A recently released study conducted by the American Library Association (ALA) found that more than 20 percent of the nation’s libraries have benefited from broadband stimulus programs. The Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (“BTOP”) arose out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also know as the Stimulus Act).
The BTOP grants referenced in the study fell into three categories: the Public Computer Center Grants, the Sustainable Broadband Adoption Program, and the Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Program. The majority came in the first category. Read more
This might be one of the few D.C. trade association blogs that could open with a re-posting of a thesis that Chewbacca was actually a highly-placed spy, and Han Solo was simply an unwitting cover for the hairy agent. A friend of mine forwarded the post to me last year in an email saying, “My mind is officially blown. Destroyed. I can’t look at Star Wars the same way again.” If you’re a Star Wars fan, then the original post is worth a read. If you’re not, then I’ll skip to the point and propose that there are instances in which a novel approach to a common problem can open new and innovative perspectives.
About a month ago, Ben Thompson on stratechery.com proposed that Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” can be translated to define the mobile wireless market, with specific application (no pun intended) to the iPhone. OK. That’s a mouthful, and I’ll be honest – until I saw the post, I had no idea who Maslow or what the Hierarchy of Needs were; as Clint Eastwood admitted to Rene Russo in In the Line of Fire, “I had to look it up.” But, here it is in a nutshell: Maslow, an American psychologist, proposed that basic human needs must be met before more intricate goals such as morality, problem solving and creativity can be mastered. The theory is often presented in pyramid form, with physiological needs such as breathing, eating and sleeping occupying the base layer while employment, friendship, self-esteem and confidence take roost at upper levels. Stated simply (and perhaps robbing Maslow’s observations of their elegance), property doesn’t matter if you’re not eating. Or, as Thompson notes, “until lower order needs are met, we don’t really pay attention to or pursue higher order needs.” Read more
Last week, Microsoft introduced a preview edition of Skype for Outlook.com in the UK. The product is scheduled to be rolled out in the United States and Germany in the coming weeks.
The new product will feature the ability to engage in video and audio calling powered by Skype embedded in every Outlook.com (a free email service) inbox. Once set up, a user reading an email on Outlook.com can simply move their cursor over the picture of the person who sent an email, or of anyone in their contacts, and initiate a Skype call or chat session. Once a user’s Skype and Microsoft accounts are merged, their Skype contacts will merge into Outlook.com. Set-up requires the download of a plug-in for users’ Internet browser, although only the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox are supported. Details on additional browser support are forthcoming.
When Microsoft purchased Skype in 2011, critics questioned how the two companies with such different services could merge their products in a way that made sense to consumers. Two years later, Skype for Outlook.com represents the first major step towards integrating the two services.
Microsoft recently launched a new version of Outlook.com, and claims it has not only been a wild success (with 60 million users), but that it is attracting numerous Gmail users. The new Outlook.com replaced Hotmail, which had for several years been badly languishing behind Gmail. Bing has been slowly increasing its market share, and the success of Outlook.com may have given Microsoft some momentum. The launch of Skype for Outlook.com may continue that momentum and enable Microsoft to push back on Google’s market share.
There is probably little doubt that the phrase “buzz kill” was invented to describe Washington, D.C. At a Nationals game last week, the ceremonial first pitch was tossed by…the acting administrator of the EPA. To be fair, it was Earth Day, and I do not intend any personal or professional affront to the acting administrator. But, only in Washington would bureaucracy be confused with celebrity.
I experienced another brush with the concept of substitution last week, also at Nationals Park. I took my family to the Nationals-Reds game, mostly because my former “hometown” Reds were in town. But, my enthusiasm for the Reds had dipped during a period of soulless management that coincided with the 1994/1995 strike, and the rebirth of baseball in D.C. over the past several years (and also energized by the Nats’ stunning regular season and wrenching post-season last year) made me somewhat ambivalent as I entered the first base gate. To the accurate meaning of the word, I had strong feelings in both directions: the white “C” on the Reds caps still affects me, yet on daily basis I still check for the Nationals scores first. An economist might ask whether (for me, at least) the Reds and Nats are effective substitutes. Read more