Association for Computing Machinery
Timely Topics for IT Professionals

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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.

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Volume 2, Issue 112:  Friday, September 29, 2000

  • "Apple Is Mulling Own Store Chain to Expand Sales"
    Wall Street Journal (09/29/00) P. B1; Tam, Pui-Wing; McWilliams, Gary

    Apple Computer might open a chain of retail stores that could help the company increase sales, sources close to the company's executives say. Although Apple officials offered no comment, speculation is rife within the industry that Apple wants to emulate the success of Gateway's Gateway Country stores, which analysts credit for causing that company's recent profit upswing. In fact, Apple has been trying to hire experienced retail staff away from Gateway, Gateway CEO Jeffrey Weitzen claims. Apple has also hired retail-management experts who have worked with Sony and Target. The possibility of Apple-branded stores seemed even more likely after yesterday, when the PC maker told investors to expect lower quarterly revenue and profit. Analysts say Apple stores would improve the company's distribution, widely regarded as its weakest business link. Apple products are available from a few electronics chains, computer dealers, and the company's own Web site, but its market presence pales compared to other major PC makers. The Apple stores would likely be showrooms for its products and would have few items in stock, sources say. However, the stores risk alienating the company's traditional retailers. One Apple reseller told the Wall Street Journal, "Many of us are already under severe margin pressure and Apple's stores could erode this further."
    http://www.msnbc.com/news/469399.asp

  • "ICANN Board Candidates Differ on Policy, Scope"
    Newsbytes (09/27/00); McGuire, David

    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will hold a 10-day global election beginning Oct. 1 that will choose five of 27 candidates to represent the online public as part of the group's board. The candidates hold widely varying views on several issues that could have a profound impact on the Domain Name System, according to the results of a questionnaire sent to the candidates by the Center for Democracy and Technology. Answers from six of the seven candidates running for the North American board opening covered an especially broad range on issues such as the need to create additional Internet domains, the domain name dispute resolution mechanism, and the importance of ICANN. (Former ACM President Barbara Simons is one of the seven North American board candidates.) Self-nominated candidates tended to favor reducing the group's powers, while candidates nominated by ICANN took a softer stance on the group, says survey co-author Rob Courtney. ICANN has partnered with Election.com to develop an online voting system that will be available at all times during the voting period.
    http://www.newsbytes.com/pubNews/00/155827.html
    For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.

  • "Dot-Com Layoffs Reach High-Water Mark"
    E-Commerce Times (09/26/00); Regan, Keith

    Dot-com layoffs in September increased 15 percent from August's total and more than doubled the amount in July, a new report from Challenger, Gray, & Christmas says. The firm counted 4,805 lost dot-com jobs this month, bringing this year's total to 17,000 so far. The report focused on layoffs at larger dot-coms such as Scour, which recently fired 52 of its 70 workers and Drkoop.com, which will reduce its staff by one-third. The actual total is probably higher, the firm said, because it could not count smaller firms that may have collapsed before becoming known. Most layoffs are occurring at consulting and other service dot-coms, but health and entertainment e-tailers are suffering as well. Although the report drew no conclusions on the reason for the surge in layoffs this month, observers say dot-coms' desire to generate profit is prompting them to cut unnecessary or redundant workers.
    http://www.ecommercetimes.com/news/articles2000/000926-8.shtml

  • "Women Nab Quarter of IT Jobs"
    Register Online (09/28/00); Harrison, Linda

    Although women currently hold nearly 25 percent of all IT jobs, just 13 percent are senior management positions, according to a new Mori study commissioned by Cheltenham Ladies' College that will be released next month. Moreover, 60 percent of the women surveyed by study said they expect their careers to hit a glass ceiling, while nearly a third of employers agreed. The survey also found that many women perceive the IT industry as a world full of geeks and controlled by men.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/1/13608.html
    To learn more about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women.

  • "Profit-Seeking WebMD to Slash 1,100 Workers"
    Los Angeles Times (09/29/00) P. C3

    Online health-care firm WebMD yesterday announced that it will cut 1,100 of its workers in an attempt to turn a profit by the end of next year. The move, which will eliminate nearly 20 percent of WebMD's staff, marks perhaps the largest layoff to come from a single Internet firm. U.S. Internet companies are expected to eliminate 4,805 workers this month as they seek ways to cut costs, according to a report released this week by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. To cover the expense of its reorganization, WebMD will take a $35 million to $45 million pretax charge in the third quarter. The restructuring is expected to save WebMD $250 million by the end of next year. In a similar announcement, Garden.com said yesterday that it is cutting 93 workers, or 30 percent of its full-time workforce.
    http://www.latimes.com/print/business/20000929/t000092408.html

  • "Keeping Cops' Hands Off Email"
    Wired News (09/27/00); McCullagh, Declan

    The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday gave the green light to Rep. Zoe Lofgren's (D-Calif.) Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 2000, a measure that would afford email communications greater protection from law enforcement agencies. At present, law enforcement agents can access email messages stored on a server by getting an administrative subpoena, but Lofgren's bill would force agents to get a search warrant before reading the communications. Committee member Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was the only member to oppose the bill. "This bill could gut some law enforcement tools that are necessary to deal with a breed of crime that's getting more and more sophisticated," Weiner said. Andrew Shen of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says the bill addresses some privacy concerns but not enough--the FBI's Carnivore system in particular. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) attached an amendment to the bill that would increase the penalties for defacing or destroying First Amendment-protected information on the Internet. The bill is unlikely to be passed this year.
    http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,39120,00.html
    For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.

  • "Web Survey--42% of Employers Do the 'Big Brother' Thing"
    Newsbytes (09/26/00); Kelsey, Dick

    Roughly 53 percent of employees believe that their personal use of the Internet goes unnoticed at work, while in reality 42 percent of managers observe employees' Web use via monitoring software or other means, according to the Vault.com 2000 Survey of Internet Usage at Work. The survey also determined that 40 percent of workers make e-commerce purchases on company time, 37 percent search for another job, 13 percent download music, and 4 percent visit pornographic Web sites. Roughly 28 percent of workers who use the Internet on company time go to lengths to conceal their activities. Some survey participants said they use the Internet at work to save time so they can stay at work longer. Only 10 percent of those surveyed say they never use the Internet at work for personal reasons, while 25 percent say they spend upward of an hour a day on non-work-related sites, 22 percent between a half-hour to an hour, and 25 percent between 10 minutes and a half-hour.
    http://www.newsbytes.com/pubNews/00/155744.html
    For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.

  • "Meet the New Web. Same as the Old Web"
    New York Times (09/28/00) P. E1; Austen, Ian

    Industry analysts are unsure what direction the new wireless Web will take, but they doubt it will look anything like the wired Web. Most current wireless Web services rely on text-only pages written in languages specially programmed for wireless and handheld devices, often providing basic information such as weather reports, sports scores, and stock updates. In many cases, these pages are hosted on the servers of the wireless providers rather than on the World Wide Web. For example, Sprint offers only 40 sites through its wireless service, and AT&T also limits what its users can browse. Studies show that Americans have not yet warmed up to the wireless Web. Media Metrix says most of the 7.4 million U.S. users who can access the wireless Web do not. A major reason for this disinterest may be cost. Wireless Web access in the U.S. is far more expensive than it is in Europe and Asia, where the service is much more popular. In contrast, traditional access to the Web is very costly in those regions, while in the U.S. it often can be had for little or no expense. Analysts expect to see more companies designing Web applications and software meant only for wireless connections. Former Sprint PCS President Andrew Sukawaty predicts, "The Web is going to become highly segmented." Analysts say wireless Web users will soon have limited e-commerce capabilities and will also be able to download and play digital music files on their handheld devices.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/28/technology/28WEBB.html
    (Please note that access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors must register.)

  • "Microsoft, IBM Release Directory Specs"
    Network World Fusion (09/27/00); Evans, James

    IBM and Microsoft have produced an initial language standard to help businesses communicate on the Web across different object models, operating systems, and programming languages. Web Services Description Language (WSDL) supports the XML-based Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) business registry, an initiative recently announced by IBM and Microsoft which describes businesses and their services. The language, which will soon be up for industry acceptance, combines IBM's Network Accessible Services Specification Language and Microsoft's Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
    http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2000/0927ibmsoft.html

  • "California Governor Signs Computer Crimes Bill"
    Associated Press (09/27/00)

    California Gov. Gray Davis yesterday signed into law a bill that introduces greater punishments for those who are convicted of purposely introducing computer viruses on the Web or launching denial-of-service attacks on commercial Web sites. Assemblyman Rico Oller (R-San Andreas) sponsored the bill, which calls for a $5,000 fine upon first conviction for introducing computer viruses and a three-year jail sentence for those viruses that do more than $10,000 in damages. At present, those who are convicted of releasing a computer virus face only a $250 fine, as the crime is considered an infraction. Davis also signed a bill that intends to help identity theft victims reestablish their good name and credit by entering their name in a state registry. In order to join the registry, the victims must first obtain a court order, according to terms of the bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (D-Martinez).
    http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-202-2883141.html
    For information regarding ACM's work on matters of public policy, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "Mitnick to IT Managers: 'Everybody Is Suspect'"
    eWeek Online (09/28/00); Chen, Anne

    Notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick on Wednesday advised IT managers that teaching every employee across the organization about computer security would be a major step toward securing systems from attack. Mitnick, released in January after serving five years in prison for wiretapping and computer fraud, delivered the closing keynote at the Giga Information Group Infrastructures for E-Business conference in Los Angeles. Warning that "people are the weakest link," Mitnick suggested that IT managers educate all workers on the various tricks hackers use to break into internal systems. Employees should be taught how to select effective passwords and to write policies that uphold security, Mitnick said, adding that technology such as firewalls can lull companies into a false sense of security. Mitnick provided insight into hackers' modus operandi, warning the managers to secure physical network access points by locking computer training rooms, telephone and cable closets, and conference rooms with data jacks when not in use. Furthermore, companies should classify sensitive data and delete data from discarded magnetic media, as hackers sometimes sift through corporate trash to find directory information and passwords, Mitnick said.
    http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/news/0,4164,2634540,00.html

  • "New Tech Backlash in SiliValley?"
    Wired News (09/26/00)

    In Northern California, Redwood City recently imposed a 45-day freeze on certain new development so it could identify ways to manage the growth. Local officials report that the recent dot-com arrivals have created such problems as traffic congestion, exorbitant housing prices, and poor aesthetics for residential neighborhoods. Tom Passanisi, Redwood City's chief planner, says, "The buildings have just gotten so big, so massive, that we decided we need more control." Indeed, after approving nearly 3 million square feet of new commercial development since 1997, the city now needs to consider better zoning controls. One of the major problems with so many dot-com firms setting up shop locally is that they have begun occupying commercial spaces intended for retail stores or manufacturing operations. Since the Internet startups are more labor-intensive than shops and factories, employee parking is becoming a real problem. Consequently, many workers are parking on nearby residential streets. Similar problems face other Silicon Valley cities, from San Francisco to San Jose. Menlo Park, for example, is even considering an outright ban on new office projects in some areas.
    http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,39059,00.html

  • "Face Off"
    Federal Computer Week Online (09/25/00); Hasson, Judi

    Presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush are touching on the issue of technology in their campaigns, with the high-tech industry watching closely to determine who would be a better tech leader. The next president will need to address the changes that technology is bringing to the federal government, and to direct federal IT investment. Observers are uncertain as to which candidate would better serve the needs of high-tech companies, but note that Gore and Bush are both likely to push strongly for bringing technology into government. Gore has a long record of involvement in technology, beginning with his National Partnership for Reinventing Government initiative in 1993, while Bush says he helped Texas leverage the high-tech economy as the state's governor. The two candidates share similar views on many high-tech issues; both favor a permanent research and development tax credit for tech research, both want government procurement to move to the Internet to cut costs and increase efficiency, and both believe the federal government should provide its services online by 2003. However, Bush says he would appoint a federal IT czar, while Gore would not. Meanwhile, Bush supports not only user-friendly e-government, but personalized e-government that would provide individuals with information designed to meet their specific needs. Gore's plan for e-government involves providing citizens with electronic signatures or digital certificates to interact with the government, and creating an online government auction site that would sell used government gear. In terms of understanding technology, Gore is considered an expert while Bush admits that his technical knowledge is limited. Regardless, many experts believe career government professionals will play a larger role in shaping IT policy than will the next president.
    http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2000/0925/cov-gorbush-09-25-00.asp

  • "India's Slice of IT Pie Could Be $30B by 2004"
    Asia.internet.com (09/27/00); Pai, Uday Lal

    India could account for 5 percent of the $585 billion global IT services market by 2004, as its companies expand their business and prepare for Internet technology growth, according to a recent Goldman Sachs report. India now claims 1.6 percent of the worldwide IT services market. India's IT services industry will grow at a compound annual rate of 39 percent over the next three years, compared with an 11 percent global growth rate, the report says. The high-tech labor shortage as well as telecom advances in the U.S. are benefiting India's high-tech sector as the U.S. increasingly looks to offshore IT services providers. Indian IT companies need to be able to adapt rapidly to change and to serve demand for e-business strategy and systems integration, says Goldman Sachs. IT-enabled services present one of the largest opportunities for Indian firms, the report says. Still, Goldman Sachs cautions that India's IT growth is threatened by the country's weak technology infrastructure as well as civil bureaucracy. The report also revises Goldman Sachs' earlier estimate that India would have 17 million Internet users by 2003, bringing the figure up to 70 million Internet users, based on the fact that a single access point in India accommodates many users.
    http://asia.internet.com/cyberatlas/000927india.html

  • "The Women of High Tech"
    Industry Standard (10/02/00) Vol. 3, No. 39, P. 217; Eng, Sherri

    A survey from Catalyst shows that 91 percent of women with MBAs who work in the high-tech field say they are extremely satisfied with their positions. This compares to 82 percent of men with MBAs in the tech field and 84 percent of women with MBAs who work in non-IT professions, the survey says. Researchers did not expect such high levels of job satisfaction among women MBAs in IT, with fewer women now obtaining computer science degrees and men continuing to account for most IT workers. Flexible work schedules and strong work relationships with coworkers and managers are among the reasons for women MBA's job satisfaction, says Catalyst President Sheila Wellington.
    http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,18741,00.html
    To learn more about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women.

  • "Can Microsoft Stamp Out Piracy?"
    Business Week (10/02/00) No. 3701, P. 28; Wildstrom, Stephen H.

    Microsoft has introduced a piece of software that the company hopes will put an end to much of the unauthorized copying of its Office 2000 application. By adding a registration wizard to Office 2000, the software giant hopes to stop about 75 percent of casual copying, the illegal duplication that is not carried out by professional counterfeiters and dedicated hackers. The addition will prevent friends and relatives from sharing Office 2000, and small business owners from installing the application on several computers. In the past, consumers and businesses could use the same disk to install as many copies of the software as they liked. But as of next year, nearly every user of the software product will have to go through a procedure with Microsoft that binds the software to the user's hardware and prevents the user from registering a copy of Office 2000 on a third computer. Users will have to call the software giant and explain why they are installing the software. Although technology, laws, and Microsoft's market position should help the company reach its goal, the move means users will have to endure new hassles when they transfer their software or when their system crashes. Accordingly, Microsoft should perhaps lower the product's price, which would give people less of a reason to copy the application.
    http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_40/b3701056.htm

  • "Privacy Is Under Siege at Work, at Home, and Online"
    U.S. News & World Report (10/02/00) Vol. 129, No. 13, P. 62; Hawkins, Dana

    Privacy experts consider the controversial subject of privacy to be the "civil rights issue of the 21st century." Not only will people have to deal with the issue at home and at work, but privacy will be a concern for many when they go online. A new study by the Pew Internet Project found that 10 percent of computer users know someone who was fired for browsing the Web or was dismissed over an email message. And the American Management Association reports that about three fourths of companies in the United States are now electronically monitoring their employees. Companies have chosen to do so for fear of having to face a lawsuit over sexually explicit, racist, or libelous material on the job. At home, people confront the privacy issue when they use the Web because online companies want as much information as possible about the visitors of their sites. In fact, information is considered to be such a commodity among Internet companies that personal information is often cross-referenced from a number of sources, and is even sold without a person's consent. Although state attorneys general across the country are trying to protect consumers from companies such as DoubleClick, people are now wary of companies that post privacy policies. Just recently, the e-tailer Toysmart.com tried to go against its pledge of not selling consumer information. Even Amazon.com changed its policy on selling consumer information. In particular, consumers will be hard-pressed to protect their financial information from marketers, identity thieves, and hackers. Furthermore, personal medical information is increasingly being placed online, further ensuring that confidentiality and security will be a foremost public concern.
    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/001002/nycu/privacy1.htm
    For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.

  • "The Internet Tomorrow"
    InfoWorld (09/25/00) Vol. 22, No. 39, P. 53; Connolly, P.J.

    Businesses that look ahead to the future are likely to have a head start on the competition as the new economy rolls along. Although some big changes are on the way, some things are expected to stay the same over the next few years. For example, more companies are expected to continue to invest in copper for their backbones and carrier-class connections, even with all the hype surrounding fiber-optic technology. The demand for broadband technology is so high that providers are not expected to fill their current orders for DSL and cable access until 2005. Still, broadband penetration is not expected to reach rural areas over the next 10 years unless the government orders Internet carriers to enter those markets. The emergence of broadband wireless connections will be minimal, as will laptop-like devices that are the size of a cell phone. Network equipment vendors are already making products that support the next-generation Internet Protocol, IPv6, which is likely to be widely embraced. In 10 years, most of the products for the Internet are likely to use IPv6 from end to end. And finally, with globalization, U.S. businesses will not be able to rely on skilled foreign labor as they have in the past. Foreigners will be able to find jobs at home in the years to come.
    http://www.infoworld.com/articles/mt/xml/00/09/25/000925mtnettomorrow.xml