Elpub buttonEP Topic News: 16th January 2003

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Contents
 
FP6 call for experts
IBM developer resources
Safer Internet events
VR product news
Digital content creation software study
The Berkman Center news
XML.com - RSS and XML 2002 report
Adobe eBook copyright case report
Cultural Heritage project exploitation
Steinberg latest audio tools
JVT video coding standard
Market Opportunities in China
Worst mistakes in web design
Web intelligence and agents CFP
Game theory resources
Game and film animation
OpenGL Performer 3.0 upgrade
DirectX 9.0 released
NVIDIA Cg Compiler version 1.0
Research Journal for Game Development
2003 information outlook
M-Commerce Discovery Events
Digital libraries conference CFP
Research and training networks InfoDay
Music/Photo/Video specification
Digital projection used
Smart Personal Objects Technologies
Journal of Information Law & Technology
xReporter version 1.0
Reuters - global electronic education
Banking web site agent

FP6 call for experts

The call for expression of interest for experts to assist the Commission in Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) tasks has been published. All those individuals or companies interested in acting as evaluators in the FP6 programme should complete the forms online, available via the URL below.

URL: http://www.cordis.lu/experts/fp6_candidature.htm

IBM developer resources

The technology edition of the IBM DeveloperWorks Newsletter (December 19, 2002, Volume 3, Issue 51) provides a number of very useful resources for developers. Though obviously slanted towards the use of IBM-based technologies, the feature articles, technology updates and tutorials available cover the breadth of development technologies and techniques associated with multimedia content management and delivery. The well written and organised newsletter is available free and is delivered twice a month via email or can be viewed online. Amongst the items that caught our eye this week:

• Web Services Tool Kit (WSTK) for Mobile Devices provides tools and runtime environments that allow development of applications that use Web Services on small mobile devices, including the Pocket PC, Palm, and BlackBerry platforms.

URL: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/education/r-wstkmd.html?n-ws-12192

"Server clinic: RTF on the server" introduces some open source tools that make server-side content management - "even of .doc files" - easier.

URL: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-sc9/?n-l-12192

Linux Technology Center (LTC) Bulletin, a biweekly news in brief from the Linux Technology Center - where all the Linux-related technologies inside IBM are tracked. Useful for those developers working with, or considering the use of Linux as a platform.

URL: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-ltc35.html?n-l-12192

URL: IBM DeveloperWorks Newsletter http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/?n-12192

Safer Internet events

Two Safer Internet events are taking place in Luxembourg on February 27 and 28, 2003.

On 27 February, a workshop on "Quality labels for Web sites - alternative approaches to content rating" is being held . The Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP), Oxford University is undertaking work on quality labels as part of its activities under the selfregulation.info project funded by the Commission under the Safer Internet Action Plan. The agenda of the workshop will include a discussion of existing quality labels and trustmarks in the field of e-commerce. The input from this event will help PCMLP design and implement a pilot project. This workshop is a unique opportunity to "compare and contrast" a variety of self-regulatory initiatives which have in common the desire to increase user empowerment by providing reliable information about transactions and content.

On 28 February, the SIFKAL project co-funded under the Safer Internet Action Plan, is organising a workshop on the "Legal and Pedagogical Aspects of a Safer Internet". This workshop aims to:

• feed concrete results to the new European awareness efforts;
• bring together experts in order to exchange experiences, demonstrate conducted work, and discuss actions about Safer Internet for the new coordinated network of awareness.
• tackle the legal issues concerning safer Internet.
• disseminate results to those responsible in the educational sector on a European level.

The participation of all finalised and on-going projects is highly recommended. The SIKAL project invites all EU projects as well as external stakeholders in Safer Internet activities to take part in this event. We also welcome those responsible in the educational sector to participate in the discussions and take up the opportunity to get informed on European Safer Internet activities.

A registration form and further details about both workshops and European Safer Internet activities can be found on the Programme's web site.

URL: selfregulation.info project http://www.selfregulation.info
URL: SIFKAL project http://www.sifkal.org
URL: Safer Internet Programme http://www.saferinternet.org

VR product news

The December edition of VREfresh, available via the El.pub site includes a number of product announcements. A few news items which may be of more general interest to readers of El.pub include:

Creator 2.6 toolset

MultiGen-Paradigm has released Creator 2.6 toolset for the generation of optimized object models, high fidelity terrain and synthetic environments for use in realtime 3D visual simulation, urban simulation and other visualization applications.

URL: http://www.multigen-paradigm.com

Invigorator ProAnimator

Zaxwerks, creators of the plug-in 3D Invigorator, has released a standalone software product called the Invigorator ProAnimator. According to Zaxwerks, this product enables video editors to create 3D title and logo animations more easily than before. The work flow of the ProAnimator resembles video editing more than it does traditional 3D animating, according to Zaxwerks. Animation clips are spliced, arranged, and trimmed to create a story. The Macintosh version of 3D Invigorator ProAnimator will begin shipping this month, followed by the Windows version in the first quarter of 2003, for US$ 899 per seat. Site licenses are available.

URL: http://www.zaxwerks.com

Anark Model Exchange Format

Anark Corporation has released the new Anark Model Exchange format for 3D content integration into its multimedia authoring software, Anark Studio. Export plug-ins are available with the Anark Studio 1.5.2 update for Discreet's 3ds max and Plasma, with additional versions to be released on the Anark web site. Once installed, the plug-in allows 3D artists to export scenes into an Anark Model Exchange (AMX) file with full retention of 3D data. Anark stated that the launch of their new file format and exporters will allow integration with 3D modeling tools, allowing content creators to further surpass the boundaries of traditional multimedia using Anark Studio.

URL: http://www.anark.com
URL: VREresh December 24 issue http://www.elpub.org/base02vt0217.htm

Digital content creation software study

Jon Peddie Research has announced "The Digital Content Creation Software Market Study". The report provides an overview of the digital content creation (DCC) software market for the following applications: 3D Modeling and Animation, Audio Editing & Compositing, Digital Video Editing & Compositing, DVD Authoring, Dynamic/Interactive Content Authoring, and Graphics & Image Editing. For the total worldwide DCC software market, historical data and a forecast is provided through 2004, as well as individual segment market shares, industry composition and a ranking of vendors in the space.

For each segment of the DCC software market, the report provides a brief overview, a discussion of influencers and segment dynamics, the industries supported by the tools, and the total realized market for 2001 and share for each segment. The report is available for US$ 999.

Email: mailto:kathleen@jonpeddie.com

The Berkman Center news

On December 16, 2002 the Creative Commons project launched its first product: machine-readable copyright licenses custom-designed to allow copyright holders to easily inform others that their works are free for copying and other uses under specific conditions. "Our model was inspired in large part by the open-source and free software movements," said Glenn Otis Brown, executive director of the project.

URL: http://www.creativecommons.org/

The Berkman Center has also announced the initial code release of the Rotisserie discussion system. Announcing the software's release in its electronic newsletter, The Filter, the Berkman Center states: "The Rotisserie implements an innovative approach to online discussion that encourages measured, thoughtful discourse". For further information and to download the software visit the web site below.

URL: http://h2oproject.law.harvard.edu/rotisserie

A free subscription to the Berkman Center electronic newsletter, The Filter, is available via the link below.

URL: free subscription http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filter/sub.html
URL: The Filter online http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filter/

XML.com - RSS and XML 2002 report

XML.com features:

"What is RSS?" - a review of the history and technical details of the varieties of RSS on the Web in which the author also describes a method for parsing most active RSS feeds.

URL: http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/18/dive-into-xml.html

"Reports from XML 2002" in which the author describes highlights of the XML 2002 conference held in Baltimore during December 2002, including Microsoft Office 11, OpenOffice, ISO DSDL, schema language techniques and literate programming in XML.

URL: http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/18/xml2002.html

Adobe eBook copyright case report

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports in its EFFector Online Newsletter of December 20, 2002 that the "Jury Acquits Elcomsoft in eBook Copyright Case". There is a report on this highly publicised case that began with the arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, the lead engineer on an Elcomsoft Ltd. product known as the Advanced eBook Processor (AEBPR), which Adobe Systems Inc. claimed was a "circumvention tool" prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). According to the EFF a federal jury in San Jose returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts in the criminal trial of Sklyarov's employer, a Russian software company called Elcomsoft Ltd. The case was the one of the first criminal cases to be brought under the DMCA. The EFF have published links to a number of resources concerning the case. Subscribe to the free electrionic newsletter via the links below.

URL: EFF press release http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/US_v_Elcomsoft/20021217_eff_pr.html
URL: EFF FAQ on US v Elcomsoft http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/US_v_Elcomsoft/us_v_elcomsoft_faq.html
URL: New York Times Editorial http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/US_v_Elcomsoft/20010730_lessig_oped.html
URL: case archive http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/US_v_Elcomsoft/
URL: EFFector Online Newsletter http://www.eff.org/effector
URL: EFF http://www.eff.org/

Cultural Heritage project exploitation

TRIS is a European Commission supported Accompanying Measure coordinating 25 EC-funded Cultural Heritage trial projects to increase their impact and exploit their results. TRIS is running an "Exploitation Event" in Luxembourg on February 13-14, 2003 to provide a forum for discussion of the commercial and social exploitation of the trials' results. The workshop also aims to provide participants with an opportunity to learn about some of the most innovative approaches and technologies for the cultural domain, and to network with their European counterparts and European Commission's representatives.

The trial projects have involved more than 80 institutions across Europe, including libraries, museums, archives, historic sites, educational and research institutions, local authorities and IT companies. The updated agenda of the event and the registration form are available on-line, along with information about the conference venue, transportation and accommodation.

URL: event http://www.trisweb.org/tris/trisportalpro/luxembourg/default.asp
URL: TRIS http://www.trisweb.org/

Steinberg latest audio tools

Steinberg Media Technologies have announced the latest versions of their consumer-oriented audio software including: CLEAN 4.0 and CLEAN PLUS 4.0, audio restoration and burning tools; and myMP3 4.0 and myMP3PRO 4.0, MP3 recording and management software.

URL: Steinberg Media Technologies http://www.steinberg.net/creative-tools

JVT video coding standard

The technical design of a new video compression standard was agreed this week in Japan. According to the ITU the standard "promises dramatic improvements in video quality and is likely to find use in a wide variety of applications from mobile phones to High Definition TV and is destined to revolutionise video picture quality over networks such as the Internet, 3G Wireless and the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)".

The standard has been developed by the ITU and ISO/IEC Joint Video Team (JVT), a group of experts from these three international standards organizations. To be known as H.264 (the ITU-T name) and as ISO/IEC 14496-10/MPEG-4 AVC (the ISO/IEC name), it is expected to be published in the second quarter of 2003.

According to its developers this latest standard surpasses earlier video standards in terms of video quality, compression efficiency and resilience to packet and data loss. "Potentially it could halve the bandwidth necessary for digital video services".

URL: ITU http://www.itu.int/

Market Opportunities in China

ABChina: A Business Primer to Market Opportunities in China is an initiative being supported under the European Commission's FP5 IST Programme which aims to help "innovative European companies to establish long-lasting research and business partnerships with Chinese counterparts". The project ran the EuroChina 2002 Event in April 2002, and is following this up with an open call, from which fifty European companies will be selected and coached to prepare missions to China. Following this actual visits to key pre-selected potential Chinese partners (entrepreneurs, researchers, public administrators) will be carried out. A delegation of members of ABChina partners will accompany the organised visits.

If you think your organisation may be interested in applying to participate, visit the ABChina site where the call is announced and follow the instructions to register and submit the application forms. Thirty companies will be selected to participate in a one-week mission to Beijing and Tianjin to be held in May 2003, and 20 companies to participate in a two-week mission to Beijing, Tianjin and a third Chinese city (to be decided later), to be held in September 2003.

URL: ABChina http://www.abchina.org/
URL: EuroChina 2002 Event http://www.EuroChina2002.com

Worst mistakes in web design

Jakob Nielsen's final Alertbox essay for 2002, focuses on what the author considers the "worst mistakes" in web design he witnessed during 2002. These include poor email integration, lack of pricing information and the use of "overly literal" search engines.

URL: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20021223.html

Web intelligence and agents CFP

"Web Intelligence and Agent Systems: An International Journal (WIAS)" is the official journal of the Web Intelligence Consortium (WIC), an international organisation dedicated to promoting collaborative scientific research and industrial development in the era of web and agent intelligence. WIAS seeks to collaborate with major societies and international conferences in the fields. Presently, it has established a tie with the IEEE/WIC International Conference on Web Intelligence and the IEEE/WIC International Conference on Intelligent Agent Technology.

WIAS is a peer-reviewed journal, which publishes 4 issues a year, in both electronic and hard copies. The journal aims to develop understanding of computational, logical, cognitive, physical, and social foundations as well as the enabling technologies for developing and applying Web-based intelligence and autonomous agents systems. WIAS features high-quality, original research papers (including state-of-the-art reviews), brief papers, and letters in all theoretical and technology areas that make up the field of WIAS. Authors are invited to make submissions which have not been published elsewhere and are not currently under consideration for another journal or conference. All manuscripts for consideration must be submitted electronically through an Electronic Submission Form, available from the WIC homepage (under "WIAS Journal").

URL: WIAS http://wi-consortium.org/journal.html
URL: WIC homepage http://wi-consortium.org/

Game theory resources

UMBC AgentNews provides links to a couple of resources related to game theory:

• Gambit Game Theory Analysis Software and Tools - a library of game theory software and tools for the construction and analysis of finite extensive and normal form games.

URL: http://www.hss.caltech.edu/gambit/

• The "didactic web-based experiments in game theory" site which provides the teachers of basic game
theory courses with free user-friendly didactic tools for conducting web-based thought experiments.

URL: http://gametheory.tau.ac.il/

AgentNews is an electronic newsletter based on information published on the AgentWeb site (Flash 6 reader required).

URL: UMBC AgentNews, 1 January 2003 http://agents.umbc.edu/08/01/
URL: AgentWeb http://agents.umbc.edu/

Game and film animation

Game production house, The 3DO Company, has announced that it is collaborating with character creator Stan Winston on "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" for PC, PlayStation2, GameCube and Xbox. Four-time Oscar winner for creature effects on Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Jurassic Park, Winston is now a consultant on the game's character designs and has "optioned the feature film rights".

The announcement provides evidence of the convergence in the use of animation skills for both game and feature film production. Making the announcement Trip Hawkins, chief executive officer, The 3DO Company said: "Winston's award-winning production expertise and his extensive knowledge of creature effects will be invaluable to the game. This represents a major opportunity as we develop this title into a major 3DO franchise that encompasses films as well as games."

"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" is planned for release in Fall 2003. More information about the game is available online.

URL: "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" http://www.4horsemen-game.com
URL: The 3DO Company http://www.3do.com/

OpenGL Performer 3.0 upgrade

SGI has upgraded the OpenGL Performer 3.0 application programming interface (API) for the IRIX, Linux and Windows operating systems. An in-depth white paper is available from the SGI web site and free evaluation versions for IRIX, Linux and Windows can also be downloaded from that site.

URL: http://www.sgi.com/software/performer
URL: SGI http://www.sgi.com/

DirectX 9.0 released

Microsoft is shipping version 9.0 of the Microsoft DirectX Software Development Kit. DirectX is a suite of multimedia APIs built into Microsoft Windows operating systems which provides a standard platform that enables software developers to access specialised hardware features without having to write hardware-specific code. DirectX debuted in 1995 and quickly became a recognized standard for multimedia application development on the Windows platform.

The latest release marks the first public availability of Microsoft's high-level shader language (HLSL). According to Microsoft, "HLSL is compatible with all DirectX-compliant graphics processing units and allows developers to define a similar visual effect for the widest range of graphics hardware. Based on the C programming language, HLSL is simple to use and provides developers with more power than any other development platform available today". For additional information on DirectX 9.0 and HLSL via the links below.

URL: http://msdn.microsoft.com/directx/
URL: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/directx/

NVIDIA Cg Compiler version 1.0

In a related announcement NVIDIA have released their Cg Compiler version 1.0 which is "designed to generate real-time shaders from the high level shading language syntax developed by NVIDIA". According to the company the Cg Compiler version 1.0 is compatible with Microsoft DirectX 9.0, generating code for both DirectX and OpenGL platforms and is compatible with any graphics processing unit (GPU) that is OpenGL 1.4 (or higher) or DirectX 8.0 (or higher) compliant.

A critical companion to NVIDIA's recently announced GeForce FX GPU family, the Cg language is a C-like high level graphics programming language that, when combined with a modern GPU, "allows 3D content developers to create cinematic-calibre, real-time worlds and characters". The NVIDIA Cg Compiler and other elements of the Cg programming environment, including the open source code, are available free via the web site below.

URL: http://developer.nvidia.com
URL: http://www.cgshaders.org
URL: NVIDIA http://www.nvidia.com

Research Journal for Game Development

Charles River Media, a publisher of game development books, is planning to publish the "Journal of Game Development (JOGD)". Conceived as a peer-reviewed journal the intended editorial coverage includes "all game development related areas, such as artificial intelligence, mathematics, physics, networking (eg. massively multiplayer online games), programming, graphics, audio, simulation, polygonal techniques, real-time issues. Other areas of importance and application for these findings include robotics, visualization, and grid computing".

The editorial board for the JOGD will be "announced shortly" and the first issue will be available in the second or third quarter of 2003. Further information is available from Jenifer Niles of Charles River Media.

URL: Jenifer Niles mailto:jniles@charlesriver.com
URL: Charles River Media http://www.charlesriver.com

URL: press release http://www.charlesriver.com/PressRel/JOGDPR.pdf

2003 information outlook

Outsell is a US based information market analysis organisation that publishes regular reports on the content market. They have released a provocative briefing document: Outlook 2003: Issues In The Information Marketplace that can be downloaded for free from their web site. They forecast incoming asteroids for most incumbents but renewed growth for the dot.com survivors!

URL: http://www.outsellinc.com

M-Commerce Discovery Events

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is organising a series of four seminars around Europe to "help companies apply mobile technology to their businesses". Styled as "M-Commerce Discovery Events" the first, entitled: "Mobile and e-Banking" will be held in Rotterdam on February 12, 2003; the second scheduled for London in early March will be entitled "Mobilising Business"; the third and fourth, will be held in Stockholm (March 12, 2003) and Sophia Antipolis (March 27, 2003) and will target telecommunications operators and service providers focusing on new and emerging mobile commerce applications.

Organised by ETSI Project M-Commerce (EP M-Comm) the events will cover both the financial and telecommunications aspects, and the closing date for registrations (via the link below) is one week prior to the events.

URL: event registration http://www.noblestar.com/extranet/etsi/index.htm
URL: EP M-Comm http://portal.etsi.org/m-comm

Digital libraries conference CFP

The 2003 Conference on Users in the Electronic Information Environments, subtitled: "Toward a User-Centered Approach to Digital Libraries" will take place on September 8-9, 2003 in Espoo, Finland. The conference programme will consist of plenary sessions with invited speakers and other selected presentations as well as parallel sessions of presentations, focusing on the following themes:

• the development of digital library programmes
• use and users of digital resources
• methodology of user studies in the digital environments
• evaluation of digital library programmes and digital services
• usability of digital library services via mobile devices.

A call for papers is open, extended abstracts (approximately two pages long) should be submitted to Arja Tuuliniemi via the email link below by February 15, 2003.

Email: paper abstracts mailto:Arja.Tuuliniemi@helsinki.fi
URL: conference http://www.lib.helsinki.fi/finelib/digilib/

Research and training networks InfoDay

Tech-Know Consultants are organising a workshop on the theme of research and training networks in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) in Brussels on 23 January, 2003. The event is aimed at those involved in research and training networks as an instrument for industry and academia, or for those who would like to gain a more in-depth understanding of the area.

The event will take the form of presentations, question and answer sessions, and discussions, and will include expert input from representatives of the European Commission's Research DG. For further information, or to register for the event, please contact Anne-Marie Prieels of Tech-Know Consultants.

Email: Anne-Marie Prieels mailto:anne-marie.prieels@tech-know.be
Tel: Anne-Marie Prieels +32 495 25 47 59

Music/Photo/Video specification

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) is coordinating the development of the MPV (Music/Photo/Video) specification for CD and DVD recordable devices. OSTA is promoting MPV, which is royalty free, to developers who wish to add "easier navigation and playback of digital content created on PCs for use on CE devices".

URL: OSTA http://www.osta.org/

Digital projection used

Digital Projection International (DPI) is to provide more than a dozen of its high-performance HIGHlite, THUNDER and LIGHTNING 3-chip DLP projectors for digital film screenings at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival to be held in Park City, Utah on January 16-26, 2003. Organizers of the event, aimed specifically at independent filmmakers, expect at least 30 percent of the Festival's screenings to be displayed in digital format covering all categories including: high- definition premieres, documentaries, features and shorts.

DPI has been instrumental in the development and application of the Digital Light Processing technology created by Texas Instruments for projection systems. In December 2001, Digital Projection's management team, concluded the management purchase of the company from IMAX Corporation.

URL: http://www.digitalprojection.com
URL: http://www.digitalprojection.co.uk

Smart Personal Objects Technologies

National Semiconductor has previewed some of its new consumer technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show 2003 held in Las Vegas during January 8-12, 2003. Alongside Microsoft the company previewed the first of a new generation of "Smart Personal Objects Technologies (SPOT)". SPOT is described as "an entirely new platform that makes it possible for people to receive information in a variety of familiar everyday products including wristwatches and alarm clocks". National Semiconductor has been primarily responsible for developing wireless and power management technologies incorporated in the initial reference design for SPOT. Other developments are based on Bluetooth wireless technologies.

URL: http://www.national.com/

Journal of Information Law & Technology

The latest edition of the Journal of Information Law & Technology (JILT), is now online. Some of the articles include:

• "Maximise Modelling, Minimise Drudgery, Enhance Learning: Developing and Customising an Expandable Web Site that Teaches Law Students How to Interview and Counsel Clients";
• "Understanding Information Laws: A Sociological Approach";
• "Making Copyright Ambidextrous: An Expose of Copyleft";
• "European VAT on Digital Sales".

Also the latest edition of Law, Social Justice and Global Development went online from 7 November, 2002.

URL: JILT http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/02-3/
URL: Law, Social Justice http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/global/issue/2002-1/

xReporter version 1.0

xReporter version 1.0 is an open source, XML-based Apache Avalon/Cocoon-based database reporting framework is available online and consists of 2 main components:

• an Avalon Phoenix-based query server, which is configured through XML-based report definitions, and is accessible across an XML/HTTP interface;
• a Cocoon front-end generating configurable HTML, PDF, Excel and CSV renditions of database reports.

According to Steven Noels of Outerthought (Open Source, Java & XML Competence Support Center), the software's developers: "xReporter allows you to quickly set up a database reporting web site by editing a couple of XML configuration files". The software is released under an Apache-style license, and its developers welcome contributions and patches as they are attempting to grow "this into a community-owned project". There is also a limited, live demo available on the project web site.

URL: xReporter http://xreporter.cocoondev.org/
URL: Architectural diagram http://xreporter.cocoondev.org/en/my-images/architecture.png
URL: Outerthought http://outerthought.org/
URL: Steven Noels weblog http://blogs.cocoondev.org/stevenn/

Reuters - global electronic education

Reuters, the global information, news and technology group, has purchased the Oracle Training Administration (OTA) and Oracle iLearning modules of the Oracle E-Business Suite. The software is to be used to provide an enterprise learning management system for global use by the company's 18,000 employees. Reuters is hoping that implementation of the system will enable Reuters employees to better plan and track their career development and at the same time will provide the company with a clear consolidated view of training resources available and a higher level of management and control of these resources. It hopes that this will ultimately lead to savings through the re-use of training content and the reduction in training-related costs.

URL: Oracle http://www.oracle.com

Banking web site agent

UK telephone and Internet bank, First Direct, has announced the launch of a trial "interactive on-line help agent" on its web site. The agent, named Cara, begins a 4-month trial on the First Direct web site starting in January 2003. Cara is described as "a 3D interactive animation which moves, talks and gestures as she responds to users, answering any questions that they may have". For the trial, Cara appears in the smartmortgage section of the site, answering questions about the product. (In order to use Cara, users are prompted to download and install an an ActiveX control from the site).

Jonathan Etheridge, Head of E-Futures at First Direct, said: "Cara gives us the opportunity to learn how to bring some of the First Direct personality to the web". First Direct is a division of the HSBC Group, one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations.

URL: http://www.firstdirect.com


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