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 email@example.com.
Volume 3, Issue 211: Wednesday, June 6, 2001
- "2000 Saw Slower Growth in Tech Jobs, Study Says"
Baltimore Sun (06/06/01) P. 1C; Hirsh, Stacey
The number of high-tech jobs in the United States rose 39.5 percent between 1994 and 2000, from 3.8 million to 5.3 million, according to the new Cyberstates report from the American Electronics Association (AeA). However, the annual growth rate fell to 4.62 percent last year, the report found. In 1994, the growth rate was 4.33 percent. It peaked in 1997 at 7.16 percent before declining each of the next three years. AeA's Michaela Platzer says the study's results do not indicate whether the growth rate will continue to fall as the economy weakens. "As we enter a period of economic uncertainty, the industry remains strong," she says. The study also found that California was home to the most tech workers, 973,600, as of 2000, while tech workers in Seattle have the highest average salary, $134,000, based on 1999 statistics.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "CIOs Remain Cautious on IT Spending"
CIO Online (06/01/01); Ware, Lorraine Cosgrove
North American CIOs continued to negatively forecast IT spending over the next year, according to CIO Magazine's monthly Tech Poll of 260 executives. Spending projections have decreased every month for the last six months, with the average IT budget now only growing by 3.8 percent in the next year. CIOs had said in November last year they expected their 12-month IT budgets to grow by 18.8 percent. Most CIOs polled reduced the number of sales they projected to come from the Internet, as well as the amount of supplies they would buy online in the coming year. However, networking infrastructure and telecommunications projects will likely grow faster than expected, with CIOs increasing their year-long projections. NetFuture Institute polled 3,000 business executives to find that 78.5 percent expected an economic recovery within the year, while 37.8 percent said the economy would likely rebound within three months.
- "Rising Layoffs Are a Boon to Internet Security Firms"
Wall Street Journal (06/05/01) P. B11C; Richmond, Riva
Computer security firms report a greater number of corporate clients seeking protection from acts of "layoff rage," when laid-off employees seek revenge on their former employers by stealing data, destroying both software and hardware, defacing company Web sites, or committing other malicious acts. A new study from the FBI and the Computer Security Institute found that data theft and financial fraud, both crimes usually perpetrated from the insider, accounted for 65 percent of the $377.8 million lost because of computer crime at 186 companies surveyed. Companies are purchasing a wide range of security software, observers report, from firewalls to protect particularly sensitive areas such as financial reports to software that can scan networks for viruses that laid-off workers may have left behind. Observers say those security firms that provide software that offers such services but does not slow down a company's network have the highest demand for their products. At any rate, the threat of layoff rage is allowing many computer security firms to benefit at a time when the overall tech sector is slowing, observers say. At Internet Security Systems, for example, revenue estimates for this year are up 50 percent over last year. Officials there say one-fifth of the 500 new customers the firm has gained this year were seeking software and services specifically to prevent layoff rage.
- "One Agnostic's View on Open Source Theology"
ZDNet (06/05/01); MacCrisken, Jack
Microsoft's continued dispute with the open source community over the general public license (GPL) is not likely to be resolved. Because the GPL is applied to any new, modified software that is developed, it "infects" formerly proprietary technology, eliminating the economic value of such intellectual property. Microsoft has made some effort to fuse the two worlds through its shared source initiative, which open source leaders have derided for its limited scope. However, the monetary issue is the crux of the matter: Microsoft has asserted that open source software, as it is defined by Linux developers, is eventually a futile business proposition. Red Hat, one of the more successful companies, recently stated in its SEC filing that its business model based on software has not shown any signs of producing a profit. Obviously, hardware vendors that back Linux, such as Dell and IBM, stand to gain from free software, but the open source movement could kill software companies, thus negating its value to innovation, argues software consultant Jack MacCrisken.
- "Size and Power Needs Spur Rise of 'Blades,' 'Clusters'"
Investor's Business Daily (06/06/01) P. A10; Riley, Sheila
The rising interest in thin servers, or blades, and server clusters is a result of the current slowdown in tech spending and the ever-increasing need to boost Internet capabilities. Web hosting firms and ASPs especially need new, efficient server designs to keep up with demand for capacity while trying to cut costs. Blade designs already developed by Intel and Sun are thin, but long and wide enough to slide into a traditional server rack. Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and others in the server market are working on similar designs. The result is that companies get more processing power from the same amount of real-estate investment. Clusters are another newly popular option for companies looking for ways to make the most of their IT investments. By linking servers together in a cluster, the computers can share resources and improve scalability, processing power, and reliability to supercomputer levels.
- "Tech Industry Battles Proposed Disclosure Bill"
Wall Street Journal (06/06/01) P. B11; Gavin, Robert
Legislation pending in California would prevent companies from burying information concerning potentially harmful products or practices revealed in the course of legal proceedings. The tech industry is gathering its power to rally against the bill, saying the bill is a threat to intellectual property rights and has been crafted in such a broad way that the trade secrets of its member companies would be exposed under its current provisions. Tech industry officials predict that if the legislation passes, tech firms will be forced to settle liability and other lawsuits quickly, rather than risk having trade secrets exposed in open court. As many of the industry's major firms are based in the state of California, observers say the legislation's passage would have an impact across the country. Proponents of the bill say they do not want to expose corporate trade secrets, only information that would benefit consumer safety and health. To that end, proponents have begun discussing a compromise version of the bill that would exclude some trade secrets from its scope.
For information about ACM's activities regarding intellectual property rights and public policy, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.
- "Display Industry on Verge of Major Leaps Forward"
SiliconValley.com (06/02/01); Gillmor, Dan
Display technology is leading to exciting new products available on the mass market. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays and flat panel liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are getting cheaper and better looking all the time. Currently, 15-inch flat-panel LCD displays can be purchased for under $500. Other technological enhancements promise to change television as well, including digital TV sets that let users easily archive their favorite shows digitally--provided that the entertainment industry does not succeed in their attempts to implement restrictive copy-protection mechanisms in those sets. OLED displays promise to revolutionize the display market for cell phone and handheld devices because they emit light themselves, thus saving battery power that is critical with portable devices. Cambridge Display Technologies is developing OLED technology that could eventually lead to a "spray on" computer screen.
- "Report Urges World Leaders Not to Ignore 'Digital Divide'"
Newsbytes (06/04/01); McGuire, David
Nations' ability to compete in the global e-commerce marketplace will be hampered unless they take steps to address their digital divides, according to new research from International Data (IDC). The report is based on IDC's Information Society Index (ISI), a ranking of the health of nations' IT backbones, including per-capita Internet penetration rates. Sweden is ranked first by the ISI, due to high wireless penetration rates. The United States now sits at fourth on the list, down from second, due to its inability to increase its number of Internet users. The digital divide can be conquered through close cooperation between the private and public sectors, says IDC analyst Ludovica Bruno. The G8 countries are currently examining a report by the Digital Opportunity Taskforce on the global digital divide.
- "Asia Threatens High-Tech Manufacturing Dominance"
E-Commerce Times (06/04/01); DeLong, Daniel F.
The United States may lose its dominance in IT manufacturing to Asia as U.S. tech firms increasingly rely upon economic incentives in Asia to sustain growth. Whereas the PC market in the U.S. has flattened, Chinese and Japanese households are still buying PCs and going online for the first time. This has even led dot-com companies such as Amazon.com to invest in the Japanese online retail market, which International Data analysts expect to grow to 92 million persons in 2005, up from 19 million currently. Industry observers see an even more important trend in the increasing number of contracts awarded to Chinese firms to build computer components for major U.S. firms such as Dell, Gateway, and Compaq. Taiwan, which currently leads the world in laptop production and also makes a large proportion of the world's PCs and peripherals, is farming out its factory work to China because of the abundant labor and relatively low set-up costs. U.S. firms are also eyeing the Chinese consumer market, especially with the PC market there expanding by 41 percent this year alone and expected to grow an average 30 percent every year hence.
- "ICANN Wraps Up Stockholm Meetings"
InternetNews.com (06/04/01); Wagner, Jim
ICANN's board members voted on or held discussions about a number of controversial topics before its quarterly meetings ended on the morning of June 4. ICANN's board members voted for a 20 percent budget increase--with one person abstaining and Karl Auerbach voting against the increase. "I think we're growing too large, well beyond our obligations to the articles of the corporation," says Auerbach. Other directors, including Jonathan Cohen and Masanobu Katoh, thought that the budget increases were not enough. ICANN does not take input from the international community seriously, and a budget increase is inappropriate until ICANN starts listening to those who live outside the United States, says Australian lawyer Len Lindon, noting that ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf and President Stuart Lynn obviously think of alternative roots and top level domains as competitors without acknowledging their own "monopolistic practices." ICANN directors voted unanimously in favor of implementing eligibility requirements for new regional Internet registries (RIRs), which would relieve the three organizations that currently allocate IP addresses to ISPs. If ICANN signs restrictive agreements with the new RIRs, then alternative roots might be restricted, notes Leah Gallegos, owner of the Atlantic root server. "For example, if the new agreements say that ISPs have to point to a particular root or set of servers in order to receive an [IP] allocation, choice is gone and ICANN rules the planet in terms of the Internet," says Gallegos.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.
- "Cell Phone Industry Infiltrates JavaOne Show"
CNet (06/04/01); Charny, Ben
Some of the wireless industry's top players, including NTT DoCoMo and Nokia, will attend this week's JavaOne trade show in San Francisco. Java has become an integral part of wireless technology. Nokia and Motorola use Java-enabled phones to provide wireless access for downloadable games and other software. As many as 11,000 Java programmers plan to use the programming language to install additional cell phones features that allow phones to act as miniature televisions or MP3 players. However, the recent recalls of several Java-enabled cell phones have made industry insiders skeptical about the technology.
- "California: No Exodus in Sight"
Interactive Week Online (06/04/01); Bryce, Robert
Tech firms in California are getting some tough love from David Freeman, the energy advisor to Gov. Gray Davis. He claims that, despite the industry's protests, the nearly 50 percent price hike in electricity has not caused the economy there to crash. Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group CEO Carl Guardino has decried the increase as stifling the economic engine of the state. In contrast, Freeman insists that the conservation practices set in place now will help California as a whole in the future. June is expected to be a critical month for the state, as many new power plants will begin functioning in July and August.
- "Out-of-Work Techies Turn to Places Where Profits Aren't the Point"
Washington Post (06/03/01) P. L1; Johnson, Carrie
Unemployed tech workers searching for computer and IT jobs might consider jobs at associations. Not-for-profit tech jobs can offer stability, steady work hours, health insurance, retirement plans, and bona fide vacation time rather than a slew of accumulated hours. On the downside, associations often offer lower salaries in comparison to for-profit firms; also, they usually operate on very tight budgets, notes Will Weems, a freelance designer. Additionally, many associations have not fully tapped the resources of the Internet. For example, they have been sluggish in developing e-commerce and business-to-business technologies, according to a recent survey by the American Society of Association Executives. Work environments at associations can also vary widely from those of commercial firms. The best bet for tech workers is targeting associations with values that match their own, such as the World Wildlife Fund or PETA, says Alison Farmer of Randstad Creative Talent.
- "The Internet in Space"
InformationWeek Online (05/29/01); Hulme, George V.
NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have thrown their support behind a plan to create an Internet-based communications network throughout the solar system. The InterPlanetary Internet Regions, plans for which are now on file with the Internet Enginee ring Task Force, could connect other planets, asteroids, satellites, and spacecraft. However, the nature of the solar system means that the network would not follow the design of earth-based communications networks. "Sometimes a planet will be between the source and the destination," explains the Scott C. Burleigh of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the forward to the plan. "Therefore rely not on end-to-end connectivity at any time, for the universe does not work that way." Therefore, instead of working toward real-time communication, engineers are concentrating on how to send packets of data across the solar system. Engineers are also trying to account for the hacking attempts to which such a network would be subject. Preventative measures include user authentication, data integrity, and access controls.
- "India's Tech Workers Feel Squeeze"
Wired News (06/04/01); Iyengar, Swaroopa
Tech firms in India are slowing recruitment even as they sign more outsourcing contracts with U.S. firms. Infosys general manager Kris Gopalakrishnan says his company will hire only 1,500 to 2,000 workers this year, compared to around 4,500 people in times of faster growth. Indian college students approaching graduation must pass rigorous standards to be considered for employment at computer firms, and college employment offices allow graduates to apply only to two companies. However, among those being recruited now, many are being asked to hold off their start dates or are being given reduced salaries and other compensations. Returning H-1B workers, wizened from their experience in the U.S. market, are also crowding the Indian worker pool, with some estimating that the number of returning H-1B workers to be nearly 50,000. Jobsahead.com manager Gautham Raghavan says other job opportunities are opening up for Indian tech workers outside of India and the United States in places such as Southeast Asia and Europe. That may provide an outlet for the number of engineering graduates--triple the current level--that the Indian government plans to turn out by 2008.
New York Times (06/04/01) P. C2; Chartrand, Sabra
Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the Blackberry mobile device, has won a patent for what it calls mailbox integration technology. This technology lets users of handhelds and other mobile devices receive email messages sent to PC- or network-based email addresses. Currently, users of most mobile devices must set up a new email account for that device or command the device to receive an email message from another source. RIM software allows users to establish a trigger on their PCs or network system--for example, new email or a date on the calendar--that then relay that information to the handheld device. The software also synchronizes data between a mobile device and the email's source, so that, if a user sends an email from the mobile device, the PC or network system also notes that an email has been sent. "We think this technology is very, very critical technology, and we definitely intend to license single-integration technology to develop a market for the consumer," says RIM Chairman James Balsillie. RIM is currently embroiled in patent-infringement litigation with Glenayre Electronics, with RIM charging Glenayre with stealing the integration technology described in its patent.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors will need to register.)
- "Do IT Workers Need a Union?"
Network World (06/04/01) Vol. 18, No. 23, P. 61; Blain, Mike; Miller, Harris
The tech industry continues to question whether there is any place for the labor movement in their sector. Mike Blain, president of WashTech, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, argues that unions are necessary for tech workers because, on their own, they are generally unable to bring about significant changes to their pay or working conditions, which often causes them to work many hours of overtime with minimal extra compensation or to sign non-competition clauses of questionable fairness. Also, Blain contends, tech workers often have to pay for their own training because most companies are unwilling to pay for training since it might prompt employees to take their new skills to a better paying jobs; unions, Blain says, are able to provide affordable training. Blain notes the recent accomplishments of unions in the tech sector, including winning better benefits for Microsoft permatemps and an excellent severance package for laid-off Amazon.com workers. In contrast, Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller argues that tech workers are, by nature, independent and do not need union support. There is such a lack of qualified tech workers in the United States at present--with some 425,000 IT jobs expected to go unfilled this year--that tech workers can be certain that, even with the economy in a downturn, they can pick the best of many strong offers. Their independence also leads tech workers to reject the traditional notions of seniority that unions support, Miller says. Tech workers believe in a meritocracy, advancing because they can surpass hard intellectual challenges, not simply because they have been around as long as the next worker.
- "Will PCs Rebound? Doubt It"
eWeek (06/04/01) Vol. 18, No. 22, P. 24; Popovich, Ken
IT managers say PC makers would do well to come up with some new technological innovations if they expect corporate buyers to upgrade their computer systems. The concerns of IT managers come as PC makers continue to slash their prices and offer enticing deals in an attempt to rebound from the crash in demand for PCs that began last year. For example, American Medical Association President Marshall Fernholz says adding faster processors and more memory is not enough to convince institutions to invest in new PCs. As demand for PCs has vanished, computer manufacturers have had to contend with layoffs, dwindling earnings, and an ongoing price war. Times have worsened due to the threat of market saturation and a weakening economy. Some market analysts anticipated consolidation among vendors, which could benefit the industry by leaving fewer companies competing for a dwindling amount of dollars, but that has failed to occur. Companies such as Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are hoping to ride out the downturn by relying less on computer sales. PC makers should be lucky to attract a modest single-digit growth in PC sales--International Data research suggests a decline this year, compared to the more than 20 percent growth just two years ago.
- "The Pen Indeed Is Now Mightier Than the Sword"
Potomac Tech Journal (05/28/01) Vol. 2, No. 22, P. 17; Davis, Jeffrey S.
Pen-based computing could have a major impact on the future of computing. The technology involves transforming handwritten notes, graphics, and images into digital form for storage or distribution via email. David MacNeil, executive editor of Pen Computing Magazine, says Palm, Handspring, and Pocket PC devices have familiarized consumers with the pen-based technology. MacNeil adds that pen-based computing has led to renewed enthusiasm for the "original dream of the keyboard-less computer." The firm A.T. Cross is a leader in the category, having introduced the early print-to-PC technology CrossPad, which is featured in the new IBM ThinkPad and the Seiko SmartPad. Digital Ink is a competitor with its n-scribe pen, which enables users to send handwritten messages to and from wireless devices; the firm's technology is seen as an all-in-one, universal communication system that may eliminate the need for bulky electronic tablets. Some feel the n-scribe technology could solve the keyboard dilemma in Asia and could even help new input technologies in the United States. Another firm involved in the category is Sweden's Anoto, which makes use of a pen and special encrypted paper for storing and transmitting letters, drawings, or notes.