Changing Life At The Front

An Internet Lifeline for Troops in Iraq and Loved Ones at Home

With mortar shells exploding near him sometimes twice a day in Ramadi, Iraq, Sgt. Mark Grelak found a way to shut out the heat, the noise, and all the demands of his job — sweeping the local highway for bombs left by insurgents. In a tiny space in his barracks, he would flip open his laptop, adjust his Web camera and watch his daughter Katie take her first halting steps.

[…] Military deployments have a way of chewing up marriages, turning daily life upside down and making strangers out of husbands and wives. But for this generation of soldiers, the Internet, which is now widely available on bases, has softened the blow of long separations, helping loved ones stay in daily touch and keeping service members informed of family decisions — important and mundane.

Another Comcast-Verizon Battleground

Caution: Unidentified callers ahead

Some callers can’t be identified because their information is blocked or unavailable, but in other cases the callers aren’t named because the customer’s phone company simply doesn’t want to spend the money to obtain the data.

A small Globe test of caller ID accuracy found several instances where Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp. didn’t provide a caller’s name because they didn’t want to pay the extra money.

In Search Of A Formula

Music Blogs Try — Futilely, Thus Far — to Generate Radio’s Communal Spirit

Despite numerous attempts, no one online has found a way to turn the hat trick that sustained radio through six decades of dominance of the music industry. The iTunes store is just a very alluring retailer; it has no defining personality and therefore hasn’t developed into the kind of mass community that assembled around the most successful radio DJ shows. Various adventures in file-sharing have been a bonanza for music collectors, but have done little to advance the cause of sounds that weren’t already popular.

See also Net changes the rules of music marketing

A Library FIght

Does ‘Freedom to Read’ Apply to DVDs?:

The library system’s 440 R-rated movies are especially popular. They are also provoking a public battle between the county’s Board of Supervisors and the library board of trustees. The supervisors recently voted 8 to 1 to ask the trustees to stop spending county dollars on adult-oriented movies with an R rating. This month, the trustees say they plan to respectfully decline the request.

Supervisors appoint the trustees and approve the library system’s annual budget of about $10.5 million. But library boards in Virginia are otherwise independent. By state code, cities and counties may control the amount of money their public libraries have to spend but not how they spend it.

Some say the Loudoun skirmish helps illustrate why. They say the supervisors’ actions are akin to censorship and violate a basic principle espoused by most libraries in the United States: that the freedom to read (and listen and view) is a right of library users with which the government should not interfere, even if the material includes strong language, violence, nudity or drug abuse and is unsuitable for children under 17.

An (Online) Life

A look into the way things work today: Someone to Watch Over Me (on a Google Map)

Don’t know you but think I may want you to be part of my network? I’ll contact you through or Nerve. Just met? I’ll look you up on MySpace. Known each other for a while, but haven’t been in touch recently? Friendster message. Friends with my friends and want to get to know you better? Dodgeball or MySpace. Good friends and want to connect more often? Dodgeball. Really good friends? Instant Message.

I now think of most people by their screen names. Even when I see them in person.

See also today’s Doonesbury (local copy)