£2.5m aims to bridge State's digital divide Computimes


The Minister for Public Enterprise Mary O'Rourke has launched a £2.5 million scheme aimed at bridging the digital divide in the State. Under the scheme, which was announced on Thursday, community and voluntary groups can get up to £100,000 for projects to harness new information and communication technologies for social and economic development purposes. Up to 25 community and voluntary schemes would be assisted.

Speaking at the launch of `Community Application of Information Technology', O'Rourke said: "As a Government we recognise that access to the new Information Age is vital. This new scheme will help provide that access and has the potential to increase opportunities for everybody to participate in our society and economy". Project proposals will be accepted up until February 15th, 2001. The Minister will announce the successful projects next April.

Record Breaker: Madonna has broken records by producing the biggest webcast of all time. Her Brixton Academy concert in London last Tuesday was attended by just 3,000 lucky fans, but an estimated 9 million listened and watched on the Web. A recording of the gig is available for download on the MSN website at www.msn.co.uk.

Smut Case: Workers have been warned that sending offensive e-mails at work could cost them their jobs after a landmark ruling in Britain. A Huddersfield-based firm sacked two workers for forwarding dozens of e-mails to 40 colleagues. The dismissals by the company, which makes turbo chargers, were triggered by a complaint from an employee who was sent a joke e-mail by mistake.

Fairer Sex: The owner of the domain name sex.com has had the Web address taken off him after a Californian court ruling. The Internet businessman Stephen Cohen who owned the lucrative porn site, which gets 25 million hits each day, lost the name after a judge concluded the name was stolen from San Francisco man Gary Kremen. The site could be worth as much as $100 million.

Giving Pays: A Dubai website on Friday started to provide a service for Muslims to pay alms, or zakat, which requires members of that religion to donate one fortieth of their income to the poor and needy. Payments can be made through ramadan.ajeep.com which was jointly set up by the ajeeb portal and the Human Appeal International of Ajman charity. Dubai is quickly becoming the Gulf region's e-capital.

Yahoo?: A French court's decision to tell Yahoo! to stop French Web users from accessing Nazi memorabilia auctions has been criticised by two of the three experts whose testimony lead to the ruling. The opinion of the technical experts is thought to have convinced the court it was worth telling Yahoo! to install a system to stop French Web users looking at the offending sites. Now the two witnesses have said the restrictions imposed can be "trivially" avoided and repressive regimes may be tempted to make similar rulings.

Left Hanging: Author Stephen King has put off finishing his online novel and thousands of fans face years of waiting before finding out the ending. The fans paid $1 for each of the monthly instalments, but when they tried to download the fifth chapter they were told the novel was "going back into hibernation". King came to the decision so he could work on other projects.

Vote Now: Irish Web magazine Cluas.com is hosting an online readers poll on such issues as "the best album of 2000" and "the best pub on the planet". The polling booth is now open 24 hours a day at: www.cluas.com/poll. It closes at midnight on December 19th and results will be posted on Cluas.com on December 22nd.

In Brief... US speech products firm Lernout & Hauspie, which last May paid close to £4 million for Dublinbased localisation company Clockworks international, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week. . . A record number of job cuts were announced in the US Internet industry in November