10 Sept. 2007
"Net Neutrality Dismissed," by K.C. Jones
In a filing with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in September, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indicated that net neutrality could hurt Internet innovation. The DoJ said any net neutrality regulations that the FCC puts in place could limit investment in broadband expansion and consumer choice. It also compared charging more for better performance to the US Postal Service charging tiered rates for various delivery options. "It may make economic sense for content providers who want a higher quality of service to pay for the Internet upgrades necessary to provide such services," the FCC wrote.
16 Oct. 2007
"The Mouse or the Remote?"
A recent IBM Research study revealed that Americans spend more time online than they do watching television, with 26 percent of respondents spending more than six hours a day surfing the Web. The survey included respondents from five countries: the US, Australia, Germany, Japan, and the UK. All five countries had a higher percentage of respondents online for four hours or more than respondents watching TV for the same amount of time.
The survey asked only about personal time spent on the Internet or watching TV, so respondents weren't supposed to include time spent online for work, but they could include personal surfing while at work.
Mobile & Wireless Computing
3 Sept. 2007
"Who Owns Wireless Tech?" by Richard Martin
As enterprise users — already uncertain about the emerging wireless local area network (WLAN) market — begin to make critical decisions about their WLAN infrastructures, two patent disputes over wireless network technology are under way.
In June, a US district judge granted the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) an injunction against Buffalo Technology, a WLAN equipment maker, regarding Wi-Fi technology patents. CSIRO, an Australian science agency, is also involved in three other patent disputes with tech companies. And in August, Motorola filed a lawsuit claiming Aruba Networks violated four patents held by its Symbol Technologies and Wireless Valley Communications subsidiaries. Two patents involve 3D representations for WLAN management and design; the others involve WLAN switching technology.
17 Sept. 2007
"Mobile Web for the Masses," by Richard Martin
The iPhone's success, with its full Safari browser, together with increased pressure from commercial customers looking to offer mobile browsing to their employees, might be creating an opportunity for the Opera Mini Web browser to capture a larger market share.
Opera Mini users view 1 billion pages a month on its low- to mid-priced cell phones. The latest version — Opera Mini 4.0, which is easier to use and offers faster downloads than earlier versions — provides users with an almost-full browsing experience on mass-market cell phones.
16 Oct. 2007
"A New Wireless Frontier," by Frank Washburn
Plans are in the works for the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction slices of the 700-MHz spectrum currently used by analog TV, which might mean cheaper and faster wireless broadband services with download speeds up to 5 mbits per second faster than Wi-Fi.
Uncertainties are involved, however. First, the plan for analog TV signals to stop in early 2009 in the US must actually occur. Second, wireless capabilities will depend on how the FCC sells or licenses portions of the spectrum.
When the spectrum does go silent, it will create a third broadband conduit into US homes that has "no noise, no interference" because the FCC hasn't licensed anyone to broadcast anything but UHF in it. Also, most of the infrastructure required for broadcasting wireless broadband within the 700-MHz spectrum already exists, meaning spectrum owners won't have to build it, just negotiate for space on existing towers.
Google has already said it will bid at least US$4.6 billion for a part of the spectrum. AT&T and Verizon have also expressed interest. The auction is scheduled for January 2008.
Programming & Development
Dr. Dobb's Journal
"Widgets and Rich Internet Applications," by Dana Moore and Ray Budd
As the popularity of rich Internet applications (RIAs) such as Gmail and Flickr continues to expand, Moore and Budd suggest programmers consider using desktop widgets with RIAs to significantly enhance the user experience.
RIAs combine Web applications with traditional desktop applications, moving some of the processing to the client. Moore and Budd explain that widgets are low-cost, lightweight client applications that can "bridge the gap between the RIA and the desktop." Widgets can help an RIA interact with client systems to do things such as read files or check how much memory is being used. The authors point out that widgets also use client-only resources and let programmers avoid the costs associated with developing a functional utility program from scratch.
"TR 35: 2007," by Jason Pontin, Wade Roush, Neil Savage, David Talbot, Kate Greene, and Erika Jonietz
Since 1999, the editors of Technology Review have selected 35 innovators under the age of 35, whose inventions and research they find most exciting. Of the 35 winners for 2007, seven are involved with the Internet:
• Garrett Camp, the architect behind StumbleUpon.com. This downloadable toolbar gives users the opportunity to surf more than 10 million interesting sites that their friends or other users with similar interests have "stumbled upon."
• Tadayoshi Kohno, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. Kohno invented systems-oriented provable security, which examines all things at the systems level.
• Tariq Krim of Netvibes, a free Web service that lets users build customized, dynamic Web pages based on their interests. The pages can include a variety of modules from search modules to blog RSS feeds to competing news sites.
• Anna Lysyanskaya, an assistant professor of computer science at Brown University, who helped improve online privacy by developing a secure Web site login method that uses zero-knowledge proofs. She also created algorithms that avoid the enormous computing power usually required by zero-knowledge proofs to generate and test credentials more efficiently.
• Kevin Rose, founder and chief architect of Digg, a news site that aims to democratize digital media by featuring user-selected stories. Users post stories, then the Digg community votes on whether they like them or not, resulting in a constantly shuffling list of what interests users most (see IC's special issue article about Digg on p. 16).
• Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Von Ahn created CAPTCHAS, or Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, which appears on screens as strings of distorted characters that users are asked to type in to prove they're human and not malware. Von Ahn created CAPTCHAS for Yahoo in 2000 to battle automated email account registration. Now, he's trying to use CAPTCHAS to help digitize millions of books to make them searchable online.
• Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO. The social networking site started in 2004 as a way to share personal profiles and photos with other Harvard students.
The list, which took the magazine's editors almost a year to compile, was whittled down from 300 nominees.
Visual Studio Magazine Online
"Creating Ajax-Enabled Web Services in .NET," by Dan Wahlin
When a browser and a Web service exchange data, it usually involves the latter sending XML messages that conform to the SOAP specification, which requires XML parsing. Unfortunately, XML parsing support varies widely in browsers and is very limited on Internet Explorer.
is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.