close this bookVolume 7: No. 71
View the documentFellowship opportunities
View the documentPolitics and policy
View the documentCopyright, security, and privacy
View the documentUpdates and urgent news
View the documentCareer jobs (in our CCJ 7.36 digest this week)
View the documentEducation and edutainment
View the documentHumor
View the documentComputists' news

White House Fellowships allow 20 young Americans to spend a year in DC as full-time paid assistants to senior White House staff, the Vice-President, cabinet officers, etc. Fellows write speeches, help draft and review proposed legislation, answer Congressional inquiries, chair meetings, and conduct briefings. They also get supplementary education and off-the-record meetings with senior government officials. No formal age or educational requirements, but US citizenship is required. [BASES, 16Oct97.]

NSF, NIH, and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are soliciting graduate-student applications to the 1998 Summer Programs in Japan and Korea. The programs, all with 01Dec97 deadline, are the Summer Institute in Japan, Summer Institute in Korea, and Monbusho Summer Program. or . [Maria Zemankova , dbworld, 01Oct97.]

The French embassy in Washington sponsors postdocs in France via its Chateaubriand fellowship program. American citizens only. . [,, 15Oct97.]

US senators have been given a demo of high-bandwidth "Internet2" applications, including 3D presentations, a data mining project, a multimedia database, and remote control of a scanning electron microscope. [Chronicle of Higher Ed., 17Oct97. EduP.] (Hitch your wagon to the hot, demo-able technologies. If a concept can be sold to Congress, money will most likely follow. Demos on TV or for business publications may be even more powerful.)

Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) will be heading a year-long Science Committee study of US science policy. Dr. Ehlers is a physicist and a Fellow of the APS. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and George Brown (D-CA) have "blessed" the study. [Robert L. Park, WHAT'S NEW, 17Oct97.] (In DC, it would be unusual to have any scientist except a physicist leading a prestigious committee or study. It's not right, it's not fair, it's politics. If computer scientists want equal access, they must become equally active.)

The new bipartisan National Research Investment Act to be introduced 22Oct97 by Senators Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CN) will call for a doubling of federally funded civilian research within a decade. The White House is currently saying that there is no opportunity for research growth in its request for FY 99. [Robert L. Park, WHAT'S NEW, 17Oct97.]

The "No Electronic Theft Act" introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) would establish penalties of up to $250K and three years in jail for a first offense of distributing unauthorized copyrighted works on the Internet. The statute of limitations for criminal copyright infringement would be extended from three years to five, and "financial gain" under copyright law would include receipt of pirated software or other copyrighted works. [TechWire, 13Oct97. EduP.] (One strike and you're out. And this is in a world where nearly all information is protected by copyright -- including academic position announcements.)

The BMI music licensing agency says it has developed a "Musicbot" Web robot to identify sites that use music and to count the number of people who visit them. [AP, 15Oct97. EduP.]

Instead of trying to protect your shareware, offer a hassle-free sample version and a more elaborate commercial version. The sample, with its occasional pop-up reminder screen, is the best kind of advertising you could have. It's always in front of the user just when he's most interested in your service. Eudora does it this way, and they've been very successful. [, alt.comp.shareware.programmer, 16Oct97.]

The GAO has estimated that there may be 250K attempts per year to break into US military computers. DARPA and the US Air Force are working on 'immune systems" for computers to help them reject foreign code. That means giving them an ability to distinguish between self and other. [Georges I. Seffers, Defense News, 22Sep97. Heinz Nydegger ,, 14Oct97.]

Steve Holden recommends Guy Kawasaki's entertaining "Technology -- The Software Horizon -- Who cares about sex?" in Forbes for 20Oct97, p. 296. It includes URLs "dedicated to weapons and weirdness." The Forbes Four Hundred edition of 20Oct97 also has an article on how to remain anonymous and keep your finances private. [NewtNews , 14Oct97. Bill Park.]

For the e-paranoid, a new app called X-RAY VISION lets you check websites for downloadable elements -- Java, JavaScript, ActiveX controls, plug-ins, push and pull technologies, cookies, and automated data forwards from other websites -- before your browser triggers them. $29, from 01Dec97. . [Network News, 12Oct97.]

Incidentally, four Thai nationals have been arrested in Hong Kong for using dice loaded with a microchip. The chip let them know which numbers had come up [under a cup] before punters laid their bets. [AP, 19Sep97. Bill Park.]

I owe HotMail an apology. My daughter says it was NetAddress that randomly deleted her mail; she hasn't used HotMail. Anyway, Brad Miller has pointed out to me that these free email services are frequently used by spammers, and hence have been added to many people's kill files. Your mail to such people will go into the bit bucket.

The 22nd Annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest begins this month at Rice University. . [Educom Update, 15Oct97.]

The 12th Annual RI/SME Student Robotics Automation Contest will be 01-02May98 at Saginaw Valley State University (MI). Sandy Stroka, 313-271-1500 x585 [Educom Update, 15Oct97.]

The FIRA-WAC Robot Soccer American Cup 1998 competition will be held in Anchorage in May98. Register by 01Nov97. , , +1-505-277-4681 Fax. [Marco A.A. de Oliveira , comp.robotics.misc, 15Oct97.]

Red Herring is sponsoring a 3rd annual Venture Market East in Cambridge, MA, on 10-11Nov97. $965 through 31Oct97. or , (415) 659-2871. [Tom Geck , 17Oct97.]

UCLA is hosting a workshop on "FUNDRAISING 2000 AD: Prospect Research and the New Information Technologies," on 01Nov97. , (310) 825-9971. [Nancy Ellis Taylor , HEPROC, 17Oct97.]

TextWise (Syracuse, NY): PhD in cross-language IR.

NLM (Bethesda, MD): US PhD sr. researcher in IR, NLP, ML, expert systems for bioinformatics.

Georgia Tech (Atlanta): profs in HCI, voice/gesture recognition, smart interfaces, VR, or ubiquitous computing.

Los Alamos National Lab (NM): US BS/MS/PhD in HPC, ML, pattern recognition, etc.

Redmond, WA: PhD in cryptography.

Stottler Henke (San Mateo, CA): BS/MS/PhD SEs for AI applications.

Nuance Communications (Menlo Park): speech-recognition developers, engineers, and project leader.

UC Santa Cruz: profs in applied math/statistics/numerical computing for new department.

Ubilab (Zurich): PhD in HMM, NN, NLP for telephone speech processing.

LAPLACE Group (Grenoble, France): US postdoc in Bayesian models, genetic algorithms. (*)

UNewcastle (NSW, Australia): sr. lecturer(s) in business AI, IT.

UOtago (Dunedin, New Zealand): MS jr. research fellow in agent-based SE.

NACSIS (Japan): EC postdoc in NN, image/hypermedia processing, and query optimization for museum collections.

* captain's cool job of the week. (Selected by Brian "captain" Murfin.)

The IBM Database Technologies group is offering free copies of its DB2 relational database for Intel or Unix, to be used in teaching or academic research. RDBS teachers can also find instructional materials on . [, dbworld, 15Oct97.] (A 60% discount may be available for uses other than teaching or research.)

The Washington DC Information & Communication CyberGuide, with links to US educational grant sources, has moved to . [Jim Kendrick , 06Oct97.]

Malcolm Bradbury's "Unsent Letters" says that "... briefly, a conference is what you hold when you want to give a particular group prestige; a congress is what you have if you wish to make the prestige international; a convention is what you have if you want to have a good time as well; a course is what you have if you want the good time to go on for several weeks; and a colloquium is if you want to have a good time for several weeks with a very small and select number of people. ... At conferences the participants confer; at a congress they dissent; at a convention they listen; on a course they fall asleep; at a colloquium they do the same but often in the same bed. To put it another way: a conference is an elite meeting on equal terms; a congress is a group of elites meeting on opposite terms; a convention is a mob meeting on equal terms; a course is an elite instructing a mob; and a colloquium is a group capable of considering all these phenomena." [Keith Bostic , QOTD, 16Oct97.]

"Hamlet on the Holodeck" is a new book from interactive fiction professor Janet H. Murray of MIT's Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (and founding director of the Laboratory for Advanced Technology in the Humanities). Topics include story-telling, literature, television, computers, Yugoslavian folk tales, science fiction, MUDs, MOOs, computer gaming, alife, Woggles, VR, AI, and maybe how to make big bucks by developing innovative computer software products and services. (NY, Simon & Shuster, ISBN 0-684-82723-9, 1997.) [Bill Park , 12Oct97.]

Purple Moon (Mountain View) has released Rockett's New School, a PC/Mac game for girls of age 8-12. It's about Rockett Movado, who moves into a new 8th grade and must figure out who the cool kids are, what she should wear, and how to be accepted. Choices include where to sit in the cafeteria and whether to introduce herself or wait until someone says "Hi." The game is drawn in comic-book art, with 23 speaking characters and more than 45 plot paths. About $30, with Rockett doll. , (888) 278-7753. [AP. SJM, 12Oct97, 4F.]

Larry Tesler has created Stagecast Software Inc. (Palo Alto) to market the Apple-developed Cocoa website development environment for kids. They say, "We're entering a new stage in education software. The market is going to take off." [SNS, 18Oct97.] (Do kids want an easy-to-use website editor? Of course! My kids have always wanted real tools, not plastic hammers and screwdrivers. But they do lose interest with complex applications and poor user interfaces, or with tools that can only be used for adult purposes.)

A CNET humor page lists all the reasons that TV "will never catch on," parodying criticisms of the Web. TV costs too much, has superficial content, replays movies and news headlines that are available elsewhere, and tends to isolate you from your neighbors. You have to rewire your house for the antenna or cable, and you need peripherals such as a VCR and TV Guide. Besides, it doesn't even have an international standard. . [Bill Park , 17Oct97.]

The "Science Made Stupid" site is . Or you can tap into the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) at , with back issues of their mini-AIR newsletter at . AIR's IgNobel Prize awards are documented at . [Bill Park, 14Oct97.]

AIR for Sep97 is a special how-to issue, including Eric Schulman's "How to Write a Ph.D. Thesis." "The author presents a complete guide not only to how to write a thesis, but also to what steps can and should be skipped." [Marc Abrahams , mini-AIR, Sep97.] (Humor, for the clueless. Worth a trip to your library?)

(AIR also applauds Scott Kern's new Web-based "Journal of Negative Observations in Genetic Oncology (NOGO)," designed to stop researchers from stumbling down the paths that others have shown to be dead ends. , .)

Bill Scholz' group at Unisys (Blue Bell, PA) has announced a Natural Language Speech Assistant, or spoken language application development suite. It includes development tools and runtime components for interactive telephone voice systems based on speaker-independent recognition technology from AT&T, L&H, or Nuance. (Large-vocabulary continuous speech recognizers such as Dragon Systems' NaturallySpeaking and IBM ViaVoice may also be usable, in about three years.) Unisys' NLSA helps with writing BNF grammars, to the extent that new developers can start writing applications within a single day. Unisys has business ties to almost a dozen resellers and NL developers for this technology. . [, 14Oct97.] ("The new Unisys IVR call developer gets speech recognition off the ground with a PhD-free environment.")

-- Ken