Friday, September 30, 2005

Some States Push To Collect Sales Tax From Internet Stores "For years, states and online retailers have bickered over whether the retailers should -- and, if so, could -- collect local and state sales taxes on purchases made over the Internet. The states have said they should and could. The retailers have argued that the complexity of different tax rates and categories among states and localities made it very difficult to do so.
Hoping to put an end to that argument, 18 states tomorrow will implement a long-planned move to remove obstacles that the retailers have cited. Architects of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project are devising a computer program that tracks the tax rates of the 18 states and their localities and automatically adds that rate to the bill of every online purchase. The states will also entice online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes by offering amnesty on taxes the retailers haven't collected in the years since the Internet retail boom began."

Tools for the ultimate high-tech survival kit

CNET "Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina can turn a high-tech culture into a decidedly low-tech one--where food, water and shelter are what matters most.
But that doesn't stop technologists from inventing devices for the disaster kit of the future. They're trying to provide for the most basic needs with technology that can turn sewer water into Gatorade, equip people with long-lasting lighting or save hypothermia victims without the use of electricity.
So if you're tech-savvy, and your home disaster kit already includes a flashlight, cans of food, bottled water, a first aid kit and plastic ponchos, then you may want to consider some advanced technologies for survival. After all, the U.S government and the American Red Cross recommend that people prepare three days' worth of supplies and survival gear in the event disaster strikes. Katrina certainly proved that to be true. The following are some high-tech aids to augment a standard issue from the Red Cross:"

Cell Phone Ads Are On the Way

RED HERRING : "Mobile marketing executives say the potential to hawk goods over cell phones is big but there are still some challenges.
September 29, 2005
Using the cell phone to hawk products to consumers has big potential for brands, but the emerging mobile marketing industry still has to clear major hurdles in the U.S. market, key executives said Thursday at a convention for the wireless industry.

Mobile marketing, which consists of sending a text message or media clip in the form of an advertisement to a cell phone, is a tricky business, said the media, brand, and ad execs attending the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference. Cross the line into cellular spam and a brand can easily offend a customer. But smart, targeted ads have already proven to be an effective branding tool. "

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Esquire wikis article on Wikipedia

CNET "When Esquire magazine writer A.J. Jacobs decided to do an article about the freely distributable and freely editable online encyclopedia Wikipedia, he took an innovative approach: He posted a crummy, error-laden draft of the story to the site.
Wikipedia lets anyone create a new article for the encyclopedia or edit an existing entry. All that's required is for a user to register. As a result, since it was started in 2001, Wikipedia has grown to include nearly 749,000 articles in English alone--countless numbers of which have been edited by multiple members of the community. (There are versions of Wikipedia in nine other languages as well.) "

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

11th Hour Extension For Customer VoIP Lockout "For the third time in as many months, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is delaying its order that Internet telephone providers cut off service to customers who have not acknowledged the possible limitations of Voice over IP (define)E911 calling services.
Because the nomadic nature of VoIP allows users to place and receive calls from any broadband connection, Internet telephone companies frequently route E911 calls to public safety administrative offices instead of directly sending the calls to Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs).
The inability of VoIP users to reach immediate help led to tearful witness testimony> before4 Congress on VoIP E911 limitations in a crisis. The FCC responded by mandating that all VoIP providers that interconnect with the public switched telephone network (PSTN) must route all VoIP E911 calls directly to emergency dispatchers along with the location of the caller.
The FCC gave the VoIP providers until the end of November to comply with the order. Additionally, in the name of public safety, the FCC ruled that all VoIP providers inform their subscribers of the service's E911 limitations and required customer acknowledgement of those limitations by the end of July.
For those VoIP subscribers who did not affirmatively reply to the E911 warning, the FCC said Internet telephone companies must cut off their service by the end of July. That deadline has twice extended to midnight tonight. "

Trusted-Search Service Attacks Internet Fraud

InformationWeek > Internet Search > : "GeoTrust Inc. on Monday launched a search engine powered by Ask Jeeves Inc. that verifies whether Web sites listed in results are legitimate or are more likely to be those of phishers looking to steal personal information.
The Needham, Mass., security firm, which sells digital certificates and encryption technology to retailers, financial institutions, insurance companies and other businesses, also on Monday launched out of beta a browser toolbar for Internet Explorer that will verify the legitimacy of Web sites being visited. A Firefox version of the toolbar is expected soon.
In launching the TrustWatch site and browser add-in, GeoTrust hopes more retailers will buy its digital certificates, so they can be shown as a trusted site in search results, Neal Creighton, chief executive for GeoTrust, said.
'A lot of consumers buying something online want a level of comfort with the retailer they're going to do business with,' Creighton said. 'In a way, we're competing with (online-search leader) Google for people who want to purchase goods online.' "

Google to Yahoo: Ours is bigger

CNET "In the latest round of the search-index size contest, Google unveiled an updated index it said is more than three times larger than that of any of its search engine competitors.
'We're celebrating our seventh birthday...We had a pretty strong year,' Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a phone interview with CNET, as he listed the launch of new products including Google Talk, Google Earth, Google Video and Google Desktop Search. 'And we've sort of been struggling here with respect to the index. It has always been much larger than the others.'
'We're announcing tonight that in terms of unduplicated pages our index is now three times larger than any other search engine,' he said, without saying how many pages are in the index.
Google will stop providing on its search page a quantity of pages indexed, which previously was listed as 8 billion, 'because people don't necessarily agree on how to count it,' Schmidt said. "

Happy 7th Birthday Google!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Reforming the Net campaign reformers

CNET "Congress finally recognizes the magnitude of the error it made three years ago by acquiescing to a sweeping campaign finance law. All I can say is that it's about time.
That 2002 law, which included the most extreme restrictions on political speech in a generation, is called the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. It's better known by the names of its Senate sponsors, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
Today it's known on the Internet as an unconstitutional restriction on free expression, thanks to federal regulations based on the law that are currently being drafted and are expected to become final in the next few months. Bloggers are alarmed, civil disobedience is being mooted, and petitions are circulating.
Our politicians may lack an appreciation for the values enshrined in the First Amendment, but they're hardly naive. Now that they've realized that a public backlash is brewing from bloggers and online activists from both major parties, members of Congress who once embraced strict Internet restrictions are backpedaling. (Possible regulations could include mandatory disclosures of affiliations with campaigns, restrictions on linking, or rules against republishing campaign material.) "

VoIP wants to cut the computer cord

CNET "Mark Bruk, a frequent business traveler, always packs a Plantronic headset with an ear bud and microphone so he can plug into any computer and make phone calls on the cheap.
Once he finds an Internet connection, he only needs to download a piece of software, or 'softphone,' to make the call using voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, technology. The software, created by his own company, takes about 30 seconds to download and, presto, he's making a call.
Of course, Bruk, chief executive of VoIP provider CounterPath Solutions, drinks his own Kool-Aid when it comes to phone technology. But he's also a cutting-edge sort: He's using broadband Net access and lightweight software to save big money on his telephone calls."

IPod Maps Draw Legal Threats

Wired News: "Transit officials in New York and San Francisco have launched a copyright crackdown on a website offering free downloadable subway maps designed to be viewed on the iPod. is the home of iPod-sized maps of nearly two dozen different transit systems around the world, from the Paris Metro to the London Underground"

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Problems surfacing with iPod Nano screen

CNET "Some owners of Apple Computer's new 'impossibly small' iPod Nano are starting to wonder if the device is also impossibly delicate.
The most widespread complaint about the otherwise highly-praised device seems to be that the color display screen gets scratched extremely easily.
Nano owner Brian Cason posted one of 250-some threads in response to a recent post on Apple's discussion board about screen scratching."