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The Federal Communications Commission has released its broadband plan.

We’ve been keeping our eye on this one. As we’ve reported in previous Surfin’ Safari columns, the FCC is up to its elbows in Internet control.

On March 17, the FCC unveiled a 356-page plan to transform America’s Internet by overhauling U.S. broadband policy, detailing the government’s strategy on broadband for the next decade and beyond. Under this plan, more of the country would have high-speed Internet access and existing connections would become much faster.

But the plan is not without its critics and detractors, especially broadcasters who would have to give up television airwave frequencies. Funding and complicated telecommunications rules are other concerns.

An idea whose time has come, but Surfin’ Safari asks, is it up to the federal government to control this, or would it be better left to the private sector?

Watch a video explaining the transformation.

FBI lurkers: undercover ops underway on social networks

Why do thieves rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. Why do the Feds go undercover on social networks? Because that’s where they hope to find criminals by gathering private information on possible criminals. That “friend” you’re chatting with on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter might not be who you think it is.

A 33-page internal Justice Department document obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) reveals several issues related to privacy and crime-fighting. Investigators can check suspects’ alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. The Foundation is expected to publish the document on its Web site on March 23.

Are we beginning to look like China?

In last week’s Surfin’ Safari, we told you that Google has added biking directions and extensive bike-trail data to its mapping feature.

So is it a coincidence that the U.S. Department of Transportation is implementing a plan that could eventually phase out the automobile as the predominant mode of transportation? It’s all part of the Obama administration’s plan to transform our cities and towns into “sustainable” communities.

Wired.com reports, “The new policy falls in line with changes the Obama administration has enacted in the past year. In June, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The partnership will coordinate policies to ‘help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.’ ”

Eco-friendly rickshaws – soon to be all the rage.

China: Twitter’s next frontier

Will Twitter’s bluebird fly over the Great Firewall of China?

Last week, we reported that Google plans to close its Chinese search engine now that talks over censorship with Chi-Com authorities are at a stalemate. Google is expected to announce that it will withdraw from China on April 10.

But last week, Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey told a Chinese activist, “It’s just a matter of time” before Twitter enters the Chinese market despite some legal concerns.

But among the 384 million people online in China is a youthful community of tech-savvy users who have figured out a way to penetrate the “Great Firewall” that blocks access to social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube. And Twitter’s 140-character forum is used by a growing number of activists who speak freely about politically sensitive matters, despite the ever-present threat of imprisonment by the Chinese government.

Stats could soon be a problem for China

A report by Total Access (subscription required) shows there will be more mobile Internet users in China in 2010 than the entire population of the U.S. It is predicted there will be over 200 million mobile subscribers in the BRIC countries of Brazil and Russia by 2014, 853 million subscribers in India by 2014, and 1.3 billion subscribers and 957 million mobile Internet users in China by 2014. Can China control the ever-burgeoning international Internet traffic?

That little black box

Check under your dashboard. That little black box that controls the ignition and horn? Yeah, that one. Well, for some 100 Austin, Texas, drivers, that little device was used by a malcontent, former auto-dealer employee to wreak havoc on their vehicles and temporarily disrupt their lives. Horns blared during the night until auto batteries were removed. Some couldn’t get to work in the morning.

The computer-controlled black box system made by Webtech Plus is designed as an alternative to repossessing unpaid vehicles. Operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies, the black box responds to commands issued through a central website and relayed over a wireless pager network. The dealer can disable a car’s ignition system or trigger the horn as a reminder that a payment is due. The system will not stop a running vehicle, but it will get your attention – and everyone else within earshot – if your car payment is delinquent.

Can you imagine this technology in the hands of the government?

Facebook surpasses Google

The analytics service Hitwise reports that for the first time ever, Facebook is the largest website in the U.S., with 7.07 percent of all U.S. visits, beating Google at 7.03 percent. That makes six-year old Facebook the most visited site in the country, with 400 million users.

In third place is Yahoo Mail with 3.8 percent. Facebook’s market share was up a whopping 185 percent for the week compared to a year earlier, while visits to Google.com increased just 9 percent during the same period.

Are you addicted to social media? How often and when you’re checking Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites might be telling. Step away slowly …

Meanwhile, Twitter wants to know where all its users go when they leave Twitter.com. Hitwise did a survey and found that most folks go to entertainment sites and other social networks. Check out the chart to see where else Twitterers fly off to.

March Madness!

Hey, NCAA Basketball fans! You can follow your team in progress by day, round, region or conference with this electronic bracket.

Grab your favorite team sports widget and post it to your blog, social networking site or web page.

Another new app is tweetBracket, which allows you to share your picks with your Twitter followers.

The silent bodyguard

Necessity is the mother of invention. And one inventive mom saw the necessity of being able to track her children. So she devised an iPhone security application to keep her kids safe.

The app sends out an emergency alert and GPS location about every 60 seconds to the number and e-mail address you list when setting up the application. And it’s done without alerting onlookers or potential attackers. It also gives a link to Google Maps, showing the approximate location of the sender. Because it sends alerts every 60 seconds, those getting the alerts can also track your movement.

In an earlier Surfin’ Safari column, we told you about another Mom who developed an app that disables cell-phone calls and texting while teens are behind the wheel.

Look! Up in the sky!

Now you can see street-side panoramas, then look up and see what is in the sky above you. Through integration with Bing Maps Street View, WorldWide Telescope enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope, merging imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes in the world.

Experience narrated guided tours from astronomers and educators featuring interesting places in the sky.

A web-based version is also available enabling seamless, guided explorations of the universe from within a web browser on PC and Intel Mac OS X by using the power of Microsoft Silverlight 3.0.

Ticket, please

Last week, we told you about the paperless airline boarding passes. This week, it’s movie tickets.

Fandango has launched a mobile ticket program in eight cities that lets moviegoers finally go paperless. Your ticket is delivered to your mobile phone via an SMS or MMS message linked to a 2-D barcode, which the ticket-takers can scan.

MovieTickets is testing a similar program.

Budget cuts forcing schools to sell web ads

Faced with decreased funding, a growing number of school districts coping with budget cuts have or are considering selling advertising on their websites as a new revenue source.

School districts in Virginia and Arizona are already doing it. School districts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and California say they are planning to place ads soon.

Hot deals for bed and breakfast

Need to get away from it all? Looking for the best prices? Here’s a great site to find a bed and breakfast to fit your budget. Just enter the destination or inn name, and Bed and Breakfast guarantees you’re getting the best price on your stay when you book your room through them. And if you find a better price for the same room within 24 hours of your booking, on the same date(s) at the same B&B, they’ll refund the difference to you.

Looking out my back door

1956 – MLK convicted, fined

1977 – Two 747′s collide, 560 killed

1979 – Israel, Egypt shake hands

1979 – Three Mile Island radioactive leak

1983 – Reagan takes cold war to outer space, proposes SDI

1989 – Exxon Valdez runs aground off Alaska

Now playing at the Princess theater, Urbana, Ill.

An increasing number of WorldNetDaily readers are enjoying our weekly movie trivia quiz.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Robert Steenerson of Flawil, Switzerland; Beverly Thiels of Pine Knot, Ky.; Russell B. Dobbyn of Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Dave Fafarman of California; and Jeff Anderson of Morehead, N.C. – who correctly guessed actor John Wayne in his portrayal of John Bernard Books in the 1976, Oscar-nominated movie “The Shootist”.

The film tells the story of a dying gunfighter who spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity.

The quote was: “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”

This week’s trivia quote:

“Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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