close this bookVolume 9: No. 03
View the documentCompetitions
View the documentIntellectual property
View the documentSecurity
View the documentTechnology
View the documentApple news
View the documentComputational mathematics
View the documentAI languages
View the documentScheme for the Mac

The Commerce Dept. has announced another $17M in Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (NTIA/TIIAP) grant money to be awarded to state/local/tribal governments and to non-profits for developing information services to rural and underserved areas. Apply by 11Mar99. "Projects funded so far include innovations in education and training, support for the creation of more responsive public institutions, enhancement of economic development in rural and disadvantaged areas, and increased public access to health care." Workshops will be held 21Jan-11Feb99. , , (202) 482-2048. [Joan K. Lippincott , IRLIST, 11Jan99.] (This sounds like a good opportunity for the expert systems community. Whatever happened to all those medical diagnostic systems?)

DARPA is seeking Software for Distributed Robotics (SDR) proposals that will enable groups of cooperating, mobile robots to accomplish useful objectives in realistic, operational environments. DARPA's Distributed Robotics (DR) program is pursuing revolutionary technologies that scale down to micro-miniature devices for surveillance, reconnaissance, hazard detection, pathfinding, payload conveyance, and small-scale actuation. Mark L. Swinson , (703) 522-7161. or . [CBD, 15Jan99.]

Ergo Linguistic Technologies has announced a 1st annual parsing contest, to improve NL navigation in complex material, question/answer dialogs, and DB/Web searching. The contest runs until 31Mar99, using a published set of simple queries. . [Philip A. Bralich , IRLIST, 11Jan99.] (Bralich works with VR engines, and is convinced that the next big step is being able to ask questions about a VR environment and its objects or characters. Visitors to a virtual cathedral soon lose interest if they can't ask "How many stairs are there?" and "When was the nave built?" For navigation, he wants systems able to handle "Go to Yahoo and find information about golf courses in Georgia.")

The US Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that mathematical algorithms used in a computer program may be given intellectual property protection if they produce a useful, concrete, and tangible result. The application in question concerned management of mutual fund investments. [NYT, 12Jan99. Edupage.]

A stealth provision in last October's omnibus appropriations bill requires all research results obtained under Federal research grants to be available for release under the Freedom of Information Act. Rep. George Brown says this "makes scientists fair game for lawsuits, threatens academic freedom, and is a blatant abuse of the democratic process." Law firms and tobacco companies have already been using the law to force premature release of data. Brown has introduced H.R. 88 to repeal the provision, and hopes scientists will urge their representatives to support it. [Robert L. Park, WHAT'S NEW, 15Jan99.]

Ed Felten and Computist Gary McGraw are putting their complete book "Securing Java: Getting Down to Business with Mobile Code" on the Web, for public benefit and perhaps to sell more copies if you like what you see. "What we've done so far seems to be making a large impact," and the book is nicely presented. . [, 13Jan99.] (Gary is also involved with the 1st annual Int. Software Assurance Certification Conference (ISACC'99), 28Feb-02Mar99 in northern VA. .)

A PC game called "Israeli Air Force" had such realistic maps that they could be used to plan real attacks. The manufacturer has agreed to make changes before release in Israel. [Steve Hamm, BW, 11Jan99, p. 6.]

Beware an email attachment called "picture.exe". It's a Trojan horse that creates Windows subdirectory programs note.exe and manager.exe and adds a "run=note.exe" line to your win.ini file. These pull data from your Internet cache directory and your AOL username and password file (if any), encrypt it as a DAT file, and send it to an email address in China. A second DAT is also built, of unknown purpose. Network Associates has updated its McAfee virus program to detect picture.exe. [Bob Sullivan, MSNBC, 07Jan99. Bill Park.]

Norway's Supreme Court has ruled that it's no crime to test the security of other people's computer systems as long as you don't actually break in. Checking to see which doors are unlocked isn't a security breach. [USA Today, 13Jan99. Edupage.]

MIT's research in microaircraft has now moved to Lockheed Martin flight tests for DARPA. Each Micro Air Vehicle is a flying wing about 6" across and weighing 3 ounces. They are designed for autonomous reconnaissance, possibly in swarms or flocks sent to scout hostile forces in the field. When (or if) they return, they can crash land without damage. The small, slow-flying craft are so hard to see that developers paint theirs orange. Non-military uses may include border patrol or use on ranches to inspect fences and monitor cattle. [UPI, 11Jan99. Bill Park.] (Bill notes that microturbine research at MIT should soon permit hovering reconnaissance units and flying webcams. Interesting privacy issues there.]

Michael Korkin is creating a robo-kitten, "Robokoneko," using a 37.7M-neuron Cellular Automata Machine (CAM) that Genobyte (Colorado) is building for ATR (Kyoto). "Observers won't need a PhD to appreciate that there is a brain behind it," according to Hugo De Garis. The brain hardware -- using Xilinx (San Jose) chips -- should be completed in Mar99; programming through genetic-algorithm trials will then be attempted. Meanwhile Robokoneko is being simulated in software. This new CAM brain is larger and more "biologically relevant" than any previous neural model, but no one can say yet whether its complexity will bring an advance in AI reasoning. [New Scientist. , 07Jan99.]

Apple's new iMac was the top-selling desktop computer in November, with Apple getting nearly 10% of market share over the latter part of 1998. [Reuters, 23Dec98. Edupage.]

Apple has had a fifth profitable quarter, having sold 800K iMacs total. Some say the iMac is now the best-selling computer model ever. 45% of iMac buyers are new to the Mac, with 32% being new users and 13% being PC converts. [Steve Jobs. Matt Neuburg , TidBITS, 11Jan99.]

MacOS X ("ten") will first be available on the new blue- and-white Power Mac G3 server, known informally as "Yosemite." Game developers apparently like the server's 3D graphics support, including an ATI Rage 128 card with 16 MB of SDRAM and support for QuickDraw 3D, plus plans to integrate SGI's OpenGL 3D graphics. However, the machine has only three free slots and no SCSI or serial ports. [Matt Neuburg , TidBITS, 11Jan99.]

The new LinuxPPC 5.0 operating system for the Mac allows switching between Linux and MacOS X. Free for download from the LinuxPPC website, or $32 on CD ROM with extra development tools. [TechWeb, 07Jan99. Edupage.]

MacDrive 98 allows Windows 95/98/NT users to read and write files on Macintosh-formatted media, including floppies, Zip, Jaz, SyQuest, CD-ROM, and external hard drives. The HFS Plus disk format, introduced with Mac OS 8.1, supports large disks and files without forcing small files to waste space. Version 3.0 will be announced at Macworld Expo. [Business Wire, 04Jan99. Bill Park.]

One of the most popular products at Macworld Expo SF '99 was Connectix's Virtual Game Station, which lets any G3 Macintosh run Sony PlayStation games. . [Adam C. Engst , TidBITS, 11Jan99.]

Apple's new iMacs come with round mice, which ergonomicists say are too small and difficult to grasp (resulting in too much finger pressure). Macally and others now make better shapes in Apple's Bondi Blue and the new "Life Saver" fruit colors. . (Apple has been suggesting white/translucent mice as going well with any color of computer, but people probably want matching colors. Other computer makers are getting ready to announce their own colored models.)

Apple made its mice with just one button, to avoid confusing users. Now the Nintendo generation has high-bandwidth access to the Web, and they want mice, trackballs, and touch pads that work like game pad controllers. Kensington's new Web Racer has about a dozen extra buttons -- some of them programmable, others dedicated to scrolling and page commands for the Web or in your word processor. See , , or for product lines from the industry leaders, for any PC. Also ($35), ($20), and (touch pads). [Phillip robinson, SJM, 27Dec98, 4F.]

6> Science and mathematics: [Mike Hanafin and Jason Westmacott.]

"Revealing Things," the Smithsonian's first Web exhibit, tells the stories behind everyday objects. . [, net-hap, 20Mar98.]

Alexander Churenkov's website offers animated physics experiments and visualizations: waves, mechanics, interference, thermodynamics, etc. . [<>, sci.op-research, 06Jan99. David Joslin.]

NASA Image Exchange searches nine NASA databases with over 300K images. . [Bert Kortegaard , net-hap, 17Mar98.]

Limited-time offer: Pictures scanned from slides rather than prints have higher contrast and more brilliant colors. Doug Fraser notes that you can get a $100 OfficeMax rebate plus a $100 HP rebate on a $399 HP PhotoSmart Slide/Negative scanner through 30Jan99 (except in CT). See . You can also get double rebates on an HP photo printer. [, 13Jan99.]

You can have fun with the units converter at . How many drops in a dash, or pinches in a teaspoon? How many kilderkin in a nebuchadnezzar? [Alvin Austin , 03Jan99. Tony Kusalik.]

Netlib is a collection of mathematical software, papers, and databases, plus a conference database, top 500 supercomputer sites, parallel tools library, and much more. . [Gerry Boyd , HELP-NET, 04Nov98. net-hap.]

The LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics can be found at . Topics include both computational aspects of mathematics and mathematical aspects of computation. [Sue Rodd , newjour, 05Oct98.]

Frequently Asked Questions in Mathematics covers topics ranging from the trivial to the advanced. . [Michael Schelling , net-hap, 11May98.]

7> Engineering: [Jason Westmacott and Louis Bookbinder.]

BETA is a a monthly newsletter about technology and its impact on culture. Send a "subscribe beta" message to , or visit to subscribe, read previous BETAS, join a discussion group, or buy books. [David Tomere, NEW-LIST, 24Sep98.]

NETFUTURE is a weekly/biweekly newsletter about technology and human responsibility. Send a "subscribe netfuture your name" message to . Back issues are at . [Stephen Talbott , web4lib, 02Dec97. net-hap.]

The searchable Engineering Resources Database has over 1,300 descriptive entries, collected by Cliff W. Estes. . [, sci.engr.civil, 04Nov98.]

Calculus Wiz is an interactive calculus tutorial for Mathematica, from Wolfram Media Inc. . [, net-hap, 15Sep98.]

Intelligent Manufacturing and Fault Diagnosis (IMFD) is a new special interest group under the Berkeley Initiative for Soft Computing (BISC). Sign up at . [C. Rajagopalan ,, 04Jan98. David Joslin.]

J. of Intelligent Manufacturing offers PDF page images to subscribers. . [, newjour, 31Jan98.]

The CLP and CLP(R) mailing lists for constraint logic programming have moved. Announcements and submissions should now go to or . [Roland Yap Hock Chuan , comp.constraints, 22Dec98.]

The journal Mathware and Soft Computing has a new online version, at . Articles may be relevant to CogSci, pure or applied logic, or AI. [Enric Hernandez Gimenez R. U. Cortes ,, 13Oct98.]

Applied Mathematical Finance is a new journal of mathematical modeling in economics and finance. Papers are solicited. . [, newjour, 29Oct98.]

The Diagnostic Strategies Virtual Library provides risk-management articles plus links to AI resources. . [BotSpot, 01Dec98.]

For cluster analysis, check out Stata Corp.'s extensive link page at . Two programs with downloadable demos are SIMSTAT (agglomerative hierarchical) and NCSS (k-means and other methods), at and . [Peter Davies ,, 08Jan98.]

The CALResCo site offers resources for studying evolutionary complex systems, including the Self-Organizing Systems FAQ, alife programs, Java applets, tutorials, etc. . [Chris Lucas , comp.theory.dynamic-sys, 01Dec98.]

The Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) and its interpreter, plus the Artificial Intelligence Transfer Protocol (AITP), are documented in . [BotSpot Report, 01Jun98.]

"Artificial Intelligence Search Techniques in Java" is an online document with Java source code for depth-first and breadth-first searches. . BotSpot, 01Dec98.]

Mercury is an efficient new logic/functional programming language that combines the clarity and expressiveness of declarative programming with advanced static analysis and error detection. Speed is close to conventional programming languages. Modularity aids large-scale program development. . [BotSpot, 01Dec98.]

David McClain says that modern functional languages such as ML, Haskell, CLEAN, Erlang, Lisp, and Dylan far outperformed conventional languages in a major study of scientific numerical modeling. "In fact, the ML version works and the conventional ones don't!" . [, comp.lang.lisp, 02Jan99.]

Scheme Requests for Implementation (SRFI) is a forum or process for helping Scheme users write portable code, especially libraries with uniform interface conventions. Planned SRFIs include list handling, records, exception handling, foreign function interfaces, and object systems. . [Michael Sperber , comp.lang.scheme, 04Jan99.]

The few Scheme implementations for the Mac they tend to be good ones. These include: MacGambit-C (PPC and 68K), , by far the fastest interpreter and able to output C code; MacGambit (68K), , able to invoke some QuickDraw and MacOS system calls; MzScheme and DrScheme (PPC and 68K), , large and slow, but comprehensive environments for students; Kawa, Skij, JScheme, et al., , Java-based Schemes under MRJ, browsers, or as stand-alone interpreters (set up and run as in ); and SCM, Scheme48, Bigloo, et al., and , which run under Linux but may require some C porting for MacOS. [Robert D. Skeels , comp.lang.scheme, 05Jan99.]

DrScheme is MzScheme in a graphical environment, with visual reporting of error locations, multiple levels of Scheme from beginner through advanced versions (including trapping of common programming errors), and a complete, portable GUI library. There is also a text-only version of of DrScheme called DrScheme Jr -- able to run inside Emacs, say -- and a Scheme-to-C compiler called mzc. Some people refer to the bundle as PLT Scheme. [Shriram Krishnamurthi , comp.lang.scheme, 07Jan99.]

SCM Scheme has been ported to the Mac, at . TinyScheme at also runs on the Mac, with a few minor changes. [Shmulik Regev and Mark K. Gardner , comp.lang.scheme, 06Jan99.]

PseudoScheme is a subset of Scheme in Common Lisp for the Mac. [Rainer Joswig and Felix Winkelmann , comp.lang.scheme, 08Jan99.]

-- Ken