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Anne Lindner
 

Netcetera - Oct. 30, 2001

30 October 2001

U.S. Army to Train Soldiers with Computer Games

Video-gaming armchair generals will soon get the same leadership and command training as combat-ready infantrymen.

The U.S. Army, along with a University of Southern California research lab and a team of game-making firms, is developing two games set on urban battlefields. The games will be used both to train grunts and entertain geeks.

Players will command a nine-person team in "C-Force," which is being developed for one of the next-generation gaming systems like the X-Box, Game Cube or Playstation 2. "CS XII," the other game, is a PC title in which players lead a company of about 100 soldiers.

Both games will be available commercially within two years.

The armed services have a long history of adapting commercial products for training purposes. But this is the first time the military has commissioned a commercial game.

Compaq Unveils New Supercomputer

On Monday Compaq took the wraps off its newest supercomputer--a mammoth cluster capable of ciphering six trillion calculations per second. That speed makes it the world's fastest supercomputer conducting unclassified research.

The Terascale Computing System, built and operated by the University of Pittsburgh's Supercomputing Center through a $45 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is powered by 3,000 Alpha EV68 processors housed in 750 separate servers, all connected by high-speed interconnections from Quadrics, a European firm specializing in clustering technology.

The machine is an open research computer available to any scientist who wants to rent time on it. Earlier this year, for example, researchers using a similar but smaller machine were able to simulate part of the star formation process. The new machine, through its raw power, will make that cosmic process clearer to scientists.

Two crews have been working 20 hours a day, seven days a week since early August to piece together the Terascale, which includes roughly 6,000 cables weighing four tons.

The Alpha chip has been praised for its speed. Six trillion calculations per second is the equivalent of 10,000 desktop PCs running simultaneously.

Microsoft Partners with Groove for Instant Messaging Feature

Users of the instant messaging software built into Microsoft's newest operating system will be able to collaborate seamlessly over the Internet with each other through a partnership with a company whose founder created Lotus Notes.

In its new version, the Groove software can piggyback on Windows XP's Windows Messenger to allow people to work together, Microsoft and Groove Networks announced Monday.

Groove includes its own instant messaging and chat features, but the Windows XP connection aims to greatly extend its potential user base by bypassing complicated setup routines.

And because instant messaging programs don't all talk to each other, the deal gives users of Windows Messenger far easier access to Groove than those of competing services such as AOL's dominant AIM product.

More than 63 million people use instant messaging products from AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo Messenger, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

Groove Networks' software implements what is known as peer-to-peer networking to allow people to collaborate via a secure Internet connection with co-workers and colleagues independent of location or time zone.

In a strategic alliance announced earlier this month, Groove received $51 million in backing from Microsoft.

MSN.com Denies Entry to Millions of Users

Microsoft's premiere Web portal, MSN.com, recently denied entry to millions of people who use alternative browser software such as Opera and told them to get Microsoft's products instead.

The decision led to complaints from the small but loyal Opera community that Microsoft Corp. was abusing its status as the Internet's browser leader. Microsoft later backed off and said Friday that it would support the other browsers after all.

Browser products affected included Opera, Mozilla and Amaya, said Kevin Reichard, editorial manager for Internet.com's BrowserWatch site.

He said version 4.7 of Netscape's browser worked with the site.

Although a Microsoft spokeswoman said MSN supports all recent Netscape browsers, the site blocked visitors using the most recent version, 6.1, from opening the "My MSN'' customized version of the site, citing unspecified "possible data security issues.''

Instead, the page encourages visitors to use versions of Netscape browser that are at least one year old, or to switch to Microsoft's own browser.

Dish Network Buys Competitor for $25.8 Billion

The company that manages the Dish Network is poised to become the nation's leading provider of home satellite TV service after reaching a deal to acquire rival DirecTV from General Motors Corp.

EchoStar Communications Corp. is buying Hughes Electronics and its DirecTV subsidiary from GM for approximately $25.8 billion. The deal, which was struck Sunday during a weekend session of GM's board, came after News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch abruptly pulled a long-standing offer for Hughes off the table.

With 10 million subscribers, DirecTV is the largest provider of home satellite television service in the United States. EchoStar's Dish Network is a distant No. 2 with 6.7 million subscribers. The combined 16.7 million-subscriber base is slightly smaller than that of AT&T Corp., the leading cable TV provider.

The new EchoStar would control nearly all of the satellite TV market in the United States. Satellite TV usage composes 17 percent of the pay TV market, compared to cable's 80 percent, GM said in a statement.

Garden State Pulls Sites for Safety Reasons

Last week New Jersey officials removed from the Internet Web pages they fear could be useful to terrorists.

The state Department of Environmental Protection removed a database listing the hazardous chemicals and substances used or stored at 33,000 businesses throughout the state.

The department also removed maps showing New Jersey's reservoirs, which serve 4 million people.

The information was removed temporarily for security reasons, DEP spokeswoman Loretta O'Donnell told the Daily Record of Parsippany.

The reservoir information is available on paper maps of the state. But the DEP felt it was safer to remove it from the Internet, where it could be downloaded and used in computer mapping programs, O'Donnell said.

E-Shopping for the Holidays Should be Good

Despite difficult economic conditions and the events of Sept. 11, worldwide online holiday shopping sales are projected to reach $25.3 billion this year. According to U.S.-based research company Gartner, that's a 39 percent increase over last year.

Of total online holiday sales, 53 percent, or $13.4 billion, will be made outside of North America, compared to 50 percent last year, Gartner said.

While North America will continue to lead all regions in online holiday sales, other regions are showing stronger growth rates.

Spam Bill Gets Tweaking in EU Parliament

A committee of the European Union Parliament voted on Monday night to give member states discretion on regulating unsolicited e-mail for marketing purposes, often referred to as spam.

This reverses a previous "opt-in" proposal, which would have required prior consent from recipients of such e-mail. Instead, if the latest amendment becomes law, states would decide whether to take an opt-in or opt-out approach.

The proposal is contained in a report on a proposed directive on privacy for personal data in electronic communications. The report was approved by the Parliament's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs.

The U.K. government and the Direct Marketing Association have expressed a preference for an opt-out approach. With opt-out, individuals can be sent unsolicited e-mail for marketing purposes unless they indicate that they do not want to receive further e-mail.

Netcetera - Oct. 30, 2001 is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner