Your attention please. This IS an alert …
… about a federal PLAN that has stirred up considerable controversy in a climate of deep distrust of Washington, D.C.
Some are comparing “The PLAN” to the ubiquitous “Big Brother telescreen” that ruled the lives of those who lived in the nightmarish world of George Orwell’s “1984.”
Fast forward to 2011 technology that gives our so-called texter-in-chief the ability to bring Big Brother to your cell phone. When President Obama wants your attention, he will have it. Presented innocuously to the American public as a personal alert on your cell phone to warn of a crisis, the PLAN, or Personal Localized Alerting Network, will sound an alert – or the president will send you a message – whether you want it or not.
Comments included the following:
“Why am I not allowed to opt out of presidential messages? The president is not allowed to insert himself into my life without my consent, and my cell phone is my life. This administration is becoming more Orwellian every day. “
“It’s definitely a Big Brother creep out. Remember when the nuts used to say that Bush was going to declare martial law and cancel elections? I’d believe it of thisg uy.”
Rush Limbaugh observed that terrorists – who also carry cell phones – will use it to their advantage and satirically commented on the potential for governmental abuse: “You know, if they don’t want us talking to each other, all they gotta do is flood these networks with never-ending emergency alerts. Well, no, no, it’s true. If what Bloomberg says is true, they can override any network congestion, they can get through any mess, that means they can stop us from talking to each other, if they wanted, were so inclined, and you know how they feel about tea-party Times Square bombers.”
The new system is an expansion of the Federal Communications Commission’s emergency alert system currently broadcast over radio and television and is set to be rolled out in New York City by the end of this year. The rest of the U.S. will be online by mid-2012.
And from the “Oh, come on” department, several U.S. senators are quite willing to violate your First Amendment rights with the Protect IP Act, a little piece of legislation that would make linking to certain sites a felony. Care to know who these anti-Constitutionalists are?
Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Sheldon Whitehouse, Lindsey Graham, Herb Kohl, Chris Coons, Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Chris Coons.
Victims and villains : a Silicon Valley soap opera
It’s been high drama in Silicon Valley since Facebook was caught with its PR pants down. The social media giant ‘fessed up that it paid one of the world’s largest public relations firms to get reporters and bloggers to write reports and op-eds that would cast suspicion on the privacy policies of Google’s Social Circle. In other words, smear Google.
So, Facebook and Google are bitter rivals. Who knew? The plot thickens.
PR firm Burson-Marsteller admitted it went against its own policy when it agreed to protect the client Facebook’s identity while trying to plant the stories. Oh what a tangled web we weave…
Facebook hired Burson-Marsteller to pitch the nasty stories to high-profile U.S. news outlets, including the Washington Post and USA Today. When suspicious reporters asked who B-M represented, they refused to say. Uh, oh. One reporter challenged the firm and later published an email exchange between himself and B-M’s agent that let the Facebook cat out of the bag.
Burson-Marsteller later issued a public statement, admitting its culpability.
And as for Facebook? The company is claiming innocence. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, iPad puts Apple over Google as world’s most valued brand. Anyone care to venture a guess when Google will compete with its own operating system? Here’s a clue: keep reading.
Google declares war on Windows
While Google fights off slings and arrows from Facebook, the cyber giant has declared war on the 10-year-old Windows operating system. Google’s weapon? A Web-based operating system called Chrome OS, which will be unleashed in June to render Windows and other operating systems (Apple, for example) obsolete. Estimates show more than 50 percent of computers are still using Windows XP.
“For $28 per user per month ($20 for government offices and schools), companies can rent “Chromebook” netbooks from Google and get support included,” CNN reports. Samsung’s model will cost $429 with Wi-Fi and $499 with 3G. The Acer version will cost $349. Both notebooks will be available June 15th at Best Buy and Amazon.
Back in business
But when it comes to fighting back, Microsoft now has some breathing room.
After being shackled for ten years with an antitrust suit brought by the Justice Department that barred Microsoft from anti-competitive practices, those constraints have expired. Last week, Microsoft bought Internet phone service Skype Global for $8.5 billion, adding to its product offerings. The Los Angeles Times reported that the purchase is being touted as Microsoft’s “largest acquisition ever and the tech world’s most massive deal in years”.
Skype delivers free real-time online voice and video and fee-based connections to land line or mobile phones to some 170 million users who chatted for 207 billion minutes last year. With this acquisition, Skype users will be connected to Microsoft’s Lync, Outlook and Xbox Live.
More privacy problems for Google, Apple on Capitol Hill
Count on Congress to be busy as bees when it comes to your privacy. No fewer than five legislative bills have been introduced this session, three of which would allow smart phone users to turn off tracking features.
A hearing last Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law aimed a spotlight on Google and Apple’s ability to gather personal data about mobile phone and computer users. One technical consultant testified that using data from Wi-Fi networks, a phone can be located within 20 to 100 feet.
Third-party software developers will be required to adhere to privacy policies that tell users how their data is being used, per Apple and Google requirements.
And while they were at it, the Senate subcommittee chewed on Apple and Google for their DUI checkpoint apps. Both tech giants got a thorough grilling from the New York senator who’s looking out for you, Chuck Schumer.
Blogger is back!
Bloggers using Google’s Blogger were dismayed last week when the platform went down, leaving them unable to post or comment for more than 20 hours. The outage was attributed to data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior, according to a post by Eddie Kessler, tech lead/manager at Blogger Buzz.
The future is here
- Visa’s digital wallet and more. A cashless society takes one giant step closer to reality with Visa’s digital wallet service that can be used to buy things online or with the wave of a smart phone.
- More futuristic developments coming: Google’s Android automated home. Google’s Android@Home will make your home as smart as your phone. Want to turn off your lights or control devices and appliances in your home? Your Android will function as a remote control. Or you can use Lockitron, the key to unlocking your door with your phone. Watch for many more wondrous innovations coming out of the two-day Google conference for thousands of software developer attendees.
- Obama iPod old news, Queen moves on to iPad Even the steeped in tradition, archaic 85-year-old Queen of England has stepped into the future. Upon seeing the marvels of her grandsons’ iPad, HRH Elizabeth ordered up an iPad2 of her very own. No word on what she’s done with the lovely speech-laden iPod given to her by Obama. Rumor has it it’s stuffed in the back of her monogrammed dainties drawer.
- Grubwithus update: Investors pouring big bucks into social dining venture. Who’s investing in this brilliant idea? You’ll have to click here to find out. But while I’ve got you, let me whet your appetite with an explanation of how “Grubwithus” works from MG Siegler at Tech Crunch: “You browse for a restaurant you’d like to go to in a certain city and buy a ticket for your meal at a set price. But the key is that others do this as well, all with the intention of meeting new people over dinner. And when you’re buying your ticket, you can see who your dinner buddies will be. Yes, it’s sort of like Groupon meets Meetup. And yes, it’s brilliant.”
- The Top 10: Very young, very rich and very influential.
Another nail in the paper coffin
If you didn’t think that print news media is going the way of the dinosaurs, buggy whips and roller skate keys, read this and watch the video about the New Yorker magazine app. Just another nail in the print media coffin.
Toss away your local newspaper, cancel your subscription. Now you can get all the local news you can use on your smart phone. Since 2008, Google has made it possible for you to get the news localized to any geographic area on your computer screen. Now Google is making it possible for smart phone users too. To take advantage of the new feature, visit news.google.com on your smart phone and enable “location sharing.”
More online tyranny: Pakistan wants to ban Facebook
A Pakistani court is considering whether Facebook and other similar websites should be permanently banned due to blasphemy: allowing users to place caricatures of Mohammed and other prophets on their sites. The petitioner said that the 2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day contest scheduled for May 20 was evidence of “international mischief against Islam”.
After hearing arguments, the court ruled that disrespect to the “Holy Prophet (pbuh)” will not be allowed at any cost and ordered the contest organizers to be charged with criminal action. Remember though, Islam is a beautiful religion and teaches tolerance.
Taliban begins Tweeting?
The medieval Taliban has found a new theater in which to wage their war against the infidel: Twitter.
Ummm, aren’t they the same Neanderthals that hate modern technology? Be sure to note who they’re “following.” The Taliban twitter address is @alemarahweb. I’m sure you can come up with 140 characters or less to welcome them to the Twitterverse.
Attention parents: Now you can stalk your children with Footprints app. And reward them for calling home. And when they are at home, do you know what they’re doing online? Also, have you any idea how many millions of underage users are on Facebook?
The time capsule
1918 – Sedition Act of 1918
1990 – Sammy Davis, Jr. dies at 64
Now playing at the Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.
Congratulations to WND readers Tim Kerlin of Watervliet, Mich., and Ruth Thornton of Albuquerque, N.M., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Slim Pickens in his portrayal of Major King Kong in the 1964 movie “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” which also starred Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the four-time Oscar-nominated movie tells the tale of paranoid Brig. General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who, believing that fluoridation of the American water supply is a Soviet plot to poison the U.S. populace, deploys a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union without the knowledge of his superiors, including the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The quote was: “Well, boys, we got three engines out, we got more holes in us than a horse trader’s mule, the radio is gone and we’re leaking fuel and if we was flying any lower why we’d need sleigh bells on this thing … but we got one little budge on them Rooskies. At this height why they might harpoon us, but they dang sure ain’t gonna spot us on no radar screen!”
This week’s quote: “Look, Vince – the brave ones don’t come home. You stay scared.”
Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!