Elpub buttonEP Topic News: 15th August 2002

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Contents
 
iTV maths for kids in the US
fp6 news
Free US DVR report
Electronic Textbook Design Guide
SALT forum publishes version 1.0
SMS on the TV
New web service specs.
Sony announces new DRM system
Decoding the Irish youth market
NUA figures show 10% online
Graphing tools
Ready, steady, go - bot
Barney, Jakob and Phidgets
XML business standards for retail
DivX and Showshifter
Open source and the legal issues
eContent programme web site
Future of telecom report

... not because of downloading

Paying for content
JoDI new issue
First Monday August edition
Semantic web

FP6 news

The Commission has now issued draft documents on the main instruments:

"Provisions for implementing Specific Targeted Research Projects": European Commission working document

"Provisions for implementing Networks of excellence": European Commission working document

"Provisions for implementing Integrated Projects": European Commission working document

The explanatory page is at
http://www.cordis.lu/rtd2002/fp-activities/instruments.htm#integrated

However the links to download the documents from CORDIS don't seem to work. On the other hand, a search on Google found them on the Europa site. These documents do provide some idea of the changes that are being envisaged in the way the projects will be run by the Commission.

URL: news item http://www.cordis.lu/rtd2002/fp-activities/instruments.htm#integrated
URL: papers http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/fp6/networks-ip.html

iTV maths for kids in the US

Cyberchase is an interactive TV series for kids that has puzzles using maths embedded in the programme storyline and available interactively both via interactive TV and their web site. The website both supports the TV series (for children) and has supporting material for parents and teachers. The series is supported by the National Science Foundation, public service broadcasting and charitable foundations.

URL: http://pbskids.org/cyberchase/

Free US DVR report

The Carmel Group has issued the "Digital Video Recorder Competitive Market Report". This 34 page study provides critical pieces of data and analysis for cable and satellite operators looking to implement a DVR strategy and the choices they have in the marketplace. The study cover only the US, from a market viewpoint, but the analysis of the issues and decisions to be made for DVR apply throughout the world.

URL: http://www.carmelgroup.com/

Electronic Textbook Design Guidelines

The need for best practice guidelines for the design of electronic textbooks arose from the growing availability of learning and teaching material for Higher Education in electronic format, to which students are increasingly turning as a first port of call when seeking material to support their studies. The guidelines have been formed as a result of extensive evaluations of electronic books involving around 100 students, lecturers and researchers from a range of disciplines in UK Higher Education. The guidelines come from the EBONI project on usability in electronic textbooks. The authors say, that it should be emphasised that this version of the guidelines is a draft and does not include feedback from the later stages of the project. A revised set will be produced incorporating these data as well as feedback from creators of digital content on various aspects of the guidelines. Of particular note is the coverage of hardware as well as software design. Five portable devices were evaluated by lecturers and researchers at the University of Strathclyde (in addition to Web use): a Hewlett-Packard Jornada with Microsoft Reader, Franklin's eBookMan, a Palm Vx with Palm Reader, a Rocket eBook and a Softbook (now superseded by the REB 1100 and the REB 1200 respectively).

URL: http://ebooks.strath.ac.uk/eboni/guidelines/

SALT forum publishes version 1.0

The SALT Forum, a group of companies with a shared goal of accelerating the use of speech technologies in multimodal and telephony systems, recently announced the availability of Version 1.0 of the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specification. This achievement provides the first complete definition of the SALT specification suitable for deployment of multimodal and telephony applications. Version 1.0 is published on the SALT Forum website, marking the conclusion of the SALT specification’s first development phase.

URL: http://www.saltforum.org/

SMS on the TV

Monique van Dusseldorp and Matthijs Leendertse, of TV meets the Web, have written an interesting article on SMS via TV, "The golden eggs of SMS-teletext chat". A growing number of European television channels allow viewers to send messages to the channel via SMS. Sometimes this takes place via a teletext page like Dutch SBS does; sometimes chat messages are also displayed at the bottom of the television screen.

URL: http://www.tvmeetstheweb.com/news/shownews.asp?ArticleID=11906

New web service specs.

Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp. and BEA Systems, Inc. have announced the publication of specifications to collectively describe how to reliably define, create and connect multiple business processes in a Web services environment, and help organizations coordinate business processes and transactions within the enterprise and with partners and customers across heterogeneous systems and within the enterprise. Announced were the new specifications to address transacted communications of Web services (WS-Coordination, WS-Transaction) and a new language to describe business processes (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services, or BPEL4WS). BPEL4WS replaces the existing IBM WSFL and Microsoft® XLANG efforts by combining and extending the functions of these previous foundation technologies.

URL: http://www-3.ibm.com/software/solutions/webservices/pr20020809.html

Sony announces new DRM system

Sony Corporation has announced "OpenMG X", a digital rights management and distribution technology which is utilized for various types of products and devices. This technology will play a key role as the market for music and movie content downloaded via the Internet expands. "OpenMG X" flexibly adapts to the distribution of content to PCs, as well as services which distribute content directly to AV and mobile devices. With this technology, the usage conditions for content can be controlled from the distributor's end and hence, content distribution can be secured from the beginning to the end of the service. As Sony are heavily involved in both the content creation business and consumer device market, they have a bigger incentive than most entertainment companies in finding and distributing an effective software solution to IP piracy.

URL: http://www.sony.co.jp/en/SonyInfo/News/Press/200208/02-035E/

Decoding the Irish youth market

How much is the Irish youth market worth? How do Irish youth feel towards advertising and brands? What are their concerns and expectations? The DECODE consortium, comprised of 98FM, The Star, TV3, Clear Channel and Irish International OMD, sought to answer these questions. Amárach Consulting was commissioned to conduct quantitative and qualitative research to explore these issues. This report presents an overview of the key findings and implications of the research conducted. To download a copy of the report go to the web site.

URL: http://www.amarach.com/studies/studies.htm

NUA Internet access figures show 10% online

NUA have updated their estimates of people with Internet access and show that at the end of May 2002, approximately 580.78 million people around the world had access to the Net, up from 407.1 million in December 2000. For the first time ever, Europe has the highest number of people with access to the Internet. There are now 185.83 million Europeans online, compared to 182.3 million in the US and Canada and 167.86 million in Asia/Pacific.

URL: http://www.nua.ie/surveys/analysis/weekly_editorial.html

Graphing tools

There are a wide variety of graph drawing tools available on the Web. Amongst them are:

AGD (Algorithms for graph drawing) that offers a broad range of existing algorithms for two-dimensional graph drawing and tools for implementing new algorithms. It is a product of a cooperation of groups in Halle, Köln, Saarbrücken, and Wien, and originated from the DFG-funded project "Design, Analysis, Implementation, and Evaluation of Graph Drawing Algorithms" in 1995-2000. Currently, AGD is further developed by the groups in Köln and Wien.

URL: http://www.ads.tuwien.ac.at/AGD/

GDToolkit (also known as GDT) is a Graph Drawing Toolkit designed to efficiently manipulate several types of graph, and to automatically draw them according to many different aesthetic criteria and constraints.

URL: http://www.dia.uniroma3.it/~gdt/

Graphviz is a set of graph drawing tools for Unix or MS-Windows (win32), including a web service interface (webdot). Source code and binary executables for common platforms are available. Graph drawing addresses the problem of visualizing structural information by constructing geometric representations of abstract graphs and networks.

URL: http://www.research.att.com/sw/tools/graphviz/

Grappa is a Java graph drawing package that simplifies the inclusion of graph display and manipulation capabilities within Java applications and applets. It has a good number of useful features built into it, but is also extensible. Grappa can be thought of as a port of a subset of GraphViz to Java.

URL: http://www.research.att.com/~john/Grappa/grappa.html

The Graphscript language is part of the Graphlet project. Graphlet is a toolkit for graph editors and graph algorithms. Graphlet consists of a core which is implemented in C++ using STL and GTL, the Graphscript programming language which is based on Tcl/Tk, and the graphlet graph editor, which is implemented in Graphscript.

URL: http://www.infosun.fmi.uni-passau.de/Graphlet/

Graph Analysis Toolkit, Graph Editor Toolkit, and the Graph Layout Toolkit provide you with high quality, high speed graph graph analysis and visualization technology that quickly integrates into your applications. Tom Sawyer Software produces graph management, graph analysis, graph layout, and graph visualization component software that is designed to be used by application developers. Developers embed graph layout technology into their applications in order to solve difficult graph modeling, analysis, and visualization problems.

URL: http://www.tomsawyer.com/products.html

Note that the license terms for using the above software are complicated and vary with academic vs. commercial status and in some cases depend on other packages. Visit the sites for full details. Further reading on Information Visualisation in IEEE Computer Graphics Vol.22 No.1.

Ready, steady, go - bot

DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency , intends to conduct a race of autonomous ground vehicles from the vicinity of Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 2004. A cash prize will be awarded to the winner. The purpose of the race is to encourage the accelerated development of autonomous vehicle technologies that could be applied to military requirements. Rules for the DARPA Challenge are under development. They are expected to be posted to the web site in September, and comments are invited. Now that looks like a good basis for an FP6 project, if they really speed up the evaluation. Only joking, military projects are probably not eligible for FP funding anyway, so you will have to find the money elsewhere.

URL: http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/index.htm

Barney, Jakob and Phidgets

In the latest edition of Jakob Nielsen's usability column, Alertbox, he considers usability of physical rather than graphical user interfaces. He begins by considering Microsoft's Barney toy from the 1990's and ends with Phidgets. Phidgets™, or physical widgets, are electronic modules for controlling and sensing the "real world" from your computer. The Phidgets are USB devices, and use a free software library to interface to your application or development environment. They will soon be available online from Saul Greenberg at the University of Calgary.

URL: Alertbox http://www.useit.com/
URL: PUI kits http://www.phidgets.com/

XML business standards for retail messages

The CIO Magazine web site has an interesting interview article about how Procter & Gamble introduced a new business process, continuous replenishment, to Wal-Mart in the 1980s and how this has developed into 'Collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment [CPFR]'. The VICS CPFR Committee created the CPFR Voluntary Guidelines to explain the business processes, supporting technology, and change management issues associated with implementation. These have now led to The EAN.UCC CPFR® Business Message Standards and The EAN.UCC CPFR® XML Schemas.

URL: http://www.cio.com/archive/080102/drayer.html
URL: http://www.cpfr.org/

DivX and Showshifter

The DivX MPEG4 codec is now available in Showshifter, the home media centre. The software works with the Hauppauge WinTV series of capture cards. The software supports pause live TV, digital video recorder, electronic program guide (UK and Ireland) and more. A free trial download version is available and the latest DivX Pro 5.0 version is available with Showshifter Pro. DivX Pro 5.0 includes start-of-the-art video encoding techniques like psychovisual modeling, bi-directional encoding (B-frames), global motion compensation, and quarter pel. DivX Pro is also fully MPEG-4 compliant, and is able to encode videos that are compatible with the MPEG-4 Simple Profile and MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile.

URL: http://www.showshifter.com/index.htm
URL: http://www.divx.com/

Open source and the legal issues

US attorney, Dan Ravicher, who is interested in Open Source and Free Software licensing has answered a string of questions about the subject that were submitted to Slashdot. The answers form a sort of FAQ about the legal basis and possible pitfalls of Open source, at least as far as US law is concerned.

URL: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/06/05/122240

eContent programme web site launched

eContent was adopted in December 2000 as a multiannual Community programme to stimulate the development and use of European digital content on the global networks and to promote linguistic diversity in the Information Society. In this context the Content Village has been established as an Accompanying Measure at horizontal programme level, aimed at disseminating and promoting best practice and results of the eContent programme to all interested parties in the digital content and language industry, and the public sector.

URL: http://www.content-village.org/

Future of telecom report

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW) have published an industry study analysing the prospects for Internet Protocol (IP) Services restoring strong growth to the battered telecommunications sector in the near future. The report "IP services in Western Europe: the case for a new IP realism", calls for a new sense of "IP realism", acknowledging immense potential benefits for users and providers alike but also warning against the widespread faith in the telecoms industry that its short-term fortunes will be revived through the growth of high-value IP services. The report can be downloaded from the web site.

URL: http://www.drkw.com/newsmedia/pressrelease1/328905/

... not because of downloading

Contrary to protests from record labels, piracy is not responsible for the 15 percent drop in music sales in the past two years. According to a new report from Forrester Research, Inc., labels can restore industry growth by making it easier for people to find, copy, and pay for music on their own terms. By 2007, digital music revenues will reach more than $2 billion. The report defines what it calls a Music Bill of Rights that customers will expect to be met. Labels will struggle to make money on digital music in the next two years because they will fail to meet such customer demands.

URL: http://www.forrester.com/ER/Press/Release/0,1769,741,00.html

Paying for content

Wolters Kluwer first half 2002 results show that electronic revenues (incl. Internet) improved by 29% at EUR 607 million. Internet revenues grew by 50% to EUR 263 million. Electronic products now represent 32% of total revenues versus 67% print related products (HY1-2001: electronic 26% versus print 72%). In their recent results Reed Elsevier also reported: "Our focus on internet enabled product has accelerated our market success and internet revenues should meet our target of £1bn/€1.6bn this year." These results provide some good news for companies in electronic publishing that have been attacked for taking part in the "dot.com boom and bust". They also show that where companies have built business plans that are based on paying for content rather than relying on advertising revenues they are in a more secure position to generate growth. It will be interesting to see whether the bigger companies like Bertelsmann and AOL Time Warner manage to weather the current market difficulties as well.

URL: http://www.reedelsevier.com/
URL: http://www.wolterskluwer.com/

JoDI new issue

The latest (August 2002) edition of the Journal of Digital Information has been published, Vol.3 Issue 1. The papers are:

P. Brusilovsky, R. Rizzo (July 2002)
Map-Based Horizontal Navigation in Educational Hypertext

T. Hillesund (August 2002)
Many Outputs - Many Inputs: XML for Publishers and E-book Designers

C. Lueg (May 2002)
Enabling Dissemination of User-Specific Information in the Usenet Framework

J. van Ossenbruggen, L. Hardman, L. Rutledge (May 2002)
Hypermedia and the Semantic Web: A Research Agenda

The last paper, from a group at CWI in Holland, will be of interest to people intending to propose research on hypermedia and semantic web in FP6. Some people think that the difficulty with much of the research into the Semantic Web is that it lacks any clear requirements analysis. Where this is addressed in the paper the ideas stand out. The need for research to tackle the non-factual nature of the web is a good example. "On the Web, knowledge is typically decentralized, inconsistent and not always to be trusted. These differences raise new, fundamental problems, most of which remain to be solved.", they say. Most is an understatement. The problem of costs of setup, maintenance and operation are also mentioned, "Embedded encoding of such information will increase the complexity of authoring Web content and increase maintenance costs when keeping Web pages up-to-date. In addition, bulky annotations will increase download times for all applications, even those that do not need to (or cannot) process the semantic annotations." These costs are the factor that killed most SGML applications and they are not being seriously addressed in the current Semantic Web work. Annotation is manual labour and expensive, one of the purposes of requirements analysis is to determine what is necessary in an application, rather than what is of interest to research workers.

The paper by Hillesund on XML for publishers, is closer to requirements analysis and should be read by all those who think that cross-media publishing can be automated. It is the type of practical analysis that seems to be so lacking in directing much multimedia research.

First Monday August edition

This month's FM includes articles on:

URL: http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_8/

Semantic web

The latest (July) edition of Information Research is a special issue on the semantic web.

URL: http://informationr.net/ir/7-4/infres74.html


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