ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of or ACM.
To send comments, please write to [email protected].
Volume 3, Issue 280: Monday, November 26, 2001
- "Intel Says Design Innovations Will Aid Chip Performance"
New York Times (11/26/01) P. C6; Feder, Barnaby J.
Intel says it has discovered breakthrough innovations in chip design that will allow it to continue to increase processor speeds up to 10 times faster than current designs by 2007. By lowering the barriers to the flow of electricity, Intel will be able to fit 25 times more transistors on a chip than is possible with the Pentium IV design. Besides increasing the flow of electricity, Intel also has found a new insulating material that will keep power leakage down to 10,000 times less than it is today, allowing more efficient use of power to save batteries. The new innovations will allow developers to create small devices that can run tasks requiring huge amounts of processing power, such as real-time speech processing. Analyst Dan Hutchinson says, "It's pretty phenomenal. They've solved some of the electrical problems that looked like brick walls." Still, analysts say Intel must prove that they can take these innovations and reproduce them for mass production.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors must register.)
- "New Law Lets U.S. Nab Foreign Hackers"
Associated Press (11/22/01); Hopper, D. Ian
Foreign hackers who route their communications through the United States can be prosecuted there, according to the recently approved antiterrorism law. Telegeography's Jessica Marantz estimates that over 80 percent of Asian, African, and South American access points are linked through U.S. cities. However, critics such as former Justice Department computer crimes prosecutor Mark Rasch are concerned that the law creates a precedent that could be applied to all computer crimes, effectively turning the United States into the world's Internet policeman. "What it basically says is that we will impose our values on anything that happens anywhere in the world provided it passes through our borders," he warns.
- "Decline in R&D Spending Is Predicted for This Year"
Baltimore Sun (11/24/01) P. 16C
Corporate spending on research and development is likely to decline for the first time in eight years this year, analysts predict. Firms such as Compaq, 3Com, and Lucent are cutting back due to profit losses. As a result, the market may see fewer new computer chips, software, and medical devices. In the process, productivity gains could be hampered. The National Science Foundation says R&D spending by American corporations, federal agencies, nonprofits, and universities grew 56 percent to $264 billion from 1994 to 2000. Meanwhile, productivity climbed by an average of 2.5 percent every year from 1996 to 2000. Companies spent some $197 billion on R&D spending in 2000; the figure could drop by 5 percent this year to $188.5 billion, says F.M. Ross Armbrecht, head of the Industrial Research Institute. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study reveals that 80 percent of executives in a survey plan to lower R&D outlays or keep it steady.
- "Germany Speaks Out for Open Source"
ZDNet UK (11/20/01); McAuliffe, Wendy
The European Commission concluded its consultation period for software patent law with a recommendation from the German government that it not follow the broad patent system of the United States. The German Ministry of Economics and Technology objected to a U.S.-style system because it would hinder innovation and open-source development. Unlike software copyright law, which only prohibits the copying of explicit code, software patents would cover the way the software works and often involves unintended infringements. Applying broad patent law in Europe would make companies more competitive internationally, but would stifle smaller companies that cannot afford to participate in the process.
- "New Economy: Plans for Technology National Guard"
New York Times (11/26/01) P. C4; Cortese, Amy
Some lawmakers and private sector IT leaders are considering the idea of a National Emergency Technology Guard, or NetGuard, that would consist of volunteer workers who could mobilize quickly in times of national emergency to secure the country's IT infrastructure. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Technology, says industry leaders such as Intel's Andy Grove and McCaw Cellular's Craig O. McCaw support the idea. Members would mostly hail from the nation's top technology companies and would periodically check in for training, just as with the regular National Guard. Progressive Policy Institute's Will Marshall says, "The more we become dependent on the information backbone, the more we need to be prepared." Although many technology companies and individuals quickly came to help the rescue efforts after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, some say the disaster demonstrated the need for a coordinated, prepared tech response to future incidents. Congress plans to hold hearings on the idea of a NetGuard in December, looking for ways to take advantage of the skills of the U.S.'s 14.5 million technology workers. Intuit Chairman Scott Cook says the NetGuard initiative needs the kind of support President Kennedy gave the creation of the Peaces Corps.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors must register.)
- "Big Challenges Lie Ahead for HP Labs"
SiliconValley.com (11/25/01); O'Brien, Chris
Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina expects HP Laboratories to continue its innovative streak with technological breakthroughs that boost the company's bottom line. Many of HP Labs' biggest projects are investigating disruptive technologies that aim to automate routine operations currently being carried out by people and computers. The development of molecular-level computer technology, improved digital photo picture quality and collection management, embedded computing, and planetary computing are just some areas of research that the lab is focusing on. Most of the technology HP Labs is researching is expected to become available in three to five years. It is not uncommon for Fiorina to spend at least half a day a month at HP Labs, and she has raised R&D funding for the lab in each of the last two fiscal years. "We're the guardians of HP's future," declares HP Labs' Rick Friedrich. "It's important that we understand what the needs are now, but what we will also need in the future."
- "Unctad Spells Out Benefit of Internet Commerce"
Financial Times (11/21/01) P. 5; Williams, Frances
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said developing countries can gain billions from e-commerce. According to a Nov. 20 report, less wealthy countries can gain $24 billion by increasing productivity in services by just 1 percent. As a result, output, wages, and welfare are boosted. In the study, UNCTAD provides several examples of successful e-commerce applications in poor countries. Such successes depend on overcoming poor infrastructure, insufficient regulation, and a lack of experience. The tourism sector in particular could benefit from e-commerce. China, too, could benefit as its WTO membership spurs liberalization. As the Internet impacts all aspects of economic life, developing countries stand a good chance of benefiting earlier from the Web compared to other "technological revolutions," UNCTAD says.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "Identifying Net Security Risks"
Investor's Business Daily (11/20/01) P. A7; Howell, Donna
DNS-SEC, an Internet transmission rules protocol currently in development, was lauded at the ICANN conference as a promising means of boosting domain name security due to DNS-SEC's reliance on cryptography. Counterpane chief technology officer Bruce Schneier says the increasing complexity of computer and Internet systems and the blending of software and data is making security much more difficult. Schneier believes XML remains vulnerable to hackers, and that malicious code embedded in Web pages and malignant Adobe PostScript files are some of the new means to cause invasive damage to systems. Other threats mentioned at the conference included denial-of-service attacks against root servers, behind-the-scenes rerouting of email and Web traffic, and the masking of Web page addresses in order to fool Internet users about a Web site's identity, called "spoofing." Many people relied on the Internet during the Sept. 11 events for information and for contacting others, U.S. Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office director John Tritak told attendees at the ICANN conference. "The safety of the Internet infrastructure is a basis for the social infrastructure in the 21st century," said Tritak.
- "On Any Window or Wall, a Portable Touch Screen"
New York Times (11/22/01) P. F7; Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit
Researchers are exploring the possibilities of interactive projected computer displays as part of the broad effort to bring the computer more into everyday life. IBM scientists have developed an Everywhere Display technology that uses a video camera and light projector to provide users with a touch screen computing interface on any flat surface, such as a student's desk or shop window. The video camera registers hand movements and relays the information back to the computer. The researchers are also working to integrate voice recognition technology so that people might be able to one day call up a display on their computer screen anywhere in the home on demand. Still, such technology advances still pose several challenges, including adjusting for distortion when projecting an image. Compaq's Dr. Rahul Sukthankar also notes that adjustments are necessary for variations in lighting conditions, particularly for gesture detection.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors must register.)
- "More Workers Caught In Net"
Associated Press (11/18/01); Jesdanun, Anick
Employees may be disciplined or even fired for personal Web use and emails as more and more employees monitor their Internet activities. Over a third of the U.S. workforce with online access is subject to such monitoring, according to the University of Denver's Privacy Foundation. Nor is such eavesdropping restricted to the office: Employees who use company equipment or connect to the company network--even from home--may find themselves accountable for their activities. "I think employees, anytime they are interfacing with the office or office equipment, should have the operating assumption they do not have privacy rights," notes New York attorney Michael R. Littenberg. Although many businesses issue policies about employee Internet use and monitoring, not all have such policies in place, says David Sobel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Furthermore, the courts often favor employers who watch workers and discipline them for Internet use in the office. Philadelphia lawyer Mark Dichter argues that companies are justified in their monitoring policies, since they would be liable for providing the means for people to harass co-workers, make racist jokes, and download pornography. Others say that trade secrets could be disclosed or stock prices impacted by message boards.
- "IT's Role in a Changed World"
Computerworld Online (11/19/01); Gillmor, Dan
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, IT will play a vital role in boosting domestic security, writes Dan Gillmor. Companies will look to decentralize their operations using the Internet for distance training and Web conferencing. Cybersecurity firms that protect against email viruses will get a boost in business, as will the software companies that help law enforcement track down criminals using Internet communications and biometric security companies. The government has also begun opening up in new ways through technology, as evidenced by the Pentagon's www.defenselink.mil Web site that takes suggestions on how to combat terrorism.
- "Nobel Winners Laud Potential of Internet"
SiliconValley.com (11/19/01); Ostrom, Mary Anne
Nobel laureates polled by Princeton Survey Research Associates say that the Internet and communications technology will be used to transcend cultural and geographic boundaries, improve education, and open up non-democratic governments around the world. The advantages to be gained are more important than concerns about a loss of privacy and a digital divide, according to the laureates. Some 69 percent of respondents expect the Internet to be the key to offering more educational opportunities to people, regardless of where they live and their economic niche. However, Ohio State University Professor and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physics Kenneth Wilson points out that the Internet cannot solve "the lack of basic education." Sixty-seven percent of respondents say they believe the Internet will boost global security by encouraging communications between different nations and cultures. And 69 percent note that the Internet plays an important role in their work.
- "Rep. Baird Introduces Computer Security Legislation"
Newsbytes (11/19/01); MacMillan, Robert
The Computer Security Enhancement and Research Act of 2001 proposed by Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) would establish a 10-year research and development initiative at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to bolster information security by funding projects at universities. Baird said the bill would also enable collaboration with for-profit companies on security efforts. The program would earmark $25 million in its first year, a figure that could jump to $85 million by the time it is completed. Baird also said that the proposal "could yield improved technology to track people that attack Web sites, better technology to secure Internet-based transactions, and cheaper ways of protecting databases that are accessed via the Internet." Furthermore, Baird's legislation would supply training for new graduate students and postdoctoral research assistants.
- "Spotting the IT Spending Growth Trends"
eMarketer (11/19/01); Butler, Steve
Several surveys project IT spending to increase at a healthy rate in 2002. EMarketer's IT Spending Report says e-business will be a big driver of growth, and emerging markets in China and South Korea will boost numbers in the near-term while India will bring growth further out. AMR Research predicts CRM and SCM technologies will grow in demand, up 21 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from last year. UBS Warburg says software will be the strongest growth category for the coming year, tacking on 12 percent growth, followed by IT services with 12 percent growth.
- "B2B Exchanges Still Working Out Kinks--Study"
Newsbytes (11/20/01); Bartlett, Michael
B2B online exchanges have disappointed more than half of the companies that have adopted them, according to a new study from Booz Allen Hamilton and Giga Information Group. Only 10 percent of respondents to the survey said their forays into online exchanges met expectations. Booz Allen Hamilton analyst Chris Capers says companies that took a wait-and-see approach were able to craft the right strategy for their B2B online exchange programs. The most successful firms created a portfolio of exchanges that served specific needs. He pointed to the automotive industry Covisint exchange as well enough defined to be successful, as opposed to the Transora consumer products exchange, which involves too many players to meet their individual needs.
- "Paper-Free World Won't Be Nirvana"
Government Computer News (11/19/01) Vol. 20, No. 33, P. 17; Bhambhani, Dipka
Although Peter Mell, a security expert at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., is comfortable with the security that is available today, the computer scientist is concerned about publicly announcing vulnerabilities. According to Mell, in an interview with Government Computer News, there is often a window of opportunity for hackers and dedicated virus writers to do some serious damage to Web servers because vendors may not be able to fix a problem for several weeks. Mell does not think we should rely totally on public-key infrastructure as a security measure for e-government systems, but that risks should be examined along the way. In fact, Mell likes the idea of having a smart card along with PKI, with both the private key and a password in the card, although he acknowledges someone could break into a computer and sign anything they wanted. "We need a separate interface: one to your computer and one to a separate monitor so you could see what was being signed and could type in your personal identification number separately from the computer that could be vulnerable," says Mell. Although he would like to see a paperless society, Mell says that too has its problems. For example, he says today anyone breaking into his computer at work wouldn't find much, but in a paperless society if someone were to break into his computer, the hacker could control aspects of his life.
- "Managing OS Diversity"
Computerworld (11/19/01) Vol. 35, No. 47, P. 44; Robb, Drew
Many enterprises are installing multiple operating systems, but managing such systems can be more easily accomplished through several approaches, such as thin-client computing, adopting open standards, Web-enabled applications, and interoperable OS management tools. For example, California's Department of General Services has been tasked with giving one-third of its staff telecommuting capability within the next several years, according to operations manager for enterprise services Jamie Mangrum. The department deployed Windows 2000 Terminal Services (WTS) to facilitate server-based computing, effectively supplying a Windows 2000 desktop to remote computers and handhelds that can run applications over low-bandwidth. Enterprises can also take advantage of standard protocols such as XML, designed to close the gap between OSes and applications. The use of Web-enabled applications is increasing because the utilization of TCP/IP instead of proprietary architectures lowers device dependency. So that network management does not overtax IT, some enterprises are employing network managing systems such as Somix Technologies' WebNM.
- "Charities in Need of IT"
InformationWeek (11/19/01) No. 864, P. 20; Khirallah, Diane Rezendes
Several large IT firms have donated hardware, software, and services to help charities manage the $1.2 billion in donations after the Sept. 11 disaster at the World Trade Center. IBM has offered to build a centralized IBM DB2 database to ensure the efficient and accurate distribution of aid. The centralized database, proposed by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, has received backing from nearly all the charities involved, but has serious challenges, including data migration from each of the charities' systems and privacy concerns. Leslie Hunt, CIO for the American Red Cross of New York, expects the project to have a 10- to 20-year lifespan. IBM's Monique McKeon, the group leader assigned to the project, is aware of the importance of implementing a solid system. "We're building it to be as self-sufficient as possible," she says, as the charities will eventually take over the hosting and management of the system.
- "3D Technology: Ready for the PC?"
Computer (11/01) Vol. 34, No. 11, P. 17; Leavitt, Neal
3D technology once restricted to the purview of high-end systems for gaming and computer graphics is breaking into PCs for design as well as entertainment applications. It can be used to visualize objects and products prior to construction, model weather systems for meteorologists, study medical anomalies detected in CAT scans, and examine cosmological phenomena. 3D is more accessible to consumers because of rising hardware capabilities and falling prices, but 3D will not gain a substantial foothold among consumers or businesses until a killer app--apart from video games--is found. Ironing out issues of cost, ease of use, demand, and cross-platform functionality could help the technology break out of niche markets. Another challenge is to come up with uniform standards, whereas three incompatible standards currently exist: OpenGL, X3D, and DirectX. A dominant media player must also be developed. Still, insiders say that 3D's development is outpacing that of any other desktop-computing technology. Graphics cards that perform much of the work while freeing up the CPU to handle other tasks, combined with the accelerated graphics port on PCs, is a big selling point for consumers.
© Copyright 2001 Information, Inc. This service may be reproduced for internal distribution.