GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

by , , / July 6, 2006
Survival at Sea
On May 9, 2006, three people were rescued after 22 days of eating raw squid and drinking rainwater to survive while floating in a drifting dinghy off the northern Australia coast.

The trio -- a father, his son and a nephew -- were brought to safety by an Australian rescue helicopter after managing to send cell phone text messages, to relatives with their approximate location, police said.

Rescuers searched for the men and their 5-meter boat, but gave up after five days because of an approaching cyclone. The three were presumed dead until relatives received a text message from them saying their boat drifted back near Murray Island. They were found 17 nautical miles from their home island. -- Independent Online

RFID Goes to the Farm
The national ID system is going to the dogs ... and to the pigs, the sheep, the cows and the chickens.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a government road map under which most farmers would voluntarily tag their animals with wireless radio frequency identification tags (RFID) by 2008.

The program will ask farms to register poultry or livestock with a database, and obtain a 15-digit ID number and GPS coordinate by 2007. Beginning in 2008, animals under the proposal will carry an RFID tag, and by 2009, farmers will be required to report the movement of any animal from the registered premises that commingles with other animals.

First announced in 2004, the National Animal Identification System, is meant to allow regulators to track livestock in 2 million locations in the United States within 48 hours of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or avian flu. --

Wi-Fi Fever
America's smallest state wants to become the first to offer a wireless broadband network from border to border. Backers of Rhode Island's $20 million project say it would improve services and make the state a testing ground for new business technologies.

The Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks should be fully in place by 2007, providing wireless connectivity throughout the state. The network is a hybrid of WiMAX and Wi-Fi technologies that would deliver real-time connections at a minimum speed of 1 Mbps and will be supported by 120 base antennas.

So far, no state has sought to build a border-to-border network. Rhode Island officials said the network would support business, education, emergency, health care and port security services. --

Hacker Jailed
In mid-May, a U.S. computer hacker was sentenced to jail for almost five years for hijacking nearly 400,000 computers -- including military servers -- and infecting them with malicious software.

Sealing the first prosecution of its kind, U.S. federal judge Gary Klausner in Los Angeles sentenced 20-year-old "botmaster" Jeanson Ancheta to 57 months in jail for taking control of several computers and corralling them into his "botnet."

Ancheta pleaded guilty to infecting "armies" of computers and turning them into "bots," which are typically used to launch destructive attacks on servers and send huge quantities of spam. -- The Herald Sun, Australia

Gas Guzzlers
Two St. Louis gas station owners or managers reported in early May 2006 that somebody broke into gas pumps, reprogrammed interior keypads and set the machines to dispense free gas.

One station's manager said the gas station lost between $6,000 and $10,000 worth of gas on a Friday night before a regular customer tipped off an employee.

As the manager explained it, the thief used a key to the pump to open it, and reprogrammed it to bypass the gas station's register system and obtain free gas. The manager said everybody behind the thief saw what was going on, and lined up to pump free gas for themselves.

The manager also said station employees don't have codes to the interior keypads --the only people with those codes are employees of companies that service gas stations.

According to later news reports, when the thief was caught, police officers discovered keys to pump lock boxes and code books with computerized programs for the pumps in the suspect's vehicle. -- KSDK News

Rejuvenated Radio
The Internet is a challenge for many traditional media channels, but is rejuvenating one of the oldest: radio.

U.S. Internet Radio Listeners

Last week: 12 percent

Last month: 21 percent (approximately 52 million listeners)

Ever: 43 percent

Source: Arbitron and Edison Media Research, April 2006, 1,925 respondents ages 12 and older.

Ready for E-Business
When it comes to Internet connectivity, the world used to be clearly separated into the "haves" and the "have-nots," but according to a new study, that may no longer be the case. Following are the leading e-business ready countries in the world.

Denmark: 9.00

United States: 8.88

Switzerland: 8.81

Sweden: 8.74

United Kingdom: 8.64

Netherlands: 8.60

Finland: 8.55

Australia: 8.50

Canada: 8.37

Hong Kong: 8.36

Norway: 8.35

Germany: 8.34

Singapore: 8.24

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit and the IBM Institute for Business Value, April 2006; based on an index of 1 to 10, where 10 equals the most e-business ready.

Daily Dose
Internet users worldwide send an estimated 60 billion e-mails daily, many of which are spam or scam attempts, according to Deutsche Telekom.

E-Mail Acknowledgment
Of the 92 percent of Web sites offering e-mail as a customer support option, only 41 percent acknowledge receipt of customers' messages with automated e-mail responses, according to JupiterResearch. Since 2000, the number of sites meeting a 24-hour threshold for e-mail response continues to decrease. Only 45 percent of sites resolved e-mail inquiries within 24 hours. The most significant trend, however, is that 39 percent of sites took three days or longer to reply, or did not respond at all.

XP's Reign
Windows XP will run on more than 70 percent of PCs worldwide by the end of 2006. The Windows Vista release is being delayed until early 2007, and by the end of 2007, it will be running on less than 8 percent of machines in the installed base, according to Gartner.

Web Traffic
The following sites are top traffic generators for Google, according to HitWise.

MSN Search
Yahoo Search
My Yahoo
Karen Stewartson Managing Editor
Jessica Jones Managing Editor