There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. – “1984,” George Orwell

The federal government under the direction of President Barack Obama, is assuming responsibility to provide broadband connection to some 93 million Americans currently without it.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski says that on March 17, the communications regulators will unveil to Congress a national broadband plan designed to connect those without it to high speed, affordable Internet access to find jobs, access educational and healthcare services and reduce household energy costs. Funding for $22 billion to build and operate the system will come largely through grants.

Question: Wouldn’t and shouldn’t this be better undertaken by the free market, competitive private sector?

Google helps locate Chilean earthquake victims

Soon after the 8.8-magnitude Chilean earthquake, which spawned tsunami warnings across the Pacific, Google activated People Finder, an online “person finder” tool. Similar to one Google activated in January after the Haiti earthquake, the tool helps friends and relatives find loved ones. The Haiti tool, which has been tracking people since Jan. 12, is tracking 58,700 records.

When news broke early Saturday morning of the massive earthquake, Twitterers were online immediately, sharing information. Later in the day, hundreds of thousands of Tweets about related tsunamis kept users abreast of the wave’s progress across the Pacific, making “tsunami” the second highest trending topic for several hours. Trending topics are a barometer of the hottest terms in tweets.

Facebook’s glitch first reported on Twitter

During a routine “code push” or update last week, some Facebook users began receiving private Facebook messages not intended for them. A “bug” caused the misrouting of dozens of personal messages to a small number of users.

Engineers diagnosed the problem right away, and got everything back on track, but not before those messages also went to the recipients’ third party e-mail accounts. Since Facebook can’t retrieve those e-mails, the messages were still readable.

The news first broke on Twitter, which has become the fastest place on the Internet to find out what’s happening.

Conan O’Brien’s Twitter ratings surpass Leno’s

When Conan O’Brien opened a Twitter account last Wednesday, he debuted at the micro-blogger with the equivalent of a standing ovation. In the first hour, the popular, former late-night host attracted more followers than his competitor Jay Leno. Within two hours, he had surpassed Leno’s 30,000 followers. As of this writing, he has 430,791 followers!

O’Brien’s inaugural tweet? “Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.”

Red tweet

Look who else has joined Twitter! The Dalai Lama, with 128, 267 followers.

Meanwhile, Tweeting is gaining in popularity in China. Why?

As one Chinese Twitterer wrote: “I can say what I want here without considering whether I should say this or how I should say this. Whether or not I would violate any law. This is the taste of freedom that I enjoy.”

Half of all tweets not in English

Though Twitter is a U.S.-based service, only 50 percent of all tweets are in English.

When web research firm Semiocast examined 2.8 million tweets over two days in February, it found that Japanese, Portuguese, Malay and Spanish follow English with 14, 9, 6, and 4 percent of tweet share, respectively. Several other languages, including Arabic and Italian, make up the remaining 17 percent of non-English tweets.

Bluebirds multiply like rabbits

For a little character, you sure have grown! In 2007, folks were tweeting 5,000 times a day. By 2008, that number was 300,000, and by 2009 it had grown to 2.5 million per day. Tweets grew 1,400 percent last year to 35 million per day. Today, the number is at 50 million tweets per day – an average of 600 tweets per second.

Will that be cash, credit, or cell phone?

Looking for that special item in your grocery store? Type it into your smart phone and find out exactly where it’s located. See an item in a store window after hours, but you want to buy it now? A mobile phone application will make that transaction, on the spot.

Developing technology that turns your phone into an info display and ordering device is bringing shoppers and retailers closer together. Other benefits are real-time coupons while you shop or creating your wedding registry by pointing at homemaking merchandise. Some big chains are testing various technologies, including The Sam’s Club division of Wal-Mart, Crate & Barrel, Kerr Drug of North Carolina and Disney stores.

And how about this? An alert on your phone, mobile website or computer that lets you know when you’re in the vicinity of a retail outlet or restaurant. ShopAlerts will send you text messages in a variety of ways – at the store, online, via text-message, mobile websites or on Facebook, using “geo-fences,” virtual boundaries that can be targeted via location-based marketing. ShopAlerts will send a maximum number of three messages within a given week from a retailer. And you can opt out of the program by reply texting “stop.”

Apartment hunting just got easier

Here’s the set-up: You work a 40-hour week, not including travel time. You don’t have time to apartment hunt, and your lease is up soon. What do you do? Use Naked Apartments, an operation that puts renters and landlords and apartment brokers together.

Here’s how it works: You sign up and create an anonymous profile that includes your annual income, desired monthly rent and apartment size, location and move-in date. Naked Apartments does a free credit check. Brokers and landlords then get your anonymous profile and contact you if you meet their financial requirements and have matching interests in their rental properties. Voila!

Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) playing with real money

Since 1998, the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) has been just-for-fun, with traders buying and selling valueless shares in Hollywood films based on forecasts of what the films will bring in at the box office. As of April 20, the Hollywood Stock Exchange is tentatively set to launch as a real-money commodity exchange.

The new HSX site will list current and imminent movie releases with their projected four-week domestic grosses and allow exchange users to take long or short positions on the films. Investors wishing to participate in the exchange will buy “contracts” priced at one one-millionth of a film’s projected box office, with films to be listed on the exchange from the time productions are announced in the industry trade papers. Trading will begin six months before a movie’s anticipated wide release.

Computational Photography – the future of picture taking

How many times have you taken a snapshot, only to find later that it is out of focus, too bright, too little contrast or a number of things?

Well, with the camera of the future, all that will be a thing of the past. Tomorrow’s camera will basically do what photoshop can do, at the moment you take the photograph. You will be able to manipulate photos into 3D pictures, convert them into drawings, diagrams or even a watercolor print. Scientists predict the camera of tomorrow will be available within a couple of years, with the technology showing up first on cell phone cameras.

Looking back at the past

1969Israel elects its first woman PM

1932Lindbergh baby kidnapped

1933FDR declares a “banking holiday”

1936Hoover Dam completed

1981CBS’ Walter Cronkite signs off for last time

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Don Bruce, Corono, Calif.; Lee Jeter, Fort Washington, Md.; Lance Gross, Lahaina, Hi.; John Cowger, Mattoon, Ill.; and Russell B. Dobbyn, Gulfport, Miss., who correctly guessed last week’s movie “Million Dollar Baby”, and the actor/character who said, “Frankie, most people figure out by kindergarten it’s about faith,” Brian F. O’Byrne portraying Father Horvak.

In this week’s movie trivia quiz, identify the film and the actor/character who said: “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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