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Volume 2, Issue 131: Friday, November 17, 2000
- "Seven New Domain Suffixes Approved"
Washington Post (11/17/00) P. E1; Cha, Ariana Eunjung
ICANN selected seven new top level domain names on Thursday--.info, .biz, .name, .pro, .coop, .museum, and .aero--and these new TLDs will greatly increase the amount of Internet space available and boost the companies that offer domain name registrations. The new TLDs will simultaneously make finding Web site addresses more difficult. One of ICANN's intentions was to introduce more competition into the domain name market, which currently is dominated by Network Solutions. That is one of the reasons the .pro TLD was chosen, because now Register.com, a competitor of NSI, will have exclusive rights to the database of a TLD that competes with .com. ICANN also purposefully selected a limited number of new TLDs, which is why Afilias' .info was selected but its .web was denied. The .info proposal did not have the support of ICANN Chairwoman Esther Dyson. The selection of .info "doesn't foster competition in the sense that we've created a competitive market only to see cooperatives formed," says Dyson. Once ICANN's staff irons out all the technical and legal details with the selected applicants, then the new TLDs will be implemented, likely in spring of 2001. The selection of new TLDs will be the first test of ICANN's authority, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology's staff attorney, Alan Davidson, and others. ICANN had a slight balancing act in selecting an acceptable number of new TLDs, but some think it did a decent job. If ICANN had chosen any more TLDs, then it would have caused complete pandemonium, says NetNation Communications CEO Joseph Kibur. The TLD suggestions that were not chosen will be re-considered at a later date.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.
- "Open Sourcing Is Linux's Biggest Strength, Weakness"
Investor's Business Daily (11/17/00) P. A6; Riley, Shelia
As the new kernel of the Linux operating system makes its way from creator Linus Torvalds and his assistants to users of the open-source software around the world, analysts continue to differ on its future potential. Although Linux users tout its non-proprietary model, some analysts say this may be its chief weakness, as users may begin to lose patience waiting for the "official" release of new versions. Also, developers of Linux applications do not always understand what Linux users want. Analysts also predict that the software may alienate some users as it becomes more complex. However, most analysts agree that the software is still a solid product, fast and dependable, and many firms that are developing Linux applications say their faith in the product continues to grow. IBM, for example, has assigned 150 developers to bring the product up to industrial performance levels. IBM and other Linux developers say the open-source model is worth the delays and uncertainty surrounding releases of new versions. TurboLinux's Lonn Johnston explains, "You give up the certainty of a commercial timeline rollout in exchange for the thousands of skilled developers on your development staff at no extra cost."
- "Companies Create Way to Put Idle PCs to Work Through Net"
USA Today (11/17/00) P. 8B; Kessler, Michelle
Distributed computing companies are helping corporations use the Internet to tap the power of many idle PCs to perform tasks that would otherwise require a supercomputer. DataSynapse, Entropia, Parabon, and United Devices are among the players in this emerging market. Roughly 75 percent to 80 percent of the computing power of most PCs is unused, says Parabon CEO Steven Armentrout. Distributed computing firms harness this untapped computing power by breaking down major computing tasks into small pieces and sending them to idle PCs that are connected to the Internet. To participate in such a project, PC owners must first download software from a distributed computing company's Web site. Programs run whenever a PC is idle for a certain amount of time, and stop running whenever the user resumes working. Most distributed computing programs do not wear out or slow down PCs, experts say. In addition, distributed computing is flexible and inexpensive--Parabon intends to charge less than $100 for the use of 1,000 PCs for an hour. Some distributed computing firms are now testing their software by allowing scientists to use it to research diseases such as cancer. However, distributed computing companies need to gain the trust of corporations as well as PC owners before the technology becomes widespread. Companies worry about the security and reliability of the services, while PC owners worry about the possibility of damaging their PCs or exposing their files. In addition, distributed computing might make PC owners uncomfortable because in most cases they do not know what type of work their computers are doing. DataSynapse, Popular Power, and Parabon are enticing PC owners by paying them based on the amount of work their PCs complete, while United Devices enters its participants in a sweepstakes for prizes and cash.
- "Intel's Swift Pentium 4 Is Set for Launch"
Wall Street Journal (11/17/00) P. B5; Williams, Molly
Intel on Monday will release its Pentium 4, once again taking the lead over rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in their ongoing battle to provide the market's fastest chip. The 1.4 GHz version of the Pentium 4 will initially cost $625, while the 1.5 GHz version will cost $795. Both versions are faster than AMD's 1.2 GHz Athlon, which is currently the fastest chip available. Compaq, Dell, and IBM are among the PC makers that will release computers based on the Pentium 4 on Monday. Still, the Pentium 4 is not expected to have strong holiday sales, and the Pentium III is likely to remain in most PCs that sell for under $2,000. The Pentium 4 will initially work only with Rambus technology, but Intel plans to release a Pentium 4 chipset that uses the less expensive SDRAM technology by the second half of next year. Meanwhile, AMD, which has been catching up with Intel over the past several quarters, is likely to find a market selling chips that fall between the 1 GHz Pentium III and the 1.4 GHz Pentium 4, experts say.
- "Staying Wired on the Go and Doing More Work"
New York Times (11/16/00) P. E9; Biersdorfer, J.D.
Gadgets for workers who are frequently on the move continue to grow in popularity as they become smaller but more powerful. With users less likely to work from a PC, laptops are now the focal point of the mobile office. Mobile workers can choose from several new models, including the IBM ThinkPad, which is only 4.7 pounds, Sony's Vaio, which features a digital-video camera, and Apple's iBook, which offers a DVD drive for mobile entertainment. Those seeking smaller devices might consider the new Visor Prism, which features a GPS receiver and an MP3 player, or the BlackBerry portable email device. Nokia has introduced Web-enabled cell phones, while Visor users can now purchase a cell-phone attachment for their handheld devices. Numerous portable attachments allow mobile workers to print or scan documents, while RoadWired offers a 36-pocket over-the-shoulder carrying case to hold many of these gadgets.
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- "Anti-Spam Laws on the Way"
Upside Today (11/14/00); Sinrod, Eric J.
Although Congress has a number of bills before it that address the issue of unsolicited commercial email, the chance for lawmakers to make some progress on anti-spam legislation is not likely to come this year but rather in the next election year. The anti-spam bill that is furthest along is the Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2000. Passed in the House 427 to 1, the bill allows recipients of unsolicited commercial email to sue spammers in court for $500 per message and $50,000 per day. The bill also allows the FTC to go after spammers and requires spammers to honor the opt-out requests of Internet users. The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography & Marketing Act of 2000, which the Communications Committee believes will pass the chamber this year, would allow states and Internet service providers to sue spammers. The Inbox Privacy Act of 1999, referred to the Senate Committee on March 26, 1999, would bring about a "domain-wide opt-out" system, and Internet users would be responsible for opting out of spam lists. The Can Spam Act would crack down on ISPs and preempt anti-spam laws of states. Other legislation includes the Email User Protection Act, the Internet Freedom Act, the Internet Growth & Development Act of 1999, Senate Bill 699, and House Bill 612. Legislators could get some help in the form of Mailshell.com, which offers proprietary filtering technology that keeps spam out of users' email accounts.
For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of spamming matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/crypto.
- "Outsourcing Firms Shift Gears in Tight Market"
Wall Street Journal (11/16/00) P. B6; McWilliams, Gary
Computer services companies are moving into the government, overseas, and niche markets as their traditional business running corporate computer systems in the U.S. slows. Although computer services is a $60 billion a year industry, experts say outsourcers' profit margins are shrinking on contracts for managing PC support operations and data centers. IBM, for example, recently announced a meager 4 percent rise in third-quarter revenue over last year. Meanwhile, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) announced flat year-on-year revenue for both of its last two quarters, and Computer Sciences laid off 1,000 workers last week due to sluggish business. As the U.S. market slows, computer services companies are turning to contracts with foreign companies, governments, and specialized areas such as Web site hosting. EDS, for example, said this week that the British government accounts for a large part of its $1 billion in new outsourcing deals. EDS CEO Richard H. Brown expects the majority of EDS' revenue to come from abroad within 36 months, but adds that the U.S. slowdown is only temporary. Some observers say U.S. corporations postponed new outsourcing contracts because of Y2K, and the number of contracts should pick up next year. Furthermore, outsourcing is likely to increase as corporate computer workers from the baby boomer generation retire, leaving no one to fill their positions, says Technology Partners International CEO Dennis McGuire.
- "Holidays to Put Amazon Strategy to the Test"
Los Angeles Times (11/16/00) P. V5; Kauffman, Matthew
Analysts disagree whether Amazon.com can become the dominant online retailer across all categories, as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos envisions. The company, which made its name as the first online bookstore, now features a range of products that includes DVDs and CDs, cars, and tools for the home and garden, and Amazon has opened sites in Germany, England, and France. Its sales continue to grow, reaching $638 million last quarter, a 79 percent increase. However, doubters note that Amazon lost nearly $250 million last quarter and its stock value has fallen 80 percent. Andy Bartels of the Giga Information Group does not think Amazon can enjoy the same success in other products as it has in books. Customers will not want to purchase items such as cars and tools--items they would rather test first--online, he argues. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Faye Landes contends that many Amazon customers are not aware that the company sells more than just books. She says the company may already have such a defined brand that its future ambitions are limited. Other analysts are more optimistic. J.P. Morgan analyst Tom H. Wyman predicts the company will see revenue of $100 billion within 10 years. The firm's recent partnership with Toys "R" Us, in which Amazon will handle the online sale of the toy store's inventory, may be an indicator of how the company can flourish in multiple markets without overextending itself. Wyman foresees Amazon making similar partnerships with non-merchandise firms such as a travel agency. Wyman predicts: "In the end, they dominate."
- "Microsoft Files Suit Against 2 Md. Firms"
Washington Post (11/17/00) P. E5; McCarthy, Ellen
Microsoft has sued two software resellers in Maryland, saying both were offering pirated copies of Microsoft software for sale, the company said Thursday. Microsoft has been investigating the two resellers, Charles County Computers of Waldorf, Md., and Intellect Computers of Rockville, Md., for one year. Last November investigators from Microsoft purchased counterfeit copies of Windows 95 from both resellers. Company investigators, having sent cease-and-desist letters to both resellers this January, returned to both this September and were again able to purchase pirated Microsoft products. Company officials said investigators bought copies of MS Professional that were labeled improperly and priced well below market value. Microsoft filed suit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, one of some 150 similar suits the company has filed across the country. Software piracy in Maryland is on the rise, analysts say. Pirated copies accounted for 16.8 percent of Maryland software sales in 1998 and 26.9 percent last year, the International Planning and Research Corp. reports.
- "New Documents Shed More Light on FBI's "Carnivore""
CNet (11/16/00); Konrad, Rachel
The FBI's Carnivore email surveillance system is once again in the public spotlight after the FBI released information Thursday that, according to privacy advocates, indicates that the system represents a greater privacy threat than the government has chosen to acknowledge. The FBI has previously asserted that Carnivore does not collect unfiltered Internet traffic, but the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) claims that information contained in the newly released documents proves otherwise. A sentence in one of the documents states that Carnivore "could reliably capture and archive all unfiltered traffic to the internal hard drive" of the PC that is used to monitor email. The document containing the sentence also features many words and phrases that have been deleted and is dated June 5. "The little information that has become public raises serious questions about the privacy implications of this technology," said David Sobel, general counsel at EPIC. The independent team of researchers charged with examining Carnivore is set to submit a draft report to the Justice Department today. The Carnivore papers released by the FBI yesterday are just some of 3,000 that must be handed over to EPIC.
- "Tech Works Set to Link Alley Talent With Industry Jobs"
Internet.com (11/14/00); Gordon, Christine
Tech Works NYC, a workforce development program, is launching a major effort to facilitate high-tech recruitment by linking skilled workers with companies that lack high-tech talent. Tech Works will help companies recruit workers from a wide range of colleges and IT training programs in the New York area. In addition, Tech Works is planning internship programs as well as a New York City education consortium to unite the industry, government, and colleges. Tech Works initiative will make recruitment easier for tech companies, which contribute strongly to New York's economy, says Steve Sigmund, press secretary to New York City's Public Advocate Mark Green. The shortage of workers has become more severe as traditional companies move online, and the recent dot-com layoffs have done little to alleviate the problem, Sigmund says. Technology jobs account for roughly 25 percent of New York City's new jobs, Sigmund estimates.
- "East Grows Rapidly as Tech Center"
USA Today (11/16/00) P. 3B; Kessler, Michelle
Deloitte & Touche's annual Fast 500 ranking of tech companies with the greatest growth reveals that nearly half of this year's firms are based in the East. Of the 500 U.S. and Canadian firms that have grown most quickly, 46 percent and four of the list's top five are based in the East. Analysts think this movement eastward can be attributed to the high cost of doing business out West, where established tech centers have driven up rent and labor costs. This year's list has Primus Telecommunications on top, with growth of 71,000 percent. However, revenue at Primus totaled only $832 million last year, causing analysts to warn that fast growth does not necessarily mean large sales. Although startups and young firms dominated the list, some established firms still managed to make the list, including WorldCom, Qualcomm, and Nextel. Although Internet firms comprised only 17 percent of the 500 firms, that was nearly twice as many as made the list last year.
- "German Officials Struggle to Control the Spread of Neo-Nazi Web Sites"
Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (11/15/00); Linn, Allison
The German game company Phenomedia AG recently received word that one of its popular bird-shooting games had been modified on a Web site into a Nazi extremist game in which Jews and minorities were being hunted instead of birds. German laws prohibit denying that the Holocaust happened, the furthering of Nazi ideals, and the display of Nazi paraphernalia; however, the German government could not close down the U.S. site because it was protected by U.S. freedom of speech laws. There are over 400 home pages run by German right-wing extremists, but German regulators are unable to shut them down because most of the sites are registered on U.S., Canadian or other foreign services. Right-wing, Neo-Nazi violence has increased over the past 10 years in Germany, and Fritz Stepper of the Office of the Protection of the Constitution, a German federal intelligence office, says the increase may be attributed to the ability of Neo-Nazis to organize via the Internet. Between 1991 and 1998, 28 people were killed due to violent attacks from right-wing extremists in Germany; in 1998, 708 attacks were reported, including 16 attempted murders. The Internet has provided these right-wing groups the ability to recruit and organize at little or no cost and with few repercussions from the law. German officials are now having trouble keeping up with new Web sites since thousands of new domain names are registered daily. "Basically, we can only prevent this sort of thing in that we can respond to complaints," said Klaus Herzig, a spokesman at Denic eG, overseer of the registration of German domain names. Herzig says it is impossible to check each domain name and filters cannot work because some terms for the Holocaust are used legitimately as memorials. America Online also relies on complaints to filter the hate speech. AOL's German clients sign an agreement promising they will not violate German laws on hate speech, but complaints are the only way of catching the right-wing Web surfers. "We have 25 million customers, and each customer has the possibility to create seven Web sites, so it's technically absolutely impossible to monitor," says Jens Nordlohne, a spokesman for AOL Deutschland.
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- "Comdex: B2B Standard Continues to Garner Support"
IDG News Service (11/16/00); Vance, Ashlee
IBM, Microsoft, and Ariba presented their recently announced Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) standard on Thursday at Comdex. UDDI offers a sort of Internet Yellow Pages--providing uniform protocol to let companies describe their businesses and IT systems. The directory is intended to help companies find compatible e-business partners. Since its launch in September, UDDI has gained support of 94 major companies, although more partners are needed to allow UDDI to represent industry standards. But such support is expected, and IBM, Microsoft, and Ariba planned the Thursday announcement of several more registered business giants--Boeing, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard--to make that point.
- "As Stock Options Lose Luster, Perks Get More Creative"
Washington Post (11/12/00) P. L1; Johnson, Carrie
High-tech companies are looking for new ways to retain valuable workers as stock options lose their appeal, and these new perks are increasingly linked to the amount of time a worker remains with the firm. Telecommunications firm Net2000 Communications recently announced an optional four-day work week starting in January. Time off during the week will allow busy workers to take care of errands they would otherwise have trouble finding time to do, says vice president of human resources Kathleen Dickerson. Net2000 also allows two-year veterans with high performance ratings to use a leased BMW Z3 convertible for three years. Meanwhile, Web design and consulting firm ThinkXML in June implemented a program that will give employees who have been with the company three years a one-month sabbatical with full pay and benefits. Workers who have been with ThinkXML for five years will receive three months off, and those who have been with the company seven years will earn half a year off. Meanwhile, some companies are offering education as a benefit to help retain workers. IT consulting firm American Management Systems, for example, is working with American University to offer its workers courses in e-commerce and global information and technology management.
- "Backing High-Tech Won't Get You Elected"
Forbes.com (11/14/00); Freeman, James
Lawmakers may view supporting the high-tech industry as a no-win situation, judging from the election fate of their tech-friendly colleagues who will no longer be on Capitol Hill. Rep. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), one of the Information Technology Industry Council's (ITIC) Legislators of the Year in 1999, lost to Rep. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). James Rogan (R-Calif.), who carries a 100 percent rating on the ITIC scorecard on how legislators vote on issues important to the high-tech industry, will also have to find a new job. Sen. Rod Grams (R-Minn.), and Reps. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.), Tom Campbell (R-Calif.), and Bob Franks (R-N.J.), all of whom have 100 percent ratings, lost on election day. Also defeated was Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), who had a 94 percent rating for his voting record on issues such as increasing H-1B visas, establishing permanent normal trade relations with China, and extending the Internet Tax Moratorium. And Rep. Steve Kuykendall (R-Calif.) is on the verge of losing to Jane Harman. With these losses, the high-tech industry could have a difficult time following up their success in the 107th Congress.
- "Been There, Done That"
InformationWeek (11/13/00) No. 812, P. 81; Goodridge, Elisabeth; Khirallah, Diane Rezendes
Dot-com workers who fell victim to the recent wave of layoffs are taking a more cautious approach to job hunting, favoring stable employers with solid business models. Roughly 22,267 dot-com workers have lost their jobs since December, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, but even this large number leaves little impact on today's employment rate. Furthermore, laid-off workers are being snapped up by stronger dot-coms and traditional tech companies, as the Information Technology Association of America expects the high-tech industry to fall 800,000 IT workers short over the next year. In fact, many dot-com workers are now much more selective about where they will work, and employers are working to convince potential hires of their stability. Ten months ago, dot-com workers gravitated toward cutting-edge technology and stock options, considering an employer's business plan as an afterthought. Following the shakeout, however, business models are the top consideration for dot-com workers, followed by the chance to work with new technology and stock options. In a recent RHI Consulting survey of CIOs, 39 percent listed stability as IT workers' top priority after salary and traditional benefits, while just 13 percent cited stock options. Although many dot-com workers still want the excitement of working at a startup, most are investigating a company's business plan and funding before accepting job offers. In addition to making dot-com workers more wary of employers, the shakeout is expected to help the Internet industry mature by eliminating weaker players and leaving only the most viable companies behind.
- "The Internet Generation"
Interactive Week (11/06/00) Vol. 7, No. 45, P. 120; Roberts-Witt, Sarah L.
Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing assistant professor Amy S. Bruckman dismisses the notion that the Internet destroys children and families as well as the idea that technology will turn kids into geniuses. The Internet has not been around long enough compared to the printed word to determine how technology will affect children intellectually and socially over the long term, according to Bruckman and others in the academic community who hold similar views. With studies showing that today's children have taken a liking to the Internet, observers realize that children will only increase their exposure to the technology. Researchers and commercial companies have discovered that online peer groups have elicited a positive response from young people. In fact, a new study by the Leo Burnett advertising agency division KidLeo reveals that the opportunity to experience chat room interaction is the main reason children go online. Observers are happy to see the Internet industry take some initial steps to offer more educational content to consumers. Yahoo!'s Tim Koogle, Nickelodeon's Jeff Dunn, and the FCC's William Kennard were among those who attended a Children Now meeting over the summer. "We have the opportunity to start out on the right foot here, so we can do what's good for children from the beginning," says Patti Miller of the Oakland-based child advocacy group.