links for 2009-08-29

  • Today the Federal Communications Commission announced its decision to investigate the wireless industry. Under the gun will be the power held by the larger providers, truth-in-billing issues, and whether or not consumers have as much choice as they should.
    Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of Media Access Project, calls this new investigation “long overdue.” My guess is the wireless providers disagree.
    The FCC has notified the major wireless players — including AT&T (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile, and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) WIreless — that it is going to be undertaking two different inquiries. The first is going to be how the FCC itself can help increase competition in the industry and how network technology, device selection, application access and business practices affect the industry as a whole. A separate inquiry will examine whether or not the industry allows for new entrants.
    (tags: fcc)
  • For five years the owner of the Jackling House in Woodside, California, has been trying to knock it down. He hates the place, calling it “one of the biggest abominations of a house I’ve ever seen”. He hates it so much, he has abandoned it to live a few miles away in Palo Alto. Pictures of the interior show a ghostly, decaying mansion. The owner can’t knock it down because of protests from conservationists. But a deal has been done. He will spend $600,000 to have it taken down and will have it rebuilt elsewhere — not a big victory by his standards, but a satisfying one. He has been having a hard time lately.
    (tags: apple jobs)

  • Public schools
    in Houston and Mesquite, Texas, have banned the use of cell phones to send sexually suggestive messages and photos, authorities said.
    It’s estimated one in every five U.S. teenagers has participated in so-called “sexting,” The Dallas Morning News reported Monday.
    “We haven’t had much of a problem with sexting in our district,” said Norm Uhl, a Houston schools spokeswoman. “But it has been in the news so much and happened in surrounding areas that we wanted a policy on the books just in case it happens here.”
  • Whether you’re giving a presentation, telling a story, submitting a proposal or selling your services — keep in mind the “Rule of Three.” Have you ever noticed the pattern of “3″ in many of our traditional childhood stories — three blind mice, the three stooges, the three little pigs, Goldilocks’ three bears, three wishes …. the list goes on and on.
    Research has shown that there is a rationale behind the use of “three” in our societal story-telling — our brains tend to naturally think in threes. Add one more element and the memory pattern tends to slip. Why not take advantage of this human tendency when interacting with others?
  • Washington DC based LaunchBox Digital, an early stage investment firm and incubator founded in 2007 by John McKinley, Sean Green, and Julius Genachowski (now the new head of the FCC and divested from LaunchBox), just wrapped up its second annual 12-week program. Modeled after Y Combinator, LaunchBox invests seed capital of around $20,000-$25,000 into teams, and provides them with 12 weeks of education, mentorship and access to a small army of advisers.
    Drawn from a pool of over 275 applicants, eight teams were selected to make up the class of 2009. (For the class of 2008, read last year’s post). Below is a brief description of each with notes written by LaunchBox founder John McKinley, as well screencasts of their products and links to their websites.
  • It’s not often that America’s small businesses get $2 billion in federal funds set aside just for them. But that’s what happened when President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act this February.
    Better known as the stimulus bill, the ARRA changed the rules for a little-known SBA program that loans money to qualified VC firms called Small Business Investment Corporations, or SBICs. SBICs, which are licensed by the SBA as federally funded VC firms, can tap SBA funds to supplement the venture capital they’ve raised privately, taking twice as much federal money as they’ve raised on their own, up to a limit.
  • Microsoft has a sometimes-undeserved reputation for needing three tries to get a product right, but in the case of Windows Movie Maker that description seems fair.
    Movie Maker began life as a largely ignored part of Windows Millennium Edition and wasn’t much better when XP arrived — it couldn’t even burn a DVD of your footage, instead limiting you to a proprietary, soon-abandoned multimedia disc format. Its Windows Vista incarnation added DVD output but offered little help with publishing videos online.

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