BUSH TO OFFER $1.4 BILLION FOR RURAL TECH DEVELOPMENT
The Bush administration is proposing more than $1.4 billion to expand the country's high-speed technology infrastructure in rural areas, with $196 million allotted for 2004, the Agriculture Department announced Wednesday. The funds -- in the form of loans and guarantees for rural telecommunications providers -- are part of an effort to expand technology access for farmers and rural residents and businesses. "More effective computer systems and satellite technologies will help USDA provide better services to our nation's farmers and ranchers, who rely so heavily on our services and programs," Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said in a statement. The funding was announced during a two-way Webcast with various rural businesses and community centers to demonstrate the benefits of the service, which Rural Development Secretary Thomas Dorr said would create more jobs and stronger rural economies by giving these communities access to the digital economy.
SLAMMER: BAD, BUT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE
The so-called Slammer virus that crippled the Internet last weekend could have caused much more damage had it been better designed. David Litchfield, the researcher who discovered the weakness the worm exploited, said it easily could have been designed to identify itself as a specific type of UDP traffic that would have gone through most firewalls, New Scientist magazine reported. Litchfield himself was aware of the flaw in Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 software that the hacker exploited and alerted the company to its potential. The virus has been a major embarrassment to Microsoft and, New Scientist reported, some of the company's own corporate networks had not been updated and became infected.
ONLINE ... ON EVEREST?
Climbers stopping at a glacier more than 17,000 feet up Mount Everest soon will be able to e-mail friends and loved ones, thanks to the grandson of a record-setting Sherpa, according to the British news provider Ananova. Everest has been without Web access since 2001, when Maoist rebels in Nepal's ongoing civil war destroyed the previous Internet café. Tsering Gyaltsen Sherpa, 32, plans to open the cafe almost 1,000 feet from Everest base camp. Tsering's grandfather joined Sir Edmund Hillary in the first expedition to summit Mount Everest in 1953. Expeditions will be charged almost $1,000 to use the transmitter, Ananova reports. The money will go toward purchasing equipment for the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which cleans Mount Everest of the garbage expeditions leave behind. However, Internet access also will be made available to the remote area's residents. The café is expected to open in March.
YAHOO! LAUNCHES PAID MUSIC SITE
Yahoo! Wednesday announced the launch of its new paid music service, called LAUNCH. The new subscription service is part of Yahoo!s larger plan to start charging users for content and services. LAUNCHcast Plus is the premium version of its free online Webcast, LAUNCHcast, which the company said will give users more options for online music, including commercial-free music, more niche stations -- such as the One Hit Wonders station -- and community features. LAUNCHcast Plus costs $3.99 a month or $35.99 a year, and is available at launch.yahoo.com.
FOR SALE ON eBAY: EDITORIAL STAFF
We've seen a bridge, a town, and a family offered online at Internet auction site eBay in recent weeks. The newest offering, according to internet.com, is the entire staff of news provider ZDNet Tech Update. "We work well together, but none of us have found permanent employment since then, so I thought I'd try something creative," former Senior Editor Lee Schlesinger told Internetnews.com. After being fired from SDNet Tech Update parent company CNET Networks, the 11-person group decided to band together to sell themselves off either as a group or as contract workers. Included in the package: a former executive editor, a former executive producer and three senior producers as well nine staff members in the Boston area -- including managing editors and a senior content management developer. The winning bid would be expected to provide annual "salary and benefits in the high six figures," Lee told internetnews.
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