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Volume 3, Issue 248: Wednesday, September 5, 2001
- "The Connection Question: Can Hewlett-Compaq Succeed Beyond PC's?"
New York Times (09/05/01) P. C1; Richtel, Matt
Hewlett-Packard's newly announced merger with Compaq would create the largest computer hardware manufacturer in the industry and would join together the two companies' services groups in hopes of creating a services giant as well. While many analysts fear the lag time a merger may mean for the companies, some point out that 44 percent of the new HP's estimated $87 billion annual revenue would be from servers and PCs, indicating the dominance they have in that market. No other company could compare to its range of hardware product offerings. European and U.S. antitrust officials will likely take some time to review the deal, though company executives assured investors they could see no impediment to the merger. HP and Compaq say the merger will help them build out their services businesses, and despite the combined company's 65,000 workers in this area, many analysts note that the new HP may not be able to reap as big a reward from this line of business as IBM, which heavily weights its services business in high-margin consulting services. HP and Compaq jointly have only 25,000 of their group in consulting, while the other 40,000 are employed in the low-margin product service business.
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- "In a Dangerous World, Internet Security Cannot Be Left to Technologists Alone"
Financial Times--IT (09/05/01) P. 1; Daniel, Caroline
Internet security spending is slowing down, despite earlier predictions that the sector would avoid the economic malaise hitting other IT areas. Part of the reason, say analysts, is that companies have a misperception of security as a commodity that should produce an immediate ROI. But security consultants argue that businesses with this perception approach security investment in the wrong way anyhow, and will not benefit as much from security solutions as companies that integrate security issues with other strategic business decisions. Ernst & Young managing partner Jan Babiak says security consultants need to be brought in to help a company decide what their data security priorities should be rather than trying to implement a blanket shield for their entire network. PKI technology that allowed e-commerce with digital certification, for example, was acquired by many companies who expected simply having the tool would solve their e-commerce security problems. Vendors such as Entrust and Baltimore Technologies have suffered as a consequence of this misperception and subsequent disappointment. Others, such as firewall solution provider Check Point, have fared better and stand ready to benefit from the expected increase in security spending, up to $14 billion in 2005 from $5.1 billion last year, according to IDC.
- "Antitrust Agencies Are Likely to Give Deal a Hard Look"
Wall Street Journal (09/05/01) P. A14; Wilke, John R.; Schlesinger, Jacob M.; Shishkin, Philip
The acquisition of the world's second-largest PC maker, Compaq Computer, by the third-largest, Hewlett-Packard, will probably draw heavy scrutiny from American and European antitrust agencies. The merger could be significant as it pertains to the convergence of antitrust and the Bush administration's economic stance, which is pushing for more consolidation in the high-tech industry. "A merger between No. 2 and No. 3 in a market historically has been difficult to justify," says former FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky. "But in technology, especially an area of high tech with low entry barriers, antitrust enforcers and the courts may be more willing to take a fresh look." The antitrust agencies will have to decide whether a loss of competition will be outweighed by the costs savings and efficiencies that could be gained through the merger, according to former senior FTC official Bill Baer. There should be a particularly intense focus in the retail sector, where HP and Compaq collectively account for two-thirds of desktop computer sales. The companies may be forced to shed overlapping products and technologies to satisfy antitrust officials on both sides of the Atlantic.
- "eCIO Poll: Tech Slump Has Bottomed Out"
InfoWorld.com (09/04/01); Costello, Sam
CIO Magazine's monthly CIO poll surveying spending expectations for the coming year shows that the technology slump may be bottoming out. Just over half of all the CIOs surveyed said they expected the economy would pick up within one year. Meanwhile, of those that said they were holding back from buying, 21 percent said it was due to overcapacity and 40 percent claimed weak profits hampered buying plans. The poll showed modest growth in all technology sectors, especially in infrastructure services and telecom equipment. Overall, August's survey projects IT budgets to grow 7 percent in the coming year while July's predictions were only 6 percent.
- "Senate Begins Debate on Update of High-Tech Export Laws"
Newsbytes (09/04/01); Krebs, Brian
Congress is debating future export laws on high-technology that would loosen national security controls and allow the U.S. tech industry to more quickly compete with foreign vendors. Currently, the Export Administration Act is being threatened in the Senate by at least eight amendments from powerful senators, despite calls from the White House to let the legislation pass unimpeded. The amendments include a 30-day extension for national security agencies to review export license applications; the creation of a blue-ribbon commission designed to check the legislative ramifications on national security; and the invocation of the dispute resolution process if export classifications cannot be agreed upon by the Commerce, State, or Defense Departments. As it stands, the bill calls for an expedited approval process from national security agencies in approving high-tech exports that could have both civilian and military applications. It also allows for the export of high-tech products that are already easily accessible on the foreign market from non-U.S. sources.
- "U.N. Body Urges Stronger Rules on Cybersquatters"
WIPO is recommending additional domain name protections for geographical locations, ethnic group names, political figure names, pharmaceutical drug names, and other vulnerable categories that fall outside the purview of trademark law or common law trademark rights that are routinely extended to famous namesakes like movie star names. WIPO assistant director-general Francis Gurry also recently asked world governments to explore creating legal protections for the problem. The WIPO action derives from a recently completed year-long study commissioned by the European Union, the United States, and other WIPO member governments, a study that calls for increased domain name protections and concludes that current Internet policy is lagging behind online developments. While WIPO has been able to use trademark law to award domain names to movie stars such as Julia Roberts and Mick Jagger, WIPO recommendations would extend UDRP protection to currently unprotected areas.
- "Computer Virus Costs Reach $10.7 Billion this Year"
SiliconValley.com (09/01/01); Abreu, Elinor Mills
Computer Economics estimates that virus attacks on worldwide information systems have cost $10.7 billion so far this year. The Love Bug Virus, which first appeared in May 2000, has been responsible for $8.7 billion in damages, according to Computer Economics VP of research Michael Erbschloe. The Code Red computer worms and SirCam, both in 2001, have led to losses of about $2.6 billion and $1.035 billion, respectively. Last year, computer bugs cost $17.1 billion, and $12.1 billion in 1999; Erbschloe says that this year's totals should reach about $15 billion, if there are no further outbreaks. Viruses force companies to spend money on clean-up costs and lost productivity. The Code Red virus infected 250,000 systems within nine hours of its emergence in July, while Code Red II spread more quickly when it first appeared on August 4.
- "Internet Groups Urge Public Participation"
New York Times (09/01/01) P. C2; Stellin, Susan
Two competing reports are jousting over reforms that ICANN will implement to boost Internet user participation in ICANN deliberations, a goal that is embedded in ICANN's charter by the U.S. Department of Commerce. An internal ICANN At-Large Study Committee has issued a report concluding that all domain name owners should be awarded ICANN membership and voting rights, and that domain name ownership is the best means to identify those who are involved with the Internet. A research coalition led by the Center for Democracy and Technology also recently released a report calling for wider representation under the byline of the "NGO and Academic ICANN Study" (NAIS). The NAIS report recommends that any person who fills out an online registration form should be declared eligible to vote in ICANN matters; the report criticizes the At-Large report as favoring commercial interests that dominate domain name ownership. "There is certainly a question of whether domain name holders can adequately represent a broad range of Internet users," commented one representative of the NAIS report, Markle Foundation President Zoe Baird. At-Large committee member Esther Dyson defended the domain name ownership criteria as workable. "It may require a mid-course correction," said Dyson.
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For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.
- "IT Job Market Expected to Pick Up in Q4"
Projections of the IT job market for the fourth quarter are positive, according to a national poll of over 1,400 U.S. CIOs by RHI Consulting. RHI's Information Technology Hiring Index finds that CIOs expect IT hiring to increase 15 percent in the last three months of 2001, a gain of 3 points over the year before; 18 percent of respondents are planning to hire additional IT staff in the fourth quarter, while 3 percent are anticipating layoffs. A net 26 percent hiring increase is forecast for the South Atlantic states, while executives in the mid-Atlantic and the East South Central states expect net increases of 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively. The survey finds that finance, insurance, and real estate will experience the strongest technology hiring in the fourth quarter, as well as the professional services and wholesale industry sectors. According to RHI's semiannual Hot Jobs Report, networking is the most sought-after IT specialty, followed by Internet/intranet development, help desk/end-user support, and database management. "Businesses are seeking experienced professionals in such areas as network and database administration who can assess their firms' ongoing technology needs and recommend cost-effective solutions," says RHI executive director Katherine Spencer Lee.
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- "MS Patents May Threaten Open Source"
eWeek Online (08/28/01); Galli, Peter
Ximian's Mono Project, an effort to supplant a part of Microsoft's .Net product line with open-source software, is generating concern from members of the open-source community. Microsoft is also aggressively trying to purchase software patents as well as develop in-house patents that can be leveraged against the open-source sector by threatening it with copyright infringement. Microsoft's Doug Miller claims he is not aware of any such attempts while at the same time acknowledges the possibility. Open-source and Linux strategist for Hewlett-Packard Bruce Perens is opposed to the Mono Project, and demands that Ximian forge a contract with Microsoft in which Microsoft promises not to impose its patents on Ximian's open-source software. "If we don't get that agreement, I'll be happy to see Ximian implement this stuff, but I'm not sure I'll touch it," he says. "I'm also not sure I want to let it touch the rest of GNOME [GNU Network Object Model Environment] very much because if GNOME becomes dependent on it, it would have a potential weakness there." Ximian's Nat Friedman says there has been no collaboration between his company and Microsoft on the project.
- "Motorola to Announce Advance in Chips"
New York Times (09/04/01) P. C2; Feder, Barnaby J.
Motorola researchers have made a breakthrough in silicon-based semiconductors that allows super-conductive materials to be grown on top of the chip designs. Its discovery is also near commercial application, and would likely revolutionize the way light-sensitive chips--used in radars, power amplifiers, and lasers--are applied. Previously, the high cost of manufacturing these chips restricted engineers from considering them for more common applications such as in household lighting or cell phones. Motorola expects to make the technology available to other companies soon, and that other manufacturers will be able to use the licensed technology to create products that will revitalize the wireless sector. Out of the average 1,000 patents Motorola applies for per year, 20 percent of this year's total are meant for the new technology.
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- "UL Torture-Testing More Information Technology Products"
SiliconValley.com (09/03/01); Fan, Maureen
Underwriters Laboratories, one of the world leaders in product safety testing, puts information technology products through the same rigorous testing process as it does other equipment. IT products now account for about 12 percent of its global business. Telecommunications equipment is tested for endurance to earthquakes and smog at its Network Equipment Building Systems (NEBS) facility in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Meanwhile, the safety of depressurized tubes inside computer monitors is tested via impact studies facilitated by pendulum weights. Any equipment that fails to receive the UL seal of approval is sent back to the manufacturers for modification, says NEBS engineering team leader Arnie Sheldon. The economic downturn recently forced UL to lay off about 6 percent of its staff, the first major firing in the firm's history. The company has also drawn fire from certain public safety officials who believe UL has too much power over product manufacturing. "Because they're performing in a quasi-governmental function, we believe there should be a considerable amount of openness and transparency in the way they develop their standards and do their testing," argues National Association of State Fire Marshals VP Donald Bliss.
- "Governments Push Open-Source Software"
CNet (08/29/01); Festa, Paul
Governments around the globe are pushing for mandatory adoption of open-source software. At the forefront is Brazil, where four cities have passed legislation preferring or requiring the use of open-source software. In 2000, Brazilian governments spent only $200 million on software, while Europe spent some $7.8 billion. One of the opponents of this trend is Microsoft, which claims open-source software hurts intellectual property. But supporters view open-source software as liberating countries from high costs, a U.S.-dominated software market, and a single dominant firm. For some U.S. companies, the trend against closed, proprietary software has helped boost business. IBM, for example, invested $200 million its Linux initiatives in China. Programmers are also increasingly taking to open-source software because of its inhibitions while the technological landscape becomes more restrictive in regards to copyrights, patents, and laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
- "High-Tech Hopes"
Miami Herald (09/01/01) P. 1C; Colon, Yves
Caribbean countries plan to diversify and make technology a keystone of their economy. Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has a three-year plan to set up U.S. call centers that will create 40,000 high-tech positions. "We've got to move away from traditional commodities such as sugar, bananas, and others," he insists. "We have to look for those things for which there is a special demand." Trinidad and Tobago has also made progress toward diversification, although the governor of the country's Central Bank, Winston Dookeran, regrets that his nation still relies on petroleum too much. In August, for the first time, 17 Caribbean nations hosted a trade and entertainment show in London, with a specific emphasis on trade, investment, and banking. In order for these countries to successfully realize such economic goals, MIT professor Cardinal Warde says that governments must institute more progressive laws, facilitate more effective educational programs, provide capital for entrepreneurial ventures, and eliminate traditional business practices such as nepotism.
- "Linux's Desktop Dilemma"
Computer Reseller News (08/27/01) No. 960, P. 14; Darrow, Barbara
IDC reports that Linux accounted for only 1.5 percent of client OS software shipments in 2000, compared to 27 percent of server OS software shipments. Eazel collapsed a mere two months after launching its Linux consumer interface; Corel offered versions of WordPerfect Office and Corel Draw that support Linux, but is now trying to shed its Linux OS holdings, according to a spokeswoman. "What needs to happen is a mind-set change," declares Ximian CTO Miguel de Icaza. "When people have to learn a new system, you have to lower the barrier, make it similar [to existing operating systems] and make interfaces similar to existing applications to make the transition easy." Ximian is planning to strike on several fronts: It continues to support the Mono Project, an initiative focused on the development of a Linux-based version of Microsoft .Net. It is also expected to announce two editions of Ximian Desktop--a Standard Edition that ties in the Ximian Gnome 1.4 desktop with a special prerelease version of Ximian Evolution, and a Professional Edition that has a Sun StarOffice Suite add-on. Challenges that Ximian wishes to meet include a way to incorporate monitoring systems for email, corporate documents, and other Linux systems under a single desktop, and an easier method for automatically updating, managing, and removing software. Consumer initiatives for Linux are being put on hold while Ximian focuses more on Linux-knowledgeable developers, transactional desktops, and nations that desire low-cost, open-source social services delivery.
- "NIST Team Sees in Stereo"
Government Computer News (08/27/01) Vol. 20, No. 25, P. 1; Daukantas, Patricia
Computer scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are using parallel computers to present visualizations that will give them a better understanding of the theories used in their research. For example, the visualization specialists have created a complex simulation of the way in which particles move in wet cement. Such a virtual experiment would benefit concrete companies because they could test concrete samples in a virtual environment rather than spending money to learn the results of a physical mixture of samples. The computer scientists specialize in parallel computing, data mining, and visualization, which are tied together by pattern recognition. After creating basic algorithms for a simulation project, the computer scientists incorporate the model into a program for NIST parallel computers, which present a data set that the visual experts are able to turn into pictures or movies. Researchers at NIST are also involved with immersive computing. Using a Reconfigurable Automatic Virtual Environment from Fakespace Systems, an 8-foot-square screen with a 1,280- by 1,024-pixel display, a 12-processor SGI Onyx 3000 supercomputer, and polarized glasses, computer scientists have created an environment in which researchers will feel like they are moving through wet concrete. The visualization specialists also have used parallel computers to create visualized research of the behavior of atoms at temperatures near absolute zero.
- "Women in Computer Sciences: Reversing the Trend"
Syllabus Magazine Online (08/01); Camp, Tracy
The number of female students graduating with degrees in computer science fell 28 percent between 1984 and 1998. Universities and their faculty must reverse this trend by attracting both females and educators to this field. One way to go about it is for schools to recommend, through scholarships and academic advice, that female students enter into a graduate school that specializes in computer science. With female confidence in computers much lower than male confidence, faculty members must be especially encouraging to female students in introductory computing courses, which should focus on those with the least computing experience. There should also be an emphasis on high grades, because most female computing graduates rarely attain degrees on average grades. Universities can also get women in the computer world to deliver keynote speeches, thus demonstrating to students that women can find success; interest people in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing; promote online communities of female computing students; and establish an ACM-W Student Chapter. Mentoring programs such as the Collaborative Research Experience for Women and the Distributed Mentor Project can help women prepare themselves for professional computing careers, while fostering collaborative coursework can help shatter preconceptions of computing as a cloistered, secluded field.
To learn more about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit < a href="http://www.acm.org/women">http://www.acm.org/women.
- "Silicon Lights the Way to Faster Data Flow"
Science (08/24/01) Vol. 293, No. 5534, P. 1413; Service, Robert F.
Poor communication between chips and other computer components continues to be a problem as computer engineers develop superfast chips. What continues to hold back faster data flow of information is the reliance on metal wires. Having special semiconductors convert electrical signals to beams of light is seen as one way to solve the problem. However, silicon, which does not emit light well, is considered the ideal material to use, and the best semiconductors that emit light are difficult to integrate with silicon. Nevertheless, a team of researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney have made silicon-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) 100 times brighter by texturing solar cells. Doing so makes light bounce around the cell so that it can be absorbed, which is a huge advancement, considering that the best semiconductors that absorb light do the best job of emitting light. Still, LEDs would shine brighter if they are made to interact with transistors and memory. From here, the Australian researchers plan to use a modulator to convert the light emitted from the silicon LED into pulses of encoded information, and then place the LED and modulator directly onto a silicon computer chip.
- "Virtual India At Your Service"
Interactive Week (08/27/01) Vol. 8, No. 33, P. 22; Spangler, Todd
India is emerging as a world leader for knowledge-based services thanks to an entrepreneurial spirit that has flourished since the mid 1990s. The region is moving beyond low-cost software development and becoming the country of choice for foreign interests that wish to take advantage of its low labor costs and highly skilled labor pool. A contributing factor to India's growth in the software market is a 1980s government mandate that suspended taxation on exports and capital imports. Much of the entrepreneurialism responsible for India's prosperity is the result of cross-cultural exchange from close-knit relationships between Indian software designers, IT executives, and their international colleagues and customers. Additional corporate cross-pollination comes from the migration of 100,000 Indian workers to the United States every year, a move that establishes business contacts and beefs up employee IT skills even more; those that return from U.S. stints are often inspired to start their own businesses and establish organizations that foster Indian entrepreneurial ventures. The most successful IT companies in India are those that lend their expertise to overseas concerns. There is also a greater economic integration between India and international clients taking place. But India is not immune to the effects of the worldwide technology spending slowdown: Many companies are anticipating lower returns, and are rolling out higher-value services to sustain their growth.