GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

Online Hype
Today's five most over-hyped security myths:

1. Internet protocol telephony is unsafe.
2. Mobile malware will cause widespread damage.
3. Warhol Worms -- worms that infect all vulnerable machines on the Internet within 15 minutes -- will make the Internet unreliable for business traffic and virtual private networks.
4. Regulatory compliance equals security.
5. Wireless hotspots are unsafe.

-- Gartner Inc.

Beware Firefox
Firefox continues to lure users away from Internet Explorer, said NetApplications, which provides Web-based applications that measure, monitor and market Web sites for small to medium-size enterprises.

Firefox's market share of Web browsers hit 8.71 percent in June, up from 8.06 percent in May, according to NetApplications' monthly Web site traffic analysis. Firefox's gain is Microsoft's loss -- whose base dipped to 87.23 percent in May, down .77 percent from April of 2005.

Safari also gained a modest one-tenth percent, posting 1.91 percent in May 2005. Most other browsers experienced little change during the same time period.

Whiz Kid
Ten-year-old Arfa Karim Randhawa toured Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Wash., and got some time on Bill Gates' calendar for a personal meeting.

Arfa, a software programmer from Faisalabad, Pakistan, is believed to be the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in the world. Some teenagers have achieved the designation, awarded to outside experts who prove their ability to work with Microsoft technologies.

Getting the certification is far more common among adults seeking to advance their computer careers. Arfa received the certification when she was 9 years old.

-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

3-D Faces
BlueBear Network International announced in mid-July that it successfully tested its proprietary 3D MugShot camera technology, targeted for law enforcement worldwide.

The technology quickly and inexpensively acquires accurate three-dimensional photographs of human faces, as well as two-dimensional photographs that comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Law enforcement and security agencies can capture both types of mug shots in seconds as a single snapshot, according to BlueBear.

The technology is compatible with frequently used booking systems and is designed to provide law enforcement agencies the ability to match nonfrontal suspects' faces from surveillance footage as well as other enhanced identification uses.

-- BlueBear Network International

Nerds on TV
In September, NerdTV debuted on PBS -- with a slight twist. PBS decided to make NerdTV broadcast television's first entirely downloadable series.

NerdTV features PBS technology columnist and IT insider Robert X. Cringely's interviews with personalities from the fast-changing world of technology. Among the first slate of guests scheduled to appear on NerdTV were PayPal co-founder Max Levchin; original Macintosh programmer Andy Hertzfeld; and Bill Joy, Sun Microsystems co-founder and the father of Berkeley UNIX.

NerdTV will be available for download from and PBS encourages viewers to download and copy the shows, share them with friends and even post them on their own Web sites, all legally.

-- Public Broadcasting Service

Instant Clot
In June, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, based in Aloha, Ore., started testing the HemCon Bandage for life-threatening bleeding situations encountered by emergency response personnel. This is the first time a civilian fire department has used the specialty bandage featuring chitosan, a clotting agent derived from shrimp shells.

The U.S. military used the bandage extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq to successfully treat severe, life-threatening hemorrhages. The bandage is a pliable and sterile dressing capable of stopping severe external hemorrhaging in less than two minutes. It can be worn for up to 48 hours and is easily removed with water.

-- HemCon

Weak Portfolio
Regardless of size, more than 90 percent of organizations rate themselves at the bottom rungs of project portfolio management (PPM) maturity, according to a study conducted by the Center for Business Practices, which surveyed 54 senior-level PPM practitioners. More than 70 percent of organizations said their PPM process has been in place for less than two years; 87 percent of organizations developed their PPM process in-house and just 13 percent have implemented a PPM software tool.

On the Go
According to a study by Harris Interactive for Intel, 34 percent of all U.S. adult computer users have packed a laptop on vacation, and that figure will rise. The following are the most popular uses for laptops while on vacation, survey respondents said.

  • Personal e-mail -- 72 percent
  • Entertainment (movies, music, games) -- 56 percent
  • Gathering trip information -- 45 percent
  • Work-related e-mail -- 43 percent

    Linux developers now prefer noncommercial versions of Linux, according to Evans Data Corp.'s spring 2005 release of its biannual Linux Development Survey. As recently as six months ago, purchased and free Linux were in a virtual tie, but now approximately 34 percent of developers prefer noncommercial versions of Linux and approximately 28 percent prefer a commercial version. As recently as 2003, the preference for a commercial version of Linux was double that of noncommercial Linux.

    Higher Learning
    According to a report by IT analysis firm Info-Tech, 34 percent of IT managers at small and mid-size educational institutions plan to invest in intrusion detection systems within three years. The report also found that voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the top emerging technology priority for the education sector, with 47 percent of education IT decision-makers planning to implement a VoIP network within three years.

    To Chat or Not to Chat
    About 12.5 billion instant messages are sent every day across the globe, mostly on public networks, according to the Radicati Group. The market research firm estimates the number of IM accounts worldwide is 867 million, which is projected to jump to 1.2 billion in four years.

    IT to the Rescue
    Technology cut building processing time 20 percent to 80 percent, according to a report funded by the Institute for Building Technology and Safety. Jurisdictions used IT to save thousands of dollars, and drastically improved data sharing, disaster planning and security, the organization said. The institute also reported that of the 101 jurisdictions that responded:

  • 55 use IT to improve their overall relationship with other jurisdictions and clients.
  • 38 apply IT to share critical data with other agencies.
  • 37 use IT to offer services.
  • 30 use IT to respond to and recover from natural and man-made disasters.
  • 31 said they don't use IT because they lack funding or the time to review how it may be useful.

    Scientists around the world have sought to design small, inexpensive and disposable kits called biochips, to test people's urine for a variety of diseases. But no one has been able to make a similarly small and inexpensive power source for the biochips to eliminate the need for lithium batteries or external power sources..

    A team of researchers at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology solved the problem by using the substance being tested -- urine -- to power the batteries in the biochips.

    The team soaked a piece of paper in copper chloride and then inserted it between strips of magnesium and copper, then laminated the credit card-sized unit. When a drop of urine is added to the copper chloride paper, a chemical reaction takes place and produces electricity, which is then harnessed by the battery. A few drops generate
  • about 1.5 volts, the same as a AA battery. The researchers also suggested the technology could be used in an emergency to power a cell phone. --

    VoIP Gains Ground
    Residential voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone subscribers in the United States shot from 150,000 at the end of 2003 to more than 2 million in March 2005.

    Preliminary findings from TeleGeography's latest research show that total U.S. subscribers should exceed 4.1 million by the end of 2005, generating more than $1 billion in gross revenues for the year.

    Vonage, which entered the market early but does not own a communications network, is the largest provider of home VoIP service. Cable companies are close on the heels of Vonage because they possess a huge installed base of broadband customers through connectivity to millions of homes.

    TeleGeography predicts that by the end of 2005, Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable together will have 2 million subscribers, nearly half of the total residential VoIP market.

    Online Journals
    Only about 9 percent of Internet users say they've created a Weblog, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which tracked the percentage of U.S. Internet users who read blogs from 2003 to 2005.

  • March 2003 -- 11 percent
  • February 2004 -- 17 percent
  • November 2004 -- 27 percent
  • March 2005 -- 25 percent

    Security Breach
    Approximately 45 percent of IT decision-makers said they could lose their jobs over Internet security breaches that result in lost or stolen intellectual property, according to Websense's 2005 Stress of Security Survey, which also reported that 65 percent of IT decision-makers said spyware caused security problems for their companies in the past year.

    Lost Productivity
    Internet misuse in the workplace costs American corporations more than $178 billion annually in lost productivity, according to Websense. That translates into a loss of more than $5,000 per employee per year.

    Additionally, according to Websense, more than 68 million U.S. employees currently access the Web at work.
    Shane Peterson Associate Editor