GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

by , / June 27, 2005
At Your Service
HP announced in early April that the U.S. Department of Energy's new research supercomputer completed a two-year acceptance process by the DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

The 11.8-teraflop, Linux-based supercomputer was designed specifically for computational biology and chemistry research, and is one of the fastest in the world for those applications. The PNNL worked extensively with HP on the supercomputer.

Powering the supercomputer are nearly 2,000 1.5 GHz Intel Itanium 2 processors that can communicate with each other in less than three microseconds. It also has 6.8 terabytes of local memory. -- HP

Tracking Pedophiles
Cops might just have a new weapon to fight pedophiles: the Child Exploitation Tracking System. CETS is a computer system that allows global police agencies to share information for tracking online pedophiles.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Toronto Police Service and Microsoft Canada joined to develop CETS -- a security-enhanced database that can run on a variety of computer systems. CETS uses open standards to allow computer systems from different countries and with different technologies to communicate with one another.

The software is designed to allow police to speak to each other in real time across cities and countries. -- Microsoft Canada

A Bus With Eyes
The Yellow School Bus Project combines wireless technologies with the approximately 418,000 yellow school buses existing across the country to provide a new approach to violence on buses and in communities.

The buses are outfitted with wireless communications equipment that has GPS tracking capabilities and video, providing real-time information of activities internally on the bus, as well as externally on each bus route. It's hoped the video feeds can also act as additional eyes and ears for first responders and homeland security officials from the local and national levels.

The data will be available to first responders through emergency operations centers (EOCs) in communities. When the project is fully implemented, Internet-based information from each EOC will be linked to national EOCs. -- Points of Light Foundation

Got Bandwidth?
As the Discovery and Atlantis space shuttles get ready for their respective space missions, NASA is preparing to meet public demand to see the launches and missions via the NASA Web portal. Based on data from previous missions, NASA said it expects between 20 million and 30 million visits to the portal -- with 250,000 to 500,000 Internet users also accessing NASA TV coverage via Web streaming.

To drum up extra bandwidth to handle the potential demand, NASA is soliciting proposals from non-NASA entities to support the bandwidth costs associated with increasing access to the Web portal.

In exchange for this sponsorship, NASA will consider offers to display sponsors' logos and give credit to the sponsors on the NASA Web portal for the contribution of bandwidth costs. -- NASA

Growing Tissue
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are making new materials to repair injured knees, noses and other body parts.

The research centers on efforts to repair injured cartilage and bone without major surgery by injecting a liquid filled with cells that should promote growth of healthy new tissue.

When a special light is shone on it, this liquid hardens into a gel that holds the therapeutic cells in place. Before the material, called a photopolymerizable hydrogel, is used in humans, scientists want to be sure the chemical reaction used to harden the liquid isn't damaging the helpful cells being injected into the body. -- Johns Hopkins University

Government Loves E-Mail
Federal employees consider e-mail critical for "getting the job done," according to ZyLAB, which recently surveyed government workers. The findings include:

  • 100% of respondents believe e-mail should be considered "official records."
  • 44% claimed to have trouble locating e-mails -- even though those e-mails are considered official records.
  • 65% said their agencies do have an e-mail policy in place.
  • 59% said they have implemented a specific e-mail solution to help manage the growing amount of e-mail received daily.
  • 54% back up their e-mail daily.
  • 24% never back up e-mail.
  • 65% receive 50+ e-mails daily.
  • 24% receive 26-49 e-mails daily.
  • 11% receive 25 or fewer e-mails daily.

    Shrinking Gaps
    While most states report that revenues are surpassing estimates, spending pressures for K-12 education and Medicaid continue to plague state budgets, according to State Budget Update: April 2005, the latest report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only three states -- Michigan, Nebraska and New Hampshire -- have seen gaps open since enacting the current fiscal year budget. This is a marked improvement from the situation in recent years. In fiscal 2004, 10 states reported facing gaps after the fiscal year began; the number was 31 in fiscal 2003. -- National Conference of State Legislatures

    Fallin' for the Phish
    According to Websense's Phishing Trends Survey, only 33 percent of employees polled said they've heard of phishing, and 4 percent of employees said they'd "fallen for a phish" and clicked through a link to a phishing Web site at work. Conversely 82 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed said their employees have received phishing attacks via e-mail or instant messaging (IM), and 45 percent said their employees clicked through the URL on the phishing attack.

    The discrepancy might suggest that employees have a difficult time deciphering whether a Web site accessed via a link in e-mail or IM is legitimate or "spoofed" -- a fraudulent Web site that appears authentic, the survey states.
    Shane Peterson Associate Editor