Google sues US government agency over using Microsoft only

Google has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior for requiring that messaging technologies must be part of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite in order to be considered for procurement, reports ReadWriteWeb. The well-respected blog TechDirt reported first on the suit and says it “seems like they’ve got a decent argument there.”

The Department of Interior justified its preference for Microsoft in part because of the company’s “enhanced security,” but it was Google’s first version of Google Apps for Government that became this summer the first cloud solution to win the Federal government’s Federal Information Security Management Act certification. Likewise, Google Apps were good enough for now-U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra when he was the CTO for the District of Columbia in 2008 and switched the government there to Google…

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Omeka launches a hosted platform to move museum collections to the cloud

Open-source publishing platform Omeka announces today the launch of a hosted Web service, Omeka.net. While similar in some ways to the content management system provided by WordPress, Omeka is geared towards the online exhibition of library, museum and archive collections, reports ReadWriteWeb. And much like WordPress and other services have simplified the publication of texts online, Omeka is aimed at helping bring academic scholarship and cultural heritage sites to the Internet. By using Omeka.net, scholars and archivists will be able to easily build digital exhibits and publish digital scholarship, while also taking advantage of Web 2.0 tools that foster collaboration and communication. Omeka handles a variety of content – images, audio, video, text – all of which can be marked with the standards-based Dublin Core metadata. The new hosted service offers five different plans for users (including a free option), with different features and pricing based on the number of sites, plugins, and storage, so that both individual and institutional users will be able to utilize Omeka…

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Amazon Kindle will let you lend your eBooks. Once. Maybe.

Amazon’s Kindle Team announced on Friday that it plans to make lending for Kindle available “soon,” reports ReadWriteWeb. The feature will allow you to loan your Kindle books to other Kindle devices or Kindle app users for a two-week period. This announcement brings to the Kindle one of the key features touted by the Barnes & Noble Nook: the ability to loan out your eBooks. But there are restrictions, of course. Some echo the restrictions of a printed, physical object: While the book is on loan and not on your bookshelf, so to speak, you don’t have access to it. You can’t read it until you get the eBook back. Why the laws of physics must hold for digital texts, I surely do not know. But some of the restrictions are particular to the eBooks and are likely to frustrate book-lovers and would-be-eBook-sharers…

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Why buy the cow? Open Wi-Fi networks slow broadband adoption

A report by analyst firm Mintel released this week claims that “Wi-Fi pirating” could be a main reason for the slow growth of broadband adoption over recent years, reports ReadWriteWeb. According to Mintel, “home internet services saw revenues increase by only 3% over the past five years”, but surely internet use itself has been on the rise. The firm found that 72% say that they have internet access at home, but only 56% report subscribing to a service at home. Where does the discrepancy come from?

“Home internet penetration barely moved from 2006 to 2009. The slow growth in the era of Facebook, Pandora and YouTube shows that people are accessing the internet from home through different methods, even if they haven’t paid for access themselves,” said Billy Hulkower, a senior analyst at Mintel. “Younger consumers appear especially likely to use a neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal instead of subscribing at home as they are more likely to know how to find and connect to their neighbors’ service.”

Beyond these “young consumer”, guess who else appear most likely to steal Wi-Fi – those households bringing in more than $75,000 a year……Read More

The story behind ‘Free Public WiFi’-It’s not

You’ve probably seen it a thousand times and even thought “Hey, why not?” but it never seems to work, says ReadWriteWeb. Don’t worry – you’re not alone – and this weekend NPR ferreted out the story behind the ever present and never functional “Free Public WiFi”. Everywhere you go, there it is…but it isn’t because the government finally started offering ubiquitous WiFi for public use without you knowing. Instead, it’s a bug in Windows XP that started years ago and has spread computer to computer, like a virus. According to wireless security expert Joshua Wright, the bug has been around for about four years now and, although mostly harmless, could provide an entry point for mal-intentioned visitors…

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Windows phone 7 revealed: What you need to know

Microsoft officially unveiled its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, at a press event in New York City, reports ReadWriteWeb. CEO Steve Ballmer described the new line of Windows Phones as “different” and more modern, in both design and principles. With Windows Phone 7, the focus is on how “real people want to use their phones,” he said.  Besides being different, a key point Microsoft needs to drive home if wanting to compete in a crowded mobile landscape, there was also a big focus on personalization. “We also wanted these to be wonderfully mine, or yours, or yours, or the next person. Here’s my phone, the way I’ve made it wonderfully mine,” explained Ballmer. “My photos, my email, my start screen, my activities, my world… and of course, my avatar.”

The Software : Microsoft Corporate VP Joe Belifore described the phone’s final software as an operating system that helps you get things done. “We wanted to figure out how to build a phone that simplifies the basics,” he said…

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Despite rumors, MIT OpenCourseWare insists ‘no paywall’

Contrary to erroneous reports, MIT says it has no plans to implement a paywall for its free open courseware, ReadWriteWeb reports. “That is simply not under consideration,” says Steve Carson, MIT OpenCourseWare’s external relations director. After all, there are some 250 sites that mirror MIT OpenCourseWare, and more than 10 million copies of course packages have been downloaded. The information is already out there. And the mission of the program remains the same: “open sharing of MIT teaching materials with educators, students, and self-learners around the world.” Although there is no paywall in store for the program, Carson does say the project has to be mindful of budgetary issues. The program cost $3.7 million to run last year. The site now features a prominent “Donate Now” button. Carson says that small donations—around the $50 level—comprised about $220,000 in the program’s revenues last year, and the program hopes to hit $500,000 this fiscal year. Likening MIT OpenCourseWare to the “information for public good” services of NPR and PBS, Carson says that the program will seek funding from both charitable organizations, as well as corporate underwriters. Currently the program is considering advertising on the web site, something Carson thinks will appeal to organizations who want to be in front of a global audience of well-educated people…

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