Association for Computing Machinery
Timely Topics for IT Professionals

About ACM TechNews

ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either Gateway Inc. or ACM.

To send comments, please write to technews@hq.acm.org.

Volume 2, Issue 102:  Wednesday, September 6, 2000

  • "IT Spending to Hit $2.6 Trillion"
    InfoWorld.com (09/05/00); Campbell, Christine M.

    Global spending for IT products and services will rise from $1.4 trillion this year to $2.6 trillion by 2005, according to a study released Tuesday by Strategic Planning Services(SPS)/Spectrum Economics. Over the next five years IT spending will grow at a rapid 13 percent compound annual growth rate. Latin America will be the fastest growing geographical IT market, followed by the Middle East/Africa, North America, Asia/Pacific, and Europe. India and Southeast Asia are the most rapidly growing IT markets in Asia, while Japan is the slowest region for IT growth worldwide, the report says. Meanwhile, data communications, information services, and software are the fastest growing market segments. These three segments will help companies use their extra hardware capacity, as hardware performance is still ahead of software performance, says Spectrum's Richard Carlson. Services spending will reach $4.5 billion this year, while software spending and data communications will each hit $2 billion. By 2005, services spending will jump to $8.9 billion, software will reach $4.3 billion, and data communications will reach $4.5 billion.
    http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/00/09/05/000905hnitspend.xml

  • "Workers Say Internet Is a Vital Tool"
    Associated Press (09/03/00)

    A majority of the 38 million full-time American workers who have Internet access at work say the Web has made them more productive, a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project claims. The report found that two-thirds of these workers, who represent 37 percent of all full-time workers in the United States, use the Internet every day, while over 50 percent of them spend no more than an hour online each day. Although nearly 75 percent of those surveyed said the Web has made them better at their jobs, more than half admitted to using the Web at work for personal reasons, including shopping and playing games. The report also found workplace Internet users are more likely than the general population of Internet users to be male and older than 45.
    http://www.infobeat.com/stories/cgi/story.cgi?id=2569446533-23f

  • "High Speed Number Crunching on a Massive Scale"
    Financial Times--IT Review (09/06/00) P. 13; Vernon, Mark

    The scientific market for supercomputers continues to grow as scientists discover more uses for the systems. For example, scientists in Pittsburgh are currently using a Cray T3E supercomputer to study how every atom within a living cell reacts to infection with the HIV virus. This simulation generates data every half-picosecond, or one-trillionth of a second. Meanwhile, scientists from the United States and Germany are using a government supercomputer to study neutron stars and black holes. Scientists are even using supercomputers for more terrestrial concerns, such as a project at the University of Edinburgh to analyze how best to bioremediate large plots of land. Martin Walker, Compaq's director of high performance computing, says, "The scientific community has a greater need for speed, since simulations must be completed in hours or days in order to fit within the timescales and budgets to which it works." Scientists measure supercomputer performance in teraflops--one teraflop equals one trillion floating point operations per second. For example, a supercomputer such as the one Compaq built for France's Atomic Energy Commission will have a maximum performance of 5 teraflops.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "Trademarks Winning Domain Fights"
    New York Times (09/04/00) P. C3; Flynn, Laurie J.

    Trademark owners appear to be doing much better than individuals so far in court cases where domain names are disputed, and this trend has brought a wave of criticism onto ICANN and those organizations that ICANN has appointed to rule on domain name disputes. Of the 1,000 cases that have been decided upon by the four ICANN approved arbitration boards--which are the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the National Arbitration Forum, Disputes.org/eResolutions Consortium, and the C.P.R. Institute for Dispute Resolutions--trademark owners have won 75 percent of the time. This makes sense because companies only take disputed domain names to court when there is a strong chance of winning the case, says Francis Gurry, WIPO assistant director general. ICANN supports the organizations it approved to resolve the domain name disputes; however, ICANN intends to do a formal review of the entire process before the end of the year, says ICANN President Andrew McLaughlin. The arbitration process results are slightly inaccurate because many of the domain name owners do not attempt to defend their positions when taken before an arbitrator, says McLaughlin. However, critics disagree. The WIPO's decisions are reducing the importance of free speech while protecting the interests of commercial businesses, says James Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology. These off-kilter decisions could establish precedents that have a wide range of effects, says Love. Of course the entire issue is based on an insufficient number of available domain names and the lack of domain names will be eliminated when ICANN approves more top level domain names, says Love.
    http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/09/biztech/articles/04neco.html
    For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.

  • "New Web-Publishing Standard Aims to Simplify E-Commerce"
    Wall Street Journal (09/05/00); Hamilton, David P.

    Ariba, IBM, and Microsoft plan to simplify the creation of online marketplaces and various business-to-business (B2B) exchanges with the release and continued development of a Web publishing standard called Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI), an electronic directory that helps participating businesses locate customers and suppliers. The three UDDI creators plan to launch the registry within 30 days and submit the UDDI architecture to standards bodies in 12 to 18 months. Intentionally modeled after a standard phone book, a UDDI-based registry features "white pages" with basic company information, "yellow pages" with product and service information, and "green pages" with detailed technical information to help companies choose partners and suppliers and integrate their information systems with fewer hassles. "There is a tremendous amount of confusion in the [B2B] marketplace," says Ariba co-founder Boris Putanec. "One of the key goals and benefits from our perspective is that [UDDI] potentially eliminates some of this confusion."
    http://interactive.wsj.com/archive/retrieve.cgi?id=SB968105297267016605.djm
    (Access for paying subscribers only.)

  • "Report: E-Government Becoming Reality"
    E-Commerce Times (08/31/00); Enos, Lori

    Americans will come to embrace e-government because of its convenience and speed, concludes a new report by Forrester Research. The report, "Sizing U.S. eGovernment," projects that government agencies will collect $602 billion in fees and taxes--15 percent of its total fees and taxes--online by 2006, and will receive 333 million online filings, with the majority of the online documents to be filed with state governments. "Even though constituents are concerned about privacy and paying convenience fees, users see the value of online government and want those services now," says Forrester analyst Jeremy Sharrard. Over the next two years federal, state, and local governments will continue to experiment with the technology. Up to 90 percent of cities and towns are likely to be without e-government services until 2002, Forrester says. From 2002 to 2005, governments will integrate the technology and encounter the challenge of linking legacy systems to new payment and authorization services. After 2005 e-governments are likely to undergo a period of reorganization as lawmakers seek to streamline the overlapping services of government departments. The Clinton administration with Firstgov.gov, the state of North Carolina with North Carolina @ Your Service, and New York City with NYC.gov are among the governments that have taken the lead in e-government.
    http://www.ecommercetimes.com/news/articles2000/000831-7.shtml

  • "IT Revolution Eases Tyranny of Distance"
    Financial Times--New South Wales (09/04/00) P. 1; Marsh, Virginia

    Although the 2000 Summer Olympics will focus the world's eyes on Sydney, Australia, government officials in New South Wales, in which Sydney is located, are also excited for the state's long-term economic future--especially in the information-technology field. New South Wales generates more IT revenue than either Hong Kong or Taiwan and has the 17th-largest IT industry in the world, worth A$22 billion a year, claims Kim Yeadon, the state's IT minister. Yeadon says, "We have suffered from the 'tyranny of distance' externally and internally, across the nation from one end to the other. Apart from the physical delivery of products, these barriers will now be dropped entirely." Indeed, some even envision a Silicon Valley-like explosion of tech firms in Sydney and its suburbs. Already, New South Wales has more than 100,000 tech workers, and a vast majority of Australia's tech companies make their homes there. Both overall economic performance and employment continue to grow for the state, which bodes well for Australia as a whole. New South Wales is already planning infrastructure projects to build on the anticipated success of the Olympics and to attract even more IT firms to the area, and only the potential for a labor shortage seems to dim the state's bright future.

  • "State's High-Tech Job Vacancies Go Unfilled"
    Boston Globe (09/03/00) P. A1; Howe, Peter J.

    Massachusetts is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, particularly in high-tech fields, that could weaken the state's tech-driven economy in the long run, according to a recent Northeastern University survey. Area companies are unable to fill 1 in 12 job openings for skilled employees, and some of the hardest positions to fill are for computer programmers, specialty scientists, and Web page developers. The New England Council, which sponsored the survey, says the results should encourage business and political leaders to increase training and education efforts to ease the labor shortage. Studying 310 local high-tech companies over May and June, the survey found that the largest numbers of unfilled positions are in computer science, programming, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. Although Web design development accounts for a much smaller number of jobs, this area accounts for the highest vacancy rate with nearly 25 percent of these jobs unfilled in May and June. A short-term solution to the labor shortage is to raise the cap on H-1B visas, which allow companies to hire skilled workers from abroad. In April 7.4 percent of workers hired by the surveyed companies held H-1B visas, although H-1B hiring seems to be benefiting a limited number of companies. The study found that three-fourths of the firms surveyed hired only U.S. citizens, suggesting that networking might draw H-1B workers to specific companies.

  • "Deep South Lags in High-Tech, But It's Trying"
    EE Times Online (09/01/00); Marcus, Adam

    The South, with the exception of a few states, is lagging the rest of the nation in terms of technology. Workers with science and engineering skills are difficult to come by, research and development funding is lacking, and most states do not serve as headquarters for major high-tech firms, says Jim Clinton of Southern Growth Policies Board, an economic think tank in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The South needs a comprehensive strategy with an emphasis on high-tech development to create economic opportunities, Clinton says. Noting that a quick fix cannot remedy the situation, Clinton suggests long-term solutions such as using incentives to attract companies and talented workers. Another long-term strategy is to improve science and technology education in elementary and secondary schools in the South. Mississippi Technology (MTI) is working to make the state more high-tech by encouraging the development of technology parks and incubators. MTI coordinates technological development in Mississippi, focusing many of its efforts on Jackson, which is already home to 150 IT and communications firms, including WorldCom. In addition, MTI is focusing on recruiting skilled workers and keeping technical graduates in the state. Several southern states have already succeeded in leveraging the high-tech economy, including Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
    http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB20000901S0011

  • "'State of the Internet' Report Urges Light Touch on Regulation"
    CNN.com (09/01/00); Sieberg, Daniel

    The U.S. Internet Council on Friday released its "State of the Internet 2000" report, which concludes that a number of issues are confronting the future of the Internet, foremost among them a need to keep governments from stifling its growth with heavy-handed regulation. "Government should rely on the Internet community to regulate itself, where this is possible," the report says. The report finds that the U.S. digital divide is based more on income than race and that the private and public sectors have a role to play in closing the divide. The government can help by concentrating on access and infrastructure, and lawmakers must increase their sophistication in technology matters, the report says. The government must also help educate law enforcement agencies on technology matters and ensure that law enforcement respects the online privacy of its citizens. E-commerce will flourish so long as Web sites can maintain information security and are careful not to leak users' personal data. The report concludes that wireless rates in Europe and Asia are greater than those in the United States, with the countries of Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Hong Kong all boasting wireless penetration rates of at least 50 percent.
    http://www.cnn.com/2000/TECH/computing/09/01/state.of.the.net.01/index.html

  • "DeCSS Down Under"
    Salon.com (09/01/00); Cave, Damien

    A recent U.S. District Court decision that prohibits the hacker magazine 2600 from disseminating the DeCSS DVD-decrypting program is having unexpected repercussions in Australia. An unrelated hacker collective called 2600 Australia has decided to scrap the link to the DeCSS program formerly available on its Web site. The group's leader, Grant Bayley, says it is not the district court ruling--which applies only to America--that is giving him pause, but rather the Australian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that is expected to pass within the next six months. Bayley says 2600 Australia simply does not have the financial strength or the support of civil liberties groups to fight a case in court--an arduous goal in itself, as Australia lacks the strong free speech protections enjoyed in the United States. Bayley says his group will switch to more subversive and less visible means to circumvent the copyright law. For example, 2600 Australia may take out an important line of code and publish it somewhere else, or may distribute DeCSS through a non-computer-related medium.
    http://www.salon.com/tech/log/2000/09/01/decss_australia/index.html

  • "Squatting Problem Now Online in RP"
    Philippine Daily Inquirer Online (08/28/00); Alarilla, Joey G.

    Following the lead of U.S. lawmakers, Philippine Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III has introduced the "Anticybersquatting Act of 2000," a bill that has spawned a variety of critics in the Philippines. Gerry Kaimo, Webmaster of a satire site and owner of the contested www.pldt.com domain, contends that the new law fails to look out for the welfare of most Filipinos. Jonathan Domingo, president of the Electronic Frontier Philippines civil rights group, argues that Sotto's bill is too heavy handed because it fails to include the intent of "bad faith" in its definition of "cybersquatting." "If you register a domain that happens to match the trademark/name of someone else even if you're not aware of it, you're already guilty of cybersquatting under that law," Domingo says. The law also fails to account for constitutionally protected speech, such as domain names that incorporate the names of third parties for critical or derogatory purposes, according to Domingo. Domingo says that lawmakers must review and make changes to the bill, lest it be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Meantime, the Domain Name Rights Coalition and other civil liberties groups are criticizing the U.S. Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy for not providing for fair use of domain names. Network Solutions handled domain name disputes prior to ICANN's involvement, as well as the InterNIC and top level domains.
    http://www.inquirer.net/infotech/aug2000wk4/info_3.htm

  • "Sidestepping the IT Skills Gap"
    CRN (08/28/00) No. 909, P. 8; Taft, Darryl K.

    High-tech companies looking for workers are turning to J-1 training visas, as the labor shortage continues and the H-1B visa program fails to provide enough skilled workers. J-1 visas allow foreign workers to come to U.S. companies for training, and unlike the H-1B program, the J-1 program has no cap. Roughly 20,000 foreign workers received J-1 visas last year, according to the Association for International Practical Training, a sponsoring group for J-1 visa applicants. Among the companies using the J-1 program are 3Com, Compaq, IBM, Microsoft, and Mitsubishi, the association says.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "Research Labs Bring New Life to Internet"
    Interactive Week (08/28/00) Vol. 7, No. 34, P. 102; Calem, Robert E.

    The top research labs in the United States are developing programs that will vastly improve the Internet on many levels. The Xerox PARC Internet Ecologies Area has worked out a methodology for designing a faster Web site based on the user's surfing preferences, says the area's research fellow and manager Dr. Bernardo Huberman. Another Xerox PARC project is private preference matching in which users can connect with each other online while maintaining their privacy. Agilent's Communications and Optics Research Lab is devising wide wave division multiplexing to transmit data inside buildings through fiber-optic cable; this development could speed up PC Web-accessing speed to 1 Gbps. Also under development at Agilent is the bubble switch, an optical switch technology that accelerates data flow between central offices. At IBM, Watson lab researchers are trying to increase the reliability and predicative ability of Web surfing through dynamic, on-demand capacity. The Watson lab is also developing an intrusion detection system that protects the native server through an algorithm that monitors the accumulated behavior of e-business visitors--and determines which actions are genuine and which are threatening. Microsoft has a security system on the boards with its Farsite project. Farsite enables individual computers to store encrypted copies of data on other people's hard drives, allowing resource sharing between users who don't know each other. Microsoft is also researching computers that can display data in order of user priority, an Internet that can pinpoint a user's location through a communication device, and a voice-responsive handheld computer. SRI is looking into an intrusion detection system that monitors both the e-business server, like IBM's project, as well as the surrounding network. Formal methods of analyzing software and active networks that can increase system security and accuracy are also being researched at SRI.
    http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/news/0,4164,2621611,00.html

  • "From the Back Room to the Boardroom"
    Government Technology (08/00) Vol. 13, No. 10, P. 56; Gold, Bryan M.

    IT workers now have the opportunity to move into management by becoming CIOs and then making their way into local governments. CIOs who have made the management jump say those looking to do the same need to look beyond technology to politics and strategy issues. "You need to have a broader perspective than just IT," says Dianah Neff, who rose from her position as the CIO of Bellevue Washington to become the deputy city manager and CIO of San Diego. "You need to understand politics, because the higher you move up, the higher politics plays into that." As a deputy city manager, Neff now affects decisions outside of technology. Neff says the city management is recognizing the far-reaching impact of the IT organization because of issues such as Y2K and e-government, and wants some IT players shaping higher-level decisions. Another CIO with a similar career path, Greg Larson, says his experience in government as the CIO of Scottsdale, Ariz., helped him land a position as the city manager of Milpitas, Calif. Larson also credits his familiarity with Silicon Valley and his focus on broad rather than specific issues with helping him become a city manager. CIOs who want to move into executive positions should obtain a wide range of experience, sharpen their communication skills, and stay current with the latest developments in technology, Larson says.
    http://www.govtech.net/publications/gt/2000/aug/LocalGov/FromBackToBoard.shtm

  • "Study: States' E-gov Movement Will Need Push From Private Sector"
    Washington Technology (08/28/00) Vol. 15, No. 11, P. 38; Welsh, William

    State governments will need the help of application service providers and other outsourcing firms to implement their e-government initiatives, according to "E-Government: Creating Digital Democracy," a new study from Federal Resources and META Group. Outsourcing is the best way for states to solve their lack of funding and qualified IT professionals, the study concludes. For example, Georgia' GeorgiaNet site has reduced the number of phone calls to state agencies and increased the speed of license approvals and renewals. The study notes Texas and North Carolina as other states that have turned to outsourcing. The study proposes that outsourcing can help states create a strong "brand" for their site so that citizens will trust their government's site and realize the Internet's benefits. However, the study cautions state governments not to rush online, even though both constituents and politicians desire e-government solutions now. Although ambitious state e-government initiatives are pushing a two- or four-year timetable, analysts with META Group believe these plans could take as long as 15 years to enact. They point to numerous obstacles beyond money and staff shortages, including concerns about security and privacy, systems that are not interoperable, and citizens' fear of new technology. Again, the study suggests outsourcing as a way to overcome these obstacles. The study estimates that e-government spending on the state and local level will approach $4 billion by 2003.
    http://www.wtonline.com/vol15_no11/state/1726-1.html

  • "Doing It E-Right"
    Industry Week (08/21/00) Vol. 249, No. 13, P. 13; McClenahen, John S.

    Ethics are a significant consideration for online companies, as potentially unethical practices, even if they are legal, could drive off customers and partners. One ethical question for online companies is whether to disclose business ties to retail sites that link to their own sites. Another such issue is whether it is ethical for a company to take advantage of lower tax rates in a specific area by conducting business in those areas rather than where the transaction would ordinarily occur. Questionable business tactics are becoming a larger issue with e-business set to reach $2.9 trillion by 2004. Concerns about unethical conduct and e-business security extend beyond North America, where most e-business is conducted. Privacy concerns prevail in Europe, while misrepresentation is the main concern in Latin America.
    http://www.industryweek.com/CurrentArticles/asp/articles.asp?ArticleId=876
    To review the ACM/IEEE-CS Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/se/code.htm.

  • "The Politics of Technology"
    InfoWorld (08/28/00) Vol. 22, No. 35, P. 22; Jones, Jennifer; Trott, Bob

    Technology is playing a bigger part in the ongoing presidential campaign than it has in any previous campaign, and both the Democratic and the Republican parties have taken firm stances. Republican candidate George W. Bush's main emphasis is on the issue of Internet taxation, while Democratic candidate Al Gore is focusing on Internet privacy and education. The two main parties each say the other does not really understand what the main issues are, and claim that their respective opponents do not say enough about their chosen issues. Gore wants to preserve the robust economy, encourage development, and build an e-government. In addition, Gore wants the private sector to preserve Internet users' privacy, though he thinks legislation is necessary to protect children. Meanwhile, Bush wants to continue the technology industry's momentum, maintain the tax ban on e-commerce, raise the cap on temporary H-1B visas, and reduce frivolous lawsuits.
    For information regarding ACM's work in the area of public policy, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.