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Technology
Executive Gift Giving

Special to the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal

To my dismay I note that Christmas/gift catalogs are showing up in the mailbox earlier and in ever-growing numbers, weight and size. I clearly was mistaken in believing that the Internet would be the death of those nasty tree-killer catalogs. Well. Not catalogs about tree killers (oh, never mind.) “Christmas” began showing up in ads even before the Halloween candy made it into the bowl by the door. Egad!

In any case, whenever I see that little overworked USPS jeep-looking buggy coming up the hill, I can’t help but think of “The Little Engine that Could” and all the huffing and puffing that went along with the tale. read more »

 

Matt Carter, who helped organize this year's inaugural Chocolate Festival in Port Orchard, is planning to open another store in Tacoma. (Tim Kelly Photo)The owner of Carter’s Chocolates in Port Orchard has plans to expand his business with a store in Tacoma, and he’s running a Kickstarter campaign to give that effort a boost.

Matt Carter, whose store is on Bethel Avenue near downtown Port Orchard, said he’s been a vendor before at a couple Tacoma community festivals. He thinks his business would do well there because there’s no purveyor of handmade chocolates, fudge and ice cream there. read more »

 
Cover Story

Scott McFarlaneSales tax is not exactly a popular topic at cocktail parties, but mention the two words to Scott McFarlane and his eyes light up. He could probably talk about it all day — and even make it interesting.

McFarlane has plenty to be excited about when it comes to sales tax and the company he co-founded, Avalara. A leading provider of sales-tax automation services, Avalara has been on various “fastest-growing company” lists for several years and has been growing its customer base by leaps and bounds.

The latest such recognition came from Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list, which ranks the 500 fastest-growing companies in the technology, media, life sciences, telecom and clean technology sectors. read more »

 
Technology

Got IT? Your local library does, and it’s free.

Kitsap Regional Library (KRL)branches and public libraries across the state are offering patrons access to the Microsoft IT Academy at no charge. The online technology curriculum provides opportunities for people to become proficient in using a wide spectrum of Microsoft software programs, and for advanced learners to prepare for certification as IT professionals qualified to maintain software networks.

“We can provide this access to people who could never afford it on their own,” said Sharon Grant, KRL’s digital branch manager. “It’s about economic development and how to help people really at grass-roots level.”

The Wasington State Library’s partnership with Microsoft is supported by $1.25 million in funding from the legislature, and Microsoft has discounted the cost of its training courses by about 90 percent so more than 400 public, community college and tribal libraries throughout the state can offer free access to the IT Academy during the current biennium, which runs through July 2015. read more »

 

SEATTLE — Three of the nation’s largest mobile phone carriers — AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile — will no longer charge their customers for commercial Premium Short Messaging Services, also known as PSMS or premium text messages. PSMS is the platform that third-party content providers use to charge consumers via their cell phone bills, a practice known as “cramming.” Examples of PSMS charges include those for horoscopes, weather information, dating advice, sports alerts, and similar services.

“This is a victory for cell phone users in Washington and across the nation,” state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a news release. “I am hopeful other phone carriers will follow this lead. My office will continue to work with other states for industry reforms and to recover money for consumers victimized by unauthorized mobile charges.” read more »

 

West Sound Technology Association will hold its Holiday Social and Visioning on Dec. 19 at Yonder Retreat Center on Bainbridge Island.

The event, which will be from 4-7:30 p.m., will celebrate 2013 and attendees will plan together to set future directions for WSTA.

This event is for all current and past members, partners, sponsors and their guests/invitees. Drop in during the day at the WSTA board retreat, or early evening to share thoughts on the group’s mission, and learn more about what WSTA accomplished and envisions.

WSTA began in 2000, but its mission has grown from hosting meetings on technology and promoting local technology professionals. read more »

 

TOKYO — Finally, hydrogen-powered cars are being readied for their Prius moment — at least, that is what promoters of the environmentally friendly technology hope.

Toyota, maker of the Prius, the first hybrid vehicle to achieve mass-market acceptance, unveiled a concept version Nov. 21 of a hydrogen fuel-cell car it plans to begin selling “around 2015,” as the company put it.

The bright blue sedan is shaped like a drop of water to emphasize that water is the only substance hydrogen-powered cars emit from their tailpipes.

The car, which Toyota calls the FCV concept, was one of several vehicles with alternative powertrains to take the spotlight at the Tokyo Motor Show, which opened to reporters Nov. 21. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its first smartphone app, a free program that allows consumers to measure the broadband speed they are getting on their mobile devices and to determine whether it is as fast as wireless companies say.

So far, the app works only on smartphones that run the Android operating system, but the commission is working on an iPhone version, which it expects to be ready by the end of January. The app provides information on upload and download speeds and on how efficiently data is transmitted, a measure known as packet loss.

The app, FCC Speed Test, will allow the commission to aggregate data about broadband speeds from consumers across the country. It will use the data to create an interactive map, giving consumers a tool to use in comparison shopping rather than relying on wireless companies’ promises. read more »

 

NEW YORK — Google’s project to digitally copy millions of books for online searches doesn’t violate copyright law, a federal judge ruled Nov. 14, dismissing an 8-year-old lawsuit against the largest search-engine company.

Google Books provides a public benefit and is a fair use of copyrighted material, Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan ruled. The project, which has scanned more than 20 million books so far, doesn’t harm authors or inventors of original works, Chin said.

“Google Books provides significant public benefits,” Chin wrote. “It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.” read more »

 
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