Welcome to Xenakis
Consulting Services Inc.
Celebrating 25 successful years of
consulting experience with dozens of clients!
John J. Xenakis
Areas of Special Expertise|
- Windows, Linux, Unix / embedded / cross-platform and
- High-volume / high performance databases
- Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase, SQL
- User interfaces (Windows / MFC / ATL / COM).
- Web servers: ASP.NET, Java Server Pages (JSP), CGI with
Perl or PHP or C++, iPlanet, Apache, IIS
- Middleware, back end, enterprise applications
- Compilers, system tools, scientific, mathematical
and complex algorithms
- High-performance mission-critical applications
- Fast, nearly bug-free implementations
- Multi-system and cross-system integration
- Scalability -- single user to hundreds or thousands
- Technological research and analysis; business and project
plans; well-written reports and presentations
- Course design and presentation
- Object-oriented design / implementation
- Financial and business applications, including loan amortizations
and interest rate computations.
XCS's Web Site Software Available for Free!
The software running this web site is designed for "high content" web
sites -- web sites with lots of pages containing news, information,
lists, opinions, rants, or whatever you want.
XCS's web site software lets you maintain dozens, hundreds, thousands,
or even tens of thousands of web site pages quickly and easily.
This software was originally developed for the two sister web sites
http://www.jxenakis.com and http://www.fraternizing.org, which contain dozens of pages. Now the same software is being
used for http://www.barbforgovernor.com, the web site for
Barbara C. Johnson's 2002 campaign for Governor of Massachusetts, for
http://www.yahoovictims.com, a consumer advocacy web site, and
for http://www.generationaldynamics.com, the web site for the forthcoming
book, Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny.
Typically, large multi-page web sites are very hard to manage.
Simple changes to the web site can take hours or days to complete,
since a simple change ripples throughout multiple pages.
You can have XCS's web site software running on your own site. Here
are three ways:
- Install it yourself for free. Just click on
Perl Code for this Web Site to get
copies of all the files.
- John Xenakis will install it for you on your web site, and will
also set up five professional web site pages (you supply the
content). Cost: $750.00.
- John Xenakis will install it for you on your web site, and will
also set up 100 professional web site pages (you supply the content),
and will provide full maintenance for you for two additional months.
No matter which option you choose, additional support is always
available at an hourly rate.
Other Information on This Web Site
Click Here for Skill Summary for John J. Xenakis.
Click Here for Perl source code for this web site
Click Here for Xenakis on Technology
Recent Technology News
- European Union To Start Charging Online Taxes on July 1, 2003
- In a controversial new regulation targeted mainly at United
States vendors, the European Union will start charging VAT (value
added taxes) on "electronically delivered" products and services,
starting on July 1, 2003. The new rules will apply to digital
delivery of software and computer services generally, plus information
and cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational,
entertainment or similar services as well as to broadcasting
For example, if an internet customer in Belgium purchases an MP3 music
file from a New York vendor's web site, then the New York vendor will
have to determine (somehow) that the purchaser is in Belgium, and then
will have to charge the appropriate VAT amount to that customer.
I always have to chuckle at these things. There must be a million
ways for a purchaser to get around this -- hiding the fact that he's
in Belgium when he makes the purchase. I'll be interested in seeing
how the politicians work this one out.(See
European Union 5/7/02 press release.)
- Is it "Observational Research" or "Big Brother"?
- The Once Famous boutique at One Financial Plaza in Minneapolis is
no ordinary store. A customer is tracked by a bevy of cameras from
the time she enters to the time she leaves. All her movements are
noted and analyzed, in order to do market research on what turns
customers off or on, and how customers move from item to item.
We now have cameras watching us all the time anyway -- whether we're
walking or driving down the street in many cities -- and some will
send us traffic tickets if we go a little too fast. So it's not
surprising that this technique is now moving to the retail industry.
10/12/01 Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal story, and
5/1/02 Los Angeles Times article.)
- UBS Warburg Acquires Enron's IT Infrastructure
- Enron's loss is UBS Warburg's gain: The financial services firm
has acquired Enron's leading edge IT infrastructure for no money
down. The complex deal, which includes USB's hiring of 800 of Enron's
employees, has been approved by the bankruptcy court.
Since 1996, Enron spared no expense not only for leading edge
computers, but also SAP's financial software and Siebel's customer
relationship management software.
But the real jewels are Enron's extremely sophisticated analytical
software: It analyzes business conditions, weather, energy commodity
prices, political strife, and other factors that affect energy
markets, along with real-time information on the markets, and spot
buying or selling opportunities well in advance of competitors,
according to analysts. The information was fed wirelessly to a mobile
workforce that could make buying and selling decisions from the side
of the road. (See
InformationWeek article, and also the
- Passwords Are Almost Useless
- People who use passwords to protect their computers and data
actually have almost no protection at all, according to an article in
the 2/12/02 issue of PC Magazine. The magazine reviewed
password cracking software from several companies:
Winternals Software, and
CRAK Software. The programs are used
to crack word processing, spreadsheet, database, accounting software
files, as well as the Windows operating system.
These programs use several different techniques to crack passwords.
Some use brute force (trying billions and billions of passwords,
until one is found that works). Other programs go into the protected
file or operating system and simply change the stored password to a
Most people use password cracking software to recover their own data
in cases where they've forgotten the passwords, but these products'
availability means that anybody's password-protected data or operating
systems may have very little protection at all.
- Gartner Group's Top 10 Predictions for 2002
- The Gartner Group has published its top ten technology
predictions for 2002:
External Forces predictions:
- The IT industry will remain challenged, facing accelerated
job losses and significant vendor consolidation.
- Safeguarding people, knowledge, systems and nations will take
- Consumers will go online, finally, with the number using online
account management doubling by 2005.
Business Behavior predictions:
- Short-term focus on expenses will squeeze IS organizations in
2002 as business demand for IT increases.
- Outsourcing and trusted suppliers will take more control as
capital spending reduces in favor of operating budgets.
- Through 2004, businesses will continue to view the discipline of
CRM as a critical component of corporate strategy.
Applications and Technology Trends predictions:
- During 2002, despite budget restraints, operational IT
infrastructure will still need to anticipate and fulfill critical IT
- More than 50 percent of mobile applications deployed at the start
of 2002 will be obsolete by the end of 2002.
- By 2004, Web services will dominate deployment of new application
solutions for Fortune 2000 companies.
- During 2002, leading-edge businesses will exploit application
integration to generate business innovation.
January, 2002, research analysis from Gartner Group.)
Gartner's predictions paint a bleak picture for the computer
industry. It seems like only a short time ago that we were
developing "client/server" applications, and our major worry was that
all computers would stop working on January 1, 2000.
A lot of people expected to make money from the Y2K problem, but
almost no one did (except for some consulting firms who provided
conversion services). People who focused too hard on Y2K ended up
losing time to get on e-commerce bandwagon. Still, everyone did
great on e-commerce in 2000 until the Nasdaq crashed early in 2001.
Since then, things have been bad, and 9/11 made them worse. We've
already had consolidations from client/server and Y2K shakeouts, and
Gartner seems to be predicting e-commerce predictions this year, as
the recession continues.
Gartner's predictions do point the way for new business, however.
Customer relationship management (CRM) applications are an important
part of the e-commerce revolution that we'll be in the middle of
for several years to come. However, it's fairly clear that IT
managers will no longer tolerate bloated development projects in CRM
or anything else. Quick, low-cost solutions will be funded in 2002,
and the you'll have to wait until at least 2003 for the bloated
projects to start up again.
- Al-Qaeda Operatives Protection Foiled by Cracking DES
- American investigators have been reaping a wealth of information
about al-Qaeda operations by examining files on the hard disk of a
used computer purchased by a Wall Street Journal reporter
several weeks ago. Some of those files were encrypted using DES, the
old Data Encryption Standard, which was thoroughly hacked in the
1970s. The al-Qaeda files were decrypting using a brute force
1/17/02 New Scientist article.)
- Microsoft Makes Security its Top Goal
- Stung by numerous security flaws found in Windows XP and Outlook,
Microsoft has changed its strategy to make its products more
1/17/02 New York Times article.)
Meanwhile, some computer experts are questioning the multi-billion
dollar estimates that appear in the media as the costs of recovering
from various virus attacks. For example, the Code Red virus was
serious, but did it really cost $2.62 billion to fix it? These
figures always come from
Computer Economics, a California-based research firm whose
primary business is to advise companies on technology investment and
marketing strategies. These experts claim that Computer Economics is
hyping the figures. (See
1/14/02 Wired News article.)
- Do Computers Analysts Require an Indian Passport?
- Having been a computer consultant for over 25 years, I've had
clients that demanded all sorts of skills or had other strange
requires before they would hire me, but this is a new one on me!
There was a flap last week over an ad that referred to CNN news
reporter Paula Zahn as "a little bit sexy." In a
Wall Street Journal article by Tunku Varadarajan, the
following paragraph appears:
It is always painful to see people rated solely by physical
appearance, and devalued -- whether by virtue of their beauty or
their plainness -- because of it. But it was disingenuous of Ms.
Zahn, a master-hand in a milieu where pleasing looks are a
precondition of employment (just as strength is for firefighters or an
Indian passport for computer analysts), to play the role of slandered
female, her professional dignity besmirched by the male chauvinist
pigs in the CNN publicity department.
Well, I thought I'd been doing systems and computer analysis all
these years, but I guess I must have been doing something else. Well,
Tunku, I'm ready to advance to the next level. Tell me -- what do I
have to do to get that passport?
- Napster Replacements Acting as Trojan Horses for Impenetrable
- Four "P2P" file-sharing services that allow users to download MP3
and other files turn out to be unwitting Trojan horses for a program
that's surreptiously collecting information about users and sending
it to an unknown computer.
The developers of
advantage of a free installation software tool called
"Clicktilluwin." Using this free software saved them the trouble of
developing their own installation software. (Any software application
needs to include installation software, so that the application can be
installed on a user's computer.)
However, ClickTillUWin surreptiously installs DLDER.exe, a "spyware"
program that track's the users' web pages. Evidently, the program
does not damage the computer's hard disk, although neither the
developer of the program nor the full purpose of the program is yet
1/3/02 Business Week article. People familiar with the
classic, Homer's Iliad, will know that this article makes
a mistake by calling DLDER.exe the "Trojan Horse"; actually,
Grokster, LimeWire, KaZaa and BearShare are the "Trojan Horses."
Also see the
press release, and the
There's a lot of free software available these days, and this
incident illustrates an important lesson for corporate IT
departments, as well as companies that develop software. If you
include someone else's free software in your own software product,
make sure that the source code for the free software has been
published, so that there's a way of checking for little tricks like
- Judge OK's FBI's Use of "Magic Lantern"
- "Magic Lantern" is the FBI's virus software that collects your
keystrokes, including your passwords, and sends them to the FBI. The
FBI surreptiously installs the virus on your computer, and then uses
it to monitor anything you type.
A federal judge has given the FBI the green light to use Magic
Lantern, saying that it "suffers from no constitutional infirmity."
the 1/4/02 Wired News story.)
- New Euro Coins Favor Heads
- The new euro coins favor heads over tails when spun, or at least
the Belgian ones do, according to Polish mathematicians who got 140
heads in 250 spins. Euro coins, unlike bills, are different from
country to country. (Wall Street Journal, page A1,
- Bush Administration Loosens Export Controls on Computer
- One of the most bizarre legacies of the cold war is the
government's restrictions on advanced computer technology to other
countries. It may have made sense to restrict the sale of Cray
supercomputers to the Soviet Union in 1979, but the restrictions were
broadened to all sorts of technology and application software that
was readily available from numerous sources outside the United
States. Some restrictions were placed by U.S. government bureaucrats
who evidently understood nothing more about computers than how to
operate the on/off switch.
Now the Bush administration has increased the computer power that may
be sold to certain countries (like North Korea). However, limits
still exist, and so these countries will still have to purchase the
most powerful computers from outside the United States. (See
Reuters news article.)
- Expansion of the Universe May Be Speeding Up
- We know that the universe has been expanding ever since the "Big
Bang" that occurred about 13 billion years ago. For years,
physicists had speculated that the expansion would continue for many
billions more years, but then the universe would start contracting,
collapsing in on itself, and possibly producing a new Big Bang
immediately afterwards. Other theories speculated that expansion would
continue forever, albeit at a slower rate, but there would be no
However, in the last four years astronomers have reported evidence
that the expansion of the universe is not just continuing but is
speeding up, under the influence of a mysterious "dark energy," an
antigravity force that seems to be embedded in space itself. If that
is true and the universe goes on accelerating, astronomers say, rather
than coasting gently into the night, distant galaxies will eventually
be moving apart so quickly that they cannot communicate with one
another. In effect, it would be like living in the middle of a black
hole that kept getting emptier and colder.
(See See 10/23/01 AP article.
1/1/02New York Times article.)
- The Top Ten Words of 2001
- The web site http://www.yourdictionary.com has released its
lists of the overall Top Ten Words, September 11, People's Names,
California YouthSpeak, Top Phrases, Corporate Buzzwords, Sports, Best
and Worse of Corporate Names, Internet-related terms, and various
The selected top 10 words of 2001 are: Ground Zero, W. (Dubya),
Jihad, God, Anthrax, Euro, Wizard, -stan (the Persian suffix used in
names like Afghanistan), Oprahization, and Foot-and-Mouth. (See
12/26/01 press release.)
- Windows XP is Setting The Time Incorrectly
- Every computer seems to keep time poorly -- many lose or gain
several minutes a week. You can install a free utility program on
your computer which will automatically synchronize your computer's
clock to the Holy Grail of timekeeping, the
atomic clock at the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST). There are numerous free
utility programs available to do this -- for example, check out
If you have a Windows XP system, then Microsoft has already included
a utility program that performs the synchronization automatically,
once a week. However, Microsoft's utility program connects to
Microsoft's own time server, rather than one of NIST's servers, and
Microsoft's server was providing the wrong times, as much as 9
minutes off. However, Microsoft has fixed the bug, and your computer
should set the time correctly within a few days (provided you're
connected to the internet). If you'd like to play around with XP's
time utility, right-click the time display on the taskbar, choose
Adjust Date/Time, click the Internet Time tab. (See
article in the December, 2001, issue of PC World
- The Computer Game That "Plays You" Has Flopped After 9/11
- The most daring computer game of 2001 fell flat on its face.
Majestic was billed as "the game that plays you." It began with a
concept reminiscent of "The X-Files," featuring shadowy corporations
and government agencies involved in secret mind-control experiments.
While most games sit quietly waiting to be played, the Majestic
gaming system never slept. Gamers paid a monthly $10 fee to enter an
environment of all-encompassing paranoia. The game flashed cryptic
instant messages on their computer screens, faxed them mysterious
maps and photographs, even phoned them at 2 a.m. with recorded
threats, all related to the ongoing story line. The idea was to smudge
the dividing line between fantasy and real life, much like the
bizarre pseudo-reality that tormented Michael Douglas in the 1997 film
The game was launched in August, but the number of active players
"dropped like a cliff after 9/11," and now Majestic has been killed
the 12/24/01 Boston Globe article.)
- A Chip That Can Be Implanted in Humans
- Applied Digital Solutions has
announced the VeriChip, a chip that can be implanted in a human
being, with the ability to receive commands and transmit data
wirelessly. In addition to providing to name, address, and medical
information of its human host, the chip can also monitor implanted
medical devices, such as pacemakers. (See
VeriChip press release.)
The chip is raising privacy concerns if use of the implanted chip
becomes widespread. For example, someone could "scan" an entire room
of people, looking for people to rob. (See
12/22/01 Reuters article.)
- Spam E-mail Increasing Since 9/11
- Spam e-mail seems to be increasing substantially -- by a factor
of ten or more in the last year, according to some estimates. One
trigger was the anthrax scare following 9/11, which encouraged
marketers to use snail mail less and e-mail more.
Unfortunately, the economics of e-mail is the reverse of what it
should be. It's essentially free for marketers to send out millions
of e-mail spam messages, but it costs the recipients a great deal of
time to sort through all the messages and delete them. Corporate
e-mail servers are being clogged by spam, and worker productivity is
being negatively affected.
The only good news is that spam is almost totally ineffective as a
marketing tool, since people consider it to be almost totally
12/24/01 New York Times article.)
- Lightweight Portables: Sharp is Bad, Fujitsu is Good
- The lightest of the lightweight portable computers pack a lot of
functionality into an incredibly light, tiny package. Walter Mossberg,
computer reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, has reviewed two
of these systems, and delivered a mixed review.
The Sharp PC-UM10 weighs 2.89 pounds, but has too many minuses,
according to Mossberg: the optional external CD drive is clumsy to
use, and the computer has no ports except a modem, an Ethernet port
and a single USB port.
The Fujitsu LifeBook P weighs 3.4 pounds, has numerous ports and a
built-in DVD drive that doubles as a CD recorder. However, battery
life is poor, and Mossberg recommends purchasing the extra large
external battery with it.
These computers cost $1,500 to $2,000, depending on what optional
hardware you purchase. (See
Mossberg's 12/20/01 column.)
If those computers are too big, perhaps a flyweight handheld
system using Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system might work for
According to a review in InfoWorld, the Compaq iPaq has been
the industry leader to date, but now the new HP Jordana from
Hewlett-Packard is blowing the iPaq away. The Jordana is smaller,
lighter, and easier to use, and has more application programs
available for it. However, the iPaq does have stronger expansion
capabilities. Both machines cost around $600. (See
12/14/01 InfoWorld article.)
- Drive-by Hacking Wireless Network Hole Plugged
- Companies that use wireless networks should be aware that they
are insecure, because of a weakness in the way the algorithm
generates encryption keys. Hackers with the proper equipment can tap
into the wireless traffic and determine passwords, and then use those
to gain full access to the network.
The weakness was discovered in August, 2001, in the 802.11 wireless
To solvethe problem, US security companies
RSA Security Inc. and
Hifn Inc. have announced a new key
generation algorithm which makes wireless networks substantially more
12/18/01 New Scientist article
and also see
12/17/01 press release from RSA Security Inc.)
- Experts Say Technology Not Yet Good Enough to Fake bin Laden
- Some hard line Muslims are suggesting that the U.S. government
used technology to create a fake bin Laden tape, in which he gloated
over the murder of 4,000 innocent people, and even gloated over how
he had tricked his own disciples into participating in the attack
without knowing that it was a suicide mission.
However, the technology is not yet available to create such a tape.
The biggest hurdle would be mimicking the cadence and rhythm of human
speech. Synchronizing a doctored soundtrack with existing video would
also be tough, and technology that can synthesize Arabic speech is
still in its infancy. (See
12/14/01 AP news story.
the CNN transcript of the bin Laden tape.)
- Motion Picture Court Ruling Could Threaten Online Journalists
- A recent court victory for the Motion Picture Association of
America presents new threats to online journalists that don't apply to
print journalists, according to an analysis by the New York
The decision regards computer code known as "DeCSS" which allows
programmers to defeat the copy protection scheme in DVD movies.
Eric Corley and his company, 2600 Enterprises Inc., has been
prohibited by the court in distributing DeCSS code on its web site.
The idea of prohibiting a programmer from distributing his own
computer code is bad enough, but the court decision contains an even
more ominous ruling: Corley cannot even provide a hyperlink from his
web site to another web site containing the code.
This is ominous because it means that any web site containing a
hyperlink to another web site which contains any proprietary material
might be harassed or prosecuted by the owner of the proprietary
the 12/14/01 New York Times article -- link requires
Thus, if the New York Times web site happened to contain some
proprietary material, then not only could the New York Times
be prosecuted, but so could any web site which hyperlinked to the
New York Times. This would particularly target online
an nnline journalist who wrote an article about how the New York
Times web site contained proprietary material, and then provided
a hyperlink to the web site.
The same restrictions would apparently not apply to a print
journalist, who would be protected under the First Amendment.
The court used the following reasoning: A hyperlink is not protected
First Amendment text, but is actually HTML computer code, which is to
be prohibited just as much as the original DeCSS code was prohibited.
Incidentally, Eric Corley's web site is at http://www.2600.com .
This kind of nonsense by the courts comes from the fact that judges
don't have much understanding of the technical issues involved.
Consider this: Between 1983 and 2001, a typical high end home computer
hard disk went from 5 megabytes to 50 gigabytes. In another 18 years,
it will have increased to 500 terabytes. Communications bandwidths
will increase similarly. At that point, it will be possible to
package, into a single file, MP3 versions of every song that's ever
been recorded. Within a few more years, it will be possible to
package every movie that's ever been filmed. Instead of swapping an
MP3 file containing a single song, kids will be swapping a single
file containing every song and every movie. There is no way that I
know of for the music and motion picture industries to control this
without Taliban-like laws.
The ominous DeCSS court decision is one step in that direction. Let's
hope that the judges figure out the technical issues before more
people are harassed and jailed.
- Do you know when alien and warp speed were first
- What about videophone and zero-g? The
Oxford English Dictionary is
searching for the first citation of these and several dozen other
words that appear in science fiction literature and fandom. If you
think you know where the word trekkie was first used, then
check out the
Fiction Home Page.
- IT Budgets Next Year to Shrink or Remain Flat
- A mid-October Computerworld survey of 150 senior IT
executives at midsize and large U.S. companies found that 68% of the
respondents expect their IT budgets next year to shrink or remain
flat. IT managers will be focusing on cost savings, with rigorous
financial analysis back in style, using such techniques as Economic
Value Added (EVA) analysis and a newer measurement called Return on
Opportunity (ROO). (See
12/10/01 Computerworld article, and
another 12/10/01 Computerworld article.)
- Amazon and EBay Named Top B2C E-commerce Site in WSJ Survey
- A Wall Street Journal survey of 32 retail experts and
average shoppers came up with a list of favorite consumer shopping
sites. The Monday, 12/10/01, article on page R6 lists them as
Here are some lesser known web sites, selected from the numerous
- Fleet Bank and Dept. of Interior Web Sites Compromised
- Anyone who's ever designed a web site application (like the one
running this web site) knows that, unless great care is taken to
avoid web site software bugs, a hacker can compromise the site.
Yesterday (Friday, 12/7) at 3 pm, a Texas consultant called Fleet
Bank to tell them of a flaw in their web site that makes personal
data, including names, addresses and social security numbers of its 9
million users, freely available to hackers. All he got from Fleet
officials was a runaround, and the site remained up, bugs and all,
until almost midnight. (See
12/8/01 Boston Globe article.)
On Thursday, a judge ordered a shutdown of all Dept. of Interior web
sites, in response to a lawsuit by Indian tribes claiming that web
site security was so poor, that hackers could get in and read and
even change data relevant to the tribes.
12/7/01 LA Times article.)
IT managers for web site development should not miss the obvious
moral of these two stories: that you'd better implement improved
quality assurance procedures for your web site. All software
contains bugs, but if your accounting system cuts an invalid check,
you can always get the money back; but if your web site lets hackers
get your customers' credit card numbers, there's no way to get the
numbers back. (See
11/28/01 META Group News Analysis.)
- Will Virus Protection Vendors Support FBI PC Spying?
- The FBI is moving ahead with its Magic Lantern project --
a virus that FBI can install on your computer remotely, which tracks
all your computer activity and collects passwords by collecting your
keystrokes and e-mailing them back to the FBI. (See
12/4/01 ZDnet article and
11/22/01 Washington Post article.)
Since Green Lantern is essentially a virus, a controversy is
developing over whether anyone can defeat Green Lantern by simply
installing a virus protection program. So far, the two major virus
protection vendors have been flipping around the problem.
11/27/01 article in the UK Register, Symantec's Norton
Antivirus product would contain a backdoor to avoid detecting Green
Lantern, "if it was under the control of the FBI."
And Network Associates Inc. has been bombarded with angry criticisms
Wired News 11/27/01 story reported that its McAfee
Antivirus software may contain a similar FBI backdoor.
This is an ugly situation which could really backfire on both
Symantec and NAI. Many American users, and almost no foreign users,
would want to purchase a product containing an FBI backdoor.
Competitive products, especially from foreign companies, would have a
big competitive advantage. And what happens when some hacker figures
out how to take advantage of the FBI backdoor for his own
- Are the 'Fundamental' Laws of Physics Changing With Time?
- There's a friendly war going on between particle physicists, the
ones who study photons, electrons, quarks, and other particles
invisible to the human eye, and solid state physicists, the ones who
study lumps of matter large enough to hold in your hand.
For decades, particle physicists have been searching for fundamental
laws and equations of particle behavior. It was thought that once
these particle laws were discovered, they could be used to derive the
laws that solid state physicists use.
The problem is that particle physicists have been searching for these
equations for decades, and have come up with nothing, nada, zip, and
many people are beginning to question whether such equations even
On the other hand, there are plenty of well-known laws at the solid
state level -- conservation of energy and momentum, laws of
increasing entropy, and of course Einstein's famous equation,
e = mc2, relating matter to energy.
If this trend continues, it would mean a major loss of prestige for
particle physicists, and increased cocktail party bragging rights for
solid state physicists, since the laws of the universe could only be
defined at the solid state level, not the particle level.
More important, it might even mean that the fundamental laws of
physics were different at the time of the Big Bang, 12 billion years
ago, and that these fundamental laws are changing continually with
12/4/01 New York Times article.)
- Second Annual Poetry Spam Contest Announced
- Can you write poetry? How about a poem based on spam e-mail
messages? If so, you might win
the 2nd annual SatireWire Poetry Spam.
Here's a sample entry:
THIS IS NOT SPAM
Your name was obtained from an Opt-In Mail List,
Your name was referred to me,
*This message cannot be called SPAM under Senate
Bill: 1618 Title III
This is NOT Spam!
Hey Donna, Hey Sam,
Here's that info you requested!
You were chosen by someone to get this E-Mail,
You're in luck! YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED!!!
You're getting this message because you subscribed,
In response to your submission,
To be unsubscribed there's no need to reply,
This is a one-time transmission.
Click Here to be removed.
(Note: This poem written entirely with actual phrases contained in
- Government Approves Advanced Encryption Standard (Rijndael)
- The U.S. Dept. of Commerce has approved adoption of a new
encryption standard, dubbed AES, the Advanced Encryption Standard.
A new standard was needed because the old one, DES (Data Encryption
Standard) was thoroughly hacked a few years ago. Any DES-encrypted
message can be recovered by a hacker within a few hours, so many
companies have been using triple-DES, which applies the DES algorithm
3 times. It's secure, but it takes forever.
In 1999, Commerce's National Insitute of Standards (NIST) announced a
worldwide competition to come up with a replacement, and in
10/2/2000 press release, NIST announced that it had selected a
winner: Rijndael (pronounced RHINE-doll), named after its two Belgian
inventors, Vincent Rijmen and Joan Daemen (both male), subject to a
year-long review by NIST and anyone else.
11/26/2001 press release, NIST announced that the review was
over, and Rijndael is officially the AES. Rijndael is both secure
Anyone interested in more information about AES should check out the
page on Rijndael at http://csrc.nist.gov/encryption/aes/rijndael/
. The Rijndael algorithm is in the public domain (a requirement of
the competition), and so NIST provides sample code written in C++,
with other languages available as well.
Although DES lasted only 20 years, AES should last a lot longer.
According to one estimate, if someone built a giant computer using
every particle and atom in the universe, it would still take
trillions of years to hack a Rijndael message.
I did a large "virtual private network" implementation using
Rijndael, and found the public domain code quite easy to work with.
However, if you're thinking of doing a homegrown application using
Rijndael, remember that the most difficult part of the implementation
may be managing the encryption keys securely. No encryption algorithm
is secure if the encryption key is written on a note taped up on your
- H-1B "Refugees" Are Having Tough Times
- The IT recession hasn't hit anyone harder than foreign nationals
who came to the U.S. on H-1B visas, hoping to earn a green card and
permanent residency. Those who have lost their jobs are seeing their
dreams dissolve, as they are being forced to pack up their families
and go back to their home countries. (See
12/3/01 ComputerWorld article.)
- Gartner: Baan May Finally Be Recovering
- Once upon a time, long, long ago, Baan Co. was sitting beside SAP
and Oracle as a top-tier ERP (enterprise resource management)
product. Then Baan made too many acquisitions, and in 1998, the
founders had to resign because of accounting missteps. Baan has gone
through several years of tough times, sometimes leading to
speculation that the company would be acquired.
However, a recent Gartner Group review of Baan's product roadmap
found that the company is showing renewed strength by focusing on its
strong core markets -- discrete manufacturing firms in these vertical
industries: automotive, electronics, industrial machinery, aerospace
and defense, and logistics. (See
11/21/2001 summary by Gartner Group analyst Brian Zrimsek.)
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