Association for Computing Machinery
Timely Topics for IT Professionals

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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 HP or ACM.

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Volume 5, Issue 555:  Wednesday, October 8, 2003

  • "Time to Recall E-Vote Machines?"
    Wired News (10/06/03); Zetter, Kim

    Despite assurances from officials in Alameda County, Calif., that the Diebold touch-screen voting machines the county will use for the recall vote are adequately protected from fraud by usage policies and procedures, a recent training session for Alameda County poll workers indicated that the election is anything but tamper-proof. Voting-machine experts discovered flaws that could enable a poll worker or an outsider to alter the votes in machines without being found out: For example, ballot files could be changed prior to the election because the machines are left unattended days before the vote, and contain memory cards with preloaded ballots. A recent Maryland report disclosed flaws in Diebold machines that could allow elections to be rigged, and published recommendations to lower such a risk; Alameda County assistant registrar of voters Elaine Ginnold insisted that usage procedures would protect the e-voting systems, but these procedures were apparently not implemented as of last week--the password for the card used to shut down a machine can be easily learned, and the county has not placed tamper-proof tape over memory card compartments, as per the Maryland report's recommendations. Adam Stubblefield, who co-authored a July report from Johns Hopkins and Rice University on Diebold software flaws, warned that the ballot definition file stored on an e-voting machine's memory card could be altered by people armed only with a laptop. He also said that votes could be intercepted in transit, assuming Alameda County is using a leased, dedicated T1 or ISDN line that links voting centers to the courthouse while bypassing the Internet. Ginnold remarked that the data traveling along these lines lacks encryption, and Johns Hopkins report co-author Dan Wallach stressed this as a vulnerability. "If someone can reprogram the phone switches, which is not impossible to do, then they can intercept the data," he explained.
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    For more information about USACM's e-voting activities, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/Issues/EVoting.htm.

  • "Student Skirts CD's Piracy Guard"
    SiliconValley.com (10/08/03); Ackerman, Elise

    Princeton University graduate student John Halderman published a paper on his Web site Oct. 6 in which he detailed a simple method for defeating anti-copying software embedded in a CD from BMG's Arista Records. The CD received a lot of press as the first to use copy-management technology. The software only allows consumers to burn three regular copies, or to send promotional copies with a 10-day lifespan. The 22-year-old Halderman reported that he was able to prevent the software from installing itself on his PC simply by pressing the shift key, and the software's creator, SunnComm Technologies, disclosed that it was aware of this loophole. SunnComm President Peter Jacobs alleged that Halderman's paper could constitute a breach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but added that he has no plans to use the legislation to sue the graduate student. BMG representative Nathaniel Brown said his company knew it was unlikely that the CD's anti-copying measures would thwart a determined hacker, but opted to use the technology regardless because it enabled the CD to be played in people's cars. Halderman's advisor Edward Felton wrote that the SunnComm software "is going to end up in the hall of fame beside the previous Sony technology that was famously defeated by drawing on the CD with a felt-tipped pen."
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  • "European Group Seeks Progress in Software R&D"
    EE Times (10/08/03); Yoshida, Junko

    An upcoming symposium held by the Information Technology for European Advancement (ITEA) program will focus on the current progress of an eight-year embedded-software platform research and development initiative designed to keep European software development competitive in the aerospace, consumer electronics, automotive, and mobile-communications sectors. Some 33 ITEA software projects will be covered at the symposium, and the organization's vice chairman Jean-Pierre Lacotte says the projects will encompass the four key application domains of mobile and transport applications, intermediation service and infrastructures, cyber enterprise, and services and software creation. ITEA's most recent report indicates that the organization is pressed to develop a plan that will allow Europe to compete against "global giants" such as IBM's on-demand computing project and Microsoft's .Net project, and suggests that the ITEA's adoption of open-source software could help in this regard. The report also warns that budget cutbacks could seriously impede ITEA's momentum. ITEA has thus far raised 744 million euros for its R&D program, though the original budget calls for approximately 2.4 billion euros. Lacotte reports that five of the group's 52 original projects have withered without sufficient funding. ITEA projects that have made significant progress include HomeNet2Run, an initiative involving the connection of disparate wired and wireless networks and middleware clusters, facilitating room-to-room and house-to-house connectivity of personal computers and consumer electronics. ITEA also reports progress in the development of the Trusted Security Infrastructure open security software architecture and a real-time Universal Model Language for real-time software design.
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  • "Politics of Offshoring"
    Silicon Valley Biz Ink (10/03/03); Tanner, Steve

    With unemployment in Silicon Valley hanging around 9 percent and IT offshoring ramping up, politicians are readying their arguments: States such as New Jersey, North Carolina, and Michigan have already seen legislative proposals that would restrict government use of offshore work, but no federal bill has yet appeared. Californian representatives to Congress need to sit down and finalize a strategy, says TechsUnite and Communications Workers of America local organizer Josh Sperry. He says discussions have already begun, but a final, actionable position is needed. However, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) says America needs to beware of protectionist policies that could hamper its competitiveness on the global scene. San Jose State University business professor Arvinder Loomba says offshore outsourcing is not controversial during economic good times, and notes that just a few years ago Californian companies were eager to have skilled foreign workers come take jobs; instead of forming policies to please the masses, Loomba suggests politicians should work to make their states more attractive to business. Although offshoring does pose a real threat to U.S. jobs, Loomba is confident in America's ability to innovate and create new, greater opportunities. Santa Clara University Center for Science, Technology, and Society director Jim Koch predicts offshoring will be a major topic during the upcoming presidential election. Politicians need to take care of people's sensitivities, but also need to realize the United States must be integrated into the global economy to succeed. Democratic front-runner Howard Dean is proposing tax reform that would discourage offshoring, while President Bush has not yet made offshoring a campaign issue.
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  • "Oxford Tries to Work Out What IT All Means"
    Financial Times (10/08/03) P. 9; Bowen, David

    The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) was established in 2001 as an independent center of excellence to study the societal implications of the Internet, with American academic William Dutton serving as its first director. Dutton says one of the chief goals of OII's mission is to debunk some of the false assumptions about information technology's social effects, and notes that the skepticism typical of English people makes the United Kingdom an ideal place to set up shop. One such myth, Dutton insists, is the myth that we are living in an information society where data has become as vital a resource as fossil fuel; another misleading view he wishes to de-mythologize is the idea that electronic communication is inherently virtuous. Dutton, who in 1993 was invited to England to serve as director of the Program on Information and Communication Technology (PICT), claims that the OII differs from other Oxford institutes that study ICT in that it focuses on ICT's sociological ramifications. The center's area of concentration is expected to include medicine, law, politics, international relations, computing, economics, and sociology. The proposal for the OII was put together by economist Andrew Graham and Sir Peter Williams of St. Catherine's College, while 10 million pounds in initial funding was put up by Xansa founder Dame Stephanie Shirley and an additional 5 million pounds donated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. More impressive than the funding was the fact that it was raised after the dot-com meltdown. The OII recently appointed Stephen Coleman as the Cisco visiting professor of e-democracy, though Dutton says Cisco's patronage will not hurt the institute's independence.
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  • "CMU Student Taps Brain's Game Skills"
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/05/03); Spice, Byron

    Carnegie Mellon University computer science graduate student Luis von Ahn has designed an online game that seeks to ultimately enhance computer performance by tapping into the cognitive capacity of human brains. In von Ahn's ESP Game, participants go online to the www.espgame.org Web site and are anonymously partnered and shown images that they are asked to describe; without looking at each other's list, the paired players type descriptive terms until a match is registered, and the words they produce could eventually be employed by search engines to refine Internet queries for images. Von Ahn estimates that if approximately 5,000 people played his game 24 hours a day, then a one-word label could be generated for all 425 million images searched by Google in a month, while six-word labels could be generated in half a year. The idea behind the ESP Game is to persuade people to collectively solve problems that are too complex for either individuals or conventional computer systems. Other problems that von Ahn's concept could be applied to include mathematically-oriented Internet searches, or security camera vigilance in which monitors participate in a game whereby spotting suspicious activity is rewarded. The ESP Game was inspired by von Ahn's experiences as leader of the CAPTCHA project, an initiative to determine whether Web site registrants are software programs or flesh-and-blood by presenting a test that humans can easily solve but computers cannot. One crafty hacker beat the test with a program that posted the test on a free pornography site, enticing visitors to solve it if they wanted to view more X-rated content, and then using the solution to fill out the registration form.
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  • "Engineering Whiz James Gray"
    Investor's Business Daily (10/08/03) P. A4; Coleman, Murray

    Microsoft engineer and ACM Turing Award recipient James Gray has parlayed his fascination with mathematics and AI--which was nurtured when he was in high school, at a time when the field was relatively nascent--into a distinguished engineer. Gray played a key role in the development of the SQL programming language and relational database software. This latter breakthrough came during his tenure at IBM, when he and a team of researchers determined a way to bypass technical problems inherent in connecting a cluster of small computers into one large computer. Gray's work at the University of California at Berkeley drew the interest of IBM researchers involved in a project to test a thesis that the world's food and energy was nearly depleted using computers and mathematical models. Gray, who is also an ACM fellow, recalls that the research underlined the notion that social systems could be measured by computers. "Among scientists, Jim's known as Mr. Fixit," notes Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins University. "He's like the guy any researcher, no matter what the specialty, can take their problems to and come away better organized and more aware of where they're headed." Szalay has worked with Gray on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a project that aims to create a gigantic computerized map and database of the cosmos within two years. Gray is also the recipient of the 1998 IEEE Charles Babbage Award for his work in the design of high-performance database systems. Gray says, "All I've ever been interested in is finding answers to questions...You have to have a sense of curiosity."

  • "Meet the PDA That Can Hold a Conversation"
    Sydney Morning Herald (10/07/03); Zampetakis, Helene

    University of New South Wales researchers Dr. Mohammed Waleed Kadous and Professor Claude Sammut have developed a prototype personal digital assistant (PDA) that features virtual agents--a male agent named Joshua and a female agent named Amanda--that can schedule appointments, check the weather, read email, and perform other functions via natural language technology called Internet conversation agent (inCA). The voice of the PDA agents can be switched from a robotic monotone to an Australian accent. "What we're trying to do is have more unconstrained conversation," explains Sammut. InCA, which was developed under the aegis of the Smart Internet Cooperative Research Center, is also connected to touch-based communications, and will eventually be capable of inferring the user's emotional state. Natural language technology operates on several domains--the client, a PDA, and the server, which harmonizes speech recognition, speech synthesis, and dialogue management and features an artificial intelligence coordinator designed to handle Internet data retrieval in real time. The technology employs speech recognition technology and an 802.11b link. Kadous acknowledges that adoption of the technology could be hindered by multiple standards, but his team is proceeding with the development of more expansive market applications, such as a PDA with a global positioning system connection for visually handicapped users, and a handheld for emergency services workers.
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  • "You Can Hear Me Now: Software Brings Cellular Capacity to Rural Communities"
    Newswise (10/06/03)

    With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Vanu researchers have developed software that can significantly streamline the communications hardware of cellular towers and make the technology more affordable for rural areas. Thanks to the software, much of the equipment located in the tower's basestation can be replaced with a single computer server, while the hardware from many stations can be consolidated into one location. In addition, both emergency and regular civilian communications can run on the same device using the software, thus making it no longer necessary to support a separate network of towers to relay emergency messages. Further technology streamlining and cost reductions are achieved by having the servers run the open-source Linux operating system on Pentium chips, and the software can also operate on an array of commercial systems. The Vanu software has been conveying phone calls in the Texas communities of De Leon and Gorman since June 2003, and the system is expected to become fully operational for customers of Mid-Tex Cellular by early next year. "Rural customers are the first application of the technology, but large carriers are watching to see what happens," notes Vanu CTO John Chapin. The NSF granted funding for the software's development under its Small Business Innovation Research program.
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  • "Intel Takes on Adaptive Wireless Tech"
    Star (Malaysia) (10/07/03); Madhavan, M.

    Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger says most of the world will be using wireless technology by the end of the next decade. Intel plans to facilitate wireless connectivity with several innovative technologies and approaches, including adaptive radio technology that utilizes greater processing strength available to mobile devices. So-called adaptive modulation techniques would link far-flung computers to servers through intermediary computer nodes in a giant mesh network, dramatically reducing the number of times server computers have to resend data to computers with weak connections. Another technology that will boost signals is Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna schemes, where devices are equipped with several parallel antennas. Gelsinger says antennas are relatively cheap, and that many of them will be built into the back of laptop displays in the future, for example; but with each additional antenna, the system's data throughput is multiplied. Intel research has also yielded a device called the Universal Communicator, which was demonstrated at the Intel Developer Forum and was able to pass a streaming video connection from Wi-Fi to GSM to GPRS, though the video itself was lost when carried by the GSM network. Gelsinger also touted a new 802.16a metropolitan area network (MAN) wireless technology that can serve as the last-mile connection for residential and business broadband, especially in countries without extensive wired infrastructure. Called WiMAX, hotspots equipped with this technology could serve up to 60 businesses and hundreds of homes with data throughput of up to 70 Mbps.
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  • "Boldly Googling Into the Future"
    ZDNet UK (10/03/03); Donoghue, Andrew

    Google CTO Craig Silverstein forecasts that the full maturation of search technology--a "Star Trek"-style computer interface that processes vocal queries in any language and can infer the request's precise context, among other things--is approximately 300 years away. Until then, the best approach involves "faking it," either by giving computer searches the semblance of contextual understanding, or by employing human intelligence to carry out computations. Silverstein explains that Google's PageRank functions this way by employing connections people establish between Web pages even though the program does not comprehend why the connections were made. Other challenges that Silverstein says search technology needs to overcome in order to mature include handling a greater variety of data formats and better translation. He projects a much sooner maturation of voice recognition technology to enhance searches, although he thinks academia and industry must make a greater research effort. Silverstein notes that projects such as Google News and Froogle will be taken out of the beta phase once enough features are added and enough positive feedback is generated, and adds that Google welcomes competition in the form of Microsoft's planned Longhorn release. He explains that Google's internal architecture scheme employs inexpensive, off-the-shelf commodity computers, coupled with fault-tolerant, scalable software. Silverstein betrays no sign of nervousness at SCO's lawsuit against Linux, even though Google boasts one of the largest Linux clusters in the world. He asserts that Google regards the cache as a very useful tool for sites characterized by frequent content updates, and notes that an easy system has been set up to allow individual Webmasters to opt out of the caching program if they so desire. "I think this strikes a nice balance between the various concerns," Silverstein remarks.
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  • "Tech Out the Latest in Fashion"
    Edinburgh Evening News (10/08/03); Fields, Julia

    Professor George Stylios of the Heriot-Watt University School of Textiles and Design in Scotland predicts that electronics will be an essential component of personal apparel in two or three decades, thanks to e-textile products under development today. Stylios' team is working on a potentially life-saving vest studded with sensors that will monitor the wearer's vital signs and wirelessly alert doctors and/or hospitals at the first indication of trouble. Other e-textile projects of note include garments from Philips Labs designed to warm or cool the wearer in response to shivering; fabrics that can change color or pattern according to users' tastes at London's Central Saint Martins Innovation Center; and the Puddlejumper jacket created by Elise Co at MIT, which features painted electroluminescent lamps wired to interior electronics that display a flickering pattern when it rains. The American government is also supporting the development of intelligent military uniforms capable of self-camouflage. Stylios believes e-textiles will inevitably penetrate the mass market, but for that to happen the electronics must be integrated with the clothing in a non-invasive way that maintains comfort and flexibility. Price is another hurdle to overcome in the technology's mainstream adoption. Stylios thinks that the technology will initially be adopted by the medical sector, with interest in fashion circles building as the technology matures. At the moment, there appears to be greater interest in innovative fabrics than electronic gadgetry: Examples of the former include Carnation Footcare's Silversock, a silver-impregnated sock that supposedly keeps the foot warm and free of bad odor, and micro-encapsulation, in which capsules containing deodorants, essential oils, or other substances are embedded in the fabric.
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  • "What's Next in LCDs?"
    IDG News Service (10/06/03); Williams, Martyn

    The Ceatec 2003 exhibition, taking place in Chiba, Japan, from Oct. 7 to Oct. 11, will showcase an array of liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies that fall into two general categories: Improved versions of existing displays that yield better picture quality and smaller devices designed to enhance portable electronics. Sharp will spotlight four mobile ASV (Active Super View) LCDs that boast both horizontal and vertical viewing angles of 160 degrees and a relatively high contrast ratio of 300:1, thus facilitating a clearer and sharper picture. One ASV model is designed for use with digital still cameras, another for cell phones, a third for portable TVs and personal digital assistants (PDAs), and the fourth for automobile navigation systems. Sharp will also unveil a space-saving device at Ceatec combining flat-speaker technology with an LCD panel whose applications could run the gamut from cell phones to PDAs, portable TVs, and DVD players. Omron, meanwhile, will tout a new technology that reportedly delivers the brightness and contrast of a backlit display and operates with the power efficiency of a front-lit display. The front of the Omron LCD is outfitted with nanoprisms and microprisms designed to better route the flow of light through the panel and minimize the amount of reflected light. Another Ceatec highlight will be a 2.4-inch QVGA resolution prototype display from Casio Computer capable of showing 3D images, while NEC Electronics will unwrap a 2.4-inch LCD featuring a graphics processor and embedded control circuitry. NEC reports that the graphics engine in the chip performs better than rival offerings and is the first for a cellular handset that can perform curve rendering.
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  • "Tiring of Royalties, China Seeks Compression Spec for Video"
    EE Times (10/03/03); Clendenin, Mike

    China continues to push for nationally developed intellectual property (IP) that will save its consumers and manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars if widely adopted: Perhaps the most mature national standard is a new video compression specification that rivals MPEG-4 and H.264, and is slated for release at the end of this year, followed by decoder technology next year. Chinese officials are aiming to dramatically reduce the royalties Chinese manufacturers pay to produce high-volume consumer electronics such as DVD players and mobile phones; with DVD players, for example, fees for foreign intellectual property can run as high as $20 per system, and China produced 10 million of the world's 50 million new DVD players last year. In response, the Chinese government is sponsoring a number of technology initiatives, such as the Audio Video Coding Standard (AVS) Workgroup that brings together a number of government bodies and private firms under the direction of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The academy has been researching the new compression standard for five years, but only last year launched its commercialization effort as Chinese manufacturers and foreign IP owners disputed royalty dues. China is also working on an alternative 3G mobile phone standard in conjunction with Siemens, called TD-SCDMA. On the home electronics front, the China-backed Information Gateway Resource Sharing working group is developing next-generation home networks, and a new optical-disk format is also being researched. However, even AVS Workgroup secretary-general Huang Tiejun concedes that China will have a difficult time controlling the market, even inside China--for one thing, foreign content will have to be ported to the new standard. Tiejun says new technology such as AVS' video standard only brings more options to the table.
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  • "A New Era of Living Data Is Coming"
    Computerworld (10/06/03) Vol. 31, No. 46, P. 21; May, Thornton

    Management consultant and commentator Thornton May writes that practically everything on Earth could be given an IP address within 10 years, according to research being carried out in tandem with UCLA's Managing the Information Resource Program. He wonders whether society is prepared for the sweeping changes such a development will entail. May argues that the long-cherished view of technology focusing on the physical movement of objects will change, and predicts that the most successful companies will be able to seamlessly and facilely handle the transformation of data to information, information to knowledge, and knowledge to revenue or actionable executive behavior. There is agreement among modern-day trend observers and futurists that the forthcoming technology environment will be characterized by always-on, intelligent, and semi-aware devices built by similar devices animated by tiny and pervasive sensors. May claims that the economy will rely upon the effective management of data collected by this vast sensor network. However, the author contends that most organizations are ill-equipped to flourish in such an economy, and reports that information arts practitioners of historic importance--librarians, archivists, content managers, etc.--are being ignored as commercial information services blossom in the early Information Age. May writes that knowledge management skills will need to become more highly esteemed in the corporate structure as the shift to an "infomated" economy gains momentum. He remarks that radio frequency identification technologies being used to enhance retailing and payment systems merely scratch the surface, and lists Microsoft's "Nixon-in-a-Tablet-PC" feature as an example of "the panoptic infolandscape we're heading for."
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  • "Survivor Guide: Stephen Wolfram, Scientist and Founder and CEO of Wolfram Research"
    Washington Technology (09/29/03) Vol. 18, No. 13, P. 42; Jackson, Joab

    Computing guru Stephen Wolfram is promoting a new concept of how complex systems are built from simple programs. Wolfram, the author of the Mathematica computer program, recently explained his ideas to the Senate Commerce subcommittee on science, technology, and space. In his new book, "A New Kind of Science," Wolfram postulates that every system can be reduced to simple programs that would only require a few lines of computer code. Complex network behavior, for instance, is determined by a few simple routing rules. Instead of engineering computer programs to perform specific tasks, Wolfram is focusing on exploring the range of possible simple programs and their effects. By systematically investigating these possibilities, scientists in many different fields will be able to figure out how to design simpler computer chip circuits, for example. Wolfram's hypothesis has met sharp criticism, which he says is a normal response to any groundbreaking new theory. Eventually, Wolfram sees simple program science as a new basic scientific field alongside physics, chemistry, and mathematics, and he predicts that its influence and ramifications will grow over decades as people become more adept at exploiting it. Another likely consequence of mapping and mining computational possibilities will be the discovery of a new generation of algorithms that cannot be deduced by current methods.
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  • "Grid Computing Made Simple"
    Industrial Physicist (09/03) Vol. 9, No. 4, P. 31; Kaufman, James H.; Deen, Glenn; Lehman, Toby J.

    Grid computing allows companies and research teams to increase their processing power by tapping into networks of computers and other resources to perform computations. Grids will be unable to support ubiquitous parallel computing until developers boost grids' ease of use, a quality that must also be extended to the development of grid applications and the distribution and coordination of those applications on the grid. Reaching this objective requires the establishment of standards and protocols such as open grid services architecture, as well as tool kits that deploy the grid framework's rules; another key component will be specialized, user-friendly middleware that eases the creation and implementation of parallel grid applications. The computational grid is employed to handle simple applications called independently parallel problems, which are split into individual data fragments that are solved independently by isolated nodes, and more complex connected parallel problems in which the nodes interact and cooperate to compute the solution. IBM's OptimalGrid Project seeks to develop a way for anyone to access a grid and grid operations and solve connected parallel problems regardless of the grid being used. The system tries to optimize and harmonize the pieces of the workload so that any existing grid infrastructure can be used to the fullest, via the implementation of self-configuration, self-optimization, and self-repair. OptimalGrid, currently in the prototype stage, is capable of handling both independently parallel problems and connected parallel problems. All the user has to do is enter the problem: OptimalGrid partitions the problem into original problem cells, automating cell-to-cell communication and keeping such communication to a minimum.
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  • "Emerging Technology: Wireless Goes Peer-to-Peer?"
    Network Magazine (09/03) P. 46; Dornan, Andy

    The idealized form of wireless peer-to-peer (P2P) meshes connects network nodes (devices) via P2P radios, allowing every client to relay each others' traffic, cohering into a massive "overnet" that circumvents existing networks; ardent P2P mesh advocates believe Software Defined Radio (SDR), which promises to enable a device to access any type of wireless network, will be a key component, but for now SDR suffers from less efficiency than hardware. Still, there is a pronounced migration toward an Internet-like architecture in which more intelligence is embedded within devices. Wireless meshes also require improvements at the physical layer, which could be potentially more important than overcoming wireless routing difficulties. Cognitive radio is valued because of its promise to enable devices to automatically detect idle spectrum and use it until a licensed user needs it. Problems with cognitive radio include worries about its potential to interfere with other devices, while media conglomerates and the military oppose civilian use. A single radio that can accommodate multiple standards is the long-term objective of SDR. Meanwhile, there is no one wireless standard suitable for all applications, and an increase in standards is accompanied by a rise in the number of required components, which adds weight and cost to the device. The last stage in SDR's evolution involves the development of multiple-frequency antennas, while antennas with a customizable shape could alleviate the spectrum shortage.
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  • "The Future of the Book in a Digital Age"
    Futurist (10/03) Vol. 37, No. 5, P. 18; Staley, David J.

    Printed books were expected to be phased out with the coming of the paperless office, but Heidelberg College literary professor and author David J. Staley points out that neither of these developments have come to pass, and observes that the production and distribution of printed books may actually be augmented by new technologies. Staley writes, "The future of the book...will largely be determined according to which model of the economics of information emerges: Either books will disappear as a viable technology because digital information becomes a 'commons,' or they will remain a vital information technology because the concept of intellectual property will remain in place." The digital commons concept is predicated on the assumption that the production and dissemination of written material will continue its move into the digital realm through advances in wireless technology and electronic publishing. At the core of this bookless future is the fact that digitally distributed information can be produced and reproduced cheaply and easily, and be shared by everyone. Legal scholar Lawrence Lessig says major media corporations are trying to control the online distribution of ideas by imposing copyright restrictions across the Internet, but Staley notes that their stranglehold could be broken with an electronically distributed subscription-based system controlled by authors that supports more information exchange while simultaneously allowing writers to reap profits. The other future Staley envisions is one where traditional books abound because of copyright owners and authors' need to hold onto their intellectual property. "If books survive as a vital information technology, it will be because it is in the economic interests of authors and publishers to maintain books in tangible, physical form," he writes. Staley also posits that technological developments could make it possible to print books on demand in stores or homes, but in the end it means the continuance, not obsolescence, of physical books. The author contends that future books could have noticeable differences from current books: They might, for instance, use "smart paper" that displays dynamic and animated content, and be equipped with electronics to support such displays.