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JUSTICE PREVAILS... Fueled by the unrelenting rise in computer crime statistics, the U.S. Department of Justice has established a five-member unit to help break this international fever. Headed by Scott Charney, the new unit is charged with studying where federal, state and local law enforcement resources should be focused. The team will also work with foreign agents to nab and prosecute hackers who enter U.S. systems, as well as aid investigations where computers have been employed as a tool of the crime. In addition, the unit will act as a liaison between the Justice Department and U.S. businesses that have become victims of computer crime.

CHINESE LAW... A supplement to China's first intellectual property copyright law has been added that covers software regulations. Government officials hope this new legislation will draw more computer-related imports into China, where software pirating has stunted profits for many years. But trust will not be easily garnered, particularly since this new law does not include patent protection. Recent estimates indicate Chinese pirating efforts cost the U.S. $430 million last year.

DYNAMICS DUOS... The technology-sharing alliance forged by Apple and IBM will include two ambitious joint ventures to be based in California. The Taligent group will create new object-based operating systems, and the Kaleida project will develop multimedia technologies and projects.

Come February, Texas-based Tandy Corp. and Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. will begin making portable computers together from a jointly owned Fort Worth factory. The venture, called PTCC Inc., will be governed by a board of directors made up of four officials from each firm. The plant is expected to produce more than 10,000 computers a month.

IMAGES, PART I... The building of the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project (VHP) will begin with the creation of 3D representations of the male and female human body in complete anatomical detail. The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver has been awarded a $721,150, two-year contract to start initial work on this digital image library of volumetric data. The male and female representations will be derived from cross sectional photographic images from cryosectioning, computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of cadavers. The VHP is viewed as a base from which future image libraries will spring. Phase I should be completed by August 1993.

LIVING ROOM LOTTERY... In an effort to beef up ticket sales, Minnesota plans to test a system that will allow residents to play the state lottery from their homes via Nintendo equipment. The New York Times reports the state will install a Nintendo set, modem and specially designed lottery software in 10,000 homes next year. Accounts will be set up within the system for participants who will be charged a monthly $10 serve fee. Selected lottery numbers will be stored in a central lottery computer and in the player's Nintendo set. State and industry officials hope the new system will encourage more people to use computers and phone lines.

FOI QUANDARY... Computer access to government information should be commonplace for today's working journalist. However, a recent survey of Florida newspapers found 18 out of 24 had been denied access to state records because the information was stored in a computer. A recent article published by the Society of Professional Journalists reports part of the problem in Florida is that state employees do not know how to handle computer requests or are unwilling to take time to retrieve data. Moreover, many systems have simply not been set up to accommodate public access.

BUILDING A FUTURE... Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic have established a technique that merges 3D computer images of proposed buildings with videotaped footage of downtown sites. The new tool will help citizens and community planners see what a development project will look like before it is constructed. The computer image showed a proposed office center construction rendered from architectural drawings; the video image showed the current neighborhood. With frame-accurate editing and masking techniques, the team was able to merge the relevant portions of each picture to show a new building on a city street exactly as it would appear if built.

MONEY FOR NOTHIN'... Salaries of experienced scientists and engineers have remained flat during the past years as a result of a stagnant U.S. economy. Although salaries for these professionals did indeed inch upwards between 1989 and 1991, the small gains were often offset by inflation or increased contributions they were forced to make to employee benefit plans. According to a new report by the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, recruiting on college campuses was also down in 1991. Moreover, women doctorates in science and engineering earned 25% less than men in 1989, and faculty salaries in 1990-91 failed to keep pace with the cost of living for the first time in a decade.

IMAGES, PART II... By the turn of the century, patients with tumors may not only be diagnosed in special imaging machines, but may also receive treatment in those machines quickly and without surgery. A research team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been awarded a $5.6 million grant by the National Cancer Institute to develop computerized methods of improving cancer diagnosis and therapy. "Medicine as a whole is becoming more and more affected, and in some areas, even dominated by the ability to make noninvasive images of the body," says UNC computer scientist Stephen M. Pizer who leads one subgroup of the project. The contract runs through early 1996.

WACKY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN... Some of you last minute holiday shoppers (and you know who you are) might consider picking up a new computer calendar that tracks appointments with the aid of a unique memagerie of philosophical insects, nerdy kids, and bespeckled scientists. Amaze, Inc., has introduced Gary Larson's The Far Side Computer Calendar which features animated versions of his popular cartoon characters. "I'm paranoid of this stuff," says Larson of his initial reaction to entering the computer age. But he knew it was destiny when he actually met with the Amaze people and discovered they all "seemed to have an uncanny resemblance to some of the characters" he draws. IBM and Mac versions retail for $69.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:brief articles
Publication:Communications of the ACM
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:1035
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