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Edupage, 18 February 1999. Edupage, a summary of news about information
technology, is provided three times a week as a service of EDUCAUSE,
an international nonprofit association dedicated to transforming higher
education through information technologies.

     Digital Watermark Standard
     AltaVista Buys Zip2
     CNN Hooks Up With WebMD
     AT&T And TCI Get Final Okay For Merger

     More Free PCs
     IBM Gives New Boost To Credibility Of Linux
     Employees Lose Jobs For Downloading "Inappropriate" Material
     Honorary Subscriber:  Euclid

The "Galaxy Group" of consumer electronics companies -- IBM, NEC, Hitachi,
Pioneer and Sony -- have agreed on a new digital "watermark" standard for
preventing illegal copying of digital material.  The watermark is an
indelible binary code embedded in each frame of a digital recording so that
a digital recording device will refuse to make a copy recognized as
unauthorized.  (New York Times 17 Feb 99)

Search engine AltaVista is expanding its horizons by purchasing local city
guide firm Zip2.  The deal gives AltaVista users access to popular news,
entertainment listings, and localized content through a network of sites
covering most major metropolitan areas in the U.S.  Especially valuable for
AltaVista are Zip2's arrangements with Chicago Tribune and the New York
Times and its deals with 160 local newspapers.  "They just have an
outstanding platform technology for local media players," says the VP and
general manager of e-services for AltaVista.  (TechWeb 17 Feb 99)

Time Warner-owned CNN is investing in WebMD, a one-stop library of medical
information and physician services.  The Atlanta-based company also sells
doctors' services that include billing and collections, continuing education
and insurance verification delivered over the Internet.  The deal with WebMD
gives CNN more "robust" medical content for its Web site.  In exchange,
WebMD will receive on-air and online plugs through CNN's Web site and its
television and radio networks.  (Wall Street Journal 17 Feb 99)

AT&T Corp. and Tele-Communications Inc. have won the approval of the Federal
Communications Commission and the shareholders of both companies for their
proposed $48-billion merger.  The deal, which will result in one-stop
shopping for phone, Internet access and cable TV services, is expected to
close shortly.  Critics of the merger were disappointed that the FCC
declined their appeals to require the new entity to open its high-speed
lines to competition from other Internet service providers. (Los Angeles
Times 18 Feb 99)


Ansys Inc. of Canonsburg, Pa. is planning to give away $3,500 Dell laptops
to people who purchase its $9,000 DesignSpace Expert software.  The program
enables engineers to "test-drive" their designs in cyberspace before
implementing them in the real world.  "We're able to put a machine with that
and still make money," says Ansys's marketing VP, who compares the give-away
program to giving away razors in order to sell the razor blades.  (Wall
Street Journal 18 Feb 99)

IBM will now install both the Linux and Windows NT operating systems on its
Netfinity line of network servers, in a decision that follows similar moves
by Hewlett-Packard and Dell.  IBM will offer technical support of Linux --
the popular and free Unix-based operating system that was designed and built
by a loose coalition of programmers around the world -- through an agreement
with Red Hat Software, distributor of Linux.  (New York Times 18 Feb 99)

Three supervisors in the Decatur, Ga., fire department lost their jobs when
technicians testing computers for Y2K compliance found evidence that the
three men had used the Internet to download "inappropriate" material.  City
Manager Peggy Merriss says there is a city policy against "having
inappropriate material at the workplace," a policy she claims falls under
the city's rules prohibiting sexual harassment.  Nadine Strossen of the
American Civil Liberties Union argues that mere possession of sexually
explicit material does not constitute sexual harassment, and says that it
may be a violation of free speech rights to prevent an employee from
privately viewing such material during spare time on the job.  (Atlanta
Journal-Constitution 17 Feb 99)

Today's Honorary Subscriber is Euclid, who liked straight lines and shiny
objects.  And who doesn't?  See the very end of today's Edupage.

Edupage is written by John Gehl ( and Suzanne Douglas
( Telephone:  770-590-1017   

Technical support for distributing Edupage is provided by Information
Technology Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 



The Higher Education Financial Executive Symposium, Feb 21-23, 1999,
Arlington, Virginia. Sponsored by

The Council of Independent Colleges and EDUCAUSE, Mar 25-27, 1999,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Networking'99 Conference on Advanced Networking, Apr 28-30, 1999,
Washington, D.C.

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Today's Honorary Subscriber is the great Greek mathematician Euclid
(c.325-270 BC), whose book on geometry has struck fear into teenagers'
hearts for two millennia.  Although he apparently studied at Plato's Academy
in Athens, Euclid's home was Alexandria, Egypt, where he worked during the
reign of King Ptolemy -- one of many Egyptian kings of the same name.  (By
the way, Ptolemy was not the astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus known for the
"Ptolemaic system" that identified the Earth as the center of the universe.)  
     Euclid did his work in the great library and university King Ptolemy
built called the Museum -- because it was a temple in honor of the "Muses"
or goddesses who inspired practitioners of the arts and sciences.  At the
Museum, Euclid churned away at points and lines and axioms and postulates,
and of course his special proof of the Pythagorean theorem, which is that in
any right-angled triangle the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum
of the squares of the other two sides.
     Of course, some of this stuff is heady going, which is exactly what
King Ptolemy once said in a complaint to Euclid.  Euclid's disdainful reply
was:  "There is no royal road to geometry."  Of course, at that time, there
was still no Internet nor CD ROMs;  today, all of our kings learn their
geometry from multimedia, and are for that very reason far better
geometricians than their forebears. 
     In any event, just remember that things equal to the same thing, or to
equal things, are equal to each other.  Follow that rule everywhere!  Apply
it today, so that it will become part of your life.

EDUCAUSE, an international nonprofit association dedicated to transforming
                    higher education through information technologies

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Microsoft has acquired Firefly Network Inc., a spinoff of the MIT Media Lab
in Cambridge, Mass., and plans to move Firefly's 70 employees to Microsoft
headquarters in Redmond, Washington.  Using artificial intelligence
techniques, Firefly developed technologies for both data filtering and
privacy.  Its filtering technology provides a method for comparing a
computer user's observed tastes, preferences and behavior to that of other
users on whom similar data have been collected -- and then, based on those
comparisons, making recommendations on such things as books and movies that
the user would probably like.  Its privacy technology is intended to give
computer users control over the personal information collected by Web sites,
and to support the new privacy standard called P3P (Platform for Privacy
Preferences Project) now being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium,
an Internet standards group.  Microsoft says it is interested mainly in
Firefly's privacy technology rather than its filtering technology, but
acknowledges that "our plans are a little squishy now."  Privacy advocates
are expressing concern that integration of Firefly technology into
Microsoft's Internet Explorer software for browsing the Web would
significantly expand the scope of personal information that can be tracked
on individuals using the Internet.  (New York Times 10 Apr 98)
An ultra-strong version of the proposed U.S. data encryption standard knows
as Triple D.E.S., which is intended for use in adding protection to the
world's electronic financial transactions, can be weakened because of a flaw
discovered by Eli Biham of Israel's Technion institution and Lars Knudsen at
the University of Norway.  Because of the discovery, the adoption of the
proposed standard is being postponed by the American National Standards
Institute.  (New York Times 31 Mar 98) 

Two recently conducted studies report that losses experienced by Fortune
1000 companies as a result of computer break-ins were higher last year than
ever before, despite increased spending on computer security measures.  A
study by the Computer Security Institute and the FBI estimates 1997 losses
from computer crime at $136 million, up 36% from 1996.  About half the
respondents cited the Internet as a frequent point-of-attack, with the
remainder citing internal corporate networks as the favored break-in point.
Meanwhile, a study by WarRoom Research LLC found that a large majority of
Fortune 1000 companies have experienced a break-in by an outsider in the
past 12 months, with more than half reporting more than 30 security breaches
during that time period.  Nearly 60% reported losses of $200,000 or more for
each intrusion.  Mitch Kabay, director of education at the International
Computer Security Association, notes that even these figures may be
understating the problem:  "It's not possible to have truly accurate
information on break-ins, because you can't know how many of them went
completely undetected and you can't be sure how many of them are not 
reported."  One former cracker, who recently completed a prison sentence for
his activities, says networks are getting more vulnerable, not less: "You
reported."  One former cracker, who recently completed a prison sentence for
his activities, says networks are getting more vulnerable, not less: "You
don't need even a basic skill level to get in."  (Internet Week 23 Mar 98)

An article appearing in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior says that
students between the ages of 18 and 22 are especially at risk for developing
"Internet addiction," defined as "a psychological dependence on the
Internet, regardless of type of activity once 'logged on.'"  According to
the article, administrators at Alfred University have noted a correlation
between high Internet use and a high dropout rate among students, and a
number of schools have set up support groups for Internet addiction.
Meanwhile, the University of Washington is attempting to curb Internet
overuse by limiting online time available to each student.  (Chronicle of
Higher Education 6 Feb 98)       

The publisher of The Putnam Pit, a Tennessee newspaper, is suing the town of
Cookeville, claiming that his federal civil rights were violated when the
town refused to share its "cookies" -- electronic markers that a Web site
leaves on a PC when it visits.  The publisher has been feuding with the city
for some time and wants access to the cookies to determine whether city
officials are wasting company time cruising the Internet.  Cookeville
maintains that the cookies are privileged, but a spokesman for the
Electronic Frontier Foundation says that argument may not stand up in court,
pointing out that in the past, courts have ruled that government-created
paper documents are in the public domain.  (Business Week 26 Jan 98)