Denver airport Wi-Fi blocks popular magazine Web sites

First and foremost, Denver International’s wifi network isn’t free, they sell big banner ads that run in your web browser while you are using it. Microsoft was sponsoring it when I tried it, in fact you had to watch a 30 second spot before the network would actually load, so it’s more accurately described as “subsidized” and not free. The annoyance factor of the banner ads is only surpassed by the amazingly slow speed they offer. I tried it once and quickly decided it was unusable in the general sense.

Want to browse Vanity Fair magazine on the Denver airport’s free Wi-Fi system? Sorry. You’ll have to buy it at the newsstand, because Denver International Airport’s Internet filter blocks Vanity Fair as “provocative.”

[From Travel | Denver airport Wi-Fi blocks popular magazine Web sites | Seattle Times Newspaper]

Mid-Week Quick Links

The thing about this that is interesting to me is not that print or broadcast is declining but rather their audience is shifting to another format that the user controls yet major brands (like newspapers and broadcast networks) are exquisitely well positioned to take advantage of. Just like NBC expanded into several distinct cable channels, they could likewise do internet only distribution. Newspaper online traffic is increasing while at the same time their print distribution is declining.

Jeff Zucker to Print Reporters: Drop Dead

“When we try to evolve NBC News, a lot of people want to write about that,” he said, suggesting that newspaper reporters’ seeming obsession with the declining fortunes of the TV-news business was a bit of schadenfreude.

“The thing they want is for the [TV-news] business to die faster [than the newspaper business], because that’s what makes them feel better,” he added.

[From Jeff Zucker to Print Reporters: Drop Dead – 2/28/2008 12:40:00 PM – Broadcasting & Cable]

While generally not a fan of technology roll-ups, Mzinga (stupid name IMO) does have an impressive array of community technologies under one brand now. This is bad news for Jive.

Enterprise Community Provider Mzinga Swallows Propsero

Burlington, MA-based Mzinga, which provides social networking, community, and e-learning solutions for the enterprise, is today announcing that it has acquired Prospero. Prospero is itself a provider of enterprise community solutions, but where Mzinga mainly deals with corporate social networks, Prospero’s product line focuses on the consumer side of community building. The combined company will become a market leader in the enterprise community space, with 1 billion pages served per month across 14,000 communities.

[From Enterprise Community Provider Mzinga Swallows Propsero – ReadWriteWeb]

This piece on the AP/Google deal is a really good read. Basically I think that newspapers have sown the seeds for their own destruction insofar as abandoning real reporting in favor of wire services. But in the end it points to the need for newspapers to double down and focus on local and regional coverage as a means of driving their advertising.

The AP/Google Alliance sends bad signals to newspapers

Mutter beautifully describes the decision by Google to divert traffic away from publishers and broadcasters by linking directly to news of AP, AFP, UK Press Association and Canadian press. Consumers will no longer follow an AP story to the Bighorn Bugle.

Mutter does a great job of explaining the banner ad implications of the move and he correctly points out how papers like the Bugle have never netted huge traffic from AP stories. And, he is spot-on when he describes the way too many newspapers are shying away from original content on their sites and relying on wire copy.

[From McGuire on Media » The AP/Google Alliance sends bad signals to newspapers]

When are “privacy advocates” expressing something other than worry about technology?

Radio frequency ID tags in garments worry privacy experts

Their goal is to raise awareness among consumers that the data-gathering chips are becoming embedded in their lives – in items like credit cards, public transportation passes, work access badges, borrowed library books and supermarket loyalty cards.

[From Radio frequency ID tags in garments worry privacy experts – International Herald Tribune]

Of course when it comes to Facebook we should probably be watching the privacy topic more closely…

Enraged by Facebook

But today took the cake. Today I received a comment on a posted item from a person who is not in my friends list, and it tipped me off that something must be funky over in privacy setting land again.

To my horror and irritation, Facebook has re-vamped that whole page… and re-set all my privacy options back to so that I’m sharing my Facebook life with “All my networks and all my friends”.

[From Enraged by Facebook | ~a smattering of sarah~]

Good Government

Here’s just one more reason why government should stay out of the business of providing services. If SF sunk these turbines in the Bay it is estimated, by the study that SF itself commissioned, that the cost per megawatt hour would be as much as eleven and a half times higher than PG&E’s retail electricity rate and produce far less electricity than Newsom has been promoting.

This, along with the $51 per mile hydrogen buses, is a good example of why politically motivated public officials are poor stewards of our economic welfare. It’s all well and good to talk about renewable energy, but when the price tag for one solution is hopelessly too expensive, to the point that it simply isn’t feasible, then quite talking about it and find something better to invest in.

With stories like this it is not difficult to extrapolate to why the once great state of California has a $16.5 billion deficit for a budget that has grown 40% under Governor Schwarzenegger. The state’s revenues are estimated to be over $120 billion for the next budget year, which means we have more revenue than we have ever had in the history of California. The problem is not that the state isn’t collecting enough taxes and fees, the problem is that they are spending too much money and borrowing to close the gap.

A study paid for by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission found that the turbines would cost as much as $15 million each and $750,000 a year to maintain. Though the technology would make it possible create power by harnessing tides in the bay, the small amount of power the turbines would generate does not make paying the hefty price tag worthwhile, the report concluded.

Newsom, however, said the findings won’t deter him from pushing ahead with the idea. On Tuesday, he said, “I am going to find a way to make it happen.

“I’m committed to it and am going to fight for it,” Newsom said. “I don’t care about the arguments against it. I care about the arguments for it.”

[From Newsom backs turbine power despite study]

CAPTCHA is Dead, Long Live CAPTCHA!

Whenever I run into a captcha I wonder what the effect is on participation when it is conceivable that a significant percentage of internet users will abandon the effort after a few failed attempts. It’s not uncommon that I will have to enter captcha text 2-3 times before succeeding (typepad seems most problematic for me). These along with their close cousin, logic and math tests, are terrible solutions to the bots vs. humans problem.

At some point, unfortunately, CAPTCHA devolves from a simple human reading test into an intelligence test or an acuity test. Depending on how invasive you want to be, you’ll eventually be forced to move to two-factor authentication, like sending a text message to someone’s cell phone with a temporary key.

[From Coding Horror: CAPTCHA is Dead, Long Live CAPTCHA!]