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Open source lab lures

Linux creator as fellow

Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux computer-operating system, has signed on as a fellow with the Beaverton-based Open Source Development Laboratory.

Torvalds, the lab's first fellow, will devote his time to further development of the Linux software, which he developed as a university student in Finland. Programmers worldwide revere Torvalds for his role in launching the open-source movement.

The term 'open source' refers to coding systems that remain open to programmers who can then use them to create their own software. Linux is the world's best-known open-source program.

Revenues for Linux-based systems increased by 62 percent in 2002.

'This is big: I think this shows that Portland is becoming recognized as a center of open-source activity,' said David Mandel, a member of the Portland Linux Users Group, the area's top open-source coding booster. 'We'll definitely try to get him to come to our meetings.'

Torvalds is joining the lab as he takes leave from his fellowship at Transmeta Corp., a microprocessor maker based in Santa Clara, Calif.

BPA considers smaller

energy rate increase

Steady rain in March and April went a long way toward replenishing the Northwest's hydropower system and could help trim the Bonneville Power Administration's anticipated rate increase this fall.

BPA officials had expected to raise wholesale rates 15 percent Oct. 1, but more water in the system and other factors could reduce the increase to 5 percent.

Portland General Electric and other utilities who buy their wholesale power from BPA could pass along the increase, but to a lesser amount depending on their own costs.

BPA spokesman Ed Mosey says the rate hike could be less than 5 percent, or it could even end up being a rate reduction if publicly owned utilities resolve a 3-year-old lawsuit against the agency and forgo a $200 million settlement incentive. The publicly owned utilities sued BPA over benefits to investor-owned utilities.

BPA also has saved $170 million by cutting costs and terminating contracts with Enron Corp., the bankrupt energy trader.

The agency plans to make a final rate decision in August, taking into account the state of the hydropower system and Western states' volatile power market. Northwest Indian tribes have expressed concern that a smaller rate hike would gut budgets for salmon-saving programs.

Scam artists sell grief,

not a tax refund

The new Advance Child Tax Credit has created an opportunity for scammers. The Internal Revenue Service warns that scam artists contacted some taxpayers who are eligible for the credit, telling them that for $39.99, payable by credit card, they can receive their $400 per child sooner than normal.

IRS spokeswoman Shawn George says the scheme could be an opening to identity theft, as well as a ploy to get $40 from people. She says people perpetrating the scam could be charged with a federal crime.

The IRS says it has no means of speeding up the payment. It plans to start sending the checks to eligible taxpayers the week of July 25.

ÑÊNevill Eschen

and Andy Giegerich