Friday, May 25, 2001

Gore Talks High Tech in Washington
"There is no technological silver bullet that's going to solve a problem unless it is used by people who understand its capabilities and are willing to make changes in their actions,'' Gore said in a speech at the Communications Solutions Expo.

Gore drew a parallel between the use of information technology and the introduction of electric motors a century earlier. While electric motors were superior to steam engines, productivity did not increase until managers built new factories along a horizontal rather than vertical axis and changed work habits to take advantage of the new machines.

"You learn more and have more opportunity for growth from experiences that are setbacks than from the experiences that are smooth sailing. One of the first lessons you learn is that smooth sailing really is better,'' Gore said.

Monday, May 21, 2001

New Economy: Pact Raises Competition Questions
The contract — between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, and VeriSign Inc., — is the latest turn in a long, complicated process that continues to raise questions over whether the government's decision to move from a monopoly to market competition has truly opened the field to other players. An equally important issue has faded: whether the public has benefited from the new system.

Unlike the I.R.S., Icann is not a government agency; it is a nonprofit corporation with a limited policy mandate. But critics, including some in Congress, say it overstepped its boundaries in renegotiating the contract with VeriSign through proceedings largely shielded from public view.

The main concern with the contract is that it allows VeriSign to continue operating the registry database for dot-com addresses and collect a fee of $6 a year for every dot- com address registered, while also competing with other companies in selling those addresses to the public. Under an earlier contract, Network Solutions, which has since been acquired by VeriSign, would have been required to sell either the registry database or its retail division, on the theory that operating both was a conflict of interest.
When a Test Fails the Schools, Careers and Reputations Suffer
Right Answer, Wrong Score: Test Flaws Take Toll
The Standard: Don't Know Much About a Science Book Why do our eighth-graders do so poorly in
math and science compared with students
around the world? Why is it that 80 percent
of U.S. high-school graduates never go on
to take a college physics course? Why do so
many American graduate schools attract
more foreign students than U.S. citizens to
their science and engineering programs?

One reason is that the science textbooks found in most American classrooms are, in a word, atrocious. They are riddled with errors, sloppy thinking and glitzy illustrations that illustrate little in the way of actual science. We shouldn't be
surprised that American children are turning away from science when their introduction to it is at best incoherent.

Final Report
Without a clear-cut author or pair of authors to “define” the text or give it direction, these texts fail miserably. Committees produce mush and it is very difficult to find anyone with the authority to make corrections. Instead of being able to deal directly with authors we dealt with “editors” and got answers to our concerns about inaccuracies such as “Well we have to make the science simple,” “We don’t think that your qualifications are good enough,” and “Our experts disagree with you.”

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Online Cigarette Sales are Smokin' A research briefing from Forrester warns that much of the online tobacco purchases are coming from kids - but not for long.

In the days before the Internet, teenagers looking to buy cigarettes often had to talk an older friend into purchasing them or attempt to bluff their way past a cashier intent on verifying their age. Now, teenagers can point and click their way to a nicotine fix, often without verifying their age, even though tobacco sales to minors are as illegal online as they are in the real world.

Much of the Internet cigarette market is shrouded in vagueness. Many of the sites are run from Indian reservations, which are free to set their own retail regulations, but some are not. Analysts say they have no idea of the size of the total market or even what the biggest companies are. "You get the feeling many of these are fly-by-night," said Preston Dodd, an analyst with Jupiter Communications, a research firm specializing in Internet commerce.

Monday, May 14, 2001

New Economy: Behind Bars, a Market for Goods
During the 12- month period ended June 30, 1999, the Federal prison population rose 9.9 percent, the largest yearly gain ever reported. The incarceration rate has tripled since 1980.

To some, these figures are a national embarrassment. To others, they represent a marketing opportunity. Particularly in consumer electronics.

Take headphones. They are a ubiquitous feature of prison life, given the potential for conflict over noise and music preferences. Indeed, headphones are required by some corrections departments and are popular items in commissaries and mail-order catalogs that sell directly to inmates.
New Economy: Behind Bars, a Market for Goods

Sunday, May 13, 2001

The First World Hacker War
After last month's collision of an American spy plane and a Chinese jet, hackers in the United States and China began defacing Web sites on both sides of the Pacific. Then Chinese hackers, led by a group called the Honkers Union, declared war.

The White House's site was shut down for hours, computers at the California Department of Justice caught a virus and the eastern Ohio's Bellaire School District site played the Chinese national anthem while displaying China's fluttering red flag.

Most attacks involved cybergraffiti. American hackers tended to be insulting ("Slouching Tiger, Ridden Dragon" was slapped on a Chinese site); Chinese hackers, righteous ("We are ready to devote anything to our motherland, including our lives" was left on several American sites).

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

News: Wired U.S. homes drop in 2001
The study, conducted by Telecommunications Reports International, found that the 0.3 percent decline to 68.5 million was partly because of the shrinking number of free Internet service providers. That said, the number of households paying for Internet access rose 8 percent, according to the telecommunication media group's report.,4586,5082502,00.html
Maybe They've Been Reading “Neuromancer”?

News: High-tech vigilantes face legal threat
In the U.S., firms are increasingly
using hacking tools to attack the
systems of hackers. Thirty-two
percent of Fortune 500 companies
have installed counter-offensive
software, according to a survey by
security consultancy WarRoom
Research. Tactics include launching
Trojan horse attacks to damage and
disable a hacker's computer, and
automated scripts that can erase an
attacker's hard drive or hijack e-mail.

However, Sommer pointed out that
such measures could cause
companies to break the law. "There
is no clear line between cyber defense
and attack," he said. If a company
launches a counter-attack after
detecting a hacker, it could inflict
damage on a third party--because
hackers often launch attacks via other
companies' systems. This raises
issues of legal liability for any
damage caused, though the law in
this area is still unclear.,4586,2716730,00.html

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

F.C.C. Wants Higher Fines for Phone Monopolies
At a hearing earlier this year, Mr. Powell laid out his philosophy to lawmakers: "I might give you a better benefit of the doubt, but when you cheat, I'm going to hurt and hurt you hard."

The commission is charged with carrying out the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which sought to break up local phone monopolies held by the regional Bells and allow new companies to enter and compete. The act requires the Bells to lease and open up parts of their networks to competitors.

The agency can fine companies that deny rivals access up to $1.2 million for each violation.

For dominant phone companies with multibillion-dollar revenues like the Bells, "this amount is insufficient to punish and to deter violations in many instances," Mr. Powell wrote in a letter to the heads of the Commerce and Appropriations Committees in both houses.

He recommended increasing the amount to $10 million a violation "to enhance the deterrent effect of commission fines."

The commission should be able to award punitive damages, legal fees and costs in formal complaint cases, he wrote.

He also suggested that the statute of limitations on investigating an accusation — currently one year — be extended.
Big advice, small price - Apr. 30, 2001
Should you serve on an advisory board? Susan Stautberg offers four reasons to do it.
1. Build your network.
2. Associate with innovative group. Advisors chosen for brainpower, not position.
3. Establish relationships with decisionmakers at the company.
4. Prepares you to later serve on corporate board

Monday, May 07, 2001

New Economy: Privacy Concerns for Google Archive
In Usenet's original incarnation, messages posted to newsgroups disappeared within weeks, replaced by other comments on the same topic in what was perceived as an ongoing electronic conversation. When, then called Deja News, began archiving messages in 1995 and making them searchable, there were protests by those who felt the bulletin boards were never intended to be permanent.

In response, Deja made it possible for users to exclude their postings from its archive by typing the phrase "X-No-archive: yes" at the beginning of a message. With that change, and as Deja subsequently shifted its business model toward consumer- written product reviews and trimmed its public Usenet archive, the privacy issue faded to the background.

Google's acquisition of the archive, however, not to mention a mass-audience popularity that Deja never achieved, may revive some of those privacy concerns. Although Google may be preserving an important historical resource — an effort that some have lauded — the company is also making the record of this "human conversation" accessible in ways that its participants may not have been able to anticipate.

Some of the messages on Usenet involve caustic personal attacks — or equally vitriolic defenses against those attacks. Others display ill-conceived opinions, rash statements or embarrassing late-night rants. And all of it is now searchable by entering a key word, a date range or a name. Postings include a name and e-mail address; the text of messages can also be searched to see if someone is mentioned by name.

Sunday, May 06, 2001

Segregation Growing Among U.S. Children
Though, over all, blacks and whites live in slightly more integrated areas now than they did in 1990, the segregation of their children worsened in the decade, according to the analysis by researchers at the State University of New York at Albany.

The conflicting trends between children and the overall population reflect the continuing exodus of white families with children from cities to largely white suburbs, leaving more childless whites to live in more integrated neighborhoods, researchers said. They noted that settings that forced racial integration, like college dormitories, did not include children.

The findings carry unsettling implications for race relations in a nation that, while more racially and ethnically diverse than ever, still has several major urban areas where white and black children are interacting less frequently.
U.S. Scientists See Big Power Savings From Conservation
Their studies, completed just before the Bush administration took office, are at odds with the administration's repeated assertions in recent weeks that the nation needs to build a big new power plant every week for the next 20 years to keep up with the demand for electricity, and that big increases in production of coal and natural gas are needed to fuel those plants.

A lengthy and detailed report based on three years of work by five national laboratories said that a government-led efficiency program emphasizing research and incentives to adopt new technologies could reduce the growth in electricity demand by 20 percent to 47 percent.

That would be the equivalent of between 265 and 610 big 300-megawatt power plants, a steep reduction from the 1,300 new plants that the administration predicts will be needed. The range depends on how aggressively the government encourages efficiency in buildings, factories and appliances, as well as on the price of energy, which affects whether new technologies are economically attractive.

Another laboratory study found that government office buildings could cut their own use of power by one-fifth at no net cost to the taxpayers by adopting widespread energy conservation measures, paying for the estimated $5 billion investment with the energy savings.

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

ZDNet: Story: Are all hackers nasty, intrusive evildoers? Not necessarily
Outsmart the hackers regardless of their intent. Patch your applications today. For peace of mind, I use this free software update service from ZDNet. So should you.,10738,2714430,00.html
News: Lawyers slam FBI 'hack'
According to court documents filed in the case, the FBI and Department of Justice lured two suspected Russian hackers to Seattle with job offers at a fictitious security company. After monitoring the duo's connection to two servers in Russia, the FBI used the suspects' passwords to download incriminating data from those servers.
The tactic is likely to be challenged in court; if it is deemed lawful, the precedent could allow law enforcement and intelligence communities free rein to hack foreign computers. In addition, such a ruling could provide a legal loophole for other countries to break into U.S.-based computers in search of data that could aid their own investigations.
"It's extremely dangerous just to throw the door open--it will be a free-for-all," said Jennifer Granick, clinical director for the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society. "It won't just be individuals (hacking each other). It will be corporate espionage.",4586,5082126,00.html
10 Tips for Growing New Business From Old Clients

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Slashdot | Netscape Says No RSS 0.91 For You The problem here is that the RSS format was written in XML and used a DTD (document type definition) that was stored on the Netscape servers. Whenever *someone* *somewhere* tries to parse a RSS file the Netscape server is queried for the file and the RSS file is validated against it. So now that Netscape removed the file people don't get to see the RSS summary but get an error instead.

What could be done is putting a copy of the file on an alternate location and changing all RSS files to match the new URI... well, this could be done if it weren't for the fact that Netscape copyrighted the RSS DTD... the only sollution left is to change to the updated RSS format which doesn't depend on Netscape.
O'Reilly Network: Oh My! Netscape [May 01, 2001]
My.Netscape, a personal portal sporting hundreds of channels carrying content from individual providers, has shed its free content and become YAM*, Yet Another My.*. In the process, they also broke RSS 0.91.
con·cept: May 2001