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Volume 4, Issue 322: Wednesday, March 13, 2002

  • "Valley Teens Lacking Interest in High-Tech Jobs, Study Says"
    SiliconValley.com (03/12/02); Steen, Margaret

    There will be serious gaps in Silicon Valley's high-tech workforce unless more students take an interest in technology careers, according to a report from Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. The study estimates that a lack of workers cost local businesses between $2 billion and $3 billion during last year's downturn; 2001's workforce gap was pegged at 120,000 jobs. Joint Venture researchers polled 2,500 eighth- and 11th-grade students in the Bay Area, and came to some gloomy conclusions. Only 32 percent of the surveyed students expressed plans to pursue high-tech careers, even though practically everyone had access to computers. Those without high-tech career goals often claimed that the jobs looked boring or too difficult. Asians were the group most likely to express interest in technology careers, while Hispanic students were less likely than Asians, Caucasians, and African Americans to prepare for such jobs by attending a four-year college. Meanwhile, more boys (42 percent) were interested in technology careers than girls (23 percent). If the workforce gap is ever going to be filled, students must not be discouraged by stereotypical views of high-tech workers, say those involved in recruiting technology employees.

  • "Intel Announces That It Has Developed Ultrasmall Computer Memory Circuitry"
    Wall Street Journal (03/13/02) P. B7; Clark, Don

    Intel announced yesterday that it has created a prototype of a static random access memory (SRAM) chip, a dime-sized semiconductor that contains 330 million transistors and can store 52 million bits of data, compared to other similar models' 30-million-bit capacity. The company fabricated the chip with a new 0.09-micron circuitry etching process, whereas the current method functions on the 0.13-micron level. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and a joint project between Philips Electronics and STMicroelectronics have also produced test 0.09-micron chips, but VLSI Research analyst Risto Puhakka says Intel has the jump on larger-wafer chip production. Intel's announcement indicates that the company is gearing up to deliver the next significant advance in basic computer technology. Intel also introduced three new Xeon chips designed for multi-processor servers. Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is expected to announce several chips of its own, including a 1.73 GHz Athlon XP 2100+ chip that reportedly boasts performance levels higher than Intel's 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 chip. The chip will be targeted for desktops, while AMD is also planning to announce faster Athlon models for mobile computers and servers.

  • "A Tech Fair of Deals, Not Gadgets"
    International Herald Tribune (03/12/02) P. 1; Shannon, Victoria

    Hannover, Germany, this week hosts the 850,000-person Cebit technology conference, the largest conference for any industry worldwide, and dwarfs U.S.-based technology expositions in size. About 8,000 companies attend the conference from all over the world, including many U.S. companies that want to push their European brand. Unlike more advertised consumer technology shows, Cebit is targeted for businesses and is the site of many business transactions, though organizers have failed to put a tab on just how much in dollar amounts. The Consumer Electronics Show and Comdex often are showcases for the latest in technology gadgetry. One of the biggest draws at this year's Cebit conference will be a business report from Finnish mobile phone company Nokia that will say whether or not its next-generation phones are ready for launch since European telecommunications firms piled on debt building out expensive 3G networks for such devices. Despite the problematic tech economy, conference organizers expect little attendance decline from last year, and say they are working on holding a similar conference in the U.S. that would rival Comdex, maybe by next year.

  • "Linux Security Flaw Found"
    PCWorld.com (03/11/02)

    The zlib file decompression utility used in many Linux distributions and open-source applications has a buffer overflow weakness that could allow hackers to remotely hijack a computer. Buffer overflow attacks fill a certain file library with data until it spills over into other parts of the system, where hacker code can then execute an attack. Many applications associated with Linux use zlib, including the Mozilla Web browser, the GNU Compiler Collection, and the X11 Linux GUI system. Zlib.org, the organization that controls zlib distributions, has already issued a patch for the utility, which has been implemented by SuSE and taken notice of by other vendors. The security alert was issued by Guardian Digital and is reminiscent of other buffer overflow warnings that have plagued Microsoft software, including several Windows versions' Internet connectivity programs and the Windows Media Player application.

  • "Top Tech Jobs for 2002"
    NewsFactor Network (03/12/02); Lyman, Jay

    Analysts note a plethora of high-tech jobs in high demand, as well as those that could be an important focus over the next year if predictions that the economy is bouncing back pan out. Yankee Group's Andy Efstathiou says application maintenance accounts for a large portion of IT hiring, and attributes this trend to robust server applications and more server consolidation. Gartner's Diane Tunick-Morello says more companies that offer network services and solutions are placing greater emphasis on knowledge and asset management, and agrees with Giga Information Group analyst Bob Markham that network security is also a top priority. Some analysts claim that the need for Java and XML programmers is going strong; more Web sites are starting to use XML, for one thing. Wireless software developers are a hot commodity, according to Tunick-Morello. However, experts say demand for lower-level programming, Web administration, HTML editors, and e-commerce has cooled off. Efstathiou notes that offshore development companies are getting the lower-level programming positions.

  • "Free Software Sees Gnu Loose of Linux"
    IDG News Service (03/11/02); Ribeiro, John

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has finally finished work on its Hurd kernel for the GNU operating system. Linux also uses the GNU framework, but people only call it by the name Linux, which sometimes frustrates Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project, which started in 1984. Linux came out in 1991 and integrates with the GNU system to form a complete operating system. Linux is actually just an alternative kernel, just as Hurd is, Stallman says, for GNU. He points out that the Hurd kernel is more powerful than Linux and places file systems and network protocols on the servers so that components are easy to replace and add, even while the system is running. Stallman, who was speaking at a GNU/Linux Day conference in India, said programmers in India appreciated free software for its ethical and social merits, whereas some people elsewhere like free software for its practicality. Stallman also notes that FSF's GNU system will be free software that can be used and distributed as users see fit, unlike some implementations of Linux, which can include commercially licensed software.

  • "Body of Knowledge Spurs Search for New Markets"
    Financial Times-IT Review (03/13/02) P. 4; Sperlich, Tom

    Wearable computers are picking up speed in the marketplace, both on the fashion front and in the enterprise sector. New technology in computer hardware and sensors are making visions of wearable computers possible and attractive to the general public, although enthusiasts have taken to the trend since the 1970s. Many of the pioneers in the wearable computer field are avid users themselves and make use of devices such as digital glasses that connect to belt PCs. Large firms have also launched test products for the market, such as a Philips-Levi Strauss collaboration on a $800 jacket with an integrated cell phone and MP3 player. In Europe alone, about 2,500 of the experimental jackets have been sold so far, but advances in technology such as textile motherboards and conductive fabrics will help further the market. Boeing has been using wearable computers in its research labs for practical purposes for years, helping researchers adjust more quickly to new duties through computer-generated diagrams projected onto headset displays.

  • "Japanese Tech Giants Scout Chinese Talent"
    Agence France Presse (03/11/02)

    With the Japanese technology industry suffering from a shortage of engineers, leading companies such as Hitachi, NEC, Toshiba, and Fujitsu are looking to the Chinese labor pool to fill the void and save money. NEC will more than double its Chinese staff as part of a worldwide initiative to add 10,000 software and service engineers; Hitachi plans to boost its Chinese systems engineers from 160 people to 300; and Toshiba aims to elevate its Chinese workforce from 330 people to 580 by March 2004. An NEC spokesman notes that Chinese engineers are well-versed in Japanese, while Hitachi estimates that Chinese employees cost 30 percent less than domestic staff. A spokesman for Fujitsu adds that an essential component of the company's growth strategy is software and service, of which its Chinese staff of about 800 plays an important role. NEC says that hardware production cutbacks have given rise to a greater emphasis on software solutions, so additional engineers are needed, while Hitachi says the new staff will focus on both software and home appliances. NEC has also started work on a software development center in China dedicated to telecoms infrastructure systems.

  • "CEOs Plans Network to Link Them in Attack"
    Washington Post (03/13/02) P. E1; Miller, Bill

    The Business Roundtable, a group of about 150 CEOs from corporations that generate $3.5 trillion in annual revenues, is planning a communications network that would allow companies to communicate with one another and with the federal government in case of a man-induced or natural disaster. Such a system would help companies respond more quickly and improve the chances of keeping the economy on track through business continuity. AT&T, one of the roundtable's members, will design CEO Link free of charge, replete with a wireless network and a secure Web portal. Within six weeks, member companies and the federal government should be hooked up through the network, and future plans include linking smaller companies, as well as state and local agencies.

  • "Congress Throws a Party Like it's 1999"
    IDG News Service (03/11/02); Garretson, Cara

    The Congressional Internet Caucus hosted an event in February that seemed to be dedicated to reassuring the Internet industry that the coming year would be bountiful and that legislators are on their side. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said that technology plays a key role in the issues Congress will face in the coming years. He told attendees that, "It's up to the few of us who really care about technology, and you in the industry, to come up here [on Capitol Hill] and educate and lobby." The event was also a place for online music companies such as Napster and MusicNet to display their Web sites; Napster's offering will boast music licensed from five major labels, in keeping with the company's "new and lawful" image, as described by one congressman. Napster's VP for corporate and public policy development, Manus Cooney, noted that Congress is starting to comprehend the impact such services are having on the Internet. Other developments, such as broadband regulation, wireless spectrum, cyberterrorism, and digital copyright, have made the Internet an unavoidable issue. With the loud music, free food and drinks, and rallying, the engagement resembled a entrepreneurial party, circa 1999.

  • "That Computer Looks Great on You"
    Wired News (03/12/02); King, Brad

    The government, the private sector, and academia have initiatives to improve wearable technology through detailed analysis of the human body. Body Media's Chris Kasabach says that comprehending the body will lead to products that are more powerful than desktops and are better designed with respect to the body's movements. Carnegie Mellon University's Wearable Computer Group studies the body, concentrating on the areas that move the least. Such areas are used to model shapes into which technology can be incorporated, thus yielding products that are hardly affected by movement. The wrist watch model is a particular point of focus, especially with technology's reduction in size, notes Carnegie Mellon design researcher Francine Gemperle. NTT DoCoMo's Whisper cell phone follows this model, alerting users to incoming calls by vibrating and transmitting voices by bone induction. Wearable devices seem especially well-designed for the medical industry, with research being done in prostheses, tooth replacements, and joint and cochlear implants. Meanwhile, body mapping has yielded better wetsuits for surfers and Navy SEALS, while a 3D imaging project at Wright Air Force Base analyzes the effects of body contours on gear.

  • "Reversible Computing Could Pinpoint Network Congestion"
    EE Times Online (03/05/02); Johnson, R. Colin

    An assistant professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is working on reversible computer algorithms that can speed network simulations by six times and reveal the exact causes of network congestion. For the first part of his research, Christopher Carothers will create a million-node network simulator by reversing the computational process of traditional simulators, which have been regulated to just about 150,000 nodes. In doing so, Carothers expects to lay down the fundamentals of this new computing process so he can build an entirely reversible simulation, a goal still about two years out. Normal network simulations track bottlenecks using forward processing, then have to use stored data to compute backwards to the bottleneck. Administrators then use guesswork to tweak network design until they find something near optimal performance. Reverse simulation, in contrast, would not have to use any residual data and instead rely on completely reversible computation that would lead directly to the point of congestion. Network researchers would have a more comprehensive view of the network traffic with reverse simulations as well, helping them to craft better fixes, says Carothers.

  • "Internet Pathfinder Leading Battle Against Barriers to Innovation"
    SiliconValley.com (03/12/02); Gillmor, Dan

    Several technology gurus are working in the public interest to build open technology tools aimed at breaking proprietary strangleholds on good ideas, writes Dan Gillmor. Carl Malamud and his wife Rebecca are head of the non-profit Internet Multicasting Service, which was one of the first organizations to offer Web broadcasted radio programs and later an online list of Securities and Exchange Commission postings for corporate filings. Now, Malamud is working on a service, named NetTopBox and built using open standards, that could circumvent a patent held by Gemstar-TV Guide International that would allow people to view media databases on-screen, just as cable subscribers now can, except that it would incorporate many other media genres. Another technology pioneer working for the public interest is Lotus Development founder Mitch Kapor, who is working to create an open-source alternative to Microsoft's Outlook Express, which currently has a lock on the market for messaging coordination software.
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  • "ICANN Chief's Proposal Prompts Debate in Ghana"
    Newsbytes (03/12/02); McGuire, David

    Center for Democracy and Technology associate director Alan Davidson reports from Ghana that ICANN President Stuart Lynn's proposal to zero-out public participation in ICANN's board in favor of national governments is causing heated debates at the ICANN meeting, with no meeting participants actively supporting the proposal. Some ICANN board members have expressed initial support for the proposal, says Davidson. Davidson says that most meeting participants have concerns about ICANN's ability to be effective, but disagree with Lynn's proposal "in terms of the solutions it puts forth." The Lynn plan has caused enough of an upheaval that the ICANN board is unlikely to approve any At-Large proposal during the March meeting, says Davidson. At-Large supporters are asking the ICANN board to extend the terms of the current crop of elected board members in order to ensure the existence of At-Large members if an At-Large proposal is not acted upon by Nov. 2002, which is when current elected terms end. In order to change ICANN bylaws to incorporate a new At-Large structure, ICANN must first make any potential bylaw changes available for public comments. Davidson notes that ICANN has yet to take this preliminary step.

  • "Forget Shopping--the Web's Most Fun and Lasting Use Is About Discovery"
    Wall Street Journal (03/11/02) P. B1; Swisher, Kara

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the Montgomery Bay Aquarium are using the Internet to seamlessly combine resources to both entertain the public and advance research projects. MBARI research technician Debbie Meyer says research practices are being transformed by the instant data transmission of the Internet. Researchers and the public can use the Net to view films of undersea specimens captured on camera by remotely operated vehicles, or live streaming footage of aquarium exhibits on the institute's Web site. Both institutes receive the majority of their funding from the family foundation of the late David Packard, and his daughter Julie is a MBARI chairwoman and executive director of the aquarium. Packard wished to improve oceanographic research through technology, and a substantial portion of the $30 million the institutes receive annually is earmarked for unusual forms of data collection involving robots and computers, such as oceanic carbon measurements, algal bloom tracking, and tectonic mapping. Aquarium Web team manager Jane Cross notes that enhancing Web sites with dynamic content represents a big challenge for capturing the public's interest.

  • "Help Wanted"
    Washington Technology (03/04/02) Vol. 16, No. 23, P. 14; Emery, Gail Repsher

    Defense Department research laboratories could fall behind in their development of new technologies and quality assessment of contracts awarded to the private sector, warns a panel of independent scientific advisors. In the past, government laboratories pioneered innovations such as global positioning systems and radio, but could lose out in competition for highly skilled people who are lured to more lucrative jobs in the private sector. The Naval Research Advisory Committee will help the Defense Department devise strategies designed to boost the research capabilities of Army, Air Force, and Navy laboratories. Among their tasks will be to review past panel recommendations and investigate newer possibilities--among them, the use of pay-banding and performance bonuses, such as have been suggested by federal e-government head Mark Forman and the CIO Council, separately. Sandia National Laboratory deputy director Gil Herrera is on the panel and says that, unless new solutions to attract in-house expertise can be found, the only solution for many defense projects to go forward is to increase contracts to the private sector.

  • "Efforts Afoot to Coordinate IT Volunteer Work After Disasters"
    Computerworld (03/04/02) Vol. 36, No. 10, P. 6; Solomon, Melissa

    The IT industry was ready to respond to the Sept. 11 recovery effort in New York, but relief coordinators may not have known how to put volunteers' expertise to good use. Although relief coordinators say the volume of assistance more than met the demand, Barbara Chang, executive director of NPower NY, a nonprofit that provides IT assistance to other local nonprofits, says work still needs to be done. Thousands of volunteers, such as Julie Gandle of IT infrastructure support firm Work Friendly Solutions, participated in the relief effort. Many IT volunteers saw a need for data and infrastructure assistance. However, one laid-off IT worker who attempted to volunteer says he was turned away, and even suggested that politics was involved. Nevertheless, some IT and business leaders see the bigger picture, and are working on a more long-term effort to respond to a future disaster. Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, wants to create a chain of command for disaster response among the science and technology sectors. "Even more might have been accomplished if there was a clear organization in place," asserts Carol Guthrie, Wyden's press secretary.

  • "Whose Rules?"
    InformationWeek (03/11/02) No. 879, P. 30; Colkin, Eileen; George, Tischelle; Kontzer, Tony

    Technology such as the Internet can tempt teenagers and young adults to pursue unethical behavior that could stunt their future research and business skills, and at the same time give them access to information that could foster well-informed and questioning individuals who could reshape industry and spur innovation. The way this group uses such tools and why may force industries to alter their business framework if they want to succeed in a digital world. Access to free music has raised the ire of record companies, which have clamped down on file-swapping services such as Napster; but teenage users report they feel no moral qualms about copying, since the only consequence they see is free content. Ernst & Young partner Jonathan Shames says the music industry must change its way of doing business to suit the widespread sharing environment, while iParadigms founder John Barrie foresees that intellectual property will inevitably move to a shared model. An argument between Hofstra University students is centered over the course of action businesses can take in response to such behavior--one student says companies should raise prices and get the most out of their honest consumers, while another argues that lowering prices is the better strategy, since people are more eager to buy original products that have less glitches than pirated versions. A third Hofstra student sees the Internet disintermediating commerce and making the reseller business model obsolete, a concept that plays into most young people's preferred mode of direct payment. Companies could boost innovation and their market edge by using feedback from young people to design better products.

  • "Technology in America"
    PC Magazine (03/12/02) Vol. 21, No. 5, P. 98; Guterman, Jimmy

    The American way of life is being reshaped by technology, and the United States leads the rest of the world in technology innovation. The PC revolution was driven by the development of productivity tools such as word processing and spreadsheets, which made multitasking a normal function of everyday life; the pervasiveness of technology has led to an insecurity about time that EDventure Holdings Chairman Esther Dyson says is eroding cultural barriers and blurring the line between work and home. A defining moment of the tech revolution is the way PCs and the Internet have enabled geographically dispersed groups of people to interact and form communities, a development that reflects FirstMatter CEO Watts Wacker's conclusion that technology has improved the quality of life. Technology has had a particularly strong impact on children, especially in their education: Computers have moved from a classroom rarity 20 years ago to a commonplace tool, and VisiCalc co-creator Dan Bricklin says an entire generation considers PCs to be an essential component of their lives. The proliferation of mobile phones and the feeling that they are erasing privacy underscores some of the controversial elements of technology's growing presence, and are causing legislators to consider what kinds of limits should be imposed. A related question is technology's proper place in the home, where it can be intrusive in certain situations, such as the bedroom. Other negative aspects of technology include disruptive applications, more work with less time to do it in, and a digital divide between computing haves and have-nots that widens as technology becomes more advanced. America's technological landscape 20 years from now will be a marked change from that of today, with all of its improvements over the previous two decades.
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