Edupage, 19 January 1997 (fwd)

Edupage is an excellent clipping service for folks interested in
information technology news. This issues has notes and references to
censorship, access issues, distance education, effect of the telecom bill,
Network Computers and more.
I'm posting it as a resource for your use.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 16:22:28 -0500 (EST)
From: Edupage Editors <educom@elanor.oit.unc.edu>
To: EDUCOM Edupage Mailing List <edupage@elanor.oit.unc.edu>
Subject: Edupage, 19 January 1997

Edupage, 19 January 1997.  Edupage, a summary of news about information
technology, is provided three times a 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.

        AOL Plans To Build Up Network Capacity
        ACLU Challenges New York Internet Law
        Chillier Chips
        Compaq Steps Up To NC Challenge
        Cost Savings From NC Concept Questioned

        Virtual Learning Superior To Traditional Instruction
        Grade Reporting At The Turn Of The Century
        "Push" Channel Filters For Info Overload
        Mutual Funds:  Web Used Mostly For Looking
        1996 Telecom Bill:  What Hath It (Actually) Wrought?

America Online says it will reduce its ad campaign budget by $300 million
and plow an extra $100 million into bulking up its network capacity to
accommodate higher traffic loads.  By downgrading marketing efforts, the
company hopes to stem the flow of new subscribers that has overwhelmed AOL's
ability to provide prompt connectivity.  The amount of time a member
typically spends online has more than doubled, from 14 to 32 minutes, since
AOL reluctantly adopted flat-rate pricing last month.  By the time the
company completes its network expansion next June, it will be capable of
handling 16 million online sessions each day, up from 10 million.  (Wall
Street Journal 17 Jan 97 B7)

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with 14 other plaintiffs, has
filed a lawsuit against the state of New York, stating that the recently
enacted online decency statute is facially unconstitutional under the First
and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and is impermissibly
vague.  The law makes it a felony to distribute to children under 17
"indecent" material that is "harmful to minors" over a computer system.  The
ACLU argues that New York's law "does not define the relevant 'community'
for purposes of determining what is 'patently offensive' in the global
medium of cyberspace," nor does it distinguish between what might be harmful
to young children and vs. what might be harmful to teenagers.  Finally, the
lawsuit says the statute violates the Commerce Clause because it attempts to
regulate communications that take place outside New York, poses an
unreasonable burden on interstate and foreign commerce, and subjects
interstate use of the Internet to inconsistent regulations.  (BNA Daily
Report for Executives 15 Jan 97 A13)

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are using the concept
behind how smoke rings are produced to devise a system for keeping computer
chips cool.  The device is simple:  it consists of a box with one flexible
wall and a series of holes in the opposite wall; by vibrating the flexible
wall at the proper frequency, cooling jets of air puff out of the holes.
The boxes are as small as 100 microns in diameter, and because the microjets
are highly directional, they can be pointed where needed.  In one test, the
researchers were able to boost the power of an array of chips by 150%, with
no increase in temperature.  (Scientific American Jan 97 p40)

Compaq Computer, not content to rest on its laurels, is planning a new line
of network computers, designed as e-mail, Internet and terminal-replacement
devices, which the company plans to bundle with its PC servers.  The systems
will include a separate monitor, a thin chassis and a keyboard, and will be
priced in the $500 to $800 range.  The company also plans to introduce a
NetPC this year -- a low-cost, easy-to-use networked PC built to standards
devised by Intel and Microsoft.  "We believe there is a market for these
devices and that our customers want them, and we'll deliver them to the
market," says a Compaq VP.  (Information Week 13 Jan 97 p24)

Some of the enthusiasm for the network computer concept has been generated
by companies hoping to save money by eliminating some of the widely
publicized costs associated with maintaining a PC.  A Gartner Group study
last year estimated that a networked PC costs a business an average of
$13,200 a year -- 21% is the cost of the PC and the portion of the network
it consumes; 36% is the cost of administering it; and 43% is the cost of
"end-user operations" -- employee tinkering, game playing, etc.  However,
purchasing network computers will not save the entire $13,200 -- the cost of
the network and the server that can support all the needs of network
computers will be far higher than those required for PCs, which basically
wipes out that savings.  The cost of administering the system will indeed be
far lower, but there will be an additional cost involved in the introduction
of NCs.  And the cost of lost employee productivity is perhaps most
difficult to measure -- indeed, if the employee is hooked directly to the
Internet, instead of playing Solitaire, even more company time might be
wasted.  (The Economist 18 Jan 97)


A study produced by Jerald Schutte, an applied statistics professor at the
California State University at Northridge, claims that students learning in
a virtual classroom (using text posted online, e-mail, newsgroups, chat, and
electronic homework assignments) tested 20% better than their students who
learned the material in a traditional classroom.  (News.Com 17 Jan 97)

The University of Utah has discontinued using the U.S. mail to send students
their grade reports, and will instead distribute grade information
exclusively by the World Wide Web or by telephone request. The university
will save $10,000 a month.  Grades can only be obtained only with a
confidential identification number.  (AP 17 Jan 96)

Verity Inc. and Tierra Communications have developed products that filter
data channels "pushed" to Web users from content-delivery companies.
Verity's product will expand its search engine's agent technology to allow
users to fine-tune the information they receive by creating a profile for
what they want to receive off of a Web site's channel.  Tierra is developing
a server-based model of its Highlights browser utility, which monitors Web
content and matches users' profiles on a dynamic basis.  "Verity and Tierra
both have pieces of the puzzle.  Verity has filtering and back-end
expertise, and Tierra has a nice client with a channel-type metaphor that
works great with browsers," says a Forrester Research analyst.  (InfoWorld
Electric 10 Jan 97)

A study conducted last fall by the national research firm Elrick & Lavidge
found that 18% of mutual fund owners have Internet access and only 28% of
those who do have used the Web to check mutual fund sites.  Those who do
visit mutual fund sites are interested mainly in checking fund share prices,
reading or downloading a fund prospectus, or checking a balance; only 3% buy
or sell shares.  But mutual fund companies expect usage to increase "as
sites get better and investors begin to realize the convenience offered by
the Web." (New York Times 19 Jan 97 Business Section p9)

In partnership with People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, Rupert
Murdoch's News Corporation is now offering ChinaByte, a Web-based service in
China,  The Chinese Government recently loosened controls barring users on
the Internet's World Wide Web from accessing foreign news sources such as
CNN, the Wall Street Journal and other news providers, though it continues
keeping watch for politically suspect content on the worldwide computer
network.  Murdoch hopes his investment will be recouped from advertising.
(Financial Times 16 Jan 97)

The aim of the telecommunications bill passed last February was to encourage
more competition, with the expectation that competition would result in
lower prices for consumers.  Almost a year later, a few rates are lower than
the overall inflation rate (3.3%) but intrastate calls and cable TV prices
have significantly outpaced inflation.  Percent changes, from Dec. '95 to
Dec. '96, for key indicators are:  consumer price index for all services,
3.3%;  telephone services, 2.1%;  telephone local charges, 0.9%; interstate
toll calls, 3.7%;  intrastate toll calls, 6.1%;  cable TV, 7.8%.
(Washington Post 19 Jan 97 H01)

Edupage is written by John Gehl <gehl@educom.edu> & Suzanne Douglas
<douglas@educom.edu>.  Voice:  404-371-1853, Fax: 404-371-8057.

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

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