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Archive: Kim Hart

Posted at 2:12 PM ET, 06/13/2009

DTV Transition Finally Complete

Yesterday's transition to digital television went fairly smoothly with only a few minor glitches, federal officials said, although there is an unknown number of viewers who may still need help tuning into the new broadcast signals.

Throughout the day Friday, 971 full-power stations dropped their analog broadcasts, forcing consumers to install a converter box or upgrade to a digital TV set. Cable and satellite customers were largely unaffected by the switch. Federal Communications Commission staffers have been working around the clock to man the main DTV hotline: 1-888-CALL-FCC. The call centers received 317,450 calls yesterday, and has received nearly 700,000 calls since Monday. The call volume has tapered off today.

"Its looking more like Y2K than the Bay of Pigs," said FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein on a conference call with reporters. But he added that efforts to identify and help consumers who had lost TV reception were still underway.

Nearly 30 percent of the calls to the FCC hotline concerned the operation of the digital converter boxes, most of which were resolved when consumers were instructed to "rescan" for channels. More than 20 percent of the calls dealt with reception issues, as a result of needing a new antenna, living too far away from the broadcast tower to receive a signal, or the station's digital coverage area changing slightly than its analog coverage area.

About 3 million households were considered to be unprepared for the transition, but the commissioners said it is impossible to know how many actually lost TV service.

Viewers in Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore were the most prevalent callers seeking help from the FCC. In Chicago, one station had trouble getting its digital signal to downtown residents living in high-rises. In Dallas, one broadcaster had trouble getting its digital signal to be picked up and rebroadcast by a satellite service provider. In other markets, a handful of stations had technical difficulties and were off the air for a short amount of time. In Memphis, a tornado prevented stations from making the switch. The FCC said it issued 23 extensions to stations around the country, mostly in smaller markets.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said it is too early to declare the transition a success. "A transition of this size inevitably causes disruption," he said. "Now job number one is to help restore service to consumers who are having problems."

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 06/ 2/2009

My DTV Debacle

Two months ago, my husband and I got rid of our subscription to satellite television service. We weren't watching it enough to justify the $75 a month fee, and it was a good way to cut down on our monthly expenses.

So instead we took advantage of a sale and got a new flat-screen plasma TV set to replace the 12-year-old CRT set that was on the fritz. With the major stations in the Washington area already airing digital signals, we were excited about getting the great digital picture on our gleaming new TV.

But when we set it all up and scanned for the stations, we only picked up a few. And the reception wasn't great. So we bought a $50 table-top antenna that a salesman at the electronic store said should be strong enough to pick up the stations. It turns out that it can pick up the stations, but only when the antenna is facing the precise direction of each station's tower.

So if I want to switch between a program on NBC and ABC, I have to get up each time and slightly adjust the antenna so the picture will come in clearly.

Many analog TV viewers have the same problem. But with analog TV, you can see the picture and hear the sound even if there's a bit of snow bleeding through. With digital TV, however, any disturbance causes the picture to freeze and the sound to cut out, making it nearly impossible to watch the show. The tendency of digital signals to dissolve due to any disruption is known as the "cliff effect."

It looks like we'll have to get a stronger rooftop antenna to pick up all the signals in our area without so much fuss. But I decided to fiddle around with the table-top antenna to be sure I couldn't find a way to make it work.

I extended the antennas. Pointed them in every direction. Put the antenna on the floor, then on top of a bookshelf. Finally I found a position on a nearby table pointing north. I rescanned the channels and they seemed to come in fairly clearly.

Relieved, I sat back down on the couch and started watching. Then the cat walked in front of the antenna -- and the picture froze. My husband sat on the love seat -- and the picture disappeared completely. I've resigned to having to install a big, awkward, not-so-pretty antenna on our roof.

We've written many times about the trouble some people will have receiving digital reception when the transition to digital TV happens June 12. (That's only 10 days away.)
If you have an ill-placed tree in your yard, you could lose a channel. If you live near tall buildings, several stations' signals may not be able to reach your TV. If you live more than 20 miles away from the towers (most of which are in Northwest Washington), you may not be able to pick up anything. Even with a new digital TV, you'll likely need to upgrade your antenna.

My advice: experiment with your set-up to make sure you can receive the signals. All the major stations in Washington are airing digital signals, so you should be able to receive them. Remember to use the "scan" function on your TV or converter box every time you make a change to your set-up.

And get your converter box and/or new antenna before June 12. Stores have limited supplies of this equipment and you should try to beat the rush. If you still haven't ordered a $40 converter box coupon from the Commerce Department, do so immediately. You already may be too late to receive it before midnight on June 12.

How are your set-ups working out? Stay tuned for more coverage as the transition draws closer.

For more resources and information about the switch, as well as stories we've published on the topic for the past two years, check out our DTV page.

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Posted at 1:59 PM ET, 06/ 1/2009

21st Century Statecraft

The phrase was used frequently today by Alec Ross, a senior advisor on innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to describe new tools for diplomacy. Ross said the government needs to go beyond talking about just how governments engage with other governments. Governments need to engage with people, and allow people to influence diplomatic policy.

Ross was speaking on a panel at the Center for American Progress with privacy expert and law professor Peter Swire, technology book publisher Tim O'Reilly and Faiz Shakir, research director for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org. It was one of Ross's first speaking engagements since taking over his new role at the State Department. Before that, he was a founding director of OneEconomy, which advocates for more widespread access to broadband and to end the digital divide.

The panel discussed a topic that is quite popular these days: How to incorporate Web 2.0 tools--such as online videos, social networking and blogging--into the federal government. While the Obama administration made a name for itself by infusing those tools into the presidential campaign, infusing the White House with the Web 2.0 culture isn't an easy transition. For one, new media staffs are smaller, Swire said. And staffers who interface with the public--whether it be responding to online comments or answering citizen questions--face much larger repercussions for giving the wrong answer or not providing the "official" response on an issue.

In his less than two months at the State Department, Ross has been pushing to increase citizen involvement with department activities. For example, he and his staff set up a text-messaging short code for citizens to use to send money to help refugees in Pakistan. By texting "SWAT" to 20222, $5 will be donated to the refugee relief fund.

Mobile technology will be the best way to include people around the world in conversations, he said, mostly because mobile devices are a primary mode of accessing the Internet in many countries. "We can't wait for ubiquitous (broadband) access for the government to get out there," Ross said. "But it's still a personal priority of mine to increase access."

O'Reilly said the government should take advantage of the real power of the Web 2.0 movement--letting as many people as possible participate in all angles of government, and "harnessing their collective intelligence." Shakir advocated two-way conversations in which the government can take the lead and set the agenda, in order to engage with citizens but also have more control over the discussion. Shakir also suggested that the government reach people on news sites and blogs by breaking news there and giving readers more access.

But should an individual working within the government be allowed to participate in the conversation as an individual, or should they remain a faceless staffer, Swire asked. O'Reilly said allowing people to reveal their identities and personalities online is key.

"If individuals in government cannot act as individuals, government will never be successful," he said. "This is all about individuals connecting with individuals."

Ross, while enthusiastic about many of the possibilities, raised practical points. He said he's encouraged by the young, Web-savvy talent that is coming into the government ranks to lead some of these projects. And ideas are getting off the ground quickly; the text message short code for refugee donations was accomplished in four days. But it will take time to find the right balance of Web 2.0 throughout the government.

"There are different levels of openness that are appropriate for different areas of government," he said.

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Posted at 1:31 PM ET, 05/21/2009

Open-Government Tools Unveiled by White House

Four months ago, President Obama called for more transparency, participation and collaboration in the policy-making process and for agencies to be more open.

Today, which marks the original deadline for recommendations on how to achieve these goals, the White House has launched a number of online initiatives aiming to allow citizens to give more feedback and ideas directly to the government. The initiatives were developed by the office of the Chief Technology Officer, led by deputy CTO Beth Noveck as CTO nominee Aneesh Chopra works his way through the confirmation process, the Office of Management and Budget, involving Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, and the General Services Administration.

The biggest piece of the newly launched tools is a three-phase process on WhiteHouse.gov by which citizens, government employees, officials, and pretty much anyone with an interest in developing transparency policies, can brainstorm, discuss and then help draft the guidelines. Data.gov, a new site that makes available raw data feeds from agencies, such as airline flight delay stats and weather patterns, also went live today.

"Washington does not have the monopoly on knowledge," Vivek said, adding that people of all walks of life from around the country can contribute their ideas, frustrations and solutions.

Reactions from open-government advocates are in the story, found here. And more details about the specific initiatives can be found here.

The initiatives are the administrations first major experiments with using social media platforms in the policy-making process. Sifting through the deluge of comments likely to be submitted to the site will be quite a big task. Let's hope the White House site can handle all the activity.

Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation said the sheer number of comments will show the potential of the new efforts. "If the White House site crashes today, that would be a great sign," she said.

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Posted at 12:32 PM ET, 05/19/2009

Chopra and Strickling Slide Through Confirmation Hearing

The nominees for two top positions that will oversee technology policy sat before the Senate Commerce Committee this morning for a rather brief nominations hearing.

Aneesh Chopra, Virginia's Secretary of Technology who's been waiting in the wings to become the first federal Chief Technology Officer, told the panel he would apply the Obama administration's push for more "transparency, participation and collaboration" throughout government ranks. He said innovative technology would be used to "bend the health care cost curve," and "build high-growth jobs in all corners of the country." Chopra also pointed to his track record of implementing broadband and telework policies in Virginia to economically revitalize rural areas.

Lawrence Strickling, poised to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, told the committee that the digital television transition, slated for June 12, was his top priority. The backlog of converter box coupons and lack of funds -- two main reasons the transition was delayed from its original February deadline -- have been remedied, Strickling said. "All signs look to be promising," he said.

Most of the questions were pointed toward John D. Porcari, Deputy Secretary nominee for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and J. Randolph Babbitt, nominee to become Federal Aviation Administration Administrator.

The nominees have to submit answers to written questions by this evening so the committee can make final decisions tomorrow.

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Nonprofits and Social Media -- Another Perspective

An earlier story about the effectiveness of social networks to raise money for nonprofits hit a nerve in philanthropic and social media circles. The intent of the story was certainly not to "dis" the hugely popular Facebook application Causes, as some blogs have said. To be sure, some groups have...

By Kim Hart | May 4, 2009; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Non-profits Leverage Social Networks With Varying Degrees of Success

The Facebook application "Causes" is all the rage among nonprofit organizations, with more than 179,000 groups turning to the site as an inexpensive way to seek donations. Our story today explores why using social networking application may not be the most effective way to raise gobs of money for a...

By Kim Hart | April 22, 2009; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LivingSocial Takes Top Spot Among Facebook Apps

LivingSocial, an application developer based in Georgetown, has become the most popular out of the 52,000 applications on Facebook, with more than 20 million active users.

By Kim Hart | April 13, 2009; 03:31 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Dying To Work At The White House

As it turns out Kal Penn is leaving his acting career for a job at the White House. Penn was an active supporter of Obama on the campaign trail and he was offered the position of Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Liaison, according to Entertainment Weekly. Still, why would Fox create social networking pages? To create buzz, of course.

By Kim Hart | April 7, 2009; 02:24 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Economic Squeeze May Create More Room For Teleconferencing

A combination of improved technology and pressure to cut costs across organizations is making teleconferencing look more attractive, especially in the public sector. At least that's what AT&T and Cisco say.

By Kim Hart | March 31, 2009; 04:18 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Vivek Kundra Back On The Job

Federal Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra returned to his job today, White House officials told the New York Times after it was reported today by TechPresident. Kundra took a five-day leave of absence after the FBI raided his former stomping grounds: the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Technology...

By Kim Hart | March 17, 2009; 05:45 PM ET | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

New Rules for Broadcasters, New Dispute Over Digital Readiness

The Federal Communications Commission today set a few new rules for broadcasters as they prepare to turn off analog signals before or on June 12, the current deadline for the transition to digital television. First of all, stations must provide on-air and other notifications if they anticipate that 2 percent...

By Kim Hart | March 13, 2009; 06:15 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Vivek Kundra to be Obama's Chief Information Officer

President Obama announced this morning that Vivek Kundra, currently the District of Columbia's Chief Technology Officer, will be the first Federal Chief Information Officer, a position Obama pledged to create during his campaign. "Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering...

By Kim Hart | March 5, 2009; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Patent Reform Bill Introduced In Congress Today

Talk of patent reform has filled the halls of technology companies and Capitol Hill for years, but reaching bipartisan agreements on key parts of this very thorny issue has proved difficult. As a result, patent legislation hasn't gotten far in Congress. For example, the Patent Reform Act of 2007 promised...

By Kim Hart | March 3, 2009; 06:30 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Microsoft Continues to Hire Guest Visa Workers

Responding to questions from Congress about layoff and work force plans, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a blog post today that the company plans to keep its use of H1-B guest-worker visas at levels that are in line with previous years. When Microsoft announced its first round of...

By Kim Hart | March 3, 2009; 05:40 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Creating Council of Users

An hour after Facebook announced its plans to let users participate in any changes made to the site's terms of service, I met with Facebook's chief privacy officer Chris Kelly for a short conversation. He gave me a few more details about how the process would work, but it sounds...

By Washington Post editors | February 26, 2009; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Says Users Will Have Say in Terms of Service Changes

To regain the trust of Facebook users, chief executive Mark Zuckerburg said today that the social network would let users have a say in any changes to the site's terms of service in the future. If Facebook considers making a change to the terms of service that governs how user...

By Kim Hart | February 26, 2009; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

FCC Says Some Stations Can't Switch Feb. 17

Earlier this week, nearly 500 TV stations told the Federal Communications Commission they intended to go ahead and switch to digital broadcasts on Feb. 17, the deadline they had been planning on for three years. When Congress delayed the deadline to June 12, the FCC said it reserved the right...

By Kim Hart | February 12, 2009; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

House Poised to Vote on DTV Delay Bill

Tomorrow the House will have another chance to delay the transition to digital television by four months. Last week the Senate first passed a bill to postpone the switch from Feb. 17 to June 12. Two days later, House Republicans blocked the bill from getting the two-thirds majority needed to...

By Kim Hart | February 3, 2009; 08:12 PM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

New Face at NTIA to Oversee DTV Switch

We've written a lot about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration lately. It's the arm of the Commerce Department that is in charge of running the program to distribute coupons for digital television converter boxes so TV watchers can prepare for broadcasters' transition to digital TV. The program ran into...

By Kim Hart | February 3, 2009; 05:15 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yet Another Wrinkle in the DTV Saga

The day before the House is scheduled to vote on the bill to delay the digital television transition until June 12, a ranking Republican is asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a postponement until more light is shed on a potential conflict of interest from a transition team adviser....

By Kim Hart | February 3, 2009; 04:19 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

DTV Transition Still In Limbo

Here we go again. The House will have another chance to pass a bill to delay the television transition next week. Yes, the same bill the House defeated Wednesday. Here's why: On Monday, the Senate first passed a bill to postpone the switch from Feb. 17 to June 12. But...

By Kim Hart | January 30, 2009; 05:30 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Obama Reiterates Call to Delay DTV Transition

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team sent a second letter to Capitol Hill today to re-enforce the push to postpone the Feb. 17 date of the nation's digital transition. Last week, top aid John Podesta asked lawmakers to consider a delay to allow time to fix the backlogged converter box coupon...

By Kim Hart | January 16, 2009; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (13) | TrackBack (1)

DTV Coupon Program Out of Money

If you haven't ordered a coupon for a converter box to prepare for next month's switch to digital television, you may have trouble getting one before the Feb. 17 deadline. Today the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is running the coupon program, said it is nearing the program's $1.34...

By Kim Hart | January 5, 2009; 03:27 PM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)

Who Will be Obama's CTO?

Speculation is again running rampant about who the nation's chief technology officer may be, and when the announcement could be made. The New York Times reports today that Obama's transition team will announce the appointment on Wednesday. I wrote a story today about one possible candidate: Vivek Kundra, who is...

By Kim Hart | January 5, 2009; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Amazon, Netflix Top Retail Sites This Holiday Season

Your email inbox has surely been flooded with messages about super sales happening at nearly every online retailer's Web site. All sale merchandise 30 percent off! All Holiday Inventory Must Go! Best Deals on the Internet! But which e-commerce sites made your holiday shopping frenzy easy? Which ones made you...

By Kim Hart | December 30, 2008; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ready for the DTV Transition? Better Order Your Converter Box Coupons Soon. Really Soon.

Are you ready for the big switch? If not, you'd better pick up the pace. In about six weeks, analog broadcasts will cease to exist, and TV stations will only transmit digital signals. That means older analog TVs without digital tuners will need a converter box in order to keep...

By Kim Hart | December 30, 2008; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yahoo Changes Data-Retention Policy

Yahoo said today that it plans to shorten the length of time it retains data about its users' online behavior to three months from 13 months. After three months, the Internet company will anonymize that data to remove any personally identifiable information about users. Anne Toth, vice president of policy...

By Kim Hart | December 17, 2008; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Video: Vint Cerf's Views on Obama's Top Tech Job

Google hosted an open house yesterday morning at the company's new office in Reston Town Center. Google employees there are focusing on repackaging Google's search, mapping and other tools and selling it to the government. I wrote about Google's goals with the federal government earlier this fall. Google announced partnerships...

By Kim Hart | December 10, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Commission Wants Cybersecurity Chief in White House

A committee of cybersecurity experts today released a 96-page report detailing recommendations for the next administration on how to combat the growing number of criminal attacks aimed at government networks. Creating a National Office for Cybersecurity within the White House is chief among the report's recommendations. A top cybersecurity official...

By Kim Hart | December 8, 2008; 05:55 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No More Facebook Friends for Ted Leonsis

Ted Leonsis is one popular guy. So popular that he's inching precariously close to the 5,000-friend limit on Facebook. As of this afternoon, he had 4,995. Better scramble to get those last few slots in his digital Rolodex. He said on his blog late last month that he will have...

By Kim Hart | December 3, 2008; 05:30 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Washington TV Stations To Simulate DTV Transition

If you rely on over-the-air signals to watch TV, you'll get a glimpse on Tuesday of what will happen when broadcasters shut off analog signals Feb. 17. On Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 5:28 p.m., nearly a dozen TV stations in the Washington market will stage a soft shut-down of their...

By Kim Hart | December 1, 2008; 03:45 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Joe the Plumber's Next Gig: DTV Transition Spokesman

The man who gained national attention during the presidential campaign for being an average Joe is starring in a series of videos intended to educate other ordinary Americans about the transition to digital TV. Joe Wurzelbacher, better know as Joe the Plumber, signed a deal with an online converter box...

By Kim Hart | November 25, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Out On the Town? Your iPhone Tells You When to Call It a Night.

It's Monday. Which means some of you are still recovering from a couple of late nights out on the town. Maybe you're still telling your co-workers about a wild Saturday night, or at least the parts you can remember. A new iPhone application helps you keep track of your alcohol...

By Kim Hart | November 17, 2008; 04:00 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

District's CTO Gets Award

Vivek Kundra, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, was named Government IT Executive of the Year Friday by the Tech Council of Maryland. Kundra won the award for "advancing government accessibility and transparency through technology," according to a news release. Through the city's Web site, Kundra has...

By Kim Hart | November 15, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CTO: Hottest Job in Town

Sure, President-elect Barack Obama has a long list of jobs he needs to fill in the next couple of months. But the one the technology community is fixating on these days is the brand new Chief Technology Officer position Obama has promised to create. His inner circle of advisers are...

By Kim Hart | November 14, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Google Ends Ad Deal With Yahoo

Google said it is pulling out of its proposed advertising partnership with Yahoo as it became apparent the deal would face a drawn-out antitrust challenge from the U.S. Justice Department. Google said in a blog post today that, "after four months of review, including discussions of various possible changes to...

By Kim Hart | November 5, 2008; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ebay's Meg Whitman Talks Tech and Policy

Meg Whitman retired from Ebay in March after a 10-year stint as president and CEO. Since then, she's been immersed in the Republican presidential campaign, first helping to raise more than $70 million for Mitt Romney's campaign, and now pitching in as a top business adviser for John McCain's run....

By Kim Hart | October 28, 2008; 03:30 PM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (7)

Bill Gates Talked White Spaces With FCC Commissioners

The Microsoft Chairman had phone conversations with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Michael Copps on Monday. According to the an ex parte filed with the agency, "Mr. Gates commended the Commission for all the work it has done in the white spaces proceeding, and for seeking to adopt final...

By Kim Hart | October 22, 2008; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will DTV Transition Crash and Burn?

If it goes down anything like the Digital TV Transition Ford during the Virginia NASCAR race this weekend, TV watchers could be in trouble. The FCC spent $350,000 to sponsor NASCAR team No. 38 in three races. During the team's first race on Sunday, Tums QuikPak 500 at the Martinsville...

By Kim Hart | October 20, 2008; 06:01 PM ET | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

Venture Capital Takes Hit in Third Quarter

Half of U.S. venture capital firms believe the current financial crisis is worse than the tech bubble crash of 2000. That's according to the newly released DLA Piper survey of technology and venture capital executives. The survey also found that 66 percent of technology companies are reducing revenue forecasts. And...

By Kim Hart | October 20, 2008; 04:50 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Broadcasters Question FCC's White Space Conclusion

Not so fast, broadcasters are telling FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. The National Association of Broadcasters says Martin's support of 'white space' devices is contradicted by the FCC's own engineering report. In a press release yesterday afternoon, the NAB points to a "stark contrast" between the executive summary and the more...

By Kim Hart | October 17, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Debates Are Over, But Push For More Openness Continues

Yes, the debates are over. But a group of online activists -- comprised of folks from both sides of the aisle -- isn't done yet. The Open Debate Coalition is pushing to remove copyright restrictions on clips of the presidential debates, so bloggers, YouTubers and MySpacers can post snippets on...

By Kim Hart | October 16, 2008; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

FCC Chair Wants to Go Forward With Use of White Spaces

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said he wants to allow portable devices to use the airwaves between TV channels for wireless broadband service. After months of testing and over a year of lobbying by tech firms Google, Microsoft, HP, Dell and others, the FCC's engineering office is releasing a...

By Kim Hart | October 15, 2008; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Going Green in Virginia

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and his cabinet members took a whirl-wind trip through Northern Virginia today, and made a quick stop at the Arlington headquarters of the Consumer Electronics Association. Eco-friendly business was on his mind. When he took office in 2006, energy issues weren't on the agenda. Now, they're...

By Kim Hart | October 14, 2008; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tech Sector Braces for Pain as Quarterly Results Roll Out

Today marks the beginning of third-quarter earning season for the technology industry, with Intel releasing its latest financial figures and giving investors an indication of the potential pain that lies ahead. Third-quarter results may not be too far off-target, some analysts say, because product sales were already on the books...

By Kim Hart | October 14, 2008; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Slowdown for Venture Capital World, But Not Quite a Nuclear Winter--Yet

If you've been reading the tech blogs lately, you've likely noticed the chatter about what the economic situation means for venture capital investors and the companies they fund. Some say things feel similar to tech's nuclear winter in 2000. Others say it's simply a dip in the cycle and the...

By Kim Hart | October 13, 2008; 01:20 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Local Firms Get Glimpse of NASA

Who knew there were so many cool things to see in Hampton, Va.? From the flight simulators to the world's largest cryogenic wind tunnel, a few Northern Virginia executives took a tour of NASA's Langley Research Center in search of business opportunities and how to capitalize on the center's multi...

By Kim Hart | October 13, 2008; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Megachurch Minister Protests Use of 'White Spaces'

You probably know him from TV -- the megachurch minister from Texas who never seems to have a shortage of motivational religious sayings. Now he's trying to make sure no one messes with those TV airwaves -- and more importantly, the microphones he uses during his services. Joel Osteen sent...

By Kim Hart | October 7, 2008; 01:47 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Craigslist Founder Gets Political

Craig Newmark really doesn't want to be bothered with politics. In fact, he can't wait until the election is over so he can catch up on his favorite TV shows, like "Pushing Daisies" and new episodes of "The Simpsons." Still, he's on the road for the next month, traveling to...

By Kim Hart | October 3, 2008; 05:11 PM ET | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

Northern Virginia's Top Tech Advocate Celebrates 10 years

Bobbie Kilberg has been an influential fixture in the Northern Virginia technology world for the past decade. She makes it her business to know what local firms are up to and works to find ways to attract the workers and resources they need to thrive. She's outspoken on policy issues...

By Kim Hart | October 2, 2008; 01:37 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

D.C. Lawyer To Be Facebook's General Counsel

Facebook has hired Ted Ullyot, a Washington-based partner for the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, to be its general counsel. He will relocate to the Bay area next month. I managed to have a 10-minute conversation with Ted late this afternoon. He said his objective is to build Facebook's legal...

By Kim Hart | September 29, 2008; 06:52 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Download Returns; Google Goes to Washington

Some of you may remember The Download, a column pioneered by my predecessors Shannon Henry and Ellen McCarthy. It covered the Washington technology scene from 1999 to 2006, detailing everything from the quirky start-ups and enthusiastic investors of the dot-com era, to the staples of the local networking circuit and...

By Kim Hart | September 29, 2008; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Lessig (and others) Asks Candidates to Make Debates More Open

Tonight's debate is officially on -- and a group of academics, Internet pioneers and technology advocates are asking the candidates to "open up" the debates to the public rather than being "controlled by the media." Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales are...

By Kim Hart | September 26, 2008; 11:54 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Venture Capital Advocates Make Push on Capitol Hill

The National Venture Capital Association wants policymakers to know how important venture capital investors and venture-backed companies are to the economy. Over the next few weeks, the NVCA -- the venture industry's association based in Arlington -- plans to send this video to key members of Congress as the organization...

By Kim Hart | September 24, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Local Firms Join to Create Online Video Powerhouse

Two local companies joined forces today in an attempt to give online video its fair share of digital advertising revenue. Anystream, based in Dulles, provides video production software and content management tools to format videos for media sites. Its most recent high-profile project was to manage NBC's Olympic video coverage...

By Kim Hart | September 22, 2008; 04:47 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Dispatch from the Tech Party Scene in Washington

The idea of bridging the gap between D.C.'s tech crowds has hit quite a nerve. Last night, Twin Tech II was held at Avenue, a nightclub near the Convention Center downtown. It was the second networking event aiming to bring together the more-established government contracting firms and the new generation...

By Sara Goo | September 19, 2008; 10:09 AM ET | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Need a Good Lawyer? Web Site Lets You be the Judge...

There's no shortage of lawyers in this town, but finding a good one can be quite challenging. So, Avvo.com, derived from the Italian word for lawyer--avvocato-- is trying to make the vetting process a bit easier. This morning I sat down with Mark Britton, former general counsel at Expedia.com, who...

By Kim Hart | September 17, 2008; 05:20 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will 'White Space' Devices Cause Problems for Cable Watchers?

By now, you're probably well aware of the debate over the use of so-called "white spaces," or the empty TV channels tech companies want to use to provide wireless broadband services. You also probably know all about the broadcasters' point of view. They're worried the white space devices, which are...

By Kim Hart | September 11, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tech Trade Groups to Merge

Two large technology trade associations have announced plans to merge, potentially creating a new tech lobbying powerhouse in Washington. The AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association, and the Information Technology Association of America, the ITAA, are planning to merge memberships and programs. The combined group is trying to...

By Kim Hart | September 11, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wilmington Verdict Is In

At least, the verdict is in from the perspective of the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC released details today about how prepared viewers in Wilmington, N.C., really were for Monday's switch to digital programming. Wilmington was the first market in the country to through the digital transition as a trial...

By Kim Hart | September 10, 2008; 05:25 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

You've Got Even More Mail

AOL unveiled the first feature of a new home page today aiming to regain the eyeballs it lost as it has phased out its subscription service. The company plans to revamp its entire site to let consumers customize the portal to fit their own tastes. Starting today, visitors to the...

By Kim Hart | September 10, 2008; 03:53 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

It's Showtime in Wilmington

Wilmington, N.C.-- At high noon today, this town will be the first in the country to permanently switch off decades-old analog TV signals in favor of digital programming. Wilmington is a guinea pig, making the transition to digital TV nearly five months ahead of schedule so the Federal Communications Commission...

By Kim Hart | September 8, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Can't Live Without Your DVR?

You're apparently not alone. More than 70 percent of digital video recorder (DVR) owners say they cannot live without the devices, according to a survey of 1,000 DVR owners conducted by NDS, a subsidiary of News Corp. The survey found that over 60 percent of DVR owners with a partner...

By Kim Hart | September 8, 2008; 01:00 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Social Media Group Acquisition Called Off

A month ago, Livingston Communications, a local PR firm that focuses on social media, announced plans to be acquired by the Social Media Group in Toronto. Today, the two companies said, via their blogs, that the acquisition has been called off. Geoff Livingston said in a short video clip that...

By Kim Hart | August 27, 2008; 05:03 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Advertising Could Give Boost to Flagging Online Travel Agencies

It's the height of summer vacation season, but online travel agencies are seeing a reduction in bookings thanks to the weak economy. Surveys by Forrester and Rand McNally showed that more than a quarter of travelers expect to cut back on their vacation plans this year. And the number of...

By Kim Hart | August 22, 2008; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

White House Emails go MIA

Email: We can't live without it, yet we also can't seem to stay organized with it. Archiving email properly is a challenge for just about every corporation and government agency. Email messages, and how they're stored, have become critical to e-discovery in legal cases and network security as more and...

By Kim Hart | August 21, 2008; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

In Virtual Worlds, a Sheriff Has Arrived

I wrote a story today about the evolution of justice systems in virtual worlds such as Second Life, Cellufun, VZones and Google's Lively. The main gist: Some virtual worlds are developing more sophisticated codes of law and systems of punishment in order to police residents' activities. Some users applaud the...

By Kim Hart | August 20, 2008; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

A New Spin on Sharing Copyrighted Content

A company called Digital Containers launched today that wants to change the way content -- specifically, copyrighted content -- is shared over the Web. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm promises to finally let content owners deliver and -- drumroll, please -- actually profit from distributing TV shows, movies and songs...

By Kim Hart | August 13, 2008; 05:14 PM ET | Comments (12) | TrackBack (1)

Some Broadcasters Agree to Extend Signals After Digital Transition

The National Association of Broadcasters said today that its member companies have agreed, on a voluntary basis, to continue to make local broadcast signals available to distribution partners -- cable, satellite and telecom TV operators -- for an extra couple of weeks after the official switch to all-digital TV takes...

By Kim Hart | August 12, 2008; 05:13 PM ET | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

DC Area Gets High Marks for Internet Speeds

A state-by-state report released today of Internet connection speeds ranked DC, Virginia and Maryland relatively high on the list. The nationwide median download speed is 2.3 megabits per second. Rhode Island topped the list for the second year in a row at 6.8 mbps, while Internet users wait the longest...

By Kim Hart | August 12, 2008; 02:44 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Scrabulous Saga Continues

It looks like Scrabulous is in for a battle with Hasbro, which owns the rights to the original Scrabble board game. Hasbro has apparently sued Scrabulous, the popular Facebook application, and has asked Facebook to disable the application. Hasbro has been unhappy about the unauthorized application for some time. And...

By Kim Hart | July 25, 2008; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Digital TV Transition: Lost in Translation?

I got several emails over the weekend in response to the story that ran on Saturday about how Spanish-speakers and Spanish-language stations are handling the upcoming switch to digital television. Many of the surveys and research done lately indicate that awareness of the transition continues to rise. Now the big...

By Kim Hart | July 22, 2008; 07:05 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

LivingSocial gets $5 million

Hungry Machine, a Georgetown firm that has made a dozen or so popular Facebook applications, got its first round of venture capital funding this morning--$5 million from Grotech Ventures in Vienna and Steve Case. The company is officially launching its LivingSocial site, which has been in beta until now. Tim...

By Kim Hart | July 21, 2008; 02:52 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Local PR Firm Joins the Growing Social Media Industry

Social media isn't just for Web-addicted teens anymore. It's now a full-blown marketing business that has sparked a cottage industry of public relations firms that specialize in helping corporations infiltrate the world of blogs, wikis and social networks. Geoff Livingston has been a well-known evangelist for social media marketing in...

By Kim Hart | July 21, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Company-sponsored Social Networks Slow to Take Off

Shortly after people started flocking to Facebook and MySpace, companies tried to get in on that action by starting their own social networks to connect with customers and employees. The hope was that, by starting a conversation with these communities, the companies' brand names would spread, people would discover new...

By Kim Hart | July 17, 2008; 01:45 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

What Exactly Did Jerry Yang Say

One of the most interesting parts of the Senate hearing yesterday, which examined the proposed search-advertising deal between Yahoo and Google, was a short scuffle over a comment reportedly made by Jerry Yang, Yahoo chief executive, at a meeting last month with Microsoft executives. Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, recounted...

By Kim Hart | July 16, 2008; 05:21 PM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (2)

A Tool for the Traffic-Averse

For all you road-weary commuters, I just heard about a handy service launching in the Washington region. Using an application you download to your cellphone, you can get live video streams and photos of the traffic on the roads you travel most. It's a partnership between NBC and 3rd Dimension...

By Kim Hart | July 14, 2008; 02:16 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SGN Gets Funding Boost From Bezos

Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, has invested in Social Gaming Network (SGN), which develops gaming applications on social networks such as Facebook. SGN, based in Palo Alto, was spun out of Webs.com, the Silver Spring company formerly known as Freewebs. VentureBeat had the news this morning. It's...

By Kim Hart | July 14, 2008; 02:14 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Peer Pressure in Online Shopping

I was browsing through book titles on Amazon.com last weekend and realized how much weight I was giving to the reader reviews listed for each book. If one reader gave a book high marks, I was skeptical. Maybe it is a friend of the author giving it a rave review?...

By Kim Hart | July 9, 2008; 03:43 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Anatomy of a Venture Capitalist

The life of a venture capitalist sounds like a pretty sweet gig, right? Spend your days meeting creative entrepreneurs and deciding which new ideas are worthy of the millions of dollars you have at your disposal. Not to mention the fact that you're quite a popular person at parties frequented...

By Kim Hart | July 8, 2008; 03:33 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Conversation with Yelp's Jeremy Stoppelman

Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp, was in town today for a few quick meetings. So I had the chance to grab a bite to eat with him before he jetted back to San Francisco. What's new in Yelp's world? Well, besides a swanky new office in New York...

By Kim Hart | July 8, 2008; 02:24 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scrabulous Founder Speaks

Yesterday I wrote about an official Scrabble application being launched on Facebook by Hasbro and Electronic Arts. I had e-mailed the founders of Scrabulous to ask them if this new game was a threat to their business. I heard back from them this morning. Jayant Agarwalla, who founded the India-based...

By Kim Hart | July 8, 2008; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Scrabble vs. Scrabulous, Take Two

Back in January, board-game makers Hasbro and Mattel, who share global ownership over the Scrabble trademark, told Facebook to remove the popular Scrabulous application, claiming copyright infringement. The request sent online Scrabulous fans into a tizzy, forming "Save Scrabulous" groups on Facebook. The episode probably drove even more users to...

By Kim Hart | July 7, 2008; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

IPO Drought: A Crisis for the Start-up Community?

The absence of a single initial public offering by venture-backed companied has investors quite alarmed. The National Venture Capital Association reported this morning that, for the first time in three decades, zero start-ups went public. Here's the story I wrote about the report. According to the report, 57 percent of...

By Kim Hart | July 1, 2008; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Sell Out With Sprint

You can now get $20 in exchange for shameless product placement in a YouTube video. In an effort to promote its new Samsung Instinct cellphone, an iPhone look-alike offered by Sprint Nextel, the carrier is paying customers to feature the phone in a homemade video. Just a short, random appearance...

By Kim Hart | July 1, 2008; 09:42 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Online Advertising Still in a Lurch

The Digital Media Conference hosted by Digital Media Wire was held yesterday in Tysons Corner and brought together a decent number of entrepreneurs, investors and executives. I try to attend as many of these events as I can, especially when they're in the DC area. I ran into a lot...

By Kim Hart | June 27, 2008; 08:17 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bringing Down the Volume of Loud Commercials

Ever get sick of those commercials that seem to be a lot louder than the show you're watching? Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) sympathizes with you. The senator yesterday introduced legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to bar commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program material...

By Kim Hart | June 19, 2008; 02:52 PM ET | Comments (95) | TrackBack (0)

NebuAd Takes Heat for Spying on Web Surfers

NebuAd, a company that provides targeted advertising for Internet Service Providers, is altering the basic coding of Web sites to spy on consumers' Web habits to create detailed profiles for advertisers, according to an investigation led by Public Knowledge and Free Press, two Washington consumer interest groups. The findings, which...

By Kim Hart | June 18, 2008; 05:02 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Social Networking Peeve: "Bad Manners"

How polished is your social networking etiquette? A survey released last week by the Consumer Internet Barometer, a production of TNS and The Conference Board, found that common pet peeves among social networking regulars include lack of privacy and, more interestingly, lack of "manners." The news release sharing the results...

By Kim Hart | June 16, 2008; 01:36 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

E-Commerce on Facebook

Facebook said today that it is working on an e-commerce platform that will let users pay application developers for virtual goods, premium services and other offerings. Ben Ling, who runs Facebook's platform, said that "a transaction mechanism will enable new business models" for developers. He shared the news today at...

By Kim Hart | June 11, 2008; 06:23 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Webcasters Take On Capitol Hill.

The fight over how much Internet radio stations should pay in royalty fees heats up again today on Capitol Hill. At a hearing that is scheduled to start shortly, lawmakers will try to decide if traditional radio stations should have to pay more in royalties to performers of the music...

By Kim Hart | June 11, 2008; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Widgets Take on New Life

Lee Lorenzen is betting his business that Facebook widgets and applications will continue to spread. As CEO of Altura Ventures, which he says is "the first Facebook-only VC," he keeps tabs on the top widget makers on Adonomics.com, one of his portfolio companies, and tries to figure out where social...

By Kim Hart | June 9, 2008; 05:08 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Google News, or Lack Thereof

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt made a quick stop downtown today to speak at a luncheon held by the Economic Club of Washington. I was there with about a dozen other reporters, hoping he'd talk about the company's spectrum policy or drop a few juicy tidbits about its Android operating...

By Kim Hart | June 9, 2008; 02:24 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Steve Ballmer

If you haven't seen it already, check out the video and expanded notes from our discussion with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. He had lunch with Post editors and reporters yesterday and gave an overview of the directions in which Microsoft is heading, as well as his own predictions for digital...

By Kim Hart | June 5, 2008; 11:16 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Steve Ballmer Swings By the Post

Steve Ballmer's favorite TV show is "Lost," but he refuses to pay a buck to get it on iTunes--he'd rather deal with a few ads. He still isn't sure what "Web 2.0" really means. And he predicts that in 10 years, everything will be delivered over the Internet in an...

By Kim Hart | June 4, 2008; 02:25 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A More "Open" Facebook

Facebook announced today that parts of its platform will become open-source, allowing outside developers to have more access to its technology -- and its users. fbOpen, as it's called, squarely competes with the OpenSocial initiative led by Google, MySpace, Yahoo, hi5, LinkedIn, Friendster and a slew of other social media...

By Kim Hart | June 2, 2008; 03:13 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Translating Digital Body Language

It used to be that when you were interested in buying, say, a computer, you'd go to the local electronic store and talk to a salesman. That salesman would be able to tailor his pitch based on your reactions to the merchandise. He'd be able to accurately gauge whether you...

By Kim Hart | June 2, 2008; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

CDs Not Dead Yet

Grim predictions about the music industry don't seem to be coming true just yet. According to the results of a survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project released last week, only 7 percent of consumers said the Internet plays a major impact on their music purchases. In contrast,...

By Kim Hart | May 27, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Digital TV: Missed Signals

Having trouble with your digital TV reception? Join the club. After I wrote this story about the challenges some TV watchers are having in getting a reliable digital signal, I received dozens of emails from readers claiming they were experiencing similar problems. The main issue has to do with what's...

By Kim Hart | May 22, 2008; 11:10 AM ET | Comments (15) | TrackBack (1)

E-Commerce in a Slow Economy

Is the slow economy affecting e-commerce growth? According to figures released by the Commerce Department last week, online sales grew by only 13.4 percent during the first quarter of the year, compared with the same period last year. That's a decent drop from the 19.8 percent growth e-commerce experienced in...

By Kim Hart | May 19, 2008; 03:10 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The All-Things-Social Craze

The race is on to make social networks much more open and portable, all in the quest to let users spread their profile information across other Web sites. It's been a steady drumbeat of announcements over the past few days. MySpace announced its plan to let people share their profiles...

By Kim Hart | May 12, 2008; 06:04 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

MySpace Makes Your Profile Portable

Do you have a MySpace profile? If you do, your personal information on MySpace could soon be made available to a number of other Web sites. The largest social network in the U.S. said today that it is making its members' data available to third-party sites. The first partnering sites...

By Kim Hart | May 8, 2008; 06:25 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Mobile Ads: Useful or Annoying?

The promise of mobile marketing has been talked about for several years now, yet we still haven't seen the flurry of cellphone ads that have long been predicted--let alone the sophisticated ads consumers see in other countries. This week, the Federal Trade Commission held a "town hall" meeting to discuss...

By Kim Hart | May 8, 2008; 02:16 PM ET | Comments (9) | TrackBack (1)

Another Jab At 'White Spaces'

Today, several sports leagues, including the NFL, NASCAR, and NBA, formally challenged the "white spaces" proposal put forth by tech companies including Microsoft and Google. In a filing, the leagues asked Federal Communications Commission require the technology companies that want to sell wireless white space devices to prove that their...

By Kim Hart | May 1, 2008; 03:34 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

See Who's Advertising Where

One of the main challenges for online advertisers is figuring out which Web sites are worth their advertising dollars. How do they know where their competitors are advertising? How do they figure out whether a banner ad would be more effective than a keyword search ad? A new search engine...

By Kim Hart | April 30, 2008; 03:10 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yelp Opens Up to Business Owners

Yelp, the site that lets people review restaurants, bars, hair salons, doctors and pretty much any other business, is now letting those businesses take part in the conversation. San Francisco-based Yelp is today introducing a suite of features that allows business owners to create an account for their establishment. They...

By Kim Hart | April 29, 2008; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

MySpace Launches Election Hub

In case you need yet another place to catch up on the campaign trail, MySpace is teaming up with NBC News and msnbc.com to create Decision '08, an online hub for everything election-related. MySpace members can check out recent news, watch videos and contribute to discussions. Members can also contribute...

By Kim Hart | April 22, 2008; 03:24 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Ad Question About User-Generated Content

Following the trend of the last couple of years, user-generated content is expected to grow substantially this year. But the advertising revenues brought in by this type of content isn't expected to keep pace. A report released today by eMarketer projects that user-generated content advertising revenues will will make up...

By Kim Hart | April 22, 2008; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Debate About Facebook's Future

A panel of local investors and entrepreneurs held a panel discussion this morning in Tysons Corner to discuss Web 2.0 trends. The conversation addressed questions like "how long will Google's dominance last?" to "what will be the next Google?" But, in my view, the most interesting part of the event...

By Kim Hart | April 16, 2008; 12:43 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ted Leonsis' Take on Facebook

Ted Leonsis of AOL and Washington Capitals fame is known for his shrewd business judgment and tech know-how, so much so that the local Web 2.0 entrepreneurial community often seeks his involvement and guidance. He asked some interesting questions about Facebook in a recent blog entry. "I think Facebook is...

By Kim Hart | April 15, 2008; 06:36 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Reston Firm Launches Satellite for Mobile Services

Reston-based ICO Global Communications is today launching the satellite that, the firm hopes, will allow it to offer mobile media services. You can watch the launch here as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral between 4:12 and 5:12 p.m. In a phone call a few minutes ago, ICO chief executive...

By Kim Hart | April 14, 2008; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Two More Text-Message Defenders

For months, consumer advocates have been pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to prevent cellphone companies from interfering with text message traffic. In a filing with the agency today, public interest group Public Knowledge spearheaded another effort to urge regulators to take formal action. The position of Public Knowledge, Free Press,...

By Kim Hart | April 14, 2008; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

An Advertising Battle in the War Over White Spaces

The war over white spaces heated up in Washington today with the start of full-blown advertising campaigns targeting members of Congress. Google, Microsoft and other tech companies are pushing for the ability to use empty, unlicensed airwaves, known as white spaces, to provide high-speed Internet service that might be able...

By Kim Hart | April 8, 2008; 05:07 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cellphone Insurance Crusader--By Accident

Sometimes a problem has to hit home to trigger change. For Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, that happened when his 13-year-old son lost his cellphone. Gansler had purchased a cellphone insurance policy intended to replace lost, stolen or broken cellphones. Under the insurance plan, the Ganslers paid a monthly fee...

By Kim Hart | April 4, 2008; 04:51 PM ET | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Comparing Apples To Apples

It's one of the most recognizable shapes around, and it's become the face of success for the maker of iPhones and iPods. Now Apple Inc. is trying to protect its rights to the apple shape by going after New York's trademark application for a new "Big Apple" logo. The company...

By Kim Hart | April 3, 2008; 03:47 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Google Tackles the Federal Market

Google isn't the first company that comes to mind when I think of typical presenters at FOSE--the world's biggest government IT expo going on right now at the Washington Convention Center. But the company participated for the first time this year. Google sponsored its own booth to help educate attendees...

By Kim Hart | April 1, 2008; 04:40 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Lots of Questions About the Digital Transition

Every time I write about the transition to digital TV, my email inbox gets flooded with questions covering every aspect of the conversion, including ones I had never even thought of. "How do I get a converter box for my TV?", " Will I need a new VCR?", " How...

By Kim Hart | March 31, 2008; 04:47 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cellphones as Friend Radars

For some time now, there's been a lot of buzz around the possibilities for location-based services on cellphones. Sure, it can help a rescue squad find you if you're lost in the woods, and it can help you navigate your way through a strange city. But to many, the coolest...

By Kim Hart | March 28, 2008; 05:21 PM ET | Comments (22) | TrackBack (2)

Find Your Friends' Favorites on Facebook

Today, two former AOL execs are launching a new application for Facebook that lets you take advantage of your friends' first-hand knowledge of local businesses. The local search engine, called Loladex, helps you find hot new restaurants or reliable mechanics in your neighborhood by tapping into the recommendations of the...

By Kim Hart | March 26, 2008; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

OpenSocial Launches Foundation

The social media world now has its own non-profit foundation. Yahoo, MySpace and Google today announced that they have created a group to support the OpenSocial initiative that Google kicked off last fall as a way to standardize the development of applications for social-networking sites. The OpenSocial Foundation was formed...

By Kim Hart | March 25, 2008; 02:09 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Clarification on Warner Music's Position

In the previous blog post about Warner Music Group's licensing deal with social network imeem, I included a comment by Michael Nash, the label's executive vice president of digital strategy and business development, that it's fair to assume Warner is in discussions to make its content available to other big...

By Kim Hart | March 24, 2008; 02:17 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Playlists Are the New Albums

"The playlist is the new album. Consumers love to customize and express themselves through playlists, which are a tremendous driver of discovery." That's Michael Nash, Warner Music Group's executive vice president of digital strategy and business development. He was telling me about the record label's decision to href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/20/AR2008032003729.html">strike a licensing...

By Kim Hart | March 21, 2008; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Likely Rebate Check Purchases: PCs, TVs and Cellphones

What do you plan to do with the tax rebate check from the government? According to the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, most individuals will receive $600, with the average household receiving around $965 when the checks start getting mailed out in May. Of the $112 billion going to U.S....

By Kim Hart | March 17, 2008; 04:16 PM ET | Comments (31) | TrackBack (5)

Would You Pay a Fee for Legal Music File Sharing?

CD sales are at record lows. People continue to illegally download songs over the Internet. Record labels file law suit after law suit to make sure they, and the artists the represent, get their fair share of royalties. The debate over the best way to distribute music on the Web...

By Kim Hart | March 17, 2008; 12:41 PM ET | Comments (21) | TrackBack (1)

Bill Gates' Vision for the Future

Speaking to a packed room of Northern Virginia technology executives, this morning Bill Gates reiterated some of the messages he's said in the past, including how powerful research investment can be and how important a role software continues to play in how we use technology. I shot some video from...

By Kim Hart | March 13, 2008; 01:49 PM ET | Comments (14) | TrackBack (2)

Gates Discusses U.S. Competitiveness--and Parenting in the Internet Age

Today Bill Gates testified before Congress for what may have been the last time as he transitions away from Microsoft to spend more time with his foundation. He appeared before the House Committee on Science and Technology to commemorate the panel's 50th anniversary. (It was founded following the launch of...

By Kim Hart | March 12, 2008; 04:42 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The 411 on Text Msg Spam

With so many text messages flying around these days, they've become fertile territory for spammers trying to expand their reach. Estimates vary greatly as to just how much of a problem spam text messaging has become. Cloudmark, a San Francisco company that makes anti-spam software for carriers, expects the amount...

By Kim Hart | March 10, 2008; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Your Schedule In The Cloud

In another instance of Web-based applications replacing traditional software programs, Google last night announced a product that syncs your Outlook calendar directly to your Google calendar. If you visit Google Calendar, click on the What's New link in the upper right-hand corner to see get the feature. Many Blackberry users...

By Kim Hart | March 6, 2008; 04:32 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Social Media Hotbed

I didn't quite know what to expect when I showed up to a networking event put on last night by Mashable, the blog that covers social media, and Ogilvy here in downtown DC. But within five minutes, I was amazed by the number of social media start-ups operating under the...

By Kim Hart | March 6, 2008; 10:17 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A New Face At Facebook

Two days after the formal announcement, the blogosphere is still buzzing about Facebook's most recent hire. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lured Sheryl Sandberg, a top Google executive, to the social networking company. It's surely a sign that Facebook is growing fast--perhaps faster than its young leaders can keep up...

By Kim Hart | March 5, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

What Has Craig Newmark Been Up To?

Craig Newmark seems pretty content with his business, the hugely successful craigslist.org. He hasn't accepted any outside funding, has declined offers to buy the site, and he doesn't have any big plans to change its formats or features. So why was Newmark one of the keynote speakers this morning at...

By Kim Hart | February 28, 2008; 01:54 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Debate Over Digital Lockers

It's tough to last long in the music industry these days without being involved in some type of law suit, it seems. The lawyers got pretty riled up when they discussed (or argued bitterly) about how best to tweak the copyright laws. (At one point, a panel moderator actually threatened...

By Kim Hart | February 28, 2008; 12:47 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

Stream vs. Download

Do you listen to music that is streaming to your computer, or do you download it as a permanent addition to your digital library? That question was asked several times at the Digital Music Forum. Many new online Web sites and services are banking on the fact that you'd rather...

By Kim Hart | February 28, 2008; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

eMusic CEO on DRM and iTunes

David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, was quite proud of the recent move by book publisher Random House to remove digital rights management software from its audio book selection. Speaking at the Digital Music Forum in New York, Pakman cited it as yet one more victory for DRM-free music that, he...

By Kim Hart | February 28, 2008; 07:03 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Is Breaking The Law the Secret to Success in Digital Music?

As you might expect, piracy is one of the hottest topics of debate here at the Digital Music Forum in New York. Can companies distribute music legally while still attracting a large enough audience to be successful? A rather heated exchange over this very question occurred onstage during one of...

By Kim Hart | February 27, 2008; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Happy Cellphone Customer, Even Without Analog Service

After getting lots of emails from disgruntled cellphone users unhappy about losing analog service this month, I was surprised to hear this story from a local Verizon Wireless customer. Gabriel Goldberg of Falls Church said he and his wife have never upgraded from using analog phone service because it was...

By Kim Hart | February 26, 2008; 01:02 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Microsoft's Message to Employees

In an email to employees this afternoon, Kevin Johnson, the president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, appeared optimistic about eventually striking a deal with Yahoo and answered questions about the process going forward. "While Yahoo! has issued a press release rejecting our proposal, we continue to believe we have...

By Kim Hart | February 22, 2008; 04:55 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Top Cities With TVs At Risk of Going Dark

Consumers Union used data from Nielsen Company to get a better idea of the markets that will be most affected by the digital transition coming in a little less than a year. Here are the top five cities with the most homes that rely exclusively on over-the-air broadcasts: 1. Salt...

By Kim Hart | February 21, 2008; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Microsoft Opens Up Popular Software Programs

Microsoft announced this morning that it's giving outside developers greater access to high-profile programs such as its Windows and Office suites. The company said it will let the programs work better with competing products and publish to the Web more than 30,000 pages of Windows documentation that had previously been...

By Kim Hart | February 21, 2008; 02:21 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Goodbye, Analog Cellphone

The country's biggest wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon, are planned to start shuting off their analog service yesterday. Most cellphone users stopped using analog service long ago, relying on digital networks to make calls, check email and send text messages. Maintaining both an analog and digital network became an expensive...

By Kim Hart | February 19, 2008; 01:17 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wal-Mart Chooses Blu-Ray

It looks like yet another blow to HD-DVDs in the high-definition format war. Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs stores--all 4,000 of them--will phase out HD-DVDs in their inventory and will soon only carry Blu-Ray discs and Blu-Ray players, in addition to standard DVD players and up-converters. This will happen over the...

By Kim Hart | February 15, 2008; 03:22 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

Women Want TV, Men Want YouTube

Online video producers are scrambling to figure out how to measure their Internet audiences in order to attract advertisers. Nielsen Online today released its first findings from VideoCensus, its Web-video measurement service. Just in time for Valentine's Day, Nielsen outlined the differences in online video watching habits between women and...

By Kim Hart | February 15, 2008; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)

How Real Is Your Love?

Genevieve Grossmann is a prolific secret admirer. So much so that she anonymously sends dozens of virtual gifts to her Facebook friends simply to see their reactions. And with so many Valentine's Day gifts to choose from -- roses, kisses, flowers, chocolates -- the gifter plans to be busy today....

By Kim Hart | February 13, 2008; 07:24 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Taking a Closer Look at How Google Works

With all the speculation about how much Yahoo is worth to Microsoft, or how much Yahoo would be worth if it outsourced its search-advertising platform to Google, it seems like a good opportunity to clarify how Google's system works. After all, it is Google's search and advertising empire that analysts...

By Kim Hart | February 13, 2008; 07:09 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Digital Transition Could Affect Some Local News Stations

Another aspect about the transition to digital television that hasn't been talked about much is how it will affect some of the smaller stations that often provide local news over analog signals. Full-powered stations, like the major networks that get picked up by cable and satellite operators, are required to...

By Kim Hart | February 8, 2008; 05:39 PM ET | Comments (11) | TrackBack (1)

A View of the Local Tech Scene

Starting today, Post reporter Zach Goldfarb, who follows the local technology community here in Washington, is bringing the area's coolest tech happenings to the WashBiz Blog. He'll be writing about all aspects of the scene, taking a look at venture capital trends, tech culture and start-ups. He'll also have discussions...

By Kim Hart | February 8, 2008; 02:38 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Digital Transition Countdown Begins

In 376 days, broadcasters will stop airing programs using analog signals. That means that anyone who does not have a digital television set and still gets over-the-air programming using rabbit-ears antenna, will need to get a special converter box in order to keep receiving TV signals. You won't be affected...

By Kim Hart | February 7, 2008; 04:43 PM ET | Comments (20) | TrackBack (1)

Dead Heads For Obama

Tonight a last-minute fund-raising concert for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama reunites three members of The Grateful Dead for the first time in four years. And it gives two online video companies a chance to appeal to a wider audience. At San Francisco's Warfield Theatre at 7:30 tonight--that's 10:30 EST...

By Kim Hart | February 4, 2008; 05:48 PM ET | Comments (11) | TrackBack (1)

More Insightful Search

Google has become a household name, but several firms here at DEMO want more depth and detail out of a search engine. They want results to be tailored to your own personality, using the context found in your online profiles and preferences as a guide. First up is Delver, which...

By Kim Hart | January 31, 2008; 03:02 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Faster Paths For Streaming Videos

Earlier this week, eMarketer reported that 70 percent of all Internet users watch online video. But your average uploaded video is considered old-fashioned. Now it's all about streaming live video to consumers anytime, anywhere. But streaming high-quality video takes a lot of bandwidth, and live feeds often get interrupted on...

By Kim Hart | January 31, 2008; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who's Actually Watching All Those Online Videos?

With the explosion of online video, thanks to the success of YouTube, the big question is how to track the videos as they are shared around the Web and how to measure their audiences. Two companies showed off ways to keep tabs on what happens to videos, in an effort...

By Kim Hart | January 30, 2008; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Even More Ways to Find Friends on the Web

Just when you thought nothing else could be added to the social networking scene, a few companies may surprise you. DEMO producer Chris Shipley said this is the last year social web applications will be broken out as its own category. "This is becoming so mainstream so quickly, that it...

By Kim Hart | January 30, 2008; 01:09 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Device Chargers Go Green

Toting around multiple electronic chargers has become the great curse of the digital age. On this trip I brought along four chargers: one each for my laptop, Blackberry, cellphone and iPod. They waste power and quickly end up in landfills. Green Plug wants to change that with its new universal...

By Kim Hart | January 30, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (6)

A Video Social Network--The CNN of Your Friends?

Lots of companies are experimenting with creating video conversations on the Web. Seesmic is a social network that lets members talk to each other via video. Bloggers have dubbed Seesmic the "Twitter of video" because many members post quick messages about what they're doing, ask a question of other members,...

By Kim Hart | January 30, 2008; 03:30 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Adding New Dimensions to Virtual Worlds

Since launching at the DEMO show last fall, SceneCaster's three-dimensional worlds have become popular hangouts on the Web. People can create their own virtual scenes, games, abstract art, cartoons or homes interiors using SceneCaster's technology and then share them through their Facebook profiles. At this show, the company launched a...

By Kim Hart | January 29, 2008; 06:25 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Get Travel Advice From Locals

CitiPort.net would have come in pretty handy when I was trying to plan my weekend in San Francisco. The newly launched site from Taiwan aims to bridge the gap between travel sites like Travelocity.com and local rating sites like Yelp. CitiPort lets you rate and recommend sites, hotels, restaurants, bars...

By Kim Hart | January 29, 2008; 05:38 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Merging Your Mobile and Online Worlds

A handful of companies here are trying to find ways to use video and voice to communicate across computers and mobile devices. A few fell a bit flat with the audience due to technical difficulties and hard-to-use interfaces. But a few got some good nods from the crowd. One is...

By Kim Hart | January 29, 2008; 01:31 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Get Paid to Look For Job, Even if You're Not Looking

NotchUp.com is a new job-search Web site that helps companies find talented workers who aren't actually searching for a job. After all, the best workers aren't posting their resumes on Monster.com or Craigslist--they're busy climbing the corporate ladder in their current job. But at the right price, you may be...

By Kim Hart | January 29, 2008; 01:20 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

The Announcements Keep Coming, Even Before the First Presentation

DEMO kicked off only a few hours ago, but the participating companies haven't wasted any time in announcing their latest products. Search company Eyealike is unveiling a service that will find copyrighted material in videos and images embedded in all sorts of Web sites, especially ones heavy with user-generated content...

By Kim Hart | January 29, 2008; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Start-ups Line Up to Launch at DEMO

Yesterday marked the beginning of DEMO, the three-day conference that serves as a launching pad for young tech companies. Think of it as a Consumer Electronics Show exclusively for start-ups. Thousands of companies vie for booth space here in Palm Desert, Calif. This year, 76 companies came from as far...

By Kim Hart | January 29, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Live Video Finds New Uses on the Web

I drove to Palo Alto this morning to pay a visit to the guys at Ustream.tv, a start-up that streams live broadcasts across the Internet. It's a similar concept to YouTube in that it lets people create and share videos with a wide audience. What makes Ustream different, according to...

By Kim Hart | January 25, 2008; 09:42 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Life Is Rough At The GooglePlex

I paid a visit to Googleplex yesterday. And yes, everything you've heard is true. The toilet seats are heated. There are comfy couches in front of huge TV screens. And the Google meals are quite tasty. There are blue bicycles parked in front of the main building, complete with a...

By | January 24, 2008; 06:17 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Visiting YouTube to Talk About Mobile Video

I swung by YouTube's offices yesterday to get a quick peak of what they're working on these days. I had good timing--YouTube was in the process of making an announcement about its mobile video platform. Cellphone users will now be able to access YouTube's entire library of videos on their...

By | January 24, 2008; 03:13 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

What Economy? What Traffic?

I'm exploring Silicon Valley for the first time this week, making the rounds to meet a bunch of venture capitalists and buzz-worthy companies. Despite all the gloomy talk about the sour economy that has dominated business circles on the East Coast, this area almost seems a bit insulated--even if it's...

By | January 24, 2008; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Ralph de la Vega Opens Up

Today I had the chance to sit down with Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's wireless division. He didn't have a lot of time to chat, but he shared with me some of the big issues the company will be tackling this year. The debate about "open"...

By Kim Hart | January 15, 2008; 06:52 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

FCC Seeks Comments on Comcast

This afternoon the Federal Communications Commission formally asked for input on Comcast's Internet management policies, specifically regarding how it handles peer-to-peer traffic. It's the first official step the commission has taken to investigate the cable giant, which has said that it sometimes slows down traffic to file-sharing sites such as...

By Kim Hart | January 14, 2008; 06:45 PM ET | Comments (12) | TrackBack (2)

CES Recap: A Little Smaller, But Still Leaves Me Wrecked

Well, it's the last day of CES 2008 and the show is still going strong. But the taxi lines heading to the airport are growing pretty quickly. Last night I had a quick chat with Albert Lin, an analyst with American Technology Research and a CES veteran. This being my...

By Kim Hart | January 10, 2008; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Contacting Me Through Email

In response to the previous comment: Those who wish to contact me can do so by clicking here. Thanks!!...

By Kim Hart | January 10, 2008; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Becoming a Real Guitar Hero (The Video)

Here's a video that goes with Tuesday's posting about some new technology to help with your Guitar Hero skills:...

By Kim Hart | January 10, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Oops!

It's tough typing blog entries on my BlackBerry. Yesterday, in my haste I got the names of two companies wrong. The Swedish cellphone company that sells touchscreen phones is actually called Neonode, and the company helping them bring the phones to the U.S. market is DMC. Thanks to Danielle at...

By Kim Hart | January 10, 2008; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Slinging Media Around Still Pleases The Crowd

Two years ago, Sling Media -- one of that year's biggest hits -- had a small booth at this show. Now the company, which was recently acquired by Dish Network's parent company EchoStar, had a pretty impressive display that always seemed to be crowded. Sling Media became known for...

By Kim Hart | January 10, 2008; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

IPod Accessories, Some Of Which Are A Scream

When I stopped walking around the show floor long enough to realize how hungry I was, I grabbed a hotdog from a concession stand at the Sands Expo Center and started talking talking to a guy sitting next to me at the table. I asked about his company, called Zagg....

By Kim Hart | January 10, 2008; 09:06 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If You Build A Social Network, Will Advertisers Come?

I took a break from the floor to listen to a panel discussion on social networks and user-generated content. After the panelists waxed philosophical for a bit about how social networks are enabling our age-old desire to connect to other humans, they got down to the bottom line. Advertising is...

By Kim Hart | January 9, 2008; 05:47 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

A Screen That's More Sensitive To The Touch

While I walking through the displays of tech giants like Panasonic and Samsung, I came across a company I'd never heard of called Neonode. It's a Swedish cellphone manufacturer that says it's enjoyed some success in Europe but has had a tough time breaking into the U.S. market against much-larger...

By Kim Hart | January 9, 2008; 04:29 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Comcast's New Video Offerings: Portable DVR and Fancast

Comcast and Panasonic yesterday announced a new media device that works like a conventional digital-video recorder in the home, but that can also be taken on the road to serve as a portable media player. They call it the AnyPlay portable DVR, which will be available in early 2009. Comcast...

By Kim Hart | January 9, 2008; 03:09 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some Tiny Technology

The familiar mantras of the Consumer Electronics Show -- Bigger! Better! Faster! Cheaper! -- continue to fly around the showroom floor this year. For example, you can catch a glimpse of Panasonic's 150-inch plasma TV, or Sony's ultra-thin flatscreens. Some of the things that caught my eye, though, are the...

By Kim Hart | January 9, 2008; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Public Interest Groups React to FCC Chair's Speech

When FCC Chairman Kevin Martin spoke here about his views on whether Comcast was blocking content from consumers by interfering with peer-to-peer traffic, he indicated the commission would look into the situation to determine if Comcast really was discriminating against certain sites or if the cable giant is within its...

By Kim Hart | January 9, 2008; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (50) | TrackBack (0)

FCC Chair Opens Up On Wireless

Federal Communications Commission chief Kevin Martin just finished a discussion with Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, about his policy priorities for the coming year. Martin spent a lot of time stressing the importance of wireless technologies, especially since the auction of valuable 700 megahertz spectrum will...

By Kim Hart | January 8, 2008; 06:05 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gaming Your Way To Becoming A Real Guitar Hero

Love Guitar Hero? How about playing with a real guitar? Music Wizard Group has created a game that lets you have all the glory of Guitar Hero, but also helps you learn how to play the instrument. You plug a small device into an acoustic or electric guitar and...

By Kim Hart | January 8, 2008; 02:24 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Be The Better (Animated) You

A company called Big Stage lets you be your better self. Here's how it works: You take three digital photos of your face from different angles and then import them into the company's software. Then you can put a funky hairstyle on yourself, glasses, or a variety of expressions. The...

By Kim Hart | January 8, 2008; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Searching in Three Dimensions

I met a company called SpaceTime last night that offers 3-dimensional search. It's an application you download to your desktop, and it then acts like any other browser. If you want to look at YouTube clips, it scrolls through them in 3-D form, without having to download them first. If...

By | January 8, 2008; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ladies And Gentlemen: The World's Smallest Laptop

At the Qualcomm booth, one thing that caught my eye is what the company claims is the world's smallest laptop. It's small alright, looking more like an oversized cellphone than a computer. The keyboard slides out from behind the screen. It weighs one pound and the company today introduced...

By | January 7, 2008; 07:50 PM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

A Rare Find: Tranquil Space

In a sea of marketing mayhem here, I came across a corner of tranquility. Qualcomm often has among the largest displays on the show floor, competing against every other device manufacturer trying to snag some attention. This year, though, the company took a different approach to lure people with an...

By | January 7, 2008; 06:45 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang Holds Forth On Mobile

Yahoo is trying to do for mobile devices what it did for the Internet-connected computer a decade ago. Today during a keynote speech here at CES, Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang made a slew of announcements geared toward attracting eyeballs on cellphones. The biggest news is that the company is...

By | January 7, 2008; 04:55 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Watching Tiny Screen Without Going Crosseyed

Portable devices keep getting smaller, yet people want to get more entertainment right to the two-inch screen on their iPod or cellphone. A company called MyVu is selling futuristic-looking glasses that let you watch a movie or play a video game on what seems like a bigger screen. Here's how...

By | January 7, 2008; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

At CES, Promotion Transcends Everything

It's my first time at CES and my first time in Vegas. So as you might imagine, my head is spinning. When I arrived at the convention center this morning, people were still setting up booths and finding power outlets. But they didn't waste any time in trying to...

By | January 7, 2008; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Local Firm Goes for Mobile TV

A major push at this year's CES is mobile entertainment. As it turns out, one of the companies putting serious resources in that direction is in our own backyard. ICO Communications of Reston took me out for a spin to show off it's product, which will be available once its...

By | January 7, 2008; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Gates's Retirement Parody Gets Laughs at Keynote

Before Bill Gates got into the major news of his last CES keynote address last night, he played a video portraying what his last day on the job would be like. A star-studded cast bid him farewell from Microsoft as they parodied Gates' struggle to fill up all the free...

By | January 7, 2008; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Annual Gates Speech at CES

LAS VEGAS-- For years Microsoft has been talking about all the advantages consumers can get from being connected--linking your computers, cellphones, TVs and digital cameras. This year the company is trying to make that connection more personal, driving technology to be smarter about who you are, what you want and...

By | January 7, 2008; 12:07 AM ET | Comments (11) | TrackBack (3)

Online Shoppers a Bit Less Satisfied This Year

Online shopping has become a staple of the holiday season, but customer satisfaction with e-retailers dropped slightly by about 1 percent this year. On top of that, online retail sales grew at a slower rate than in previous years. Netflix topped the list in customer satisfaction for the third year...

By Kim Hart | January 3, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

New Year's Text Message Mayhem

Text messages, it seems, have become the new holiday greetings. I used to get a couple dozen holiday cards and phone calls around the holidays. But last year, and even more this year, I got more Christmas greetings via text messages than actual phone calls. So I expected to receive...

By Kim Hart | January 2, 2008; 10:48 AM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Advertisers May Find Big Value in Smaller Sites.

You may have seen my story from Saturday about niche social networking sites, which are starting to grab a share of advertising dollars. Marketers have been flocking to the flashy networks like MySpace and Facebook to get access to the millions of members that log on every day. But to...

By Kim Hart | December 31, 2007; 01:46 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (2)

Cellphones: Blackholes of Entertainment

For the Millennial generation, which is made up of 13-24 year olds, the cellphone has become the "black hole" of entertainment--they suck everything toward it. That's according to a survey commissioned by Deloitte & Touche released this week. Not surprisingly, this generation is most active when it comes to producing...

By Kim Hart | December 21, 2007; 06:58 AM ET | Comments (3)

Teens Rule the Web

Fueled by new technologies and social networking sites, teenagers continue to lead the pack in creating content on the Web. According to a study released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 64 percent of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engage in at least one type of...

By Kim Hart | December 20, 2007; 06:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bidders Line Up for Wireless Auction

A wide variety of companies are taking their places along the starting line of the big federal auction of wireless airwaves that will start next month. Among the 96 potential bidders that have been approved to participate are some unlikely candidates, and many you've never heard of. The Federal Communications...

By Kim Hart | December 19, 2007; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

Head of FTC Won't Recuse from Google Deal

Deborah Platt Majoras, the head of the Federal Trade Commission, said today she won't recuse herself from reviewing Google's purchase of DoubleClick, leading some analysts to believe that the deal will be approved. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy said in a petition Wednesday that...

By Kim Hart | December 14, 2007; 03:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Questions for Google

The ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Google's chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt yesterday, posing some rather pointed questions about the proposed merger of Google and DoubleClick. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and other Republican members of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee first expressed concern...

By Kim Hart | December 13, 2007; 05:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cellphone Ads on the Way

Mobile advertising has been pegged by many as the next great way to reach consumers. And it could rewrite the current cellphone business model. Yesterday I had the chance to sit down with Mark Ein, founder and CEO of VentureHouse Group in D.C. He's invested in a wide range of...

By Kim Hart | December 12, 2007; 11:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Up and Running Again

Some of you may have noticed that Post I.T. has been dark for a couple months. Well, that's about to change. I've been writing about technology for the Post for a while now, and I'm shifting gears to focus on news coming out of the Web 2.0 world--and how it's...

By Kim Hart | December 12, 2007; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Digital Confusion

Last week I wrote a story about the digital television transition that will take place Feb. 17, 2009. That's when broadcasters will stop carrying analog signals, or the over-the-air programming that TV-watchers generally receive with a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears." Instead, broadcasters will send their shows in digital format,...

By Kim Hart | October 3, 2007; 06:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

Will Telecommuting Save the Planet?

Using electronic devices to telecommute saves enough energy to power 1 million U.S. households for a year, according to a study released today by the Consumer Electronics Association. The study, which was commissioned by the CEA and conducted by TIAX LLC of Cambridge, Mass., found that "just one day of...

By Kim Hart | September 19, 2007; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (10)

AT&T Touts its Mobile Abilities

If being the exclusive carrier of the much-hyped iPhone wasn't enough to solidify AT&T's place in the wireless world, the company is launching a new marketing campaign today to flaunt it's mobile-centric attributes. Since the company absorbed Cingular Wireless last year--a merger that created the nation's biggest wireless provider--AT&T has...

By Kim Hart | September 11, 2007; 07:13 AM ET | Comments (6)

New Senate Bill Aimed at Wireless Carriers

Two senators today announced their plans to introduce a bill aimed at improving wireless service for cellphone users. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the authors of what they call the Cellphone Consumer Empowerment Act, are both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the wireless...

By Kim Hart | September 6, 2007; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (5)

Google CEO Says Company Likely to Bid on Wireless Spectrum

Google will "probably" participate in the federal auction of valuable airwaves early next year, chief executive Eric Schmidt told a group of telecom and technology executives last night. After flying his own twin-engine jet into Aspen to give the keynote speech at a conference held by Washington think tank Progress...

By Kim Hart | August 21, 2007; 11:53 PM ET | Comments (1)

DRM Diaries

Wal-Mart today announced it would sell digital music downloads with no anticopying software. The mega-retailer is offering songs released by record labels EMI Group and Universal Music Group, which are both experimenting with offering music without copy-protection software. Such software, or DRM (digital rights management) software, prevents consumers from copying...

By Kim Hart | August 21, 2007; 03:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Battles Over Patents a Top Concern for Tech Companies

About 150 executives and policy experts from the largest technology and telecom companies convened in Aspen this week to talk about some of the most pressing issues in the industry. In addition to the debate over the 700 megahertz spectrum auction and online privacy, patent reform was a hot topic....

By Kim Hart | August 21, 2007; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Discovery Tries to Curb Junk Food Marketing

Discovery Communications today announced that it would not allow the characters of its popular Discovery Kids channel to be associated with junk food. The decision is part of the network's battle against childhood obesity, according to to a press release. The characters of the kid-friendly programming can only be used...

By Kim Hart | August 13, 2007; 06:05 PM ET | Comments (3)

Pearl Jam Stirs Up Net Neutrality Debate

A Pearl Jam performance seems to have stirred up the debate over Net Neutrality, or the effort underway in Washington that would bar Internet providers from giving preferential treatment to certain content on their networks. Last weekend, an AT&T-sponsored webcast of Pearl Jam's Lollapolooza performance cut out some politically-charged lyrics...

By Kim Hart | August 10, 2007; 07:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

FCC to Decide on Auction Rules Today

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote this morning on the rules governing the January auction of valuable airwaves. These airwaves are coveted by phone, cable and Internet companies of all sizes because they are ideal for carrying wireless signals. The biggest debate has been over whether the FCC...

By Kim Hart | July 31, 2007; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

SunRocket Sells Assets

The company handling the "wind-down" of SunRocket said last night that TeleBlend, a small Internet-phone service company based in Maine, has entered an agreement to acquire certain strategic assets of the Vienna company that went out of business last week. TeleBlend is backed by a company called USA Telephone whose...

By Kim Hart | July 27, 2007; 09:34 AM ET | Comments (11)

Sprint Partners With Google on WiMax

Sprint Nextel announced today that it will be working with Google to bring web search, interactive communications and social networking tools to Sprint's WiMax Mobile Internet customers. Together, the companies plan to create a new mobile portal to use with the technology. Sprint announced last week that it entered a...

By Kim Hart | July 26, 2007; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sparks Still Flying Over SunRocket

More than a week after SunRocket went belly up, I'm still receiving phone calls and e-mails from angry customers who were left in the lurch. SunRocket, the Vienna-based Internet-phone service provider that was was once a darling of the local venture capital community (it received $80 million in private investment...

By Kim Hart | July 25, 2007; 07:09 AM ET | Comments (33)

Taking Care Of That iPhone--Even If It's Fake

Over the last couple of weeks, a whole slew of companies were trying to ride the wave of iPhone hype--and it's still going. I got an amusing e-mail pitch about a new game launched today by Cellufun, a mobile content provider that mostly offers ad-supported games for cellphones. It's latest...

By Kim Hart | July 3, 2007; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (1)

Bye-Bye, Landlines

Mobile phones are replacing landlines faster than ever these days, and T-Mobile is tapping into the trend. Today, the company launched its HotSpot@Home service, which lets people use their mobile phones over a wireless Internet connection at home without using any of their minutes. T-Mobile developed a technology that hands...

By Kim Hart | June 27, 2007; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sports Leagues Lobby on the Hill

Representatives from just about every major sports league are descending on Capitol Hill today for a series of meetings with Federal Communications Commission officials. The issue at hand: white spaces. As television broadcasters move from analog signals to digital, the FCC is planning to open up white spaces, or unused...

By Kim Hart | June 26, 2007; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (0)

E-commerce Government Sites Show Customer Satisfaction Gains

Federal Web sites have long trailed private sites in customer satisfaction. But a new study released today shows that government Web sites that allow people to make payments or complete other transactions online have a leg-up when it comes to customer service. The report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index...

By Kim Hart | June 19, 2007; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (0)

More Ways to Mingle

Connections are key in a town like Washington. In any tech community, networking is an essential way to meet investors, fellow techies, entrepreneurs, bloggers and other movers and shakers about town. I caught up with Ross Karchner, a local blogger who writes about technology in and around the Washington area...

By Kim Hart | June 18, 2007; 06:43 AM ET | Comments (1)

Another Blog to Keep Tabs on the Local Scene

Of course, lots of businesses are ramping up their blogging efforts to boost their presence on the Web. But now even the Greater Washington Board of Trade has launched its own Regional Biz Blog, which shares tidbits of information about the economic condition of the area. The Board of Trade's...

By Kim Hart | June 14, 2007; 07:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

A TiVo Replay at Venture Firm

Ten years ago, New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm with offices in Baltimore, helped revolutionize the way Americans watch TV by putting a sizable investment in a small Silicon Valley start-up called TiVo. Now Michael Ramsay, the co-founder and former CEO of TiVo, has joined the firm as a...

By Kim Hart | June 5, 2007; 08:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Other End of the Spectrum

In a letter he sent to the Federal Communications Commission yesterday, former Senator John Edwards encouraged Chairman Kevin Martin to use upcoming auction of the 700 megahertz broadband spectrum to "make the Internet more affordable and accessible to all Americans." The FCC is taking this part of the spectrum away...

By Kim Hart | May 31, 2007; 06:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

Verizon's "Fergalicious" at Fair Oaks

Pop singer Fergie will give a short performance and sign autographs today at 3 p.m. at the Verizon Experience Store in the Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. It adds to the list of celebrities Verizon is hosting at the store, which opened in December. The store is meant to showcase...

By Kim Hart | May 29, 2007; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Sitting on Go--Almost

Four of the biggest telecom companies spent close to three years preparing their bids for the Networx contract, the most sweeping--and most expensive--overhaul of the guts of the federal government's communication systems in history. The contract is estimated to be worth $20 billion, but could grow to as much as...

By Kim Hart | May 24, 2007; 05:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

Internet in the Boonies

I wrote an article yesterday about some planned communities in Loudoun County that signed exclusive, long-term contracts with telecom companies to provide Internet, cable and phone service. The communities were built several years ago, when broadband services stopped short of the outer suburbs. So developers hired companies to build a...

By Kim Hart | May 22, 2007; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (14)

Software Piracy Hits the Jackpot

With all the debate swirling around intellectual property issues recently, I sat down last week with a local firm that specializes in protecting software from being hacked and pirated. Arxan, of Bethesda, is funded by the National Security Agency to secure all kinds of classified items like military warheads and...

By Kim Hart | May 21, 2007; 07:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

Customer Service Woes

When it comes to customer service, wireless and cable companies still have a lot to learn. At least, that's what new data released today by the American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests. Satisfaction among subscribers of cable and satellite TV dropped during the first quarter, once again earning the lowest level...

By Kim Hart | May 15, 2007; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Clothing for the Gadget Era

These days, we all lug around more devices than we can keep up with: phones, iPods, headsets and BlackBerrys. A number of firms are trying to push tech clothing to try to take advantage of it all. A company in Idaho claims to have solved "the daily challenge of carrying...

By Kim Hart | May 14, 2007; 07:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

Corporate Blogs May Actually Pay Off

It's no secret that big corporations have joined the blogosphere to get feedback from customers and test new ideas, but some are defintely more successful than others. I caught up with local blogging-guru Geoff Livingston yesterday who told me about an interesting conversation he'd had with Brian Lusk, who runs...

By Kim Hart | May 9, 2007; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (7)

Miles Gilburne and Web 2.0

Miles Gilburne has been on many sides of the technology industry. He's best known for his leaderhip during the heady days of AOL, but his former lives also include stints as a high-tech lawyer, a venture capitalist, and a member of Time Warner's board of directors. He's now returning to...

By Kim Hart | May 2, 2007; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Online World Grieves for Va. Tech

It comes as no surprise that grieiving Virginia Tech students turned to the Internet to cope with Monday's events, and it's probably even less surprising that the public went online to keep tabs on what was happening on campus. When phone lines went unanswered and e-mail was down in Blacksburg,...

By Kim Hart | April 19, 2007; 08:58 AM ET | Comments (8)

Mitt Romney Stumps in Local Tech Circle

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Northern Virginia technology executives this morning that government should be more like the private sector: more analytical, debate-intensive and data-driven. At least, that's how he said he'd approach the top job at the White House. He said he'd use the same approach he used...

By Kim Hart | April 18, 2007; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (7)

Federal Agencies Improve Grades in Information Security

The federal government got an overall grade of C-minus for their cyber-security efforts in 2006, a congressional oversight committee said today. The report card, first reported yesterday by washingtonpost.com's Brian Krebs in his Security Fix blog, shows the grade is less than stellar. But the House Government Oversight and Reform...

By Kim Hart | April 12, 2007; 03:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

A High-Tech Dinner Bell

Last summer, I wrote a story with Yuki Noguchi about the Mosquito ring tone--a high-pitched sound that teenagers can hear but their elders (most importantly, teachers and parents) cannot. Teens started using the ring tone so they could receive undetected calls and text messages during class, where cell phones are...

By Kim Hart | April 12, 2007; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Maps With a Higher Profile

Ever since Google, Microsoft and Yahoo made maps and satellite images available online, geospatial products have enjoyed a higher profile. People use them to find driving directions and plot vacation routes, swoop into foreign cities and fly over oceans. But they're also used to conduct research and plan for emergencies....

By Kim Hart | March 29, 2007; 06:30 PM ET | Comments (2)

Connecting Soldiers--and Their Toothbrushes?

The Internet is running out of space, and it's got Northern Virginia technology companies--especially those that work with the government-- abuzz. They're trying to fix a big problem. Namely, all the existing net addresses (called IP addresses) will be used up within the next four years. The upgrade basically almost...

By Kim Hart | March 29, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Venture Capital Social Network

Over the last few weeks, several large companies have announced plans to incorporate social networks into their business plans. For example, Anheuser-Busch, the proprieter of Budweiser and other beers, has signed a deal with social networking site MingleNow to promote beer-drinking to the average Joe. The campaign, called "clink," encourages...

By Kim Hart | March 28, 2007; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

District Start-Ups Grow Fastest in Nation

Venture capital-backed companies in Washington, D.C., showed the fastest revenue growth in the country between 2003 and 2005, according to a study released today by the National Venture Capital Association. Compared to other states, District-based companies that received venture capital generated relatively low revenues, with $2.2 billion in 2005. But...

By Kim Hart | March 21, 2007; 03:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Microsoft Builds Bridges with Venture Capitalists

Microsoft knows advertisers have a hard time reaching males between the ages of 18 and 34. So the company has started selling ad space inside its XBox games. Corporate logos flash on animated billboards and car companies pay to have their newest models on the streets--all in Microsoft's efforts to...

By Kim Hart | March 20, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Local Tech Execs Open Wallets for Obama

Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is tapping into a new and lucrative fundraising source: Washington's tech community. About 200 of the area's most prominent names from the telecommunications and media worlds attended a private fundraiser for Obama last Thursday at the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Reed Hundt, former...

By Kim Hart | March 19, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

 

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