The offshoring of IT jobs has become such a political tinderbox in the U.S. that India's outsourcing specialists fear its repercussions. The chairman of a leading Indian software firm recently told the New York Times: "The dramatic buildup of opposition before the U.S. elections is disturbing," pointing out political reaction against outsourcing has already culminated in almost two dozen U.S. states voting to ban government work from being contracted to non-Americans. Moreover, the U.S. Senate approved a bill aimed at restricting outsourcing contracts from two federal departments. Technology researchers Gartner Group predict the outsourcing reaction will continue to escalate at least through the fall. Indian officials hope the effect of the U.S. legislations will be minimal and that common economic interests will override political differences that could lead to trade protectionism. At stake: India's IT technology and services industry earned $12 billion in revenue in FY03, $9.5 billion of which came from exports. FY04 is projecting $15.5 billion in revenues with exports of $12 billion.
A growing number of Internet users are doing more than hitting the delete button when it comes to eliminating spam from their lives; they are in fact squaring off against spammers in more extreme, sometimes violent, ways. USA Today reports that spam rage, like road and air rage, is an escalating trend, where many spam activists spend hours tracking spammers and reporting them to authorities. Others engage in cyberwarfare by shutting down spammers' Web pages or putting spammers' addresses on Web sites. Others sue. And some are even resorting to violent threats. A usually mild-mannered 44-year-old Silicon Valley programmer was recently arrested by the FBI and charged with eight violations of interstate communications for threatening to torture and shoot an employee of a company that spammed him relentlessly. Experts say there are far more cases of spam rage than ever reported because spammers do not want to invite the law to scrutinize their operations.
"I thought digital was better, but apparently it's not," contends a consultant for the Philadelphia public defender's office. The "digital" in question is photography, once favored by police departments for its cost and enhancement benefits, now more often confounding the justice system. The Associated Press reports that digital courtroom evidence is now frequently challenged, especially when the word "enhancement" is whispered. Because digital images are mere bits of data, manipulating them is much easier than any potential darkroom tricks with film. "What you can do in a darkroom is 2% of what Photoshop is capable of doing," says a former head of photography for State Farm Insurance. Forensic specialists worry more about unwitting errors introduced by poorly trained examiners than by intentional changes, which are quite rare. Concerns about the impeachability of digital photos are one reason many police departments have been hesitant to ditch film for crime scene photographs and forensic analysis. However, others point out newer software such as More Hits and recent versions of Photoshop can automatically log changes made to an image so the alterations can be reproduced by others.
Table. Altered egos: Identity theft is number-one consumer complaint
A new survey from America Online claims that when it comes to burning the midnight oil playing online games, older women take the lead. Findings of the AOL study indicate U.S. women over the age of 40 spend nearly 50% more time each week playing online games than men and are more likely to play online games daily than men or teens. More than a quarter of those women play their favorite games between midnight and 5 a.m.; the majority tends to favor word and puzzle games. AOL also researched the gaming habits of major U.S. cities and found that people who play games online in Los Angeles are more likely (31%) to form offline relationships than the national average (18%). Atlanta and Boston were the most game-happy cities overall, at about eight hours per capita per week.
Those who loathe the shopping experience, especially trying on clothes, will be relieved to know that Toshiba has teamed up with Osaka-based Digital Fashion to create a 3D virtual you to dress. BBC News Online reports the process of turning a shopper into a photo-realistic avatar occurs in real time; video cameras snap the shopper and then clothes and accessories are selected and displayed immediately on screen. The avatar replicates the shopper's exact measurements, giving him or her a true sense of how the clothes will look as they walk and move. Toshiba expects the system will revolutionize online shopping by eliminating the current mix of static mannequins. The system could be in use by 2006.
Some lonely eBay sellers, long puzzled by the lack of online enthusiasm for their goods, are now the favored folks for a growing cult of bargain hunters who search the auction site for those who simply, well, can't spell. Yes, a staunch group of eBay hunters are finding some serious bargains by ferreting out such products as labtop computers, Art Deko vases, camras, saffires, comferters, antiks, and dimonds (spellings all found in a recent eBay search). The New York Times reports a growing number of eBayistas search specifically for misspellings, knowing there is likely a frustrated seller on the other end who will accept a lowball bid just to get rid of the item(s). Often these buyers will then turn around and sell the item all over again on eBay for a much higher price simply because they spelled the item's name correctly. Educators say it's not so much a matter of more bad spellers in the population; it's that the online world has done a great deal toward publicly exposing them.
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