[US]$200 bottle of champagne from Hooters and [US]$300 worth of "Girls Gone Wild" videos were among items bought with debit cards handed out by FEMA to help hurricane victims, auditors probing [US]$1 billion in potential waste and fraud have found.
The cards -- given to people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- also bought diamond jewelry and a vacation in the Dominican Republic, according to the Government Accountability Office audit.
More and full (gory) details at CNN.com's "FEMA hurricane cards bought jewelry, erotica".
We arranged with i-mate to have a Windows Mobile Smartphone sent to us for an on-line auction, with full proceedings going to the US Red Cross. I know, this is not the same, but it makes you think about how governments spend the money they collect from you through taxes.
What's the New Zealand equivalent to this?
The New Zealand government is currently sitting on a US$8.5 billion surplus. Are we paying too much tax?
The folks at Ilium Software have released a simple to use on-line password generator called PassBuilder, where you specify parameters and a new password will be created specially for your use.
And once you have lots of different password, do yourself a favour and use eWallet (for Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Smartphone, with desktop versions included) so you have all those different passwords handy.
The service streams live UK TV over the Internet, including BBC1, BBC2, itv and Channel 4. This costs US$45/month.
Not cheap, but I can watch the matches from my PC at home while working on Geekzone. And cheaper than having a new channel installed just for this month. Oh, and I can watch anywhere where I have a laptop with me.
I also have to test this with the Pocket PC - although something tells me that the DRM license acquisition may be a problem on those devices. And Wi-Fi would probably suck the device's battery if used during the 90 minutes match.
Anyone else using this will feel the Wrath of Khan.
If you are running Microsoft Windows Vista and you keep seeing those dialogs requesting for privilege elevation or authentication, run SECPOL.MSC, and under security options change both User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for Administrators in Admin Approval Mode and User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for standard users to "No Prompt":
Again, this is very important to note: there is a reason why these settings are like they are and request your confirmation. I understand that after a while the default settings (with prompts) will not prevent people installing malware, simply because people will start clicking [OK] for any prompt to get their work done.
But I also understand these prompts are annoying, when you are trying to empty the Recycle Bin, or simply start Windows Vista with an antivirus (Avast anti-virus is an example of program that cause Windows Vista to prompt for elevation on every boot).
If you want to know exactly what each option is, how an why they are set the way they are by default, check these two MSDN blog entries:
- Reducing Elevation Prompts in RC1
- User Account Control Windows Vista Policies
Due the HUGE number of people who are trying to download the Vista beta, Microsoft is now highly recommending that you order the DVD.
It looks like Vista has generated the most download requests for one file in history. This is a limited beta, so if that limit is reached before you get the download and key, you might not get it.
1) We are hitting a legitimate threshold as to how fast we can serve up the bits without affecting the rest of the Net.
2) People should consider ordering the DVD. While we are excited to see the huge demand, this is more about being good citizens and helping users who are waiting know they can order the DVD.
You can register, order the DVD or download Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 here.
The implication here is that US-based providers will be able to differentiate traffic based on their own requirements, and according to some defending the principle this could impact on smaller websites and services, which could not compete with larger organisations if everything came down to money - paying to have your traffic flowing ahead of the competition.
"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google...are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.
For Americans, you can read more about this issue and outcomes here.
We have some Net Neutrality experience here in New Zealand, but not all is neutral. Some ISPs decided to peer with others and exchange traffic, through the Wellington Internet Exchange and others (Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin and more on the way). This guarantees a faster flow of data inside the country.
The problem is that not all ISPs agreed to peer, or decided to remove themselves from the peering exchanges. The results is that some of the New Zealand national traffic is actually routed somewhere overseas before coming back, making the whole Internet a lot slower for users here.
I know that two largest ISPs in New Zealand, Xtra and TelstraClear, are not peering, which may well cause delays in national traffic for the majority of Internet users in this country.
For example, when I try to see a stream from the Citylink Wellington Webcams I am actually greeted with a page explaining how sorry they are, explaining:
The various webcams that Citylink runs generate significant data traffic - during the day, about 20Mb/s, at night, about 10Mb/s. At peak times, it has moved as much as 700Mb/s of data. In the past, Citylink has incurred significant costs in delivering content from the webcams to users. I've been told never to let that happen again.
Thus, it has become necessary for Citylink to configure some of our services such that we don't run up a bill, by limiting access only to ISP's that choose to peer on WIX. These are generally high volume, low financial return services that are provided to encourage a competitive, vibrant and strong telecommunications and information technology industry.
Shame, really, because these decisions impact in the overall Internet usability in both cases.
The software runs on Windows Mobile and completely integrates with the web-based Newsgator feedreader. It means that you can have all your Newsgator subscription being synchronised between the mobile device and the web-hosted RSS feedreader, replicating the Read status between device and on-line version.
The software has been under development by the guys behind Smartread, bought by Newsgator earlier this year.
You can download the beta now. I run my own Newsgator Enterprise Server (NGES), and apparently the NGES has all the same APIs as the public server, so in theory a future version of this software could even synchronise with NGES too.
Currently I synchronise the Newsgator Enterprise Server with my Exchange Server, so I get all my feeds on my Pocket PC through ActiveSync. The result is the same in terms of synchronisation, etc - but not everyone can run this platform, so the Newsgator Mobile software is perfect for users of the web-based Newsgator service.
Also this is a most important issue, as explained in the letter.
Dear AdSense Publisher,
There's a debate heating up in Washington, DC on something called "net neutrality" – and the outcome of this debate may very well impact your business. Therefore, we are taking the unprecedented steps of calling your attention to this looming crisis and asking you to get involved.
Sometime in the next few days, the House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the Internet. That bill would give the big phone and cable companies the power to choose what you will be able to see and do on the Internet.
Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access to everyone else. On the Internet, a business doesn't need the network's permission to communicate with a customer or deploy an innovative new service. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all broadband Internet access, want the power to choose who gets onto the high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build tollbooths to block the on-ramps for those whom they don't want to compete with and who can't pay this new Internet tax. Money and monopoly, not ideas and independence, will be the currency of their Internet.
Under the proposed "pay-to-play" system, small- and medium-sized businesses will be placed at an automatic disadvantage to their larger competitors. Those who cannot afford the new Internet tax – or who want to compete directly with the phone and cable companies – will be marginalized by slower Internet access that will inevitably make their sites less accessible, and therefore less appealing.
Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight. Imagine an Internet in which your access to customers is constrained by your ability to cut a deal with the carriers. Please call your representative in Congress at 202-224-3121. For more information on the issue, and more ways to make your voice be heard, visit www.ItsOurNet.org.
Thank you for your time, your concern and your support.
CEO of Google Inc.
P.S. -- If you are unsure of who represents you in Congress, you can look them up by zip code at http://www.house.gov. And if you would like to stay informed about this issue, and other policy issues affecting Google, you can opt-in to our policy mailing list at http://groups-beta.google.com/group/googlepolicy/subscribe (powered by Google Groups).
You can also find out more about this on this Google page on Net Neutrality.
All other search engines together had 7% of the total search market.
The report says
Google continues to lead the three major search engine providers in market share of executed searches, garnering more than half of the total volume of searches in May for the U.S. As the volume of searches stabilizes across the top three search engines, the battle to supplement search with additional services and win the loyalty of Internet users becomes critical.
Google Spreadsheet, Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Earth, Google Finance, Google Video, Google Talk, Google Pack, Google Analytics, Google Blogger, Google Page Creator and more...
The message would be delivered instantly or a scheduled retry would kick in. Then SMS came into CDMA world, and Quickchat was all but (almost) forgotten. It is still alive (I think) and the web page is still there. I even met some people during some Windows Mobile User Group meetings that actually prefer to use Quickchat than SMS. It's voice after all, with all the impressions and nuances this medium provide, not the cold SMS lingo.
I also worked in another project, for a Latin American telco, where one could send a SMS to any number, and a text-to-speech engine would deliver it as a voice message, with the same scheduled retry idea.
Skip 9 years, and I see this press release:
Glenayre Messaging, a division of Glenayre Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEMS) and a global leader in providing next-generation messaging solutions and enhanced services, announced that VoiceSMS capability will be available on its leading Versera ICE(tm) next-generation messaging platform in the third quarter of 2006. Versera(r) VoiceSMS combines the fidelity of voice mail with the ease of SMS, which allows subscribers to move beyond the limitations of text messaging and provides a new and richer communications experience. The company will demonstrate Versera VoiceSMS for the first time at the CommunicAsia exhibition in Singapore, June 20-23, 2006. (Glenayre stand 4E3-01).
With VoiceSMS, subscribers simply dial a short code and a destination phone number then leave a voice message in an easier and faster way than typing out an entire message on the mobile keypad. The recipient gets an SMS message notifying them that they have a VoiceSMS message, which can be played by selecting the link provided in the SMS message.
Oh well... Reinventing the wheel, add a couple of bells, and we have a new car, right?