‘I’m the creeper; catch me if you can!’

In 1971, this sentence started popping up on computer screens all across ARPANET, the network we recognize today as the ancestor of the modern Internet. The whimsical message, it soon emerged, was the work of “Creeper,” the first-ever self-replicating computer program. Created by a Massachusetts researcher, Creeper traveled from computer to computer, displaying its simple message before hopping to the next one. It didn’t delete any files, it didn’t snatch any personal information — it just said hello. Someone even developed a companion program, “Reaper,” that followed Creeper around, removing it from infected systems.


American ingenuity

The Internet as we know it today started as a small Department of Defense project as early as 1969. Back then, the Pentagon was looking for an alternate way of communicating, beyond the telephone system, during wartime threats. The best plan was to communicate across a “web” of networked computers — a program that was to be run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Created just after the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1959 and long heralded as the whiz-bang arm of the Pentagon, DARPA quickly stepped into action and perfected the ARPANET, as it was first called, by 1983.

Just think, American ingenuity has done what hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, thousands of soldiers’ lives and all the might of the U.S. military war machine could not — spread democracy like a prairie fire.


Social Security customer service

Ssa Hey, the folks at the Social Security Administration are moving ahead, providing increasingly better customer service through the Net.

Think Social Security is just for your grandparents? Think again! You probably didn’t know that, in addition to making retirement payments and issuing Social Security cards, the program offers other types of coverage — for people of all ages! To find out more, as well as get answers to questions like “what’s that FICA tax that comes out of my paycheck?” and “why should I worry about planning for retirement now?" check out this webinar, “Social Security 101: What’s in it for me?” The broadcast starts at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 10 and will feature a brief presentation followed by an interactive question-and-answer session. RSVP and watch the webinar at this link. There’s something in it for you!


SeeClickFix gets local gov't stuff done

Hey, if you see some kind of local problem that the city should fix, the folks at SeeClickFix really do have an app for that. You can report the problem with a photo and geotagging, informing local gov't. In San Francisco, it's tied into the 311 system.

Here's a problem along with a little of what it looks like in both the app and Web contexts — real impressive:

SFConnect Screen shot 2011-02-19 at 7.16.23 PM


Organic Health Response/Inveneo: Using the 'Net to fight AIDS in Kenya

OHR Links graphic

The folks at Organic Health Response are doing really good stuff, using IT and environmental sustainability on Mfangano Island in western Kenya to work against HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria.

Chwera Chwera Microclinc

They're working with Inveneo; their deal is to get IT, such as computers, telephony, and Internet access to those who need it most — people and organizations in rural and highly underserved communities of the developing world.


Rare earth

When you get up in morning and you are trying to find your cell phone, you probably aren’t thinking about neodymium, but maybe you should.

Neodymium is a rare-earth element that plays an essential role in making certain that your cell phone works. Without neodymium and other rare-earth elements, cell phones wouldn’t be as small or as powerful as they are, televisions wouldn’t be as big and as thin as they are, and many other of the creature comforts that we now rely on wouldn’t be around.


Rockefeller Censorship

Get a load of this, folks. A sitting United States senator is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to pull the plug on cable networks such as MSNBC and Fox. You heard right, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) lamented recently that programming by Fox and other cable daysides apparently gets in the way of politicians and their ability to obfuscate and deceive the public.  

While holding a hearing on the FCC, Rockefeller was reported saying, “It would be a big favor to political discourse; to our ability to do our work here in Congress; and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.”

Since when did having more scrutiny of politicians and their activities by news organizations lead to the travesty of justice Rockefeller is claiming? Apparently, Sen. Rockefeller and his colleagues don’t like to be bothered by a meddling media, investigating their moves and challenging them on questionable actions.  

I guess it’s a relief that Rockefeller failed to realize the FCC has no jurisdiction over cable airwaves.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook-, and follow him on Twitter at



CrisisCamp - people working together to prepare for the next crisis

Crisiscamp-map-5001-300x228 Hey, the folks at CrisisCamp work together to get smart about the next big crisis, quake, flood and worse.

This Saturday there will be a Global CrisisCamp Day and we welcome participation both in the cities and virtually:

CrisisCamp is a global network of hybrid barcamp/hackathon events which bring together people and communities who innovate crisis response and global development through technology tools, expertise and problem solving. Since 2009, CrisisCamp volunteers have created crisis response and learning events in over 10 countries with volunteers of all backgrounds who collaborate in an open environment to aggregate crisis data, develop prototype tools and train people on how to use technology tools and problem solving to aid in crisis response and global development.

I personally bear witness to what they do.


Rediscovering the American Dream

Throughout the world, people view America as the place to find a better life, still feeling that we are "the shining city on the hill." People aspire to be part of our vital and large middle class.

That was true of my family two generations ago and is still true for much of the world. You work hard, you play by the rules, you move ahead. It works.

Sure, in past years politicians and tax policy have been fairly successful transferring wealth from the middle class to a small upper class. That's the point of tax breaks for the rich. However, I see a lot of vitality in the American middle class.