GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

by / March 2, 2004
To solve some of the problems of e-mail overload, IBM Research created a prototype e-mail client, which integrates e-mail, calendaring and chat. Features of these applications include:

onew and innovative uses of threads, message collections, information sources and visualizations to help users cope with e-mail;

ofast and simple methods to help people move information directly from e-mail to their calendars because e-mail contains a great deal of time and date information; and

othe ability to save chats along with e-mail messages for archiving and retrieval, allowing users to respond to e-mail "on the fly."

The main components are the in-box, threads and collections, sources, calendar, chat and visualizations.

Rather than merely displaying these applications inside the prototype, IBM closely integrated the features of these applications with other components. The prototype interface is flexible, allowing users to show as few or as many of the components as they prefer. -- IBM Research

Mantis in the Air
Scientists at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have developed an artificial intelligence "brain" they say will make feasible large-scale production of low-cost, intelligent small helicopters.

The CSIRO Mantis, a little more than 0.5 meter high and approximately 1.5 meters long, can be told where to go and what to do, and the helicopter will fly off, do the job and find its way home, unassisted.

The helicopters could inspect and report on infrastructure conditions, such as power lines, underneath bridges, high-rise building facades, in building elevator shafts. The Mantis could also be used in traffic monitoring, and security and military applications. -- Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Run Robot, Run
In December, Sony announced that researchers dramatically enhanced the company's humanoid robot, QRIO, by enabling integrated motion control for walking, jumping and running. Researchers also developed a new hardware unit suitable for the QRIO's running feature and have increased the output torque of Sony's original robot actuator, the Intelligent Servo Actuator.

Sony will continue to develop the QRIO platform for further technological advances, and the company said it hopes to engineer robots highly suited to co-exist with humans on a day in and day out basis. -- Sony

My Database is Bigger than Your Database
The Winter Corp. handed out awards for the 2003 Winter TopTen Program, a survey that identifies the world's leading database implementations based on size, most rows/records and highest workload achieved.

France Telecom, with 29.2 TB of data and an implementation comprising an Oracle database management system, a Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC Superdome server and Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks xp512, captured first place awards for Database Size in the All Environments and UNIX Only categories.

The Grand Prize for Database Size, Windows platforms, was awarded to comScore Networks, with 8.9 TB and an implementation employing Sybase IQ database management system, Dell servers and EMC storage systems.

The 2003 TopTen Program was the fifth global survey campaign run by Winter Corp. -- Winter Corp.

Mobile E-mail
In Banlung, Cambodia, a satellite dish links the provincial hospital to the Internet for telemedicine. Daily, five Honda motorcycles -- equipped with a small box and antenna that downloads and delivers e-mail through a Wi-Fi card -- collect e-mail from the Banlung dish, and then leave for the 13 remote villages.

As the motorcycles pass a school in one of the villages, they transmit the messages downloaded in the morning and retrieve any outgoing mail from the school's PC, also equipped with the same gear as the motorcycles, and go on to the next school.

At the end of the day, the motorcycles return to Banlung's hub to transmit all the collected e-mail to the Internet for delivery to anywhere on the globe. -- First Mile Solutions
Shane Peterson Associate Editor