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Volume 1, Issue 3: Monday, December 6, 1999

  • "IBM Plans Supercomputer That Works at Speed of Life"
    New York Times (12/06/99) P. C1; Lohr, Steve

    IBM today will announce its intention to invest $100 million over the next five years to build Blue Gene, a supercomputer that will be 500 times faster than current supercomputing technology. IBM has ambitious plans for Blue Gene. Researchers plan to use the supercomputer, which will be able to perform 1,000 trillion calculations per second, to simulate the natural biological process by which amino acids fold themselves into proteins. Blue Gene, which will stand six feet tall, occupy 1,600 square feet of floor space, and include about 1 million microprocessors, will need roughly a year to perform the protein-folding simulation. The human body manages the task in less than a second. "It's absolutely amazing the complexity of the problem and the simplicity with which the body does it every day," said Ajay Royyuru, a researcher in IBM's computational biology center. Blue Gene will require IBM to devise new standards of computer architecture to enable super high-speed calculations and highly advanced software to run at the high speeds without causing bottlenecks. It is hoped that the Blue Gene project will be a positive influence to the research community in general as well, by attracting scientists to research projects rather than the lure of easy Internet money, and by the computer's ability to perform other, relatively simple biological simulations.

  • "U.S. to Detail Its Charges on Microsoft"
    Wall Street Journal (12/06/99) P. A3; Wilke, John R.

    The Justice Department and 19 states today plan to file specific charges against Microsoft for three violations of the Sherman Act. The government will charge Microsoft with two violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act; one for illegally protecting and extending its Windows software monopoly, and another for trying to monopolize Internet software. In addition, the government will charge Microsoft with one violation of Section 1 for common business practices such as exclusive contracts that the government says are illegal in Microsoft's case because it holds a monopoly. Microsoft argues that the government's anticipated Section 2 claim of attempted monopolization and the Section 1 claim of illegal business practices are not backed by Judge Jackson's findings of fact. Jackson did find evidence lacking in some government claims in his Nov. 5 findings. For example, Jackson wrote, "...the evidence is insufficient to find that Microsoft's ambition is a future in which most or all of the content available on the Web would be accessible only through its own browsing software." However, Jackson notes that the evidence supports Microsoft's intent to protect Windows from the movement of many software applications to the Web. Therefore, the government's arguments are likely to center on the Section 2 claim that Microsoft violated antitrust law in guarding its Windows monopoly. Faced with this charge, Microsoft would probably contend that monopolies are allowed to compete aggressively--an argument upheld by a number of appellate court opinions. Although the settlement talks are moving forward, with three meetings scheduled for the next two weeks, a settlement is considered unlikely.

  • "Computer Chip Researchers Set to Showcase Advances"
    New York Times (12/06/99) P. C12; Markoff, John

    Semiconductor researchers meeting this week in Washington for the International Electron Device Meeting will announce new advances in chip making that might allow the industry to progress well beyond recent predictions. Some scientists in recent years have projected that semiconductor circuitry will reach its limits by 2014, but this week's announcements indicate that researchers will be able to keep progressing beyond that time. For example, the University of California at Berkeley will present a paper on a transistor that could possibly be made as small as 18 nanometers in width, or 20 times smaller than today's smallest transistors. The transistor design could enable the development of devices with 400 times the storage capability of today's densest memory chips, Berkeley researchers believe. Meanwhile, IBM researchers will present papers on new developments in transistors and materials that might soon be released commercially. IBM scientists, together with researchers from Infineon Technologies, will present a new vertical transistor that stacks logic circuits on top of memory circuits. By contrast, today's designs arrange these circuits in a single-level configuration. IBM's new design could eliminate the processor-to-memory delays that are currently the largest obstacle in high-speed computer designs. In addition, IBM will discuss a new complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, based on the silicon-on-insulator manufacturing process, that could enable chips that run at speeds over a billion operations per second. Finally, Motorola will present a new type of crystalline oxide material called perovskites that might offer benefits over the silicon dioxides traditionally used as chip insulators.

  • "Internet Fraud a Growing Concern to Online Merchants"
    Newsbytes (12/06/99); Dennis, Sylvia

    Three out of every four online merchants are worried about credit card fraud, yet only 59 percent realize they are financially responsible for incidents of such fraud, according to a new report from Mindwave that was commissioned by CyberSource. The report surveyed more than 100 businesses across the globe. Online merchants say their top concerns are the lack of consumer confidence, the use of stolen credit cards, the accessing of customer information, hacking, and chargeback fees. The merchants also note that they would prefer that credit card companies and the government provide better regulations. Online sales would be better if online shoppers were not concerned about fraud, according to 72 percent of the merchants surveyed. Further, 74 percent of those surveyed predict that online fraud will be on the rise this holiday shopping season.

  • "Omnibus Appropriations Bill Holds Hidden Treasures for E-Commerce"
    E-Commerce Times (12/03/99); Hillebrand, Mary

    The omnibus appropriations bill that was signed last week includes an anti-cybersquatting bill that enables trademark owners to sue cybersquatters. The cybersquatting bill also holds that the Secretary of Commerce, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the Federal Election Office must investigate the registration of domain names that include personal names that differ from those of the owner. The law says that the study must come up with ways to protect personal names from being resold or used in a manner that is meant "to harm the reputation of the individual or the goodwill associated with that individual's name." The law also says that the personal names of government officials, candidates, and potential candidates for office must also be protected. The Commerce Department will work with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to come up with resolutions for disputes involving the registration of personal names. The study must be concluded by May. The budget law also allocates $1.4 million in funding for the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, which will report its findings on e-commerce taxes to Congress by next summer.

  • "Consumer Privacy Laws Are Likely to Proliferate in State Legislatures"
    American Banker (12/06/99) P. 1; Anason, Dean

    Sources say that anywhere from six to 25 states may eventually decide to draft consumer privacy protection measures that call for stiffer penalties than those outlined in the federal financial reform law signed last month by President Clinton. Already, the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Nebraska are at work drafting such legislation. However, Neal Osten of the National Conference of State Legislatures predicts that most states will be too busy to begin taking action on the issue until late 2000 or the following year. Annie Hall, chief lobbyist for Bank One and chairman of the Privacy Discussion Group, disagrees, noting that 25 states, including the 10 largest, are holding serious talks about privacy legislation. Municipalities may also decide to take action, Hall adds. The issue could turn into "a contest between the states and federal government as to who can work the fastest and have the most stringent restrictions," Hall says. Sen. Don Betzold (D-Minn.) says that the public wants greater privacy protections and that he would support an opt-in requirement for banks. Congress may decide to take up the financial privacy issue again next year.

  • "Internet Commerce Lures Indian Commerce Firms"
    Wall Street Journal (12/06/99) P. A26; Karp, Jonathan

    India-based Satyam Computer Services plans to expand its offerings to include developing ways its clients can make their own businesses part of the Internet commerce revolution. Satyam was previously heavily involved in ensuring computers were compliant for the year-2000 changeover; however, as the new year draws closer, many computers have already become Y2K-compliant. Satyam Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju says Y2K was a great opportunity for the company, but as the Internet expands, the opportunities for e-commerce seem much greater. Indian computer companies, which acquired a total of $2 billion in Y2K contracts, are moving aggressively into the e-commerce market. Satyam developed its own e-commerce initiative, Dr. Millennium, a diagnostic tool that can detect potential Y2K problems on computers and offer solutions. In addition to Dr. Millennium, Satyam intends to launch other Internet-based software solutions that go beyond Y2K-compliance, namely business-performance management software. Raju anticipates the company's sales will increase by 55 percent to 60 percent a year. Satyam has reached an agreement with State Farm Insurance to integrate a new software system for the insurer and health care firm and has enlisted Satyam to create a Web-based application that will increase the process of developing and testing drugs. The Indian company has also established a joint venture with General Electric to provide computer-aided mechanical engineering, including the redesign of GE electricity turbines.

  • "RosettaNet Standard Is Gaining Vendor Support"
    Electrical Engineering Times Online (12/02/99); Costow, Terry

    There are now 29 companies supporting the RosettaNet standard of describing electronic components for more efficient business-to-business distribution. RosettaNet, which features a 6,000-word dictionary of engineering and business terms, will allow manufacturers, distributors, and OEMs to move parts along the supply chain faster and more efficiently and cheaply. Companies that have joined RosettaNet in October include Agilent Technologies, Lucent Technologies, NEC, and Philips Electronics-North America.

  • "New Disabled Web Site Unveiled"
    Associated Press (12/02/99); Jesdanun, Anick

    We Media has launched a new Web site for the disabled that will feature shopping, online college courses, chat rooms, and job listings. Site visitors must purchase special equipment, including a vibrating mouse, in order to leverage the site's unique features. We Media is the only site to feature software coding that works with the vibrating mouse. The vibrating mouse could prove to be a key tool if it works everywhere on the Internet, said Richard Ring, Head of the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind.

  • "New Disguise for Infection of Computers"
    New York Times (12/04/99) P. B1; Markoff, John

    A computer worm called W32.Mypics.Worm with a trigger date of Jan. 1 began infecting computer systems on Thursday, marking the start of what experts believe will be a number of destructive programs disguising themselves as Y2K problems. The worm has already shown up at a number of corporations, and anti-virus firms say they have released code that rids systems of the worm. "There is so much media attention about Y2K problems that this is a great way to disguise a malicious program," says Symantec's Marian Merritt. W32.Mypics.Worm targets Windows users and spreads as an email attachment in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. An infected system will send the worm to as many as 50 people in the user's Outlook address book, with an email that reads, "Here's some pictures for you!" When users try to open the attachment called "pics4you.exe," the worm infects the Windows registry. In addition, rather than directing users to the home page of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, the worm sends users to a personal page on the Yahoo! Geocities Web site that contains pornographic pictures. After Jan. 1, the worm is set to deliver two payloads, the first of which tries to overwrite the system's BIOS so the computer will be unable to reboot. However, many of today's computers protect the BIOS from this type of attack. The second and more significant payload overwrites Windows' autoexec.bat file in order to reformat the hard drive and cause the system to lose all programs and data. If users simply delete the message and attachment, the worm will not harm the system.

  • "More Companies Monitor Employees' E-Mail"
    Wall Street Journal (12/02/99) P. B8; Wingfield, Nick

    Employers are increasingly checking employee email and are sending their own message that employees who partake in inappropriate emailing will lose their jobs. The New York Times just fired 20 employees and sent out warning letters to other employees, after the workers had sent what the publishing company referred to as "inappropriate and offensive" material. The company said that while it does not make it a habit of monitoring employee email, when a violation of policy is reported, the company does investigate. The New York Times is the latest in a long line of companies tightening the reigns on its Internet system. Xerox fired 40 employees for violating its policy, and Edward Jones & Co. fired 19 workers who sent inappropriate emails. Companies are cracking down on Internet use because of the risks they face with the potential liabilities involved in electronic communications. Companies are worried about the loss of trade secrets through email, as well as offensive material that could lead to harassment lawsuits.

  • "A Better Tap for Importing Beer"
    Internet World (12/01/99) Vol. 5, No. 34, P. 56; Roberts, Bill

    Heineken USA has implemented an Internet-based system that cuts in half the time required to send beer from its parent company in the Netherlands to U.S. distributors. In the past, Heineken used a paper-based reporting system that forced distributors to place orders 12 to 14 weeks before they needed to be restocked, says Heineken USA's Andy Thomas. In order to improve its ability to predict restock orders, process current orders, and fulfill orders, Heineken needed a single system. Since Heineken has only 2 percent of the U.S. market and the company's distributors are mainly partners of large U.S. beer companies, Heineken needed a solution that would be inexpensive for distributors. For that reason, Heineken turned to the Internet rather than an EDI system, for example. The company contracted American Software to build a Web-based forecast-and-planning application called Heineken Operational Planning System (HOPS) in 1995. By 1998, all 450 U.S. distributors were using HOPS to connect to the Holland-based parent company, and distributors are now able to restock in just six to eight weeks.

  • "To OC-192 or Not to OC-192"
    Telephony (11/22/99) Vol. 237, No. 21, P. 58; Miller, Elizabeth Starr

    Many carriers are beginning to conduct trials for OC-192, but some are more aggressive than others when it comes to actual deployment for live traffic. Service demands prompted AT&T to conduct a trial upgrade of its New York-to-Cambridge connection nearly six months before scheduled. Global Crossing announced that it would test OC-192 over its Cleveland-to-Chicago connection. Both companies intend to upgrade other segments of their IP networks according to customer demand. Level 3 is already transmitting at OC-192 throughout its whole network. PSINet, which is conducting laboratory trials of OC-192 with frame relay, plans to route traffic on its whole frame relay network in the near future. AT&T and Sprint are the only key players that have not made significant progress with OC-192, according to RHK senior analyst Dana Cooperson. Carriers are conducting OC-192 deployments because of their desire to provide OC-48-based services and the protection of Sonet, Cooperson said. In addition, companies that upgrade now will be able to take advantage of equipment that is less expensive and widely available.

  • "IBM Outlines Ambitious Post-PC Plans"
    C|Net (12/02/99); Wilcox, Joe

    IBM this week briefed industry analysts on its plans to move away from the one-size-fits-all PC to a new strategy called EON, or "edge of the network." With EON, IBM intends to focus more on connections and services, and combining disparate technologies together so that the company can meet the many needs of its customers. The first EON offering, an all-in-one PC built around a thick LCD display, could come as early as April 2000. IBM does not plan to make many of its new non-PC products available until the first or second half of 2001. "IBM's vision is right on, and they have more pieces in place than any other vendor in the world," says Joe Ferlazzo, a Technology Business Research analyst. Some of the new devices could include wearable PCs, foldable screens, and paper computers, and have new features such as embedded computer chips and support for wireless.

  • "Dawn of the Digital Marketplace"
    Upside (11/99) Vol. 11, No. 11, P. 124; Knorr, Eric

    The tremendous growth that is expected to occur in business-to-business e-commerce over the next several years will be enabled by a new kind of e-commerce site that brings buyers and sellers together to form a digital marketplace. The sites are divided into horizontal sites that provide a certain type of buyer with a wide range of products from different industries, and vertical sites, which focus on only one industry. Horizontal sites, such as Ariba Network and Commerce One's MarketSite.net, allow corporate buyers to save money by seamlessly integrating internal and external purchasing systems. Meanwhile, vertical sites pool information about a specific industry to simplify sourcing for customers and to offer sellers fast access to new customers. Digital marketplaces, both horizontal and vertical, can sell items using a catalog, exchange, or auction model. In the catalog model, vendors simply list prices and items for sale. In the exchange model, multiple buyers purchase from multiple vendors using a bid-ask system, providing both buyers and sellers with timely comparative pricing information. Meanwhile, auctions allow vendors to sell extra inventory rapidly and at a higher price than typical liquidators would be willing to pay. Some sites such as FastParts.com, use a combination of catalog, exchange, and auction models. To fully leverage the benefits of the digital marketplace, companies should have a well-implemented purchasing system and should reengineer their purchasing processes when deploying the new system. By integrating sourcing, purchasing, and billing, companies can improve the speed of transactions and cut expenses for acquiring business goods, services, and customers by over 50 percent, vendors and analysts say. The digital marketplace allows vendors to easily gain new customers, and allows buyers to save time and money in purchasing items. Experts predict that the most successful digital marketplaces will be those that offer availability rather than low prices, because corporate buyers are more concerned with getting their orders quickly than at a low cost.

  • "No Way to Run a Network"
    Scientific American (11/99) Vol. 281, No. 5, P. 56; Grossman, Wendy M.

    The effort to overhaul the domain name system keeps running into snags, writes Wendy M. Grossman. Network Solutions has held the government contract to distribute the top-level domains com, org, and net for the past eight years, but complaints in recent years led to a 1997 proposal to introduce global top-level domains and allow competition. The handling of global top-level domains and Internet numbers was given over to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) last year. While ICANN has begun testing and has named member organizations, it found itself before Congress over certain issues. Opponents are also concerned about the trademark-dispute process and the possibility that ICANN will censor too harshly and help undermine privacy. Network Solutions has drawn ire with its statement that its database is intellectual property, with possible antitrust probes in discussion at the Justice Department and European Commission. Grossman writes that the registrations should be considered public property and that qualms about government and ICANN's potential authority are the sort of thing that always surface along with centralization. Perhaps a better solution would be to create a "separation of powers" by putting different entities in charge of domain names and Internet numbers, Grossman writes. However, Grossman says competition with other registries will keep ICANN from being able to control the entire Internet. Decentralization is still important, Grossman concludes.

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