EDUPAGE> Edupage, March 24, 2003

  • From: Gleason Sackmann <gleason@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12Newsletters <k12newsletters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 14:05:07 -0600

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From: EDUCAUSE@xxxxxxxxxxxx
To:  <EDUPAGE@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 16:57:23 -0700
Subject: Edupage, March 24, 2003
Edupage is a service of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association
whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting
the intelligent use of information technology.

 Anti-Spam Efforts May Be Bolstered by Junk Fax Law
 Start-up Targets Spam
 War Tests High-Speed Internet
 Mixed Signals about War's Effect on Internet Sales
 Technical Problems Plague SEVIS
 Internet-Based Vote Voided on Alabama Campus
 Hacking as Learning Tool

A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., has ruled that a law limiting
junk faxes does not infringe on the First Amendment, overturning a
ruling by a lower court. Part of the decision was an acceptance that
the junk-fax law fairly attempts to fight the practice of
"cost-shifting," in which the cost for advertisements is borne by the
recipients in the form of tied-up phone lines, paper, ink, and toner.
Because anti-spam activists make similar arguments for restricting
unsolicited e-mail advertisements, many see the approval of the fax law
as support for anti-spam forces. Anti-spam activist Ray Everett-Church
said the recent ruling "reinforces the argument that ... federal
regulations banning unsolicited e-mail could be held constitutional."
CNET, 21 March 2003

A new spam-blocking service was announced by software designer Phil
Goldman, who is self-financing the Los Altos-based company Mailblocks.
The service is based on a challenge-response mechanism to bulk e-mail
sent automatically to e-mail accounts. Customers will pay an annual fee
for the service, which intercepts messages from unknown correspondents
and automatically returns to the sender a seven-digit number and a form
to fill out. A human user types the number into the form, demonstrating
that the message was not sent by an automated mass-mailing machine, and
the system forwards the e-mail to the intended recipient. The new
company is going up against free basic e-mail services supported by
advertising at Yahoo, Hotmail, and America Online, along with
commercial add-in products to recognize and block spam.
New York Times, 24 March 2003 (registration req'd)

The predicted increase in wartime demand for online news has become a
test of the potential usefulness of high-speed Internet connections.
Two factors are involved in determining the results: the medium's
ability to attract users and users' willingness to pay for the
material. More than 70 million people in the United States now have
high-speed Internet access. To attract these users, many major news
organizations have assembled on their Web sites a collage of
war-related video, audio, photography, animations, interactive maps,
and other types of digital reporting. Promotions invite users to sign
up for the high-speed service. It remains to be seen whether these
users will pay for subscriptions to high-speed programming to gain
access to the resources offered.
New York Times, 24 March 2003 (registration req'd)

Two surveys show conflicting results of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on
Internet spending. Comscore Networks Inc. reported that Internet sales
have fallen 16 percent over the previous four weeks. Specifically,
Comscore said travel sales fell 19 percent while other sales fell 14
percent. A report from Inc., however, said sales during the
six days after the invasion began were only one percent what they were
during the week before hostilities started. In the week following the
September 11 attacks, online sales dropped 37 percent. and
eBay Inc. did not disclose their sales figures, but Amazon noted that
nonfiction books about the situation in the Middle East have been
selling very strongly. Users of eBay reportedly have been doing a brisk
business in items related to Iraq, such as currency with Saddam
Hussein's face, as well as anti-war merchandise such as t-shirts.
Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2003 (registration req'd),,SB104845858086717600,00.html


Officials at colleges and universities across the United States have
voiced concerns over a rash of technical problems affecting
implementation of the government's Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS documents printed at Michigan State
University mysteriously all included the word "SAMPLE." Officials at
the University of Texas said for two days they were unable to print any
documents. Staff at Duke University tried to print SEVIS documents for
visiting scholars, but what printed were visa documents for foreign
researchers from other institutions. Georgetown University said that to
avoid potentially wasting staff time when the system doesn't work
properly, it has temporarily stopped using SEVIS. A spokesman from the
federal agency that oversees SEVIS said they are aware of the bugs and
expect them to be resolved by the fall semester, when the vast majority
of foreign applications will need to be processed by SEVIS.
San Jose Mercury News, 20 March 2003

Results from a Web-based Student Government Association (SGA) election
at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa were invalidated by school
officials after reports of "irregularities in the voting patterns." The
voting system uses Social Security numbers to identify students and
initially uses each student's birth date as a password, though
passwords can be changed by students. Some students said that when they
tried to use the system, it indicated that they had already cast
ballots and denied the students access. Tom S. Strong, dean of students
at the university, said that despite anger from some students about the
voiding of the online election, the two candidates for SGA president
supported the action. Strong said the online voting system remains
quite popular with students and that the school hopes to use it in
future elections.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 24 March 2003 (sub. req'd)

Microsoft is sponsoring an initiative designed to train college
students in writing secure code by having them assume the role of
hackers. The University of Leeds in England is the first school to
announce its participation in the program. According to Nick Efford,
senior teaching fellow at that university's School of Computing,
students will be instructed to hack into various applications and to
fix any security vulnerabilities they discover. Efford said the
approach is a departure from current security courses, which only
address network security and cryptography. Stuart Okin of Microsoft
said the company is talking with other universities about being part of
the program. Okin suggested that graduates of such programs will be
sought after in the job market. He said, "The software industry as a
whole will want to take on people who have this skill set." Okin also
noted that the program will not be specific to Microsoft software.
InfoWorld, 21 March 2003


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