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Syllabus News Update for August 5th, 2003

Syllabus News Update: An Online Newsletter from Syllabus Press


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News for Tuesday, August 5, 2003

* Grad Student Steals 60 Identities at University of Michigan

* Graphics Tools Dominate Higher Ed Software Sales Chart

* Open Source Supercomputing Speeds Science at Wash U.

* Online Used Bookstore Lures Students with Cash Money

* Double-Digit Growth Predicted in For-Profit Education Sector


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Graduate Student Steals 60 Identities at University of Michigan

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced last week that Ning Ma, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, could face up to five years in prison for hacking into the university's computer system and stealing private unique usernames and passwords of over 60 students and professors. From August 2002 to April 2003, Ning Ma accessed other people's e-mail accounts and private network storage areas. Using a program to capture keystrokes entered by another person, he was able to forge e-mail, acquire copies of final exams and answer sheets, and obtain a credit card number and bank account and PIN number of another student.

In one instance, Ning Ma sent a phony e-mail from a professor's account to a female student indicating that she was failing a class and then used that information to tutor the student in hopes of garnering sexual favors in return. Ning Ma also interfered with a student's job opportunity by canceling a scheduled interview.

Mirroring a national trend, identity theft jumped to the top of the Attorney General's consumer complaints list in 2002, up from fourth in 2001. Ning Ma faces 16 counts of "Unauthorized Access to a Computer, Computer System or Network" (five years and/or $10,000), four counts of "Eavesdropping" (two years and/or $2,000) and one count each of "Unlawful Possession of eavesdropping Device" (two years and/or $2,000) and "Computers - Using to Commit a Crime" (four years and/or $5,000).


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Graphics Tools Dominate Higher Ed Sales Chart

Microsoft Office XP Professional was the top selling software in the second quarter of 2003 for Dallas-based Journey Education Marketing, Inc., which specializes in selling software tools to the academic market. But graphics programs dominated the rest of the Top 10 list, which was based on sales figures from the company's 1,900 online eStores. The Top 10 were:

1. Microsoft Office XP Professional – Win
2. Adobe Acrobat Pro 6.0 – Win
3. Microsoft Windows XP Professional Upgrade – Win
4. Macromedia Studio MX 1.1 – Win
5. PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire SE – Win
6. Microsoft Visual Studio.Net 2003 AE – Win
7. Intuit QuickBooks Pro Edition 2003 – Win
8. Adobe Design Collection – Mac
9. Adobe Photoshop 7.0 – Mac
10. Macromedia Studio MX 1.1 – Mac/p>

The company said its figures are a more accurate picture of overall sales because most other lists tend to focus on sales from college bookstores, many of which do not offer a full spread of software titles.

Open Source Supercomputing Speeds Science at Wash U.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis say the school’s acquisition of an Linux-based supercomputer configured with an open architecture is helping speed the rate of scientific collaboration. The Silicon Graphics Altix 3000 supercluster at the Center for Scientific Parallel Computing “is allowing researchers to develop and exchange code in a way that moves science ahead quickly," said CSPC Administrator Malcolm Tobias. Wai-Mo Suen, professor of physics in Arts and Sciences and principal investigator at the CSPC, added that, “the Altix cluster should help us in our program of building a community of users of parallel scientific computing."

Online Used Bookstore Lures Students with Cash, a website that lists 45 million used books on behalf of 11,000 independent booksellers is giving away $2000 cash each semester to students who buy used textbooks on its website. “We heard three things from students this year: they want cheap textbooks, easy online searching, and of course -- someone to pay their tuition!" said Marci Crossan, an Abebooks spokesperson. The site opened up a new website area that features a contest for students to win cash each semester. Winners are drawn twice a year (in November and April) students who have purchased books on the site. The site also features a student-focused "wants list" where students enter the name of a book they need and Abebooks will e-mail them when it's available.

Double-Digit Growth Predicted for For-Profit Education Sector

Revenues from the for-profit postsecondary education delivery market grew more than 13 percent to $13.8 billion, according to an annual review by Eduventures, a research firm focused on learning markets. Among their key findings:

* Revenues grew more than 13 percent in 2002 to $13.8 billion; * Online distance learning accounted for approximately $900 million, or 7.7 percent, of total market revenues;
* For-profit education institutions attracted 84 percent of private investment dollars and represented 48 percent of all mergers and acquisition activity across the entire postsecondary sector in 2002;
* The market will continue to grow by 13-15 percent through 2005.
* Revenues generated by for-profit tutoring businesses reached $3.5 billion in 2002, a 14 percent increase over 2001 figures. Eduventures estimates that market growth will exceed 14 percent in 2003.

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