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Rocky Mountain Forest

1998 on the Web
Daily Technology Diary

Rocky Mountain Forest
  February 1998  

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Monday, February 23  

Never underestimate the power of Yahoo! The search engine cum content provider has made a tremendous difference in the daily traffic to 1998 on the Web. Last week while I was in Denver, Colorado for professional development training this site was finally listed on Yahoo! after seven weeks of waiting. Since that time, the daily visitors have increased from 6-8 to 40. So if you are just beginning to promote your new Web site, be sure to get it listed on Yahoo!, but be patient, as it takes awhile for the post.

If you have your browser set to default colors, you will notice beginning with this week's diary that I have changed to the standard black text on white background. I have had comments from a few readers that the dark gray text on light gray background was a little hard to read, particularly on Macintosh systems. The hyperlinks are now bright orange instead of purple. I will be updating all the pages on the 1998 on the Web site in the near future as time allows. Thank you for the tips, and please let me know how you like the new style. This is a participatory Web site.

It's great to be home in Nitro, West Virginia, but I sure do miss the Rocky Mountains. Weather was absolutely gorgeous in Denver and Vail last week while I was there, true Chamber of Commerce perfection. Be sure to check out the diary updates I have made since my return by clicking the "last week" icon below. For those of you with pre-release 3 browsers, it is the single left arrow.

1998 on the Web is normally a technology feature, but I would like to comment today about the USA-Iraq situation. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has apparently, at least temporarily, averted military action in this escalating crisis. While my views generally are conservative in nature, and I approved of action in The Gulf War in 1991, I believe unilateral American military action against Iraq at this time is the wrong response for the wrong reason. Consider this parallel scenario. What if Russia started posturing against Israel for violating United Nations resolutions regarding troops in southern Lebanon and continuing new settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River? And what if Russia demanded U.N. inspection teams be allowed access to Israeli chemical and nuclear weapons facilities? And what if Russia threatened to bomb those facilities if Israel did not comply with their demands? The United States would be in an uproar. In my opinion, that's what most of the rest of the world thinks the U.S. is doing to Iraq right now. So thank you Kofi Annan. What's your opinion?

Thought for the day: "My wife won't let me drink alcohol anymore. She says it makes me see double, and act single." - Helmut of Vail



Tuesday, February 24  

The Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan proved to be a big dud for television, and a big delight for the Internet. CBS television coverage of the Olympic Games did not grab blockbuster ratings numbers. The official Web site of the Olympic Games generated 650 million hits during the 16 day event. CBS' production did not excite viewers and did not cause wonder about special effects or new technology. The Internet hit tally was more than 3 times the 187 million hits received by the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games. The higher traffic also came without the technical glitches that caused some pundits to dub the summer games the "glitch games." In fact, it was the TV coverage, not the Net, that got dinged this time around.

The official Olympic Web site has been a big marketing tool for IBM, but it also allowed Netizens to receive real-time updates of the events on their home PCs. Many other sites were dedicated to the games as well, not only focusing on events such as the luge but the athletes themselves--skating gold-medalist Tara Lipinski, for example. The site received 103,429 hits per minute on Friday during the women's figure skating competition and ice hockey game between Russia and Finland. All told, some 4.5 terabytes of data were transmitted through the site, according to IBM.

Adoption of Java technology in businesses has risen dramatically in the past calendar quarter, but the upstart language-development platform still has a way to go toward mainstream acceptance, according to a market research firm. In its quarterly survey of technology deployment, the International Data Corporation said today that Java plans are under way in more than 45 percent of the approximately 800 North American companies it surveyed in the fourth quarter of 1997, up from 35 percent in the third quarter. Still, the relatively low percentage of businesses that either use Java regularly--less than 5 percent--or have deployed it widely--about 10 percent--show that Sun Microsystems has several years of pressure to apply before the mainstream truly embraces Java, according to the survey's authors. Sun executives were pleased by the survey, saying that it confirmed their expectations. The company also acknowledged that the coming year will be crucial to get enterprise developers to put Java into play. The future of Java is one of the highlights on 1998 on the Web's predictions page.

Be sure to check out the diary updates I have made since my return from Denver by clicking the "last week" icon below. For those of you with pre-release 3 browsers, it is the single left arrow.

Thought for the day: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."



Wednesday, February 25  

In a good mix of presentation and creation packages, RealNetworks, creators of RealAudio and RealVideo streaming software, has announced it will acquire Vivo Software, a developer of streaming media creation tools. RealNetworks strategy has been to create technology for streaming media and to develop server tools to permit webcasting. Vivo has worked on the tools to create the content. It will be interesting to see Microsoft's reaction to this merger since Microsoft is one of RealNetwork's major shareholders and has been pushing it's own multimedia technology, Netshow.

Netscape Communications has created mozilla.org, a dedicated team within Netscape aimed at promoting the development of Netscape's client source code for Communicator 5.0. Mozilla.org encourages developers to download the client source and post their enhancements.

Several of the Santa Cruz Operation's hardware partners reaffirmed their commitment to SCO UNIX, promising to make the investments that will let it grow into a server operating system. Compaq Computer, Data General, ICL, and Unisys said they've agreed to invest millions of dollars in a research and development effort called UnixWare. SCO UNIX is widely recognized as a workgroup server platform, but SCO and it's partners are driving to make UnixWare appropriate for high-end servers.

Thought for the day: "Time is just nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once."



Thursday, February 26  

In a story straight out of the X-Files,
PC World webzine is reporting that a small New Jersey firm is working on a new storage device designed from information received from a former military official, information that may have been salvaged from the alleged 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. American Computer Company says it is prototyping a 90 gigabit drive that is 1000 times faster than IBM's fastest disk. Said to be about the size of a poker chip, the ACC 090b8 uses solid-state technology, requires minimal power, and has no moving parts. ACC says the device is about 3 years away from being marketable, and hopes it will cost less than $1000 to consumers. And it's not even April Fool's Day.

Far be it from me to toot my own horn, but you might want to reread 1998 on the Web's
prediction page. Netscape Communications acknowledged today it is seeking outside help to keep alive it's project to develop an all Java Web browser, commonly known as Javagator. At the time of layoffs at the Silicon Valley net firm last month, Netscape was apparently seriously considering scrapping the project, but was convinced by IBM and Sun Microsystems to continue development. The project is currently on hold. With or without Netscape's participation, the project faces some obstacles related to Java itself. The biggest question marks for a browser built entirely in Java concern the performance and the richness of features. If the delay allows the Javagator development team to incorporate the new version of Java now in beta, the deal could end up strengthening the final product.

Speaking before the BancAmerica Robertson Stephens Technology '98 Conference in San Francisco today, U.S.
President Bill Clinton urged the American Congress to pass the Internet Tax Freedom Act this year, a move that would establish a moratorium on new taxes that discriminate against commerce transactions conducted over the Internet. If the act were passed, state and local branches of government still would be able to apply existing taxes to online commerce, but would be prohibited from discriminating between the Internet and similar transactions conducted offline. Clinton pledged the support of his administration for an active dialogue among officials at the state and local levels, industry and consumer groups, and the federal government in working toward long-term solutions regarding the legislative issues facing electronic commerce. Amazing, I'm actually beginning to think the President "gets" the Internet. What do you think?

Thought for the day: "Maybe this world is another planet's hell." - Aldous Huxley



Friday, February 27  

After months of speculation about it's fate,
Apple Computer of Cupertino, Ca. today announced it has discontinued development of the Newton operating system along with it's MessagePad and eMate products. Apple does, though, intend to move forward with handheld computers based on the Macintosh OS. These products will be on the market in 1999. For those of you who already purchased MessagePad or eMate products, Apple said it would continue support.

I've received a few notes from readers about the contrast of the text and background on
1998 on the Web. Prior to this week I was using dark gray text on light gray background that was apparently difficult to read, particularly for Macintosh users. I also learned that pixels on Macs are a little bit smaller than on Windows based PCs. The HTML font size=2 is very popular for producing running text like you are reading here, but it is smaller on a Mac. Today I completed updating all the pages to black text on white background. I hope y'all can put away your reading glasses now. Please let me know if it helped.

The United States Defense Department at the Pentogon has been the target of some rather serious hacker attacks in the past couple of weeks. Wednesday got off to a really bad start for a couple of California teens as their homes were raided by the FBI. Evidence was confiscated, but no arrests were made. Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre told reporters Wednesday that the intruders appeared to have entered systems that contained information on personnel and payrolls. The trade publication Defense Information and Electronics Report reported Feb. 13 that attacks had been detected during the previous week at 11 military bases -- seven Air Force sites and four Navy installations. Last year, the General Accounting Office of Congress reported as many as 250,000 attempts may have been made to penetrate military computer networks in the previous year. Sixty five percent were successful.

Thought for the day: "Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world." - Joel Barker



Saturday, February 28  

A new tip TIP FOR YOU
Several readers of 1998 on the Web have commented they like the Dynamic HTML Navigation Bar on the top of each page. Today I added an entry to the
Tips and Tools page describing how to construct this feature. Creating simple text graphics, laying them out in a table, and defining the rollover effect with JavaScript make this technique easy enough for even the Net newbie. And even if you do have I little trouble, I have provided the source code for you to cut and paste onto your own page. I hope this tip is helpful to you, send me your comments about how you might implement it yourself.

US Attorney General Janet Reno unveiled a program on Friday to establish a new command center to fight "cyber attacks" against the nation's critical computer networks. The $64 million center would reportedly unify existing federal computer security efforts to investigate computer penetrations of banks, the military, and other core systems. But computer security experts sharply criticized Reno's plan as short-sighted, noting that she is deflecting responsibility for a very serious situation away from software vendors and the widespread lack of education about basic computer security safeguards. On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it had been fending off the most organized, systematic attack against its networks to date. Thursday, the FBI said it had questioned an unidentified Northern California teenager after catching him in the act of trying to break into the Pentagon. The youth was not arrested. Computer security experts suggested that the teen was a red herring designed to bolster public support for Reno's plan, which, while well-meaning, fails to get to the heart of the real problem facing the government.

A federal judge Friday failed to rule on Sun Microsystem's request for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit against rival Microsoft over the Java computer programming language developed by Sun. US district judge Ronald Whyte for the Northern District of California in San Jose said he would take the matter under review, but gave no indication when a ruling would be made. Sun is seeking the injunction against Microsoft as part of a legal battle over Java, Sun's programming software that is widely used on the Internet. Sun alleges Microsoft's use of the term "Java compatible" on Microsoft products infringes on a licensing agreement between the two companies. Lawyers from Microsoft and Sun met with the judge after the hearing in a case management discussion to set a trial date for the lawsuit. Sun said it has requested a trial date sometime in April 1999. Both parties said they hope and expect the judge rules on the preliminary injunction request before the trial starts.

Thought for the day: "The next generation of interesting software will be made on a Macintosh, not an IBM PC." - Bill Gates, 1984


Sunday, March 1  

Scientists at the University of Texas working with DuPont Photomasks have developed a new chipmaking technology that will help the semiconducter industry continue to produce more exponentially powerful processors. They have produced a wafer with components that are a mere 8 hundreths of a micron wide. By contrast, the current Pentium II chips are 0.25 microns. The next generation technology will only go to 0.18.

In creating the advanced chip, researchers employed standard ultraviolet light to etch the lines in which the transistors are laid--meaning that the industry doesn't have to invest in next-generation equipment using electrons or X-rays, a massively expensive proposition. The research breakthrough means that manufacturing plants using current-generation technology may be able to produce chips at least through the year 2009, saving billions of dollars. In general, advanced production techniques allow more transistors to be crammed into the same real estate, thereby increasing the horsepower of the chip. Also, as the transistors are pushed closer together, this increases a chip's speed because the distance between the transistors is reduced. The new ultraviolet technology could prove critical to the continued advancement of the semiconductor industry because it may eliminate the uncertainty about new production techniques which has clouded the future of chipmaking.

What is Moore's Law? In 1965, Gordon Moore, former Chairman of Intel, was preparing a speech and made a memorable observation. When he started to graph data about the growth in memory chip performance, he realized there was a striking trend. Each new chip contained roughly twice as much capacity as its predecessor, and each chip was released within 18-24 months of the previous chip. If this trend continued, he reasoned, computing power would rise exponentially over relatively brief periods of time. Moore's observation, now known as Moore's Law, described a trend that has continued and is still remarkably accurate. It is the basis for many planners' performance forecasts. In 26 years the number of transistors on a chip has increased more than 3,200 times, from 2,300 on the 4004 in 1971 to 7.5 million on the Pentium II processor.

Thought for the day: "But what ... is it good for?" - Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.


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