News of Technology

Latest news of Technology world.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

IBM pushes math and science education

International Business Machines Corp., worried the United States is losing its competitive edge, will financially back employees who want to leave the company to become math and science teachers.

The new program, being announced Friday with city and state education officials, reflects tech industry fears that U.S. students are falling behind peers from Bangalore to Beijing in the sciences.

Up to 100 IBM employees will be eligible for the program in its trial phase. The goal is to help fill shortfalls in the nation's teaching ranks, a problem expected to grow with the retirement of today's educators.

Math and science are of particular concern to companies in many U.S. industries that expect to need technical workers but see low test scores in those subjects and waning interest in science careers.

"Over a quarter-million math and science teachers are needed, and it's hard to tell where the pipeline is," said Stanley Litow, head of the IBM Foundation, the Armonk, New York-based company's community service wing. "That is like a ticking time bomb not just for technology companies, but for business and the U.S. economy."

While many companies encourage their employees to tutor schoolchildren or do other things to get involved in education, IBM believes it's the first to guide workers toward switching into a teaching career.

The company expects older workers nearing retirement to be the most likely candidates, partly because they would have more financial wherewithal to take the pay cut that becoming a teacher likely would entail.

The workers would have to get approval from their managers to participate. If selected, the employees would be allowed to take a leave of absence from the company, which includes full benefits and up to half their salary, depending on length of service.
via cnn

Keyboard Click-and-Clack Reveals Passwords

Attackers armed with electronic equipment that costs less than $10 can sniff out what's typed on keyboards simply by recording keystroke sounds, a trio of researchers said in a soon-to-be-published paper.

In the paper, Doug Tygar, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, and two PhD students, the husband-wife team of Feng Zhou and Li Zhuang, outlined how they came up with software and used off-the-shelf tools to record keystroke sounds, then turn them into a transcript that's accurate 96 percent of the time.

At the least, said the researchers, password security should be beefed up to take into account possible audio-based attacks like the one they described. "The practice of relying only on typed passwords or even long passphrases should be reexamined," wrote Tygar, Zhou, and Zhuang.

Their research is based on the fact that each key makes a slightly different sound when struck, thanks to the angle at which it's pressed and its location above the keyboard supporting plate.

Once the different sounds had been recorded, Tygar and his associates separated them into classes, then mapped them to the most likely keystrokes based on the English language's constraints, including the limited number of key combinations to make words and the limited number of words because of its grammar. Finally, they used spelling and grammar checking software to refine the transcriptions.

"The key insight in our work is that the typed text is often not random," said Tygar.
via TechWeb

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Yahoo Begins Testing E-Mail Upgrade

"Last year was the year of storage in e-mail, but now the real competition seems to be about who has the coolest user interfaces," Radicati Group analyst Marcel Nienhuis said.

Yahoo Inc. on Wednesday will begin testing a sleeker version of its free e-mail service, shifting to a more dynamic design that mimics the look and feel of a computer desktop application like Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook.

The company plans to invite a "sizable" portion of its current e-mail accountholders to experiment with the retooled service, said Yahoo spokeswoman Karen Mahon, who declined to be more specific.

If the test goes well, all of Yahoo's e-mail users -- an audience that spans tens of millions -- eventually will be converted to the new system.

For the past two years, Yahoo and its main Internet rivals -- Google Inc. , AOL and Microsoft's -- have been unveiling a series of upgrades aimed at attracting and retaining their Web audiences so they remain appealing outlets for advertisers.

Yahoo's test audience also will use a computer mouse to "drag and drop" e-mails from one folder to another and search all the content, including attachments, stored in the inbox.

"Our competition has been doing some interesting things in e-mail, but we think we have leapfrogged them all with all these new features," said Ethan Diamond, an Oddpost co-founder who works for Yahoo as a director of product management.

The Next Internet Gold Rush?

When online auction giant eBay said on Monday that it was purchasing Internet telephone provider Skype Technologies for $2.6 billion, reactions fell largely into two camps: Those who saw the deal as recognition of the money-making potential and transformative power of Internet telephony; and those who questioned the wisdom of paying billions for a company whose sales hover in the tens of millions.

The wisdom of the purchase will be debated for some time, but what's not debatable is how hot the Internet phone business is, and how mainstream tech giants are scrambling to get a piece of the action.

"The next several years should be full of these kinds of acquisitions," says independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan. "Telephone service is a great add-on service to a variety of businesses. The rules have changed. Since companies offering VoIP can be acquired by non-phone companies, there are many more possibilities."

There is certainly no lack of acquisition targets. There are more than 1,100 Internet phone providers in North America alone, according to telecom-gear maker Sandvine. And there's demand to match: Right now, there are about 2.8 million residential local VoIP subscribers in the US, according to the Yankee Group, and that number should more than double to seven million in 2006 and explode to 17.5 million by 2008.

Who might be interested in buying these providers? Internet phone service is a natural fit with e-mail and instant messaging tools offered by companies like Microsoft. All three companies reportedly had discussions with Skype before eBay made its move. They've also made other purchases of companies with VoIP technology. In June, Yahoo! bought Milpitas, Calif.-based Dialpad Communications, and in August, Microsoft bought Teleo, a small San Francisco-based VoIP provider.

In June, telecommunications service provider IDT announced its intention to buy the outstanding shares of Newark, N.J.-based Net2Phone that it didn't already own.

Of course, buying a VoIP provider isn't the only way into the Internet phone business. You could always build your own.

"The barriers of entry in the phone business used to be prohibitively high, and the phone companies were in effect monopolies," says Synergy Research Group President Jeremy Duke. "VoIP technology brings down the barriers to entry and levels the playing field. You and I could start up a VoIP phone company tomorrow, and the product we would offer would not be any different than Skype's or Vonage's."

Companies like Skype and Vonage do have an advantage, though--they're already up and running, and their services have brand recognition and considerable buzz. It's a virtual certainty that more of the 1,100 VoIP upstarts will be bought or will fold as the market grows. The market may be big, but not so big that it can support 1,100 companies with low barriers to entry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

South Korea Pushes Mobile Broadband

It doesn't take a visitor long to notice that South Koreans have some of
the best telecommunications in the world. Cellphones work flawlessly, even
in the depths of Seoul's subway system. Head-phoned teenagers hunch over
virtual battlefields displayed on multimedia PCs in cramped Internet game
rooms known as "baangs," which are themselves tethered to the Net by optical

Meanwhile, at more laid-back cafés, open laptops are the norm, as fast Wi-Fi
signals share the air with the fragrant scent of fresh-brewed coffee.

It's hard to imagine South Korea needing even more connectivity. Yet the republic is making a collective bet that it does. Even as leading carriers like SK Telecom, in Seoul, are investing heavily to improve data rates on their cellular networks, which already are state of the art, the government—with the full support of the nation's wireless providers and equipment makers—has pushed a competing technology called "wireless broadband," or WiBro for short.

A mobile version of regular broadband—take a DSL modem, cut its copper umbilical cord, and put it on wheels—WiBro is fundamentally similar to the standard known as WiMax, which is being developed by the IEEE 802.16 working group [see News, "WiMax and Wi-Fi: Separate and Unequal," IEEE Spectrum, March 2004]. But WiBro allows the user to work a spreadsheet or watch a movie while trucking along at near-highway speeds, whereas WiMax users must stay put.

WiBro promises much higher data rates than you can get even from a third-generation (3G) cellular system—an initial rate of 1 to 3 megabits per second, versus the 384 kilobits per second typical in advanced mobile phone networks today. And the WiBro download rate may eventually rise to about 18 Mb/s, fast enough for even high-definition television, as well as voice, video, and old-fashioned e-mail and Web traffic.

Betting that many of its mobile data-services customers will not be content for long with mere 3G speeds, SK Telecom plans to establish WiBro service in South Korea's major cities. Users, as they roam, will be able to toggle between WiBro and 3G, says Joo Sik Lee, vice president of the company's Network R&D Center, in Seoul. Thus, bored bus and subway commuters will be able to tune in to their favorite radio stations, watch on-demand movies, and play games online.

Additionally, a major Internet service provider without a physical network of its own, such as EarthLink or AOL Broadband, could go for WiBro. In January, for example, SK Telecom and EarthLink announced a partnership that could eventually bring WiBro service to EarthLink's 5 million U.S. customers.

Japan's Probe within 12 miles of Asteroid

Bringing Japan's most complex space mission near its climax, a probe is within 12 miles of an asteroid almost 180 million miles from Earth in an unprecedented rendezvous designed to retrieve rocks from its surface.

The Hayabusa probe, launched in May 2003, will hover around the asteroid for about three months before making its brief landing to recover the samples in early November. The asteroid is located between Earth and Mars.

"The mission is going very smoothly and proceeding as planned," Atsushi Wako, a spokesman for JAXA, Japan's space agency, said Tuesday.

The asteroid, informally named Itokawa, after Hideo Itokawa, the father of rocket science in Japan, is only 2,300 feet long and 1,000 feet wide, and has a gravitational pull one-one-hundred-thousandth of Earth's.

Though it took two years to get there, the asteroid is among the closest neighbors to Earth other than the moon.

The probe's first mission will be to survey the asteroid with cameras and infrared imaging gear. It has already begun sending back images, Wako said.

When Hayabusa moves in for the rendezvous, expected to be over in a matter of seconds, it will pull up close enough to fire a small bullet into the asteroid and collect the ejected fragments in a funnel-like device. It won't be coming back with much - the amount of material planners hope to capture wouldn't even fill a teaspoon.
Associated Press

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sun Micro announces new AMD Opteron-based servers

Sun Microsystems Inc. introduced new industry-standard servers that it said will more than triple the amount of the computer server market it can address as the computer maker seeks to rebuild momentum lost to rivals since the dot-com bust nearly five years ago.

The servers, named X2100, X4100 and X4200, use Opteron microprocessors - the brains of computers - from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. , Intel Corp.'s principal rival in the microprocessor business.

The new servers, which can house up to two dual-core Opteron chips, are in addition to two-processor and four-processor Opteron servers that Sun already sells. The company said that the X2100, X4100 and X4200 are cheaper, faster, use less power and take up less space than comparable servers made by rival companies, such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

"We decided to get much more serious about the industry-standard server market," said John Fowler, who runs Sun's network systems group, which includes the new products.

Industry-standard servers, also known as x86 servers are those that use either Intel, AMD or Intel-compatible chips as their data processing engines. Sun, along with rival International Business Machines Corp., also sells higher-end servers that use their own in-house designed processors.

The servers run Sun's Solaris operating system, which the company recently open-sourced to the software developer community, as well as commercially available versions of Linux, the freely available operating systems, among other operating systems.

"Sun now supports 10 operating systems because that's what the market expects," said Andy Bechtolsheim, chief architect and senior vice president in Sun's network systems group.
posted by reuters.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Which one is the best mp3 player ?

Apple iPod 60 GB

The features of the machine are Intuitive photo viewing; displays album art; adds color to your iPod experience; mammoth 30GB or 60GB hard drive; lets you view photos and listen to music simultaneously; speedy performance; latest firmware update along with optional Camera Connector will allow direct digital-camera transfers of photos, which will be viewable on iPod; solid battery life.

Package doesn't include iPhoto 4.x, FireWire cable, A/V cable, or dock; slightly heavier and thicker than fourth-generation iPod.

It is for listening to MP3, AAC, Audible, and other audio files; viewing photos and slide shows accompanied by music; storing contacts, calendar, and other personal data.

It is for persons who are Photo enthusiasts and those who want the most expensive and most capable iPod to date.

Business use of it is storing images and slides for slide-show presentations.

Essential extras are that nice, big headphones; iPod Camera Connector; digital camera; latest firmware update that allows digital photo transfer; iPhoto 4.x; A/V cable; dock; better carrying case.

The iPod Photo is a beautiful and versatile device with a new, affordable price. The 30GB version is a particularly good value at only $50 more than the audio-only 20GB version.

Its price is $399.99

Archos Gmini XS200

The good features are 20GB of storage for a 5GB price; blazing file transfers; excellent on-device playlist creation; includes bookmark/resume feature.

The bad features are
not recognized by popular desktop music managers; no voice recorder or FM tuner; so-so battery life; uncomfortable earbuds.

It is for listening to music and transporting data files.

It is for anyone seeking a high-capacity music player for a bargain-basement price.

Business use of it is transporting or backing up data.

Essential extras are comfortable headphones.

The Gmini XS200 doesn't have a lot of extra features, but it's still an incredible bargain.
Its price is $214.99

Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5

Sony's 20GB NW-HD5 and the iPod are both dead simple to use, but the HD5 is smaller, and its removable battery lasts much longer.

The good features are supercompact and durable design; excellent sound quality; intuitive tactile interface; removable battery; stellar battery life.

The bad features are no extra features, such as FM radio or recording; ATRAC3 is the only DRM option; must use SonicStage software for music transfer.

It is for listening to MP3 and ATRAC3 files.

It is for person who looking for a stylish and compact high-capacity player that has excellent sound quality and battery life, and those who use Sony's Connect music store. People who want a laundry list of features should look elsewhere.

Essential extras are nice, big headphones; real carrying case.

If you want a slick alternative to the iPod and you're into Sony's Connect music store, then the NW-HD5 is a stellar choice.

Its price is $279.95

Creative Zen Touch (40GB)

The good features are awesome battery life; innovative Touch Pad; excellent sound quality; simple and durable design, decent value.

The bad features are that battery is not removable unlike another Zen model; some convenient menu features found in past Zens not included; LCD contrast could use work.

It is for storing and listening to lots of MP3, WMA, WAV, and data files.

It is for anybody who wants to carry their entire digital music collection on a long-lasting, great-sounding device.

Essential extras are
optional FM tunervoice-recording remote; good heaphones.

Lately, Creative has been churning out players with great battery life and excellent sound quality. The Zen Touch offers all this and more, making it a legitimate challenger to the Apple iPod.

Its price is $259.99

Cowon iAudio X5 (30GB)

The good features are small size; video player with 260,000-color LCD; customizable wallpaper; FM radio; line-in and voice recording; photo viewer; text-file reader; excellent sound quality; reads photos directly from digital cameras; compatible with OGG and FLAC formats.

The bad features are must plug in an adapter to attach AC, line-in, and USB cables; so-so control layout; can't autosync music with a PC; can't browse by artist, album, or genre; must convert videos to a special format before playing; no slide-show mode or music while viewing photos; no auto presets for FM radio; no compatibility with online music stores or subscription services (yet).

It is for listening to music and watching videos on the go; viewing photos; reading text files; listening to FM radio; recording voice memos or audio from a separate source.

It is for
Music and video lovers who want to play their media on the road; anyone looking to record from a separate audio source.

Business use of it is recording voice memos, interviews, or speeches.

Essential extras are nice earbuds or headphones; A/V cables.

The iAudio X5 looks like an iPod killer on paper, but this palm-size video and music player suffers from poor music browsing and some key design misste ps.
Its price is $329.99

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