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Reports from the IT horizon.

by , / October 5, 2004
Cardboard Parabolics
UK-based Tritium offers an affordable parabolic reflector for increasing the range of wireless network installations. The product is called the "Flatenna" because it arrives as a flat package.

The Flatenna is constructed from silvered board (a piece of cardboard with foil on one side) and provides an excellent performance to cost ratio, according to the manufacturer. It costs less than $25, shipping included, and can be assembled in less than a minute. The Flatenna can be used with any indoor Wi-Fi or WLAN equipment that has an external stub antenna.

Simply cut it out, shape it into a parabola, snap it into the stand and slip it over your current antenna. -- Tritium

Robots in the Hospital
No, they're not performing brain surgery. The Aethon Tug is billed as the first robotic delivery system to move supplies and equipment around hospitals. The Tug is designed to transport a variety of carts -- from pharmacy to dietary to mail -- and handle errands, such as delivering charts or picking up a late meal.

The robot's onboard computer brain contains the Tug Operating System, which uses a detailed map of the building and sophisticated navigation software to plan routes, avoid obstacles and constantly track its location to within three feet.

A matrix of "light whiskers" continuously measures the distance to nearby walls and objects. These light whiskers keep the Tug on course and allow it to stop for obstructions. -- Aethon

Broadband Blimps?
Sanswire Networks said it successfully demonstrated the wireless transmission capabilities of its Stratellites in Atlanta during the week of July 12.

The Stratellites are marketed as high-altitude wireless transmission platforms, and the demonstration consisted of wireless tests using various IP products and services over different frequencies, all from a fixed position in the sky.

Stratellites are stationed in the stratosphere rather than in orbit, and at an altitude of 13 miles, each Stratellite will have clear line-of-site communications capability to cover an entire major metropolitan area as well as the ability to provide coverage across major rural areas. Several Stratellites linked together could cover hundreds of thousands of square miles. -- Sanswire

Schoolchildren Get Tagged
Schoolchildren's bags will soon be outfitted with RFID tags so children can be monitored on their way to and from school.

Japan's Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications announced in mid-July that a primary school in Tabe, Wakayama Prefecture, will pilot the RFID initiative. The tags will log the time that schoolchildren pass through the gates and also will warn the school when children get too close to locations deemed dangerous by staff and parents, the ministry said.

The project requires tag readers to be installed at the school and attached to any dangerous location outside the school.

The system will give parents updates on their children's progress through Tabe's streets via e-mail or short message service. -- Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications

Online Advertising To Grow
Online advertising will more than double over the next five years, according to a Jupiter Research forecast. The forecast sees the online ad market growing from $6.6 billion in 2003 to $16.1 billion in 2009. Paid search will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent over the next two years, but it is no longer the sole driver of online ad spending, the firm said. Display ads and online classifieds will each grow by a CAGR of more than 25 percent over the same period.

Reserves Deployment Causes Hardship
Nearly half of counties responding to a recent survey said deployment of military reserves has caused hardship, 59 percent of which are reallocating staff to cover missing employees' positions, and 46 percent have hired temporary staff. More than 14 percent have cut back service delivery while county employees are deployed. --Source: National Association of Counties

Secure This
According to Evans Data Corp.'s Security Development Issues Survey, 25 percent of developers claimed social engineering and lack of adherence to policies were the biggest security risks. Another 15 percent cited lack of qualified personnel.

Cellular Spammin'
The FCC will create a do-not-spam list of wireless domains, such as or, so marketers do not spam wireless users. This differs from a "do-not-e-mail" list rejected by the FTC -- which determined such a list would be used by spammers to gather e-mails -- in that only the domain is given, not individual e-mail addresses. The FCC was assigned the task of figuring out how to enforce a law passed by Congress in 2003 prohibiting unsolicited messages to mobile phones. Marketers can only send e-mail messages to mobile phones if the user has opted in to receive them (unlike regular e-mail, which marketers can send without request as long as they provide a way to opt out). -- eMarketer Inc.

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Jessica Mulholland Former Web Editor/Photographer

Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.

Shane Peterson Associate Editor
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