Friday, June 29, 2007

Congressman Adam Smith Cosponsors Bill to Prevent Unreasonable Fees for Internet Radio

Recently, I heard from several constituents concerned about a Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision to raise royalty rates for webcasters, a change that could amount to an increase of 300% to 1,200% depending on the size of the operation. Webcasters in our region would be severely impacted by such a change. In response, I have cosponsored H.R. 2060, originally sponsored by Reps. Inslee (D-Wash.) and Manzullo (R-Ill.), legislation to prevent the economic chokehold of an emerging media forum that 70 million Americans utilize.

The bill would create royalty parity for Internet broadcasters similar to commercial and satellite radio, amounting to an increase of about 7.5%. There are two distinct and important issues we are dealing with in this bill. First, there is an overall idea of fairness, which is at the core of capitalism and competition. Everyone deserves and needs to be on an equal playing field. Second, we as a society do not want to be setting a precedent of stifling any form of expression or communication. The CRB’s decision would be effectively doing just that to internet radio.

I rely on the questions and comments from the residents in our community to stay up to date on issues that affect my constituents. Please stay in touch with me about technology issues, or any other issues of concern to you.

The best way to reach me is through my Tacoma office at 253.896.3775. If you’d like, you may send inquiries about technology issues to: and for general business concerns or to invite me to visit your business or attend an events it’s best to contact: I look forward to hearing from you.


Adam Smith
Member of Congress

Russell Indexes Beef Up Biotech Listings

Forty-six biotechnology research and production firms, including 15 in Washington State, have moved into the broad-market Russell 3000® and/or Russell Microcap® indexes. These stocks replaced other companies that didn't fare as well during a widely positive year on Wall Street.

Most of the deletions from the Russell 3000 dropped into the Russell Microcap, while those leaving the Russell Microcap moved up to the Russell 3000 or disappeared from Russell's U.S. indexes altogether. Final index membership remains in place for one year. The reconstitution process is followed closely by many investors because the Russell indexes currently benchmark $4 trillion in assets and account for an industry-leading 54% of all institutional investment products.

Other industries that gained the most among the 277 additions to Russell's U.S. index universe are computer services (33), banks (32), drugs and pharmaceuticals (21) casualty-property insurance (27) and crude oil producers (20). Similarly, 43 banks currently in the Russell 3000 and Russell Microcap indexes were removed.

Founded in 1936, Russell is a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and headquartered in Tacoma, with principal offices in Amsterdam, Auckland, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CenturyTel Pulling the Plug on Countywide Wireless Internet

CenturyTel's test of wireless Internet in Steilacoom has determined that the technology works, but the limited profit forecast has pretty much killed the effort, The News Tribune has reported. Columnist Dan Voelpel--long a proponent for free, ubiquitous wireless surfing--inked the program's epitaph for this Sunday's edition.

CenturyTel was the winning bidder to a Request for Proposals last year from the Rainier Cable Commission, responding that it could install a countywide system with limited free access, sell long-term access to residents and businesses, provide free services to government and make money. During its presentation to the Tacoma Technology Consortium, however, the telco's business plan seemed sketchy, at best.

Across the U.S., many cities are finding their Wi-Fi projects costing more and drawing less interest than expected, leading to worries that a number will fail, resulting in millions of dollars in tax dollars or grants being wasted.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spotlight on Business

Mashel Telecom /Rainier Connect recently was awarded a prestigious Spotlight! On Business Award by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

Through five generations Rainier Connect has evolved from a fledgling telephone company with a wooden switchboard to a thriving operation that offers local phone, long distance, cable television and high-speed internet to over 9,000 residential and commercial customers across Pierce and Lewis Counties.

One of the premier cable, Internet and phone providers in our region, Rainier Connect President Brian Haynes said a good portion of the company's success is thanks to the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. "It's the people that make the Chamber," Haynes said. "It's great to have that fellowship." Haynes announced that in celebration of the award, any Rainier Connect subscriber who is also a Chamber member would receive half-off one monthly bill.

Measuring Competitiveness

Ed Morrison, blogger, and founder of I-Open, writes in the Spring 2007 GCX (Global Corporate Expansion), of the evolution of economic development indicators/rankings. Most importantly, he focuses on the third generation of rankings/indicators and why they are important to companies and thereby communities.

In his article, he says the third generation of rankings/indicators are divided into three foci: 1) brainpower, 2) innovation & entrepreneurship and 3) quality connected places. He defines each. Brainpower is the global competition for high quality intellects. For communities, this means attention to K-12 education as well as postsecondary educational attainment.

Innovation & entrepreneurship refers to regions where collaborative networks (and supportive resources) are strong and vibrant. And the third area: quality connected places encompasses quality of life metrics as well as infrastructure connectivity (broadband) and social networks.

Many of our local efforts (competitive broadband, UWT's Institute of Technology, Creative Tacoma), fit this model well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pentagon Suffers More

The AP reported this Friday (6-22-07) morning that the Pentagon suffered a cyber-attack on Wednesday that required the shut-down of 1,500 computers. Few details, including what's meant by "computers," considering the range of possibilities, were provided.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is referenced as stating that the Pentagon sees hundreds of attacks a DAY. He went on to say this cyber-attack had no adverse impacts on department operations as employees could still use the Blackberries.

Meanwhile, on another "front," Bill Gertz in Inside the Ring, from Washington Times of the same date reports on new intelligence on China's cyber-warfare capabilities. There is a new assessment of China's ability to attack U.S. and allied defense computers. Already, Chinese-origin cyber-attacks are wide-spread and detected (emphasis added) regularly. Richard Lawless, deputy undersecretary of defense for Asia told the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) last week (June 13) about China's strides in cyber-warfare. "They see is as a major component of their asymmetric warfare capability," Lawless said as reported by Gertz.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One Rule to Ring Them All?

There may soon be a single point of contact in Pierce County for searching government records. A county public records "ombudsperson" was one topic discussed at an open-government forum last week that brought together county and state elected leaders.

Looking for public records can be a daunting task, said Pierce County Councilmember Shawn Bunney (District 1), but an ombudsperson would help individuals and businesses decide what they need and then help them find it. "Openness is a primary prerequisite of responsible and responsive government," said Bunney, who is drafting an ordinance to create an ombudsperson in Pierce County modeled on a similar position in the state Attorney General's Office. "Too often public-records requests are dumped on a clerk without allocating additional time or funding. I think the public deserves better."

When Washington state's open public records act was created by initiative in 1972, there were two exemptions to what could be disclosed; there are now more than 300 exemptions, said state Attorney General Rob McKenna, whose "Sunshine Committee" will be reviewing each one and making recommendations to the Legislature next year. "Most of these exemptions should be removed," McKenna said.

State Auditor Brian Sonntag said it's mindset that characterizes governments' approach to public records. If jurisdictions decide they'll work to make public records available, it's different than if they try to find ways to exempt records from disclosure. "In the end, remembering whose business we're doing is paramount," Sonntag said. "We can't forget who's writing the checks."

Sonntag and McKenna both lauded Bunney's proposal. It remains to be seen how his peers on the Pierce County Council will respond.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Angel Network!

This past week marked the first year anniversary meeting of the TacomaAngel Network. Since the group's soft start last spring with nine founding members, the organization now regularly has 31 accredited investors (and growing), more than 50 attendees at each session and a track record of millions of dollars invested in new companies.

Entrpreneurs looking for funds and potential investors alike are well-served by TAN's new website. The duo of Brian Forth, CEO of SiteCrafting, and Mark Neidlinger, Senior Developer (and a graduate of WSU), have recently upgraded this venue. Brian, who has been developing websites since 1995, founded SiteCrafting 10 years ago while Technology Coordinator at St. Charles Borromeo School in Tacoma. Mark joined in 2006.

SiteCrafting has garnered numerous awards including, a project developed for Knowledge Universe which was nominated for a Codie Award as the Best Online Product in 2000. And in 2007, SiteCrafting was selected as one of "The 10 Most Dependable™ Web Design Firms of the West" by Goldline Research, the results of which were announced in Southwest Airline’s Magazine in January.

Besides awards, SiteCrafting has many well known customers—including Starbucks, YMCA Tacoma-Pierce County, MultiCare Health System, the Archdiocese of Seattle, and Airstream Communications, the Prium Companies, Primo Grill, the Point Defiance Zoo, and Northwest Trek.

NATO Considers Defense Against Cyberattacks

Just in from Brussels, in USA Today, is that NATO is considering defense against cyberattacks.

Seems it all stems from the recent cyberattacks on Estonia, resulting from displeasure with that nation's relocation of a WW II-era Soviet soldier statue from a park to a cemetery. In addition to riots by the ethnic Russian population, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the cyberattacks were "sustained" and "coordinated," launched from about 50 countries.

The cyberattacks targeted banking, e-mail and other functions, but not the military systems. Estonia considers itself among the most advanced for online services (voting, internet banking, etc.). All this seems consistent with asymmetrical warfare's focus on other targets than the military.

No final decision on anything beyond studying the issue. Like this is the first example of cyberattacks on either private, governmental or military e-systems.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Technology Help for Small Firms

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is seeking to expand the number of small firms involved in its Technology Assistance Program this fiscal year. Through this program, PNNL funds researchers to provide about a staff-week of effort to address technological needs of small businesses (fewer than 500 employees).

Over the last 12 years, PNNL has conducted some 750 technology assistance projects through this program, with a measured satisfaction rating of 93%. About 85% of the assistance recipients state in surveys that they implemented the advice received in the projects.

This assistance is one of many programs resulting from the Technology Alliances' statewide Associates program. The Tacoma Technology Consortium is TA's Associate in Pierce County.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cybersecurity Exercise Update at Chamber Meeting

A Military Affairs Committee meeting was held by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber entitled “An Update from Ft. Lewis”. Along with presentations from Col. Cynthia Murphy, Garrison Commander and Mark San Souci, Regional Liaison for Military Families, DoD-State Liaison Office, (who gave updates on the base and discussed Pay Day Lender laws respectively), I gave an update on the Cybersecurity Exercise that was conducted a little over a month ago.

Sponsored jointly by West Point, Fort Lewis and the University of Washington Tacoma, the day-long event brought in students from multiple locations where they were lead by Lt. Colonel Ron Dodge from USMA West Point through a series of cyber attack/defense exercises.

For more pictures and info see

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Topia Announces "Operation TroopSkoot"

In a nutshell, and from their press release..

"Calling it “Operation TroopSkoot” (, Topia is donating thousands of the revolutionary data sharing technology, SKOOT, on USB drives to the Spring deployment from Fort Lewis. SKOOT enables soldiers, families and friends to create a Private Family Network® for securely communicating and sharing data while bypassing email and other banned Internet programs."

Janine Terrano and her Topia Technology folks have an ongoing working relationship with the US Army Intelligence Security Command and the Federal Aviation Administration, so it is great to see them putting some of their innovative technology to such a great and common cause.

Read on for more information...

Friday, June 1, 2007

Typology of ICT Users

The new A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users, as conducted and released by Pew Internet & American Life Project makes for both curious readings and consternation.

The report attempts to gain an understanding of people's relationship to information and communications technology (ICT) through a review of the physical devices they own and use, the ICT activities they engage in and their attitudes about information overload and tech capabilities. The determining factors look to define Web 2.0 from those who express themselves online and participate in common forums.

They take an interesting approach by dividing users into three categories of 10 distinct groups based on the responses of some 4,001 adults to telephone interviews (2006). It is probably impossible to avoid trying to fit oneself into the categories presented, or to rationalize why you prefer to be associated with one group rather than others if you share some perceived important attributes of several groups. Not the least of the motivations for self-categorization may come from the group titles...who wouldn't prefer to be an "omnivore?"

Too bad the interviews were confined to those 18+, as the anecdotal evidence substantiates that younger persons are both more tech savy, the heaviest tech users and nowadays own every tech device available. The author, John Horrigan as Associate Director of Research, does note that "modern information technology is the province of youth (but) each age cohort appears to have its technology champions who adopt early, with others then following."

The demographics of tech users are as interesting as the groups and group characteristics. Don't avoid the appendix. Some expected insights around tech usage, education and income. But today, can 15% of the population really exist that has neither internet access nor cell phones - and be satisfied?