Computing Applications

News Track

  1. Rocketry Data Revealed
  2. Job Vacancies in Europe
  3. Drop and Pick
  4. Salary Check
  5. Robotic Inspection of Fuel
  6. Impossible to Nuke
  7. Passport Version Upgrade
  8. Bionic T-shirt
  9. Impeachment Email Slowed
  10. Author
  11. Figures
  12. Sidebar: Y2K Countdown
  13. Table

The transfer of sensitive U.S. space technology to China is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, reports CNN. A preliminary Defense Department report found that Hughes Electronics gave China potentially damaging information after a Chinese rocket carrying a Hughes-built satellite crashed in 1995. After satellites belonging to Hughes and Loral were destroyed in two Chinese rocket explosions, Hughes asked for and received permission from the Commerce Department to discuss its views on what happened, although the company was told to be careful not to disclose rocketry data that could assist Beijing in developing military missiles. In the preliminary report the Pentagon concluded that Hughes “went well beyond what should have been allowed” when it told China the crash was caused by problems with the rockets’ fairing. Hughes maintains its conversations with the Chinese were very general.

“Any store not open 24 hours will be noncompetitive. The idea that we collectively rush off to watch a TV program at 9 p.m. will be nothing less than goofy. It will make sense only for sporting events … and that’s because people are betting.”
—Nicholas Negroponte, expounding in Wired about the asynchronous nature of our future

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Job Vacancies in Europe

In order to benefit from the job-creating capacity of e-commerce, Europe must improve the skills and technical literacy of its population, the European Commission warned in a 23-page report. “Job Opportunities in Information Society” points out that there are currently over 50,000 job vacancies in IT due to skill shortages, and by 2002, the gap could widen to 1.2 million jobs if proper measures aren’t taken. The situation is quite troubling, since the audiovisual, information, and communication technology industries are among the most dynamic in the EU economy. To correct the situation the report calls on EU member states to improve IT literacy, to rethink education so students learn with technology, and to ensure public access to the Internet.

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Drop and Pick

A pen-like device designed to move files from one computer to another without touching a mouse or keyboard is in the development stage at Sony Computer Laboratories in Tokyo. The pen-and-screen combination used by Sony is manufactured by the Japanese Company Wacom and works like this: tapping the pen onto a file icon links the pen’s identity code to the file. Then, when the pen is tapped on the screen of another computer on the same network, the server notes the pen’s identity code, recognizes what file icon it last touched, and transfers the file to the new computer. Both companies admit they are not ready to market the idea just yet. “A lot of decisions have to be made about an application for the technology,” said a Sony spokesperson.

Figure. Percentage of Consumers Using the Net

Figure. Inappropriate Internet behavior

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Salary Check

In 1998, network professionals’ salaries rose more than 10% from 1997, says the 1998 Network World Salary Survey. Some additional findings based on 395 surveyed network professionals in four job categories (senior IT management, network management, other IT management, and IT staff): Average base salaries range from just under $50,400 for IT staff workers to nearly $68,000 for senior management; across titles, more than 40% of IT professionals earn bonuses, stock, and overtime. Regional salary finding are as follows: IT professionals in the mid-Atlantic region of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are the highest paid at a 13.5% margin above the national norm; in contrast, the South Atlantic region yields the lowest pay—almost 6% below average.

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Robotic Inspection of Fuel

A robotic system that helps to detect leaks in large fuel tanks is now available. Fuel storage tanks have always presented a potential hazard, with possible ground seepage making their inspection a high priority, as well as a tedious and expensive one—in the range of $30,000 to $500,000 after drainage and taking the tank out of service. The robot, named Maverick, uses ultrasound to measure the thickness of the metal; a sonar positioning system keeps track of the robot’s location. The company, Solex Robotics, claims an 80% savings on inspections as well as improved safety conditions of workers involved in the inspection process.

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Impossible to Nuke

A radiation-proof chip has been developed by Intel and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico. Intel provided the government with existing technology that then allowed it to build a radiation-hardened product, said a source close to the deal. The trade newsletter Defense Week, said the new chip would one day enable systems aboard satellites and other space vehicles to withstand the effects of a nuclear donation. U.S. agencies are increasingly worried about the possibility that a potential enemy could disrupt satellite communications simply by firing a nuclear weapon straight up and detonating it in space.

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Passport Version Upgrade

A new U.S. passport with anti-forgery features designed to stop smugglers, criminals, and illegal immigrants from illegal usage of stolen passports has been issued, reports the State Department. Touted as the biggest improvement in passport technology in 17 years, the new design uses a digitized photograph and data page, making it virtually impossible to substitute photos. The data page also has a security film with a built-in image, similar to a hologram, and sophisticated “microline” printing that resists copying. By 1999 all domestic passport agencies will issue the digitally enhanced passport.

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Bionic T-shirt

A T-shirt woven with fiber optics and electronically conductive thread is close to being mass produced, reports USA Today. Developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Textile and Fiber Engineering, research for the smart shirt, called a sensate liner, was driven by medical applications in the military sector, such as monitoring soldiers’ vital signs in order to help medics decide which injuries are of priority. Sensors on the shirt send data on heartbeat, breathing, and body temperature to a pager-size processor worn at hip level. The data can then be sent via satellite anywhere in the world. Inventors say as the garment becomes available to the public, the shirt will be utilized by numerous groups for a variety of reasons. Some examples: firefighters, police, home-bound patients, and sick infants.

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Impeachment Email Slowed

Although the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton were swift, it seems a bug in Microsoft’s email server slowed substantially, surfacing just as House members were preparing for their vote, reports CNN Interactive. Constituent email messages began dropping into a void because of the glitch, which sends Exchange servers into a continuous loop. The bug affected two of the House’s 14 servers, severely backlogging email, most of it constituent feedback. “We’re the hub of democracy; we’re supposed to get a lot a email,” said Jason Poblete, spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee.

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UF1 Figure. Percentage of Consumers Using the Net

UF2 Figure. Inappropriate Internet behavior

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UT1-1 Table. Bogus Chips Lurking

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