Architecture and Hardware News track

News Track

  1. Special Skills Draft
  2. MBA Outsourcing Track
  3. Ancient Egypt Online
  4. Rx PlayStation
  5. Camera Ready
  6. Blogging Baghdad
  7. Author

The U.S. government, despite denials to the contrary, is making its first moves toward a military-style draft of citizens with special skills in computers and foreign languages, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The Selective Service System, an independent federal agency, has begun creating the procedures and policies to conduct such a targeted draft in the event military officials ask Congress to authorize it and lawmakers agree. Agency spokesperson Richard Flahavan insists a targeted registration and draft is strictly in the planning stage: "The whole thing is driven by what appears to be the more pressing and relevant need today, that is, the deficit in language and computer experts." The agency already has in place a special system to register and draft health care personnel ages 20 to 44 in more than 60 specialties if necessary in a crisis. Flahaven says the agency will expand the system to quickly register and draft computer specialists and linguists should the need arise.

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MBA Outsourcing Track

As outsourcing has become a key subject for business students, a fast-growing number of U.S. business schools have added it to their curricula. Forrester Research reports thousands of white-collar jobs moving overseas every year; at least 3.3 million jobs in service industries, accounting for $136 billion in wages, will leave the U.S. by 2015 for lower-cost countries. Students are signing up for outsourcing courses to add to their managerial tool kits, as the economic implications of offshoring is not something MBA candidates can ignore, according to the New York Times. Among the universities offering outsourcing courses are Indiana, Cornell, Stanford, Bentley College, MIT’s Sloane School of Management, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the Chicago Graduate School of Business, and NYU’s Stern School of Business.

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Ancient Egypt Online

A joint effort between IBM and the Egyptian government allows visitors to explore the treasures of ancient Egypt from laptop, palmtop, or desktop anywhere in the world. Eternal Egypt (—an online journey through the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and beyond—is the result of a two-year project that involved IBM working with Egyptian curators, anthropologists, and engineers to fit the history of Egyptian culture into one state-of-the-art site. The San Jose Mercury News reports IBM donated $2.5 million to the project while also outfitting the museum with 100 Cassiopeia EG-800 handheld devices so visitors can observe a particular piece of art or sculpture and have the cyber connection transport them to the village where it was crafted or illustrate how it was used. "We are applying high tech—even technology that doesn’t exist anywhere else—to highlight one of the cultures of the world," said an IBM technology director. The Egypt project is one of several taking place on a smaller scale in museums worldwide, including London’s Tate Modern and San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation. The reason for this emerging trend in museum investment is simple, says Tony Santos of the Tech Museum: "To get people excited about these things, we have to make these experiences available online."

"It’s probably the thing I feel the worst about over the last few years. This is a case where we didn’t do it all—and I wish we had."
—Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, regretting Microsoft did not make an R&D investment in search technology.

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Rx PlayStation

Surgeons who spend at least three hours a week playing video games are not only more dexterous, but make fewer surgical mistakes, according to new research from Beth Israel Medical Center and Iowa State University. Indeed, in a recent study, video-game-playing surgeons made about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery while performing the task 27% faster than their non-game-playing counterparts. Laparoscopic surgery involves making keyhole incisions, usually inserting a mini-video camera for sending images to an external monitor. The tools are remote controlled by the doctor. The study marks "the arrival of Generation X into medicine," says co-author Dr. Paul J. Lynch of BIMC. Regular players of video games develop the ability to respond more quickly and accurately, as well as manipulate devices more intuitively, reports the Associated Press.

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Camera Ready

One in six cell phones sold last year had a digital camera in it, an almost fivefold increase over 2002, according to a survey from Strategy Analytics, Boston, MA. Some 84 million camera phones were sold, representing 16% of the total handset market, compared to 18 million in ’02. Asian vendors led the surge: Japan’s NEC topped the camera phone list with 13.1 million shipped, followed by Finland’s Nokia (the world’s largest handset maker) with 11 million. Samsung Electronics sold 10 million; Matsushita-owned Panasonic shipped 9.2 million; and Sony-Ericsson sold 8.2 million units to distributors. Investment bank UBS forecasts camera-phone sales will rise to 44% of all mobile phones sold this year.

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Blogging Baghdad

Internet cafés offering patrons unprecedented computer and communication access to the outside world are now peppering the streets of Baghdad, where blogging has become a growing pastime. USA Today reports cyber cafés have become a key attraction, so much so that finding an available terminal takes great patience. Internet time is about 1,500 Iraqi dinars an hour (about $1), a hefty price in a region where the average doctor earns about $150 a month. The online diaries emanating from the area tend to be political in nature; several bloggers have reported receiving threatening email messages from around the world. But they blog on because, as one café owner explained: "People here are enjoying their newfound freedoms. We need to get connected to the world."

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