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Issue No.06 - November/December (2005 vol.9)
pp: 10-13
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
ABSTRACT
Review of Internet-related stories in IEEE, Computer Society, and trade press.




Internet Media
PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com
4 Oct. 2005
"Net Video for the Masses," by Sebastian Rupley
Video over IP reached several milestones in recent months thanks to wider broadband adoption rates, improved technology, and cooperation from broadcasters. On 2 July, for example, AOL used Windows Media to broadcast the Live 8 concerts over the Internet. Coverage of the concerts peaked at 5 million viewers using 175,000 simultaneous streams, making it the largest Internet video audience ever for a live event. On 26 July, NASA's broadcast of the space shuttle launch netted 433,000 simultaneous streams. Also, CBS News, which has long focused only on radio and television, opted to create a 24-hour Internet news service. And Time Warner Cable is running trials in San Diego using RealNetworks' Helix technology and media players to measure consumer interest in cable content delivered to PCs.
Mobile and Wireless Computing
PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com
6 Sept. 2005
"Unwired City," by Sebastian Rupley
A new contender has entered the already-crowded landscape of emerging wireless technologies. The radio-based xMax technology is designed to deliver broadband speeds over the frequencies used by radio and television stations. xMax inventor Joe Bobier asserts that a single US$350,000 xMax base station could potentially bring broadband speeds of up to 40 Mbytes to an entire city, given that the signals can be delivered to both desktop and mobile users.
xG Technology, the company behind xMax, hopes to be able to serve the majority of users in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, via a single tower at a base station it's building between the two cities. The company expects to unveil xMax in November and have products available by mid-2006. However, no standards group is waiting to ratify this technology.
IT Architect, www.itarchitect.com
September 2005
"DSL: Deregulated to Death," by Andy Dornan
WiMax technologies could become the beneficiaries of the US Federal Communications Commission's August 2005 decision to reclassify DSL from a telecommunications service to an information service. As a result of the FCC's decision, the regional Bell operating companies will no longer be required to carry traffic from competing ISPs as of September 2006. If the Bells choose to reduce the number of competitors they carry, the displaced ISPs are expected to start searching for alternative technologies, such as WiMax. The same FCC decision also relieved DSL providers from having to pay into the Universal Service Fund — which helps provide telecommunications services to rural areas and low-income individuals — as of May 2006.
Peer-to-Peer
PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com
23 Aug. 2005
"P2P Shifts," by Sebastian Rupley
The US Supreme Court sent shockwaves through the peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace in June with a landmark decision. The court ruled in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. that Internet file-sharing services can be held liable for copyright infringement if the intent behind them lets users swap copyrighted material. The decision has called into question the business models behind firms such as Kazaa and Morpheus as well as Grokster. Harry Wang, a research analyst at Parks Associates, says he expects P2P services to begin experimenting with new business models that aren't solely based on ad revenue. "Adding digital rights management control to P2P networks should be the end goal," he says.
Programming and Development
C/C++ User's Journal, www.cuj.com
October 2005
"Asynchronous I/O Streams for TCP Connections," by Claus Tøndering
According to Tøndering, programmers are often frustrated when they learn about C-based sockets, put off by the set of tasks required to set up a server. They must create a socket, bind a port to it, and put the socket in "listening" mode before they can finally accept incoming connections.
The author points out the need for a set of C++ classes to provide an interface to the sockets mechanism, but most of the socket class libraries that exist are just "thin wrappers around the underlying C library functions."
He also describes a platform-independent C++ library created at the Danish Technology Institute (DTI). The DTILIB library gives I/O streams an interface to compressed files and TCP sockets, as well as provides a way to handle asynchronous I/O streams on top of C++ I/O streams. He also explains how to use C++ I/O streams to read and write TCP sockets, and how asynchronous I/O streams can be built on top of the I/O stream mechanism of C++.
PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com
23 Aug. 2005
"Who's in Charge?" by Sebastian Rupley
The White House recently announced that the US will "maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file" — effectively heading off potential challenges from other countries to exert greater authority over the Internet's domain name system. Several nations have requested more decentralized management of the Internet. Currently, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees much of the Internet's technical aspects, but the US government oversees ICANN. The Bush administration's announcement made it clear that it intends to continue this oversight.
"The Net's Next 10 Years," by Sebastian Rupley
In light of how essential the Internet has become to our social fabric since Netscape went public 10 years ago, PC Magazine decided to look into its crystal ball to predict important Internet milestones that might occur in the next decade.
Those milestones include the development of Internet2, the private, high-speed network connecting research and educational institutions; the deployment of IPv6, which will make it possible for virtually every person and every device to have its own IP address; a fading of the digital divide as more people gain access to the Internet; and the as-yet-unknown implications of the mobile Net's broader use. On the cautionary side, Rupley mentions the widely feared "big one," a devastating attack on the Internet or the US power grid. Doug Van Houweling, CEO of Internet2, predicts that advances in authentication efforts will head off many of today's more common security concerns. Showing particular promise in that regard, he says, is the Shibboleth authentication software, which is currently being used on Internet2 and at colleges such as Penn State.
Technology Review, www.technologyreview.com
October 2005
"Killer Maps," by Wade Roush
In June, Google introduced its Google Earth service, which uses satellite photos of the Earth to complement mapping and other queries. Soon after, Microsoft and Yahoo jumped into the fray with mapping services of their own. The three are now in a race to turn this technology into full-blown browsers that organize information on the basis of geography rather than keywords in an effort to "annotate the planet."
Contributing to the technology's success is that each company has released APIs that let outside programmers build their own online applications using the mapping services, as long as they're not for commercial purposes. As a result of these "mash-ups" — applications that combine information such as crime statistics and cultural activities with maps — the array of services available to users has grown exponentially.
As Roush points out, however, the marketplace has only begun to embrace the location-technology arena. Many details remain to be worked out, including which service might be endorsed by cellular carriers and firms that make other mobile technology devices.
Security
Dr. Dobb's Journal, www.ddj.com
October 2005
"Reestablishing a Trust in the Web," by Amir Herzberg and Ahmad Jbara
Web spoofing (creating fake sites to collect user passwords and other personal information) and phishing (using fake emails to direct users to spoofed sites) remain major security threats to online users. Herzberg and Jbara contend that current browser user interfaces (UIs) aren't working because the icons are either too small for casual users to notice or can simply be faked on spoofed ones. In an effort to help users differentiate between trustworthy sites and spoofed ones, the authors created the open-source TrustBar browser extension for the Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox browsers ( www.AmirHerzberg.com/TrustBar/). This article details the TrustBar UI and how it addresses current browser UIs' weaknesses in identifying sites' safety.
PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com
4 Oct. 2005
"Is It Spyware?" by Larry Seltzer
Semantics is one of the many challenges involved in the antispyware business. Each company creates its own definitions and standards for the types of programs it will identify as spyware and the steps it will take to deal with them.
In addition to being confusing, such proprietary definitions have led to larger problems. In July, for example, Microsoft reclassified several notorious adware programs as lower threats, claiming that its own definitions of spyware required the reclassification. Many users were outraged at the new threat ratings, which recommended, for example, that users ignore rather than remove Claria's GAIN, which monitors Web browsing activity to deliver online ads to users.
In an effort to help standardize the situation, the Anti-Spyware Coalition ( www.antispywarecoalition.org), a consortium of software companies, academics, and consumer groups, has compiled a list of suggested definitions and supporting documents. As Seltzer points out, however, it's difficult to see what the efforts will accomplish given that adware vendors will have the chance to manipulate their products to suit the consortium's standardized definitions.
Technology Review, www.technologyreview.com
October 2005
"Virus Hunter: Mikko Hyppönen Defends the Web Against Mischief," by Duncan Graham-Rowe
Graham-Rowe profiles one of the most respected virus hunters in the industry: Mikko Hyppönen, now the chief research officer at the Finnish computer security company F-Secure. Hyppönen and his team were at the forefront of fighting the outbreak of the Slapper worm, which exploited a loophole in Linux Web server software to affect tens of thousands of computers in 2002, and the Sobig.F worm. He is also credited as the first to send out warnings about the Sasser worm's spread in 2004.
Hyppönen's strength is in predicting new threats before they happen. For example, he warned about the possibility of mobile phone viruses and macroviruses infecting documents years before they actually occurred. Hyppönen says virus writers are largely interested in money over notoriety these days. He expects the next big target will be the Skype peer-to-peer Internet phone service, which Hyppönen says is attractive because it's designed to get around firewalls.
Alison Skratt is a freelance writer based in Oakville, Conn.
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