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Volume 4, Issue 343: Wednesday, May, 2002
- "Salary Gap Still Exists for Women in IT"
InformationWeek Online (04/29/02); Goodridge, Elisabeth
The salary gap between male and female IT professionals appears to be widening, according to the results of InformationWeek Research's 2002 National IT Salary Survey. In terms of total compensation, men are making about $7,000 more than women annually, whereas last year they made $6,000 more. Female IT managers earn $10,000 less median total cash compensation than their male counterparts. Meanwhile, staff-level women received a $1,000 median base salary raise, compared to a $2,000 increase for staff-level men. ClearCommerce co-founder Julie Fergerson theorizes that men are more prone to job-hopping than women, whereas "Women tend to stay in the same job for three to five years, due in part to ownership and pride in the work." Women in Technology International President and founder Carolyn Leighton adds that men dominating the executive level only increases the difficulty for women to move up.
- "Enthusiasts of Nanotechnology Find Capital Is Hard to Come By"
Wall Street Journal (05/01/02) P. B11D; Mantz, Beth M.
Nanotechnology--the manipulation of nanoscale structures and their properties--has received a great deal of hype from advocates such as scientists, futurists, and entrepreneurs, but venture capitalists are reluctant to invest because the development of commercial applications is still a long way off. Investors want a fairly rapid return on investment, but there are not many nanotech startups that can fulfill that promise yet, according to NanoBusiness Alliance executive director Mark Modzelewski; nevertheless, his company reports that direct venture investment is rising, and predicts that startup funding should climb to $1 billion this year and $1.2 billion next year. Still, Modzelewski says the nanotech businesses expected to generate the most returns are still in an early stage of development. The products and methods they are working on include the etching of chips that offer twice the computing speed while halving the cost, nanoscale drug-delivery systems and disease-fighting "nanobots," and minuscule optical elements for telecom equipment. The establishment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 1999 has spurred investment, at least in the federal sector: Congress has earmarked $604.4 million for this fiscal year, and President Bush has requested a nanoscale science investment of $710 million for fiscal year 2003. Nanotech firms that have received a lot of venture capital are developing either nanotech simulation software or the instruments used for atomic manipulation.
- "Russian CEO Defends Copying Rights"
CNet (04/29/02); Bowman, Lisa M.
ElcomSoft CEO Alexander Katalov is struggling to rehabilitate his company's public image while fighting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the controversial law that U.S. prosecutors claim ElcomSoft broke by offering software that bypasses anti-copying Adobe System safeguards for electronic books. The case is the first major test of the law's criminal provisions, and prosecutors have been portraying ElcomSoft as an opportunistic firm that aims to make money by helping e-book hackers, a charge that Katalov vehemently denies. He counters that the software was created so that people could copy e-books strictly in keeping with fair-use rights. ElcomSoft's password recovery products have also been used extensively in law enforcement, including a case in which a murder suspect was apprehended by the Fort Bend County, Texas, Sheriff's Department; ElcomSoft earned an "honorary sheriff's deputy" certificate for its contribution. Katalov warns that his situation could be a foretaste for developers, even if they create software purely for the purposes of testing security systems. The DMCA makes it "illegal to produce legal programs," he alleges. Two motions to drop the charges against ElcomSoft are currently pending, but if the trial goes ahead and ElcomSoft loses, it may have to pay of fine of $2.5 million. Katalov says the company has already spent a great deal of money to defend itself, and has been beset by difficulties since the charges were filed, including a loss of American corporate clients and a flattening of revenue.
- "Bill Would Push Driver's License with Chip"
United Press International (05/01/02); Divis, Dee Ann
In an effort to clamp down on identity fraud and bolster national security, Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.) are touting legislation calling for the standardization of state-issued driver's licenses equipped with computer chips and biometric identifiers. The proposal would also require that standards be set for documents that states can use to better determine the identity of driver's license or other ID card applicants. Additionally, $315 million in federal funding would be allocated to facilitate the switchover to the new cards as well as connect them to state computer systems so that background checks on applicants can be made to determine whether they were denied licenses in other states. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) supports a standardized license proposal of its own that shares many similarities to Davis and Moran's bill, although the latter also mandates that the licenses perform as dual-use cards. Davis and Moran's bill additionally requires that the licenses' embedded chips be interoperable with software for other applications, including those in the private sector. Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Lee Tien says that this would primarily benefit businesses that track and profile consumers for marketing purposes. Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology says the information contained on such cards would make them an irresistible target for data thieves and other criminals.
- "New Super-Strong, Super-Fast Transistor for Wireless Broadband"
Wireless Newsfactor (04/30/02); Wrolstad, Jay
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently published a paper detailing a scientific group's progress in developing gallium nitride-based transistors that could significantly bolster wireless broadband systems. Cornell University professor and report author Lester F. Eastman says that wireless base stations using the new transistors could have as much as 50 times more computing power than silicon- or gallium arsenide-based transistors at their disposal. The devices can operate with more space between them, and fewer transistors would be required; they also run at a cooler temperature, which could allow base stations to become so compact that they could be positioned on telephone poles. The researchers say the transistors can simultaneously accommodate high-power and high-frequency transmissions, an important consideration for wireless broadband. Silicon amplifiers boast a 10 percent efficiency rate, whereas gallium nitride technology could offer as much as 30 percent efficiency. Eastman says the transistors could become commercially available soon, with funding help from both the private sector and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He says potential uses for the technology include radar systems, satellite communications, electronic transceivers, and power switching for motors in hybrid-electric vehicles.
- "Senate Leaders Seek High-Speed 'Parity'"
Newsbytes (04/30/02); Krebs, Brian; McGuire, David
Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Don Nickles (R-Okla.) today introduced a bill that calls for the FCC to choose and apply the same regulatory standards to all broadband services, thus relaxing the regulation of high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) access. Breaux says this legislation would "level the playing field in the broadband market" and promote the implementation of broadband networks throughout the country. If the bill is approved, the FCC will have 120 days to institute regulatory changes, although FCC Chairman Michael Powell said that he would probably ask for an extension. The FCC is debating whether to regulate DSL services the same way it regulates telephone services, or keep it a separate entity subject to less stringent standards. Telecom providers and consumer organizations warn that choosing the latter scheme would fortify local phone giants' domination of the telecom services sector. Mark Uncapher of the Information Technology Association of America said Breaux and Nickles' proposal would give the FCC the power to amend congressionally approved competition rules, an authority that it currently lacks.
- "Fun With Your Zip Program: Sort Through Texts, and More"
New York Times (04/30/02) P. D4; Schechter, Bruce
Zip compression programs can help categorize sets of digitized information, as an Italian team of scientists recently demonstrated using literary texts. Writing in Physical Review Letters, the team said that zip programs codify data according to unique patterns, which can be analyzed against the patterns of other "zipped" data to find similarities, such as the same author's style present in two different texts. The Italians used the same zip program to compress several different texts and were able to accurately judge which ones were authored by whom more than 90 percent of the time. Additionally, when analyzing the zipped file of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been translated into many different languages, the scientists were able to gauge the linguistic distance between the languages. The mapped result of those distances is very similar to language trees drawn up by language experts. Texts were used in the research to illustrate the categorization capabilities of zip programs, but the scientists said the same principle could apply to any set of data, including genetic, earthquake, and protein information.
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- "Internet Needs Better Simulation Models, Speakers Say"
EE Times Online (04/29/02); Wirbel, Loring
More efficient ways of parsing Internet bandwidth are needed before new services are economically workable, according to speakers at the 50th anniversary meeting of the International Conference on Communications (ICC). Telcordia Technologies chief scientist Will Leland said that delivering data reliably is the basis of future broadband services, and that a client-based program that makes applications aware of the user's bandwidth needs and able to request more is important. There currently are no adequate protocol layers that can do this, Leland said. He also said the type of Internet-based distributed computing that is needed by enterprises requires a high level of synchronization between node units, which in turn means more sophisticated Internet configurations. Currently, enterprise grid computing projects require extensive configuration and only work for a few hours. Avaya Labs President Ravi Sethi also spoke at the gathering, saying that Session Initiation Protocol was helping set up VoIP for enterprises. Finally, in an unusual turn for an ICC speech, Drexel University's Adam O'Donnell spoke about the need for better pricing models for differentiated services delivered over IP. Usually, ICC topics are relegated to scientific topics and do not deal with the financial details of communications technology.
- "SETI@Home Project Nears Milestone"
Newsbytes (04/29/02); Bartlett, Michael
This week will mark the 500 millionth result generated by the SETI@Home project, in which volunteers contribute the idle processing power of their computers to help analyze trillions of bytes of data gathered from radio telescopes searching for signs of extraterrestrial life. SETI@Home project scientist Eric Korpela estimates that about 700,000 results are produced every day, and adds that soon 1 million computer years of work will be reached as well. Participants can join the effort by going to the project's Web site and downloading a screensaver program that harnesses their machines to process information, but only when the machines are not in use. The number of volunteers who joined the project over the past year and the number who dropped out are roughly equal, according to Korpela. He says the SETI@Home project's recent efforts have focused on returned transmissions, screening them for radio frequency interference. Although the group has not identified any transmission as alien, a list of possible alien radio signals is posted on the Web site, which also notes the area in the sky where the signal came from.
- "Who Can Speak for the Internet? More Voices Would Help"
International Herald Tribune (04/29/02) P. 13; Baird, Zoe
The experimentation and invention that led to the Internet and to the Internet's commercial and cultural boom during the 1990s also led to the creation of a libertarian Internet governance structure in ICANN. ICANN has been established to govern the Internet with officers pulled from the technological community, the business community, and even from direct elections by voters with email addresses, but the group has become embroiled in turmoil lately after ICANN President Stuart Lynn proposed scrapping direct elections and disparaged ICANN's current structure as costly and inefficient. Issues of Internet governance are paramount considering the Internet's current penetration into all forms of society, culture, and commerce. In addition, recent concerns about terrorism and international poverty have elevated issues of security and international access into the dialogue of Internet issues. ICANN needs to narrow its focus while guaranteeing fairness by incorporating a wide range of interests into its decision-making structure, including representatives from the private sector, non-commercial groups, and especially non-governmental organizations, writes Markle Foundation Presdient Zoe Baird.
- "Kamen Gives the Kids a Shot"
Wired News (04/29/02); Delio, Michelle
Co-founded by Segway Human Transporter inventor Dean Kamen, the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics National Competition aims to give high school students a chance to meet real-world challenges and a taste of the more fun aspects of science and engineering. The contest pits teams of students against one another to design and build a robot that can perform a specific task. The robots then compete in a sporting event, the winner being the machine that demonstrates the best and speediest performance. This year's competition involved robots programmed to scoop up soccer balls, deposit them into goal baskets, and wheel the goals down a playing field. FIRST teams have six weeks to construct their robots, and are partnered with professional engineers to help them. The winners of the 10th annual FIRST competition were announced on Saturday, with the Chairman's Award going to the Buzz Robotic Team from Enrico Fermi High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. At a recent FIRST event in New York City, Kamen announced that he wants to make FIRST competitions available to high school students everywhere.
- "Why Scientific Research Groups Set the Pace"
Financial Times--FTIT Survey (05/01/02) P. 7; Cookson, Clive
Advances in grid computing primarily come from the efforts of publicly funded research groups because of the enormous amount of distributed computing needed for modern scientific research, the general consensus that public-sector scientists are more trustworthy than private entities in setting up standards needed to effect communications between computer systems, and the fact that academia is bursting with researchers who have both the time and the imagination to conceive and execute their ideas. However, top computer firms worldwide are getting deeply involved with public-sector scientific projects such as grid computing, which are considered to be an ideal platform for testing future commercial applications. Fourteen federally funded grid projects are underway in the United States, while the European Union and the United Kingdom are funding seven and eight projects, respectively. The U.S. TeraGrid, which will feature 13 teraflops of computing power and 450 terabytes of storage capacity, represents the largest single grid project and the biggest computing infrastructure implemented for research. The project will support research in cosmology, molecular computing, and meteorology when it goes live in 2003. Some private companies, including Intel, have created their own grids; Intel uses its grid for in-house projects, such as streamlining chip design. Security issues will need to be worked out before grid computing can migrate to the mainstream, according to Intel's Tim Mattson. 'There has to be just one global grid, just as there is one Internet," he says.
- "The Future Face of Enterprise Computing"
NewsFactor Network (04/29/02); Gill, Lisa
IT industry analysts say that once businesses resume buying new IT in about a year's time, Web services and wireless technologies will be at the top of CIOs' to-do lists. Forrester lead analyst Ted Schadler says that recent Forrester studies show declines in all areas of IT spending but integration and storage, and that companies will start buying again in 2003. Both Schadler and International Data (IDC) chief researcher John Gantz agree that Web services implementation will influence IT strategy, with Gantz giving the technology a five-year horizon until full implementation. He compares Web services uptake to how companies and programmers responded to Java, with time needed to learn the necessary skills and determine the technology's usefulness. The development of other technologies such as wireless LANs and more capable handheld computers will dovetail with Web services implementation, especially as the prices and performance of wireless networks improve. IDC analyst Alan Carey believes security will continue to be a major concern for all businesses, but will shift from the perimeter and network to the application level. He predicts there will be no rest as companies constantly need to be alert for security threats, but that new programming strategies that focus on working out bugs early on in development will help.
- "Online, the Armies Have No Borders"
New York Times (04/28/02) P. BU5; Holstein, William J.
One of the most profound social impacts the Internet will have is the creation of "network armies," which Richard Hunter, author of "World Without Secrets: Business, Crime and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing," describes as geographically dispersed communities knit together by a common issue, even if their agendas are different. The Internet enables network armies to form faster and assume more power than traditional grass-roots movements, Hunter says, and cites the increasing power of networks as providing a boost to network armies. Hunter gives several examples of network armies, including the Linux Open Source movement and the Al Qaeda terrorist group. Although he forecasts that the Open Source movement will make life difficult for Microsoft, Hunter thinks that both parties could benefit if they find common ground and form a network army together. Hunter also argues that the rapid pace of technological change experienced in the late 1990s is still taking place, and that the effects of Moore's Law continue to impact a wide variety of technologies, including data mining, wireless broadband communications, embedded computers, and smart machines. Other technologies under development such as natural language processing and semantic analysis will take longer to reach their full impact.
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- "Hard Times"
Computerworld (04/29/02) Vol. 36, No. 18, P. 6; King, Julia; Sullivan, Brian
The U.S. IT workforce has been hit hard by the dot-com bust, the economic downturn, and fallout from two years of corporate mergers. Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller estimates that over 200,000 of the nation's 10.4 million IT professionals are unemployed; this represents the largest group of jobless computer specialists to date. Employers are now dictating the terms of hire, and have scaled back on operating costs by slashing jobs and eliminating perks and high salaries. Even weathered professionals such as 18-year veteran software engineer Mark Scoville are finding themselves passed up in favor of younger, entry-level graduates that work for less, although he believes they are being chosen for being "fresh, with quick minds" rather than for their youth. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted in February that age discrimination tops the list of complaints. Many jobless IT workers have limited skill sets, while still others are dot-com veterans and consultants and contractors. An influx of fresh computer science graduates next month will make competition even tougher. The employment peak that characterized the height of the dot-com boom is unlikely to be reached again even if the economy recovers, according to experts--for one thing, companies have put too much effort in scaling back costs and tightening resources.
- "Are Science and Technology Governable?"
Scientist (04/29/02) Vol. 16, No. 9, P. 16; Goodman, Billy
In early March, Columbia University hosted a conference that brought together researchers, activists, and other interested parties to discuss the current direction of science and technology as well as how societal values can be introduced into science and technology policy. Issues under discussion included responsibility for monitoring and dispensing new technologies, and equal distribution. Inequality was just one of the topics covered by six panels at the event: Others included the reluctance scientists feel in questioning the moral and ethical ramifications of their research; how emerging technologies and their possibly negative impact on human nature and existence are undercutting the importance of governance by scientists and technologists; the development of "function creep;" and how self-replicating technologies could invalidate governance policies and procedures. Attendees from developing companies were particularly concerned that financial considerations have become central to research, while others remarked that governance regulations in the United States and elsewhere do not adequately promote and limit science and technology. However, increased government regulation was not seen as a solution. Carol Greider of the University of California, Berkeley, observed that research done for curiosity's sake has greater importance in scientific culture than the societal consequences of the research. Radford Byerly from the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology called for more social consciousness among scientists. Meanwhile, Ray Kurzweil spoke out against computer scientist Bill Joy's assumption that certain technologies are too dangerous to be developed, arguing that "The dangerous technologies are the same as the beneficial ones."
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- "Friendly Foes"
Red Herring (04/02) No. 112, P. 54; Pfeiffer, Eric W.
The Yankee Group estimates that $3.3 billion will be invested in collaboration technologies over the next four years, although collaboration by itself is nothing new. The failure of business-to-business (B2B) exchanges has fueled a need for a deeper form of collaboration. In the March 2001 Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter urged B2B exchanges to move away from differentiation based on price and "instead focus on product selection, product design, service, image and other areas in which they can differentiate themselves." The automotive industry is often referred to as a model of collaboration: The Covisint exchange, for example, is deploying product life cycle management (PLM) applications that facilitate collaborative vehicle design and assembly, and AMR Research believes PLM could save car companies $250 in production costs per vehicle. However, Porter has warned that companies that put too much emphasis on partnering could suffer, should their partners become rivals. Exchanges and PLM tool providers such as eConnections and MatrixOne must prevent their collaborative applications from making partners too transparent to one another. With deeper collaboration, Digital 4Sight co-founder Don Tapscott foresees the vertically integrated corporate structure giving way to "business webs"--networks of companies, suppliers, and customers tightly woven into "extended supply chains." Unfortunately, the collaboration many companies currently boast is overhyped, and not yet as deep as they claim.
- "The Space Age"
CommVerge (04/02) Vol. 3, No. 4, P. 22; Schreier, Paul G.
Recordable DVDs are being touted as far more preferable to hard disks for their ease and affordability, although hard disks still outshine them in storage capacity. Demand for recordable DVDs will stem from consumers' desire to store still and moving images, while PC users crave a portable medium to store backup and permanent archival copies of the data on their hard drives; consumers also do not have to contend with the hassle of upgrading or swapping hard drives to boost capacity with DVDs. Developers are working to create new generations of burnable DVDs that will keep pace with space demands and boast 20 GB of storage capacity per side in several years. Although efforts are underway to ratchet up the write speed of the "red" lasers that DVD players and recorders use, even more data storage can be produced through the use of smaller-wavelength blue/violet lasers, such as Blu-ray. In fact, Blu-ray has been embraced by nine consumer-electronics firms that plan to license the technology in a few months, but the lack of support from Toshiba and the possibility that the technology may conflict with certain principles of the DVD Forum could result in a protracted format war. Meanwhile, DVD storage upgrades could result from new media breakthroughs, such as Calimetrics' multilevel (ML) technology and Constellation 3D's fluorescent multilayer disc (FMD) technology. ML foregoes the practice of pitting DVDs in favor of marking them with light and dark patches, while FMD boosts capacity by increasing the number of layers per disc rather than the capacity per layer. Three-dimensional recording through holographic techniques is a long-term prospect that holds much promise.
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