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Volume 2, Issue 23:  Monday, February 28, 2000

  • "3 Big Carmakers to Create Net Site for Buying Parts"
    Washington Post (02/26/00) P. E1; Brown, Warren; Walker, Leslie

    General Motors, Ford Motor, and DaimlerChrysler announced Friday they will create a single online exchange for all of their parts and supplies and invite other automakers from around the globe to join the venture. The formation of the new online buying service, eventually to become a separate company, is expected to reduce the costs of obtaining and shipping parts, increase profits, and avoid an increase in the consumer market price of new vehicles. The venture would be the largest of its kind to date and replaces efforts each of the three companies had already undertaken to develop individual component exchange Web sites. Many auto parts suppliers welcome the launch of this new exchange, saying it will eliminate a lot of the hassle and expense that arises when different automakers use different ordering systems.

  • "IDC: Unix, Windows NT Workstation Shipments Both Increased in 1999"
    ENT Magazine Online (02/22/00); Slepner, Isaac

    A recent report from International Data shows that shipments in 1999 of both Unix and Windows NT workstations increased for the first time in several years. The big player in the 1999 Unix market was Sun Microsystems, shipping 349,040 units for a 57 percent share of the market. Hewlett-Packard took the No. 2 spot with a 14.5 percent share, and IBM was third with a 13 percent share. Dell Computer achieved the top rank in the 1999 Windows NT market, holding a 25 percent share and shipping 249,544 machines. HP finished a strong second with a 23 percent share, followed by Compaq in third with a 19 percent share, and IBM in fourth with a 15 percent share. Total shipments in 1999 numbered 609,428 for Unix and 1.02 million for Windows NT.

  • "Palm Inc. Gets Ready for New Hands"
    Wall Street Journal (02/28/00) P. B1; Thurm, Scott

    Palm will hold its IPO this week, probably reaching a higher market value than parent company 3Com, but the handheld firm will likely be in a delicate position as it faces stronger competition during this period of transition. Since Palm released its first Palm Pilot organizer in 1996, the company has enjoyed great success, outselling devices based on Microsoft's Windows CE and increasing sales by 65 percent annually. In the fiscal year ending in May, Palm's sales are expected to surpass $1 billion. Palm has decided to license its software to competitors, in an effort to gain an edge in next-generation devices such as cell phones with Web capabilities. However, this business model could be problematic in the future if Palm, which now makes 99 percent of its revenue selling organizers, moves more toward software sales. Further complicating matters for Palm, several of its top executives have left the company--two of whom went on to form Palm rival Handspring--leaving Palm with only one top executive who has been in place for more than 10 months. In addition, Microsoft and the Symbian consortium both will move aggressively to push their software into handheld devices, challenging Palm's dominance. Palm's licensees will also compete for the handheld market. Still, users favor the Palm over rival products because of the Palm's design and the many applications that exist for the Palm. Palm, which has always been popular among consumers, is now capturing the corporate market as well, with technology managers sometimes purchasing thousands of the devices for their employees.

  • "EDS to Rival Internet Start-Ups"
    Reuters (02/28/00)

    Mainframe outsourcer Electronic Data Systems plans to announce today that it will begin offering Web-site hosting packages at a fixed price, in a move aimed at challenging dot-coms. EDS' revenue has been lagging recently, and the company now plans to offer a wide range of Web-site hosting and applications management services. The fixed-price plan should bring in $100 million in new revenue by 2002, says John McCain, president of the Internet-services unit at EDS. The move will place EDS in competition with Digex and Exodus Communications. In the applications-service market, EDS will offer software for production, sales, or distribution starting at $125 to $600 per worker, competing with Verio and Interliant.

  • "Privacy Chase Leads to the Old Runaround"
    San Jose Mercury News Online (02/24/00); Gillmor, Dan

    Dan Gillmor, technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, is not pleased with the initial results of his informal investigation into the privacy features of Web sites and businesses. Gillmor last week sought to purchase an item online at skymall.com and discovered that there was no means by which he could indicate his desire for the company not to disclose his information to outside firms. Skymall.com's privacy statement instructed persons wishing not to receive marketing materials from affiliated third parties to uncheck a certain box on the site, but when Gillmor attempted to uncheck this box, he found it did not exist. Gillmor encountered further difficulties when he called GTE prior to purchasing a product to see what steps he needed to take to make sure GTE did not distribute his personal details to other companies. Several customer-service representatives gave several different answers before GTE's Susan Asher finally spoke with Gillmor and told him GTE does not sell customer information to outside companies and specifically instructs any telemarketers employed by GTE how customer information is to be used. However, such statements provide Gillmor with little comfort, since he has already been involved in an incident in which a company violated its privacy policy by distributing his information to third parties despite Gillmor having indicated his preferences otherwise.

  • "Internet in New Cars in '05: Nokia"
    Investor's Business Daily (02/28/00) P. A2

    Nokia predicts that by 2005 every new car will be equipped with at least one Internet address. The company intends to introduce its first wireless system for automobiles by the second half of 2000. It will offer GPS-based services such as traffic updates and other location-based and information services. Nokia's new wireless automobile equipment has been named the telematics systems.

  • "Tivoli Coordinates Efforts of Security Devices/Tools"
    Network World (02/28/00); Songini, Marc

    Tivoli this week plans to unveil security software the company says can compile different security products to prevent Web-based assaults similar to the recent wave of denial-of-service attacks. The software, called SecureWay Risk Manager, consolidates alerts from separate security products already in use, then combines the information into a single management console to provide a broad view of the situation. Risk Manager relies on a translation engine that translates data from assorted security tools into a single format recognizable by Risk Manager's correlation engine, the communication hub of the network's security system. Risk Manager can also be used to ensure that security applications are deployed consistently throughout an enterprise. Risk Manager recognizes security applications from Tivoli and IBM, as well as from partners such as Internet Security Systems. Risk Manager is currently in beta testing, and will be launched in the next few weeks. Tivoli is marketing the software to organizations with high-profile Web sites, as well as community networks whose computers might be used without the knowledge of their owners to commit denial-of-service attacks.

  • "When the Internet Moves Faster Than the Courts"
    New York Times Online (02/25/00); Kaplan, Carl S.

    Internet-related law cases pose a problem to higher courts because the facts as determined by a trial court are often rendered obsolete by the time a case can be reviewed by higher judges, according to an article by Stuart M. Benjamin, associate professor at the University of San Diego Law School. In his article, "Stepping Into the Same River Twice; Rapidly Changing Facts and the Appellate Process," which appeared in the December issue of the Texas Law Review, Benjamin cites the Reno v. ACLU dispute as a case in point. In that case, which concerned the regulation of indecent content on the Internet, roughly a year passed between an initial ruling from a district court and the Supreme Court's decision on the matter. In challenging the law, the ACLU had argued that it was not economically viable for some Web sites to use age verification systems to keep children from viewing inappropriate content. By the time the case went to the Supreme Court, technological advances in age verification systems invalidated that argument. If appealed, the Microsoft antitrust case could also be affected by this lag time, Benjamin says. The Supreme Court would not be able to review the Microsoft case until 2002, during which time the level of integration between operating systems and browsers is likely to change enough that they are no longer separate products, as the presiding judge contends in his findings, Benjamin says. The speed of the Internet gives appellate courts little choice but to update their facts with additional briefs, exhibits, and hearings, according to Benjamin.

  • "Baby Bells Jump Into B2B Marketplace"
    E-Commerce Times (02/24/00); Greenberg, Paul A.

    In the wake of the acquisition of B2B software provider Sterling Commerce by telecom company SBC Communications, two other Baby Bells have allied with e-procurement firms, signaling what could be an industry-wide shift from providing merely the means of moving information to providing value-added applications. BellSouth says its deal with Commerce One will cut $1 billion from its annual $16 billion procurement spending in addition to building equity through the sale of minority positions to as many as seven other major telecom firms. "BellSouth truly understands the power and potential of global, electronic trading communities," says Commerce One President Mark Hoffman. "They are doing the right things both internally and externally to legitimately declare leadership status as an e-business enabler." The two companies have previously collaborated on the development of an online trading community for small businesses. U S West has entered a deal with e-procurement startup Vsource, which differentiates itself from such firms as Commerce One with a "pure" Internet-based procurement system as opposed to client/server models requiring an application program. U S West and Vsource will create a "Virtual Source Network" Web page to process requests for information, quotes, proposals, and other procurement documents.

  • "Public and Private Sectors Join Forces to Establish Digital Enterprise Laboratory"
    CAD Forum Online (02/24/00)

    IBM, Dassault Systemes, and Mtech Engineering have joined forces with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to develop the Digital Enterprise Laboratory, which will provide local manufacturing companies with training and support in software design technology and e-commerce. IBM will provide the laboratory with advanced technology software licenses, including CATIA Version 5, which supports digital product definition and simulation, and ENOVIA Solutions, which delivers enterprise solutions to manage distributed models. "This laboratory will provide Asian manufacturers with the power of Digital Enterprise technology and help them create significant business opportunities," says IBM's Yu Xu Guang. "IBM Engineering Solutions plays an active role in this partnership, as we provide added-value support and services."

  • "State Officials Look at New Rules for E-Commerce"
    CNet (02/24/00); Wolverton, Troy

    Several state governments have taken actions over the past few months to regulate the Internet. These states defend their efforts as a preemptive strike against federal regulations, but the federal government has largely been content to refrain from interfering with e-commerce. Michigan is attempting to get its residents to declare and pay taxes on e-commerce purchases, and Texas has imposed rules requiring auto dealers to have a state license in order to sell cars in the state, prompting some online auto dealers to stop selling to Texas residents. Online cigarette sales have recently been targeted by some states, including California, Alaska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. North Carolina is debating the issue of extending auctioning rules to eBay, Yahoo!, and other e-commerce sites. Meanwhile, some 30 states have seen fit to ban online companies from shipping alcohol across state lines; online alcohol distributors are suing five of those states, including New York. Some analysts say states are regulating the Internet not to protect consumers but to protect their own interests and produce more revenue. Retail sales on the Internet will reach nearly $185 billion by 2004, according to Forrester Research.

  • "Deflating Bandwidth Glut Predictions"
    Interactive Week (02/21/00) Vol. 7, No. 7, P. 6; McGarvey, Joe

    Although forecasts had been made that a bandwidth glut would result from the deployment of fiber networks by companies including Enron, Level 3 Communications, and Qwest Communications International, experts believe such an event is unlikely in the near future. U.S. carriers are unlikely to be able to keep up with demand in the next five years, according to Nortel Networks' Mouli Ramani. Ramani says bandwidth demand will rise twice as fast as carriers can boost capacity. Carriers are rushing to light their fiber-optic cable networks to meet current bandwidth demands. However, such efforts defy the common belief that the networking industry will soon encounter a bandwidth glut that could drive down prices and threaten the livelihood of some service providers. Forrester Research and Renaissance Worldwide are among the research firms that predicted a bandwidth glut. But Ryan Hankin Kent analyst Lynn Hutchison does not believe a bandwidth glut will occur in upcoming years. Experts typically identify three factors impacting future demand for bandwidth. Among them is the expected increase in the deployment of high-speed technologies. Another is the predicted rise in the number of Internet users by up to 25 percent a year. The last factor is new applications. Qwest's Jian Li blames the predictions of a bandwidth glut on the fact that some people equate raw fiber with bandwidth.

  • "Free Speech on the Net? Not Quite"
    Business Week (02/28/00) No. 3670, P. 93; France, Mike; Carney, Dan

    After some of Northwest Airline's employees staged an illegal sick-out last year to get the airline to offer a better bargaining agreement, Northwest sued the flight attendants' union and several others for staging an illegal strike, and got permission from a judge to investigate who was behind the sick-out. The airline's private investigators got a court order and forced flight attendant Kevin M. Griffin to turn over his computer so his hard drive could be copied, and they subpoenaed 9NetAvenue, which hosts Griffin's Web site. Griffin's personal site hosted the message board on which several anonymous employees posted messages urging co-workers to participate in the sick-outs. The investigators got the Internet addresses of the employees, which could allow Northwest to track them down. Griffin says this has scared law-abiding employees away from discussing the legitimate subjects on his message board. Northwest says it has investigated only relevant messages and that it has no desire to infringe on free speech--but only as long as the speakers stay on legal topics. Corporate America is trying to stop the lies, day-trading mischief, and other negative activities on Web message boards by suing over anonymous online statements--whether they are by employees or others. Generally, a company spots an anonymous posting that displeases it and files a lawsuit alleging defamation and other charges--naming "John Doe" because the author is unknown. Then the company's attorneys ask a judge for permission to subpoena the host of the message board--and the posters often are identified before they know they are being sued. In fact, the board hosts frequently do not fight the subpoenas much, and they sometimes turn over not only the posters' names but other data, like credit card numbers. Yahoo! assistant general counsel Jon Sobel says the company is legally bound to honor court subpoenas, and adds that the portal's terms of service section warns users about the possible loss of anonymity. The ACLU has filed amicus briefs and has represented defendants in three cases, and is urging message-board hosts to let anonymous speakers know when they are being sued.

  • "Move Your Art to Part"
    Cadalyst (03/00) Vol. 17, No. 3, P. 46; Stephens, Bill; Huxley, Mark; Weisberg, Steven

    Advances in three-dimensional software are making it increasingly viable for engineers to create a product using the art-to-part process, in which a product progresses up to the manufacturing stage in a completely digital environment. Traditionally, a product design is reinterpreted at several stages as engineers and manufacturers translate sketches, leading to a finished product that sometimes does not match the original concept. Using a digital 3D model, designers can maintain the original purpose of the design, eliminate repetitious work, and move products to the market faster. International product development firm Volan Design helped Waterpik Technologies design a battery-operated flossing device using 3D software. Volan developed a process that provided universal access to the 3D design, since engineers and designers from the two companies needed to share model data many times during the project. In the first stage of development, a Volan industrial designer made sketches and foam models of the original concept. Next, the industrial designer used the foam models to build a 3D computer model. Designers downloaded models of internal components such as motors and switches from manufacturers' Web sites. In the final design stage, the mechanical engineer used the industrial designer's 3D model to build a detailed, solid model to be passed on to manufacturers. The design of the assembly line and packaging started while designers were still working on the final shape of the product, since dimensions and anticipated unit sales were already known. By using 3D models, Volan was able to incorporate a design change, a switch from two AAA batteries to one AA battery, in less than one day. In addition, Alias Studio allowed designers to experiment easily with different colors and finish options. Although physical models are still a necessary part of the design process, 3D design software has significantly improved, offering increased accuracy and faster development.

  • "Governors Will Portal Their Wares at Winter Meeting"
    Washington Technology (02/21/00) Vol. 14, No. 22, P. 1; LeSueur, Steve

    Governors will confront the challenges of transforming the way that governments deliver services to citizens this week at the National Governors' Association winter meeting in Washington, DC. "We need to examine how we can reinvent government to take advantage of information technologies that give us a government that's open for business 24 hours, seven days a week," says John Thomasian, director of the NGA's Center for Best Practices. Among the largest challenges facing governments is integrating new e-government applications with their back office systems and often thousands of existing online services to present a single unified government portal to citizens. "Citizens don't need to know what department actually processes the transaction," says IBM's Todd Ramsey. As information technology becomes more widespread in government, it is important for officials to keep an open mind about its possibilities. "Don't get so caught up with citizen services that you miss the other pieces of these changes," says Janet Caldow of IBM's Institute for Electronic Government in Washington.

  • "Manufacturers Have Much to Lose, But More to Gain Online"
    Twice (02/07/00) Vol. 15, No. 4, P. 16

    Consumer electronics manufacturers are wary of going online, but the Internet offers opportunities that cannot be overlooked, agreed a panel of industry experts selected by Twice magazine. Panelists included: Amazon.com general manager Chris Payne; etown.com CEO Robert Heiblim; 800.com senior vice president Frank Sadowski; and Roxy.com President Mike Jeans. Sadowski found that the very conservatism that has prevented manufacturers from launching an e-business will be an asset when those manufacturers actually do go online, because it will enable them to better manage the risk that the Internet entails. At the same time, Jeans asserted that companies must act fast to minimize the risk of the Internet; he suggests that companies quickly assemble a well-planned e-commerce strategy to beat their competitors to the space. Above all, the panelists agreed that manufacturers must not let their risk management actions prevent them from embracing e-commerce. Payne said that e-commerce offers such benefits as lower return rates due to better information to customers, efficient, centralized distribution, and the ability to predict and monitor demand. According to Payne, the Internet offers the opportunity, long coveted by manufacturers, to better inform the customer and thus better meet consumer needs. Heiblim agreed that customers are the top focus of any business strategy. The Internet, said Heiblim, offers the greatest customer service by providing the most information and easy communication. For this reason, he said, manufacturers must recognize that the Internet will soon become a crucial channel for all industries.

  • "Data on Home Computers Not Necessarily Your Own"
    U.S. News & World Report (02/28/00) Vol. 128, No. 8, P. 85; Hawkins, Dana

    Employers are increasingly monitoring their employees' home computers, particularly if the employee or the company is currently involved in a lawsuit. As more employees own home computers, and as more work is taken home and completed on those computers, employers contend that the hard drives need to be monitored to make sure that work-related emails or other documents are not obscene and do not indicate any illegal actions that the company could one day become liable for. Employers also say they need to be able to search home computers of employees who they suspect are stealing proprietary information or the company's intellectual property. A recent case involving Northwest Airlines highlights this trend. The airline asked a federal judge to force one of its flight attendants to turn over his home computer to forensic analysts so they could see whether the employee had a role in organizing a sick-out over the New Year's weekend. Some companies are even trying to obtain court orders to search computers before the employee has an opportunity to destroy any evidence with software that cleanses hard drives of any incriminating files. Analysts say employees should not expect any privacy for their computer correspondence during work hours, and, increasingly, should expect very little for their home computer data.

  • "The Sky Is...Rising"
    Forbes ASAP (02/21/00) Vol. 165, No. 4, P. 149; Jones, Kevin

    Business-to-business e-commerce will grow even larger than analysts' most optimistic predictions, because most forecasts neglect three important ways the Internet will shape the economy, writes Kevin Jones. Studying the growth of online markets in vertical niche industries, Jones noticed three ways the markets save money and create new revenue, including inventory squeezers, value creators, and product creators. Inventory squeezers save buyers money by letting them quickly find information on price, availability, and guaranteed arrival dates of items the buyer needs to make products. For example, the e-Steel Internet market lets steel makers reduce the extra inventory they keep to ensure that delivery delays do not prevent them from meeting customer demand. Value creators are companies that would never have existed without the Internet, such as Alibris, a Web portal for used books. Alibris helps buyers and sellers find each other by providing the inventories of used-book dealers to online book vendors such as Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. By making the location of buyers and sellers irrelevant, Alibris helps sell books that might otherwise never be sold. Finally, product creators are Internet markets that enable the existence of products that would otherwise not be developed. For example, the Patent and License Exchange helps universities, businesses, and research groups exchange intellectual property so that an idea that one organization might never turn into a product can be marketed by another.

  • "Free Rides on the Information Superhighway"
    Electronic Business (02/00) Vol. 26, No. 2, P. 48; Harbert, Tam

    Corporations are increasingly cracking down on their employees' Internet use on the job. A recent American Management Association survey reveals that roughly half of the 900 companies questioned say their employees' Internet use is monitored, 12 percent have plans to start monitoring it soon, and 64 percent say they have a formal written policy on the subject. Companies traditionally limit employees' personal use of the Internet in order to improve productivity and reduce expenses, but many companies' policies are now also driven by fear of potential liability lawsuits. For example, if an employee is writing lewd emails or downloading pornographic material on company time, employers can be held liable for creating "a hostile workplace environment" in a sexual harassment suit. Experts say Internet policies generally reflect the tone and culture of each individual company, meaning that high-tech companies, although increasingly clamping down on personal Internet use at work, usually have more lenient policies. Human resource professionals contend that companies should judge each policy violation in the context of how productive the offending employee is otherwise, while simultaneously weighing the effect of their personal Internet use on office morale. Most experts agree that if an employee can still remain productive and does not pose a liability threat, companies should be relatively lenient of their personal Internet use.

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