing Broadband to the Urban Poor,” CIO Today, January 5, 2009.
More facts about broadband and education.
Friday, March 20
Last week social networking behemoth Facebook made a major update to the homepages of its users. Since then, an application has been making the rounds asking users how they feel about it. The current results, Read Write Web points out, aren’t pretty:
When Facebook updated its users’ homepages last week, we already wondered how users would react to these changes. After all, when Facebook introduced the news feed in 2006, its users were anything but happy about this change. Now, a new application is quickly spreading on Facebook that allows users to vote on the new design. This application is not endorsed by Facebook, but the current vote totals are quite interesting: 43,000 users liked the new layout, while almost 700,000 users said that they did not like it.
The FCC has released the agenda for its April 8 open meeting, and a national broadband plan is item #1. As Ars Technica reports:
The FCC will launch a Notice of Inquiry asking for comments on how to put together a National Broadband Plan. This is a requirement of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with its $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus bucks. The law says that the plan must “seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal.”
And so the document should contain a “detailed strategy” for making broadband affordable, the Act says, plus an assessment of the current state of broadband access, and “a plan for use of broadband infrastructure and services in advancing”—take a deep breath here—“consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purposes.”
Interim FCC Chair Michael Copps is quite excited about the production of this behemoth, as evident from his statement last week, in which he pretty much invited the entire population of the United States to weigh in on the matter. “This will be a truly inclusive process,” he declared, adding that “‘all’ must mean everyone.”
See also this report from GigaOm.