Might Google Broadband be coming to your town?

Google’s announcement last month that it would build a high-speed, fiber broadband network set off fierce competition among 600 communities. Google has received more than 1,100 community responses and more than 194,000 responses from individuals. Google will review and narrow them down before conducting on-site visits and meet with local officials.

The winning community will be announced by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, some cities are pulling out all the stops to win Google’s favor. The mayor of Topeka, Kan., signed a proclamation that for the month of March, Topeka would be known as “Google, Kansas.”

The mayor of Duluth, Minn., decreed that all firstborn males be named “Google Fiber” and all firstborn females be named “Googlette Fiber.”

Baltimore appointed a “Google Czar” and launched BmoreFiber, a website reading, “Ask Google to Invest Billions in Baltimore’s Future.”

Santa Monica posted a YouTube video featuring local talent.

Palo Alto’s residents did a song and dance to the Village People’s YMCA.

Oklahoma City crowdsourced ideas, and North Carolina’s Asheville passed a proclamation to make a specified time the city’s “Google Moment.”

Greenville, S.C., citizens spelled out Google with color coded glow sticks.

Peoria, Ill., created a cartoon.

BING updates, competes with Google

Microsoft will implement some updates to its Bing search engine, as part of its effort to take a bite out of Google’s dominant position.

Microsoft’s research indicates that 42 percent of all Bing queries require some refinements for users to find exactly what they’re looking for. Bing offers a “Quick Tabs” pane to the left of results to help you get to content that might in some way relate to your query. But Microsoft is working hard to improve that feature. For you, of course.

Microsoft will test new Bing designs in the next few months, and one of the first things you’ll notice – the Quick Tabs pane will move to the top of the search page.

Havin’ a tea party across this land

By the time you read this, the historic Tea Party Express Nationwide Tour will already be underway, and I’m on board, writing about it and speaking to the crowds.

Launched Saturday in Searchlight, Nev., home of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, before a crowd of thousands, the three-bus caravan pulled into the event that headlined Sarah Palin.

If you can’t be there in person, the 42-city tour schedule will be streamed live on the Tea Party website. Meet the Tea Party team.

Wirelessly enabling everything

Bringing the world closer together, AT&T wants you to stay connected.

Opportunities abound to provide wireless data services for new applications like smart meters, networked handheld games, additional tablet PCs, digital cameras and media players.

Barron’s reports, “Put a sensor in a dog collar, and you can find Fido when he runs away. Sew a sensor in your child’s shirt, and you can figure out where he went after school. Put a sensor in a shipping pallet, and you can track the location of your goods in real time.”

Top tech-friendly countries

Forbes reports the World Economic Forum and the French business school INSEAD ranked 133 countries’ “network readiness,” based on dozens of criteria, including the availability of venture capital, broadband adoption, intellectual property protection and science and math education. Each category was scored 1 (the highest rank) to 133 (the lowest rank).

The result: the U.S. has slipped from third to fifth place, and Europe may be a more innovative high-tech hub than ever.

Combating cyber spies, keeping your data safe

As cyber espionage gains new tactics and new targets, here are some real ways to keep your data safe. And a warning to those who steal data: you will face severe consequences.

U.S. Air Force crackdown on Blackberries

New U.S. Air Force regulations will disable most Bluetooth functions. The only feature that will continue to work will be the smartcard reader cradle, a device that holds the user’s Common Access Card (a Department of Defense smart ID that is used for computer and network security, pictured here).

This means users will not be able to receive text messages with attached photos or videos and will also restrict users from downloading additional apps to their handheld device.

Google shutters Chinese operations

Following up on our report in last week’s Surfin’ Safari column, Google’s decision to close its self-censored Internet search service in mainland China has resulted in diverse reactions.

Google is redirecting traffic from its Beijing-based site to its search-engine service in Hong Kong, which is not censored.

Google is urging the U.S. government to make net censorship part of its trade and diplomatic negotiations. Google received congressional praise at a hearing last week of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Google might be setting a precedent that other companies will be measured against.

Two U.S. companies that sell Internet addresses to Web sites have stopped registering new domain names in China because the Chinese government has begun demanding pictures and other identification documents from their customers. Go Daddy and Network Solutions action comes over concerns about customer security and “the chilling effect” of the new Chinese government requirements.

Aussies propose censorship – Google, Yahoo object

Australia intends to implement mandatory filtering across the country’s millions of Internet users, drawing criticism and concern that the move could “negatively impact user access speeds”; while filtering material from high-volume sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter might not even be technologically possible as it would have such a serious impact on Internet access.

Photoshop breakthrough technology

You really won’t be able to believe your eyes with Photoshop’s newest feature. Here’s an amazing demo of the “content-aware fill” tool that’s apparently forthcoming in Photoshop CS5. The tool will make it easy to delete objects from a complex photo, without any trace they ever existed. The ramifications for Internet publishing are frightening. Click here to see the new tool in action.

Digital secretary service demand grows

If you can’t afford to miss critical voice calls, YouMail is for you. YouMail is a ‘digital secretary’ type service that offers visual voice mail, smart filtering, voice-to-text transcriptions and custom greetings. YouMail offers free applications for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry platforms, as well as a paid application for Palm’s webOS platform.

YouMail operates only in the United States, and has surpassed the 1 million registered users mark but has also handled over 300 million calls since its inception in 2007.

Twitter cloned by Microsoft?

You had to know that it wouldn’t take long for Twitter to get some competition.

Microsoft is testing a Twitter clone called OfficeTalk, a corporate intranet. Microsoft calls it a vehicle that “applies the base capabilities of microblogging to a business environment, enabling employees to post their thoughts, activities and potentially valuable information to anyone who might be interested.”

Twitter television: Twision

Have you heard the latest? YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are merging. The new entity will be called “You Twit Face.”

I’m kidding. But with the social messaging network as dynamic as it is, you might expect to see some do-si-do-ing among the newly established microblogs.

The latest with Twitter is Twision, a kind of visual twitter chat. The show, which is seen only in Spain right now, takes place in a studio with two guys on laptops and a huge screen behind them to showcase tweets. The anchors also show videos and other content as shared on Twitter.

Twitter’s first Tweet? No one’s sure

What was the world’s first tweet? That is the question. Was it you?

Social networks – a lifeline for the ill

Social networks are a place to chit chat about inanities, as well as important news sharing. But for those who are housebound, these networks play an even more important role. Some would even say a critical role.

It’s historic

1951 – Rosenbergs found guilty of espionage

1968 – Martin Luther King assassinated

1971 – Manson sentenced to gas chamber

1981 – Ronald Reagan Shot outside DC hotel (incidentally, check out We’re all Republicans today – video and interesting links)

1996 – Unabomber arrested

2005 – Pope John Paul II dies

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations this week to WorldNetDaily reader Chris Garrick of Lancaster, Calif., who correctly guessed the actor Robert Redford in his portrayal of Joseph Turner in the 1976, Oscar-nominated movie “Three Days of the Condor.” The film told the story of a bookish CIA researcher who finds all his co-workers dead and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust.

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

This week’s trivia quote: “I know how hard it is in these times to have faith. But maybe if you could have the faith to start with, maybe the times would change. You could change them. Think about it. Try. And try not to hurt each other. There’s been enough of that. It really gets in the way. I’m a god of very few words, and Jerry’s already given you mine. However hopeless, helpless, mixed up and scary it all gets, it can work. If you find it hard to believe in me, maybe it would help you to know that I believe in you.”

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

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