Computing Applications News track

News Track

  1. Not All Fun and Games
  2. IT Hiring Up
  3. What Lies A-Head
  4. Europe's Broadband Access Growth in 2004
  5. IT Budget Ups and Downs
  6. Phishing Expeditions
  7. The (Really) Big Picture
  8. Number One "Blog"
  9. Author
  10. Tables

The good news is the video game industry is exploding, with a global market that was expected to exceed $35 billion by year-end 2004. The bad news is the legion of programmers working under pressure to churn out hits for the game industry is burning out at a rapid rate. A recent survey by the International Game Development Association found nearly 60% of the respondents claiming “crunch periods” of overtime were commonplace, yet 47% said they were not compensated for putting in the extra time. Indeed, only 3% of those surveyed said their employers even counted the overtime hours they worked. “There’s a cowboy mentality about working 60 to 80 hours a week, drinking Jolt Cola to stay awake, and being a game development machine,” said a spokesperson for the association. “Some companies exploit that and pressure people to work long hours. The implication is that if you’re not willing, there are 10 others lined up outside ready to take your place.”

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IT Hiring Up

U.S. chief information officers expect a modest uptick in IT hiring in the first quarter of 2005, citing business growth and customer/end-user support as primary reasons. Moreover, executives in the Pacific region and in the southwestern states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas are the most optimistic about IT hiring activity. A survey of 1,400 CIOs by research firm Robert Half Technology also found networking is the specialty most in demand, followed by information security and user-support skills. The CIOs noted checkpoint firewall administration and wireless networking management as particularly hot specialties. The wholesale sector leads all industries in hiring confidence, followed by retail, business services, and finance, insurance, and real estate.

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What Lies A-Head

Temple University researchers have demonstrated how the brains of people who are lying look very different from those of people telling the truth. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) not only sheds light on what goes on when people lie but may also provide new technology for lie detection, claims the research team. Reuters reports that results from a recent study of a group of volunteers found lying taxes the brain significantly more than telling the truth. Where truthful statements prompted activity in parts of the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes, lying caused activity in the medial inferior and pre-central areas, as well in as the hippocampus, middle temporal, and limbic areas. Scott Faro, director of Temple’s Functional Brain Image Center, says using an fMRI as a lie detector is an expensive option, but it may be worthwhile in such cases as questioning suspected terrorists or alleged high-profile corporate criminals.

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Europe’s Broadband Access Growth in 2004


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IT Budget Ups and Downs

A survey of corporate IT budgeting for 2005 found mixed results. More than half the companies surveyed plan to increase software and hardware expenditures, though a significant number (14% for software, 20% for hardware) are planning sizeable budget cuts in these areas, according to Seattle-based research firm Enterprise Systems. Moreover, the survey found disparate priorities within IT departments; senior management chose wireless applications as their top “wish list” item; middle management wants increased staff salaries; and IT staff wants more training (an IT budget item expected to see the most notable cut this year). More than 60% of respondents admitted to inflating IT budget objectives to make sure they get the money they require.

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Phishing Expeditions

Almost every online bank has been hit by phishing attacks, according to a year-end study issued by security firm MessageLabs. BBC News reports the number of phishing email messages captured by MessageLabs increased tenfold during a recent 12-month period; indeed, the firm detected more than 18 million phishing email messages in 2004. Moreover, phishing gangs were using increasingly sophisticated techniques to harvest useful data, such as login details and personal data. Other statistics showed that 73% of all email in 2004 was spam and one in 16 messages was infected with a virus.

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The (Really) Big Picture

The largest digital panoramic photo in the world has been created by researchers in The Netherlands—the result of a friendly lunchtime bet to see if they could build a gigapixel image even larger than the reigning effort by U.S. photographer Max Lyons in 2003. An image of the city of Delft was created by weaving together 600 individual shots using a computer-controlled camera with a 400mm lens. Unlike Lyon’s 196 images, which were manually combined to create a huge view of Bryce Canyon National Park, researchers at TNO Labs used five PCs over a three-day period to automatically “stitch” the 600 images into one. The final photo, if printed in standard 300dpi resolution, would stand 8.2 feet high and 19.65 feet long. For the “full” effect, visit

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Number One “Blog”

Merriam-Webster placed “blog” at the top of its 10-words-of-the-year list. The Massachusetts-based dictionary publisher compiles the list annually by ranking the most queried words on its Web sites. The 2004 list reflects the year’s political atmosphere and news headlines. Blogging was a significant presence in the `04 election year and as such was the most searched-for word on its sites. Rounding out the list: 2. incumbent; 3. electoral; 4. insurgent; 5. hurricane; 6. cicada; 7. peloton; 8. partisan; 9. sovereignty; 10. defenestration. Blog will be a new entry in the 2005 version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

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UT1 Table. Europe’s Broadband Access Growth in 2004

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