Computing Applications

News Track

  1. UCITA Latest
  2. Internet Merger Boom
  3. Multiple Language Choices
  4. How Green Was My Silicon Valley
  5. Patients Teaching Doctors
  6. Woodstock Dragnet
  7. Tables
  8. Sidebar: Y2K Countdown

The National Conference of Commissions on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) in July voted to promulgate the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), formerly the Article 2B amendment of the Uniform Commercial Code. Under much scrutiny, and in the works for over 10 years, UCITA will govern all contracts in the development, sale, licensing, maintenance, and support of computer software, as well as books in digital form. Even though the bill faced strong opposition—14 States attorneys general sent the NCCUSL a letter opposing the bill, with another 11 co-signing a second letter the following day—it still passed with a vote of 43 to 6, with two states obstaining. UCITA is supported primarily by software publishers, some computer manufacturers, and some banks. It is opposed by such groups as software developers, consumer advocacy organizations, software buyers, librarians, and magazine and newspaper publishers. Indeed, ACM came out strongly opposed to the Act ( The UCITA has also been sharply criticized by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission with the belief it will erode consumer rights, reduce competition, introduce unnecessary risks for consumers in e-commerce, and lead to lower-quality software.

“Being a hacker is kind of like being a supermodel. Eventually you grow up and move on.”—Kevin Poulson, legendary hacker and keynote speaker at DefCon 99, in Las Vegas.

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Internet Merger Boom

Global technology mergers doubled in value to a record $545 billion in the first half of 1999, shattering last year’s total record deal value of $488 billion, according to a report by investment bank Broadview International. The explosion in deal value and activity comes as IT, media, and communications companies race against time to become the dominant players in their Internet businesses. A process that once took 30 to 50 years in nontechnology industries now takes as few as five years in the Internet business. Internet merger battles drove deal value in the digital media segment up nearly 700% to $36.5 billion in the first half of 1999, from $4.6 billion in the first half of last year.

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Multiple Language Choices

By 2002, the majority of worldwide Internet users will be non-English speaking; by 2005, six of 10 users are expected to speak a language other than English, according to research firm Computer Economics, Carlsbad, Calif. The coming predominance of non-English-speaking users means it’s imperative for Web sites to offer multiple language choices. “We’ve seen astronomical growth in the presence of Japanese and Chinese in the Internet,” said a Computer Economics executive. “We think multilanguage sites are going to become the norm by about 2001.”

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How Green Was My Silicon Valley

Once the heart of the Internet technology industry, Silicon Valley now faces intense competition to lure high-tech firms and employees. Such regions as Seattle’s “Silicon Forest,” Austin, Texas’s “Silicon Hills,” Washington, D.C.’s “Silicon Dominion,” and New York’s “Silicon Alley” tout varied reasons for the advantages each region offers, including lower costs of living, less traffic, better tax incentives, and supportive local governments, said a Silicon Valley regional economic group, Joint Venture. Although it still holds a leadership position, Silicon Valley is lacking about 160,000 workers this year, while in other regions, firms are relocating and expanding, helping draw an extensive “Internet talent pool.” San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzalez said his city is working to improve traffic, education, and housing costs in Silicon Valley in order to remain competitive. Despite the pressures, many Silicon Valley leaders said they wouldn’t consider leaving the area.

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Patients Teaching Doctors

Medical Web sites are arming patients with loads of health information and diagnostics about diseases and ways to treat them, sometimes knowing more than their doctors, reports USA Today. At the end of last year, 22 million adults went online to find health information, one of the Net’s top uses, says Internet research firm Cyber Dialogue. By next year, it estimates more than 33 million will research health issues online. “Every doctor now needs to be prepared for the day when somebody comes in with more information that we don’t know about,” says a surgeon at the University of Michigan. “We need to be prepared to accept that and learn from our patients. It’s a new idea of how things should go in the typical medical model.”

“The [military’s] systems are at least three years out of date. You want to write up a report with the latest version of Microsoft Word on your insecure computer or on some piece of junk with a secure computer?”—Jeffrey Schiller, a director of the security group for the Internet Task Force, on the slowness of the U.S. military’s security review process.

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Woodstock Dragnet

In the aftermath of arson, looting, and allegations of rape during and after Woodstock ’99, the weekend-long concert held in upstate New York 30 years after the original event, state police have resorted to the Web to gain information on vandals and other lawbreakers. Police have posted their Woodstock ’99 photo album on the Web and have been asking concertgoers to identify the vandals in 14 candid snapshots. The photos show crimes in progress, including a couple prying into an ATM machine, looters carrying away bounty pilfered from trailers, and people tearing down the colorful “Peace Wall.” The postings sparked protest from Associated Press officials, who complained that 10 AP photos were used without permission.

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