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


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Volume 6, Issue 654:  Wednesday, June 9, 2004

  • "High Hopes for Unscrambling the Vote"
    CNet (06/08/04); McCullagh, Declan

    Computer scientists have created secure voting systems that utilize printed receipts and encryption technology; inventor David Chaum presented his encrypted system at a Rutgers University voting conference in late May. The system prints out two small paper receipts that show the name of the candidate when placed together in a special viewfinder, and Chaum says the system would both protect voter anonymity and ensure against vote tampering. Chaum's and other encrypted systems have the benefit that tampering could be detected immediately and specifically verified, unlike paper receipts that have been suggested for existing electronic voting systems; those paper receipts would hardly be more convenient in case of a recount than the punch-card-style ballots used in the 2000 presidential elections. Chaum has set up a firm called Votegrity to sell his patented invention, which experts at the Rutgers conference said was theoretically sound, if somewhat difficult to use in its present form. A more refined encrypted system is being sold by VoteHere: That system also uses paper receipts that have a series of encrypted codes voters could check against a county Web site, or they could entrust their receipts to a third party such as the League of Women Voters. Mathematician Andrew Neff, who created the VoteHere technology, says his company's greatest challenge has not been the technical details, but convincing electronic voting companies to license VoteHere technology, which is compatible with existing systems. So far, only Sequoia Voting Systems has licensed the technology, but Neff is hopeful about possible pilot programs in Maryland and California for the November 2004 elections. He says vendors of current electronic voting machines, such as Diebold Election Systems, are naive in their belief that hardware without verification safeguards is secure.
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    For information regarding ACM's e-voting activities, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "UCSC Man's Work Earns Top Award"
    San Jose Mercury News (06/08/04); Beck, David L.

    University of California-Santa Cruz computer science professor and Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering director David Haussler was co-recipient of ACM's Allen Newell Award presented in New York City on June 5 for his contributions to computational biology--specifically, his guidance of the UCSC team that devised the computer programs used to sequence the human genome. The programs were designed to put the billions and billions of DNA base pairs that make up the genome into proper order. The genome is freely accessible online, and scientists have already used it for a variety of practical applications, including the rapid identification of the SARS virus, the development of pharmaceuticals, and the study of cancer to find the most suitable chemotherapies. Haussler's group is constructing the database for the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) Project, an international effort that "is a scientific reconnaissance mission aimed at discovering all regions of the human genome that are crucial to biological function...a comprehensive 'parts list' of the human genome," according to a forthcoming statement to be posted on the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering Web site. The faculty of Haussler's laboratory is a multidisciplinary group that includes expertise in biology, information technology, and nanotechnology, according to acting UCSC chancellor Martin Chemers. Making the human genome freely available to scientists is a major achievement for UCSC, and a benchmark of the school's shift from a liberal arts institution to a hub for scientific research. Haussler shares the Newell Award with Judea Pearl of UCLA's Cognitive Systems Laboratory, who was honored for work that has "revolutionized the understanding of causality in statistics, psychology, medicine and the social sciences."
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    For a complete list of ACM's award winners, visit http://www.acm.org/awards/award_winners.2003.html.

  • "Subject: No More Spam From Fakes"
    Wall Street Journal (06/09/04) P. D9; Richmond, Riva

    Spammers, malware authors, and ID thieves' notorious practice of tagging bogus names to their emails in order to entice users into opening them as well as circumvent block lists could be stymied by a collaborative effort between Microsoft, Yahoo!, America Online, and others to devise standard sender authentication technologies. Internet companies note that an authentication scheme would enable them to filter out suspicious names for closer examination or blocking, as well as help them trace and prosecute miscreants. Technologies being looked into include simple and inexpensive domain-name verification and more complex and costly systems for affixing and viewing solid evidence that email senders are who they claim to be. Microsoft and AOL recently agreed to combine their two IP-based proposals, Caller ID and Sender Policy Framework, into one standard that Microsoft expects to be completed in June and adopted by major ISPs a few months later; the technology, which will be freely available, involves the receiving email server confirming that the domain name in a sender's email address is authentic by querying Domain Name System computers to see if the domain name and the IP address match. Systems in which cryptographic keys and digital signatures are employed by the sending email server to support the sender's ID and by the receiving server to verify that ID are being touted as more effective solutions by the likes of Yahoo! and Tumbleweed Communications. Yahoo!'s open-source, royalty-free DomainKeys technology authenticates the domain name in email headers, while Tumbleweed's S/MIME message encryption protocol is promoted as a gateway authentication solution. It is unlikely that sender authentication technology will eradicate spamming, but AOL's Nicholas Graham says, "we are hopeful that [it]...will take a very large chunk of spammers out of the game."

  • "Women Want Computers to Be Less 'Nerdy' and More Fun"
    Innovations Report (06/08/04)

    More women will feel comfortable using computers if they are made less "nerdy," but more significant hurdles remain for getting more women working in the IT sector, according to a study sponsored by the European Union's Information Society Technology (IST) program. A team of researchers from five European countries studied 48 public- and private-sector initiatives to increase female participation in IT design and use, and they expect to identify successful strategies and apply them more broadly. IST U.K. representative Peter Walters says the increasing societal importance of IT makes it imperative that companies and government agencies include women in the IT field. Education is a key aspect in this effort, because computers are currently seen as the realm of men and boys who gain knowledge through many years of informal learning. This stereotype associates computers with anti-social and "nerdy" behavior, says University of Edinburgh professor and study coordinator Robin Williams. That concept is slowly breaking down, however, as technology is more and more a part of communications, entertainment, and other fun activities. This has already helped contribute to greater use of IT by women, but the study points out less success in getting women involved in the actual design and development of technology. The study focuses on local initiatives that have worked to increase female enrollment in computer science courses, and also increase the visibility of women who are already successful in that field.
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  • "Bye-Bye Boring Beige Box"
    Business Week (06/08/04); Burrows, Peter

    Computer makers are figuring out ways to utilize the latest desktop gadgetry, making the PC a more useful and entertaining tool. Increasingly, PCs are competing with snazzy new smart phones, which come with integrated digital cameras, PDA operating systems, and Web access; new PCs are taking stylish form factors and colors, and on the inside are using technologies such as PCI Express that handle real-time processing jobs more efficiently. PCI Express also allows computer manufacturers to configure components in smaller spaces and will be a huge boon to the laptop market. Intel and design studio Ideo are also working on a concept called Florence that puts the noisy hard drive and CPU in a separate box connected to peripherals via Wi-Fi connections. Consumers would be able to store their PC guts under a desk or in a closet while keeping the display, which has the CD-ROM and other necessities nearby. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are working on similar designs that make use of a Wi-Fi-connected "home server" that serves up Web and hard drive content to a 50-inch plasma display or a wireless tablet PC that looks like a picture frame: That smaller display could run headlines and alerts to someone in the kitchen, for example. Besides big players such as Intel and Microsoft, OQO is pushing the boundaries of the PC with its pocket-sized computer with complete PC functionality; the device uses a battery the size of a postage stamp, a energy-sipping Transmeta processor, and a subprocessor that allows for optimal power management. Design consultant Jacob Nielsen says computing capabilities will become so powerful in the coming decades that home computers will not only be able to ward off viruses and employ voice-recognition, but also allow for more creative applications currently unimagined.
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  • "Brain-Mimicking Circuits to Run Navy Robot"
    United Press International (06/07/04); Choi, Charles

    A joint project between researchers at New York University Medical School and Nizhny Novgorod State University in Russia is developing electronic circuits modeled after the brain's olivocerebellar circuit, which coordinates balance and limb movement. This could lead to faster and more precise control of robotic vehicles on land, in the air, and underwater, and enhance operations such as surveillance and rescue while removing many of the dangers faced by humans, according to Office of Naval Research program officer and computational neuroscientist Thomas McKenna. In addition, Northwestern University neuroscientist Ferdinando Mussa-Ivaldi believes the technology could make disabled people more independent. The brain-mimicking controller will be tested in an underwater environment this summer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center using a mobile autonomous research vehicle (MARV); the test will consist of moving the MARV in and out of a docking tube through the fine manipulation of its muscle-like actuators. McKenna says the test results will help determine whether an improved prototype underwater robot should be developed or an alternate method for deploying the controller or a more refined controller pursued. "The most important step now appears to be that of confronting ideas and prototypes with 'real life' tasks, such as controlling the navigation of a vehicle in a poorly known environment, or bringing food to the mouth of a patient," Mussa-Ivaldi observes. The project has been under development for three years, and the current controller is comprised of clusters that interact with each other electronically. "As the system is involved in motor coordination--and we want to have a machine that has sophisticated motor control--then the choice [of the circuit to mimic] was easy," explains New York University neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinas.
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  • "Worst-Case Worm Could Rack Up $50B in U.S. Damages"
    TechWeb (06/04/04); Keizer, Gregg

    International Computer Science Institute security researchers Nicholas Weaver and Vern Paxson say that a worm attack could cost the United States as much as $50 billion in direct damages by attacking widely used services and carrying a highly destructive payload. The worst-case scenario combines state-funded attackers exploiting an unpublished Windows vulnerability with a fast-spreading worm. The $50 billion figure includes lost productivity, repair expenses, deleted data, and damaged equipment. The researchers say that worms would be the choice method for the attack because of their speed. The study says state-sponsored hackers would have both the time and resources needed to find an unpublished vulnerability and rigorously test their worm. While past worms have been limited to mostly Windows XP or Windows NT systems, a more effective worm would attack a wide range of Windows environments. The researchers also tested popular motherboard and system configurations, and found that a particularly well-designed worm could force users to replace the motherboard in a third of the tested systems, while the other two-thirds would need to have their BIOS restored. However, although the corrupted PC BIOS could be restored, it would require highly skilled workers. The most likely candidates for the exploit include the SMB/CIFS file-sharing service included on all Windows systems since Windows 98. Possible countermoves for government and businesses include deploying mass-mailed worm defenses, restricting file-sharing on users' desktops, and using SMB/CIFS-compatible servers. Still, Weaver and Paxson warn that "Current defenses are not capable of dealing with threats of this magnitude."
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  • "Science Comes Alive in Portland"
    Star (Malaysia) (06/06/04); Gomez, Gavin

    More than 1,000 schools from 38 countries were represented by 1,433 students at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Isef) 2004 held in Portland, Ore., in May. Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger made a presentation on how technology plays into research, advocating that "an inquisitive mind, perseverance, and a little bit of luck" is the magic combination of elements necessary for innovation. Persistence even in the face of failure is the most important factor, he said. Isef also hosted a question-and-answer session with a panel of Nobel Laureate winners and other honorees; one panelist, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physics Dr. Leon Lederman, reminded attendees that glory-seeking is not the proper motivation for serious researchers: "You must have a high level of curiosity about how the world works," he asserted. The Association for Computing Machinery handed out a trio of awards to Isef participants, with the top prize of $1,000 going to 19-year-old Yuanchen Zhu of Shanghai Foreign Language School for a project entitled "Real-Time Remeshing with Optimally Adapting Domain: A New Scheme for View-Dependent Continuous Levels-of-Detail Mesh Rendering." Seventeen-year-old Elena Leah Glassman of Pennsylvania's Central Bucks High School West won the second prize of $500 for developing a brain-machine interface for muscularly handicapped patients. The $300 third prize was captured by 16-year-old Kimberly Elise Reinhold of Saint Joseph Junior-Senior High School in Hawaii for her work with an integrated neuroadaptive modeling scheme known as Artificial Visual Perception. The overall theme of Isef was that science and engineering can be fun rather than "geeky" pursuits.
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  • "A Ph.D. in Mortal Kombat"
    Los Angeles Times (06/06/04) P. E1; McNamara, Mary

    The University of Southern California's multidisciplinary Computer Games project, developed by the Annenberg School for Communication, is perhaps the largest and most variegated collection of students and educators taking a serious look at video game culture. German research associate Ute Ritterfeld, one of the project's creators, says the purpose of the initiative is to determine both the positive and negative aspects of gaming: "We are trying to find out what is real and what is just fear," she explains. Among the areas the USC group has studied is gamers' motivation, how brain activity is affected by violent video games, the advantages of interactive learning, and the importance of narrative and character development in games. Most of the research focuses on determining games' psychological and educational value, and their appeal to a large swath of people; one upcoming study plans to see if interactive learning is indeed more productive than conventional learning. Among the questions that efforts such as the USC project want to empirically answer are why gamers can become so obsessive, whether gaming is a social or antisocial pursuit, and the influence of gaming on the entertainment sector as well as culture in general. Many of the USC group's graduate students are concentrating on video games to supplement entertainment theory or child psychology research. Ritterfeld's husband Peter Vorderer, who created the Computer Games project with her, is launching a study with some of his Ph.D. students to see how players respond to different combat models in an attempt to measure the links between violent games and actual violence. "We want to see if changing the target sensitizes the players in any way," Vorderer notes.
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  • "Recognition Keys Access"
    Technology Research News (06/09/04); Patch, Kimberly

    Researchers from Israel's Hebrew University presented their work on a new user authentication scheme at ACM's CHI 2004 conference in late April. The scheme enables people to use a special kind of password that does not need to be consciously recalled, a technique that draws upon the brain's instinctive imprinting process for handling complexity. Hebrew University engineering and computer science professor Scott Kirkpatrick says the method is secure because it is genuinely random and cannot be purloined or voluntarily shared. In the prototype systems, users are trained on a set of images, a few of which must be recognized in order for authentication to be facilitated; users were tested on systems that employed three classes of input: Pictures, pseudo words, and artificial grammar. Tests of the picture version involved users receiving a series of user certificates, or unconscious passwords, first by showing them a set of 100 to 200 pictures randomly chosen from a 20,000-picture database and ordered into groups of between two and nine thematically similar pictures, and then having the users practice selecting certificate images from these theme groups. Next, users had to identify most of a short series of certificate passwords, which are used only once as an anti-eavesdropping measure; tests showed that users could recall previously viewed pictures with more than 90 percent accuracy for as long as three months. Users trained on the pseudo word version boasted a three-month accuracy rate of 70 percent to 90 percent, while tests of the artificial grammar version yielded more variable accuracy rates, the highest being 75 percent. Kirkpatrick says challenges remain, but he envisions using the technology for broader security systems that involve more elaborate computer-human interaction based on trust.
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  • "Virtual Fences to Herd Wi-Fi Cattle"
    New Scientist (06/07/04); Biever, Celeste

    Dartmouth College roboticist Zack Butler told attendees at the MobiSys 2004 conference on June 6 that he envisions mobile, virtual "fences" that could be used to herd cattle using Wi-Fi. To enforce the fences, the cows would wear special head-collars running software that triggers a signal to scare the animals off when they roam toward the fences' global positioning system (GPS) coordinates. The software is also programmed to "herd" the cattle when the location of the virtual fence is moved; Butler says a farmer could coordinate the movements of several herds on a single, home-based server. Each collar features a Wi-Fi networking card, a GPS unit, a personal digital assistant, and a loudspeaker, while the 802.11B Wi-Fi standard is used to effect communication between the collars and the server via a Wi-Fi base station. The current warning signal consists of a suite of sounds--tigers roaring, dogs barking, hissing snakes, and so on--that are not entirely effective at preventing the cattle from crossing the virtual fence, but Butler cites U.S. Department of Agriculture research demonstrating that cows are much more responsive to a series of sounds and electrical shocks that become more intense as they approach the fence. The roboticist notes that some watering holes are already outfitted with solar-powered pumps, which could be modified into Wi-Fi base stations. Butler contemplates that more sensors could be built into the collars to keep track of the cattle's vital signs.
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  • "Proceed With Caution"
    New York Times Magazine (06/06/04) P. 32; Gertner, Jon

    Sun Microsystems founder and computer architect Bill Joy predicts that reckless, unchecked pursuit of scientific innovation primarily driven by market forces has the makings of a catastrophic, "civilization-changing event" that he reckons has perhaps a 50 percent chance of happening. For example, he has expounded in detail on the perils of nanotechnology, particularly the possibility that tiny, self-reproducing "nanobots" could overwhelm mankind. Joy argues that a massive imbalance of power has been effected by modern technology, in that a single researcher or corporation can now be responsible for self-replicating products that have the potential to do terrible damage. Worse, the legal system lacks the authority to prevent scientists or technologists from wreaking havoc either negligently or deliberately. In Joy's opinion, businesses doing research in areas determined by competitors as dangerous must be required to institute an insurance policy against disaster, while science guilds should have the clout to restrict the distribution of potentially hazardous ideas. His warnings are motivated by a need to raise the public's awareness and consideration of potential "bad outcomes" rather than foment a climate of fear. He contends that certain kinds of private-sector scientific research have equal potential for good and evil, the problem being that even one bad outcome could reach epidemic proportions without a hope of being stopped or reversed. Joy reports that the Bush administration has been generally unreceptive to his urging for market restraint of tech innovation, and this has only reinforced his belief that risk-aware scientists such as himself should push themselves even deeper into public policy.
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  • "Cybersecurity: a Job for the Feds?"
    IDG News Service (06/07/04); Gross, Grant

    Commentator and Chicago Tribune columnist Bill Press and Gartner research director Rich Mogull both believe that the nation's cybersecurity is too important to leave up to the free market, and said so during a panel discussion at the recent Gartner IT Security Summit. Other panelists suggested that the federal government influence companies through its purchasing power, but Press contended that since software vendors are not held liable for products with security flaws, purchasers ultimately pay for the flaws. Some said that dealing with software security through legislation is almost impossible because of the esoteric nature of software design. Gartner Research vice president John Pescatore said software creation is more art than science, and suggested buyers demand better products instead of government regulation. Bob Dix, staff director for the technology and information policy subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee, said the threat of a huge cyberattack on U.S. technology assets cannot be overemphasized, and former White House counterterrorism expert Roger Cressey said that while the United States is not ready for a concerted cyberattack, the government is moving in the right direction. Cressey thinks that a major cyber outage will prompt hasty national legislation, but Dix hopes that legislation will not be necessary. Press suggested that the software industry work with Congress on legislation.
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  • "High Density Interfaces: More Than Meets the Eye"
    Tech Update (06/02/04); Smith, Ted

    High density displays provide the user with a contextual view of information and will influence how technology is used in business, according to researchers at Accenture Technology Labs who are looking into ways to make information more accessible and useful. Thin-client architectures such as the Web browser necessarily involve some delays in the retrieval of data, and people have unconsciously factored in that delay when they view Web sites or other stores of information. Knowing that it will take a few seconds to view a Web page limits people's motivation, says Accenture senior researcher Ed Gottsman; this "navigation risk," as the Accenture Labs have dubbed it, has significantly influenced Web and information design. The sparse Google Web interface, for example, tries to maximize the amount of information displayed with the shortest possible delay. Accenture proposes a type of high density display that would allow users to quickly ascertain what information is available and whether or not it might be useful to them. Using ZDNet's approximately 50,000-document white paper directory as an example, the researchers created a graphic interface that showed the entire database on one screen: Each paper was represented as a simple cell in a graphic directory, and displayed more information about the paper when the mouse cursor rolled over. CNET editor-at-large Esther Dyson says the concept was fundamentally a good move, because it allowed users to see information in context. Current search engines may pinpoint good information, but they do not do a good job of showing related information. Graphics of the demonstration application and a free download of the program are available from the Tech Update Web site.
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  • "When Databases Think"
    eWeek (05/31/04) Vol. 21, No. 22, P. 56; Coffee, Peter

    Peter Coffee reports that innovation in database technology is proceeding apace, and highlights many of the breakthroughs and potential uses--not to mention the more controversial facets--of database advancements. He cites a recent report in Nature that details life sciences-oriented features of the Oracle Database 10g that could be applied to the enterprise, such as pattern recognition, embedded machine-learning algorithms, support for vector machines, unstructured text mining, and regular-expression searching. Coffee recalls a conversation with Microrim's Wayne Erickson that focused on the difficulty of searching for data that cannot be encapsulated numerically or textually, and mentions that MIT's iDeixis project is trying to meet that challenge by comparing cell phone camera images to the characteristics of other images located by Web-crawling servers. Potential useful applications of iDeixis lie in the Web's massive repository of imagery for matching against what the camera views. Coffee notes that expanding the usability of databases remains a formidable challenge, and refers to Erickson's observation of a substantial distinction between meaning and appearance. The chasm between the two terms can be crossed through data annotation features, and Coffee writes that database vendors are under pressure from life scientists, music collectors, and digital photographers to roll out richer and simpler features. The author points out that improved databases have their troubling aspects, particularly in how they could give people uncomfortable access to other people's personal information.
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  • "Rise of the Machines"
    Time (06/14/04) Vol. 163, No. 24, P. 73; Cray, Dan; Miranda, Carolina A.; Rothman, Wilson

    Significant strides in robotics technology are being made by a quartet of visionary roboticists: MIT computer science graduate student James McLurkin, Ayanna Howard with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, biophysics engineer and computer researcher Mitsuo Kawato, and University of South Florida computer science and engineering professor Robin Murphy. McLurkin has drawn upon the decentralized coordination of ant colonies to develop "swarmbots," small robots that work cooperatively to carry out missions that could potentially include interplanetary reconnaissance and the retrieval of disaster survivors; a team led by McLurkin at iRobot is exploring the technology's practical applications. Inspired at an early age by the possibilities of human-machine integration, Howard is developing software that will make future Mars probes capable of selecting their landing sites and navigating the red planet's surface using neural networks, and her research has already yielded a lawn mower-sized rover that can tell the difference between sand, gravel, and concrete. Howard also started a math-and-science mentoring program for at-risk female junior high school students in the hopes of infusing the robotics field with more women. The fruit of Kawato's labor at Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International is Dynamic Brain, a nimble android that learns via mimicry: The robot has learned how to juggle, play the drums, and carry out numerous other movements by studying a demonstration of the activity, memorizing the maneuvers it involves, and reproducing it with its own movements. "We built an artificial brain hoping that it'll help us understand the real one," Kawato explains. Murphy has been working on robots that could enhance search-and-rescue services, and the first models are expected to be rolled out in the next year; Murphy notes that the machines will function as independent data-gatherers that allow operators to devote their energies to the present emergency.
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  • "Cognitive Personal Assistant"
    Computerworld (06/07/04) Vol. 32, No. 23, P. 41; Hoffman, Thomas

    A computerized assistant that can schedule meetings, filter and prioritize email, and carry out other mundane administrative chores using artificial intelligence is under development by Carnegie Mellon University researchers. CMU's Reflective Agent with Distributed Adaptive Reasoning (Radar) project is designed to help harried managers suffering from an overabundance of requests, explains computer science professor Scott Fahlman; in the first year of Radar's development, over 25 researchers concentrated on training the system to classify email and then make the most of its learning algorithms. Fahlman says the system will completely automate some tasks, request the confirmation of a supervisor for others, and generate suggestions and drafts that users can agree to or change as required. Fahlman says "a huge opportunity" exists for Radar systems to communicate with each other to set up meetings and extract data or send it to a corporate Web site, although the system's user is the one who ultimately controls the distribution of information. Radar will employ AI to effect symbolic and statistical learning; Fahlman notes that much of the research into the application of AI to natural-language comprehension has focused on problem-solving, and Radar is "trying to move that work forward." Among the challenges that Fahlman and CMU Human-Computer Interaction Institute director Dan Siewiorek have had to contend with is providing Radar with enough natural-language understanding, and giving the system the ability to learn from its mistakes and build upon a body of knowledge. Radar is currently being trained to learn via interaction with text, but Siewiorek says the system could learn to comprehend human speech later on. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding the Radar project under the auspices of its Personalized Assistant that Learns program.
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  • "From Headless to Rich UI"
    Software Development (05/04) Vol. 12, No. 5, P. 28; Yuan, Michael J.

    The Open Service Gateway Initiative (OSGi) framework has evolved from a niche software for embedded gateway devices that lack a local user interface (UI) into a lightweight, generic component-based framework with a wide scope that is well suited for middleware applications. Java technology serves as the foundation of the OSGi framework, which is advantageous for several reasons: The framework and services can be implemented across a wide assortment of devices produced by different manufacturers because of the near-universal availability of Java runtimes on operating systems. Java also boasts a comprehensive suite of network libraries and built-in support for multithread applications, along with strong support for secure mobile code provisioning. Furthermore, it is easy to become skilled in Java, and available productivity tools are numerous. To sustain OSGi's balance with Java, the OSGi standardization process and the Java Community Process (JCP) must iron out their differences. A significant portion of the OSGi standard characterizes the default system services that should be included in every OSGi deployment, and these services uphold an array of network standards from HTTP, device management, uPnP to Jini, XML parsing, logging, user permission and preferences, and bundle tracking and dynamic plug-in management. The OSGi framework is well-aligned to grid node host containers thanks to its remote deployment and management features. Its penetration into the computing grid's infrastructure must be maintained via a multi-pronged effort that includes tighter standardization alignment between the OSGi process and the JCP; additional contributions from open source developers to enhance the framework and build unique service components--an essential step as the framework plays a central role in the open source Eclipse platform; greater support for Web service standards; and the creation of a secure mechanism for the UI threads to call back into the framework.
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  • "The Future of Presence"
    Business Communications Review (05/04) Vol. 34, No. 5, P. 40; Turek, Melanie

    Nemertes Research believes the adoption of presence and real-time collaborative technologies is an inevitability, but the timeline for such rollouts depends on the technologies' acceptance by a work culture that is resistant to many of their implications. Many IT executives are concerned that enterprise-wide presence will undermine productivity, based on the intrusive and invasive qualities of the first presence application, instant messaging (IM). In addition, many Americans object to technology that supposedly would reveal their activities and not just their presence. Nemertes says the emergence of remote and independent workers is both a substantial obstacle and a major driver for presence technology: Such professionals relish the freedom they enjoy from working away from the office, and do not like the idea of being monitored. Another key cultural issue is reservations about who should be allowed to access worker data. Nemertes says the solution to all these problems is good management and end-user education, and predicts that the entry of younger, technologically savvy professionals into the workforce will fuel greater acceptance of presence technology. Standards and interoperability are also an issue for presence adopters, and Nemertes believes enough major vendors and enterprise decision-makers are supporting Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) to make them the ruling standards across the IM sector. The research firm projects that three to five years will pass before presence and real-time communications standards are rolled out.
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