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(Last edited: Sunday, 30 October 2005, 6:03 PM)
Bill Gates diz que dentro de 5 anos 40 a 50% lerão a imprensa online
Bill Gates diz que dentro de 5 anos 40 a 50% lerão a imprensa online
(Last edited: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 4:45 PM)
Oct. 17, 2005
Last weeks news that Blackboard was buying WebCT, its top competitor for course management systems, caught many academics by surprise. Now that they have had a little time to think about it, campus technology administrators and faculty members who use the systems (and alternatives) offer a variety of views on what the merger means.
Some analyze the combination from the perspective that some big company (or a few companies) will dominate the course management industry. Clearly now that company is Blackboard, which in its expanded form will be doing business with thousands of colleges. To the companys fans, the combination of forces will lead to improvements and allow for more innovation. Others fear the loss of competition will take away the pressure that has led Blackboard to improve its customer support in recent years (and encourage it to jack up prices).
And many are skeptical of Blackboards pledges to continue to offer and support WebCT products. Thats not because they necessarily distrust Blackboard, but because of a pattern in which such promises are frequently made by technology companies, post-merger, and abandoned a few months later. Many chief information officials, from different types of institutions, when asked privately about Blackboards promises to keep both companys services, said, Yeah, right or If you believe that one, I have a bridge to sell you, or variations on that theme. None had specific information that questioned Blackboards claims, but all felt that they had been burned in the past, and werent going to believe anything just now.
Still other campus computing officials said that all the attention being given to the purchase of WebCT by Blackboard obscured the more significant trend in course management: the rise of open source competition. While open source advocates acknowledge that Blackboard is very much atop the market, they cite a number of leading colleges and universities that are going the open source route. And they think the merger may encourage others to follow suit.
The Blackboard Behemoth
Scott E. Siddall, assistant provost and director of instructional technology at Denison University, said that when he first heard about BlackCT, (as many are calling the growing Blackboard, even though it is keeping its name), I thought that things are not going to get any better. Since then, hes been trying to decide if that judgment was too harsh.
Denison is a Blackboard customer, and Siddall said that the concept of its products is good, and is popular with most faculty members. And Siddall said that he hoped the merger would allow for economies of scale and improvements on which Blackboard might now be able to focus. Siddall, who is a leader of the chief information officer group at Educause, said that the improvement he most wants to see is in customer support.
Right now, at this moment, I have a kid taking a test in Blackboard and he cant store, and we cant figure out the problem, and I know that if we call Blackboard, were not going to be able to help that student. We call and we dont get answers, Siddall said.
Tim Kaar, an instructor in Web design and multimedia at Elgin Community College, said he worried about the impact the merger would have on pricing. Kaar was on an Elgin committee that considered options for course management. He said that he liked Blackboard products, but not its prices. The college ended up going with Desire2Learn, a smaller Canadian company that is making some inroads in the American market.
Kaar said he worried about the impact of the merger on prices."The megaplayers in the software industry, when they dominate, their pricing model becomes: Lets pick the client up by their ankles and shake and see what comes out of their pockets, he said.
Other college officials are much more optimistic about the expanded Blackboard. Stephen G. Landry, chief information officer at Seton Hall University, said Blackboard did have real problems with customer service a few years ago. They were a small start-up company and they expanded their customer base much more rapidly than they were able to expand their support staff, he said. But Landry said that he considers Blackboard very responsive now and that there has been marked improvement in the last 18 months.
Landry, who recently applied to join a Blackboard advisory committee, said that he thought part of the skepticism among his colleagues was cultural and was unfair. Theres a lot of suspicion of corporations in higher education. We tend to be non-corporate in our world and to think that automatically something like this is going to be bad for everybody, he said. But corporations merge all the time, and products improve and prices drop and if they dont drop, someone else comes into the market.
Phyllis C. Self, special assistant for distance education at Virginia Commonwealth University, called herself a very satisfied customer of Blackboard. While there are problems from time to time, she said, What software product works perfectly? She said that the merger could be either positive or negative. She saw the potential for improved services and products and also the potential for worse service and higher costs.
She said it all depends on how the two companies are combined. Self cautioned against assuming that the merger would be either good or bad just because a giant is being created. Bigger is not always better, just as big does not need to be bad, she said.
In an interview Friday, Matthew Pittinsky, chairman of Blackboard, said that the combined company would indeed be better. He said that Blackboard was committed to taking the strengths of both companies for use in the future, and he cited service responsiveness as one of WebCTs strengths. (On the topic of Blackboards record in that area, he acknowledged past problems, but said that the company had made great improvements in customer support, and that he believed any lingering complaints were a legacy of a few years ago.")
Pittinsky was unequivocal in saying that WebCT customers should not fear that their services will disappear. We are absolutely committed, he said. It would make zero sense for us to do otherwise than to continue to market and support both products.
The Open Source Challenge
While many CIOs were focused on the fallout from Blackboards absorption of WebCT, other experts on technology in academe said that the real shift going on is away from corporate provided course management altogether.
While Blackboard may dwarf all the open source alternatives, two of them Moodle and Sakai have strong support, and Sakai is attracting the participation of a number of institutions that are influential in higher education generally and in technology specifically. In open source, all the course management software is available free and colleges can modify it and brand it however they want. Sakai was founded by Indiana University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of Michigan. In less than two years, it has quickly expanded to reach 80 colleges and universities, including community colleges and institutions abroad. Today, Sakai will announce the creation of a foundation to give the project a permanent infrastructure.
When the University of California at Merced, the newest UC campus, started operations this fall, it was using only Sakai to support its courses. We didnt want to create a vendors system, said Richard M. Kogut, chief information officer at Merced.
Until open source came along, he said, institutions had a buy or build decision, but open source has advantages of both in that a college can start off with a good base, avoid paying high fees, and then customize it. The danger of an informal collaboration like open source, he said, is that it wont last. But Kogut said that the strong backing Sakai has from top universities convinced him of the projects stability, and that Sakai is speedier than established companies at dealing with problems.
Kogut was formerly at Georgetown University, which uses Blackboard, generally to good reviews, he said. But things happened on Blackboards schedule and bugs got fixed when they got fixed, he said. Sakais team members at various campuses, he said, have been incredible in quickly fixing any problems, even though there is not the traditional contractual relationship of vendor and customer.
The sense of community is very important to Sakai proponents. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District, generally considered a leader among community colleges, joined Sakai early, not only to use the technology, but to contribute software it has created. Vivian Sinou, dean of learning technology at Foothill College, said that when she first heard about Sakai, she was dubious that a bunch of research universities would focus on software from a teaching perspective. But she was quickly won over, is now on the board, and is helping other community colleges get involved.
The whole emphasis is on collaboration and learning environments, she said, so the tools being developed by the research universities have value for her college, and the tools being developed by Foothills development team are being used elsewhere. Sinou noted with pride that a Sakai learning tool Foothill had developed would soon be used at the University of South Africa, which recently joined Sakai.
At the same time, prominent research universities that were not initially involved in Sakai are now taking a look. Rice University, a WebCT client, is currently doing a pilot project with Sakai with the goal of shifting to open source soon.
One of the big drivers to look at Sakai was the fact that with an open source, you can take that product in the direction that is your interest, said Carlos Solis, manager of educational technologies at Rice. You dont need to rely on a commercial vendor to integrate things that arent offered. Solis said, for example, that WebCTs software has disappointed Rice faculty members with its multimedia capabilities, and they like being able to take Sakai software and just adapt it.
Joseph Hardin, chair of the Sakai board and director of the Collaborative Technologies Laboratory at the University of Michigan, said that flexibility is a big part of Sakais growth. Anybody can take it and use it and revise it and redistribute it any way that they want to, he said. So you get software that you can do whatever you want with.
Of course to do what you want with it, you need to have people who know how to customize software and then you need a staff to support that software, and that makes things tricky at some colleges. Kaar, of Elgin Community College, has worked with Moogle and likes it, but he said that when he was on the committee looking at course management options, one reality was knowing that the college didnt have the money to hire more people. We would have had to hire additional people, and getting new hires requires an act of God.
Or as EduBlogr put it, on behalf of those who are in the classroom and might like open source: We are not the customers. We are the users. The customers are our bosses and their bosses, the VPs who sign the POs. Relatively few institutions especially small and medium-sized institutions can afford open source. Pay $75,000 a year for software licenses, or hire 1.5 FTE system administration/programmer-analysts at $60,000 to support open source. Even I can do that math.
One possible outcome as a result is that more colleges may be using open source and Blackboard at the same time. Both Hardin of Sakai and Pittinsky of Blackboard said that they wanted to work together. Pittinsky said that it was too early to tell how significant [Sakai] is going to be, but he stressed that Blackboard and open source are not mutually exclusive, and that he anticipated that some colleges would want to use Blackboard campuswide, but have Sakai applications used in certain disciplinary areas, and Pittinsky said that he applauded such an approach.
But there are also clearly tensions between open source and big corporations. Pittinsky noted that Blackboard had applied and been rejected for membership in Sakais program for corporate partners. Hardin said that Blackboard never met the eligibility requirements of having systems that support Sakai services.
Other companies may also come into play for open source institutions. David Wiley, an assistant professor of instructional technology and director of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at Utah State University, said that he was concerned that the RFP process favors large companies like Blackboard. While smaller companies are starting to offer support for open source, colleges would need to compare an open source proposal and such a business proposal against a single plan from Blackboard.
Wiley thinks this is too bad because hes not a fan of mergers, which leave you with half the performance for twice the price.
But he also cautioned against believing that open source, Blackboard, or any software could improve teaching. A mediocre instructor can go on being mediocre in Sakai, he said. Where he sees the advantage of an open source approach is for the professor who wants to be creative with technology and for colleges that encourage faculty members to be creative in that way. In the Blackboard world, if you have an original idea, you can request that they do it, and wait and see, he said. In the Sakai world, if you have an original idea, you may well be able to hire a computer science undergraduate to do it for you right away.
(Last edited: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 10:28 AM)
Blatant copying' in coursework
(Last edited: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 7:38 PM)
Clima sofre a pior alteração dos últimos cinco mil anos
Clima sofre a pior alteração dos últimos cinco mil anos
rita carvalho, DN 30 Nov 2005
A Europa está a sofrer as piores alterações do clima dos últimos cinco mil anos. As consequências estão à vista 10% dos glaciares alpinos desapareceram em 2003 e os anos mais quentes de que há memória registaram-se em 1998, 2002, 2003 e 2004. Um relatório da Agência Europeia do Ambiente, divulgado ontem, faz um diagnóstico cinzento e não traça cenários risonhos. Portugal não é excepção: por cá os "progressos são pouco animadores", refere o documento.
O desaparecimento dos glaciares no Norte, a expansão dos desertos a Sul e a necessidade de concentrar a população no centro do continente, são alguns corolários do aquecimento global do planeta, que aumenta ao ritmo que crescem as emissões para a atmosfera de gases com efeito de estufa. As mudanças no clima já provocaram a subida de 0.95º C da temperatura média da Europa e prevê-se que, devido a isto, o homem se confronte, num futuro recente, com condições climatéricas com as quais nunca lidou.
Este diagnóstico consta do relatório "O Ambiente na Europa - situação e perspectivas 2005" e faz das alterações climáticas o principal desafio ambiental do futuro. Mas outras questões se colocam, como a perda de biodiversidade, os problemas dos recursos hídricos, da poluição atmosférica, dos ecossistemas marinhos e da desertificação dos solos. A pressão do homem sobre o território é cada vez maior e o aumento das zonas urbanas e edificadas implica a destruição dos recursos naturais.
"Alterámos a composição da atmosfera. Por isso estes dados que reflectem as consequências deste facto não são surpreendentes", considera Filipe Duarte Santos, cientista especialista em alterações climáticas. E explica desde os tempos da revolução industrial, os componentes de dióxido de carbono existentes na atmosfera aumentaram 30%. A libertação destes gases poluentes deve-se à queima dos combustíveis fósseis (petróleo e seus derivados), motivada pelo aumento do tráfego automóvel. A destruição das grandes áreas florestais também contribui para a concentração de gases, pois diminui a acção de sumidouro de dióxido de carbono das árvores. Os efeitos das alterações do clima estão à vista e tenderão a agravar-se, diz o cientista. O aumento de intensidade e capacidade destrutiva dos ciclones tropicais, a manifestação de fenómenos climáticos extremos, como as grandes secas no Sul e as cheias torrenciais no Norte, já fazem parte do presente e vão acentuar-se no futuro.
positivo. Mas nem tudo é mau. O relatório mostra que a implementação da legislação europeia no domínio do ambiente já está a ter resultados positivos, embora alguns efeitos só sejam visíveis ao fim de 10 ou 20 anos. "Conseguimos despoluir as águas e a atmosfera, eliminámos gradualmente algumas substâncias que destroem a camada de ozono e duplicámos as taxas de reciclagem de resíduos. Temos veículos menos poluentes", refere o documento.
À medida que os temas ambientais ganham destaque na agenda política, a sensibilização dos cidadãos cresce e, com ela, a exigência junto dos governantes. As sondagens eurobarómetro indicam que mais de 70% dos europeus desejam que os decisores políticos atribuam igual importância às políticas ambientais, económicas e sociais.
A alteração das regras da fiscalidade é uma medida concreta urgente, pois é uma das formas mais úteis de operar mudanças comportamentais. "Precisamos de reduzir os impostos sobre o trabalho e o investimento", defendeu a directora da Agência Europeia.
(Last edited: Sunday, 8 January 2006, 9:41 PM)
Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually
Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually
LAS VEGAS, Jan. 6 - What would a world with television coming through the Internet be like?
Instead of tuning into programs preset and determined by the broadcast network or cable or satellite TV provider, viewers would be able to search the Internet and choose from hundreds of thousands of programs sent to them from high-speed connections.
At the International Consumer Electronics Show here this week, a future dominated by Internet Protocol TV, or IPTV, seemed possible, maybe even inevitable.
Giants like Yahoo and Google turned their attentions to offering new Internet programming. Hardware companies like Intel introduced chips and platforms that can push videos sent via an Internet connection to living room screens. And Microsoft looked for alliances that would allow its software to dominate living rooms as well as the home office.
"At one level it's clear that the dam has broken," said Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel. "There's an inevitable move to use the Internet as a distribution medium, and that's not going to stop."
The rapid emergence of the consumer electronics and computer companies as Internet video providers is certain to challenge the control of the cable, telephone and satellite companies, which seek to dominate the distribution of digital content to the home. Competition has intensified as more consumers have upgraded to digital televisions.
Indeed, the easy availability of on-demand content over the Internet is certain to accelerate consumer expectations that they will have more control over digital video content, both to watch programs when they want as well as to move video programs to different types of displays in different rooms of the home.
"Appointment-based television is dead," said William Randolph Hearst III, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm. "The cable industry is really in danger of becoming commoditized."
Mr. Hearst sits on the board of Akimbo, a provider of an Internet service that permits users to download video content via the Internet to a set-top box digital video player. This week, Akimbo announced its first mainstream content deal to enable its customers to download Hollywood movies for later viewing on their televisions.
In the battle for the living room, cable, satellite, and increasingly, phone companies are trying to defend their turf by offering more choice through an array of content in video-on-demand programs.
But fending off the Internet's openness will be a struggle, one that the online companies themselves lost years ago.
At the onset of the dot-com era, large online service companies like AOL, Compuserve and MSN tried to lock customers into electronic walled gardens of digital information.
But it quickly became apparent that no single company could compete with the vast variety of information and entertainment sources provided on the Web.
The same phenomenon may well overtake traditional TV providers. Potentially, IPTV could replace the 100- or 500-channel world of the cable and satellite companies with millions of hybrid combinations that increasingly blend video, text from the Web, and even video-game-style interactivity.
Though still new, IPTV is already commercially available in limited areas both in the United States and internationally. To date, the new digital Internet content is hard to find and of uneven quality. Moreover, the consumer electronics industry is still struggling to complete copy protection agreements with Hollywood and other content providers.
But the advantage of IPTV is that it can potentially be deployed at lower cost than current cable television systems and can offer consumers features like the ability to record several programs simultaneously without having to add costly additional tuners. (And IPTV can potentially record many streams if bandwidth is available.)
A prototype of one feature of the Microsoft IPTV service, known in the industry as a matrix channel, allows several baseball games to be viewed simultaneously along with textual information like player statistics.
Internet search is also likely to play a defining role in shaping IPTV, according to executives attending the consumer electronics show.
Both Yahoo and Google announced plans to distribute video at the show, and Yahoo showed a new application intended to be used with a high-definition television to ease the search for video content, stream digital video and permit users to keep their personal information and files in sync whether they are viewing a PC, TV or mobile phone.
Proponents stress that the open- video Internet is still in its infancy and the battle may not be completely joined until a new generation of faster Internet connections reach the home. This is because to stream digital video requires about 1.5 megabits of bandwidth to send conventional NTSC video and from 6 to 8 megabits to send high-definition video.Currently broadband data rates in the United States reach just 1.5 megabits or less, but those speeds are beginning to rise after years of delay as D.S.L. and cable companies upgrade their plant and equipment with fiber optic lines.
There are powerful companies that are now anxious to reach homes without being subjected to special content arrangements with D.S.L., cable and satellite providers.
They are companies like Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others, with all of them beginning to make available an ever-widening array of video content that looks more like a world of five million channels rather than 50 or even 500.
On Thursday, Intel introduced its new ViiV computer design that is intended to bring the abilities of the personal computer to the living room. ViiV is a set of computer hardware and software technologies that will go inside computers and set-top boxes.
Several hundred consumer electronics and computer companies announced plans to build ViiV-based systems, and Mr. Otellini said that more than 100 companies, including AOL, ESPN, MTV, NBC and Turner Broadcasting, would offer digital content for ViiV-based systems.
In his presentation at the consumer show Wednesday, Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman, said that its home television Media Center version of Windows would be available for the new ViiV computers.
The logjam that has prevented such digital content delivery deals has been broken, Mr. Gates said, because the consumer electronics industry has now begun to reach so-called managed-content copyright protection agreements with Hollywood.
Moreover, many industry executives expect Steven P. Jobs to extend iTunes video service of Apple Computer from his company's portable iPods into the living room, possibly as early as next week at the company's annual MacWorld Exhibition in San Francisco.
Microsoft is also cooperating with two of the largest telephone service providers. After spending more than a decade courting the cable industry, with a plan that was originally called Cablesoft, Microsoft shifted allies and is now introducing its technology with telephone service providers.
Still, critics charge that the telephone companies are intentionally crippling the Internet capabilities of their services to appear much like traditional closed cable offerings.
"They're trying to construct their own separate world to keep their walled garden," said Robert Frankston, a personal computer industry pioneer and former Microsoft researcher.
The growing tension has begun to show in the objections of existing D.S.L. and cable providers that are threatening to create surcharges for Internet content providers as well as the prospect of the deployment of a two-tiered Internet in which favored customers would in effect have special high-performance lanes reserved for their use.
"They believe that if you control the user interface you make more money than if you are a dumb pipe," said Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks, the Internet music and video service provider.
Microsoft executives defend the way in which the telephone companies are deploying the company's IPTV technology, saying that if consumers are exposed to the chaos and uneven quality of the open Internet, it is likely to undermine the development of the new services.
"You need to begin with something that is easy to use and not overwhelming," said Christine A. Heckart, marketing general manager for Microsoft's TV division. "If we do this well you will have an experience much like TV today, only better."
She acknowledges that today's Internet generation may be far more receptive to a more interactive experience than traditional TV and eager not to be fenced in by their television service providers.
Microsoft has an early lead in offering IPTV technology both to the industry and to consumers, but at the electronics show this year Intel showed significant independence and introduced its own software features including digital video recording abilities with its ViiV platform.
Both companies, however, are trying to change the nature of television by making it possible for small start-ups to compete with giant networks by making available content that has never before been able to reach a global audience.
One such company is International Television Networks Inc. of Laguna Niguel, Calif. It recently struck an agreement with the National Lacrosse League to broadcast all of the league's games as well as customized player descriptions.
The company has adopted a strategy of making video content available for specialized markets, which was previously not possible using traditional television broadcasting technology.
"I can do everything a cable company can do," said David Koenig, the company's founder and chief technology officer, "but I will have 100,000 channels."
(Last edited: Monday, 2 January 2006, 10:15 PM)
Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry
Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry
The flat-panel televisions will be getting bigger, the MP3 players and cellphones will be getting smaller. And almost everything will be getting cheaper.
But the biggest trend expected at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins this week in Las Vegas, is that these machines will be communicating with one another. The theme of this year's show might best be described as Convergence: This Time We Mean It.
For more than a decade, manufacturers of consumer electronics like televisions and audio gear have talked about blending their products with personal computers, so that consumers can enjoy a seamless stream of data, video and music anywhere. It has not happened, because the two industries do not have compatible technology standards and the requisite high-speed Internet connections have not been widespread enough.
This year all that changes, say executives who will be introducing new products at the show. They say that consumers will finally be able to sling images and sound wirelessly around a room or an entire house. The major electronics makers will be showing TV's with computer capabilities and phones that will play video and music, as well as the next generation of digital recording and storage devices.
While technological convergence may now be possible, some fear the industries have not yet made connecting all those devices simple enough for the average user.
"There is still a lot of confusion around the connected home," said Van L. Baker, a market analyst with Gartner, a technology research and consulting firm. "Reducing it will be the challenge to keeping the momentum going."
Getting consumers past the confusion of how to link, say, a PC to a TV will be the next big hurdle.
The show comes after a very good year for consumer electronics. Plasma and liquid-crystal display televisions, MP3 players and digital cameras with five or more megapixels of resolution have been big sellers.
"We don't see any reason that this will slow down anytime soon," Mr. Baker said. "The transition of entertainment from analog to digital, of time-shifting and place-shifting, is just getting under way."
Attendees of the electronics show, the biggest trade show in the country, will be scrambling to get a first glimpse at some of the products that will fuel the growth of the industry, which represents $126 billion in annual sales. The annual exhibition is off limits to the general public, but it is expected to attract 130,000 executives, dealers, journalists and investors.
More than 2,500 exhibitors, a record, spread across 1.6 million square feet, another record, will try to grab their attention. This year, 6 percent of the exhibitors will be from China, illustrating that nation's significance as a major player in the industry. Among foreign attendees, China will rank third, behind Canada and Taiwan.
The show is more than just a display of new technological toys. It is also a forum for industry executives to forge alliances and present new business strategies.
Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, will give his vision of the future in a speech Wednesday evening. Sir Howard Stringer, the chairman and chief executive of Sony, will take his turn Thursday morning. On Friday morning Terry Semel, the chairman and chief executive of Yahoo, will speak, followed later that day by Larry Page, a co-founder of Google.
Intel plans a major announcement about its new Viiv (rhymes with drive) multimedia platform, which will power PC's built to deliver digital entertainment. Intel hopes that Viiv will transform the home computer in the same way that its Centrino platform transformed the laptop into a mobile communications device. Paul S. Otellini, the chief executive of Intel, will give a speech Thursday evening outlining Intel's road map.
Manufacturers are expecting another record year in 2006, but with continuing declines in prices. Across a broad swath of categories like cameras and audio and DVD players, consumers will pay less and get more features. Even in the flat-panel TV industry, prices dropped as much as 40 percent in 2005. This trend will translate into slower revenue growth in 2006.
As for new areas of growth, analysts are predicting big sales of game consoles in 2006 as Sony introduces its PlayStation 3 and Nintendo brings out its Revolution console. Both devices, like the new Microsoft Xbox 360, can be used as the central node for a wirelessly networked home.
Electronics companies will also be introducing new home media servers and TV's that can receive digital content wirelessly from a PC or via an HDMI cable (for high-definition multimedia interface). Another hot topic at the show will be IPTV, or Internet protocol television, which sends programming over the Internet through a broadband connection.
Then there are the companies, like Elan Home Systems, that want to get right in the middle and sell devices to control all the networked appliances. Elan will be at the show introducing a control pad for everything in your house, from electronic devices to the drapes.
While major players in the electronics industry continue to squabble over the format of the next generation of DVD's - Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD - both factions will be showing products that consumers can buy this year. The new players will be expensive, some costing more than $1,000. Still, the industry expects to sell about a half-million of the new players in 2006, mostly as components in PC's rather than as stand-alone devices.
In the audio sector, companies are seeking ways to take advantage of the popularity and dominance of the Apple iPod. Several manufacturers are planning to announce products that will work with the iPod to move music to devices around the house.
Another big trend, said Steve Tirado, chief executive of Silicon Image, a semiconductor maker, is bigger storage devices. "People want a place to consolidate their digital media."
Ross Rubin, the director for industry analysis at NPD, a market research firm, said that apart from home networking systems, some new technologies would make their way to consumer markets this year.
Canon and Toshiba will both present televisions with surface-conduction electron-emitter displays. The technology produces crisper pictures than can be offered by existing flat-panel televisions, the manufacturers say. The sets will go on sale later this year.
Other Asian TV manufacturers will also demonstrate sets built with new organic light-emitting diodes that use less energy and could one day be cheaper to produce than liquid-crystal display panels.
Another notable product development to be seen at the show is the miniaturization of cathode-ray tube technology to fit into flat-panel televisions, allowing what could be the best-quality picture yet. "They will be very high end, very expensive," said Mr. Rubin. But like that of so many products at the show, the price will eventually go down.
(Last edited: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 12:04 PM)
Descoberto o autor de biografia falsa na enciclopédia on-line Wikipédia
O falsário pede desculpa e diz que tudo não passou de uma brincadeira
Descoberto o autor de biografia falsa na enciclopédia on-line Wikipédia
13.12.2005 - 10h41 :Ana Domingos (PÚBLICO)
Foi identificado o autor da biografia falsa na Wikipédia, uma enciclopédia on-line que, até este incidente, aceitava contribuições de qualquer cibernauta anónimo, mas que agora já só aceita entradas de colaboradores registados. O falsificador, Brian Chase, norte-americano do estado do Tennessee, apresentou desculpas formais, disse que tudo fez parte de uma brincadeira destinada a um colega seu e que não lhe passou pela cabeça que alguém levasse a sério a dita enciclopédia on-line.
A vítima da biografia falseada, Jonh Seigenthaler, de 78 anos,
que nos anos 60 foi assessor do procurador-geral dos EUA, Robert
Kennedy, descobriu que, durante 132 dias, constavam factos falsos na
entrada com o seu nome da Wikipédia. Nomeadamente, que estaria
envolvido nos assassinatos de Jonh e Robert Kennedy e que teria vivido
na União Soviética de 1971 a 1984. A denúncia rebentou com uma notícia
assinada pelo próprio a 29 de Novembro no diário USA Today, jornal em
que trabalhou como colunista e responsável da página de opinião.
(Last edited: Monday, 11 April 2005, 11:48 PM)
Destruir para criar
DN, 11 de Abril de 2005
José Correia Guedes
Professor da Católica
Destruir para criar
Mudança. No futuro, todas as chamadas fixas irão migrar para a Internet e serão suportadas inteiramente por software, dispensando a necessidade de infra- -estrutura dedicada como acontece actualmente. As telecomuni-cações fixas serão um serviço de Internet inteiramente gratuito, tal como é hoje o e-mail e os web-browsers
Grandes transformações económicas, com impacto generalizado no bem-estar da sociedade, conseguiram-se sempre à custa de rupturas com interesses instalados. Foi assim na aurora da revolução industrial, com a introdução do conceito de fábrica no sentido moderno, e é hoje com as novas tecnologias e processos de negócio assentes na Internet.
Há 300 anos atrás a actividade têxtil na Inglaterra baseava-se no sistema de produção domiciliária - o chamado putting-out. Negociantes de têxtil distribuíam pelas famílias das vilas e aldeias matérias-primas para serem tratadas e transformadas nos seus próprios lares, recolhendo, posteriormente, o produto já processado para venda ao consumidor final. Este sistema era extremamente popular. Os trabalhadores gostavam da ausência de supervisão e da possibilidade de poder definir os próprios ritmos de trabalho. Em termos económicos o sistema fazia sentido porque os bens de capital exigidos no processo de transformação eram modestos e não permitiam economias de escala. Para quê juntar toda a produção num local único, sob o mesmo tecto, se daí não decorriam ganhos de eficiência significativos?
Foi a introdução da máquina a vapor - e dos equipamentos complementares que exploravam a energia e a força libertada pela máquina a vapor - que alterou a situação. A máquina a vapor deu uma vantagem decisiva ao modelo de produção centrado numa fábrica e assente na produção em massa. Os produtores domiciliários resistiram enquanto puderam, vituperando a nova tecnologia como uma invenção do diabo, e os novos industriais como piratas do bem-estar alheio. Data desta altura o movimento dos luditas bandos de homens armados assaltavam à noite as fábricas para destruir as máquinas, numa cruzada pela defesa do seu modo de vida. Para os novos industriais, a reacção hostil da população tornou difícil encontrar mão-de-obra disposta a trabalhar nas fábricas. A solução foi procurar entre os mais desfavorecidos e com mais dificuldade em recusar uma oferta de trabalho: crianças, muitas vezes recrutadas dos orfanatos e de asilos para pobres, e mulheres, especialmente as novas e solteiras.
Hoje, é a Internet uma das principais ameaça aos interesses estabelecidos. A indústria discográfica foi uma das suas primeiras vítimas. Empresas como a Napster e depois a KaZaA, com os seus modelos inovadores de partilha de ficheiros, tornaram obsoleto o sistema tradicional de produção e comercialização de música. Os incumbentes usaram todos os meios ao seu alcance para neutralizar os novos piratas; conseguiram, finalmente, fechar a Napster por sentença judicial. Tarde de mais o génio já estava fora da lâmpada. Os gigantes discográficos de uma outra era atrás já tinham sido, irremediavelmente, ultrapassados pela história. Hoje é a Apple com o ipod o modelo de negócio triunfante na distribuição de conteúdos musicais. Paga um montante simbólico por um single (começou por ser 1 dólar) e pode ouvi-la quantas vezes quiser, quando quiser, onde quiser. Há poucas semanas atrás, o Financial Times relatava que a venda de singles descarregados pela Net ultrapassou pela primeira vez a venda de CD por canais tradicionais.
Outro teatro de operações em que a Internet começa a criar carnificina entre os incumbentes é o das telecomunicações fixas. Niklas Zennstrom e Janus Friis, dois jovens escandinavos, depois de fundarem a KaZaA, criaram a Skype, uma incarnação da Napster para o sector das telecomunicações. Enquanto a Napster oferecia a possibilidade de ouvir música de uma forma gratuita, a Skype oferece a possibilidade de fazer chamadas telefónicas sem pagar. Ao contrário de Napster, porém, a Skype tem uma base legal sólida. O modelo da Skype, tal como anteriormente o da Napster, assenta em tecnologia peer-to-peer redes informais de computadores pessoais interligados por conexões de banda larga, via Internet, que permitem a circulação de conteúdos digitais, sejam eles ficheiros musicais ou ficheiros de voz. Enquanto chamadas de voz entre utilizadores de Skype são grátis, chamadas entre utilizadores de Skype e não utilizadores importam um custo, pois utilizam as linhas telefónicas dos operadores incumbentes. Para aderir basta instalar o software num computador pessoal ligado em banda larga à Internet e com sistema operativo Windows. Para já, os utilizadores são maioritariamente empresas, mais sensíveis ao argumento de redução de custos. No entanto, os fundadores da Skype acreditam que no futuro todas as chamadas fixas irão migrar para a Internet e serão suportadas inteiramente por software, dispensando a necessidade de infra-estrutura dedicada como acontece actualmente. As telecomunicações fixas serão um serviço de Internet inteiramente gratuito, tal como é hoje o e-mail e os web-browsers . Se este visionários têm razão, as grandes empresas de telecomunicações fixas irão pelo mesmo caminho de definhamento que as suas congéneres do sector discográfico foram na última década e que a produção têxtil de base domiciliária foi há 300 anos.
(Last edited: Monday, 11 April 2005, 11:46 PM)
Economia, emprego e factor cultural
Adelino Torres, Professor do ISEG
DN, 11 de Abril de 2005
Cultura. Se, de facto, a economia é importante, é duvidoso que, por si só, resolva os problemas da organização da sociedade contemporâ-nea. Os dilemas culturais colocados pela evolução vertiginosa da ciência, da tecnologia e das ideias oferecem desafios urgentes a que apenas pode responder uma sociedade educada
A propósito da crise fala-se muito de economia e de finanças e pouco desse outro pilar do desenvolvimento que é a "cultura", aqui tomada no sentido amplo do termo.
Se, de facto, a economia é importante, é duvidoso que, por si só, resolva os problemas da organização da sociedade contemporânea. Os dilemas culturais colocados pela evolução vertiginosa da ciência, da tecnologia e das ideias oferecem desafios urgentes a que apenas pode responder uma sociedade educada.
É por isso que um ensino exclusivamente orientado por uma óptica utilitarista estática, que não esteja, em particular, assente na investigação fundamental, revelar-se-á a prazo inoperante e mesmo factor de retrocesso se, como é previsível num sistema dinâmico, os mercados evoluírem, os objectivos mudarem e o tipo de empregabilidade se transformar radicalmente.
Desde logo a educação não pode ter uma visão estreita virada para satisfazer apenas as "necessidades da economia" tal como por vezes a vemos, porque é grande o risco de muitas profissões ficarem rapidamente obsoletas e não corresponderem às "necessidades" da sociedade, do mercado e do Estado.
Sem negligenciar uma determinada especialização e qualificação profissional, importa que se prepare antes de mais a juventude para a mudança, a qual implica abertura de espírito, curiosidade, autonomia, pensamento crítico e criativo. Em resumo tudo o que pressupõe cultura e competitividade.
Também a "formação ao longo da vida" só é plenamente realizável se as pessoas tiverem ao menos um determinado nível de literacia (no sentido de "cultura geral") articulada com a faculdade de mudar. Essa literacia condiciona em larga medida a atitude e a capacidade dos agentes económicos no âmbito da "actualização de competência".
Se assim for, limitar-se a avaliar a educação de um ponto de vista exclusivamente "prático" ou utilitarista (satisfazer as necessidades imediatas do mercado em nome de um "realismo" discutível) é uma aporia que pouco resolverá. Como alguém disse (Filipe Botton), não basta agir por reacção, é necessário fazê-lo por antecipação. O imediatismo não é bom conselheiro nem dará resposta aos problemas das empresas e menos ainda aos do país.
Por outro lado, a cultura excede largamente o que a escola ensina. Na sociedade civil os meios audiovisuais, imprensa, TV, clubes desportivos, associações, partidos, internet etc. têm grande influência, infelizmente nem sempre com os melhores resultados. Por exemplo, certos canais de televisão confundem demasiadas vezes "popular" com rasca e "cultura" com obscuridade. É preciso desmistificar, sem demagogia, a trindade fatídica que, no espírito do cidadão médio, mistura cultura com obscuridade e com tédio, afastando-o em vez de o atrair, diminuindo-o em lugar de o fazer melhor.
Em televisão há certamente cultura nos populares e pedagógicos programas do brasileiro Jô Soares, infinitamente superiores em humor e inteligência a programas portugueses congéneres, cujo conteúdo pode frequentemente ser classificado como "dissolvente" e anticultural, onde impera o snobismo, a mentalidade paroquial e as personagens patéticas tiradas de uma farsa tonta.
Por seu turno os clubes desportivos poderiam aproveitar as suas "claques" para favorecer a civilidade e educação da juventude e não para promover tribos de desordeiros; enquanto que os partidos políticos ganhariam em dar às juventudes partidárias uma formação pluridisciplinar séria, em seminários de Verão, a fim de não favorecer a promoção de clientelas de oportunistas incultos sem sentido da causa pública.
Com estas e outras melhorias, ajudar-se-ia mais seguramente a qualidade dos recursos humanos, a produtividade e a economia do que em descarregar sistematicamente as culpas todas sobre o ensino e a universidade onde finalmente não se trabalha tão mal como alguns dizem...