Wait, PointCast isn't using data compression!?

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Fri, 26 Jul 96 17:07:15 PDT

Edupage, 25 July 1996. Edupage, a summary of news items on information
technology, is provided three times each week as a service by Educom,
a Washington, D.C.-based consortium of leading colleges and universities
seeking to transform education through the use of information technology.

The PointCast Network, which markets its up-to-the-minute online news
service to businesses and individuals, is catching flak from corporate
network operators who say PointCast uses up too much of the bandwidth
available, causing other functions to slow way down. PointCast is working
on the problem, but several companies have issued restrictions on how and
when employees may used the service, which functions as a screen saver,
providing the news when PCs are idle. "The main problem with PointCast is
that it is so popular that it has grown very rapidly," says an internal
Unisys consultant. To alleviate demand overload, PointCast's I-Server,
which will be available this fall, will act a local broadcast facility,
allowing companies to send internal company news, as well as the external
stuff, across an intranet. That way, "Instead of employees all going
against our central broadcast, the data will only have to be sent once to
the I-Server," says the company's marketing VP. And next month, PointCast
will release new technology that includes data compression to reduce the
network load by 50%. (Information Week 15 Jul 96 p24)

The Federal Communication Commission wants to achieve the 10-20 year
transition from analog to digital television by assigning each television
station a digital frequency between channels 7 and 51, and then requiring
all stations to yield the analog channels back to the FCC for auctioning off
for other uses. The television industry is anxious to have digital
capability (which will allow transmission of multiple streams of data along
with superb TV picture and sound quality), but says the FCC plan would pack
too many channels into two small a spectrum, causing interference and
reducing the range of local stations. (New York Times 25 Jul 96 C2)

Compaq Computer is taking a new approach to computer building, and saving
money at the same time. Instead of the traditional assembly line
manufacturing style, the company now uses "cell manufacturing," where a
group of four workers collaborate to build the entire machine from scratch.
"It's like having a whole bunch of little factories on the factory floor,"
says Compaq's senior manager, who notes the new process means greater
accountability for defects and bolsters worker pride and incentives to
produce quality machines. In addition, cell manufacturing has resulted in a
17% reduction in the cost of producing the machines, which is passed on to
customers, he says. (Investor's Business Daily 25 Jul 96 A8)

Cisco Systems, which has made three notable acquisitions in just the past
six months, is buying Telebit Corp. and some of its technologies for about
$200 million. The purchase will give Cisco access to Telebit's line of
high-speed digital modems and other telecommunications technology. Cisco is
the world's biggest maker of networking equipment. (Investor's Business
Daily 23 Jul 96 A9)

Following Visa's announcement this week that it will work together with
VeriSign to offer consumers a secure system for making electronic purchases
over the Internet, MasterCard International and GTE say they are planning a
new system dubbed CyberTrust that will provide MasterCard customers with the
same capability. Both systems will use "digital certificates" that protect
users from unauthorized use of their credit cards. (Wall Street Journal 24
Jul 96 A6)

New Jersey-based E-data Corp., which purchased a patent originally filed in
1983 by inventor Charles Freeny that covered the way digital information
could be downloaded over telephone lines, has sued more than a dozen
software and publishing companies over activities it claims are covered by
its patent. Ex Machina, one of the companies sued, is claiming, however,
that E-data's patent was issued in error - and that Telephone Software
Connection, which is no longer in business, was doing the same thing in
1980, three years before E-data's patent was filed. The defendants are now
arguing that E-data's patent never should have been issued in the first
place, and is based on technology that should be considered "prior art."
IBM and Adobe have already settled with E-data over their claims, and say
their agreements prohibit them from discussing the terms. (Business Week 29
Jul 96 p65)

Calgary-based Shaw Communication plans to launch two high-powered satellites
at a cost of $750-million to provide direct broadcast TV service to
consumers. Since its plan requires only one orbital slot, the second would
be available to other players, leading to a competitive satellite industry.
(Toronto Globe & Mail 23 Jun 96 B2)

The Provo, Utah-based software company Caldera Inc. has filed a
billion-dollar federal lawsuit for antitrust violations against Microsoft,
charging that Microsoft's ''predatory acts and practices'' have shut out
competitive products including DR DOS, an operating system Caldera bought
from Novell on the same day the lawsuit was filed. Caldera is backed by
Ray Noorda, the former CEO of Novell. The lawsuit charges that Microsoft
acted to keep DR DOS from gaining market share by generating false error
messages indicating the product was incompatible with Microsoft's Windows
interface. (San Jose Mercury News 25 Jul 96)

Complaining about the computer system that failed in the opening days of the
Olympics to provide timely and accurate information about competitive
events, journalists asked Billy Payne, the president of the Atlanta Olympics
Organizing Committee, "Why wasn't the technology system tested?" Payne
replied that "there is no way to duplicate the totality of the Olympic
condition before the start of the games." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Olympic City p34)

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