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+ - NBC's Tour de France coverage -- three stars and five suggestions

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "NBC covers major sporting events like the Olympics on line and this review looks at their coverage of the just-completed Tour de France bike race. At first, new media mimic old media and NBC's earlier attempts at covering live sporting events online was shaped by their traditional TV coverage — shoot video and insert commercials. This year, they have developed good ancillary data capability to go along with the video and dropped the commercials for a flat fee. Once they get the video and data synchronized and archived, and I can lean back and watch the video or lean forward and play with the data, I'll give them five stars."

+ - High school students are using online instruction sites on their own. 2

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "UCLA conducts an annual survey of first-time, full-time college freshman and this year they included questions about the use of online education sites like Coursera and The Khan Academy. It turns out that over 40 percent of the incoming freshmen were frequently or occasionally assigned to use an online instructional website during the past year and nearly 70 percent had used online sites on their own. Students enrolling in historically black colleges were much more likely than others to have used online teaching material. They also compile a "habits of mind" index, and conclude that "Students who chose to independently use online instructional websites are also more likely to exhibit behaviors and traits associated with academic success and lifelong learning." The survey covers many other characteristics of incoming freshmen — you can download the full report here"

+ - My next desktop will be an LG Chromebox -- will yours?

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "My primary computer is a laptop, but I've already abandoned my tablet for a chromebook (as has my ten-year old grandson) and my next desktop will be the recently announced LG Chromebase or someting similar (like a Chromebox with a nice keyboard and display). I've got three desktops at home — used for game playing, an occaisonal personal document or spreadsheet, email, surfing the Web and making Skype calls and Google Hangouts. For those applications, a Chromebase will be as fast as my desktops, boot way faster, be more reliable, and, most important, be locked down. (My grandchildren regularly download some cool-sounding program that turns out to be crapware or worse). Not convinced? What if Microsoft were to release a decent browser-based Office suite? Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg each predicted that the time would come when browser-based applications would significantly displace installed prorams, but they disagreed on the timing. For LG and me the time is near."

+ - Why did Eric Schmidt (and Jared Cohen) go to Cuba? 1

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "Eric Schmidt traveled recently to Cuba, where he visited members of the Internet community, the University of Information Sciences and unspecified government officials. The object of the trip was to "promote a free and open Internet," a laudable goal, but might there have been a more substantive reason for visiting Cuba? Might the trip have been to feel out the possibility of a Google "moonshot" — providing Internet access to Cubans. Google is experimenting with extra-terrestrial connectivity and Cuba, which has very poor domestic backbone infrastructure, could afford to extend Internet connectivity via satellite. To pursue this "moonshot" Google would need the permission of both the US and Cuban governments — tougher obstacles than the technology. Maybe that is why Google's Director of Ideas, Jared Stone, came along. Before joining Google, he was a member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff and an advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton."

+ - Could Google provide Internet access in Cuba?

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "Eric Schmidt and other Google executives travelled to Cuba where they met with members of the Internet community and the government. Cuba has very little domestic backbone infrastructure, but they could afford to extend Internet connectivity via satellite. Google has a geosynchronous satellite project that could serve Cuba. Might Google be thinking about providing connectivity in Cuba? Doing so would require the approval of both governments. I believe that would be harder to sell in the US than Cuba, but Schmidt did say a number of the people he spoke with said "the eventual model of Cuba would be more like China or Vietnam than of Venezuela or Mexico." If those were government people, there may be some hope. (Raul Castro fought the Cuban Internet when Cuba first connected in 1996, but he and Cuba are changing)."

+ - Universities are failing at entry-level training - will industry take over?

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "When I graduated from college, employers provided entry-level training. (IBM sent me for 8 weeks of training before starting to work). When companies began cutting back, that training role shifted to universities. That worked fairly well while tuition was low, but today many students go into debt and end up with dead-end jobs. We've seen a wave of innovation in online educational technology and pedagogy and companies like AT&T, IBM and Starbucks are investing in online education for entry-level and ongoing vocational training. Will industry take over vocational training again? If so, what will the consequences be?"

+ - Can Google connect the unconnected 2/3 to the Internet?

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "Google, along with Facebook, is a founding partner of, which seeks "affordable internet access for the two thirds of the world not yet connected." Google is trying to pull it off — they have projects or companies working on Internet connectivity using high-altitude platforms and low and medium-earth orbit satellites. These extra-terrestrial approaches to connectivity have been tried before, without success, but Google is revisiting them using modern launch technology (public and private), antennas, solar power, radios and other electronics, as well as tuning of TCP/IP protocols to account for increased latency. For example, they just acquired Skybox Imaging, which has a low-earth orbit satellite for high resolution video imaging. In the short run, Skybox is about data, video and images, but the long range goal may be connectivity in developing nations and rural areas — substituting routers for telescopes. Skybox plans to operate a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites and that sounds a lot like Teledesic's attempt at providing connectivity in the mid 1990s, using the technology of 2014."

+ - Comcast CEO Brian Roberts opens his mouth and inserts his foot

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "At a recent conference, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts rationalized charging Netflix to deliver content by comparing Comcast to the Post Office, saying that Netflix pays to mail DVDs to its customers but now expects to be able to deliver the same content over the internet for free. He forgot to mention that the Post Office does not charge recipients for those DVDs. The underlying issue in this debate is who will invest in the Internet infrastructure that we badly need? Comcast has a disincentive to invest because, if things bog down, people will blame content providers like Netflix and the ISP will be able to charge the content provider for adequate service. If ISPs have insufficient incentive to invest in infrastructure, who will? Google? Telephone companies? Government (at all levels)? Premises owners?"

+ - I want a Kindle Killer from Apple, Google or Microsoft

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "Amazon's Kindle is a good e-reader and they've sold around 40 million units, but it is far from perfect. It could be significantly improved with speech recognition for commands and text entry, a well-designed database for marginal notes and annotations, and integration with laptop and desktop computers. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have device design and manufacturing experience as well as stores that sell books and other written material. A Kindle-killing e-reader would be low-hanging fruit for Apple, Google or Microsoft — think of the competition if they each built one!"

+ - BASIC and Computer Literacy Courses are 50 Years Old

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "May 1 will mark the birth of the BASIC programming language. BASIC was developed by professors John Kemeney and Thomas Kurtz to support their pioneering computer literacy course at Dartmouth College. Developing BASIC was a key step toward achieving their broader goal — introducing all students, regardless of their major, to the skills and concepts they needed for success as students and after graduation as professionals and citizens. IT literacy courses are common today — the skills and many (not all) of the concepts have changed, but the goal remains the same. You can read more about BASIC and their computer literacy project here."

+ - My son pays $22/month for symmetric, 100 Mbps Internet service in South Korea

Submitted by lpress
lpress (707742) writes "My son lives about 50 miles outside of Seoul and has a choice of three major Internet service providers and several smaller ones. He pays $22 per month for symmetric, 100 Mbps Internet connectivity (with a two year contract). The Korean ISP market is highly competitive — the major company prices are within a few dollars of each other and repairs and other service is excellent. How is it that Korea has achieved intense ISP competition? There is no simple answer, but the government has pursued a multifaceted policy encouraging investment and demand creation and providing common infrastructure, which is used by compteting ISPs (as in Singapore, Sweden or Latvia)."

"Oh dear, I think you'll find reality's on the blink again." -- Marvin The Paranoid Android