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


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Volume 6, Issue 664: Friday, July 2, 2004

  • "E-Voting: Nightmare or Nirvana?"
    CNet (06/30/04); Festa, Paul

    The debate over electronic voting's advantages and drawbacks has become increasingly polarized, with advocates and computer scientists alike vehemently disagreeing on issues such as e-voting's security, verifiability and reliability; its convenience to handicapped, non-English-reading, and minority voters; and how it could be exploited to commit election fraud. Daniel Tokaji of Ohio State University admits that e-voting systems can malfunction, but contends that paper-based voting systems are even more error-prone. He prefers improved certification standards, more intensive testing, and better poll worker training over voter-verifiable paper trails. Stanford University computer science professor David Dill argues that e-voting machines' lack of auditability eliminates a much-needed component of the electoral process--the ability to do good recounts; Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Michael Shamos counters that e-voting systems are auditable because the software they use is available for examination prior to, during, and following an election, and he adds that paper ballots are a far riskier proposition because they are accessible to anyone, making alteration, destruction, and loss of ballots easy. Dill cites alternative technologies that can open up voting's accessibility to underserved segments such as the disabled and minorities--cardboard templates, optical scan systems, etc.--but Tokaji argues that they lack the secret, independent voting offered by touch screens. Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cynthia Cohn says e-voting machines can be made ready for "prime time" through lobbying for paper trails and independent voting systems research. Shamos claims that tampering of touch-screen machines should not be a valid concern because no solid evidence of such activity has ever come to light, while hypothetical instances of untraceable tampering lack credibility because no one has yet detailed a credible method. Dill retorts that finding ways to corrupt election software has been an intense area of focus for many people, and asserts that there is nothing hypothetical about a lack of auditability.
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    For information on ACM's activities regarding e-voting, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "Engineering Breakthrough Develops Artificial Neuron That 'Learns'"
    Newswise (07/02/04)

    A microelectronics research team led by Richard Wells of the University of Idaho has spent the last two-and-a-half years developing a "biomimic" artificial neuron that serves as the basic component of computers that learn by themselves without any programming. Information is conveyed by trains of electric pulses and codes whose performance trumps that of conventional analog-digital integrated circuitry. "The low-power technology is miniaturized to a scale approximately the size of a few animal cells per neuron and performs sensing, information processing, routing and actuation, much like the brain or spinal cord," Wells explains. Groups of biomimic neurons are connected via "performance feedback signals" that weigh the "goodness" or "badness" of the computer's output response to input triggers. Other types of connections are altered in response to these signals. Traditional programmed integrated circuitry lacks the ability to handle uncertainty, and the UI team's neurocomputer work aims to solve this problem. UI researchers believe computers could eventually be assembled from networked artificial neurons that can carry out military operations, automated traffic and emergency dispatching, self-driving automobiles, and other tasks too dangerous or laborious for humans. Wells thinks the technology could be especially applicable to the electronics, computing, manufacturing, and space industries.
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  • "Wiretap Ruling Could Signal End of E-Mail Privacy"
    eWeek (07/01/04); Hicks, Matt

    Privacy advocates warn that a recent federal appeals court ruling makes email vulnerable to spying, since it is not afforded the same Wiretap Act protections as live communications are. The new ruling found that Interloc vice president Bradford Councilman was not illegally eavesdropping when he copied emails sent from Amazon.com to book dealers who subscribed to Interloc's email service. Thus, email providers are not violating Wiretap Act protections when they read email stored on their systems, even if that email is temporarily stored en route to its destination. The court said the 1968 law did not adequately cover today's electronic forms of communication, but it was not the job of the courts to change the law; instead, the judges urged Congress to amend privacy laws so that they are more up-to-date with today's technology, though privacy advocates doubted such a law would pass in light of recent anti-terror efforts, which some say have eroded privacy rights in favor of security. Nevertheless, most email providers already have their own rules that protect user privacy. Law enforcement agencies will still have to get a warrant to access email, but the new ruling means they will have fewer restrictions on the types of communications they can spy on. Attorney Paul Winick said the ruling could also open up opportunities for companies to mine stored messages for commercial purposes. "There are two things to take from this ruling: Know that your email is not private and it never has been, and figure out what to do about it," said Pacific Research Institute technology studies director Sonia Arrison. Even without legal protection, email is technologically vulnerable to surveillance unless users encrypt their messages, she said.
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  • "Mozilla, Opera Unite to Standardize Web"
    InternetNews.com (06/30/04); Wagner, Jim

    The Mozilla Foundation, along with Opera, Apple, Sun Microsystems, and Macromedia, announced plans on June 30 to extend the Netscape Plugin Application Interface (NPAPI) in order to furnish an open source, scriptable, and secure plug-in model, thus standardizing plug-in functionality. "It became clear that all the various browser vendors and plug-in vendors were all very eager to do something like this; [now] was right time to get things going," reported Mozilla Foundation President Mitchell Baker. Opera, Apple, and Mozilla all produce browsers, while Sun and Macromedia control the software employed to make many of today's plug-ins. Opera and Mozilla submitted Web Forms 2.0, a specification covering a standard technique for devising Web applications and compound documents, to the World Wide Web Consortium in May; both the spec and the alliance's charter want to steer clear of the danger of one reigning browser with its own specs and having them embraced as legitimate standards because they are popular. A dominant browser also breeds security concerns: Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) has suffered from many security shortfalls, including a recent critical security hole enabling hackers to install spyware onto Web servers that has gone unpatched for several weeks. "Significant vulnerabilities" in domain/zone security model, DHTML object model, MIME-type determination, and ActiveX were cited in a June 29 advisory from the Computer Emergency Readiness Team as reasons why users should drop IE. Baker noted that an open source project can alert developers to the presence of security holes earlier than in proprietary software. Web browsers that boast the new compatibility features are expected by this fall.
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  • "Interface Blends Screen and Video"
    Technology Research News (07/07/04); Patch, Kimberly

    FaceTop is a videoconferencing system developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that overlays transparent images of a computer's desktop over video images of the user so that the user can view both images simultaneously. The video consists of an apparitional mirror image of the user that makes it seem as if he is touching onscreen objects when he points; the user can control the mouse pointer thanks to a device that tracks fingertip position in the video, and UNC computer science professor David Stotts says that transparency levels are also adjustable. The system is basically comprised of a Macintosh, the Internet, and a $100 FireWire camera, making its deployment relatively cheap. The transparent video can be activated and deactivated when the user raises a hand into the camera's field of view. Stotts notes that FaceTop offers advantages over current videoconferencing systems that separate video and content, thus forcing users to constantly shift their focus. Applications where FaceTop would prove useful include remote teaching, PowerPoint presentations, and as a PC interface controlled by mouse pointers and the user's fingertips, says Stotts. A dual-user version of FaceTop integrates the remote streams of video users and lines up the images side-by-side; another version, FaceSpace, permits users to create hyperlinks for objects in the video. Stotts says a Macintosh version of the system could be deployed in several months, while a PC version could be implemented in a few years.
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  • "Investigating Digital Images"
    Dartmouth News (07/01/04)

    Dartmouth associate computer science professor Hany Farid and graduate student Alin Popescu have developed an algorithm that can distinguish between a genuine digital image and one that has been doctored by studying the image's underlying code and looking for statistical changes that signal tampering. Farid explains that there is nothing random in "natural" digital photos, and he and his team have constructed a statistical model that encapsulates the implicit mathematical consistencies of natural images. Farid's research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. The Stanford professor is collaborating with government representatives, law enforcement officials, and corporate leaders on the development of a digital image authentication scheme. Such a scheme is critical as computers are making image manipulation easier for growing numbers of people. "Our hope...is that as more authentication tools are developed it will become increasingly more difficult to create convincing digital forgeries," notes Farid, whose algorithm was presented at the Sixth International Workshop on Information Hiding in Toronto. He expects that some incarnation of his or someone else's digital image authentication technology will inevitably be adopted by the U.S. legal system.
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  • "Software for a Safer World"
    IDG News Service (06/29/04); Gross, Grant

    Ten international student teams are competing in the fifth annual Computer Society International Design Competition being held in Washington, D.C., this week to see which of their projects will best fulfill the judging panel's criteria of making the world safer. Nepalese students from Tribhuvan University demonstrated an inexpensive earthquake warning system powered by Global Positioning System (GPS) technology: The TremorFlash system would employ $200 seismic sensors and radio towers to alert people of incipient quakes through $20 portable receivers, and would permit users to signal back to the transmitting location that they were all right once the earthquake had passed. A Romanian team from Bucharest's Politehnica University presented eXpress! Help, software that uses GPS on cell phones to locate lost children or elderly people. "Our target is to enhance the 911 emergency services by finding people inside the community and letting them help each other," noted team member Andrei Hagiescu Miriste. Most projects at the event did not focus on the U.S. war against terrorism. Iowa State University's Spatial Cue project is a system in which memos corresponding to physical locations are triggered on users' personal digital assistants when they approach those locations. Meanwhile, University of Virginia students demonstrated "The Polluter Must Pay," a project that uses a network of water-quality sensors to analyze pollution content in rivers and locate the source of the contamination.
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  • "Searching for the Perfect OS"
    Wired News (07/02/04); Kahney, Leander

    Both Microsoft and Apple Computer are promoting technology that makes it possible for users to search for information on their computer's hard drive regardless of what format it is in through their Longhorn and Tiger offerings, respectively. MIT computer science professor and Haystack project leader David Karger says such search engines have been a long time coming, and is mystified that their development has taken so long. At any rate, he says they will be a definite improvement over arduous brute-force searches of hard drives. Karger believes that search will play a central role in computer interaction, if implementation is done right. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the Spotlight system-wide search engine as a feature of Tiger, the next version of Mac OS X, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference this week; he boasted that Spotlight can retrieve data across all files and applications on a user's hard drive. Spotlight can parse metadata as well as index file contents, and the system will enable users to set up smart folders that automatically store new material that is consistent with specified search terms. Apple's Ken Bereskin says the inspiration for Spotlight was the search engine used in Apple's iTunes music service. Objective Development co-founder and LaunchBar creator Norbert Heger predicts that system-wide search engines will transform computer use: "It's obvious that with the growing amount of data that's stored on today's computers, it becomes more and more important to have the means to search this plethora of information in an efficient manner," he notes.
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  • "Knock 3 Times on the Ceiling (to Turn on the DVD Player)"
    New York Times (07/01/04) P. E8; Eisenberg, Anne

    Professor Ros K. Ing of the University of Paris has devised an inexpensive system that turns common surfaces into tactile screens through the use of a computer linked to vibration-sensitive sensors. Such a system could enable users to communicate with and control lights, email, DVD players, CDs, or other electrical or electronic appliances in close proximity. The system employs time-reversal acoustics, a process whereby computer programs determine the source of sound waves by analyzing the information stored within them. Only a few accelerometers costing about $2 or $3 each are necessary, Ing explains: The tactile surface forming the touch panel is segmented into a grid, and the sound of a tap at each grid square is recorded and archived; when people tap at a location, the software compares the new signal to the archived signal. The software used for sound wave parameter comparison can be run on a garden-variety PC. Professor William Kuperman of the University of California at San Diego likens Ing's method to tossing stones into a pond studded with sensors along the shore: "Every spot on the lake you excite by throwing the stone will produce a unique wave pattern," he notes. "And you only need a few sensors to measure this wave response." Another application of time-reversal acoustics is being researched by University of Connecticut professor Lanbo Liu, whose team used microphones and a computer to capture and process sound waves of shots fired in a mock-up village in order to calculate their point of origin; this technique could be especially helpful for locating snipers in urban environments, although Liu says time-reversal methods will not be practical until they reach a certain speed level using new algorithms.
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  • "The Opening Lines of Innovation Success Stories"
    Gateway2Russia (06/30/04); Amosov, Yuri; Imamutdinov, Irik; Kostina, Galina

    The first two Russian Innovation Competitions were disappointing because the technologies that were honored attracted little capital investment--but the results of this year's contest were much more encouraging. The Grand Prix award was given to Qmodule founder and physicist Martyn Nunuparov for a piezoelectric converter that generates power from human muscle, and which was incorporated into chips and transmitters integrated with numerous devices such as door locks, wireless switches, and modules for other electronics manufacturers. The converter is mounted underneath a switch button, which a person presses to generate a current strong enough to power a modern processor. Such a battery will never wear out, and AFK Sistema announced its intentions to fund Nunuparov's technology. The Best Innovation Project award went to Speereo Software for its Speereo Voice Translator program, a project to create voice recognition for mobile devices. The program's voice recognition ability was demonstrated to be more or less equal to that of commercial programs, and boasted a 95 percent accuracy level during testing; average commercial systems usually support 70 percent accuracy. The system is also speaker independent, so it has no need of preset tuning to the user's voice. Dmitri Rakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences Engineering Institute received Intel's Best IT and Telecommunications Project award for designing an electronic glove with tactile sensors that correspond to a particular letter or numeric character, which visually impaired people can use to type words on a computer as well as read.
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  • "Is Java Cooling Off?"
    CNet (06/28/04); LaMonica, Martin

    This week's JavaOne conference highlights the growing discontent over Sun Microsystems' handling of the cross-platform programming language. Many companies and legions of corporate developers depend on Java as an alternative to Microsoft's .Net and development tools, but the business difficulties Sun is facing have carried over into its management of Java technology. The Sun-controlled Java Community Process (JCP) has been challenged on a number of fronts this year, with IBM and BEA going directly to open-source groups to standardize back-end Java features, and competition from the open-source Eclipse foundation. Disunity in the Java community is especially harmful with Microsoft's strong push in .Net offerings and the quick adoption of new enterprise architecture aspects such as Web services, XML, and the Linux operating system; Java needs to be on the forefront of those emerging technologies in order to remain important in the future, says Forrester Research analyst John Rymer. IBM has called for Sun to make Java open source in order to strengthen its competitiveness, and WebSphere infrastructure director Bob Sutor says an open-source Java implementation bundled with Linux distributions would dramatically increase the programming language's popularity. The open-source community is faster in approving standards and brings more resources to bear than Sun's JCP, but Sun executives seem only to be thinking about how to grow their Java-derived revenue, says Rick Ross, founder of Java developer Web site the Java lobby. The JavaOne conference will feature a panel discussion concerning Java's open-source future, and Sun software head John Loiacono says the company is working toward that goal, although he has not said when it will happen. He says the main concern for Sun and its customers is that Java does not fragment.
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  • "Let Software Catch the Game for You"
    New Scientist (06/30/04); Randerson, James

    Several research teams are trying to develop software that can automatically recognize key moments in live TV sports broadcasts and edit them into a clip of highlights. A team at Dublin's Trinity College is working out a methodology by using PC-based software to study table-based ball games such as snooker and pool: The software determines the balls' positions using the table's edges and the location of the pockets as reference points, and is programmed with the rules of the game so it can track balls in motion and ascertain the action they signify. This scheme involves a limited number of moving objects that can be easily tracked, unlike sports such as soccer and American football, which have the added disadvantage of taking place on a playing field with patchy, variable color that can also confuse the software. A team at Italy's University of Florence is pursuing a solution that does not involve tracking the movement of the ball or the players, using a soccer game as a template. Their software focuses on the positions of players in set pieces, and determines which area is in the frame by pinpointing the position of the pitch markings in a shot. The software then checks the positions the players assume in relation to the markings, and decides whether a player is about to perform a set piece as well as whether or not the result of the action is a goal. Ahmet Ekin of New York's University of Rochester has authored software that ascertains whether a goal has been scored by looking for a specific sequence of camera shots, and he aims to integrate picture analysis with audio analysis to boost the accuracy of the results. All of the research promises to save broadcasters lots of money in editing costs and pave the way for video recorders that allow people to tailor sports highlights packages to their personal preferences.
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  • "Apple's RSS Embrace Could Bolster Adoption"
    eWeek (06/28/04); Hicks, Matt

    Apple Computer says RSS (really simple syndication) support will be built into the next Safari browser, to be released with the upcoming Tiger Mac OS X in the first half of 2005. Opera 7.50, released in May, also supports XML syndication and Mozilla plans to include the technology in its upcoming Firefox 1.0 browser to be unveiled in a couple months. The new browsers will automatically detect available XML syndication feeds and allow users to subscribe on the spot without having to copy and paste code in their XML newsreaders as they do now. The move will simplify RSS subscription and make the technology more accessible to average users, according to experts, who also note Apple's entry will likely spur interest from other technology companies. RSS co-author Dave Winer says Microsoft is also expected to support RSS in its upcoming Longhorn Windows version, though the company has not made any official announcement; for the time being, businesses that embraced RSS early on will be rewarded while other companies will hurry to incorporate syndication in their Web offerings. Each of the new browsers approach RSS differently, with Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox supporting RSS as well as the more sophisticated Atom XML syndication format. Opera will treat feeds as email and provide access through its email application, while Mozilla will let users save and manage feeds as bookmarks. Standalone newsreaders could be outmoded with the incorporation of RSS feeds in browsers themselves, though developer Brent Simmons wrote in his blog that Safari's RSS capabilities do not seem equal to those of the NetNewsWire newsreader; but he wrote that the introduction of a Safari newsreader would probably consolidate the newsreader offerings for the Mac OS X, of which there currently about a dozen.
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  • "Hardware Today--Cutting Through the Infiniband Buzz"
    ServerWatch (06/28/04); Freeman, Ben

    Mellanox's Kevin Deierling characterizes Infiniband technology's four key strengths as being a standards-based protocol, 10 Gbps performance, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA), and transport offload. The open Infiniband standard is supported by the 225 companies comprising the Infiniband Trade Association; its performance trumps the top speeds of Fibre Channel (4 Gbps) and Ethernet (1 Gbps); the Host Channel Adapters used by Infiniband-enabled servers boast RDMA, which is thought to be ideal for clusters because it lets servers know and control the components of each other's memory through a virtual addressing scheme; and transport offload saves processing power for other jobs by shifting data packet routing from the operating system to the chip level. Infiniband is proving popular in research labs and educational institutions as an interconnect technology for high-performance computing and clusters, but vendors of the technology are also targeting the data center market. Infiniband hardware provider Voltaire expects to spur enterprise Infiniband deployments by offering incentives that promise to save customers money and space while making the system more dependable and manageable. Still, enterprise Infiniband adoption could be hindered despite its clustering advantages: Infiniband performance may be better than Ethernet, but this may not necessarily drive customers away from Ethernet if Ethernet is doing an adequate job, notes Gartner Research's James Opfer. Fibre Channel, meanwhile, will not abdicate anytime soon, as Opfer expects the technology to be in good health through the end of the decade.
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  • "Supercomputers to Examine Life Itself"
    Computing (06/30/04); Watson, James

    More and more high-performance computing projects will focus on life itself for the purposes of drug discovery, bioinformatics, and biological simulation, whereas previous initiatives have emphasized such applications as weapons testing, weather forecasting, and space exploration. Grid computing, data and knowledge management, visualization, and micro-fabrication processes are just some of the technologies involved in contemporary life sciences research. Dr. Paul Seidler with IBM's Zurich research lab says that "biology in its most abstract sense...consists of coding of information that is in the DNA and the processing and storage of that information," and adds that IBM's life sciences research efforts are pushing the envelope of computational methods in order to facilitate precise and accurate molecule simulation. The supercomputer at IBM's Zurich facility was built to provide the massive parallel computing power needed to calculate the sophisticated algorithms necessary for reliable biological simulation, notes the Zurich lab's Wanda Andreoni. IBM announced a major breakthrough in May that could play a critical role in the development of drugs based on the hormone progesterone, using in-silico techniques rather than experimenting with live cells. IBM intends to amplify supercomputing power by one order of magnitude through its $100 million Blue Gene/L project, which was designed to study protein-folding. A pair of Blue Gene/L prototypes made the top 10 in the most recent Top500 supercomputing ranking, but their processing power is expected to be dwarfed by a full-fledged Blue Gene/L system that will be installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2005.
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  • "Sixth Sense"
    Science News (06/19/04) Vol. 165, No. 25, P. 392; Weiss, Peter

    MIT's Media Lab straddles the leading edge of electric field imaging systems research and development. People have been exploiting electric fields to detect objects in close proximity for approximately 100 years, but Media Lab researchers started exploring electric field imaging in the early 1990s when they saw that such a method could be used to determine the sizes, shapes, and positions of objects without expending a lot of processing time and resources, notes Intel Research's Joshua R. Smith. MIT breakthroughs in electric field imaging include the spirit chair, a wireless, gesture-controlled music system, and tables that project information displays based on hand positions and motions read by hidden electrodes. A joint project between the Media Lab and Elesys North America founder Philip H. Rittmueller has yielded an airbag-controller that employs electric field imaging to determine a passenger or driver's position and size so it can adjust the airbag's deployment to avoid serious injury. Motorola collaborated with both Rittmueller's group and the Media Lab to develop an electric field imaging chip that replaces roughly 90 discrete electronic elements; the device is mainly used in the automotive market, though a 2003 contest held by Circuit Cellar magazine indicates that the chip could also be used in antitheft briefcases and a sleep-monitoring system, among other things. MIT researchers aim to refine electric field imaging technology to generate more detailed renderings of 3D contours of objects and people within a specific space for location purposes. The complexity of electric field interactions means the calculations required to glean images of objects from electric field data are considerably more complicated than the math needed to extract images from data collected in magnetic resonance images or computer-assisted tomography scans. When he was an MIT grad student, Smith streamlined those calculations so computers could perform them in an acceptable amount of time.
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  • "Kerry Pledges $30B for Tech R&D, Broadband"
    InformationWeek (06/28/04) No. 995, P. 32; Ricadela, Aaron

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) promised that, if elected, he would spend $30 billion to boost American research and development of science and technology through budget increases for federal agencies and tax incentives. In his recent speech at San Jose University, Kerry also pledged to institute a 10 percent tax credit for investments in broadband Internet access technology in inner cities and rural regions, and a 20 percent tax credit for investment in networks that are 20 percent speedier than current networks. Kerry also promised to remove taxes on capital gains from investments in small businesses held for a minimum of five years, prolong a 20 percent tax credit on annual increases in R&D spending, and strip away tax incentives for businesses that outsource jobs overseas. He claimed that the tax credits would cost $2 billion over five years, inject $500 billion into the economy, and create over 1 million new tech jobs. The U.S. currently holds the No. 10 spot in terms of broadband adoption worldwide, despite a 42 percent increase in broadband penetration last year to 28.2 million lines. Kerry declared that "If Bangalore in India can be completely wired, then so should all of America." He also promised to ratchet up funding for NASA, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Institutes of Health, which underwrite R&D in advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, IT, and clean energy sources. The candidate said the $30 billion plan could be funded by the sales of unused TV transmission spectrum following the nation's transition from analog to digital TV.
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  • "Emerging Technologies Progress Report"
    Computerworld (06/28/04) Vol. 32, No. 26, P. 23; Mitchell, Robert L.

    Tablet PCs, InfiniBand, server blades, and Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) networked storage have had their ups and downs in the two years since they first generated interest as potential enterprise tools: Some appear to be ready for mainstream enterprise adoption, while others are having a hard time reaching that goal. Tablet PCs are doing well in forms-based, vertical niche markets where they are often used to replace proprietary slate devices, but their adoption as a replacement for general-purpose notebooks has been limited by pen accuracy, overall performance issues, and limited battery life, although General Motors CTO Tony Scott reports that the first two factors have improved. The vision of InfiniBand as a standard I/O interconnect for all data center devices obviating the need for separate Fibre Channel or Ethernet adapters and server cabling remains elusive, but the technology is being used as a substitute for server-to-server communication in high-performance server clusters. However, the rivalry between InfiniBand and Ethernet could heat up with the continued decline of Ethernet's cost. Though server blades' penetration into the data center has been slow, IDC analyst Vernon Turner forecasts a major uptake over the next four years as IT organizations acquire the newest designs as a replacement for rack-mounted servers. He also believes the technology's increasing sophistication will override disadvantages such as heat and a lack of interchangeability. ISCSI got off to a slow start, but IDC expects iSCSI storage systems to dominate 22.6 percent of the storage systems market by 2007 thanks to its support of cheap, departmental storage area networks. ISCSI shares with Fibre Channel the ability to write data to storage arrays as if the devices had a direct server connection; but iSCSI storage systems can employ Ethernet cabling, switches, and adapters, while Fibre Channel cannot.
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  • "An Insecure Future"
    Embedded Systems Programming (06/04) Vol. 17, No. 6, P. 9; Murphy, Niall

    Embedded systems designers are facing diverse security threats that make reliance on third-party security products or the underlying operating system (OS) impossible. These systems will become more susceptible to viruses, worms, and malware that typically target desktop computers as they employ sophisticated OSes: For instance, the penetration of conventional OSes into popular devices such as TV set-top boxes is likely to be exploited by hackers, and securing such systems is a formidable challenge because they are used by a wide variety of consumers who reasonably expect not to have to regularly install security patches and enforce password policies. Another target for hackers are devices on the edge of the Internet that are exploitable because of the high level of trust between PCs and embedded systems, an example being a Bluetooth-enabled phone that can permit hackers to spy on a handset's phonebook without the owner's awareness. Such exploitation will become easier as more devices support wireless connections. Hackers can also launch viral attacks against PCs connected to phones, MP3 players, and other appliances; most PCs will not suffer any effects of this type of intrusion, but the beauty of this strategy is that it makes the attack harder to detect, thus increasing the chances of a wider epidemic. A number of defensive strategies against reverse engineering are available: Removing markings from chips is one approach, while on-chip program memory is a more secure option. Still another anti-reverse engineering scheme is the incorporation of a unique unit ID in each product that corresponds to an encrypted key. Extreme safeguards are usually reserved for cases in which the value of the data being manipulated by the system is greater than that of the system's design.
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