GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon

by , / January 5, 2005
Super Wireless
At the Mobile Internet 2010 forum held by the German Ministry of Education and Research Sept. 14-15, 2004, Siemens presented results from its mobile communications research to the general public. On a test system, videos, music and a Microsoft NetMeeting conference were transmitted in wireless mode at data rates as high as 360 Mbps.

This speed is around 100 times faster than the fastest DSL connection available today. To also achieve these peak data rates for larger coverage areas, Siemens said it is the first company in the world to test a combination of orthogonal frequency division multiplexing and multihop technology, a new infrastructure concept. The system was tested successfully in a field trial in Munich. -- Siemens

During Mount St. Helens' volcanic rumblings in early October 2004, the U.S. Forest Service's VolcanoCam drew 75,000 hits per day, according to news reports. VolcanoCam first started broadcasting images of Mount St. Helens in 1996 and was one of the first webcams pointed at an active volcano.

The VolcanoCam is located at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is at approximately 4,500 feet elevation and about five miles from the volcano. The VolcanoCam is a Sanyo VCC-4594 color CCD camera -- a National Television System Committee standard TV system camera -- and the VolcanoCam Web server is a government surplus IBM Netvista running Windows 2000, according to the VolcanoCam Web site.

Got Wind?
In early October 2004, assembly of the world's largest wind turbine, the REpower 5M, was finished.

The 5M sports three 61.5-meter-long rotor blades attached to a rotor with a diameter of 126 meters that weighs 120 tons. Development of the 5M is cofinanced by the European Union and the German state Schleswig-Holstein.

It was hoped that by the end of 2004 the 5M -- with a rated output of 5 megawatts -- would be able to supply enough power for approximately 4,500 average households. -- REpower Systems

Bye, Bye
Florida residents no longer have to pay a $3 convenience fee to renew their vehicle and boating licenses online. An agreement between the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and county tax collectors resulted in the cancellation of the fee.

The new policy eliminated the $3 fee for motor vehicle registrations, disabled parking placards and drivers' licenses on Oct. 1, 2004. In return for eliminating the fee, county tax collectors agreed to give the state a greater percentage of the fees they normally collect for renewals. -- St. Petersburg Times

Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) customers who want to support renewable energy and Vermont dairy farms can opt for CVPS Cow Power, which comes from energy generated by burning the methane gas produced by cow manure.

Customers who purchase Cow Power help support Vermont dairy farms that use generators that run on methane from cow manure to create power, which the farmers then sell to the CVPS.

Customers may choose to buy 25 percent, 50 percent or all of their electricity through CVPS Cow Power, though they will be charged an extra 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. -- Central Vermont Public Service

The BrainGate
Cyberkinetics successfully implanted a pill-sized chip -- called the BrainGate Neural Interface System -- into the brain of a quadriplegic man, allowing him to check e-mail, play computer games and control a TV using his thoughts. The device -- the most sophisticated implant ever tested in humans -- taps into 100 neurons at a time. -- Cyberkinetics

Even after the U.S. government's attempt to control the spam problem with the CAN-SPAM Act, recent data from MX Logic indicates few unsolicited commercial e-mailers are complying. The following numbers represent the percent of unsolicited commercial e-mail compliant with the act beginning April 2004.

April 3 percent
May 1 percent
June 1 percent
July 0.54 percent
August 2 percent
September 4 percent

Reinstated E-Rate
In August 2004, the FCC halted E-Rate funding commitments to schools and libraries. The E-Rate program allocates $2.25 billion annually to provide schools and libraries with high-speed Internet and telephone services, and many say the move caused significant hardships to schools and libraries across the nation. The Universal Service Administrative Company, the entity charged with administering the program, resumed issuance funding commitment decision letters in November 2004.
Shane Peterson Associate Editor
Jessica Jones Managing Editor