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Communications of the ACM

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The news archive provides access to past news stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

August 2009


From ACM TechNews

The Grill: MIT Media Labs' David Merrill on Tangible Computing

The Grill: MIT Media Labs' David Merrill on Tangible Computing

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab graduate student David Merrill has co-invented Siftables to facilitate more natural and tangible interaction with digital media in a field he refers to as embodied media.


From ACM TechNews

Internet 'Immune System' Could Block Viruses

Internet 'Immune System' Could Block Viruses

A system that fights highly infectious computer viruses by embedding defense mechanisms in key parts of the Internet has been developed by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher Scott Coull and Rensselaer Polytechnic…


From ACM TechNews

Experimental Tech Turns Your Coffee Table Into a ­niversal Remote

The recent ACM SIGGRAPH conference offered a video demonstration of Control of Remotely Interfaced Systems using Touch-based Actions in Living spaces (CRISTAL), a multitouch tabletop display that acts as a universal remote.


From ACM TechNews

New Linux-Based Technology to Make 'smarter' Gps

New Linux-Based Technology to Make 'smarter' Gps

National ICT Australia has developed AutoMap, a Linux-based system designed to make personal navigation systems more accurate. AutoMap uses machine-vision techniques to detect and classify geometric shapes from video footage,…


From ACM TechNews

Napolitano: Cybersecurity Issues Remain ­nresolved

Napolitano: Cybersecurity Issues Remain ­nresolved

U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano recently affirmed that her staff is still weighing options about how best to assimilate the public and private sectors in responding to security threats, saying…


From ACM TechNews

How to Build Anonymity Into the Internet

At the 9th annual Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, security researchers discussed alternatives to existing systems designed to help Internet users maintain their privacy while online.


From ACM TechNews

'spiderbots' Talk Amongst Themselves Inside Active Volcano

'spiderbots' Talk Amongst Themselves Inside Active Volcano

A group of "spiderbots" released inside Mount St. Helens in Washington is the first network of volcano sensors capable of automatically communicating with each other and directly with satellites. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion…


From ACM TechNews

Semantics-Based Software Boosts Company Performance

SUPER, a European research project, has developed software that expedites companies' development or adjustment of their business processes while realizing cost savings through the application of semantic Web technology. The tools…


From ACM TechNews

Berkeley Lab Gets $62m to Build Blazing Ethernet Network

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been awarded $62 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop what it says will be the world's fastest computer network…


From ACM TechNews

Robots to Get Their Own Operating System

Robots are limited by the fact that they are often designed and built in isolation for specific functions, and roboticists have started to consider what aspects of their manufacture can be standardized in the hope of developing…


From ACM TechNews

Tiny 'mems' Devices to Filter, Amplify Electronic Signals

Purdue University researchers are developing a new class of microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices called resonators that contain vibrating, hair-thin structures and could be used to filter electronic signals.


From ACM TechNews

­.s. Web-Tracking Plan Stirs Privacy Fears

The White House is proposing to soften a long-existing prohibition on tracking how users peruse U.S. government Web sites with cookies and other methods, inciting suspicion among privacy advocates.


From ACM TechNews

Computer 'agents' Take to the Web

Artificial intelligence agents that automatically negotiate for online shoppers, called Negotiation Ninjas, will be tested on a shopping Web site called Aroxo this fall. The agents are the result of 20 years of work by researchers…


From ACM TechNews

Finding the Right Piece of Sky

At the recent ACM SIGGRAPH 2009 conference, Microsoft Research's Visual Computing Group presented SkyFinder, a search system designed to analyze images of the sky. Microsoft's Jian Sun says that unlike most commercial image-search…


From ACM News

Cloud Computing Spurs New Encryption Solutions

Cloud Computing Spurs New Encryption Solutions

University of Washington researchers’ announcement that they had created an encryption scheme called Vanish captured a lot of attention for its elegant simplicity, but two more arcane developments—presented at the Massachusetts…


From ACM TechNews

Computer Scientists Take Over Electronic Voting Machine With New Programming Technique

Computer Scientists Take Over Electronic Voting Machine With New Programming Technique

Computer scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), the University of Michigan, and Princeton University have demonstrated that a Sequoia electronic-voting machine could be hacked, and votes stolen, using…


From ACM TechNews

Rutgers ­niversity in Newark to Lead Nine-School Consortium to Double Minority Students Majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

Rutgers University in Newark is leading the Garden State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (GS-LSAMP), a $5 million, five-year, multiple-school project created to significantly increase the number of minority students…


From ACM TechNews

Supercomputer Visuals Without Graphics Chip

Supercomputer Visuals Without Graphics Chip

The obsolescence of graphics-processing clusters is being hastened by the rapidly accelerating data processing speed of supercomputers. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are crafting software that permits visualization…


From ACM TechNews

After Boom, Is Wikipedia Heading For Bust?

The explosive growth of the Wikipedia online encyclopedia is petering out, while a less welcoming attitude toward new contributors could negatively affect the archive's quality in the long term, according to a team of Palo Alto…


From ACM TechNews

Nist Demonstrates Sustained Quantum Processing in Step Toward Quantum Computers

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physicists have demonstrated sustained, reliable information processing operations on electrically charged atoms, or ions, a significant step toward building a quantum computer…


From ACM TechNews

Research Findings Contradict Myth of High Engineering Dropout Rate

Research indicates that engineering does not have a higher dropout rate than other majors and women's persistence in the discipline is equal to men's, according to professor Matthew Ohland with Purdue University's School of Engineering…


From ACM TechNews

Computer Science Courses on the Decline

Computer Science Courses on the Decline

A decline in U.S. high school computer science (CS) courses is indicated by the Computer Science Teachers Association's (CSTA's) 2009 National Secondary Computer Science Survey. Only 65 percent of about 1,100 high school CS teachers…


From ACM TechNews

Communication Devices 2033

Motorola's Consumer Xperience Design (CXD) teams have speculated possible evolutionary paths that communication devices may take during the next 25 years. They project that by 2033 the cell phone could be an extension of the…


From ACM TechNews

Call For Debate on Autonomous Military Robots

BBC NewsAs robots are increasingly used in warfare, civilian lives will be put at greater and greater risk, according to University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey, who says an international debate is needed on the use of…


From ACM TechNews

A Mind-Controlled Wheelchair Is Moving Closer to Reality

Researchers are making major progress on technology that could help the severely disabled. Professor Javier Minguez at Spain's University of Zaragoza is developing a wheelchair that can be controlled by thought. The wheelchair…


From ACM TechNews

Warning Issued on Web Programming Interfaces

Application programming interfaces (APIs), software specifications that allow Web sites and services to interact with each other, have been a major factor in the rapid growth of Web applications, but security experts at the DEFCON…


From ACM TechNews

Siggraph 2009 Announces Computer Animation Festival Winners

Siggraph 2009 Announces Computer Animation Festival Winners


From ACM TechNews

For Today's Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics

For Today's Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics

The statistics field's popularity is growing among graduates as they realize that it involves more than number crunching and deals with pressing real-world challenges, and Google chief economist Hal Varian predicts that "the…


From ACM TechNews

Broadband Is This Generation

Broadband Is This Generation

In early August, U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski toured California to build support for the FCC's ongoing effort to create the nation's first broadband plan. Genachowski's trip, along…


From ACM TechNews

New Epidemic Fears: Hackers

New Epidemic Fears: Hackers

Under the economic stimulus bill and other U.S. federal government proposals, hospitals and doctors' offices that invest in electronic records systems may receive compensation from part of a $29 billion fund. However, such systems…