In the News:


New Google service could compete with PayPal

By Elise Ackerman

Mercury News

In its characteristically understated style, Google has begun offering a new payment option for a handful of people who had listed items for sale on the Google Base posting service, a step that could eventually put the Mountain View Internet giant in direct competition with eBay and PayPal.

The ``Google account'' allows merchants to easily accept payment for creative works ranging from poems to recipes, as well as e-commerce mainstays such as books or collectibles.

In its final form, analysts believe the service could become an alternative to eBay's payment service PayPal, allowing Google to compete with the San Jose company -- one of its biggest advertisers.

``I think the relationship could become more and more strained because Google really has the potential to become the toll bridge to e-commerce,'' said Dan Schatt, senior analyst at Celent, a Boston-based research firm.

But Tom Oliveri, the product marketing manager for Google Base, said Tuesday the payment service was not intended to compete with eBay or PayPal.
These are different products,'' Oliveri said, noting that eBay is purely commercial, while Google Base, which is still in a beta'' testing phase, is more of a free exchange of information.

According to Google, eBay merchants will be able to post information about items they are selling on eBay on Google Base, too. A seller can ask buyers to close the transaction on Google Base, using PayPal or the Google Account -- or direct them to eBay.

``Google is a valuable partner, and we have no reason to believe they won't remain a valuable partner,'' EBay spokesman Hani Durzy said.

Google officials declined to speculate on how the service might develop in the future.

In a statement posted on the company blog, Google said it would ``continue building payment services that meet the needs of Google users and advertisers.''

According to a participant in a recent Google focus group, the company is exploring the option of displaying a small ``G'' next to paid search results to indicate that payment from a Google account would be accepted.

It was unclear whether Google would charge an additional fee for processing the payments.

By expanding the new payment service beyond Google Base, to its regular search service, Google could change its advertising model. Companies currently pay Google each time an interested person clicks on their Google ads, regardless of whether a purchase is made. In theory, analysts say, companies would be willing to pay much more if they knew how many times their ad led to a purchase, essentially turning traditional wide-ranging marketing costs into a per purchase charge.

Schatt said Google doesn't need the payment service itself to be particularly profitable, because the information about the people who use it would be valuable to advertisers.

Elsewhere, Microsoft is planning to roll out a free online classified service code-named ``Expo'' later this spring. Since November, it has been used by Microsoft employees to buy and sell everything from homes to concert tickets and computers, a Microsoft spokesman said.

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Apple-logo.png'Worms' Turn on Apple Macs,Bigger Target as Sales Boom'

Feb. 27 2006
As we had discussed in a previous guest lecture about how to maintain a safe and secure online environment, specifically the use of Apple computers, I found this article to be particularly interesting. It seems there are a number of security risks in the Apple operating system that individuals are exploiting. Click here for the article in its entirety

Users of Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh computers have long enjoyed the technology equivalent of a safe neighborhood, where the viruses and security nuisances that bedevil far more common Windows PCs are practically nonexistent. Now, as the Mac is seeing some of its best sales in years, bad guys appear to be casing the joint.

In the past two weeks, information-security companies like Symantec Inc., Sophos PLC and McAfee Inc. have identified several security issues related to the latest version of Apple's Mac operating system, called OS X. Among the concerns: two "worms," programs written by unknown hackers that were designed to spread themselves to other Macs through Apple's iChat instant-messaging software and Bluetooth wireless-communications capability.
And in a reminder that Macs, like Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software, also contain potentially worrisome security holes, a German graduate student last week discovered a vulnerability in OS X that could let a hacker install potentially damaging code on a Mac through the systems' Safari Web browser.

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Cancer fear curbs college's Wi-Fi

Feb. 23, 2006. 12:47 pm.

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TORONTO, Ontario (Reuters) -- A small Canadian university has ruled out campus-wide wireless Internet access because its president fears the system's electromagnetic forces could pose a risk to students' health.

Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has only a limited Wi-Fi connections at present, in places where there is no fiber-optic Internet connection. And that, according to president Fred Gilbert, is just fine.

"The jury is still out on the impact that electromagnetic forces have on human physiology," Gilbert told a university meeting last month, insisting that university policy would not change while he remained president.

"Some studies have indicated that there are links to carcinogenetic occurrences in animals, including humans, that are related to energy fields associated with wireless hotspots, whether those hotspots are transmissions lines, whether they're outlets, plasma screens, or microwave ovens that leak."

Lakehead University published a transcript of Gilbert's remarks on its Web site. Spokeswoman Eleanor Abaya said the decision not to expand the university's few isolated wireless networks was a "personal decision" by Gilbert.
But the president's stance has prompted a backlash from students and from Canadian health authorities, who say his fears are overdone.

"If you look at the body of science, we're confident that there is no demonstrable health effect or effects from wireless technology," said Robert Bradley, director of consumer and clinical radiation protection at Canada's federal health department.

He said there was no reason to believe that properly installed wireless networks pose a health hazard to computer users.

Adam Krupper, president of the Lakehead students' union, estimated about 1,000 of the school's 7,500 students have laptops that could pick up a wireless signal, and he said students "really, really" want Wi-Fi on campus.

"Considering this is a university known for its great use of technology, it's kind of bad that we can't get Wi-Fi," he said.
Gilbert is a former vice-provost of Colorado State University who holds degrees in biology and zoology. He was previously a zoology professor.

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U.S. firm implants ID chips in workers

Feb. 13, 2006. 02:03

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CINCINNATI — A company that sells surveillance equipment has started implanting tiny identifying devices in employees to allow them access to its secure vaults. The program was described as voluntary and is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, Sean Darks, chief executive of, said today. Darks said three of the company's seven employees, including himself, have been implanted with radio frequency identification chips — known as RFIDs — about the size of a grain of rice. "I have one," Darks said of the implants, first reported by the Financial Times. "I'm not going to ask somebody to do something I wouldn't do myself. None of my employees are forced to get the chip to keep their job." has contracts with six cities to provide cameras and Internet monitoring of high-crime areas, Darks said. The company instituted the RFID program to restrict access to vaults where data and images are kept for police departments, he said. "We've had it for a few months. We're testing it to see the effectiveness," Darks said. The technology predates the Second World War, but has appeared in numerous modern adaptations, such as tracking pets and vehicles. The Mexico attorney general's office implanted RFIDs in some employees in 2004 to restrict access to secure areas. The implants don't enable to track employees' movements, Darks said. "It's a passive chip. It emits no signal whatsoever," Darks said. "It's the same thing as a keycard."


This article is a prime example of what many would consider a violation of privacy. It also addresses the contraversial issue of surviellence. As we have been studying in the course, surveillence premotes the idea of self regulation, in the fear of being monitored. However, this company has taken this idea of surveillance to another level. They started implanting "tiny identifying devices RFID's in their employees to alow them acess into secure valuts". Although they describe this as a volunrary action, I don't know who in their right mind would ever volunteer for such a device. A voluntary action does not say that the employer can then inturn fire any employ that refuses to have the chip implemented. Is it really necessary to go to this extreme? Although the company maintains that it is a "passive chip" one would wonder if the company can moniter actions all hours of the day. One must also look at whether or not these chips that emit radio frequencies can in fact be harmful to an individuals health. There have been studies that show that frequencies emited through cell phones may indeed cause cancer. Can these chips harm our health as well? The reality is that there must be more research done for RFIDs not only for their violation of privacy but also for their health risks.

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The future of e-payments

Special Globe and Mail Update

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Front Lines is a guest viewpoint section offering perspectives on current issues and events from people working on the front lines of Canada's technology industry. Michael Back is president of Collective Point of Sale Solutions, a Canadian provider of payment-processing services and secure point-of-sale systems.

Twenty-five years ago, if someone had told you you'd make all your purchases with a plastic card, let alone your index-finger, you would have called them crazy, but here we are. As a society, Canadians are some of the world's greatest adopters of transactional payments, with more than 53 million credit cards and over 20 million debit cards currently in circulation. This is thanks to our growing demand for convenient, fast and - more than anything - secure methods through which to make purchases.

The landscape of transactional payments has changed considerably in the past decade, and the momentum shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, this past holiday shopping season saw record numbers, with an estimated 600 payment transactions per second on Dec. 23, the busiest shopping day of the year.

The conveniences we once dreamed about in order to keep up with the 'Jetsons' are now everyday conveniences. And really, this is just the beginning.

As someone involved with payment processing and point-of-sale solutions, I'd like to share with you what I predict to be the biggest trends in payment processing over the next few years. Trends that, if acted on and prepared for now, can dramatically sharpen a business' competitive edge and increase profits; particularly for independent and small chain merchants.

The most important advancement of late is Internet Protocol-based communications. The fact that you're reading this article shows that you are likely a consumer of IP — you might use it to check your e-mail, to play games, maybe you've even VoIP'd by making Internet phone calls. In payment processing, IP is becoming an increasingly important tool, affording businesses the opportunity to offer faster, more secure financial transactions and it is the foundation for the biggest upcoming trends in transactional payments.

Less Cash on Hand

Many of the emerging trends stem from a movement away from cash payments. This is something we're seeing quite a bit of already, as the majority of stores don't accept $100 or $50 bills, even in some cases $20 bills, because of an increase in counterfeit money. The biggest growth area for cards in the coming years will be in transactions of $20 and under.

Contact-less Payments

Contact-less payments are a function of debit and credit cards with built-in radio frequency tags. Instead of fumbling for change, the holder can simply tap his card, or wave it at a terminal from a distance of up to four inches, and be on his way, with signatures required only for purchases over $25. This trend is already being embraced by service operations such as gas stations, fast food and drive-thru restaurants, and even school cafeterias.

Smart Cards

There is a big commitment in the industry to reduce fraud and provide increased security for payment transactions; one of the biggest developments in achieving this goal is the Smart Card. A Smart Card is a plastic card which looks just like a credit card, but rather than a magnetic strip, its power lays in a microchip that acts as a microprocessor and storage tool. The card stores customer account information, diminishing or increasing the balance based on purchases and deposits. It employs a variety of security tools, such as an automatic shut down of the card if an unauthorized person attempts to use it.

Right now the Smart Card is in its freshman stage, with appearances in vending machines and on college campuses. But this technology will start gaining momentum over the next few years with new cards getting into customers' hands and new machines being adopted by businesses.


Biometrics has been a Hollywood spy-movie phenomenon for years, which probably explains the slight apprehension people feel now that it has actually become a reality. Biometrics studies a person's unique physical characteristics such as fingerprints, voice pattern and even the shape of a face. As these characteristics can provide undeniable proof of identity, many look to biometrics as a solid solution to the increasing threat of identity theft.

Many American grocery stores are already putting this technology to the test with services such as 'Pay By Touch.' Simply register your bank account and fingerprint with a service provider such as Pay By Touch and then each time you shop at participating retailer, you just swipe your finger to complete your purchase.

Will biometrics be a buzzword for the next few years? Absolutely — it's a fantastic technology with great possibilities. Will it sweep the world of payment processing? Not in the way you might think.

You might use your fingerprint to verify your credit or debit card purchases, but it is unlikely that it will be your only tool for doing so. Those plastic cards that fill our wallets offer great branding for their providers, so unless they develop ways to add the convenience and function without losing brand power, you'll likely see a pairing of fingerprint technology with your smart card.

When will all of this happen? It's an evolutionary process. In places like Paris, a lot of this new technology is already in place. Places like South Africa and other developing markets with cash-based economies that did not utilize transactional payment technologies five years ago can jump in right now with relatively low expense. In Canada, however, our once pioneering dependence on debit and credit cards is actually setting us back in terms of time, as a lengthy migration process must be undertaken to get everybody caught up.

This time next year, even though it will see definite growth, we'll still be talking about implementing Smart Cards and IP applications. On the other hand, 10 to 15 years from now, you'll be using the same card for transit and buy your newspaper from a vending machine that you use to buy your morning coffee, all in record time. It's going to seem like it all happened overnight, but it will take years.

That doesn't mean you should wait to get on board. It's the small chain and independent retailers who really stand to gain the most from this evolution. The relatively low cost associated with offering your customers the latest and most secure payment processing services available will give you a leg up on the big players who will incur a huge cost over a long period of time to implement these technologies.

Businesses who partner with a provider will benefit from the delivery of the latest technologies and the competitive edge they offer as soon as they are ready for market.


Technology has radically changed our lives. Traditional means of doing things are constantly being improved on by such advances in technology. These improvements aid in functionality as well as save time. This article addresses this improvement, and how it has shaped our lives. Years ago could we ever imagine the possibilities there are today!? Technological advancements have molded our lives, and are now adopted as part of our everyday routines. The article explains the advancements of Internet Protocol-based Communications. IP's are becoming an important tool, "affording businesses the opportunity to offer faster, more secure financial transactions and it is the foundation for the biggest upcoming trends in transactional payments"
In particular the article looks at debit cards, and other payment devices (micro chips etc) and how a piece of plastic/chip essentially replaces the traditional means of paying for objects. Overall the function of these IP’s is convenience. In our fast passed society consumers require the functionality of debit cards/chips, and can not be bothered with the inconvenience of cash handling.
Where technology will take us unknown. It is an ongoing process, and as technology evolves, society must be ready to keep up with it.


Authorities say many teens at risk on social websites

Link to Article
Monday, February 20, 2006

On, teenagers can find kindred spirits who share their love of sports, their passion for photography or their crush on a Hollywood star. They can also find out where their online friends live, where they attend school, even what they look like.

And so can adults. Parents, school administrators and police are increasingly worried that teens are finding trouble online at sites like MySpace, the leader of the social-networking sites that encourage users to build larger and larger circles of friends.

Police in Middletown, Conn., are investigating recent reports that as many as seven local girls were sexually assaulted by men in their 20s who contacted them through MySpace pretending to be teenagers.

One girl allowed a man into her room while her parents were home, police said, underscoring just how in the dark parents often are about one of the most popular web activities for teens today.

There are other reports like these scattered around the country, prompting some parents and schools to equate the likes of MySpace with the Internet's red-light district, even as many experts believe that the worries are greater than the actual dangers.

Joseph Dooley is among those who has heard it all before. A retired FBI agent who supervised the agency's first undercover Internet task force in New England, Dooley remembers when America Online chat rooms were the rage. Teens posted detailed profiles of themselves and chatted with any of AOL's subscribers.

Chat rooms soon gave way to services like MySpace, but Dooley said the rules haven't changed and parents need to become more engaged.

"Let the kids know, on the Internet, you don't know who you're talking to," Dooley said. "Parents aren't the friends of their kids. Parents needs to know and observe what their kids are doing."

That can be daunting for working parents. Keeping tabs on the kids used to mean knowing where they went after school, not whom they talked to in their bedrooms.

So when they hear of a new fad among teens, their instinct is to worry.

And the horror stories are indeed terrifying.

Last month, for example, 14-year-old Judy Cajuste was found strangled and naked in a Newark, N.J., garbage bin. Police seized a computer from her bedroom after friends said she told them of a man in his 20s she met on MySpace. The death remains unsolved.

Beyond the threat of abduction, bullies who once made the rounds on playgrounds are using web logs and home pages to spread rumours and lies faster than the schoolyard grapevine ever could.

MySpace profiles have been used to threaten classmates and in at least one case, to mock a school principal.

Many schools have responded by restricting Internet access from school computers. One private school in Newark, N.J., ordered students to remove all personal blogs from the Internet, even if accessed from home, to protect them from online predators.

Some parents, like Ululani Stauffacher of Eureka, Calif., forbid their children from using MySpace. Stauffacher said her 17-year-old daughter ran off for two days with a 19-year-old man she met online.

"I was going crazy," Stauffacher said. "I was just hearing things about MySpace and incidents of girls missing and some don't get returned to their families. All that I was thinking about was that my daughter was going to be another statistic."

The concerns aren't limited to MySpace, but the News Corp. unit gets the attention because of its sheer size - 54 million users, a quarter of them registered as teens.

MySpace forbids minors 13 and under from joining and provides special protections for those 14 and 15 - only those on their friends' list can view their profiles. Nonetheless, kids lie when they sign up, and many of their profiles carry photos of themselves in suggestive poses, along with personal information against the site's recommendations.

"They're licking their lips and arching their back for the camera because they can, and they have no idea of the consequences," said Parry Aftab, an Internet safety expert.

But Aftab said most MySpace users aren't getting themselves in trouble.

Experts say that banning children from using social-networking sites is akin to forbidding them from going to the mall or the movie theatre for fear they'll be abducted.

"I wish I could hover over my children 24-7, but the best I can do is teach them that there are ways to keep themselves safe," said Steve Jones, a communications professor who studies new media at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In a statement, MySpace said it has developed safety tips for parents and children and devotes scores of employees to monitoring the site around the clock. The site also has ways for users to report inappropriate behaviour. The company says it removes inappropriate images and closes accounts that violate its rules.

Chris DeWolfe, MySpace's chief executive, encourages parents to talk to their kids about Internet safety, but Aftab said many parents ignore advice until it is too late.

Connecticut Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, who has strictly limited the information his 10-and 12-year-old children put on the Internet, said he was surprised to learn that they had been contacted by strangers they believed were pedophiles. His kids ignored it, Morano said, but parents need to closely monitor Internet activity.

"You wouldn't leave your kid on the side of the highway without supervision," Morano said. "You shouldn't put them on the Internet highway without the same type of supervision."

Some tips for keeping children safe online:


--Keep the computer in a family room so parents can monitor what happens online.

--Be alert if children receive gifts or letters in the mail or unusual phone calls.

--Keep kids out of chat rooms or monitor their chats. Know whom they talk to.

--See what Web sites children create online. Review what information and pictures are being released. MySpace discourages posting any personally identifiable information.

--Take a peek at the computer screen occasionally.

--Review what files are on the computer. If computers are too confusing, ask a friend, relative or co-worker to help.


--Let children know not to give out personal information such as phone numbers or addresses.

--Explain that people may not be who they claim to be. Some adults pretend to be kids.

--Encourage children to discuss their favourite Web sites and talk about what happens on the Internet, including people they meet.


--Children should not spend too much time on the Internet, especially late at night.

--Set time limits on surfing and restrict most computer use for specific purposes, such as school work.

--Consider installing software that monitors Internet surfing.

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You ate WHAT ?

Associated Press
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HOUSTON — A student slides a tray toward the cafeteria cash register with a healthy selection: a pint of milk, green beans, whipped sweet potatoes and chicken nuggets — baked, not fried. But then he adds a fudge brownie. When he punches in his code for the prepaid account his parents set up, a warning sounds: "This student has a food restriction." Back goes the brownie as the cashier reminds him that his parents have declared all desserts off-limits. This could be a common occurrence at Houston schools when the district becomes one of the largest in the nation with a cafeteria automation system that lets parents dictate — and track — what their kids get. Primero Food Service Solutions, developed by Houston-based Cybersoft Technologies, allows parents to set up prepaid lunch accounts so children don't have to carry money, said Ray Barger, Cybersoft's director of sales and marketing. It also shows the cashier any food allergies or parent-set diet restrictions for his or her account, and the student is not allowed to buy an offending item. Parents also can go on-line to track their child's eating habits and make changes. "If parents want Johnny to eat chips one day a week, they can go in and make changes to allow them to buy a bag of chips on, say, Fridays," said Terry Abbott, spokesman for Houston Independent School District, the nation's seventh-largest with more than 250,000 students. Robin Green, whose 14-year-old son, Jerry, is in seventh grade in the Houston district, said she would probably sign up for the new voluntary monitoring system once it's implemented within the next year. Green was concerned that parents from low-income families without access to computers would not be able to participate, but Abbott said parents can go to their school and work with cafeteria representatives. Barger said his company's system already is being used in schools in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee, as well as other Texas cities. Several other companies have similar cafeteria monitoring programs at other schools. Prepaid cafeteria accounts have been around for five to 10 years, but programs that allow parents to say what their kids can or can't eat are a more recent development, said Erik Peterson, spokesman for the Washington-based School Nutrition Association. His organization did not have exact figures on how many school districts use such programs.

The Pearland school district just outside Houston set up one of the systems at its 17 campuses in August. "Overall, it's benefited everyone. Students go through the line faster. It's good for parents because they can track what their kids are spending," said Dorothy Simpson, food service director for Pearland schools. The system, which will cost the Houston district $5.3-million (U.S.), also serves as an accounting program that lets the school district plan menus and allows for faster enrolment of students in free and reduced lunch programs. School officials and nutrition experts say this type of monitoring program could help tackle child obesity. In the past 20 years, the number of overweight children ages 6 to 11 more than doubled and the number of overweight adolescents ages 12 to 19 more than tripled, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Karen Cullen, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, cautioned that the system is good only if it sparks communication between parents and their children on healthy food choices. "Kids need to be able to make healthy choices," Cullen said. "Parents can't be in charge. Children need some freedom."


As new communication tools are being developed, this not only helps human beings to communicate with each other more efficiently. New communication tools help people to do other things such as health inspection as an example. This articles is basically teling us that computer technology allows parents to track down what their kids are eating at school, also it gives parents the power to restrict what their kids can eat to ensure that their health is not at danger. As we can see that new computer technologies give us infinite possibilities of helping us to solve daily tasks.

I agree that this technology could address many of the health concerns that parents have over their childrens daily food choices. There is a growing health problem in the United States and Canada of children being overweight at early ages which could possibly lead to health issues further in life. This technology allows parents to effectively govern their childrens choices, and help foster a healthy lifestyle. However, by taking all the childrens choices away it may encourage them to deviate at the next juncture, I.e. the local convience store. Teaching children to determine which are good foods to eat, and others which have little or no nutritional value should be the end goal of this project.

We have come understand that technology is in place to improve the functionality of our lives. At times it may be adverse and complex, but for the most part, technology allows for things to be done in time efficient manner. Having the ability to monitor the food children eat, addresses a problematic issue of child obesity. Although this device maybe a little extreme, it attempts to promote healthy eating habits. We must consider first the idea of surveillance. Would it really be necessary to sound an alarm if the children made a wrong choice, or would the fear alone knowing the potential of the device be enough to hinder food selection choices? It is important to note that a child will only be regulated in this set atmosphere, what happens when they are not? Children need to be educated about nutrition, and they need to understand healthy food selections, not told don’t eat that because mom and dad say no. Although this technology is quite efficient, I do not think that it will have a lasting effect on the child. Children need guidance and understanding, a simple no just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

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School Granted global status: Technology grant will help Northwoods students connect to the world

By DAN SIMMONS / La Crosse Tribune

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In Italy, the Olympic torch was lit and people from all points on the globe gathered as a community. In Onalaska, Wis., Janet Amann checked out at Best Buy. Unrelated events?

Not necessarily.

“This will allow our students to interact with people all over the world,” Amann said. “That communication can only help solve world problems later.”

The library media center director at Northwoods International Elementary School in La Crosse was referring to the camcorder and digital cameras she purchased Thursday through a $2,500 Best Buy “te@ch” grant to support technology in education.

Students at the school will use the new equipment to film and produce video reports they’ll share with students in a foreign country. Each classroom corresponds with students in one of La Crosse’s sister cities.

Before, that meant e-mail. Soon, they’ll go multimedia.

“Our goal is to research something here, such as Grandad Bluff, film the students reporting about the history and geology and lore of the bluff, then edit them down to two-minute news reports,” Amann said.

They’ll save it to CD or DVD and mail them to their friends abroad. In the future, Amann said, they hope to post the news reports to the school’s Web site.

The grant, one of 1,200 Best Buy gave to schools nationally — 26 of them in Wisconsin — resulted from a joint effort by Amann and her principal, Jane Morken. It demonstrates how individual teachers can enhance classroom opportunities through grants.

“(The grants) are perfect for taking an idea to the next level,” said Kathy Tyser, associate superintendent in charge of instruction for the district. “They’re a great incentive for teachers.”

While the district and UW-L share a full-time grant writer, Colleen Miron, who has procured millions of dollars in grants through government and foundation sources, teachers and administrators often try for smaller ones.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation annually awards 15 to 20 grants to teachers, staff and community members to enhance creativity in schools by supporting projects not otherwise funded.

A growing number of teachers seeks other grants from corporations or foundations.

“Our teachers have been more aggressively seeking grants to fit new needs, especially in technology,” said Janet Rosseter, director of financial services for the district.

Corporate grants must be approved through the district’s purchasing policy, said Mark White, principal at Hintgen Elementary and grants coordinator for the district.

“We have to be clear about the expectations of the grant and whether it involves too much advertising,” White said.

Most grants arrive as a check. Amann’s arrived as a Best Buy gift card. The instructions were accessible through a Flash drive embedded in a company fountain pen. And she got a shopping spree.

“It’s every teacher’s dream,” she said, laughing.

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Entrepreneur publishes on-line for free

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
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Bruce Judson is putting his latest book on-line free of charge, a move he and his publisher hope will drive sales, increase exposure and prove a new model for book delivery in the digital age. Mr. Judson, a successful entrepreneur and senior faculty fellow at Yale University's school of management, is the first HarperCollins Publishers author to put the entirety of his latest book on his website. Users don't have to pay a penny to read Go It Alone: The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own. Instead, each digital page is bordered by Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. text ads based on keywords in the book. The new business model isn't just a first for the author, it's also a first for his publisher. If successful, it may be embraced as a viable new strategy by traditional book publishers, long considered the media managers with the most to lose from the Internet.

Following the lead of some lesser known authors and publishers, particularly in the science fiction genre, more mainstream publishing houses are starting to look at free content on-line as a way of convincing readers to pay for the product. "It is the way of the future, to an extent," says George Murray, a poet and editor of the blog. "The free stuff on-line acts as a bait for whatever's not free." Throughout the process of putting the book on-line, Mr. Judson says, HarperCollins has been supportive. "To their great credit," he says, "they are interested in experimenting." HarperCollins representatives are quick to point out that this is a pilot program, not a fundamental change in business strategy. "We are happy with the results so far," says Brian Murray, Group President of HarperCollins Publishers. "We won't evaluate this from a business perspective for several months because we plan to continue to make modifications to the design and we haven't even begun to market the site on-line yet." While free versions of most classics and many new works can be found -- with or without publisher consent -- on the Internet, major publishers have largely taken the same combative stance as their recording industry counterparts when it comes to free content. But some companies are starting to embrace business models that exploit, rather than shun, the Internet.

The test of HarperCollins' gamble will be whether increased exposure on-line and alternative revenue streams such as text ads offset lost revenue from making the book freely available. "As an author, I knew there was as much likelihood putting the book up would increase sales as hurt sales," Mr. Judson says. But making a book available on-line at no charge also offers authors other advantages. Because the book is available in html format on his website, Mr. Judson can analyze what chapters users are most interested in. The experiment hasn't been without its glitches, though. Readers have complained the html format makes reading the book a more tedious exercise than if it were available in a more portable format. In the long term, however, free content may start to be phased out as on-line book delivery gains wider acceptance. Making a book available on-line may fit in as part of an overall distribution cycle, Mr. Judson says. Just as movies are traditionally first released in theatres, then as videos or DVDs, then on TV stations, free books may round out a distribution cycle that still starts in bookstores.

"Would I put another book on-line? Absolutely," Mr. Judson says. "Would I do it in place of a publisher? Absolutely not."

Free reading
Bruce Judson, a successful entrepreneur, has made his latest book available on-line free of charge. Here's a taste of Go it Alone: The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own:

'There tends to be a general belief that entrepreneurs are somewhat like Don Quixote: They fearlessly go forward, at tremendous peril to themselves and in the face of overwhelming odds. In fact, the idea of the entrepreneur as a bold, swashbuckling risk-taker is a modern myth. Yes, there are flamboyant entrepreneurs who may repeatedly risk everything, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. In general, today's successful entrepreneurs are a surprising mix of prudence and courage: They aren't afraid to try new things, but they first do everything they can to reduce all costs and risks.

Go-it-alone entrepreneurs are optimistic but realistic. Though they recognize that risk is an essential part of business, they are constantly asking themselves, "Now how can I limit the damage if this does not work?" By limiting their risk, they work to ensure they will still be in business even if a particular initiative doesn't work.'

-- Excerpt from Bruce Judson's Go It Alone

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A nice number for iTunes: one billion

Michigan user tallies Apple's milestone download with Coldplay's "Speed of Sound."

February 24, 2006: 7:20 AM EST

NEW YORK ( - The number of songs downloaded from Apple's online music store iTunes sped past one billion Thursday as a customer in Bloomfield, Mich., purchased Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" as part of the band's X&Y album.
Apple, which was watching for the one billionth download, will give Alex Ostrovsky, the lucky downloader, a 20-inch iMac computer, 10 iPods and a $10,000 gift certificate to iTunes.
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"Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy and the future of music distribution as we move from CDs to the Internet," Apple's Steve Jobs said in a press release.

In addition to the prizes Ostrovsky will take home, Apple will also establish a scholarship in his name to New York's Juilliard School of Music.

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Judge: No BlackBerry shutdown

'But judge says he will issue a decision on an injunction 'as soon as reasonably possible.'

By Grace wong staff writer

February 24, 2006: 2:46 PM EST

NEW YORK ( - A judge spared millions of users from an immediate shutdown of the BlackBerry portable e-mail devices on Friday.
Wrapping up nearly four hours of arguments in a district court in Richmond, Va., Judge James Spencer said he would not impose an immediate injunction against BlackBerry maker Research in Motion.

BlackBerry blackout could be costly

external image blackberry.02.jpg A shutdown of the wireless email system would have a profound financial impact on businesses.(Full story.)

More BlackBerry stories:

Whither wireless e-mail?

Goldman: BlackBerry shutdown not likely

BlackBerry held hostage

Setback for BlackBerry maker

But Judge Spencer said there was no escaping that RIM had been found to be infringing on NTP Inc.'s patents and he would issue a decision on an injunction "as soon as reasonably possible," according to Reuters.

"The simple truth, the reality of the jury verdict has not changed," Spencer said, adding that the parties should have settled out of court.

RIM (up $4.11 to $73.64, Research) shares soared nearly 8 percent after the decision not to issue an immediate cutoff of BlackBerry service.

Most recently, on Wednesday, as part of its reexamination of NTP's patent claims, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a final rejection of one of the five patents involved in the infringement suit .

The final rejection is widely expected to lead to the Patent Office's invalidation of all of the patents at issue in the legal dispute.

Not least to notice was RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who was quoted by Reuters Thursday saying that all NTP is trying to do now is "jig a timing game, because these patents will go in the garbage. The chance of them surviving is zero. Like, they're gone."

Jim Wallace, lead trial counsel for NTP, said he hadn't seen documents confirming the final rejection, but that such a move doesn't constitute the last word from the Patent Office, since NTP can appeal the ruling through the agency's appeals board, which could take another six to 12 months.

Judge Spencer has said he sees the patent reexamination as a separate process from the legal proceedings and won't wait for final word from the agency, but some experts said that now that the Patent Office appears to be speeding up the review process, it may be significant enough for him to rethink the issue.

"When a patent is in reexamination, its validity is in flux," said Gary Abelev, a partner with law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

Judge Spencer also expressed skepticism about RIM's argument that a BlackBerry shutdown would hobble critical public services and infrastructure. NTP has said it would exclude government workers from an injunction, but the Justice Department has voiced its concerns over the feasibility of a partial shutdown.

Legal wrangling

There's been a lot of legal wrangling on both sides, and the dispute has garnered widespread public attention, since a potential shutdown threatens to paralyze U.S. businesses and disrupt service for the gadget's more than 3 million users.

In a recent survey of financial services companies by Pyxis Mobile, 81 percent said BlackBerry service was critical or vital to their business, and nearly 80 percent said they were working on backup plans in case of service disruptions.

But analysts say a settlement -- which could occur at any time -- is more likely than a shutdown. A settlement would benefit both RIM and NTP, a small holding company that doesn't make its own products and stands to gain from a one-time payout.

Ben Bollin, an analyst at FTN Midwest Research, expects settlement terms to now fall below the initial $450 million agreement the two companies reached last year, but which later fell apart. That's less than half the $1 billion payment he was predicting earlier this year.

"I think RIM is realizing it has an upper hand. Basically they're just pushing a settlement out to the last possible minute. They realize they have leverage, they want a settlement to be on their terms," said Bollin.

RIM said Thursday that the settlement they were originally offered by NTP would not have allowed them to continue operations, according to Reuters.
"When they took their final position on here's what we'll do it wasn't about money, they wouldn't give us terms that would allow us to carry on our business," Reuters quoted Balsillie, the co-CEO, telling an RBC Capital Markets communications, media and technology conference. "We took it to an outside licensing counsel and they said we'd be crazy to take these terms."
NTP countered that it has offered a license that protects RIM's customers, carriers, and partners.

"NTP put this in its January 17, 2006 public court filings so that everyone can see for themselves how it protects everyone," Reuters reported NTP attorney Kevin Anderson saying in a statement. "NTP just wants global peace between the parties."

RIM may also be using its backup software plan as a negotiating tool in the settlement process. The so-called workaround plan lowers the risk of a shutdown in the event of an injunction, analysts say. But even RIM has conceded in legal briefs that any disruptions would "cause concern to users and service providers" and hurt its business.

In a research note issued Wednesday, Canaccord Adams analysts said a settlement remains more likely than not and would be a positive outcome for RIM.

The outlook of an injunction is low, but there is "a high probability of a settlement in light of the expectations that Judge Spencer will take time to deliberate," the note said.

How much time Judge Spencer will take to make his decision remains unclear, but the case has already dragged on for nearly five years in a jurisdiction that likes to decide cases quickly, according to Yoches.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court is hearing a case about when it's appropriate to grant an injunction against a patent infringer.

The outcome of MercExchange v. eBay, which could come this summer, could frame the decision Judge Spencer makes. "It's not unheard of for judges to table an issue until they receive direction from the Supreme Court," Yoches said.


Wong, Grace Online at:

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Future of the Internet Highway Debated

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer
Sat Feb 25, 7:04 PM ET

On the Internet, the traffic cops are blind — they don't look at the data they're directing, and they don't give preferential treatment.

That's something operators of the Internet highway, the major U.S. phone companies, want to change by effectively adding a toll lane: They want to be able to give priority treatment to those who pay to get through faster.

Naturally, consumer advocates and the Web companies that would be paying the toll are calling it highway robbery.

"Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success," Vinton Cerf told a Senate committee recently. Cerf, who played a key role in building the Internet, is now the "Chief Internet Evangelist" at Google Inc.

On the Internet, information is carried in "packets," small chunks of data. An e-mail might be divided into several packets and travel different routes to the destination, much like cars have multiple ways of getting somewhere. The packets may arrive out of order, a few even late, but data can be reassembled to reconstitute the e-mail.

This design grew out of the military's desire for a network that was both simple and reliable. And as the Internet became more widely available, this equal treatment of traffic was part of what made it attractive; individuals, startups and big corporations were on the same footing.

Now, however, the Internet is being used for things the engineers of the 1960s and 70s couldn't have envisioned, like video, telephone calls and Internet games.

It doesn't matter if an e-mail gets where it's going half a second late, but a half-second's delay in a phone call is annoying, and a half-second's delay in a fast-moving game can mean a missed shot.

Thus, the telecommunications companies want to be able to provide "tiered service," guaranteeing that, for a price, some packets will get to their destination on time.

The carriers are under "tremendous pressure" from customers to provide more reliable service, said Shawn White, director of external operations at Keynote Systems Inc., which tracks the performance of Web sites and the Internet.

Brief delays, for instance, could result in stuttering video, unacceptable to advertisers, White notes.

Whether they tier their service or not, telecommunications companies need to expand capacity. To do so costs money, and the telecoms argue that Internet users will have to pay, one way or another. They say it's preferable that the money come from those who need and are willing to pay for better service, rather than spreading the cost out over all users.

"We do have to recover the cost for building the new capacity out there that the content providers are expecting us to provide," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T Inc.'s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs.

AT&T already provides connections between offices of the same company, or between government offices, using AT&T's own lines rather than the public Internet. This allows AT&T to guarantee a certain quality level.

By prioritizing packets, AT&T could extend that service to the connection between a Web site and a surfer at home.

To the opponents, abandoning the "network neutrality" principle opens up the prospect of the carriers blocking sites that don't pay up or that compete with the carriers' own services — for instance, by providing phone calls.

The carriers have stoked those fears with some hard-line rhetoric. John Thorne, Verizon Communications Inc.'s senior vice president and deputy general counsel, was quoted by The Washington Post as telling a conference that Google "is enjoying a free lunch that should, by any rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers."

Ed Whitacre, AT&T's chief executive, has raised eyebrows with similar statements to the effect that Google and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) are freeloading on the Internet, a remarkable assertion considering both companies pay millions of dollars in Internet access fees, and their visitors pay for Internet access as well.

Brasil Telecom SA, Brazil's third-largest phone company, said in mid-February it had installed the first system that can identify information by type — say, a voice call — and bill the company providing it, addressing what the company calls "revenue leakage." The company would not give further details on its plans.

U.S. carriers are careful to point out that they don't intend to block anyone's Internet access or degrade service.

"None of the worst scenarios people have painted here can take place nor are they taking place," Cicconi said, adding that the government would stop any such abuse, as the Federal Communications Commission did in one case where a phone company that provides Internet services blocked a competing voice-over-Internet company.

Also, competition among carriers means they won't want to block sites for fear of losing customers, Cicconi said.

Opponents say that even if toll roads leave the rest of the Internet unimpeded, it will stifle innovation.

"The next great idea, the next Google or eBay or Napster or whatever, won't have the capital to get themselves in the fast lanes right away," said Ben Scott at Free Press, a nonprofit that promotes freedom of speech. "The reason the big e-companies were so successful were that they started on the same level playing field as everyone else."

Another objection to packet prioritization is technical.

The Internet2 association assumed that prioritization was the way to go when it started building a super-fast next-generation network connecting universities.
However, engineers abandoned that notion after a few years, concluding that it's more effective simply to expand the network's capacity for all traffic — adding lanes to the highway instead of a parallel toll road.

The FCC has supported net neutrality in somewhat hedged terms, leading to calls in Congress for a stronger defense of the principle to be included in a future telecommunications bill.

The telephone and cable companies are arguing against any such law, pointing to the traditionally very light regulation of the Internet.

"The hands-off policy has given us the flexibility to innovate and respond to consumer demand," said Kyle McSlarrow, chief executive of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

For the carriers, part of the attraction of a tiered Internet is probably that they would get away from being a "dumb pipe." They're the messengers, with the unglamorous job of passing along the data that others produce and consume. With tiered service, the carrier would become more important, and perhaps have more pricing power.

"It's very rational behavior in the industry. I would do the same thing if I was paid by my shareholders," Free Press' Scott said. "But rational market behavior doesn't necessarily mean good public service."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Media Reactions To iTunes Bilionth Download itunesbiiliondown2.jpg
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Apple’s iTunes has registered a new landmark: 1 Billions songs downloaded by its customers. Apple awarded to Alex Ostrovsky from West Bloomfield, Michigan, the boy who downloaded the billionth song, a 20-inch iMac, 10 fifth generation iPods and a $10,000 gift card good for any item on the iTunes Music Store. Beside the celebration one thing is clear: we are facing a new digital revolution.

"I hope that every customer, artist and music company executive takes a moment today to reflect on what we've achieved together during the past three years," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy and the future of music distribution as we move from CDs to the Internet.”

But what do media think about Apple, iTunes and Steve Jobs success? “So Apple's announcement Thursday that it has sold one billion songs on its online iTunes Music Store less than three years after its premiere in the digital music business makes us think things have warmed up considerably” noted Noon for Forbes.

Apple’s success is also an indicator for a change in consumer behavior. "Apple has redefined the way digital entertainment is made available to consumers," Frost & Sullivan analyst Zippy Aima, commenting the news for NewsFactor. "That iTunes has reached a hallmark of selling a billion songs is an indicator that the buying behavior of consumers is changing and they are ready to pay for good quality music."

AssociatedPress noted also the decline of CD sales in favour of digital downloads. “The growing popularity of purchasing songs by the track shows in declining CD sales. A total of 618.9 million CD albums were sold during 2005, down from the 762.8 million in 2001, according to Nielsen Soundscan”.

There are also some skeptics about the longevity of iTunes success. In its article “How Long Can Apple's Billion-Download Baby Hold the Lead?” for MacNews World, Erika Morphy is quoting Yankee Group analyst Nitin Gupta who said that Microsoft’s URGE announced in December 2005, will be an important competitor. “It will be a powerful combination on many levels”, Gupta said, noting that "the reason why no online music service has been able to compete with iTunes is because of Apple's marketing muscle."

Also, Thomas Hawk, the man who publishes Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection and FlickrNation, is not impressed by iTunes success. “What happens when the killer phone is finally here?[…]What happens when this phone is out and you really want it and unfortunately Apple didn't make it?[...] You paid all that good money for your iTunes and now you can't put them on your new phone because your new phone threatens Apple's dominance. So who owns the music anyway? You or them? They do. You bought nothing. You bought the right to play their song on their product. It might work today. But I'm not about to bet that this will be the format du jour 10 years from now.”, he wrote in his blog.

Maybe those critics are right, but Apple still has one billion counter-arguments.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq:TIVO - news), the television recording technology company that is facing increasing competition, on Monday said it is considering giving away TiVo set-top boxes as part of plans to win subscribers.

Chief Executive Tom Rogers said the company, whose name has become synonymous with the ability to pause live television and skip commercials, was close to offering a range of pricing options, including one plan that would include a free set-top box.

"We're continuing to pursue the prospects of zero upfront and all upfront" pricing, Rogers told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York.

The company is likely to begin the test to offer free boxes, possibly in exchange for higher priced and longer term plans, fairly soon, said Rogers, who was named chief executive last July.

TiVo currently serves about 4 million subscribers, about two-thirds of them via partner DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE:DTV - news). It is under pressure from Wall Street to expand its customer base as DirecTV is readying its own digital video recorders.

TiVo also faces competition from far bigger cable and satellite TV providers and consumer electronics makers, all of whom are offering rival digital video recorders to consumers. Many of the devices are more powerful than TiVo's and are offered at lower prices -- sometimes for free.

The company says its service, which costs most users about $13 a month, is superior, thanks to options such the ability to buy movie tickets, listen to Internet radio stations and enjoy music and photos over one's home computer network.

Rogers also pointed to a time when existing set-top boxes made by other manufacturers will be able to be upgraded by software, with no purchase necessary by the consumer.

"As much as we do get skepticism about our future, there are over 4 million TiVo subscribers -- that number is growing," he said. "We feel that the notion that TiVo has hit some kind of distribution wall and is no longer a growth animal is not the case."

Shares of TiVo were flat on Monday, rising just 4 cents to $5.61 a share on Nasdaq.

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