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News Track


Rising energy consumption and fuel prices could lead to energy costs eating up more than one-third of IT budgets within the next five years, according to a Gartner Group report that notes IT power demand is just the "tip of a melting iceberg for an IT industry that is currently unsustainable." BusinessWeek reports CIOs and technology vendors who now consider "green IT" a top priority would be wise to start investigating short- and long-term options to reduce the power consumption and associated carbon emissions of their data centers and equipment. Moreover, Gartner points out the IT industry should look beyond power to broader issues, such as limiting carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, using materials from renewable resources, recycling materials, and reusing heat from data storage facilities. The report predicts environmental pressures will also force organizations to address the fact that almost two-thirds of the energy they use is to cool equipment and how to handle the 512 million PCs expected to be disposed of in the next five years.

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A Wikipedia Under Wraps

The U.S. intelligence community recently unveiled its own covert version of Wikipedia, claiming the popular online encyclopedia format—known for its openness—is key to the future of U.S. espionage. Intellipedia is a top-secret site allowing intelligence analysts and other officials to collaboratively add and edit content on the Government's classified Intelink Web. Reuters reports Intellipedia, currently available to the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, boasts more than 28,000 pages and 3,600 registered users. The system is being used to assemble a major intelligence report on Nigeria as well as annual country reports on terrorism. Making data available to thousands of users who would not see it otherwise also creates significant concern about potential security lapses. Chief technology officer for the intelligence community Michael Wertheimer acknowledges the risk of information showing up in the public media, but the benefits of the site far outweigh that risk. Intelligence officials are so enthusiastic about Intellipedia they plan to provide access to their counterparts in Britain, Canada, Australia, and possibly China.

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Four-Second Warning

Four seconds is the maximum length of time an average online shopper will wait for a Web page to load before potentially abandoning a retail site, according to a new report by Akamai Technologies that examines consumers' reactions to a poor online shopping experience. The report, commissioned through JuniperResearch, ranked poor site performance as second only to high product prices and shipping costs as leading factors causing dissatisfaction among online shoppers. Based on feedback from 1,058 online shoppers, site loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers and those with more online experience. More than one-third of the respondents said they would abandon a site entirely due to a poor experience, while 75% were likely not to shop on that site again.

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Outsourcing Boomerang

It was bound to happen: India and China, awash in technology trade business exported from the U.S. and other countries, turn around and begin exporting jobs (back) to those countries to meet demand and expand their presence on a global scale. According to India news service Sify.com, the latest trend in India and China is exporting jobs, as well as opening R&D and manufacturing facilities worldwide, particularly in the U.S. Following the lead of India's Infosys ("NewsTrack" Oct. 2006) and Tata Group and China's Lenovo and Haeir, major firms in these countries are creating new investment projects and hiring service staff in the U.S. and abroad. While the U.S. was the biggest recipient of China's foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2005, the U.K. received the highest number of FDI projects from India. The U.S. was the fourth leading FDI recipient from India with a total of 17 projects compared to the U.K.'s 45, according to Forrester Research.

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The Power of Suggestion

Expectations, it appears, really do make a difference, according to the findings of a study in Canada of women's perceptions about math abilities. The Associated Press reports that women who were told that men and women do math equally well did much better on tests than those who were told there is a genetic difference in math ability. Moreover, women told there were differences caused by the environment (such as math teachers paying more attention to male students) outperformed those who were simply reminded they were females. Steven J. Heine and Ilan Dar-Nimrod of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver set out to see how people are affected by stereotypes about themselves. They divided more than 220 women into four groups and administered math and reading comprehension tests between 2003 and 2006. The women were given a math test, then asked to read an essay, then given a second math test. The women in the lower-scoring groups read essays that either contended there is a genetic difference in math skills or read a passage that reminded them of being female. It's a process psychologists call a stereotypical threat: "If a member of a group for which there is a negative stereotype is in a position to test the stereotype, they usually choke under pressure," says Heine. Detailed results of their study were reported in Science magazine last October.

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Vive le Donkey Kong!

"People have looked down on video games for far too long, overlooking their great creativity and cultural value," says Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, cultural minister of France who has already bestowed the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal on three prominent video game designers in an effort to recognize the art of the medium. Long proud of its contribution to culture via such forms as existentialism, impressionism, and auteur films, France is now struggling to wrap its collective tête around the notion of anointing video games as a cultural industry eligible for tax breaks, similar to French cinema, reports the New York Times. "[Video games] are a form of artistic expression involving creation from writers, designers, and directors," says Donnedieu de Vabres. Home to about 100 video game companies—including revenue-top-10-ers Vivendi Games, Ubisoft Entertainment, and Infogames Entertainment—France, along with Britain, has a rich history of producing more video games than the rest of Europe combined. Critics suspect economic interests may be playing a role in the move toward tax breaks, however, as French game companies have lately experienced tough times. Moreover, the minister's goal to have games characterized as cultural goods faces additional challenges from the European Union and the video game industry itself. The Interactive Software Federation of Europe, a group of international video game companies, is opposed to enshrining games as a cultural heritage for fear of government interference.

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