Google is keen to build a wireless network in San Francisco, sending its bid in to build and run a free Wi-Fi service. The city wants to...

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Google is keen to build a wireless network in San Francisco, sending its bid in to build and run a free Wi-Fi service. The city wants to give Bay Area residents easy access to the Internet, and Google has a $7 billion stash to help finance such a project.

Across the country in Philadelphia, EarthLink was picked to build that city’s wireless network. Philly plans to offer free Internet in public places, along with monthly subscriptions for residents that run from $10 to $20.

Meanwhile, Seattle has no plans to launch free Wi-Fi citywide. There are pilot projects in the University District, Columbia City and four public parks, but a task force is recommending a costlier route of laying fiber-optic cable to every home and business within 10 years.

Google’s participation raises questions as to whether it wants to roll out a nationwide network.

Without any solid plans in Seattle, why not here next?

For now, there’s one way to have free Internet access around here: hop aboard Metro bus routes 48 and 197 at least for the next five months of the service’s trial period.

Watching prices

Getting the message

In 2005, there were more than 28 million users of instant-messaging products worldwide, accounting for 1 billion messages a day.

Source: IDC

For the first time, the price of biodiesel is actually cheaper than petroleum-based diesel, which reached $3.18 compared with $3.10 for its soybean-based counterpart last week at Laurelhurst Oil. That has persuaded a lot of customers to try the cleaner-burning renewable biodiesel, said Laurelhurst’s co-owner Tom Marier.

The company is also supplying a mix of biodiesel for home-heating fuel. Biodiesel is usually mixed with petroleum diesel in a blend. But as winter approaches, the mix must contain less biodiesel and more petroleum. Biodiesel, like the French-fry grease it can be made from, congeals in cold temperatures.

Ready it’s not

Not quite ready for prime time. Chairman Bill Gates had said Microsoft would release “Halo 3” when Sony came out with its PlayStation 3.

Now the word is, “Halo” will get shipped “when it’s ready.”

That’s what Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, told IDG last week. He suggested Gates meant that philosophically, not literally.


Microsoft thought it was introducing a simple solution to managing security software in businesses, but apparently it wasn’t so simple after all. The company had to issue a second press release clarifying just what it was talking about when it introduced Microsoft Client Protection last week.

Just to be clear — it’s not the same thing as Windows OneCare Live, a consumer PC maintenance service the company announced earlier.

“While Microsoft Client Protection shares some characteristics with Windows OneCare Live, particularly with regard to providing innovative security-protection technologies for our Microsoft customers, it is important to note that these products are separate and different,” the note from Microsoft’s PR firm said. “Windows OneCare Live is a subscription service, while productization and pricing plans for Microsoft Client Protection have not yet been disclosed.”

The real clue, however, is that consumers don’t call their computers clients.