News Briefs
MAY/JUNE 2007 (Vol. 9, No. 3) pp. 4-8
1520-9202/07/$31.00 © 2007 IEEE

Published by the IEEE Computer Society
News Briefs
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  Trends  
  Hardware  
  Google  
  Hardware  
  Energy  
  Security  
  Innovations  
  Courts  
  Backup  
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Trends
Windows Server Virtualization Delayed to Second Half of 2007
The public beta of Windows Server virtualization, code-named "Viridian," will ship in the second half of 2007, according to an entry on the Windows Server Division Weblog ( http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/) by Mike Neil, general manager of virtualization at Microsoft.
The primary drivers for the delay, Neil wrote, are around meeting internal goals for performance and scalability.
Similarly, the final version of Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 also will be available in the second quarter instead of in the first quarter, as previously reported. Customers and partners can download a release candidate of the service pack, a code-complete update to the current beta 2, Neil wrote.
Neil explained that it's important to know that Windows Server "Longhorn" remains on schedule for beta 3 this half of the year, and release to manufacturing in the second half.
Tech Wages Continue to Increase
Technical consultants, SAP consultants, and hardware engineers were the highest paid hourly IT workers during the first quarter of 2007, according to the Yoh Index of Technology Wages, a compensation index that tracks outsourced tech workers.
On average, technical consultants received US$83.72 per hour, SAP consultants earned $76.67 per hour, and hardware engineers earned $75.68 per hour.
Near the bottom of the list of the highest demand jobs were .Net developers, who earn an average of $53.40 per hour, and Java developers, who average $57.27 per hour.
"At the end of 2005, we believed wage growth would continue to be strong into 2006. It's evident from this data that this trend continues unabated in 2007," said Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing for Yoh, in a press release. "The technology sector continues to demonstrate its strength and confirmed its ability to propel the employment market in a positive direction."
The high-impact jobs in greatest demand nationwide during the first quarter of 2007, and their average hourly pay rates as determined by the Yoh Index of Technology Wages are

    • .NET developer: $53.40,

    • aerospace engineer: $48.41,

    • clinical research associate: $59.83,

    • database administrator: $59.80,

    • ETL (extract, transform, and load) developer: $66.52,

    • hardware engineer: $75.68,

    • Java developer: $57.27,

    • project manager: $60.73,

    • SAP functional consultant: $76.67, and

    • technical consultant: $83.72.

Hardware
IBM Scores 3D Chip Breakthrough
IBM's chip-stacking technology announcement will, according to the company, pave the way for 3D chips that will extend Moore's law beyond its expected limits. The technology, called "through-silicon vias," allows different chip components to be packaged much closer for faster, smaller, and lower-power systems.
The change enables the move from horizontal 2D-chip layouts to 3D chip stacking. This method repositions chips and memory devices that traditionally sit side by side on a silicon wafer, and stacks them on top of one another. This compact sandwich of components reduces chip package size and boosts data's speed across chip functions.
This new technique removes the need for long metal wires that connect chips together and instead uses through-silicon vias, which are vertical connections etched through the silicon wafer and filled with metal. These vias allow multiple chips to be stacked together.
The technique shortens the distance information on a chip must travel by 1,000 times and allows for the addition of as many as 100 times more channels, or pathways, for that information to flow compared with traditional chips.
Google
Google Rolls Out MyMaps
Google has added a feature to Google Maps that lets users personalize online maps with notes, photos, and YouTube videos.
The new MyMaps feature also lets customers mark locations and plot routes, Google said.
The feature, available in 10 countries, gives users the choice to share maps with only friends or have them appear in searches on the Google Maps site. The maps also can be displayed in the Google Earth mapping program.
Users can mark locations such as golf courses or biking routes with colored push-pin graphics or icons. The site already features customized maps, such as a tour of Route 66 and a guide to Hawaii with photos of the island of Kauai.
Hardware
AMD Sneaks a Peek for New ATI Graphics Card Line
AMD has named the rest of its upcoming ATI Radeon DirectX 10 product lineup: the ATI Radeon HD 2000-series.
At the top of the chain is the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT. The AMD ATI Radeon HD 2900-series features 320 stream processors, more than twice as many as Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GTX. AMD couples the 320 stream processors, which reduce dependence on the CPU, with a 512-bit memory interface with eight channels. The AMD ATI Radeon HD 2900-series now natively supports CrossFire, making it easier to pair two of these cards together.
AMD expected to release the cards in April.
Energy
Nanogenerator Can Produce Electricity for Portable Devices
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have announced that they created a prototype "nanogenerator" that can produce electricity through mechanical vibrations, sonic waves, or the flow of blood or other liquids to power portable devices.
Researchers say the device, which was developed in part through a grant from the military's research agency, definitely shows that tiny power generators could someday make batteries obsolete.
"If you had a device like this in your shoes when you walked, you would be able to generate your own small current to power small electronics," said Zhong Lin Wang, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Materials Science and Engineering.
For the military, such a device could power explosives or wearable biochemical sensors, Wang said. In medicine, it could be implanted into the body and used to power electronic devices that measure blood pressure. And for on-the-go consumers, it could someday power a wide array of portable devices.
According to researchers, the nanogenerator works something like a miniature windmill or hydroelectric dam. Inside the device, tiny microscopic wires wave back and forth whenever they're subjected to movement.
PCs Reduce Energy Appetite
Tech Networks of Boston has unveiled its energy saving and environmentally friendly personal computer, the Earth-PC (and its companion, the Earth-Server).
The Earth-PC and server can reduce power consumption by as much as 25 percent compared with a standard PC. The Earth-PC uses efficient power supplies certified as 80 Plus that operate at 80 percent or greater efficiency. 80 Plus sets the standard for what constitutes an energy-efficient power supply.
The Earth-PC's energy efficient components, combined with appropriate power management settings, can reduce power use by as much as 74 percent and save an average $764 during the life of the PC. Its Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant design employs lead-free solders and reduced toxic chemicals. The Earth-PC also employs a low-noise power supply, fan, and hard drive.
Security
Cell-Phone as Security Token
ID Control, which specializes in online identity and access management, offers HandyID, a mobile-phone-based security token.
HandyID runs as a security application on a mobile phone and generates dynamic and unique one-time passwords, which are useable only with the correct PIN.
During online banking, HandyID can turn a mobile phone into an ID token that consumers carry along anywhere. Without the use of a reader, card, or token, the HandyID application on a mobile device can generate the access or response code to gain permission to access online banking or digital signing of transactions.
Vulnerability in Longhorn
Microsoft's troubles with its newest operating systems continued, as it confirmed an unpatched vulnerability in its current server software also exists in the still-beta code for Longhorn Server.
According to a security advisory, a zero-day vulnerability in the DNS Server Service in Windows 2000 Server (SP4) and Windows Server 2003 (SP1 and SP2) is being exploited by attackers, who send malformed RPC packets to the server.
The bug marks the third that points out problems Microsoft has had in rooting out flaws in old code that it has recycled in its next-generation operating systems, Windows Vista, and Longhorn Server. Two recent vulnerabilities that affect Vista—one in rendering animated cursors, the other in error message processing—have also been identified in older versions of the operating system.
Bluetooth Sniffer on the Cheap
A security researcher has demonstrated creating a Bluetooth sniffer out of an inexpensive wireless dongle, raising fresh questions about the security of the wireless technology.
Many methods exist for cracking Bluetooth devices, which increasingly include laptops and other computers, but such efforts often rely on sniffer hardware that can cost thousands of dollars.
Max Moser, who works as a security tester for Dreamlab Technologies and founded remote-exploit.org, said he was surprised to find that nearly all the work carried out by expensive hardware sniffers is implemented in software, not hardware. That meant he was able to use commercial sniffer software with a modified Bluetooth dongle running on a CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) chipset. Such dongles can sell for around $18 to $20.
"Sniffing Bluetooth is not a matter of expensive hardware, but of proprietary firmware and software," he said in an analysis.
Innovations
Remote Desktop Control is Award Finalist
Red Herring picked Bomgar as one of the top 200 companies that play a leading role in innovation and technology. The company, which provides appliance-based remote desktop control, is now a finalist for the Red Herring 100 North America awards 2007.
Bomgar's appliance-based remote desktop control solution, the Bomgar Box, is customizable from Web portals to exit surveys and provides clients with remote access to computers from anywhere in the world, through any firewall, to perform advanced remote support without leaving a software footprint. This is all done through an appliance instead of through third-party data centers, providing security and control. Also, because Bomgar's clients own and house the remote desktop control appliance, monthly fees are eliminated.
Courts
Sentencing in CA Securities Fraud
A US District Court judge has ordered the former CEO of CA Inc. to pay more than US$1 billion in restitution to victims of the securities fraud he committed while at the company.
CA has already repaid $225 million of that amount to a victims' fund. Sanjay Kumar was also ordered to pay $52 million in the next 18 months.
Kumar was released from an $8 million fine imposed in November while he is making restitution. Kumar was also sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and securities fraud charges.
After he completes prison sentence, Kumar must pay 20 percent of his income each year toward the remaining $746 million in restitution, the federal judge ordered. The court does not expect the total amount to be repaid, said a spokesman for the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Kumar and Stephen Richards, the company's former worldwide sales head, both pleaded guilty after they were accused of fraudulent accounting practices, including falsely reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for licensing agreements during fiscal quarters in which the deals had not yet been finalized.
Backup
Perfect Backup Record
Coolcat, which provides online backup, off-site storage, and recovery services that automate protecting data for individuals and businesses, claims 100 percent data recovery. No one has ever lost data backed up with their system, according to the company.
Coolcat's software automatically backs up data files and programs according to a user-defined frequency, then encrypts the data and sends it over the Internet to off-site mass storage vaults housed in a geographic redundant hardened facility.