HP poised to acquire EDS, become major IBM competitor

Hewlett-Packard Co. on Tuesday announced it will purchase Electronic Data Systems Corp. for roughly $12.6 billion, enabling the creation of its own technology-services company that could ultimately challenge IBM, the Associated Press reports. Called HP's biggest deal in six years, the EDS purchase would afford HP more tools to challenge IBM Corp. in the technology services field. The AP notes that HP already has replaced IBM as the world's largest technology company, based on revenue, adding that the merger also will yield more government technology contracts (Liedtke, AP, 5/13/08).

Experts highlight need to bolster VoIP technology security

Some security experts are calling for enhanced VoIP defenses, suggesting it is best to bolster these efforts before hackers and thieves begin exploiting VOIP vulnerabilities, Government Computer News reports. One expert from Georgia Technical Institute suggests that hackers have yet to target Internet telephony largely because e-mail and Web applications already provide well-known and successful avenues for breaching information technology systems and stealing data. He and others note, however, that, as traditional data systems enhance security, VoIP could become more attractive to hackers. One research initiative currently underway: Georgia Tech’s Information Security Center two years ago began studying ways to add security to VoIP protocols and services with help from IBM and Bell South. Other researchers are working on so-called soft credentials that could assign a level of trust to voice calls based on social-networking techniques and circles of trust. Meanwhile, a number of companies are developing products and conducting similar research to better understand vulnerabilities associated with VoIP (Jackson, GCN, 5/5/08).

U.S. 911 emergency system incompatible with modern wireless devices, officials warn

The 911 Industry Alliance last week warned that the United State’s 40-year-old emergency call system is outdated and cannot adequately interact with existing consumer technology, Information Week reports. According to the industry group’s executive director, the current analog-based 911 system is incompatible with newer wireless devices and Internet-based telephone services. In addition, the 911 system cannot process cell phone-issued text messages, photos or other multimedia messages. Alliance officials note that the problem will likely worsen as cell phone and VoIP service usage increases, adding that the “tragedy of the situation is that the technology to fix it is there, but the funding isn’t” (Gardner, Information Week, 5/7/08; Advertiser-Tribune, 5/9/08).

Hypersonic technology advancing

The Calgary Herald on Monday reported that Hypersonic technology, which directs a beam of sound straight into a person's eardrums, is “ready for prime time.” Eventually, hypersonic technology will make blaring loudspeakers and broadcast marketing messages obsolete in stores and malls, according to the Herald. Specifically, the technology sends waves of hypersonic sound at a pitch undetectable by the human ear; the waves continue until they smash into an object (a person's body); and then the waves slow, mix and re-create the original audio broadcast. The Herald notes that, “if the person steps out of the waves, they are no longer obstructed and they are rendered inaudible.” Currently, the New York City Public Library deploys the technology for a giant wall of TVs—people can hear the broadcast when standing in front of the TV, but those wandering elsewhere in the library hear nothing (Pilieci, The Calgary Herald, 5/12/08).

Nintendo initiative directly links game developers with Wii users

Nintendo on Monday announced the launch of WiiWare: a new Wii console gaming service that enables game developers to release their games directly to Wii players, I4U News reports. According to the company, Wii owners with a Wi-Fi connection starting Monday can download new and creative games directly to the console. Officials note that WiiWare “frees developers from the traditional constraints of game development and offers games in the most democratic environment in the history of the gaming industry,” I4U reports (McGlaun, I4U News, 5/12/08).

U.S. public health officials gain updated Web tool

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently released an updated and expanded version of the Global Wildlife Disease News Map Version 2, Government Computer News reports. Developed cooperatively by USGS and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the tool monitors wildlife diseases that threaten the health of humans and pets with a daily updated map that displays ‘pushpins’ marking news stories about wildlife diseases from more than 20 online sources. In addition, the Web tool culls the organization’s electronic library for all available data related to various diseases and medical conditions. The tool includes features such as a blog, desktop widgets, e-mail and Really Simple Syndication feeds. Several outside organizations also voluntarily contribute data to the system (Hickey, GCN, 5/8/08).

Microsoft executive discusses potential for new health IT devices

Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, on Friday suggested that in the near future computer printers may be able to deliver simple medications and help advance a more personalized model of health care, PC World reports. Speaking at a conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, Mundie noted that, rather than having ink, the printers would be able to dispense different medications from their ink cartridges. Then, he said, drug tablets could be pulled off of printed sheets similar to mailing labels. Mundie also hypothesized about uses for a mobile phone containing breath analysis technology that could detect diseases, chemical imbalances or other problems based on a person's breath. Although such technologies are not currently available, Mundie suggests that Microsoft's technology sector is poised to develop new ways to improve the rapidly advancing health care market (Nystedt, PC World, 5/9/08).

Egypt PM calls on tech industry to address food crisis

The Prime Minister of Egypt, Ahmed Nazif, on Sunday called on the information and communications technology industry to help alleviate the current food crisis, IDG News Service reports. Speaking at telecom conference ITU Telecom Africa 2008, Nazif said the industry should develop innovative mechanisms to help close the current supply and demand gap, as well as develop tools and applications to increase productivity and improve the management of food supply. The Egyptian Prime Minister during his speech also plugged some other local projects, such as the Arabic eContent Initiative—a targeted portal designed to boost the amount Arabic content on the Internet (Ricknäs, IDG News Serivice/CIO, 5/12/08).

Scientists propose advanced supercomputer

U.S. government researchers have proposed a strategy for improving climate change predictions via a new advanced supercomputer, United Press International reports. Published in the International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications, the study outlines “a practical estimate for building a supercomputer capable of creating climate models at 1-kilometer scale -- something not available from existing models,” according to UPI. The researchers, who include Michael Wehner and Lenny Oliker of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and John Shalf of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, suggest that such a supercomputer would be 1,000 times more powerful than any currently available, but would cost roughly $1 billion and require 200 megawatts of electricity. As an alternative, the researchers recommend creating such a supercomputer using roughly 20 million embedded microprocessors, which would cost nearly $75 million, consume less than 4 megawatts of power and achieve a peak performance of 200 petaflops (UPI, 5/8/08).

German researchers unveil chip that sends smells via cell phones

German researchers have patented a chip for sending smells through mobile phones, National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” reports (Listen Now). Though it has been under development for the last eight years, the chip may not become available to consumers until 2010. If it is released, one spokesperson for a German technology company suggests that people will be able to use the technology to, for instance, send the scent of the ocean breeze to others (Morning Edition/NPR, 5/5/08).

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