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News 01-16-2001

Syllabus 2001 Conference to Address Wireless Technologies

The Syllabus 2001 conference, to be held July 22-24 in Santa Clara, Calif., will encompass five tracks: Wireless Technologies; Interactive Communications, Conferencing, and Collaboration; Infrastructure, IT Planning, and Strategic Issues; Web Technologies: Portals, Resources, and Development; and Distance Learning: Issues and Programs, as well as a featured track concerning Virtual Teaching, Learning, and Technology Centers.

Track 1, focusing on Wireless Technologies, will consider a wide range of questions of interest to tech-savvy educators at colleges and universities everywhere. For instance, what is the present reality of wireless technologies? What is usable right at this mo- ment on our own campuses? What kinds of wireless technologies specifically support the high-bandwidth and communicative inter- activity needed for teaching and learning? What is the experience on campuses that have already tried teaching and learning using wireless connectivity?

Wireless seems to be a viable connectivity option for teaching and learning on a campus. But how well d'es wireless work with a whole class logging in at the same time? How is response time? How reliable is wireless computing? What has been the human experience?

In the sessions in this track, participants will hear about answers to these questions and many more. Samples of session topics include:

  • The current picture regarding wireless on campuses
  • How wireless can create "clinic teaching"
  • Updates on creating infrastructure to support wireless
  • Insights on wireless security issues
  • Stories about pushing the envelope on wireless mobility

Conversations during and between sessions with the coterie of wireless track participants will be interesting as well. Few academics have extensive experience with wireless, a larger number are experimenting, but everyone seems to be interested. This will be a lively track.

The Syllabus spring2001 conference will be held at the Albert B. Sabin Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio April 5-8. For registration information and detailed session descriptions, visit Also, be sure to check out the conference brochure in the January issue of Syllabus magazine.

Ucentric Systems Announces Home Networking

Ucentric Systems recently announced availability of a home networking platform that allows consumers to access commu- nications, entertainment, and information services from any screen or speaker in the home. The Ucentric Home Networking Platform creates a home area network that connects all existing computers, TVs, stereos, and other appliances throughout the home to each other and to the Internet without the need for additional wiring. The platform includes an operating system, applications server, home networking applications, and hardware reference design. The system allows consumers to access blended services, such as instant messaging over TV, displaying caller ID on a TV and computer, playing Internet/MP3 files on any FM stereo, and listening to voice-mails from any TV, phone, or computer. Devices throughout the home will share a single broadband con- nection to enable these new applications. For more information, visit

Evidence of Black Holes Found

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has provided possible evidence for the existence of an event horizon, the defining feature of a black hole. An event horizon is the theorized "one-way ticket" boundary around a black hole from which nothing, not even light, can escape. No object except for a black hole can have an event horizon, so evidence for its existence offers resounding proof of black holes in space.

Hubble's high-speed photometer sampled light at the rate of 100,000 measurements per second, during three separate Hubble orbits, executed in June, July and August of 1992. Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope observed pulses of ultraviolet light from clumps of hot gas fade and then disappear as they swirled around a massive, compact object called Cygnus XR-1. Hubble, measuring fluctuations in ultraviolet light from gas trapped in orbit and around the black hole, found two examples of a so-called "dying pulse train," the rapidly decaying, precisely sequential flashes of light from a hot blob of gas spiraling into the black hole.

Without an event horizon, the blob of gas would have brightened as it crashed onto the surface of the accreting body. One event had six decaying pulses; the other had seven pulses. The results appear to be consistent with what astronomers would expect to see if matter were really falling into a black hole.

Program Donates Weather Graphics Equipment

WSI Corporation recently announced the "WSI on Campus," program that delivers state-of-the-art weather workstations for producing broadcast-quality weather shows to qualifying U.S. colleges and universities for use in training their students in broadcast meteorology.

At no charge, WSI will provide eligible schools with two WeatherProducer workstations and related application software, including Showfx animation software and worldwide map- creation software MapMaker Plus. WSI also will provide free installation and training, as well as annual software up- grades. Participating schools will also be able to purchase the UniversitySuite weather data package and additional work- station hardware at educational discounts, though some minimum investment will be required.

Interested colleges and universities should contact Jim Brihan at WSI Corporation at (978) 262-0673.

CU Accepts the Largest Gift Ever Given to a Public University for Cognitively Disabled Research

University of Colorado president Elizabeth Hoffman, will today accept the largest gift ever given to a public university. The gift is from a prominent high-tech businessman and his wife. The endowment will fund advanced research and development of new technologies to enhance the lives of people with cognitive disabilities. The donors offered the gift to fund continuing research being done at CU in cognitive science, including the use of computer-based technologies to support lifelong learning and online community building.

A live audio Web cast of the press conference will be at 10:15 a.m. MST/12:15 p.m. EST at

Bell & Howell Announces Historical Newspapers Project

Bell & Howell's Information and Learning unit recently announced a product launch from the Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association that will bring complete runs of newspapers to the Web via the ProQuest online information service. The ProQuest Historical Newspapers project will digitize news- papers dating from the 19th century to the present, in most cases, full runs of newspapers. The historical archives will digitally reproduce every issue from cover to cover, and users will be able to search the full file via keywords, dates, author's name, or article type. A results list will supply bibliographic information, including date, page number, and writer's name. To see the text, the user chooses the article, and the article image is displayed. Users will also be able to display the full-page image of any page in any issue. The databases will be completely browseable by issue, allowing searchers to browse through entire issues as they would a printed paper.

The ProQuest Historical Newspapers project will encompass newspapers with historical value for researchers in various fields, including newspapers that may now be extant. The project will be ongoing and will cover hundreds of news- papers in the coming years, including national, regional, and local newspapers, beginning with U.S. papers, and will eventually include newspapers from around the world.

For more information, visit

1mage Software Captures Historical Library Collections

The Grandview Heights Public Library, Grandview, Ohio, has selected the document imaging and management system from 1mage Software to bring online Internet access to several impor- tant and rare collections at central Ohio public libraries. Grandview Heights Public Library, GHPL, will initially utilize 1MAGE, 1SERVER and 1SUITE software for scanning, indexing, cross- referencing, and bringing online over 10,000 historic photographs taken by the Citizen Journal newspaper from between 1930 and 1985, when the publication closed its doors. The digitized images, maintained on a server using the Linux operating system, will be made available via the Internet worldwide and through the library's online catalog.

For more information, visit

Survey: Inner-City Residents and the Internet

Sponsored by the FleetBoston Financial Foundation and conducted by the University of Massachusetts Poll, a new study addressing the digital divide reports that 56 percent of low-to-moderate income inner-city adults from five Northeast cities said they knew not much or nothing at all about the Internet. The respondents said cost was the major obstacle to becoming computer literate and accessing the Internet. Among those who have little or no familiarity with the Internet, however, 80 percent said they would be eager to participate in training.

The survey found that fewer than half (42 percent) of respondents have computers in the home, and only 32 percent are connected to the Internet. In contrast, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of those with incomes over $40,000 use a computer in the home and 61 percent are very comfortable using the Internet. The gap in computer access and Internet usage is leaving members of disadvantaged communities behind in the new economy, says Fleet.

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