Association for Computing Machinery
Timely Topics for IT Professionals

About ACM TechNews

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 IBM or ACM.

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Volume 5, Issue 539: Friday, August 29, 2003

  • "Fight Against Viruses May Move to Servers"
    Washington Post (08/28/03) P. E1; Duhigg, Charles

    Many security experts contend that desktop anti-virus software and firewalls may soon not be enough to thwart increasingly crafty and sophisticated computer viruses, and they expect the server to become the new front line of defense. "[Virus writers] are making viruses that are as difficult as possible to analyze, and they are crafting attacks so that anti-virus people can't download malicious code to neutralize it before it is executed," says Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure. Viruses and worms proliferate at such speed that predictive systems are the only effective deterrent, but desktop computers do not have the computing capability to support such systems, according to the computer security industry. Mark Sunner of MessageLabs says computer security will shift from desktops to large databases at key Internet exchange points; he insists that "Our databases know what an outbreak looks like, and can identify it much faster and more aggressively [than desktops]." Adding fuel to this migration are growing demands from consumers and security experts that Microsoft and other major software providers beef up the security of their products. Ken Dunham of iDefense reckons that at any one time at least 100,000 Internet-connected home computers in the United States are infected with malware that allows hackers to launch attacks from the compromised machines. Worse, security experts caution that worms are being designed to change tactics in the middle of an attack; another fear on experts' minds is the emergence of "superworms," though Lurhq security researcher Joe Stewart claims that user awareness is currently so poor that hackers do not necessarily have to resort to such highly intelligent malware. Experts place most of the blame for poor computer security at the feet of two trends: Software standardization and too much emphasis on system performance.
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  • "Software Patent Protest Moves From Street to Internet"
    Linux Insider (08/26/03); Mello Jr., John P.

    A Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FIFF) protest expected to take place on Aug. 27 will involve demonstrations in the streets of Brussels and the shuttering of over 600 Web sites that advocate the FIFF's opposition to a proposed European software patent law that "would impose U.S.-style unlimited patentability of algorithms and business methods such as Amazon One-Click shopping," according to protest organizer Benjamin Henrion. He said the proposal was dissected and universally condemned by leading figures in scientific and business software communities. The European Union issued an FAQ stating that the directive is vital to the harmonization of a welter of national software patents that would otherwise need to be managed separately in each EU member state. Among the directive's opponents are EU software developers such as Opera Software, whose CTO, Hakon Wium Lie, warned that the law "is a threat both to open-source developers--who clearly cannot afford to pay license fees--and to companies like Opera Software." He declared that software patents also endanger the Web's open infrastructure. Conversely, McDonnell, Boehnen, Hulbert & Berghoff partner Matthew Sampson asserted that the United States and the EU are headed off in different directions in terms of software and business method patentability. He argued that the passage of the proposed directive would make the EU more in line with U.S. patent standards, while Kent Genin of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione said that such a move would create more incentives for software development.
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  • "Data Mining Proponents Mull Commercial Apps"
    eWeek (08/27/03); Carlson, Caron

    Data mining technologies have harbored a bad reputation bred out of fears that such tools would be used for intrusive Orwellian surveillance, but private-sector researchers are working to change that perception by touting data mining's potential value as a strategic business tool. At ACM's Knowledge Discovery and Data (KDD) Conference this week, academic and industrial researchers discussed commercial data mining applications running the gamut from security and fraud detection to bioinformatics and e-commerce. They admitted that data mining will not broadly penetrate the enterprise sector until technological and cultural hurdles are overcome. On the cultural side, privacy protection is a "do-or-die" issue that must be addressed, according to Rakesh Agrawal of IBM's Almaden Research Center. He insisted that developers must assume responsibility for their work and its implications, and added that considerable work needs to be done to shield against false positives or inaccurate data patterns. Revenue Science Chairman Usama Fayyad noted it is imperative that the people who employ data mining technologies not lose sight of the reason why they are collecting data in the first place, and pointed out a discontinuity between the representation of data in data stores and mining technologies' operations. General Motors researcher Ramasamy Uthurusamy said that some companies are already taking advantage of data mining tools, encouraged by the success of ventures such as Harrah's Entertainment's project to boost return business through analysis of customer data.
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  • "Off to College to Major in...Video Games?"
    Christian Science Monitor (08/29/03) P. 1; Clayton, Mark

    Praise and scorn is being heaped upon the incorporation of video games into the curricula of universities such as MIT and the Georgia Institute of Technology, which use creative terms such as "digital arts" or "interactive media" to describe the field of study. Southern Methodist University in Dallas will offer a master's degree program in video-game design, while Shawnee State University in Ohio allows undergraduates to major in "game and simulation arts." Georgia Tech, meanwhile, offers a PhD program in digital media and a master's degree in information design and technology. Video games are also attracting interest in academic journals such as Game Studies and the Chronicle of Higher Education. James Paul Gee, author of "What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy," discerns a generational gap between baby-boom-era faculty who view video games as time-wasters and students who perceive them as a societal link, with the former group often failing to see the close correlation between games and computer simulations used to model environments. Gee expects video-game research to expand as schools recruit next-generation faculty who were raised on video games. Janet Murray of Georgia Tech's School of Literature, Communication, and Culture observes that future game designers will need to be well-versed in the liberal arts. On the other hand, American University's Edward Smith believes making video games an educational component will trigger an "intellectual devolution," and stresses the need for an intellectually intensive course of study through traditional education.
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  • "No Consensus on Voting Machines"
    Wired News (08/27/03); Glasner, Joanna

    Opinion was divided among approximately 6,000 California citizens responding to a July public inquiry from Secretary of State Kevin Shelley about whether electronic voting machines should be equipped to print out a paper trail. Political activists and scientists were adamant that the lack of an audit trail makes errors and election fraud all the more likely. "If we walk down the path of 100 percent computerized, paperless voting, we surrender the 'keys to the kingdom' to a handful of private companies who use proprietary software to run elections," asserted California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander. The ACLU of Southern California is against printouts on the grounds that printer-enabled direct recording electronic machines are "an unproven device," and cited trials of such machines characterized by frequent paper jams. Groups representing disabled citizens also added their voice to the opposition, arguing that touch-screen voting systems outfitted with printers would be expensive and difficult for the blind and other handicapped voters to operate. But those in favor of paper ballots--the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and California Rep. Anna Eshoo (D) among them--pointed to a recent Johns Hopkins University study clearly demonstrating security holes in software from Diebold Election Systems. Shelley's office is busy reviewing these numerous public comments, which will be incorporated into election security guidelines. Shelley also organized a 10-person task force to probe election security issues, and all but three members saw no need for paper ballots in electronic voting systems.
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    For more information about e-voting activities, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "Cyborgs Unite!"
    CNet (08/27/03); McCullagh, Declan

    University of Toronto electrical engineering professor and cyborg rights activist Steve Mann continues to probe the societal impact of cyborg technologies and is presently preparing a pair of events featuring music controlled by participants' brain waves. Mann says his lawsuit against Air Canada has stalled due to that company's financial crisis, but the incident in which security officers forcibly removed his computer vision glasses and skin-attached electrodes left him with a distaste for commercial air travel. He says the type of virtual interactive technology he is using now will be increasingly popular in the future, anyway. Mann has long been a pioneer of what he says are future trends, often coming up against antagonistic societal perceptions; he compares his cyborg implants and equipment to clothing when first worn by humans, or to the telephone when first used. Mann also describes an emphasis shift back to the physical body--what he calls the "post-cyborg" age--after the cyborg age where people are expected to use shoes, jewelry, and other personal items. Proprietary locks that hide how technology works is like a virus and is anti-science, according to Mann, who says he is not anti-corporate and owns patents relating to wearable computers. Hardware design should be protected, but "soft science" and concepts need to be shared. Mann says he has programmed his eyetap visual aid glasses to block some commercial images, which he says steal brain processing resources in the same way spam steals computer resources.
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  • "Quantum Leap Tests Network Warfare"
    Federal Computer Week (08/27/03); Tiboni, Frank

    Quantum Leap is the code name for an Aug. 27 Defense Department test of network-centric warfare operations involving the rapid distribution of intelligence among warfighters. A dozen horizontal fusion concepts and technologies planned for 2004 will be evaluated in the 12-hour experiment, which will run at the Defense Information Systems Agency in Washington, D.C., the soldier training center at Fort Benning, Ga., and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command center in Charleston, S.C. Concepts covered in the $80 million test will include Collateral Information Space, in which intelligence is embedded within a easily reached distributed net area; Global Information Grid publishing, whereby data is posted to trusted defense networks; Basic Language Translation Services, in which foreign language documents are converted to English and posted online; Horizontal Fusion Enterprise Services, in which the Collateral Information Space is accessed with core software applications; Global Net-Centric Surveillance and Targeting, which involves the development of intelligent software agents that can identify concealed systems and targets when off; and Warrior's Edge, whereby small robots relay and receive intelligence to ground forces. "Information typically has been retained in agencies' channels until the product becomes intelligence," explains John Osterholz of the defense CIO office. "We don't want to hoard data until it is done. We want to provide it as soon as possible." Quantum Leap, along with four other experiments that will take place between now and 2007, will run up a tab of nearly $1 billion, according to a department IT official.
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  • "Software Self-Defense"
    ABCNews.com (08/27/03); Eng, Paul

    Computer security experts say that users are the weakest link in the defense against computer viruses and worms, and that automated security updates and PC scanning are needed to fill the gap. The SoBig virus, which has infected over 100,000 PCs since Aug. 18, is only activated when users open an email attachment. Central Command COO Keith Peer says the software security industry's continual drumming about not opening suspicious email attachments is not working because users are "glazing over." Furthermore, the MSBlaster virus could have been stopped if many users had updated their Windows systems with a new software patch. Microsoft is considering shipping Windows XP with Auto Update on by default, so that non-technical users would not have to figure out what software patches do and how to install them. Network Associates' McAfee VirusScan and Symantec's Norton AntiVirus already use automatic updates and might even scan users' computers for suspicious activity signaling an unidentified infection; any program collecting email addresses from the hard drive or changing Web browser settings would be flagged and possibly disabled remotely by the software firm. Electronic Frontier Foundation technologist Seth Schoen says taking control away from the user is dangerous, and suggests security companies might introduce code that would discourage use of competitors' products. In addition, license agreements often waive manufacturers' responsibilities in case of defects. Schoen would approve of intrusive security measures if vendors give users a clear understanding and choice to reverse updates. However, Network Associates' Bryson Gordon warns that even with stringent software protections, viruses will continue to proliferate by way of social engineering tricks rather than technical prowess.
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  • "Strike Up the Band: An Electronic Accompanist Jumps In"
    New York Times (08/28/03) P. E8; Eisenberg, Anne

    The Continuator is a prototype software program developed by Francois Pachet of Sony's Computer Science Laboratory that can act as an electronic accompanist capable of riffing with a musician with virtually no discernible pauses. The program, which was demonstrated at ACM's annual SIGGRAPH conference in July, dissects the music, which must be performed on an instrument that can send a stream of notes to a computer processor in the MIDI format; the computer starts producing new music via a MIDI-outfitted synthesizer when the human performer pauses. Pachet explains that the more data (music) the Continuator receives, the better it can study and tweak a specific musical style. The Continuator program continually splits the musician's note streams into phrases, which are processed by an analyzer; as the performer plays, the system produces a continuation from the database. The program can also keep pace with chord and rhythm shifts, while Dr. Pachet and his team designed the software to learn and generate musical sequences in fewer than 30 milliseconds. The Sony researcher says that a Java prototype of the program running on a Pentium III laptop can currently produce riffs in less than 5 milliseconds. Andrew Schloss of the University of Victoria thinks the system could especially benefit musicians who want to study their individual styles: "You are listening to yourself mixed up, turned around and modified," he says. Among the Continuator's admirers is pianist and MIT Media Lab graduate student Mary Farbood, who tried out the program at Siggraph; she is a co-designer of the Hyperscore computer program, which allows children to compose music by manipulating colors and graphics.
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  • "Software Speeds Modeling"
    Technology Research News (09/03/03); Bowen, Ted Smalley

    University researchers in Europe and America have collaborated to create new architectural modeling software that automates complex design tasks for individual buildings and even entire cityscapes. The software uses shape grammars to allow fluid manipulation of shapes with the computer automatically completing many otherwise manual tasks. Users can quickly build and adjust structural models as the program combines and divides basic shape forms, such as boxes, cylinders, and pyramids. The software is governed by architectural guidelines and can apply details automatically, including color variation, horizontal or vertical emphasis of columns and certain floors, or the presence of shops on the ground floor of a building. Georgia Institute of Technology researcher Peter Wonka says the software differs from other grammar tools in that it uses a single rules database, not separate rules for each designed object; that allows the software to run much faster. Wonka says the underlying technology is meant to allow quick conceptual sketches and could have other applications, such as in traffic simulations, data visualization, and computer games. The tool could allow digital artists to quickly build large swaths of city buildings, focusing manual work on more important structures. The researchers have plans to create an entire American city using the based-based modeling software and will release the software as a plug-in for Alias Systems' Maya design and animation software next year. The technology was presented at the ACM Special Interest Group Graphics (Siggraph) conference in San Diego last month.
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  • "What's in Your Technology Survival Kit?"
    University at Buffalo Reporter (08/28/03) Vol. 35, No. 1; Longenecker, Donna

    The University at Buffalo provides students with Tech Tools, a CD that contains all of the software they will need in the course of their studies. Faculty and staff also receive Tech Tools, while those who own past editions can access updates and downloads at wings.buffalo.edu/computing/software. Tech Tools is part of UB's universal student-access program, iConnect@UB, and about 13,000 to 14,000 CDs will be handed out this year alone. Students pay for Tech Tools with a technology fee that is embedded into their overall comprehensive fee, according to CIT academic services director Rick Lesniak. The Tech Tools software is standardized for the entire school year, with updates added continually to reflect the operating system and hardware specifications students and faculty use. The software kit has received many accolades, including a peer review award from the Association for Computing Machinery; typical Tech Tools components include Norton Antivirus, Netscape, Internet Explorer, Acrobat Reader, Shockwave with Flash Player, and a UB-based email software program. Tech Tools, which is the result of a mostly in-house design and development effort, is also used as a promotional tool. This year's students will additionally receive UB Blaster, a tool that can scan computer systems for worms and viruses that have attracted national attention.
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  • "Dumb Software For Dumb People"
    Salon.com (08/27/03); Manjoo, Farhad

    Experts argue that computer viruses, particularly those that have wrought mischief in the last month, throw into sharp relief Microsoft's flawed software development model, which focuses on adding needless complexity to systems, integrating applications too tightly, and keeping security add-ons turned off by default. However, experts accuse computer users of being partially responsible: Packettattack.com's Mike Sweeney says that most users regard beefing up their software as an inconvenience, and this attitude only encourages software companies to consistently turn out shoddy products. Microsoft responded to the more recent virus outbreaks with newspaper ads advising users to add Internet firewalls, deploy the company's latest security patches, and use an updated antivirus program. Security researcher Richard Smith calls this strategy "blaming the victim." He is also puzzled that Microsoft, with its vast financial resources, has been unable to eliminate buffer overflows that worms such as Blaster have been exploiting, and which are relatively easy to detect. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates' 2002 memo calling for more "trustworthy" software appears to have had some effect--Smith notes that the latest version of Outlook is set by default to keep users from loading executable email attachments that viruses often piggyback on, but Microsoft still is not deploying across-the-board security solutions. Steve Lipner of Microsoft insists that his company's security initiatives are driven by customer demand, though Counterpane Internet Security founder Bruce Schneier contends that security will not improve until companies become liable for the damage users suffer because their software is insecure by design.

  • "Lab Soups Up Linux Supercomputer"
    IDG News Service (08/27/03); McMillan, Robert

    The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has announced its ownership of the world's fastest Linux supercomputer, a 2,000-chip Intel Itanium 2 system built at a cost of $24.5 million. The 3,000-square-foot supercomputer, which will be used to analyze basic chemistry and biology as well as simulate the underground penetration of leaked radioactive material, resides at PNNL's William W. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. The machine has wrested the title of speediest Linux supercomputer from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Multiprogrammatic Capability Cluster with an upgrade that elevated the system's peak performance from 6.2 TFLOPS to 11.8 TFLOPS. Scott Studham of PNNL's Molecular Science Computing Facility says the supercomputer boasts a memory capacity of 7,000 GB, compared to the 250 MB to 1 GB typical of most computers. The upgrade was completed in slightly more than a month, and required the labor of 10 Hewlett-Packard employees whose job it was to install roughly 250 Madison microprocessors into the Labs' rx2600 machines every week. The PNNL device reflects the growing popularity of the Linux operating system within the supercomputing sector. IBM, Fujitsu, and Cray are busy constructing systems that can process 11 TFLOPS to 40 TFLOPS while Dell intends to deliver a 17.7 TFLOPS Xeon-based supercomputer for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
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  • "Upgrade and Archive: The Ongoing Threat of Data Extinction"
    TechNewsWorld (08/28/03); Hook, Brian R.

    Unlike printed documents and microfilm records, electronic records cannot be preserved without the maintenance of all the distributed data and metadata, explains Andrew Lawrence of Eastman Kodak's commercial imaging group. Paper and microfilm are self-contained, but digital files cannot be continuously accessed without their associated operating systems and applications; archived digital documents must be regularly updated to newer formats because nearly all software developers ultimately cease support for their older formats. "Over time, the problem is that media decays and hardware and software platforms evolve, placing the electronically stored information at risk," Lawrence observes. His advice is to keep electronic records available in native formats for the short term, and preserve those same documents in analog-based form as a long-term reference archive. Artesia products director Dan Schonfeld stresses the importance of archiving the viewers, players, and readers that are needed to access digital files along with the files themselves, and notes that his company's software performs that function. He also advises companies to keep tabs on the applications required to view or read media files, which can be a difficult task. Meanwhile, Glenn Widener of SwiftView thinks the use of easily convertible print formats--Hewlett-Packard's Printer Control Language (PCL) in particular--is the best archival solution. There are PCL viewers available that can view documents 15 to 20 years old, and Widener is confident that "There will always be commercial tools readily available to read it."
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  • "Decoding Terror"
    ScienCentral (08/22/03); Lurie, Karen

    The National Security Agency (NSA) has been struggling to keep up with encryption and scrambling technology since the end of the Cold War. The improvement of code-maker technology requires code-breakers to race even further technologically, since breaking code is harder than creating it, says James Bamford, author of "Body of Secrets." Simply finding secret messages is obfuscated by the deluge of modern-day communications, including those sent via cell phone, email, and data transfers. Encryption technologies are now in widespread use, not only by foreign governments, but also by terrorists who need to keep their operations under wraps. The situation is much different than during World War II, when Bamford says agents with NSA's forerunner, the U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service, decoded messages using pencils and graph paper. That work found Soviet espionage had penetrated the top-secret Manhattan Project to build a nuclear bomb. Today, the NSA relies on sophisticated computers to find and interpret coded messages. Code-makers, meanwhile, have turned to stenganography in order to hide their communications. Steganography hides messages in regular files, such as a computer image, by tweaking the binary code. The modified code carries the message, which itself may be encrypted.
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  • "Gap Analysis"
    Government Enterprise (08/03); Chabrow, Eric

    Approximately 50 percent of the federal government's IT workforce, as well as a significant portion of state government IT professionals, will reach retirement age in a few years, which has sparked both negative and positive outlooks on how this development will affect IT project management and legacy system maintenance; the optimists are confident that there will not be a mass exodus of IT personnel because of the current economy, while most IT professionals recently polled by the Office of Personnel Management report a deep personal satisfaction in their work and its importance to their agencies' goals. Additionally, optimists believe that the departure of retirees with legacy skills will be offset by the recruitment of younger workers skilled in security, networking, and the Internet. However, officials such as Interior Department CIO Hord Tipton and former NASA CIO Paul Strassmann note that many soon-to-retire federal IT workers are either ready to leave or are tired of bureaucracy as well as continuous fighting between departments and agency directors, congressional appropriators, and the Office of Management and Budget. U.S. comptroller general David Walker argues that the government must expand its effort to lure new IT workers and retain veterans by becoming more user-friendly, while Congress is debating a salary raise for federal employees. Meanwhile, Steven Kelman of Harvard University says the government should ease midcareer hiring and recruit talent to supervise outsourced IT projects. Although Texas CIO Carolyn Purcell admits that seasoned workers make ideal project managers, she does not rule out the possibility that younger pros could also handle the job. Some CIOs are concerned that younger IT workers will balk at the prospect of learning legacy technologies, but Strassmann and Treasury Department CIO Drew Ladner say there is no reason to think such a thing will happen, as long as managers are able to keep workers motivated and excited. Agency-wide IT consolidation is one of the unanticipated pluses of the focus on a possible IT worker shortage.
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  • "The Power of IT"
    InformationWeek (08/25/03) No. 952, P. 18; McDougall, Paul; Whiting, Rick; Greenemeier, Larry

    Ohio-based FirstEnergy and other power companies are undertaking IT projects that aim to close information gaps about electric grid problems that led to the recent U.S. blackout in the hopes of avoiding a recurrence. FirstEnergy, which may be the massive outage's point of origin, is developing a portal that amasses data culled from hundreds of applications to give managers a broader perspective of plant and transmission-line performance that could be used to head off system failures. However, FirstEnergy's commitment to boosting its computing infrastructure is uncertain, given that the company is planning to fire roughly 20 percent of its IT personnel--over 200 IT workers--in the near future. Furthermore, an inside source reports that FirstEnergy IT staff who were discussing the possibility of extending the portal to customers and partners were let go. An even more desirable upgrade is exemplified by PJM Interconnection, which has set up a portal that facilitates the real-time collection and sharing of power-flow data from local utilities. The PJM portal enables transmission and generation companies to transmit outage data and carry out reserve checks instantly through Web services. AMR Research analyst Jill Feblowitz says the reliability of power generators can be significantly improved by coupling data about diverse conditions with robust analytics. "Energy companies need the right analytics to quickly determine whether there's a problem and initiate the proper maintenance approach," she maintains.
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  • "Teachable Robots"
    Technology Review (08/03) Vol. 106, No. 6, P. 64; Zacks, Rebecca

    Juyang Weng of Michigan State University has sought to imbue robots with "real-time, online, on the fly" learning capabilities. One of his creations, SAIL (Self-Organizing Autonomous Incremental Learner), is designed to exhibit curiosity through a "developmental program," and has been trained to navigate, recognize and sort objects, and produce speech. In one teaching session, SAIL is walked down a corridor by Weng and an assistant; the robot surveys its surroundings with camera eyes, while the men activate force sensors to indicate when SAIL should move in a specific direction. In another exercise, SAIL is taught to identify and sort objects such as dolls and stuffed animals: The robot holds the object and views it from all angles, while Weng tells SAIL the object's name and size via switches on its arm. Eventually, SAIL is able to name the object using a vocal synthesizer and can separate small and large objects without assistance. Dav, a much more sophisticated robot, can produce facial expressions, has a greater range of motion than SAIL, and is outfitted with more advanced sensing capabilities. The devices embedded in Dav are networked, which saves weight and space. Dav is less skilled than SAIL, although the machine will be taught to walk, talk, and perhaps perceive its environment to an unprecedented degree.
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  • "Saving Private E-mail"
    IEEE Spectrum (08/03); Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J.

    Winning the war against spam requires eliminating--or at least dramatically reducing--the likelihood of false positives, which no automatic filtering or blacklisting technique currently in use is able to do. However, some programmers are hoping that Bayesian filtering strategies will be an effective solution. A Bayesian filter uses statistics and probability theory to analyze the entire message instead of focusing on key terms, and it does not rely on an artificial scoring system. The user teaches the filter to recognize spam by classifying emails as such, while the filter itself extracts rules from those classifications that enable it to evaluate new messages. Self-employed software engineer Paul Graham, who developed a practical open-source deployment of the Bayesian filter, says the program's accuracy is boosted because it takes into account not just words that frequently pop up in spam, but those that do not. The Bayesian filter was also incorporated into the MSN8 Internet reader from Microsoft, and will be included in the upcoming version 11 of Microsoft Outlook. Steven Curry of EarthLink states that the elimination of false positives is more likely if humans are kept within the equation, and advocates an approach in which people study email first and confirm if it is spam, adding such recognition to the filtering protocol. Alternative strategies to controlling spam, such as anti-spam legislation, are hampered by the lack of a clear definition over what constitutes spam, while Jupiter Research analyst Jared Blank argues, "The true problem is that spam is effective."