ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either Gateway Inc. or ACM.
To send comments, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volume 3, Issue 235: Friday, August 3, 2001
- "Net Job Boards: More Hype Than Help?"
USA Today (08/03/01) P. 1B; Armour, Stephanie
Studies indicate that online job boards may not be as efficient and effective as they are hyped to be. A report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project raises the possibility that job boards discriminate, making grounds for lawsuits. Almost 60 percent of whites have Web access, while only 43 percent of African-Americans are online. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and CareerJournal.com finds that less than half of respondents considered online job postings effective, while 80 percent preferred personal contact and networking and 65 percent favored employee referrals. A 2000 study from Drake Beam Morin indicates that there is an overabundance of entry-level positions advertised online; a mere 3 percent of executives between jobs were hired through the Web, while 68 percent found jobs through networking. Critics such as CMW & Associates' Charlene Turczyn warn that becoming a job-board candidate can do more harm than good, as it gives many employers the impression of laziness. Recruiters could also place themselves in the unenviable position of wading through a glut of responses by posting jobs online.
- "IBM Making A Commitment to Next Phase of the Internet"
New York Times (08/02/01) P. C1; Lohr, Steve
IBM is financing the largest commercial push into a new networked computing strategy called the "grid." Although the company will not say how much it is contributing to the project, it is headed by IBM's technology guru, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who also instigated the company's $1 billion Linux commitment. Grid technology promises to link all computing devices together via the Internet, allowing them to pool their collective computing power, much like current distributed computing networks, such as SETI@home, do today. But grid computing would imply far more applications, such as remote, real-time collaboration on physics, geological, and genetic research projects that require supercomputing power. Much of the success of grid computing relies on software development programs such as the Globus project, which is organized by U.S. university researchers and scientists under the open-source model. Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have also contributed to the project, despite those companies' reliance on a proprietary operating system for desktops and servers. Peter Jeffcock, a Sun manager, says of grid computing, "The productivity gains are huge and we think it's inevitable." Britain and the Netherlands have also begun national grid projects, beginning in those countries' research infrastructures, but with the potential to provide supercomputing power through a public-utility model.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors will need to register.)
- "'Code Red' Creeping Worldwide"
Washington Post (08/02/01) P. E1; Wong, Nicole C.
The Sans Institute reports that almost 150,000 Web-linked computers worldwide were infected by the "Code Red" worm yesterday evening, but Internet security experts are hopeful that precautions will make its effects less pronounced than during its previous attack a month ago. Twenty servers in the United States, Britain, China, Taiwan, and Russia were the first victims of the worm, according to the institute. The worm exploits a flaw in Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, and Microsoft Internet Information Server versions 4.0 and 5.0. To eliminate this vulnerability, Microsoft has created a patch offered free over the Internet and claims that over 1 million users have downloaded it. However, Internet Security Alliance executive director Dave McCurdy warns that Code Red could be the forerunner of even more malicious computer infections.
- "Many Say Tech Firms At Bottom, But Not Yet Rising"
Investor's Business Daily (08/03/01) P. A6; Prado, Antonio A.
Analysts are saying the tech economy is near the bottom of the trough, but they do not know when it will recover. Several indicators show that the slowdown has leveled off, including slightly positive numbers from the monthly CIO Magazine/Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown executive index, which measures year-over-year tech spending prognosis and review. Basically, says Deutsche Banc chief analyst Ed Yardeni, firms are not eager to start spending money again, even though the economy seems to have stabilized at low levels. Employment reports also show the number of dot-com layoffs have decreased for two consecutive months, indicating that the worst in that sector is over. And other observers say that Federal Reserve interest rate cuts have yet to take effect, but will do so in the beginning of next year.
- "Analysts Dispute Corporate Cost of Personal Web Use"
NewsFactor Network (08/02/01); Gill, Lisa
Employees who surf the Web during work hours cost U.S. businesses $63 billion yearly, says Websense, an Internet management firm. The loss is due to employees who book flights, check personal email, go to online auctions, and so on during company time. Yet Websense does not recommend shutting off access to the Web. "The Internet can still be an incredibly powerful and useful business tool if managed correctly," explains Websense's VP of marketing Andy Meyer. He believes $63 billion is a below-average estimate since he left out bandwidth, storage, and legal issues. Privacy Foundation researcher Andrew Schulman, however, doubts that Websense's calculations are reliable. Moreover, employees would still find other time-wasting activities to do in the absence of the Internet, he says.
- "Microsoft Loses Bid for Case's Rehearing"
Washington Post (08/03/01) P. E1; Krim, Jonathan
The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Microsoft's bid to have one part of its antitrust ruling reconsidered, increasing the likelihood of a Supreme Court appeal. Critics of the company and many legal experts say asking for a Supreme Court hearing would buy more time for Microsoft to release its new Windows XP operating system without government interference. Microsoft had asked the appeals court to reconsider its condemnation of Microsoft's use of the same code for the operating system and Internet Explorer in previous Windows editions. According to the government's argument, that practice restricted computer manufacturers' ability to introduce competing products to Internet Explorer on the desktop and thus strengthening the Microsoft Internet browser monopoly. Windows XP incorporates many video, audio, and Internet features that Microsoft faces stiff competition in. Government antitrust regulators want to stop the release of Windows XP until they can secure agreements from Microsoft that it will allow fair competition for those products in the new operating system. The U.S. Court of Appeals also rejected a request from the government to speed the appointment of a judge to the new trial, which is set to fall under district court jurisdiction in a few days.
- "Hand-Held Makers Slash Prices and Rev Up Promotions as Sales Slow"
Wall Street Journal (08/02/01) P. B1; Tam, Pui-Wing; Khan, Mahvish
Compaq, Sony, Palm, Handspring, and other PDA manufacturers are looking to boost sales figures with back-to-school season promotions. While most of the handheld computer makers have cut prices on older models, they are also bringing down the price on newer, Internet-ready devices as well. Handspring, for example, has lowered the price of its cell-phone adaptor for Internet connections, the VisorPhone, from $299 to only $49. Handspring sells the Visor Deluxe handheld for only $199, down $50 since May. Analysts say that handheld devices may have run up against a significant sales barrier as the technological capabilities of their products need improvement before they appeal again to consumers. Features such as fast Internet access and improved voice capabilities are commonly thought to be key, as well as continued improvement to the operating system. Microsoft plans to release its new PDA operating system by December.
- "Companies Bracing for Code Red, But Is It Tip of Iceberg?"
Investor's Business Daily (08/02/01) P. A4; Howell, Donna
The Code Red computer worm infects vulnerable Web servers, which in turn seek out other servers as prey to attack. It is programmed to proliferate like a virus over the next two-and-half weeks, causing infected systems to flood the White House Web site with a denial-of-service assault. Since the first Code Red outbreak in July, Microsoft has issued a free patch designed to close any security holes. However, computer scientist David Moore notes that only about 10 percent of the roughly 360,000 computers that were infected in July have been fixed; at least 30 percent are not repaired, while uncertainty governs the remaining 60 percent. "There are probably 100,000 to 300,000 machines sitting out there which either have it [the worm] or could get it again," he says. Arbor Networks co-founder Ted Julian believes that upgraded versions of the Code Red virus could potentially infect hundreds of thousands to millions of systems in mere days.
- "Internet, Embedded Devices Welcoming Linux"
CyberAtlas (07/31/01); Pastore, Michael
A survey conducted by Evans Data finds that Linux is finding its way into Internet and embedded devices thanks to its low cost, stability, and ease of connectivity. Fourteen percent of 500 embedded products developers have released a Linux application and 45 percent said they plan to release an application in the next 12 months. The software's royalty-free license and large developer community were the chief reasons the respondents selected Linux. Problems they encountered include a fragmented code base, the unavailability of specific drivers, and a scarcity of support for certain boards. Idaya/Free VSD forecasts a more than 150 percent growth rate for the Linux market this year. This rate could be sped up through the addition of improved software capability and GUIs, journaling file systems operations, and simpler installation. Linux is expected to be the world's leading Web server platform by the middle of 2002 and the leading Web hosting technology by 2003, according to Idaya/Free VSD.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "ICANN's Controversial Crusader"
San Jose Mercury News Online (08/01/01); Ostrom, Mary Anne
ICANN board member Karl Auerbach is criticizing ICANN for its slow roll-out of new TLDs. In fact, Auerbach advocates a broader expansion of TLDs so that marketplace demand can choose which TLDs are successful. Auerbach, who criticized ICANN's decision-making process at a February, 2001, U.S. Senate hearing as being impenetrable, has both detractors and adherents. ICANN President M. Stuart Lynn argues that Auerbach is often critical for criticism's sake. "Karl sits at one end of the spectrum and many people disagree with him," says Lynn. The Center for Democracy and Technology's Alan Davidson is an Auerbach supporter. ICANN critic Larry Erlich says that many dismiss Auerbach as a modern-day Don Quixote.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.
- "14 Letters That Spell the Future?"
Washington Post (08/02/01) P. E1; Chea, Terence
Bioinformatics, a new term meaning the use of computers to analyze genetic and cellular data, is taking root in the Washington, D.C. area. While Maryland is rich in biotechnology with organizations such as Human Genome Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute located there, D.C. and Virginia are well-known technology hotbeds. Bioinformatics is the conjoining of the biotechnology and technology sectors, says Keith Elliston, CEO of Viaken Systems, a Maryland-based bioinformatics company. Elliston and several other industry leaders in the area recently formed the Regional Bioinformatics Coalition. Wei-Wu He, of the venture capital firm Emerging Technology, says the number of business plans his company reviews for bioinformatics has dramatically increased since the completion of the Human Genome Project, when scientists and drug companies realized they had to rely upon computers to make use of the huge amounts of genetic data.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "New Software Pinpoints the Location of Web Users"
Financial Times (08/02/01) P. 7; Leising, Matthew
The very city where Web users log on can be traced with geo-location software, a new development that holds potential for many industries, including Internet gambling, telephony, and e-commerce. Internet telephony providers can use the software to confirm that subscribers are standing by the locality-based rates they signed up for. Net2Phone is doing this with software from Quova. Gambling concerns can determine whether bets are being placed in areas where online gambling is legal. Broadcasting, pharmaceutical, and digital rights management firms can apply geo-location software to online ventures that are dependent on country specific statutes. On the other hand, privacy advocates are worried that such technology will compromise a user's right to anonymity and restrict data access.
- "Talk Is Cheap. But Is It Disposable?"
New York Times (08/02/01) P. E1; Milstein, Sarah
Disposable phones will begin to hit the market this fall, with at least three significant entries available by early next year. Dieceland Technologies, founded by toy inventor Randi Altschul specifically for her phone invention, boasts a significant technological breakthrough that elongates the core circuitry of the cell phone and folds it so that the circuit board itself becomes a light-weight, pocket-sized Phone-Card-Phone, as the product is called. A headset plugs in at one end of the phone and a battery device at the other. Altschul says the phones could be sold for as little as $10 and used as marketing tools for companies. Other devices planned do not have keypads, but instead rely upon voice-recognition dialing and a centralized connection service provided by the carrier. Critics of the disposable phone companies say the economic barriers will prevent carriers from realizing profits from the devices, while others complain that they contribute to America's waste problems because the phones contain poisonous batteries and energy-consuming circuitry. Others contend that the explosive growth of the prepaid cell phone market, which IDC pegs at 23 million users by 2005, will prove fertile ground for the new disposable phones.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors will need to register.)
- "Supercomputer May Reveal Origin of Universe"
NewsFactor Network (08/01/01); McDonald, Tim
Britain's "Cosmology Machine" is a U.S.$2 million supercomputer reportedly capable of examining the history of the universe and making predictions about its eventual end. A consortium of scientists will use the machine to process billions of cosmological observations and calculate the creation and evolution of the cosmos at a rate of 10 billion math operations per second. The supercomputer's data storage capacity is seven terabytes and its RAM capacity is 112 GB. "We are able to instruct the supercomputer on how to make artificial universes which can be compared to astronomical observations," boasts Carlo Frenk, director of the British Institute for Computational Cosmology.
- "Software Freedom Fighters"
National Journal (07/28/01) Vol. 33, No. 30, P. 2388; Clark, Drew
Copyleft is the distribution license of Linux and other open-source operating systems, one that runs counter to copyright law by keeping software open and able to be copied by anyone. Microsoft is fiercely opposed to Linux for copyleft and other open-source licenses. "Companies who think they can give away their products--or build them on the backs of those [products] that have no intellectual-property value--will be unable to sustain their businesses," claims Microsoft's Craig Mundie. "It also fundamentally undermines the independent commercial-software sector because it effectively makes it impossible to distribute software on a basis where recipients pay for the product rather than just the cost of distribution." Open-source supporters counter that copyright laws limit the freedom programmers have to study, duplicate and alter source code, a stricture that translates into sluggish technological progress. They also argue that copyleft licensing is viable regardless of whether copyright law protects software. Meanwhile, some economists and law professors contend that the copyright law itself is outdated.
- "Wearable Computing Comes Off the Peg"
New Scientist Online (07/27/01); Knight, Will
The Wearable Internet Appliance (WIA) from Shimadzu will be the first wearable computer product to receive a serious marketing push. Geared toward general consumers, the WIA is a computer the size of a palm-top mated with a head-mounted screen designed to be worn over one eye. The device will operate on Microsoft's CE operating system, while a new 128 MHz RISC processor from Hitachi will power it at near-desktop levels. Scrolling and selection will be controlled from a handheld interface. The WIA will be marketed by Xybernaut, which will also adapt it for wireless Internet services. The product is expected to hit the market this Christmas.
- "The Open Road"
CommVerge (07/01) Vol. 2, No. 7, P. 41; Pall, Chuck
Open standards may play a role in future automotive-based electronics systems. With electronics now comprising 35 percent of an automobile's overall cost, automakers are seeking a way to build an open networking standard to allow communications between the electronic devices in different automobiles. As few automakers want to release their proprietary networks, developers are working on a gateway network that will connect those networks to an open standard network. This effort, the Automotive Multimedia Interface Collaboration, has released one such set of standard network specifications and is working on a future release. In addition, developers are considering such computing networking standards as IEEE 1394, which could be attractive to automakers because of its capacity for high bandwidth. Automakers believe that open network standards could be essential to driving new automobile-based applications, from common electronic devices such as cell phones to more cutting-edge technologies such as location-based devices and music and video applications. Also, emerging networking standards such as Bluetooth could allow handheld devices to interface with automobile networks. However, the development of an open networking standard for automobiles could stall if automakers do not see a potential return on their investment or if they feel the applications supported by such networking could threaten the safety of drivers and mission-critical systems.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "A Debate Rages on IT Spending and Productivity"
Red Herring (08/01/01) No. 101, P. 24
The relationship between IT spending and productivity has been called into question again, especially after a slowdown in the first quarter followed projections of hypergrowth--projections spurred by economists' assumptions that IT rendered traditional business cycles obsolete. A McKinsey & Company report due this August is expected to support a hypergrowth forecast, finding a clear link between IT spending and productivity. Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon favors the opposite view, arguing, "There is no sign of a fundamental transformation of the U.S. economy." MIT's Robert Solow predicts that the economy will experience a rate of productivity growth somewhere in-between the sluggish growth of 1973 through 1995 and the tremendous growth of the late 1990s. Martin Baily, former chair of the Clinton administration's Council of Economic Advisors, maintains that the economy will experience 2.1 percent annual productivity growth in the long term, as predicted by Clinton's final economic report to Congress.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "Truce or Dare"
eWeek (07/27/01) Vol. 18, No. 29, P. 24; Zimmerman, Michael R.
The Truce Campaign of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) could serve as a new anti-piracy business model. The BSA's nationwide letter and radio campaign is designed to ensure that small and medium-sized companies are using software products that satisfy software makers. However, eWeek has investigated the Truce Campaign and has found it to be a marketing ploy that scares businesses into buying more software. In fact, according to Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for the BSA, the software advocacy group has seen significant increases in sales in the 19 markets in which the campaign has run. Meanwhile, the BSA has come under fire for following hardball strategies, such as sending carefully worded threatening letters to companies and running radio spots that warn businesses to beware of disgruntled employees who might blow the whistle on them. Companies also told eWeek that the campaign is vague and misleading, such as suggesting that the BSA would return to cities and investigate companies. Although the campaign has encouraged many companies to comply, many were so put off by the initiative that they have sought out alternative products, such as open source, instead.
© Copyright 2001 Information, Inc. This service may be reproduced for internal distribution.