GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

by , , / May 2, 2006
Nano Agents
Six scientists presented research on using nano-biotechnology to fight disease at the February 2006 convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In one research project, scientists coated nano-sized machines -- similar to silicon chips -- smaller than a human cell with a lipid bilayer, the material making up the membrane, or skin, of living cells. The research explored tricking a human cell into talking to the machine, maybe even into taking orders from it, as a way to cure certain diseases, such as cancer.

In another project, researchers developed nanoparticles that deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to tumors, a treatment that could destroy tumors without exposing the rest of the body to the painful side effects of chemotherapy. -- World Magazine

Tell All
A bill in the New Jersey Legislature will require Internet service providers (ISPs) and operators of online forums and bulletin boards to create and enforce a policy requiring anyone posting messages on online public forums or Web sites to either be identified by legal name and address, or to have registered a legal name and address before posting messages.

The bill's purpose is to make ISPs and operators of online forums liable to people injured by publicly posted false or defamatory messages. The bill would also mandate that operators provide reasonable procedures for alleged victims to request and obtain the identity of anyone who posts false or defamatory comments about them.

Forum operators and ISPs would be liable for compensatory and punitive damage, as well as costs of lawsuits if they failed to establish, maintain and enforce the disclosure policy. -- New Jersey Legislature

The United Kingdom issued its first e-passports, which contain a chip that holds a biometric facial image.

According to the UK's Home Office, e-passports are now being issued by the Foreign Office in Washington, D.C. Offices in the UK are expected to issue them to applicants for new passports and renewals starting April 2006.

Other biometrics, such as fingerprints and iris scans, may be added to the passports at a later date. Beginning in 2007, first-time adult passport applicants in the UK will also have to attend an interview to confirm their identity. -- CNET News

A large percentage of companies monitor workers' Internet use, but many still allow some personal Web use. Some organizations are taking tougher stances.

Pittsburgh is rolling out a policy that will eventually limit almost all of the city's 1,300 employees to 30 minutes a day on the Internet. Currently the policy applies to public works employees. The restriction is handled through a Web-filtering program that tracks the amount of time employees spend online.

Three-quarters of companies monitor employees' Web site connections in large part due to concern about inappropriate Internet surfing, according to a 2005 survey by the American Management Association.-- USA Today

Poo Power
San Francisco city officials are hoping to harness the power of dog poo. Norcal Waste, a garbage hauling company that collects the city's trash, will begin a pilot program using biodegradable bags and dog-waste carts to pick up droppings at a popular dog park.

The droppings will be tossed into a contraption called a methane digester -- a tank in which bacteria feed on feces to create methane gas. The methane could then be piped directly to gas stoves, heaters, turbines or anything powered by natural gas. It can also be used to generate electricity. -- USA Today

Bad Prediction
On Jan. 28, 2004, Bill Gates predicted spam would be a "thing of the past" within two years. But his deadline has passed, and spam is still here.

"The [spam] threat remains alive and kicking despite the increased action against spammers and constantly improving anti-spam software," according to the Security Threat Management Report from Sophos.

Undergrads Online
According to a new eMarketer Inc. report, 15 million students on U.S. college campuses are online, and that number is expected to grow.

Male: 6.4 million
Female: 8.7 million

Male: 6.9 million
Female: 9.7 million

(numbers have been rounded)

Wireless Ahoy!
Landline telephones are disappearing in homes across the United States in favor of wireless phones. The U.S. Consumer Telecom Survey by In-Stat reports that 20 percent of respondents who use wireless voice service plan to drop landline phone service.

Ninety-one percent of e-mail traffic sent to Indian PC users is spam, according to MessageLabs. United Arab Emirates had the highest rate of virus transmission, with one virus received per 13.9 e-mails.

Online Job Hunt
According to a study by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., the Internet is the medium for the majority of new hires, though job boards and social network sites aren't as important as companies' own Web sites. The following are applicant sources from which new hires originated, according to recruiters in the United States.

Web site of organization: 21 percent
Referrals by employees: 19 percent
General job boards: 15 percent
Search firms: 10 percent
Campus recruiting: 8 percent
Niche job boards: 6 percent
Social networking Web sites: 5 percent
Newspapers: 5 percent
Commercial resum
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