Colorado to consolidate technology services

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed legislation into law that will centralize the state’s information technology systems under the state Office of Information Technology, Washington Technology reports. According to Ritter, the bill aims to correct disparate and inefficient information technology systems, adding that currently the state uses 39 data centers and more than 1,600 servers, while some states function with just two data centers. Commenting on the bill, he says “this legislation marks a historic turning point in how we will manage, consolidate and improve our IT assets and personnel” (Welsh, Washington Technology, 5/29/08).

Yale researchers create new Internet efficiency strategy

A Yale research team has engineered a system designed to boost Internet efficiency that enables Internet service providers (ISPs) and peer-to-peer (P2P) software providers to work cooperatively to deliver data, Science Daily reports. Specifically, the research team has proposed an architecture called P4P, which stands for "provider portal for P2P applications" and enables explicit and seamless communications between ISPs and P2P applications. According to the researchers, P4P architecture can operate in multiple modes including a simple mode in which the ISPs will reveal their network status so that P2P applications can avoid hot-spots. Using another mode, Science Daily reports that P4P can operate "much like a stock or commodities exchange -- it will let markets and providers interact freely to create the most efficient information and cost flow, so costs of operation drop and access to individual sites is less likely to overload." According to a paper slated for presentation at ACM SIGCOMM 2008, a premier computer networking conference in August 2008, the P4P is expected to reduce the cost to ISPs and boost performance of P2P applications (Science Daily, 5/27/08).

Google aims to solidify commitment to developers

Google this week is hosting a conference for external developers called Google I/O, which IDG News Service reports is the company's "strongest statement to date of its deep, long-term commitment to external developers." Launching on Wednesday, the two-day conference in San Francisco will feature more than 100 in-depth technical sessions about the company's developer programs and tools and will likely garner nearly 3,000 attendees. In addition, Google will announce plans to open the doors of App Engine to all developers, after an initial period of limited access. Meanwhile, Google's vice president of engineering for developer products acknowledged that, with this first I/O event, Google clearly indicates that it is invested in a long-term relationship working for and with external programmers (Perez, IDG News Service/CIO, 5/27/08).

EC calls for greater adoption of IPv6

The European Commission (EC) this week announced plans to get 25 percent of European Union (EU) industry, public authorities and households to use IPv6 by 2010, Government Computer News reports. According to GCN, IPv6 adoption is necessary because of the looming shortage of Internet addresses under IPv4, as well as to ensure the continental economy does not lag behind areas such as the Asian Pacific region, where many are already adopting IPv6. To introduce and promote the initiative, the EC will host a European IPv6 Day in Brussels May 30. Meanwhile, GCN points out that, unlike the U.S. solution to mandate government agencies to transition for IPv6 capabilities by next month, the EC cannot compel adoption of the new IP (Jackson, GCN, 5/28/08).

African mobile-service providers tap solar energy for rural users

African mobile-service providers are tapping into solar energy and other renewable sources to power base stations and connect users in remote areas to mobile networks, IDG News Service reports. For instance, Africa's largest mobile telecommunication company Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) and the east African regional service provider Safaricom recently announced plans to use solar energy and bio-fuel. MTN operates in 21 African countries, including Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. IDG also notes that Ericsson has already developed and deployed solar-powered base stations for rural areas without access to electricity in Malawi and Morocco. In Namibia, meanwhile, the country's mobile telecommunication company, MTC, plans to install solar-powered base stations. Moreover, Ericsson and MTN are collaborating on a project to power base stations using bio-fuels from palm and pumpkin seeds (Malakata, IDG News Service/CIO, 5/27/08).

Latest version of Windows to include touch screen controls

Microsoft Corp plans offer touch screen controls as one component of the next version of its Windows operating system, Reuters reports. During a joint interview on Tuesday as part of the Wall Street Journal's three-day D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft leaders Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer unveiled new Windows features based on software known as "multi-touch," which will be part of Windows 7—the next version of Windows slated for release in late 2009. For example, in a demonstration of the touch-screen capabilities, Microsoft displayed a new application called "Touchable Paint" that allows a user to paint with his or her fingers, as well as software to organize photos or navigate maps by touch (Auchard, Reuters, 5/28/08).

FDA creates electronic information system to boost drug, device monitoring

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is developing a new electronic information system to improve drug and medical product monitoring, Government Computer News reports. Called the Sentinel System, the data-mining technology will enable the FDA to collect information about medical products by querying electronic health records, patient registry data, insurance claims data and other major health care information databases. Specifically, the technology will link Medicare drug claims to other Medicare information on patient care such as hospitalizations and physician visits, and the collected information will become available to other federal agencies, state Medicaid programs, researchers and beneficiaries for their personal health records. According to GCN, "the technology will be created through public/private partnerships and capitalize on large, existing electronic claims and medical records data sources maintained by private and government entities that agree to participate." In addition, it will enable the FDA to analyze significantly more information and detect early signs of emerging safety problems. Created in conjunction with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the project ultimately aims to identify possible post-market adverse health events to improve patient care nationwide (Hickey, GCN, 5/27/08).

Carbon nanoribbons may yield smaller, speedier computer chips

Stanford University researchers have developed a new strategy for making transistors out of carbon nanoribbons, a change that ultimately could lead to higher performance computer chips, Science Daily reports. Touted as the first group to do so, the Stanford research team has created field-effect transistors, which are a critical component of computer chips, using graphene—a form of carbon derived from graphite— that can operate at room temperature. Other graphene transistors, which are made with wider nanoribbons or thin films, require much lower temperatures. Because experts predict that silicon chips will reach their maximum shrinking point within the next decade, researchers have actively been searching for materials such as graphene to replace silicon as transistors continue to shrink. Published online in the May 23 issue of Physical Review Letters, the study suggests that graphene may help bridge development as computer chips shrink smaller than traditional silicon can handle. Specifically, one of the researchers suggests that graphene could supplement but not replace silicon, while another notes that graphene could be a useful material for future electronics but will probably not replace silicon anytime soon (Science Daily, 5/28/08).

New image-recognition software helps computers 'see'

MIT researchers have developed a computing system that could lead to great advances in the automated identification of online images and, ultimately, provide a basis for computers to ‘see’ in a manner similar to humans, Science Daily reports. For the study, researchers created a mathematical system that can shrink the data from a single picture. Using the system, they found that many images are recognizable even when coded into a numerical representation containing as little as 256 to 1024 bits of data. Reducing the size of an image to such small amounts of data enables ordinary PCs to search through a database of millions of images or similar pictures in less than a second, according to the lead researcher. Science Daily adds that, “unlike other methods that require first breaking down an image into sections containing different objects, this method uses the entire image, making it simple to apply to large datasets without human intervention.” Currently, the system can be applied to the most common kinds of images, such as those depicting cars, people, flowers and buildings. However, the more complex or unusual an image is, the less likely it is to be correctly matched (Science Daily, 5/26/08).

Chinese nanotechnology researchers encouraged to set up new application systems

Chinese Academy of Sciences President LU Yongxiang recently called on the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNT) to strengthen its strategic research and further clarify its strategic objectives, Nanowerk News reports. Speaking at a meeting of the NCNT governing board held on May 23 in Beijing, Lu urged nanotechnology researchers to bolster their efforts in promoting the application of nanoscience and nanotechnology in energy sources and public health, as well as information technology. In addition, he underscored the importance of nanotechnology’s impact on ecology and human health. Specifically, Lu said that the researchers should be bold enough to create a new service system and actively guide, support and drive the sound development of Chinese society (Nanowerk News, 5/27/08).

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