Association for Computing Machinery
Timely Topics for IT Professionals

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ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


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Volume 5, Issue 475: Friday, March 28, 2003

  • "New Voting Systems Assailed"
    Washington Post (03/28/03) P. A12; Keating, Dan

    Over 300 computer scientists and experts have joined a campaign that disputes the reliability and security of new touch-screen voting machines that have been installed throughout several U.S. states in response to election reforms. They argue that such systems are susceptible to human error, malfunctions, and interference, while their biggest disadvantage lies in not providing a paper trail to make sure that the final vote tally is accurate. Electronic voting advocates claim the heavy testing phase the machines go through ensures their reliability, and they dismiss the scientists' concerns as spurious and even paranoid. Bryn Mawr College's Rebecca Mercuri alleges that flaws in touch-screen voting systems have already manifested themselves: There have been cases in which votes made on such machines were lost, while certain systems used in a 2002 Georgia election suffered from a bug in which votes were registered for candidates other than the ones voters selected. Although such systems were reprogrammed, Mercuri contends that simply installing an upgrade cartridge does not guarantee reliability or security. University of Maryland computer science professor Ben Bederson says errors are inevitable, given computers' intricacy and human beings' natural tendency to make mistakes; the danger is being unable to detect errors without a backup system. Furthermore, Stanford University's David Dill says such systems could be hacked into by people with both the means and the skill, although e-voting system vendors and administrators refute this assertion. Nevertheless, the industry appears to be bowing to pressure from critics--leading U.S. e-voting system vendors have agreed to supply paper receipts, although officials in Georgia and Maryland protest that such measures would require new security implementations and lead to printer jams.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39241-2003Mar27.html
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    To learn more about ACM's activities in the area of e-voting, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "Responding to Iraq, Hackers Shut Web Sites, Post Graffiti"
    Wall Street Journal (03/28/03) P. B1; Forelle, Charles; Golden, Daniel; Federman, Josef

    Hackers around the world are defacing and shutting down Web sites to express their support for or opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Experts reckon that reported incidents of Web hacking have increased by up to a factor of 10 since Iraq was invaded by Allied forces, and currently average between 3,000 and 5,000 per day. Although inadequately secured home pages hosted by small ISPs appear to be bearing the brunt of the hacker assaults, a number of corporate and government sites have also been breached. Another popular target is the English-language site of the Arab news agency Al-Jazeera, which was overwhelmed by denial of service attacks. Security specialists say the strong opinions the war has fomented is encouraging "white hats" and other computer professionals to become hackers, and the lack of anti-hacking enforcement by American authorities in response to these attacks gives rise to fears that their frequency and scope could expand even further. The European Union is not sitting still, and has organized a new cyber-agency to detect intrusions and coordinate EU anti-hacking initiatives. The dominant theme of most of the hacks is antiwar sentiment, and Zone-h.org founder Roberto Preatoni estimates that 40 percent of defacements his site has categorized since the start of the war originate from Islamic or Arabic groups, or those who endorse them. Other targets that supporters or opponents of the war are hitting through their Web sites include Spain's Popular Party, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
    http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/030328/72/39i6o.html

  • "Senator Calls for Copy-Protection Tags"
    CNet (03/26/03); McCullagh, Declan

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Digital Consumer Right to Know Act this week, in which copyright holders who enhance their digital content with anti-copying schemes would be required to warn consumers that such measures are in place by clearly labeling their products. Under the bill, content owners would have to comply with labeling standards set by the FTC. "While digital media companies are racing to develop technologies to combat piracy, some of these antipiracy measures could have the effect of restricting lawful, legitimate consumer uses as well as unlawful copying," Wyden declared. "My bill says that if digital content is released in a form that prevents or limits reasonable consumer use, consumers have a right to be told in advance." Wyden's bill covers such copy-protected products as software, DVDs, and music CDs, and is applicable to any "producer or distributor of copyrighted digital content" that limits the fair-use rights of purchasers. Another bill supported by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is more narrow in scope, requiring vendors of copy-protected CDs to include labels on the discs to notify consumers that they may not work in certain players. One opponent of Wyden's bill is Cato Institute analyst Adam Thierer, who thinks federal intervention is not the answer; he supports the idea of a "technological free-for-all" in which the industry is allowed to do what it wants to protect its content without interference, while consumers are allowed to play with digital content to figure out new uses. The Digital Consumer Right to Know Act places no restrictions on what copy-protection schemes suppliers, distributors, or vendors can use.
    http://news.com.com/2100-1028-994176.html

  • "When War and IT Collide"
    Tech Update (03/26/03); Farber, Dan

    Only about 25 out of 1,700 Gartner ITxpo conference attendees showed up for a recent presentation by a dozen top experts on the relationship between war and IT opportunities. Nevertheless, analyst Dan Milklovic spoke and predicted a rise in hacking and cyber-vandalism by U.S. college students protesting the preemptive strike on Iraq. Fellow Gartner analyst French Caldwell noted that in today's world technology is advancing faster than human comprehension and decision-making, and this phenomena creates a lag-time effect between deployment and the usefulness of technology. Congress requires state governments to take appropriate cybersecurity measures under the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), and Gartner analyst Victor Wheatman has developed a check-list of top security concerns that a state government or company needs to implement in order to be in compliance with GLB. He believes that companies should not implement Web services security in 2003 because standards are still under development. Wheatman thinks that identity management for employees and other approved users, intrusion prevention, transaction validation, wireless LAN security, and having secure IM backup services for emergency and code-red situations is important. He notes that the Department of Homeland Security has further guidelines for certain, specific industries. A recent Zeichner Risk Analytics study concludes that 36 states are out of compliance with GLB right now.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "The Next Big Thing (Is Practically Invisible)"
    Christian Science Monitor (03/24/03); Hearn, Kelly

    Nanotechnology is booming, both as a research area and as a business: The Bush administration has upped the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) budget by 9.5 percent for 2004, bringing it to $847 million, while the National Science Foundation anticipates that the global nanotech market will be worth $1 trillion within 10 years. Nanotech is being incorporated into and applied to a slew of commercial products, including stain-resistant clothing; strength-enhanced vehicle running boards; sunscreen and cosmetics; corrosion-proof metals; and bacteria-killing particles. Oingrong Huang of Rutgers University says that nanotech-based sensors that can detect pathogens in food are under development, while the U.S. Defense Department is financing research into biodegradable food packaging that can boost shelf life. With so many commercial sectors affected by nanotech, CMP Cientifica's Tim Harper advises, "Rather than looking for a nanotech market, it is better to look at the effect that nanotech has on other areas." However, activists and organizations such as the ETC Group are concerned that nanotech's more negative possibilities have not been thoroughly explored, and are calling for a halt or reduction of research and development until such implications have been studied in detail. Rice University's Vicki Colvin stresses the need to look into how nanotech may affect the environment, while ETC has spoken out against molecular manufacturing. Molecular manufacturing has been popularized by nanotech experts such as K. Eric Drexler as a revolutionary method that could do away with material scarcity by allowing anything to be built by self-replicating microscopic machines. The flipside, as characterized by Drexler and others, is the "gray goo" scenario in which such machines run amok and overwhelm humanity, a vision that has added fuel to the argument of nanotech opponents.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "Soldier Toys Today, Civilian Toys Tomorrow"
    Washington Post (03/28/03) P. E1; Krim, Jonathan

    Many technologies originally developed for military applications trickle down to the civilian sector, duct tape and the Global Positioning System (GPS) being just a few examples. Innovations currently being tested on the battlefields of Iraq that could be retooled for civilian use include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), whose wartime operations include remote bombing and surveillance. Examples of UAVs include the Dragon Eye, a portable, laptop-controlled surveillance drone that soldiers can launch with a bungee cord, and the Predator attack vehicle. A representative for UAV vendor AeroVironment notes such vehicles could become civilian tools, if they are modified to comply with FAA guidelines and operate within frequencies specified by the FCC. Institute for the Future director Paul Saffo predicts that civilians will be using UAVs widely within five years, to the point that enthusiasts will be able to purchase or assemble paperback-sized drones, although he believes the technology's major applications will be for law enforcement, traffic monitoring, and forest fire management. Owen Cote of MIT's Security Studies Program expects wide civilian usage for sensors and enhanced radar technologies; possible applications include collision-avoidance systems for cars, and portable health monitoring systems. Another military innovation is the Navy's "deployable" hospital, a mobile medical facility equipped with wireless networks, computer server connectivity, voice-over-Internet-telephony, and "ruggedized" laptops and peripherals that can withstand wear and tear. Alex Roland of Duke University believes that warfare itself will undergo a transformation into a largely casualty-free, computer-controlled enterprise thanks to the convergence of unmanned vehicle and sensor technology.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39327-2003Mar27.html

  • "3D Holo Video Arrives"
    Technology Research News (04/02/03); Smalley, Eric

    By integrating a chip that contains 800,000 tiny mirrors with computer-generated holograms, University of Texas researchers have devised a method to create three-dimensional video, a breakthrough whose potential applications include heads-up display enhancement and 3D television. Research physicist Michael Huebschman says the project began when his team realized that the mirrors in the chip, which was originally designed for 2D digital projectors, could act like the light-sensitive grains of holographic storage media, thus allowing holograms to be stored as data within a computer. The computer controls the digital micromirror device, which the scientists tweaked to project a hologram's phase interference pattern. Huebschman notes that the size of the mirrors, which are larger than film grain, made the mechanism especially challenging to develop. He says his team's next goal is to generate holograms in color, fine-tune the display equipment, and build a portable, heads-up virtual image viewer. Meanwhile, Actuality Systems has created a 3D video system that projects pixels in space, but it consumes more computing power than the University of Texas technique. MIT researchers have developed another method in which holograms are converted into two 2D stereo views, which are projected directly onto the viewer's eyes. Although 3D television is the ultimate aim for Huebschman's technology, shorter-term applications could include x-ray machines, workstations, flight simulators, and medical imaging equipment.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "Scanning the Future of Privacy"
    CNet (03/25/03); McCullagh, Declan

    Developers of authentication systems, including those based on passwords, ID cards, key cards, and biometrics, should work to safeguard the privacy of users, urges a newly released study by the National Research Council. The study says that in a democracy, people must have the right to conceal their identity and have a choice about how personal data is released, according to Stephen Kent of BBN Technologies and chair of the committee that authored the report. The report also briefly discusses Microsoft's Passport and Sun Microsystems' Liberty systems, saying that such technologies' privacy "ultimately depend[s] on choices made at the design, implementation, and use stages." However, the study does not suggest any further legislation or new technology, but could have an impact on such issues as uniform driver's licenses or nationwide ID cards. Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says the report failed to address new developments in the authentication arena that might place less demands on privacy. For example, some systems use authenticated credentials without linking them to specified identities, he says. The report also warns that biometric-based security systems should be used carefully, particularly when combined with servers in order to compare samples with those in databases. But such systems might be less likely to compromise privacy when used in limited environments, the study suggests, such as for allowing access to a computer or a smart card.
    http://news.com.com/2100-1029-994080.html

  • "Synapse Chip Taps Into Brain Chemistry"
    New Scientist (03/24/03); Hogan, Jenny

    Stanford University researchers Harvey Fishman and Mark Peterman have developed an artificial synapse that can deliver chemical signals, more commonly known as neurotransmitters, to neurons, thus stimulating electrical impulses. The scientists told attendees at a Texas biophysics conference earlier this month that they have equipped a tiny silicon chip with four such devices. Each synapse is a 5,000-nm-wide gap in the silicon connected to an individual microfluidic pipeline feeding into a neurotransmitter reservoir in the back of the chip. An electrical field triggers the neurotransmitter to be pumped out of the gap, stimulating a neighboring cell. It is hoped that such a device could find use as an implantable neural prosthesis, but one that interacts with neurons far more subtly and discriminately than current electrical-based technologies. Peterman speculates that 1,000 prosthetic synapses pumping out neurotransmitters 1,000 times per second would be able to function for 250 years on merely 0.5 milliliter of fluid. One of the more immediate applications of this innovation could be the delivery of drugs to tissue samples to study their effects. Gerald Loeb of the University of Southern California believes that an implantable device that integrates chemical and electrical stimulation could be especially powerful.
    http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993523

  • "Will Server Clusters Swarm the Mainstream?"
    NewsFactor Network (03/27/03); Brockmeier, Joe

    Smaller enterprises that previously could not afford clustering technology have started to embrace it, thanks to price reductions spurred by the use of Linux-based Commodity Off The Shelf (COTS) systems as cluster nodes. Accompanying clustering's wider corporate penetration is the improvement of clustered systems management tools, although Brian Stevens of Red Hat notes that administrators still need a certain degree of skill. Clustered systems bring better management applications and failover capabilities into the mix, while Oracle's Andy Mendelsohn says that they can also help companies scale up existing systems by adding new nodes to boost computing power as needed. He predicts that one day, "Everybody is going to be using clustering." One sign of clustering's proliferation is Apple Computer's clustering initiative, as demonstrated by the announcement of an Xserve specially configured for cluster functionality. Xserve product manager Doug Brooks says the product was designed in response to "heavy customer requests." However, Gordon Haff of Illuminata notes that not all environments will be open to clustering, and explains that the size of a business is still a major factor in server cluster deployment. He says clustering could be particularly helpful for emergency service call centers and other essential services that rely on high availability.
    http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/21107.html

  • "Super-Cheap Supercomputing?"
    Forbes (03/25/03); Lyons, Daniel

    A small supercomputing firm in Utah is building relatively cheap machines that harness chains of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Star Bridge Systems founder and chief technologist Kent Gilson is regarded with skepticism in the general computer science community, but has strong advocates among his few customers. While normal supercomputers cost millions of dollars and link thousands of microprocessors, the Star Bridge systems house a handful of Xilinx FPGA chips that can operate thousands of tasks in parallel and optimize circuitry on the fly. FPGAs are already used in computers operating special applications and in satellites, where engineers can tune onboard computers through remote control. The key to Star Bridge's approach is the special software language Gilson spent five years developing, called Viva. The software also comes with its own operating system for developers to take advantage of the Star Bride supercomputers, which range in price from $175,000 to $700,000. Gilson says the fastest system performs 400 billion floating point calculations per second, but the claim has not been verified by industry benchmark tests. Current Star Bridge customers include the Air Force, National Security Agency, and NASA, none of whom have used Star Bridge computers for production work yet. NASA senior research scientist Olaf Storaasli says the computers work and are quick, but are not compatible with the applications NASA runs on its Cray supercomputers. Computer scientist Allan Snavely, of the University of California at San Diego Supercomputer Center, says he approached Star Bridge more than a year ago looking to "expose some fraud," but ended up purchasing a system instead. He says it is difficult to write programs with Viva, but sees Star Bridge's approach as groundbreaking.
    http://www.forbes.com/2003/03/25/cz_dl_0325star2.html

  • "Your Brake Pads May Have Something to Say (By E-Mail)"
    New York Times (03/27/03) P. F6; Austen, Ian

    Car owners, fleet operators, automotive manufacturers, and dealers could be alerted to potential vehicle problems early thanks to in-vehicle computers that collect data from sensor arrays and transmit them to a central database. Such systems normally jettison such data except in the event of collision, but researchers postulate that the information could be recycled to support vehicle maintenance. It is not unusual for computers in racecars to track vital readings of vehicle systems and relay them to pit crews so that problems can be detected and repaired quickly, and theoretically such systems could be easily retooled for consumer vehicles, and equipped to notify drivers of incipient problems by cell phone or email. DaimlerChrysler Research and Technology North America CEO Akhar Jameel says the real challenge is seamless coordination of the various computers in a car, which are often hobbled by different software and communication barriers. To solve this problem, the Society of Automotive Engineers is striving to standardize car computer systems. Another challenge is determining what kind of operational readings are important and how often such data should be recorded: For instance, Jameel's research team thinks the activation of antilock brake systems (ABS) should be tracked, since brake pads could be worn out faster as a result. If a system records unusually high ABS usage, it could suggest to the owner that the vehicle be looked over by a mechanic, or call a dealership's service department to set up an appointment and order replacement parts. Sally Greenberg of the Consumers Union is concerned that the data gathered by such telematics system could be misused and violate the owner's privacy; to prevent this, she argues that consumers should have final say over what kind of information should be transmitted.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/27/technology/circuits/27next.html
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  • "Putting the Blinders Back on Big Brother"
    Business Week (03/27/03); Black, Jane

    As is often the case in wartime, civil liberties are scaled back in favor of government surveillance in order to promote security, and this has been happening in the United States as a result of the wars against terrorism and, more recently, Iraq. Since Sept. 11, the U.S. government has broadened the surveillance powers of law enforcement with the passage of the Patriot Act, and is planning to extend them even further via the proposed Patriot Act II. However, privacy proponents such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center's (EPIC) Marc Rotenberg are worried that such legislation and the surveillance technologies it sanctions could be knitted too deeply into the law enforcement infrastructure, to the point that they cannot be rescinded once terrorism and war are no longer national priorities. Concerns such as these have prompted Congress to suspend or halt initiatives such as the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program and Attorney General John Ashcroft's TIPS project, but other programs such as an upgraded version of the Transportation Safety Administration's (TSA) Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) are proceeding apace with little, if any, oversight. CAPPS II would build a database of air traveler profiles to see if any of them match terrorist profiles, but privacy advocates say the system is inherently flawed. A terrorist, for example, could steal someone else's ID to be declared safe, while the commercial databases CAPPS II builds its profiles from are riddled with inaccurate, outdated information that could generate false positives. Business Week writer Jane Black insists that the federal approval of such programs must be contingent on clear evidence, derived from painstaking research, that such measures will balance both privacy and security issues.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "PC Forum Delves Into Future of Tech"
    CNet (03/25/03); Gilbert, Alorie

    Topics discussed at the recent 26th annual PC Forum, organized by EDventure Holdings chair Esther Dyson, included privacy, security, and open-source software as well as the industry's future, morality, and machine intelligence. But the war on Iraq and the industry slump left some attendees less than enthusiastic, with Warburg Pincus managing director Barry Taylor describing the industry as being "on pause." Attendance was less than in previous years. Debates on privacy were strong, with some arguing that the federal government's push to use commercial data mining technology to form "watch lists" is disturbing and others contending that too many restrictions on governments' collection of data and use can also cause problems. Privacy questions were also asked about companies using computer chips in merchandise to track inventory. Still, Sam's Club CEO Kevin Turner sees a big future for radio frequency identification (RFID) systems, which he says is one of the company's highest IT priorities. Turner says RFID could replace bar codes and make possible a completely networked inventory system that could monitor in real time all merchandise automatically, no matter where it is located. Dyson sees RFID systems being used by airlines to keep track of luggage, among other uses.
    http://news.com.com/2100-1020-994051.html

  • "Nanotechnology Research Priorities, Challenges"
    Newswise (03/28/03)

    The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) 2003, a conference being held April 2-4 in Washington, D.C., will see attendees from the nanoscale science and engineering sectors, who will discuss research priorities and challenges, while speakers will report on the industry, the new NNI centers and networks, and the departments and agencies involved in the U.S. nanotech research initiative. The NNI program will be reviewed, and items will include how the proposed $774 million for fiscal year 2003 will be spent, as well as discussions on the future of NNI. Chairing the conference will be Mihail Roco of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Commerce Department Undersecretary for Technology Philip J. Bond, Rice University Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, and Richard Russell of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will be among those speaking at the event. Agencies to be represented at the conference will include the Departments of Defense and Agriculture, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the EPA, and the National Institutes of Health. Specific topics to be discussed will include a five-year plan for NNI, future nanotech needs, an NSF-sponsored network on nanoscale modeling and simulation, and how nanotech can be leveraged into energy prosperity.
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/2003/3/NNI2003.NSF.html

  • "Outsourcing Debate"
    eWeek (03/24/03) Vol. 20, No. 12, P. 57; Vaas, Lisa

    New Jersey State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-N.J.) has not given up her fight for a bill that seeks to ban the outsourcing of IT and other local jobs to offshore companies, despite the fact that it was tabled thanks to the efforts of technology lobbying groups, who proposed that outsourcing be permitted if it promised cost savings or improved quality of services. She notes that no other piece of legislation she has endorsed throughout her nine-year political career has generated such controversy. Turner says she proposed the bill because she felt outsourcing takes job opportunities away from New Jersey's unemployed population. "I have no problem if we outsource jobs because we can't find people to do the work, but [we're talking about work] that anybody can do," she declares. The legislator characterizes her stance as one of "protectionism," and attributes her state's deficit to a lack of people working and paying taxes--people who desperately need work so they can provide for their families. Supporters of outsourcing claim that it saves taxpayer money, but Turner disputes this, countering that offshore bidders usually pay local workers a certain salary at the time of the bid, then ship operations overseas where wages are lower, without the state receiving a rebate. The senator notes that she has been contacted by people who are worried about the security ramifications of offshore companies having access to sensitive consumer or business information, and believe the state government should get involved, especially in light of terrorist incidents. Turner disqualified herself from judging whether companies that bring foreign workers in on H-1B and L1 visas should be allowed to do so, since the federal government is sanctioning it.
    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,971825,00.asp

  • "Will Parallel Chips Pay Off?"
    Economist (03/15/03) Vol. 366, No. 8135, P. 8

    Manufacturing ability is outstripping that of design and verification, so that semiconductor firms are trying to find uses for the millions of transistors they can build on a chip. A number of small British and U.S. firms are hoping to find the answer in parallel processing. PicoChip Designs in Bath, England, is marketing its PC101 chip for 3G mobile phone networks. The chip contains 430 processors working on 16-bit chunks of data in tandem. Meanwhile, Munich-based PACT touts a 128-processor chip that takes hold of 32-bit pieces of data. These firms and many others ascribe the basic idea that simple processors can be replicated cheaply and quickly across the entire chip, as opposed to the component-based design methodology favored in the larger semiconductor market. However, a parallel approach invites programming difficulties, and is the reason most parallel chip firms today focus on specific applications, especially in WLAN and 3G mobile networking. Intel is also moving quietly into parallel processing with the release of an architecture meant to provide the basis for future "software-defined radio." Devices with this chip would be able to reconfigure themselves to different radio protocols on-the-fly. Intel is using a "dataflow" architecture similar to that computing engineers used in the 1980s to construct supercomputers, where each component communicates directly with its neighbor. Communication is a critical factor in parallel processing chip design, since more processors working together means more time devoted to communication and less time for actual processing.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "Servers on the Edge"
    CIO (03/15/03) Vol. 16, No. 11, P. 98; Edwards, John

    Among blade servers' expected benefits are greater storage density and power-efficiency, improved reliability via hot-swapping, universal interfaces that can simplify administration, and less heat output, all of which can hopefully cut costs and revitalize a stagnating server market. However, blade offerings rely on proprietary management applications that block integration with blades from other vendors, although standardization is expected to emerge within several years. But even standardization will be restricted--"I don't think we will ever see a situation where we will be able to take an IBM blade and put it into a Dell enclosure," contends Gartner analyst John Enck. Furthermore, proprietary blade products will make it hard for managers to switch to a different brand of blade should their current vendor's product become passe. Also complicating matters is the fact that current blade technology cannot interoperate with sophisticated storage systems such as SANs, though progress is being made in this area. Blade vendors include Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, which are concentrating on general business clients by basing their blades on Intel chips; Sun Microsystems, which is focusing on individual customer needs such as enterprise and network edge applications; and RLX Technologies, which is targeting technical clients. Imex Research President Anil Vasuveda speculates that global blade sales will skyrocket from $50 million to $3.5 billion between 2002 and 2005. Most experts consider current blade technology to be optimally suited for companies with server-intensive IT requirements, such as ISPs, e-tailers, media streamers, research facilities, and financial institutions.
    http://www.cio.com/archive/031503/et_article.html

  • "Making Machines See"
    Photonics Spectra (03/03) Vol. 37, No. 3, P. 80; Hogan, Hank

    The long-term target of machine vision vendors and developers is to enable machines to see in three dimensions, while near-term goals include seeing around corners using mirrors and prisms (a key component of semiconductor part inspection) and seeing in color through pixel integration and other methods. As machine vision systems shrink and become less complex, they are generally transitioning to a CMOS-based architecture and boasting larger sensors due to increasing pixel density, a trend that not all vendors have decided to exploit. American vendors such as Electro Scientific Industries and European companies such as Machine Vision Systems Consultancy are embracing CMOS technology. Machine Vision Systems founder Don Braggins says interest in CMOS is driven by the technology's potential research applications and the abundance of small-scale manufacturing. On the other hand, Redlake MASD is one company that is sticking with CCD-based sensors, although higher bandwidth and storage demands will be a problem. Machine vision systems, despite their advancements, still have drawbacks, such as motion-induced blurring, which could be resolved in a number of ways, including sensor fusion, the addition of gyroscopes, or embedding fiduciary marks in the environment captured by the camera. Investing machine vision systems with the ability to process 3D information is the goal of many commercial and academic initiatives, which are researching such possibilities as stereoscopic vision and laser probes. However, one of the most daunting challenges will be enabling machine vision systems to mimic a person's ability to extract 3D data when one eye is closed.
    Click Here to View Full Article