Elpub buttonEP Topic News: 18th and 15th May 2001

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VRWorld Congress latest agenda

The latest agenda for the VR World Congress, to be held in Barcelona on June 27-29, 2001, and organised by the EPIFOCAL project, has been published on El.pub. In addition to attending the sessions outlined in the published agenda, there will be ample opportunity for delegates to network with prospective partners in the commercial and public sectors.

The event has been designed to appeal to the widest audience of professionals interested in the development of VR and interactive 3D (I3D) applications. Applications which will be exploited in a wide range of disciplines, including: publishing, healthcare, education, culture and heritage, entertainment, services, manufacturing, engineering. The event will also consider the hardware, software, systems and services which will provide the necessary infrastructure.

Throughout the three days the conference will:

The event is already proving to be very popular, so potential attendees are encouraged to register with the event administrator as soon as possible (using the details published on the conference agenda page below). Attendance at the event is free of charge. A limited amount of space is available for tabletop demonstrations, please contact the administrator for further information. 18/05/01

URL: vrcongress.htm
Email: Administrator Sophie Lafond mailto:slafond@mva.co.uk

Metadata Engine Project Newsletter

The second issue of the METAe Newsletter from the Metadata Engine Project is now available online. The issue includes:

URL: http://heds.herts.ac.uk/METAe/news.htm

Impact of convergenc e - report

The increasing crossover between previously distinct industries is creating new products, new collaborations, new competitors and is putting strains on the regulatory frameworks of country's throughout Europe. This convergence of technologies needs to be matched by a regulatory framework which is based on policies which can take account of the significant changes. Broadcasting, telecommunications, computing, publishing and financial services, for example, have historically fallen under different regulatory regimes.

This study, "Impact of Convergence on the Competitiveness of the European Consumer Electronics Industry", lays the groundwork for the "sort of joined-up policy-making that Europe now needs". Available as a pdf document via ftp download, there is also a paper based on the study published in the IPTS Report. 18/05/01

URL: report ftp://ftp.jrc.es/pub/EURdoc/eur19659en.pdf
URL: IPTS Report paper http://www.jrc.es/pages/iptsreport/vol49/english/ICT1E496.htm

Agent portal

Agentland is the first international portal for intelligent agents and bots. AgentLand is also a one stop shop for intelligent software agents. The web site provides a mine of helpful information about the world of agents, plus a selection of exciting agents from both established software companies and independent developers. The site belongs to French company Cybion.

Since 1996, Cybion has specialised in competitive intelligence and information gathering on the Internet. A major tool used in these operations are the different "species" of intelligent software agents. Thus, Cybion was in a position to identify the coming of age of a new generation of agents, more efficient and user-friendly. Cybion decided to put these tools at the disposal of the general Internet public, through a dedicated, practical and user-friendly web site: AgentLand.com. 18/05/01

URL: English version http://www.agentland.com/
URL: French version http://www.agentland.fr/

Digital watermarking groups merge

Two groups of companies that were leading contenders for a next-generation digital video copy protection solution employing proprietary watermarking technologies have signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) to combine forces as the VWM Group (Video Watermarking). Video watermarking technology is generally regarded as an essential component in preventing unauthorised digital-to-digital copying, analog-to-digital copying, and in providing recording and playback control for the next generation of digital recording and playback devices.

The seven members of the VWM Group include the former Galaxy companies: Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, and Sony; and the former Millennium companies: Digimarc, Macrovision, and Philips. The VWM Group intends to offer a best-of-breed video watermarking solution in response to the May 2001 DVD Copy Control Association ("DVD CCA") request for bids. 18/05/01

URL: http://www.macrovision.com/press_rel_4_25_01.html

XML Signature Library

The Institute for Applied Information Processing and Communications (IAIK) in Austria has announced its XML Signature Library (IXSIL) 1.0 Beta 1. IXSIL is conceived as a toolkit which enables Java developers to easily integrate the creation and verification of XML based digital signatures into their applications. IXSIL is fully compliant with the joint W3C/IETF standardization effort "XML-Signature Syntax and Processing" in its 19th April 2001 Candidate Recommendation version. 18/05/01

URL: http://jcewww.iaik.at/products/ixsil/index.htm

Microsoft XQuery prototype

Microsoft developers have announced that the XQuery prototype demonstrated at XML DevCon in New York in April is now available for evaluation. The prototype currently follows the W3C's February 15, 2001 working draft and will be updated to the next working draft within weeks after the next working draft's publication.

The site allows you to formulate XQueries and a subset of a proposed XQuery-compatible data manipulation language and parse and execute the former, but currently only parse the later. Since it is provided via a web site, the developers provide a set of predefined XML documents and disallow the use of user-specified documents for security reasons. In addition the site offers a set of compliance tests that can be used to check the syntax for the XQuery parser.

The prototype is implemented in C Sharp and is currently only available via the web site and its main use is "to familiarise the public with XQuery and to gather feedback and requirements for both the W3C working group and our (Microsoft's) own implementation effort". 18/05/01

URL: follow links http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml
URL: direct
URL: XQuery Feb. draft http://www.w3.org/TR/xquery/

Guide to XML and databases

XML.com has published what, this online resource of all things XML, describes as: "the definitive guide to using XML for import and export with databases". This in-depth article, by XML and database expert Ron Bourret, discusses mapping DTDs (both table-based and object-relational mappings) to database schemas, and vice versa.

This issue also features a report from the 10th International World Wide Web Conference, the annual gathering for developers, academics and others who work with the web. The report includes details of Tim Berners-Lee's keynote, web multimedia, the problems of deploying XHTML, and web annotations with Annotea. 18/05/01

URL: database article http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2001/05/09/dtdtodbs.html
URL: WWW10 report http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2001/05/09/www10/

Mediasurface 3.5 released

Mediasurface 3.5, the latest version of this web-based content management and delivery application claims to provide:

Mediasurface 3.5 will be available by the end of May 2001. 18/05/01

URL: http://www.mediasurface.com/

Actionscript for Flash programmers

As many of our readers will be aware, Macromedia's Flash 5 includes a programming language called "ActionScript", which is used to control animation and multimedia within Flash. "ActionScript: The Definitive Guide" from O'Reilly introduces both programmers and non-programmers to the new language by first describing fundamental programming concepts and then delineating in detail the components, syntax, and usage of ActionScript. Chapter 13, "Movie Clips", is available free online. The author of the book has also set-up a companion site, The ActionScript Code Depot, which provides numerous examples of code discussed. 18/05/01

URL: Table of Contents http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/actscript/
URL: Chapter 13 http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/actscript/chapter/ch13.html
URL: ActionScript Code Depot http://www.moock.org/asdg/

The Importance of XML

A note to the XML Developer's list reports that Dr Dobb's Technetcast has released "The Importance of XML", a panel discussion recorded at XML DevCon 2001 in New York, which discusses XML four years after the introduction of the XML 1.0 specification and considers deployment, standardisation, impact on software development, with Tim Bray (co-editor of the XML 1.0 W3C Specification), Peter Chen (Invited Expert of W3C XML Linking and Schema WG's), Norbert Mikula (Chair, Technical Advisory Committee, OASIS Board of Directors), David Orchard (member of the W3C XML Linking and XML Core committees, co-editor of the XML Link and XInclude specifications), Bob Sutor (Vice-Chairman of ebXML), Jon Udell (Executive Editor for New Media, byte.com). 18/05/01

URL: http://technetcast.ddj.com/tnc_play_stream.html?stream_id=555

Keep search simple

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for May 13 is online and contends that search is the user's lifeline for mastering complex web sites. The essay expands on the premise that "the best designs offer a simple search box on the home page and play down advanced search and scoping". Something, with which we concur - as we're glad to report that we implemented just such a system on the El.pub web site very early in its development. 18/05/01

URL: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010513.html

Anti-Napster software debuts

Artists, musicians and songwriters who care about how their music is used on the Internet can now make use of a new anti-piracy Internet software called Songbird. Songbird is a software tool that helps music copyright owners - including artists, songwriters, publishers, producers and record companies - find out how their music copyrights are being infringed in the on-line world.

It will be particularly useful for artists and independent record companies who are not part of the Napster litigation in the United States, putting them in a better position to identify unauthorized files on the Napster network. After downloading the software, a Songbird user can instantly get a list of the different versions of a song that are being made available. It could include thousands of infringing versions of songs. Songbird was designed by Travis Hill, a young musician and Internet expert. 15/05/01

URL: http://www.iapu.org/

New e-research group at Oxford

Oxford University is creating the world's first truly multi-disciplinary Internet Institute based in a major university. The Oxford Internet Institute (OII), with initial funding of £15 million, will carry out research and make policy recommendations about the effects on society of the Internet with the goal of putting Oxford, the UK and Europe at the centre of debates about how the Internet could and should develop.

The creation of the OII has been warmly welcomed by the UK's Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett, the European Commissioner for the Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, and the Cabinet Office e-envoy, Andrew Pinder. 15/05/01

URL: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/po/010504.htm

MinML2 released

The first version of MinML2 software (a small footprint namespace aware XML parser) is available. MinML2 accepts a substantial subset of XML 1.0 (the principal omission is mixed content) and is Namespace aware. The jar file containing the parser and all the SAX classes needed for it to operate is 16.2Kb. MinML is available under an BSD style licence via the URL below. 15/05/01

URL: http://www.wilson.co.uk/xml/minml2.htm

Computers + biology = bioinformatics

By the end of 2003, the information compiled from the human genome project is expected to be in public Internet-accessible databases. Researchers say this may spark a revolution in medicine, giving scientists and physicians the material they need to predict, prevent, and treat disease. However using the vast amounts of DNA sequence data and applying it for the benefit of society is a massive exercise in data processing, manipulation, visualisation and interpretation.

The answer to the exploitation of the genome data may lie in the emerging discipline of bioinformatics - the application of computational and analytical methods to biological problems. Bioinformatics is a rapidly evolving scientific discipline, which will focus on building the software tools necessary - tools which may well have uses for the wider interactive electronic publishing community.

Interested? O'Reilly have released a book, "Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills", which explains the rudiments of bioinformatics, the skills required and the potential for their exploitation. Chapter 1, "Biology in the Computer Age", is available free online. 15/05/01

URL: Bioinformatics article http://www.oreilly.com/news/bioinformatics_0401.html
URL: Chapter 1 http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/bioskills/chapter/ch01.html
URL: book table of contents http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/bioskills/

IBM - e-publishing resources

The latest list of resources from IBM includes some general articles on Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and a more specific article on IBM's Websphere web application development platform.

Workplace monitoring rising

EPIC Alert (May 2, 2001), the email-based news service from Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington DC, reports on a US survey which shows that workplace monitoring of employees is rising. The American Management Association's 2001 Annual Survey on Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance, released on April 18, finds that nearly 80% of all major US companies carry out some form of employee monitoring, a dramatic increase from 35% percent in 1997.

Approximately 63% of companies review employees' Internet use and 47% monitor email communications. Furthermore, 25% of companies say they have fired employees, and 65% percent have disciplined, for misuse of these services. Other common forms of surveillance include telephone monitoring and video surveillance.

According to the survey, most employers cite legal compliance, legal liability, performance review, productivity measures and security concerns as their top reasons for snooping on their employees. A summary of the American Management Association's 2001 Annual Survey on Workplace Monitoring & Surveillance is available online in pdf format. 15/05/01

URL: EPIC Alert http://www.epic.org/alert/EPIC_Alert_8.08.html
URL: survey summary http://www.amanet.org/research/pdfs/ems_short2001.pdf

Distributed learning standard?

The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) is developing and promoting the use of an "open specification" (IMS Content Packaging Specification) for facilitating online distributed learning activities such as locating and using educational content, tracking learner progress, reporting learner performance, and exchanging student records between administrative systems.

IMS has two key goals:

The IMS Content Packaging Specification provides the functionality to describe and package learning materials, such as an individual course or a collection of courses, into interoperable, distributable packages. Content Packaging addresses the description, structure, and location of online learning materials and the definition of some particular content types.

The Specification is aimed primarily at content producers, learning management system vendors, computing platform vendors, and learning service providers. The Final Version 1.1 of the IMS spec. was released to the public in April 2001, and is comprised of three documents - links to PDF files of the relevant materials, along with detail of the spec., are provided by the IMS web site. 15/05/01

URL: http://www.imsproject.org/

Semantic web - EU project

Sesame is an RDF Schema-based Repository and Querying facility that is being developed by Aidministrator Nederland bv as one of the key deliverables in the European IST project, On-To-Knowledge. Sesame supports expressive querying of RDF data and schema information, using an OQL-style query language, called RQL, which is being developed by the ICS-FORTH Institute in Greece. Sesame is still under development and, its developers note, should be considered at alpha stage. 15/05/01

URL: Sesame http://sesame.aidministrator.nl/
URL: On-To-Knowledge http://www.ontoknowledge.org/
URL: ICS-FORTH http://www.ics.forth.gr/

Java Speech API

Conversay, a developer of speech technologies for both mobile and traditional Internet access devices, will lead the effort to define the next upgrade to the Java Speech Application Program Interface, JSAPI 2.0.

JSAPI defines the industry standard interface for integration of speech technologies with applications based on Java technology from Sun Microsystems. Along with the standard specification, the effort will also produce a reference implementation and a test compatibility kit (TCK). 15/05/01

URL: Java Community Process Program http://java.sun.com/aboutJava/communityprocess/
URL: Conversay http://www.conversay.com/

Opera 5.11 for Windows

The latest version of the Opera browser is available and provides customisation of your desktop and interface, mouse navigation for faster browsing, and improved window handling. The software can be downlaoded from the Opera site. 15/05/01

URL: http://www.opera.com/download/windows.html

IP Television Alliance

The IP Television Alliance, who, from our investigations seem to be a US-dominated group of companies "devoted to enabling the delivery of rich-media services over broadband IP networks". Members of the Alliance represent three industry segments: broadband platforms, applications, and media content.

Launched by Minerva Networks, a US provider of video networking technology and a group of partner companies, the association has the state aim of: educating, promoting, and accelerating market adoption of IP Television. Other companies involved include: Nortel Networks, SGI, Philips CryptoTec, Motorola, DemandVideo, Elastic Networks, Alloptic, Inprimis, nCUBE, Pace Micro Technology, World Wide Packets, InfoSpace, and Terayon. Further information on the IP Television Alliance is available on the Minerva site. 15/05/01

URL: IP Television Alliance http://www.minervanetworks.com/alliance/home.htm
URL: Minerva Networks http://www.minervanetworks.com/

About topic news
We now publish topic news twice a week with a separate page for each week, ensuring that links (particularly from El.pub Weekly) continue to remain current. To view news from other weeks, please use the navigation buttons below.
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