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Volume 3, Issue 230:  Monday, July 23, 2001

  • "Hacker Arrest Stirs Protest"
    Wired News (07/19/01); McCullagh, Declan

    The arrest of Russian hacker and ElcomSoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov has triggered a wave of outrage and demands for his release. Sklyarov was arrested on Monday for allegedly violating Adobe Systems' copyright by distributing ElcomSoft's Advanced eBook Processor, a tool that circumvents copy-protection measures and allows Adobe Acrobat customers to read files on unauthorized computers. "The U.S. government for the first time is prosecuting a programmer for building a tool that may be used for many purposes, including those that legitimate purchasers need in order to exercise their fair use rights," said Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Robin Gross. This development is the latest attack on ElcomSoft by Adobe, which contends in a recent letter that the company was conducting "unauthorized activity relating to copyrighted materials;" Adobe wants the Advanced eBook Processor withdrawn from the market. In response to Sklyarov's arrest, activists have established a mailing list and a defense fund and have created BoycottAdobe.com. Sklyarov is being held without bail until his hearing in California, scheduled to take place within the next two weeks.

  • "U.S., Microsoft to Hold Talks in Antitrust Suit"
    Wall Street Journal (07/23/01) P. A3; Wilke, John R.

    Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice have scheduled the first meeting in talks to settle their antitrust dispute. Meanwhile, both sides are prepping for a renewed court battle, with the government assigning new lawyers and the software giant threatening a Supreme Court appeal. Sources close to Microsoft say the company is taking a more aggressive legal stance, pressing their case whenever possible in order to prolong a resolution that could threaten the release of Windows XP in October. The government team filed a request to expedite a federal court rehearing over remedies, but that was soon followed by a Microsoft objection that the appeals court ruling was flawed. Although Microsoft escaped a breakup in the appeals court case, all the judges on the panel agreed that the company employed illegal practices in order to protect its desktop software monopoly.

  • "EU Takes Aim at the Information-Age Scrap Heap"
    International Herald Tribune (07/23/01) P. 11; Cote, Kevin

    European legislative bodies are working on several proposals to mandate the recycling or disposal of electronics sold there. Although some companies, such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, have already set up such programs, they fall short of the industry-wide standard that the European Union wants. However, the efforts highlight the growing consensus that a form of regulation is necessary in order to build the infrastructure necessary to recycle all consumer electronics. Electronics waste has grown three times as fast as general municipal waste, especially since PCs have such a short lifespan. Some industry insiders estimate the cost for recycling all these items will total between $5.4 billion and $6.7 billion per year. European Environment Bureau policy director Christian Hey predicts that the final legislation will add 5 percent to consumer prices. Meanwhile, Fujitsu Siemens of Germany has shown that manufacturers can profit from such ventures. Through its recycling program, the company is able to process 90 percent of material into reusable products, including plastic wood for construction, aluminum, device chips, and refurbished PCs.

  • "As PC, Cell Sales Fall, Tech Cycle Looms Larger for Economy"
    Washington Post (07/21/01) P. E1; Pearlstein, Steven

    Global shipments of PCs fell by an estimated 2 percent compared with last year, report Gartner Dataquest and IDC, marking the first time PC shipments have declined against the year before since PCs came into common use. Gartner and IDC believe that the falloff could continue into the summer or to the end of the year. Mobile phone and PDA shipments have dropped in the last quarter as well, according to preliminary estimates. Some economists link the tech economy to the overall economy. "Technology has assumed the importance today that the auto industry had during the 1950s and '60s," says James W. Paulsen at Well Capital Management. However, David Wyss at Standard & Poor's believes that the economy can bounce back next year even if PC and handset sales do not. Analysts attribute the tech slump to lower stock prices, the collapse of dot-coms, sluggish broadband deployment, slower innovation, and deep cellular discounts.

  • "New Economy: Pioneering Spirit Lives on at Apple"
    New York Times (07/23/01) P. C4; Lohr, Steve

    Despite holding only 4 percent of the U.S. PC market, Apple Computer is still a force to be reckoned with in terms of design and influence. Many in the industry see Apple as the main alternative to Windows-based systems, while others like its design innovation. With the Internet increasingly used as a computing platform, Apple is gaining more leverage in its battle against the Windows monopoly. CEO Steve Jobs is also trying to pioneer a new direction for the PC: getting home users to utilize their computer as a digital media hub. Many of Apple's new software products--Mac OS X, iDVD, and iTunes--are evidence of this shift. Additionally, Jobs plans to open 25 store locations nationwide to help market these new software innovations because they are not as easily sold to the minds of consumers the way Apple's hardware designs are. Analysts believe that while the move may be risky in light of Gateway's failure in opening nationwide computer stores, the new Apple stores will allow buyers to experience the unique software functions of new Macs.
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  • "Computer Attacks Could Recur"
    Wall Street Journal (07/23/01) P. B6; Bridis, Ted

    Computer security experts are trying to measure the damage from last week's "Code Red" attack, which struck roughly 300,000, mostly corporate servers and threatened the White Houses' Web site. Russ Cooper of TruSecure says damage could be "in the millions at least." The infection exploited a flaw in server software from Microsoft, snarling Internet traffic and causing some data to be lost. Experts say some routers used by Cisco Systems to direct Internet traffic as well as some printers were also affected by "Code Red." Moreover, experts say the infection may not be finished its work, as the infection went dormant but is programmed to revive. However, experts say the scope of the attack may make it impossible to trace "Code Red" to its source; no person or group has yet to claim responsibility. Officials in charge of the White House site were able to prevent "Code Red" from shutting the site down.

  • "Survey: Tech Salaries Follow Economy Downward"
    NewsFactor Network (07/20/01); Lyman, Jay

    A recent survey by Techies.com shows that overall tech salaries are dropping because of decreased worker demand. More and more skilled people are entering the workforce at a time when companies are scaling back. The national average tech salary has fallen nearly $4,000 from the $64,160 average figure of six months ago, reports Techies.com executive producer Cynthia Morgan. The top management compensations declined 14 percent over the last half-year, but sales positions gained a slight 2 percent. Morgan predicts that salaries would remain stagnant or continue to decline over the next six months regardless of an economic recovery because salaries usually lag economic trends.

  • "The World's Poor Need the Internet"
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer (07/19/01) P. B5; Wilson, Dwight

    The Internet can create jobs and opportunities in poor third-world communities, argues nonprofit World Corps executive director Dwight Wilson. Wilson takes issue with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who has argued that third-world countries need food and medicine more than they require Internet connections. World Corps trains impoverished members of third-world countries to open up Internet-related businesses, such as the Internet kiosks beginning to appear in India. Indian region Andhra Pradesh has an e-government Web site as well as an "Empowerment of Youth" program to provide subsidies for fledgling e-businesses. Various foundations are spreading the Internet by funding such projects as an effort in several Indian fishing villages that beams news and weather information from a U.S. Navy Web site to village-based kiosks, which are currently staffed by volunteers. Moving third-world Internet programs from grant-supported programs to free-market small businesses will be a challenge, says Wilson, but not impossible.

  • "Report on Technology Gap Is on Agenda for G-8 Summit"
    Philadelphia Inquirer (07/19/01) P. F3; Krane, Jim

    Leaders of the Group of Eight are scheduled to convene their annual summit in Genoa, Italy on Friday. The seven leading industrialized countries plus Russia are expected to endorse a 23-page plan that is designed to bridge the technology gap between rich and poor nations. However, the notion to create such a plan set off a spectacle of protesters burning computers last year when the G-8 leaders decided to form a task force to prepare a report on closing the digital divide. Critics argued that poor nations need food and not PCs, and even Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates sided with protestors in October when he said that the world's poor need clean water, electricity, and health care. Supporters of the report prepared by the Digital Opportunity Task Force say the Internet can provide people in poor countries with access to crop prices, health care, agricultural loans, and markets for their goods. Proponents believe the presence of the technology can help lure foreign investors, encourage local entrepreneurs, create jobs, and help people live longer. Still, the report failed to identify a source of capital for investing in the technology, and observers doubt that other countries will follow Japan's lead in pledging to help fund the effort. Some critics say the G-8 plan would place too much of a financial burden on poor countries.

  • "HP Invention Lets Police, Historians Read Lost Writing"
    Investor's Business Daily (07/23/01) P. A6; Riley, Sheila

    Hewlett-Packard researchers have developed photo-mapping technology that could unlock secrets for archaeologists as well as police investigators. Polynomial texture mapping uses a digital camera equipped with 50 small flashbulbs timed to provide a more complex view of the subject piece than if it were viewed with only the naked eye. Invisible indentations show up so clearly that forensic experts can discern filed-off serial numbers on handguns and archaeologists can see ancient writing on cuneiform tablets. Marilyn Lundenberg of the West Semitic Research Project says the technology will let field workers gather 50 times more photos for the same cost as traditional methods.

  • "Ten O'Clock Tech: Wearable PCs in Fashion"
    Forbes.com (07/20/01); Hessaldahl, Arik

    Xybernaut and Hitachi are teaming up to offer a wearable PC for consumers. Hitachi will make the device while Xybernaut will handle sales and marketing. The Wearable Internet Appliance, or WIA, is slated for release for the 2001 holiday season at a price of $2,000, the firms said last week. Xybernaut says the WIA will have wireless Web access and can be used for distance learning, music and video, paging, mobile voice, and GPS-based location services. The WIA will have 32 MB of RAM and will use the Windows CE operating system. Wearable PCs are already in use in the corporate world. IDC recently forecasted that wearable PCs would generate sales of $600 million by 2003, but IDC says attracting consumers will be the biggest obstacle for companies.

  • "IPv6 Internet Protocol Comes of Age"
    AsiaBizTech (07/16/01)

    IP version 6 (IPv6) will be unrolled in three waves extending from mid-2001 through 2003. The arrival of home gateways and IPv6-compliant PCs will comprise the first phase; the second wave will be marked by the advent of networked household appliances; the third wave will be the release of IPv6-enabled mobile phones. ISPs and manufacturers of equipment such as routers and switches expect to benefit by accelerating their own IPv6 development initiatives. The first wave is expected to hit at the same time Microsoft introduces Windows XP in October of this year, thus changing over its PC line to IPv6. The first manifestations of the second wave will be home gateways and IPv6-enabled game consoles, followed by AV gear such as DVD players and camera-equipped VCRs. NTT DoCoMo and the J-Phone Group are among the cellular carriers readying IPv6-capable products in preparation for the third wave in early 2003.

  • "Wearable Devices Try to Outdo Mice"
    Philadelphia Inquirer (07/19/01) P. F5; Miller 2nd, Stanley A.

    Many new types of computer mice are on the horizon. Maui Innovative Peripherals' CyMouse is worn on the head and works wirelessly, allowing users to customize 10 commands using head movements. The headset sends infrared signals to a sensor placed on top of the monitor. Similar to CyMouse is Miracle Mouse, which gives more control options for physically impaired individuals--additional software lets individuals control appliances as well as PCs. The CyMouse will cost $179 while Miracle Mouse will cost $699, and both will debut in September, says Maui's Michael Schmel. Essential Reality's P5, on the other hand, resembles a plastic glove, with users making hand motions to give commands. Slated for release in October, the P5 will cost $129. All three of the new mice are a boon to game players, who can enjoy more refined controls.

  • "Dial-In Desired"
    InfoWorld (07/16/01) Vol. 23, No. 29, P. 43; Fonseca, Brian

    Telecommuting is the single most desired benefit for IT professionals, according to the 2001 InfoWorld Compensation Survey. Telecommuting can increase worker productivity by reducing commuting time, as in the case of the Academy of the New Church. Employees who work from home have more latitude to complete separate long-term and short-term projects, says Academy IT director Leila Howard. To successfully implement a telecommuting operation, resilient two-way communication must be established between all department members, while employees who wish to work at home must demonstrate honesty and self-sufficiency. The Academy's telecommuting candidates must pass a dial-in trial so that the company can be assured of their dedication and expected output. However, many managers are worried that working from home will cause telecommuters to lose touch with co-worker and supervisor interaction essential to team-building and promotion; distractions at home could affect telecommuters' performance as well. As a result of these concerns, company employees are not taking full advantage of working from home.

  • "Hiring the Dot-Gone"
    Computerworld (07/16/01) Vol. 35, No. 29, P. 58; Dash, Julekha

    In an interview with Computerworld magazine, Michael D. Zinn & Associates' Michael Zinn and Generation I.T.'s Sean Galloway outline the process that traditional companies should follow when recruiting laid-off dot-com workers. Galloway lists tech fairs, outplacement services, and monthly networking meetings held by job-hunting organizations as good places to find potential employees. To select the best candidate, Zinn advises companies to look for people who have experience in both the dot-com and Fortune 500 arena, while Galloway recommends that managers hold job interviews and make detailed background and reference checks. To determine whether former dot-com workers can fit in with traditional companies, Galloway says employers should study resumes and notice how much time has passed since they were let go as well as the reasons they were let go. "Employees should be wary of any employee who has only been in a dot-com company," admonishes Zinn. Zinn says a worker who went to a dot-com only after five to seven years in a traditional corporate environment is an ideal employee.

  • "Safe Haven"
    Interactive Week (07/16/01) Vol. 8, No. 28, P. 30; Rodger, Will

    CryptoRights Foundation is providing human rights workers with encryption and other securities technology that will protect them against the hackers, crackers, and online vandals that unbridled governments employ. Founded by Dave Del Torto in 1999, CryptoRights is the latest development in the privacy revolution founded by Whitfield Diffie, who invented public-key cryptography, and Phil Zimmerman, the inventor of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). The two became the founding fathers of modern cryptography as a result of their concern for the manner in which the U.S. government guarded the technology. George Soros' Open Society Institute is a supporter of the work of the San Francisco-based group, which is looking for more backers. Torto, a 20-year veteran of Silicon Valley, and his group are primarily involved in Guatemala and Peru, although there are plans to help human rights groups in other parts of South America, as well as activists in Asia and the Middle East. In early February, CryptoRights visited activists in Guatemala and configured the group's network to guard against leaks and installed the standard package of PGP encryption tools for email and disk scrambling. CryptoRights is in the process of developing a security guide for human rights workers. "The work that CryptoRights is doing to encourage the acceptance of strong encryption is really a tremendous benefit to the activist community," says Minky Worden, director of electronic media for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

  • "Virtual You"
    Discover (07/01) Vol. 22, No. 7, P. 48; Lemley, Brad

    The forthcoming feature film "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" will feature the most realistic animation of human features yet, observers report, a development that could have a significant impact on the future of the Internet. Those who have seen the film estimate that the animations are roughly 95 percent close to being perfect representations of human beings, and animators say the next step--animated human beings that appear absolutely no different from real human beings--may only be one year away. Such photo-quality animations could lead to a whole new range of Internet applications, from animated newscasters and sales representatives to animated friends and love interests. Primitive versions of these applications are now available at LifeFX.com, which lets users transmit emails with "talking heads," and a few other Web sites. Still, the creation of animated human beings of this quality is a labor-intensive effort--"Final Fantasy" cost $115 million to make and had animators working to perfect the slightest detail in each of 140,000 individual frames. One of the greatest challenges the "Final Fantasy" animators faced was capturing the micromovements that, when isolated, seem unimportant, but together form the basis for human social interaction. "So even if an animator can control the kinematics of facial tissues, he has to do it in precisely the way a real person does it, or people will recognize it as false," explains Eric Haseltine of Disney's research and development branch.

  • "When Machines Chat"
    Business Week (07/23/01) No. 3742, P. 76; Kerstetter, Jim

    RosettaNet has taken the lead among organizations attempting to set XML standards for various industries. So far, RosettaNet, which is targeting consumer electronics and other tech companies in the electronics industry, has attracted 105 members, and at least 87 members have an XML program in operation. XML is the emerging Internet technology that promises to eliminate the language barriers between different breeds of computers, business-process software, and database formats. The coding protocol computerizes the translation process involving product specs--model number, price, and other words and numbers used for identification--so that business can occur between Web sites automatically, at about a fraction of the time that humans need to perform such tasks. Some observers see XML as second to the Internet in importance, and others add that it could save industry some $90 billion a year. Some companies have invested in the technology by creating their own I.D. tags--however, their investment will amount to XML "dialects" if they do not agree on a coding protocol that all computer systems of industry players can share. Organizations such as RosettaNet are trying to get entire industries to agree on precise definition for I.D. tags. Although it can take years for a single company to agree on an XML project, and companies are unwilling to work with competitors because they do not trust each other, such groups will have to get industries to realize that standard tags are necessary if companies want their businesses to run more efficiently.
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  • "The Next Small Thing"
    Forbes (07/23/01) Vol. 168, No. 2, P. 96; Corcoran, Elizabeth

    With scientists now approaching the limits of conventional technology, cutting-edge researchers are now focusing on nanotechnology. By building atom-sized systems, these researchers believe that they will take computing and other applications to new, unprecedented levels of performance. At IBM, Gerd Binning is working on a storage system that can record 400 GB of data per square inch, 50 times more data than the most powerful of IBM's commercial storage devices. Harvard University chemist George M. Whitesides is working on building nanotech circuits that can assemble themselves; the key to Whitesides' work is to affix solder dots on polymer blocks--when suspended in water, blocks with a similar number of solder dots are attracted to one another, forming connections. Anne Belcher of the University of Texas is attempting to control how semiconductor crystals grow through the use of proteins. At Cornell University's center for nanobiotechnology, Dean of Engineering Harold Craighead is developing nanoscale devices to study DNA; one device uses channels 35 nanometers to 90 nanometers high to separate large DNA fragments from samples in solution. Craighead is also working on a nanoscale device that uses tiny cantilevers coated with antibodies to test food for bacteria. Hewlett-Packard research fellow R. Stanley Williams, James Heath of UCLA, and other colleagues are working on building conductors and semiconductors from carbon nanotubes.
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