- Video Games
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission released the new rules today making broadband Internet service a public utility, a move expected to help rural areas that lack broadband, Rebecca Ruiz and Steve Lohr report for The New York Times. The struggle for an open Internet had led to a massive battle involving Congressional members, large Internet providers and smaller Internet providers and businesses. So, how did we get to this point?
"The case for strong government rules to protect an open Internet rests in large part on a perceived market failure—the lack of competition for high-speed Internet service into American homes," Steve Lohr reports for The New York Times. "The FCC's approach makes sense, proponents say, because for genuine high-speed Internet service most American households now have only one choice, and most often it is a cable company." (NYT graphic)
"The new rules will not ensure competition from new entrants, ranging from next-generation wireless technology to ultrahigh-speed networks built by municipalities," Lohr writes. "Instead, strong regulation is intended to prevent the dominant broadband suppliers from abusing their market power. Technology, of course, can change quickly and unpredictably. So, analysts say, it is impossible to predict what the competitive landscape might look like in several years or a decade from now."
Last month FCC redefined broadband to increase speeds from 4 megabits per second to 25 megabits per second and upload speeds from 1 megabit per second to 3 megabits per second. More than half of rural Americans—53 percent, or 22 million people—do not currently have Internet access at the new levels, while only 8 percent of urban residents lack access to the new speeds.
"With or without the new net neutrality rules, cable broadband faces numerous competitors," Lohr writes. "They include upgraded versions of the DSL, or digital subscriber line, technology offered by most telephone companies; next-generation wireless service; Internet access from low-orbit satellites; and very-high-speed fiber optic connections to homes. Each has promise, analysts say, but also limitations.
The telecommunications companies have employed a variety of techniques to increase the performance of DSL and have made progress. But cable remains a more capable technology and keeps advancing." (Read more)
Written by Tim Mandel
Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Department of Revenue has begun processing tax returns again after temporarily holding electronically filed returns because of questionable returns being filed through Intuit Inc.’s TurboTax program. As reported nationally, many states have encountered the same issue. At this point, Kentucky’s processing schedule has returned to normal.
“We worked closely with Intuit to identify returns that were suspicious based on similar patterns and additional screening criteria,” Tom Miller, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Revenue, said in a news release.
Recently, Intuit identified approximately 300 suspicious returns. The department is reviewing those returns and has confirmed approximately 50 returns as being fraudulent. Less than $6,000 has been identified as having already been refunded. The department will pursue remedies to recover those funds.
Since e-filing started on Jan. 20, the Department of Revenue has received more than 575,000 individual returns. Filing electronically is still safe and the quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund, normally within 7-10 days.
The department is sending letters to affected taxpayers encouraging them to contact the Department of Revenue Taxpayer Assistance line at 502-564-4581. They may also want to contact the IRS to determine if any activity has impacted their federal return.
“With our internal fraud detection processes and the fraud analytics capabilities of our third party vendor, each year we are better able to identify fraudulent returns,” said Miller. “This newest fraudulent activity just means we must work with other states and tax preparation programs to see what new trends are out there.”
Intuit, Inc. has set up a dedicated call center, 800-944-8596, for customers to call if they believe they have been victims of tax fraud.
Electronic filing in Kentucky has been available to individuals since the 1995 tax year. It is the only way to have a refund direct deposited. In the last 5 years, e-filing for individuals has increased from 65 percent to more than 84 percent in 2014.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2015
FCC chair proposes aggressive net neutrality rules; could help connections in rural areas
In a move that could increase high-speed Internet availability in rural areas while also protecting small businesses, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday proposed much more aggressive net-neutrality rules than expected, saying that rules will place "broadband Internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon Wireless under a stricter regulatory regime" that will ensure consumers have access to an open Internet, Brian Fung reports for The Washington Post. FCC is expected to vote on the rules on Feb. 26.
"Under the new regime, broadband providers would be explicitly banned from blocking content or creating fast lanes for Web services that can pay for preferential treatment into American homes," Fung writes. "The draft rules seek to impose a modified version of Title II, which was originally written to regulate telephone companies," keeping rules that that "allow the FCC to: enforce consumer privacy rules; extract funds from Internet providers to help subsidize services for rural Americans, educators and the poor; and make sure services such as Google Fiber can build new broadband pipes more easily, according to people familiar with the plan." (Wall Street Journal graphic)
Broadband Internet providers and supporters immediately labeled the rules unnecessary and vowed to fight the rules, Roger Yu and Mike Snider report for USA Today. Verizon's deputy general counsel Michael Glover called the proposed rules "unnecessary because all participants in the Internet ecosystem support an open Internet. It is counterproductive because heavy regulation of the Internet will create uncertainty and chill investment among the many players."
But supporters "say stringent rules are needed, because the cable industry is poised for consolidation and many consumers contend with local monopolies in broadband Internet service," Yu and Snider write. "Without specific rules, ISPs would be tempted to ban, slow down or seek payment from content providers that compete with a company that has an affiliation or is owned by the Internet provider, they argue. For example, Comcast, which is trying to buy Time Warner Cable, also owns NBC Universal, which has plans to expand streaming shows."
One of the strangest things about Wheeler's aggressive approach is that only a few months ago he seemed ready to side with cable operators. That was before President Obama intervened, nudging Wheeler toward supporting a more open Internet, Gautham Nagesh and Brody Mullins report for The Wall Street Journal.
"The prod from Obama came after an unusual, secretive effort inside the White House, led by two aides who built a case for the principle known as 'net neutrality' through dozens of meetings with online activists, Web startups and traditional telecommunications companies," Nagesh and Mullins write. "Acting like a parallel version of the FCC itself, R. David Edelman and Tom Power listened as Etsy Inc., Kickstarter Inc., Yahoo Inc.’s Tumblr and other companies insisted that utility-like rules were needed to help small companies and entrepreneurs compete online, people involved in the process say."
Written by Tim Mandell
by Donna Borak
Going to this year’s Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibition hall on virtual reality, you couldn’t help but feel as if you were seated at the front row of the future of journalism. It’s a new world of immersive media and experimentation. And even though they are not specifically talking about journalism, it is all applicable to any form of storytelling.
For example, Interlude Video is using eye-tracking machines to enable users to narrate their own story in a music video. Think interactive video + storytelling. Futurist Ted Schilowitz is experimenting how to break the rectangle in the digital movie experience. And then there are the number of virtual reality exhibitions including that of the Iranian 1979 Revolution and Project Syria, which both stole the show. Even experiences on a smaller scale such as sitting across from Reese Witherspoon in the middle of the Pacific Crest Trail from the movie “Wild” evoked a different kind of movie viewing experience by using Samsung’s VR Gear.
Storytellers across all mediums are trying to use gaming technologies and virtual reality in ways to create empathy with users, while also offering them an opportunity to be a part of the storytelling experience.
There was no better example of that then Project Syria, a virtual reality experience, directed by Nonny de la Peña and built by a team of students at the University of Southern California. The project was first exhibited last winter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
I had the opportunity to step inside and experience this alternate world — a country, I should mention, I have been to on several occasions.
Immediately, I am transported to a street corner in Aleppo, Syria. There are people passing through the street. At one point, it almost seems as if a man is about to pass through me. The experience is unsettling. It startles me. I try to look around to get a bearing of my surroundings. You can feel like something is about to happen. The center of the scene is a group of people standing in a circle listening to a girl singing.
And then a bomb explodes, and I too, scream and leap back horrified at the event I have witnessed. Where is the girl that was just singing? She is gone. I forget that I am not standing in the streets of Aleppo. I forget about the heavy virtual reality goggles and headphones I am wearing that took me time to adjust and focus. I am there.
It’s only seconds later that I am now transported to a refugee camp, where I watch as men and women and their children try to buy rations of food provided by international donors. I can’t help but to look behind me in the tent at the stockpile of food and hope that it actually gets to those most in need.
My reality is then switched to a third and final scene. This time I am standing in a desert. One by one children appear. There are tents behind them. They are all looking at me. Each one of them. I turn to the right and quickly back to the left and there are more of them. I can barely count them all. Each is faceless, and perhaps that’s the point, because in each of them I see myself.
About the author
Donna Borak has never shied away from asking a question. Drawn to the study of cognitive science and philosophy as an undergraduate at Lehigh University, she was captivated by trying to understand how the human mind worked. It was that innate curiosity and passion for writing, however, that ultimately brought her to Boston University to pursue a masters’ degree in journalism. Seizing on an opportunity to come to Washington, D.C., for a semester, Borak began as an intern at United Press International, quickly landing a full-time position in 2004 on the business desk before graduation. Two years later she was hired by The Associated Press to help create a business desk in Washington. There she covered the defense industry during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Borak has most recently covered the aftermath of the financial crisis and the 2010 financial reform effort as the Federal Reserve reporter for the American Banker. When she’s not on deadline, you can find her in a yoga studio practicing her headstand, and quietly pondering her next big question.
This post originally appeared on donnaborak.com and on the website of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University. Applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program. The Knight Fellowships foster journalistic innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Each year, 20 individuals from around the world get the resources to pursue their ideas for improving journalism.
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission just said he's proposing the "strongest open Internet protections" the Web has ever seen.In a Wired op-ed, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced he wants to regulate Internet providers with the most aggressive tool at his disposal: Title II of the Communications Act. In addition to covering fixed broadband providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the draft rules would cover wireless providers such as T-Mobile and Sprint. The rules would also make speeding up or slowing down Web traffic — a tactic known as prioritization — illegal. And it would ban the blocking of Web traffic outright. Read full article