Edupage, 23 January 1997

Edupage, 23 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.

        ACLU Fights Political Restrictions On Academic Facilities
        Gartner VP Says Don't Throw Those PCs Out Yet
        AT&T WorldNet Benefits From AOL Logjam
        Internet Patent Numbers

        Superscape's 3-D Web-Within-A-Web
        CR Tackles Online Medical Help
        Virtual Pet Sweeping Japan
        Online Sex Sting
        Muppets Go To Microsoft

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer David Rocah says it's "ridiculous" to
think that a university's 501(c)3 nonprofit status could be jeopardized if
its faculty, staff or students use e-mail or Web pages to send partisan
political messages.  "That's not the law, it can't be, and it never will be.
The law prevents the university itself from indulging in political activity,
not others using its property.  With their logic, a professor using a
Princeton phone in a Princeton office couldn't talk about who to vote for."
Princeton University will now simply require that any personal political
opinions be clearly identified as being those of the sender rather than of
the university.  (Reason Feb 97 p13)

"Don't throw away your PCs.  Network nirvana is not yet a reality," says the
Gartner Group's VP of research.  A study released this week by Gartner says
network computers from Oracle, Sun Microsystems and IBM will result in only
a 41% savings over regular PCs running Windows 95, far below the 80% number
used by Sun when it debuted its machine last October.  But Sun says it got
its PC figures from an earlier Gartner study, and criticizes the latest
report because it includes an analysis of the NetPC design (a joint product
by Microsoft and Intel), which does not have any test models currently
available.  Both Gartner and Sun do agree on the annual costs of running the
JavaStation -- roughly $2,500.  (Investor's Business Daily 23 Jan 97 A6)

AT&T is enjoying a recent boost in subscriber numbers, which it attributes
to overload problems experienced by America Online.  AT&T says the number of
new subscribers has tripled this month from last, and in polling new users,
found that 45% are also AOL members.  "A lot of the increase in orders we're
seeing is directly because of the publicity of AOL's problems," says the
head of WorldNet.  "People care a lot about the reliability of their
Internet service.  It's become a serious part of their lives."  An AOL
spokesman says AT&T's 600,000 subscribers don't present any threat to AOL's
8 million:  "Our member retention is within historical norms."  (Wall Street
Journal 23 Jan 97 B6)

The Internet Patent News Service (IPNS) says that in the first half of 1996
there were 3,966 patents issued, of which 919 were in network software and
528 were in image processing patents.  (Communications of the ACM Jan 97)


Palo Alto, Calif.-based Superscape Inc. operates a Virtual Web, comprising
about 60 corporate sites that sport 3-D pages as part of their Web
environment.  "If you create an environment that's like an interactive game,
people like it," says Superscape's CEO, who also touts the benefits of 3-D
"test drive" shopping which, along with entertainment, is a prime aspect of
the Virtual Web.  Companies such as United News Media Group, Intel and
Northern Telecom are among Superscape's Virtual Web clients.  (Broadcasting
& Cable 13 Jan 97 p131)  < http://www.vww.com >

Consumer Reports spent two months exploring and evaluating the myriad
medical information sites on the Web, and has concluded, "The wealth of
useful medical information available online is well worth the initial
difficulty of finding one's way around this new world -- and the constant
need to be on guard against dubious material."  Their recommendations?  <
http://www.ama-assn.org >, < http://www.medicinenet.com >, <
http://medscape.com >, < http://www.oncolink.upenn.edu >, <
http://parentsplace.com >, < http://pathfinder.com/thrive >.  Also
recommended are two sites that offer links to other sites:  <
http://www.arcade.uiowa.edu/hardin-www/md.html > and <
http://www.slackinc.com/matrix >.  Oh, and if it sounds too good to be true,
it probably is.  (Consumer Reports Feb 97 p27)

The newest high-tech consumer fad in Japan is tamagochii, an electronic bird
creature which starts life as an endearing, bird-like image on the screen of
an egg-shaped key ring device, and then changes from a chick to a fully
grown adult in around 10 days.  However, the owner must push the right
buttons to feed, groom and soothe the digital creature or else see it waste
away and die from neglect.  (Vancouver Province 23 Jan 97 A27)

An Albany, New York, college business major was arrested yesterday in a
cyberporn sting operation, on a charge of using America Online to transmit
three dozen sexually explicit photos of children. (Vancouver Province 23 Jan
97 A37)

Jim Henson Productions, which created Kermit the Frog and all the other
Muppets, has agreed to a three-year deal with Microsoft Network, under which
the puppet company will develop nine shows for MSN.  A Microsoft executive
says:  "It's a very big win for us.  When you think of family programming,
you think of Henson.  This shows we can play with the big boys."  The
expectation is that the programs will make use of real-time,
computer-controlled digital puppetry."  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 23 Jan
97 G3)

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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