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By: Karen Blenker

Abstract: Daily news summary for 19 October 1999. Edited by Karen Blenkner.

Bottomless pit

At 73 gigabytes and 10,000 RPM, IBM's new Ultrastar 72ZX sets a record for data density. Also announced were two 36 gig drives: The Ultrastar 36LZX which also runs at 10,000 RPM and the Ultrastar 36LP which spins at 7,200 RPM.

According to IBM the Ultrastar 72ZX is the world's highest capacity drive capable of holding "the equivalent of a floor of books at the New York Public Library with room to  spare." Both it and the 36LZX can store 7.04 billion bits per square inch.

The new drives are intended to be used on servers supporting applications ranging from e-commerce to professional music recording to animation.

All three drives incorporate what IBM terms Active Damping technology. Active Damping purportedly protects against temperature variation and vibration. Apparently vibration can have significant effects on RAIDs.

The drives support several interfaces including the Ultra160+ SCSI interface which implements the Ultra-3 SCSI specification. Additionally, the drives support one- and two-gigabit fiber channel interfaces.

The 36 gig drives will be available in limited quantities this quarter and the 72ZX drive will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2000.

Speak up

Looking to build speech-based applications for e-business or other purposes? Unisys Corp. has announced the latest version of its Natural Language Speech Assistant toolkit, which enables developers with little or no previous speech application development experience to create sophisticated spoken language interfaces into their applications, according to Unisys.

NL Speech Assistant 4.0 is designed to help developers create speech applications, manage projects, and provide development methodology and programs in the most efficient and open environment, says Unisys. The toolkit now offers a Code Builder feature that automatically generates program code for a number of interactive voice response development platforms. This generates much of the code used to drive an application, reducing the need for manual coding, according to the company.

The toolkit's new integrated design and highly graphical development interface look to ease the process of creating complex speech-based applications. Unisys says that NLSA 4.0 is the only cross-platform solution that provides complete speech recognizer-independence, allowing developers to choose a speech recognizer based on what best fits their application's needs. The toolkit's open approach allows application portability across platforms, languages, and speech recognition technologies.

NL Speech Assistant 4.0 is now available through Unisys NL Enabled partners and through the new Unisys Speech Depot Web site. Per-seat developer licenses range from US$495 to US$2,490.

Lucent and E Ink join in e-paper chase

Lucent Technologies and E Ink Corp. will collaborate in development of "electronic paper," aiming toward the first e-books with flexible plastic sheets. Their joint product would be the first of its kind made with a process similar to ink-on-paper printing, rather than the more expensive silicon-chip manufacturing process.

Electronic paper by Lucent/E Ink would use plastic transistors developed at Lucent's Bell Labs, and E Ink's electronic ink. More flexible than conventional silicon chips, the transistors will be printed onto a plastic film coated with electronic ink. The transistors create an electric field, which charges microcapsules in the ink, causing them to change color and create images.

"Our goal is to make a paper-like film that is as flexible and easy to read as ink on paper," says Bell Labs researcher Pierre Wiltzius. Bell Lab printed the world's first plastic transistor two years ago.

"We see this collaboration with Lucent as a way to demonstrate how electronic ink and printed transistors can revolutionize traditional paper media," states Paul Drzaic, director of E Ink's display technology division.

Global growth of e-commerce

Look for significant growth in the worldwide business-to-consumer e-commerce market, says Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Group Inc. Dataquest analysts estimate that the market will reach US$31.2 billion in 1999, almost tripling 1998 totals of  US$11.2 billion. Dataquest further estimates that the market will continue to undergo explosive growth through 2003, when revenue will exceed US$380 billion.

Expect United States business-to-consumer e-commerce to reach US$20.5 billion in 1999, say Dataquest analysts, and US$147 billion by 2003. The European consumer e-commerce market is projected to leap from US$5.4 billion in 1999 to more than US$115 billion in 2003.

"The reduced costs of Internet access and the growth of locally-based online merchants will drive the birth of large-scale e-tailing throughout the world," said Blaine Mathieu, senior industry analyst for Dataquest's e-Commerce Worldwide program. The program is designed to help executives, product marketers, strategic planners, and investors capitalize on emerging opportunities by providing research on and analysis of the e-commerce marketplace, according to Dataquest.

Silver server

SilverStream Software has release version 3.0 of its SilverStream Application Server. Based on the Java 2 platform Enterprise Edition standard. The tool provides Enterprise JavaBeans, Servlets, JavaServer Pages, XML, JDBC, CORBA, Java Transactions, and JNDI technologies.

The EJB component implements the new EJB 1.1 specification including support for session and entity beans, method permissions, relational data mapping, and finder methods. Support for Java Server Pages enables developers to create dynamic Web pages. The advantage to JSPs is that content and page layout are separated which allows them to be modified independently.

Inclusion of an enhanced Form Designer allows the development of Swing-based client-side Java applications. 

SilverStream 3.0 offers an embedded XML parser available through the SilverStream API. According to SilverStream, "XML is used throughout SilverStream 3.0 for EJB deployment, storing application meta data, and for complex application tasks with third party development tools.

The server provides load balancing, fail over, hot update of applications, and can automatically detect and recover from lost database connections. Version 3.0 supports Oracle 8i, Microsoft SQL Server 7.0, Sybase jConnect 5.0 and IBM DB/2 5.2.

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