the cities of Essen and Mulheim that works through standard AC electrical wall outlets. The company promises to launch its service in other areas of Germany later this year.

The company, a subsidiary of RWE, the German electricity firm, unveiled its PowerNet technology in March, when it announced a pilot in Essen that hooked 200 homes and a local school to the Internet over AC electrical connections.

The experience gained from that pilot has allowed the firm to launch what appears to be Germanys -- and possibly Europes -- first commercial implementation of the "Internet-over-mains" technology, as it is known in Europe.

Two levels of service are initially available to any home or business in the two cities. The basic service costs $25 U.S. a month for up to 250MBs of transferred data, while the second costs $50 U.S. a month for up to 2GBs of data.

Plans with higher data allowances costing up to $125 U.S. a month are planned.

"We plan to also launch the service in Cologne, Uberhausen and Lagenfeld later this year," said Andreas Preuss, a spokesman of RWE Powerline.

The companys PowerNet modem, a device that sits between the PC and the wall-outlet connection, can plug into just about any standard AC outlet and sells for $100 U.S. It is particularly useful for schools and businesses because its significantly cheaper than traditional network cabling. -- Newsbytes

Archive This

PARIS -- France is considering a law that would unleash Web crawlers to constantly scour the French Internet and collect online content for storage in the national archives.

Jean-Christophe Le Toquin, executive director of the French Internet Service Providers Association, said digital content is rapidly gaining in importance and becoming more a part of the heritage of France and other nations.

Noting the speed at which Web sites can be born and then die, he said it was important to frequently collect and store Web content.

"Already a lot of content from the first years of the Web is gone forever," he said.

The two main depositories for the material would likely be Frances National Library and the National Audiovisual Institute.

It is still not clear how often and to what extent French Web content will be collected and archived. Those details will have to be agreed on by French legislators.

Julien Masanes, conservator of the National Library, foresees a system where French Web crawlers will be constantly at work collecting a major portion of online content for the archives. The crawlers would make a distinction between Web sites that update often and those that remain generally static, and return more often to the dynamic Web sites. -- Newsbytes

Personality Test

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- An artificial personality being created by the Mindpixel Digital Mind Modeling Project and known as the Generic Artificial Consciousness (GAC) was introduced to the world of standardized testing this summer. The GAC is being created from millions of "mindpixels" -- binary statements of consensual facts such as "water is wet" -- being collected from millions of Internet users across the world.

The MMPI-2 was to be administered to the GAC at the end of August to determine how well it rates against humans, said Robert Epstein, editor-in-chief of Psychology Today. At press time, results of the test were not available.

"The scores that GAC gets will allow me to determine where it stands relative to human beings in general," he said. "In that sense, well find out how human GAC is. To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to [administer this test] to computers."

According to Mindpixel, the statements being collected are being validated through a review by other contributors to the GAC before being stored in the Mindpixel Corpus, which project organizers say is the largest database of validated human common sense ever attempted.

Epstein said GAC would be introduced to the questions on the MMPI before the test is administered so that GAC "gets experienced" with the questions.

"Over time, what GAC is learning [is] how thousands of people respond to these items," he said. "How that emerges, nobody knows."