Biometric Bits - Volume 2006-01 - Issue 05 - January 12, 2006
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Henry J. Boitel, Editor

Table of Contents

01. OMB policy on posting information sparks debate - By Jason Miller  - Government Computer News - Dec 23, 2005

02. Version 2 of the Federal Enterprise Data Reference Manual (DRM) - White House Office of Management & Budget

03. White House Office of Management an Budget - MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES - Improving Public Access to and Dissemination of Government Information and Using the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model

04. Press Release - Gen 2 RFID tag benchmarking report from ODIN - January 10, 2006

05. RFID Consortium plans next move over patent pool - Using RFID - January 11, 2006

06, Kansas Joins FBI Fingerprint FIle by Mike Marusarz - WIBW TV  (Kansas) - Jan 12, 2006

07. Regulating Nano = A new reports says laws don't protect public health and safety regarding all forms of nanotechnology. - By Associated Press - MIT Technology Review - Jan 11, 2006

08. Viisage to Buy Identix in $770M Stock Deal - By Associated Press
- Los Angeles Time - Jan 12, 2006

09. Press Release -  CIT nears completion of ID demonstration system
- Secure Document World - Jan 12,  2006

10.  Press Release - It Is Predicted That the Access Control Market in The UK Will Continue to Grow between 2005 and 2009 - Jan 12, 2006

11. Press Release - Encentuate Tags Security Technology - Wireless Healthcare News - Jan 12, 2006

12. UK Passport Service struggles with facial recognition - Look straight ahead and don't smile. - Bryan Betts,- Techworld - Jan 12,  2006

13. Japan plans to finger print all immigrants, visitors
- Work - Jan 12, 2006

14. Japan fingerprinting plan sparks strong opposition - People's Daily (China) - Jan 12, 2006

15. National ID proposal up for review - United Press International - Jan 11, 2005

16. National push may get bipartisan support - By Lachlan Heywood - Sunday Times (Australia) - Jan 12, 2006

17. Review to take sting from ID card - James Riley - The Australian - Jan 12, 2006

18. Press Release - Sandia researchers aim to keep points-of-entry safe through systems-level modeling of operations - Jan 11, 2005

19. BioBouncer Club Surveillance: Better Than Regular Bouncers?
- the Village Voice - Jan 11, 2006

20. Global Biometric Revenues Projected to Grow from $2.1B in 2006 to $5.7B in 2010 - Government - Jan 10, 2006

21. Bringing Voice Services to Business Applications - Brian Silver, CTO, BlueNote Networks - Jan 11, 2006

22. Press Release [Frost & Sullivan] Tremendous Growth Projected For European Homeland Security
- Government Computer News - Jan 11, 2006

23. Press Release [Frost & Sullivan] -  North American Biometrics Market Expected to Triple Revenue Growth Through 2008, discusses Frost and Sullivan Report - Jan 11, 2006

24. US-VISIT to step up fingerprinting
- By STEPHEN LOSEY - Federal Times - Jan 11, 2006

25. Press Release [US Dept of State] - World Travel Is Safer with US-VISIT, Security Official Says - Homeland Security plans more steps to boost travel, and safety - By Charlene Porter - All American Patriots - January 10, 2006

26. FBI says attacks succeeding despite security investments - By Bill Brenner - Search - Jan 11, 2006

27. Construction sector puts Safeguard in place - By Gordon Smith - Silicon Republic - Jan 11, 2006

28. Britain plans total electronic surveillance of roads - By Mark Rice-Oxley, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor - USA Today - Jan 10, 2006

29. Reading the IT Leaves for 2006
-  by Timothy Prickett Morgan - The IT Jungle - Jan 20, 2006

30. An Enterprise Wish List for 2006 by Robert Rosen - The IT Jungle  - Jan 10, 2006

31. FBI checking prints in death row cases - By Richard Willing - USA TODAY - Feb 10, 2006

32. ‘Use biometrics to track foreign workers' - By DAWN CHAN - The Malay Mail - Jan 20, 2006

33. DHS seeks to outsource identification system - By Greta Wodele, National Journal's Technology Daily - Gov - Jan 10, 2006

34. Pay By Touch . . .  today announced it is launching its service in all five Hornbacher's grocery stores in Fargo, N.D. and neighbouring Moorhead, Minn.
- FinExtrea - Jan 10, 2006

35. Members introduce legislation  School lunch scanners, ethanol among subjects of bills introduced by southeast Iowa legislators
. - By AIMEE TABOR - The Hawkeye Newspaper (Iowa) - Jan 10, 2006

36. Press Release  - FingerGear(TM) Computer-On-a-Stick(TM) Now Available in Micro Center Stores; USB Device Offers Complete Pre-Installed Desktop Environment on a Portable Flash Drive - Jan 10, 2006

37. County plans to extend forensic investigations. Grants to help pay for more training. By Edward Carpenter -The San Francisco Examiner -  Jan 11, 2006

38. An Electoral System You Can Count On - By Gary Krasner  - The American Daily (Arizona) - Jan 12, 2006

39. Background checks - Health workers are scapegoats - Letter to the Editor Asbury Park Press (NJ) - Jan 12, 2006

40. State says troopers wrong on job posts
- The union and the commissioner disagree on whether civilians should get some jobs. - Associated Press - Philidelphia Inquirer - Jan 12, 2006

41. Press Release - Digital Persona, Inc. Receives Prestigious Info Security Product Excellence Award for Authentication - Jan 12, 2006

42. Keynote Remarks by Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation - 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show - Las Vegas, Nevada - January 4, 2006

43. He's the voice for the dead - Lt-Col Tan Peng Hui is Singapore's only dental forensic expert. - By Andre Yeo - The Electric News (Singapore) - January 12, 2006

Articles and Essays

01. OMB policy on posting information sparks debate
- By Jason Miller  - Government Computer News - Dec 23, 2005
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The Office of Management and Budget’s new policy asking agencies to improve how they disseminate public information is at the heart of a larger battle over how much categorization is needed to make government information publicly accessible.

The new policy, required by the E-Government Act of 2002, is another piece in an ongoing disagreement over whether search technology is good enough to find specific instances of government information or whether metadata tagging and other categorization techniques are necessary at some level.

In a memo issued late last week, Clay Johnson, OMB’s deputy director for management, detailed three steps—for the most part involving publishing materials online—agencies must complete by Sept. 1 to meet the requirements outlined in Section 207 of the E-Government Act of 2002.

The memo also encourages agencies to use the newest version of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model to meet those requirements. OMB released Version 2.0 of the DRM earlier this week.

The memo follows recommendations from the Interagency Committee on Government Information that were sent to OMB in December 2004. The E-Government Act directed OMB to set up the committee to help implement Section 207.

But at least one federal official, who requested anonymity, said OMB ignored the committee’s suggestions and is asking agencies to do nothing more than they are doing now.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the bill’s author, said there are “serious concerns about whether OMB’s new guidelines comply with the act’s requirements.” He added that he intends to ask OMB officials “to explain how the policy meets statutory mandates.”

Lieberman’s office would not offer any more specifics on his concerns.

Patrice McDermott, deputy director for government relations for the American Library Association, called the policy “disturbing.”

“Essentially, what OMB appears to be saying is, for information you want to make publicly accessible, if you put it on your Web site or post it electronically, you have fulfilled all requirements of law,” McDermott said. “That is not true. That is not the spirit or intent of the law.”

She added that intent of law was to give the public the ability to know about and gain access to all information the government creates.

“There was a lot of discussions of how deep that goes and the distinctions between publications and records,” McDermott said. “That becomes less and less clear on the Web, but the intent was for agencies do an inventory of all of their information and to categorize or catalog it, and apply some metadata to it so that anyone going in anywhere in government could search across agencies and meaningfully find things.”

But OMB disputes the complaints.

“This policy certainly meets the spirit and intent of the E-Government Act and capitalizes the extraordinary advances in search technology including the way they crawl and index information preparing it for retrieval over the Internet,” said an OMB official, who requested anonymity. “To say that this policy ‘only’ requires agencies to post information ignores the great advances in search technologies over the past two or so years and the considerable ongoing research.”

In the guidance, Johnson said that agencies might be meeting some of these requirements already. Agencies must: These three steps do not include any of the ICGI’s recommendations, the federal official said. The ICGI defined what categorizable information is, suggested searchable identifiers such as handles or the Uniform Resource Name, and said agencies should use ISO standard 23950 for interoperable search.

“Libraries have been doing this for 100 years and agencies been doing this for many years,” McDermott said. “Agencies need to do some serious cross walking using common standards and build on those efforts that were quite successful in government. They don’t have to catalog to the level that libraries do, but have to do more than they are doing now and that the policy calls for.”

The OMB official said the administration did consider the ICGI’s recommendations, but found them “unnecessarily complex and too costly for agencies to implement and sustain over time.”

Agencies still are trying to understand the policy. A Government Printing Office spokeswoman said the agency is discussing the guidance with OMB.

Johnson also identified three ways for the new DRM to help agencies meet the three requirements. The DRM could help agencies: In addition to this guidance, OMB and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are developing guidance for sharing terrorism information as required under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

The policy comes at the same time as OMB released the results of responses from industry and government on a request for information on how to improve government search technology.


02. Version 2 of the Federal Enterprise Data Reference Manual (DRM) - White House Office of Management & Budget - in pdf format.
Next Contents

03. White House Office of Management an Budget - MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES - Improving Public Access to and Dissemination of Government Information and Using the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model
Next Contents

04. Press Release - Gen 2 RFID tag benchmarking report from ODIN - January 10, 2006
Source  Next Contents

ODIN technologies, the leader in the physics of RFID testing and deployment, has published its 'RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark Report', sponsored by Unisys. The report presents analysis of eleven of the leading EPC compliant Gen 2 RFID tags.

The benchmark was developed to provide end users with objective insight into how well tags actually work in the field and what criteria should be evaluated when making tag selection, placement and orientation decisions. The Benchmark is the first scientific and objective comparison of how Gen 2 RFID tags work with various standard materials such as corrugate packaging, water and metal. boitel44q This article is copyright 2006

What's in the report?
The benchmark report includes performance testing related to distance, orientation sensitivity, material type, modulation depth and quality. It also provides a framework for selecting an appropriate tag converter and educational insights into the Gen 2 standard and recent market developments.

The report includes details and benchmarks on Gen 2 RFID tags from seven manufacturers (Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, Impinj, Rafsec, RF IDentics, Symbol, and Texas Instruments).

The benchmark measured how well each tag extracts, consumes and reflects RF power and assesses the quality variance in a random lot of 100 tags. It also includes:
Distance performance analysis, providing a ranking based on tag performance at several distances with different common product materials;
Orientation sensitivity analysis, ranking each tag based on orientation sensitivity with different common materials;
Material dependence of tag performance, evaluating the relative performance of each tag on different material types;
Modulation depth, evaluating the effectiveness of each tag in backscattering power to the reader antenna by employing a real time spectrum analyser

Why the benchmark?
ODIN technologies President and CEO Patrick J. Sweeney II said: "Gen 2 is the foundation for the rapid growth of RFID. ODIN technologies is proud to once again produce a comprehensive, scientific analysis of Gen 2 RFID tags. The RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark can save end users time, money and hassle during this important technology transition."

ODIN leveraged its scientific lab combined with the industry's most experienced RFID deployment team to test the products from an end user's perspective. The RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark is designed to be an end user's trusted source for comparing the performance of leading RFID tags.

According to Sweeney, "Tag and reader communication is the first point of success or failure in any RFID system. The tag typically represents the weak link in the equation and must be selected with great care. The RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark results provide surprising insights that will help end users make better tag selection decisions. The fact is that some tag manufacturers continue to outpace others in tag quality and versatility. This information should be central to an end user's tagging strategy."

Education, education, education
ODIN also wrote RFID for Dummies to help educate the industry and improve the quality of RFID deployments. ODIN technologies continues to produce benchmark testing to break through the marketing clutter and provide sound, factual data to end users and vendors working to improve RFID system performance.

Peter Regen, vice president, Global Visible Commerce for Unisys added: "Gen 2 represents a critical technology transition that can go smoothly or with great difficulty. Unisys recommends its clients leverage RF science combined with a proven process to ensure the right tags, readers and other equipment is selected to create secure business operations. ODIN technologies' RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark provides a sound, scientific basis for beginning the tag selection process."

Buying the benchmark report
The benchmark report can be purchased from ODIN technologies (at US$750 for a single user license and US$1,500 for an enterprise license).

05. RFID Consortium plans next move over patent pool - Using RFID - January 11, 2006

 Source  Next Contents

It has been several months since the RFID Consortium announced its intent to form a patent pool for the intellectual property required for UHF RFID standards from EPCglobal and ISO. Now the RFID Consortium is charting its structure and creating its licensing rules.

The RFID Consortium publicly announced its intent to form a patent pool in August 2005 and followed with an announcement in September 2005 that it had selected MPEG LA, LLC as the administrator for the RFID patent licensing process. boitel44q This article is copyright 2006

The RFID Consortium official members are Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Identifications Group (AWID), Avery Dennison, Moore Wallace, Symbol Technologies, ThingMagic, Tyco Fire & Security and Zebra Technologies. The group of eight companies that are official members of the consortium has not grown since the August announcement according to Stan Drobac, vice president of RFID applications at Avery Dennison and spokesperson for the RFID Consortium.

Royalty model?
Patent pool structures and consortia royalty sharing models vary. Drobac told RFID Tribe, "We are borrowing elements from multiple business models to construct our model."

RFID Tribe talked with Andrew Updegrove, partner at Gesmer Updegrove LLP and editor of Gesmer Updegrove has advised more than 70 standards-setting and promotional consortia regarding their formation, member classes, dues structure, standards and certification processes, including the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum and the Mobile Payments Forum.

Updegrove said. "The idea for patent pools is to cap the 'tax' on a device to allow for greater market adoption." The tax in the form of a royalty is set at 'what the market will bear'. The cap is typically either a percent of the device's price or a flat fee per device.

Consortia advantages
There are several advantages to patent pool consortia. Patent pools enable efficiency when the market can obtain a single capped royalty for a device where equipment providers need only one license and deal with one entity for licensing. Consortium patent pool participants benefit by sharing in the consortium's royalty stream according to a patent pool formula devised by the participating companies. In addition, patent pools level the playing field so that one firm pays the same royalty fee as its competitor for selling a device. Consortia tend to save valuable resources for member companies - they spend less time and less capital defending a lower number of lawsuits.

With much at stake, companies work diligently to set technology standards and to commercialise their intellectual property by pooling their patents with others. "Standards setting is a game of hardball" said Updegrove.

Anti-trust issues
Due to anti-trust issues associated with patent pooling, some consortia in the United States send a letter to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking an opinion. This letter details the consortium's structure, membership model and licensing algorithms and asks the DOJ for an opinion on whether the consortium, as proposed, would violate anti-trust laws. The DOJ issues a non-binding letter back to the consortium rendering an opinion. The DOJ letter is not required, but gives the consortium member companies a signal on whether their consortium will withstand potential legal challenges regarding anti-trust issues.

"Consortia and patent pools are like a poker game" said Updegrove. Anyone can play, anyone can drop out if they don't like the game and any player can challenge another's patents to "call a bluff."

Recipe for success
Successful consortia start with a population of "promoting companies" and grow their efforts to include "adopting companies" which adopt the licensing model. The RFID Consortium "promoting companies" began marketing their efforts with the August 2005 announcement, followed by the September 2005 announcement on selecting MPEG LA as the licensing administrator. As the poker game continues, potential member companies should receive invitations from consortium member companies to join the patent pool, followed by announcements defining the patent pool and regarding licensing enforcement.

According to Updegrove, a typical path for a consortium forming a patent pool might involve the following activities:

According to Larry Horn, vice president of licensing and business development at MPEG LA, the "most efficient" licensing structure for the RFID industry is a place to obtain a single license for all the patents associated with a given standard. This saves transactional costs associated with negotiating with several firms and paying multiple license fees to use a technology. To achieve that most efficient structure requires that all of the patent holders for the technologies required to implement the RFID UHF standard would be a part of the RFID Consortium. Horn indicated that 100% participation is a goal but is not always possible. He has seldom seen any patent pool obtain all the patents for a given standard.

A recent study published in November 2005 examined licensing rules for 63 patent pools established between 1895 and 2001 ( "The Design of Patent Pools: The Determinants of Licensing Rules" by Josh Lerner, Marcin Strojwas, and Jean Tirole). The study found that pools consisting of complementary patents are more likely to allow members to engage in independent licensing. The study also found the requirement that firms license patents to the pool (grantbacks), should be associated with pools that consist of complementary patents and allow independent licensing.

License fees?
License fees for the RFID Consortium have not been set. Horn commented that the license fees will be non-exclusive – the market retains the right to negotiate bilaterally with any of the firms in the patent pool for rights to use that firm's technology. But most equipment providers who want to license the applicable RFID technologies will recognise the efficiency of licensing from the RFID Consortium's patent pool.

"The RFID Consortium has not yet selected a structure" said Bill Dolan, of Bell, Boyd and Lloyd, LLC, the law firm advising the RFID Consortium. The consortium may form as a limited liability company (LLC) or it may require members to sign patent pool agreements and create an administrative committee comprised of representatives from its member firms.

The RFID Consortium's current agreement with MPEG LA, its licensing administrator, more closely resembles a memorandum of understanding (MOU) than a contract. RFID Consortium members are to be determined in the consortium's early stages. A more detailed contract may be forthcoming when the consortium membership solidifies and when there is more definition regarding licensing details.

Call for patents soon
There are no patents in the pool at this point. Horn anticipates that the call for patents will come from MPEG LA in the first quarter of 2006.

The RFID Consortium will identify an independent expert to qualify patents as part of the patent pool. Horn says, "The expert is like an umpire in a baseball game calling strikes and balls for each pitch." As patent holders submit patent claims through MPEG LA, the expert will make a call on each patent. The expert evaluates the patent to determine whether the patent is required to implement a given technology standard.

The RFID Consortium may send the DOJ a letter seeking an opinion on the consortium's structure. Horn claims that the MPEG LA licensing model is widely accepted by the DOJ with respect to anti-trust issues and that there may not be a need to seek a DOJ letter of opinion for the RFID Consortium. That decision will be left to RFID Consortium members.

The following agreements are not completed, but are anticipated as the RFID Consortium progresses:

  1. Agreement to pool patents using reasonable and non-discriminatory pricing (RAND). This is an agreement between the patent pool participants – the licensing administrator is typically not a party to this agreement. The agreement would detail license fees and royalty split algorithms.
  2. Agreement in which RFID Consortium grants licensing rights to the licensing administrator (MPEG LA).
  3. Licensing administrator agreement in which MPEG LA and consortium agree to the terms for services provided by licensing administrator and details of payments for those services.
  4. License for the RFID Consortium's pooled patents detailing the rights purchased by the licensee.
"My experience is that patent pools start with a base of patents that grow and gain momentum over time." Horn said.

Technology standards, patent pools and efficient licensing structures are all part of the landscape as RFID technology matures and gains market acceptance. Eight companies have answered the call to "ante-up" and join the patent pool, optimistic that the RFID industry will benefit from a more efficient licensing model.


06, Kansas Joins FBI Fingerprint FIle by Mike Marusarz - WIBW TV  (Kansas) - Jan 12, 2006

  Next Contents

Kansas is now able to help other states catch crooks easier. The state just jumped on board the FBI National Fingerprint Database. With just a few quick clicks law enforcement in other states can eye a Kansas suspect's rap sheet.

"We'll have names, addresses, employers, alias information regarding dates of birth, social security numbers and arrest information," explained David Sim, Special Agent in Charge of Records Section at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Kansas is just the eighth state to join the National Fingerprint File. The state to state link only takes seconds allowing a free flow of instant criminal info.

"It gives them more complete info on a quicker basis than receiving it from the FBI," said Sim.

It's good for states trying to track down criminals, but bad for criminals trying to out run the arm of the law.

"If they say they are one person and we get finger prints in we know they're not," said Tina Ortega of the KBI.

Kansas receives more than 300,000 fingerprint check request a year. Now as a member of the National Fingerprint File that number will likely go up.

The FBI hopes eventually all 50 states will become a part of this file. Though that is expected to take years to complete.


Regulating Nano = A new reports says laws don't protect public health and safety regarding all forms of nanotechnology. - By Associated Press - MIT Technology Review - Jan 11, 2006

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Laws fall short in safeguarding the public's health and safety when it comes to the blossoming science of nanotechnology, according to report being issued Wednesday.

The new materials made through nanotechnology are finding their way into dozens of everyday products, from toothpaste to trousers, often without gaining the notice of regulators or consumers.

Few will say whether the nano materials, often hundreds of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, are unquestionably safe or dangerous given the lack of definitive research into the matter. But Terry Davies, author of the report, said it's time to start discussing changing laws -- and perhaps drafting new ones -- to identify and protect the public from any risks that may crop up in the future.

''The technology is new but it's not so new that it's not being commercialized,'' said Davies, a senior adviser to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former Environmental Protection Agency official.

Nanotechnology involves the manufacture and manipulation of materials at the molecular or atomic level -- the smallest things get. At that scale, materials are measured in nanometers or billionths of a meter. Nanoscale materials, including particles used today in stain-resistant pants and suntan lotions, are generally less than 100 nanometers in diameter. A sheet of paper, in comparison, is a whopping 100,000 nanometers thick.

Nano boosters herald the potential for small-scale materials to have enormous effects on much of what we do, including develop drugs and sop up toxic pollution. Nano materials already are used in at least 80 consumer products made by U.S. companies, according to Small Times Magazine, which covers the nanotechnology industry.

U.S. regulatory agencies, including the EPA and Food and Drug Administration, say their regulatory options are adequate to cover nano-engineered materials, said Clayton Teague, director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. Officials continue to evaluate the field as more studies are done, and updating the rules or adding ones now would be premature, he said.

''Until we have information that there are truly inadequacies in existing regulations, any additional regulations beyond what we already would have would be burdensome to industry and the advancement of the field,'' Teague said.

The sometimes unpredictable behavior of materials at the nanoscale does give some pause. Even seemingly subtle changes in the size of particles can precipitate wildly different changes in the basic properties of those materials, including their toxicity.

Laws like the Clean Water Act or Toxic Substances Control Act lack either the authority or resources -- or both -- to adequately address those sorts of peculiarities inherent to nanotechnology, Davies said.

Others, like the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, are probably adequate when it comes to governing the safety of nano materials in food and drugs, the report said. But that act falls flat when it comes to cosmetics, which remain essentially unregulated by the FDA, Davies and others said.

''It's a list of things they can't do because the list of things they can do is practically nonexistent,'' Davies said.

Davies said he hopes the report will spark discussion, in part to help skirt the pitfalls that have befallen other emerging technologies.

''We've learned with biotech and nuclear power, if there are not adequate safeguards, the public is going to resist the technology and it won't meet its potential,'' Davies said.

08. Viisage to Buy Identix in $770M Stock Deal - By Associated Press - Los Angeles Time - Jan 12, 2006

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NEW YORK — Viisage Technology Inc. is paying about $770 million in stock for Identix Inc. in a deal that it said will create a powerhouse in technology used by law enforcement agencies and businesses to authenticate documents and identify people.

Billerica, Mass.-based Viisage makes identity systems that help assure that credentials are valid and documents are genuine, while Identix, based in Minnetonka, Minn., provides technology including fingerprint, facial and skin biometric systems.

The companies said in announcing the deal on Thursday that their combined operations are expected to have about $220 million in revenue and at least $40 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2006.

Under terms of the deal, Identix shareholders will receive 0.473 new shares of Viisage for each Identix share they own. At Wednesday's closing price of $17.69 a share for Viisage, that would give the Identix shareholders stock worth about stock $8.37, or a 45 percent premium over its closing price of $5.78 on Wednesday.

While Identix shareholders will own about 59 percent of the combined company, Viisage Chairman Robert V. LaPenta will become chairman and chief executive of the combined company and Viisage will have seven of the 12 seats on the board of the combined company.

Identix CEO Joseph J. Atick will become vice chairman and chief strategic officer.

The acquisition has been approved by both companies' boards, and is expected to close in this year's second quarter, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. The companies said certain affiliates have agreed to vote in favor of the merger.

09. Press Release -  CIT nears completion of ID demonstration system - Secure Document World - Jan 12,  2006
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C.I.T. Technology Group has commenced work on Phase two of a contract it has with Ravenpack International to implement a demonstration identification documents system. Phase one was completed last month and Secugraphics, the division of C.I.T. Technology working on the contract, will receive US$391,000. Phase Two is worth US$474,000.

Secugraphics will develop and implement the new biometric identity card and passport system within the province of Andalusia utilizing the company’s Biometric eID issuing process.

"The opening of the demonstration facility in Spain will now create a destination in Europe for companies and government officials to come and see first hand our company’s products. They will be able to see the biometric identity cards and also see how our products can be tailored for their individual use," commented Abraham Adizes the president and CEO of C.I.T. Technology Group. He also stated, "We are currently executing and poised on an aggressive path to getting our technology recognized worldwide."

The aim of this identity document demonstration is the creation of a biometric centre for the manufacture of identification documents including counterfeit-proof printing techniques and advanced biometric identification systems. Secugraphics is providing its SDIS (Security Document Issuing System) solution set for issuing MRTD (Machine Readable Travel Documents) and National ID card.

10.  Press Release - It Is Predicted That the Access Control Market in The UK Will Continue to Grow between 2005 and 2009 - Jan 12, 2006
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DUBLIN, Ireland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 12, 2006--Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of Access Control Market Report 2005 to their offering.

After a period of fairly slow growth since 2000, the UK access control market showed signs of picking up in 2004. We estimate that the value of the market increased by 6.8% to GBP 251m in 2004.

The market includes installation and maintenance, as well as the supply of hardware and software, and is segmented into the following product sectors: audio and video entry systems; keypad entry systems; card access systems, such as Wiegand, magnetic stripe and barcode; radio frequency (RF) proximity systems; long-range/hands-free systems; systems to control vehicle access; smart-card systems; dual-function cards; and biometric systems. Some systems include more than one technology for added security.

The high crime level and fears of terrorism continue to be driving forces for all areas of the security market. The new building sector is of particular importance to the access control market and building output trends play a major role in determining market growth. Although the trends in building output in 2003 were fairly good, there was a downturn in the important commercial sector, following several years of growth. However, construction figures for the first half of 2004 show some improvement in this sector, as well as in the depressed industrial sector, and very strong growth in the output of housing and public-sector non-residential buildings.

The enforcement of the final part of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in October 2004 means that customers must take into account the access needs of disabled people when choosing access control systems. Products adapted for disabled people have been launched by most of the major suppliers in 2004.

Proximity technology systems still account for the largest share of the market, but the need to cater for wheelchair users and people with manual disabilities is tending to favour hands-free systems. At the same time, the market for contactless smart-card technology is beginning to take off as customers `future-proof' their systems in anticipation of needing the extra capabilities offered by smart cards at a later date.

New building output picked up in 2004 and orders for new construction work increased. Economic forecasts at the end of November 2004 were favourable to investment in corporate premises. We forecast that the UK access control market will continue to show real growth between 2005 and 2009.

Topics Covered

Executive Summary

1. Market Definition

2. Market Size

3. Industry Background

4. Competitor Analysis

5. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

6. Buying Behaviour

7. Current Issues

8. The Global Market

9. Forecasts

10. Company Profiles

11. Further Sources

Companies Mentioned

-- Abloy Security Ltd

-- ADT Fire & Security PLC

-- Assa Ltd

-- Bell Group Ltd

-- Bell System (Telephones) Ltd

-- Bewator Ltd

-- Blick UK Ltd

-- BPT Security Systems (UK) Ltd

-- Chubb Electronic Security Ltd

-- Controlled Electronic Management Systems Ltd

-- Group 4 Technology Ltd

-- HID Corporation Ltd

-- Initial Electronic Security Systems Ltd

-- Kaba (UK) Ltd

-- Newmark Security Plc

-- PAC International Ltd

-- TDSI Group Ltd

For more information visit


11. Press Release - Encentuate Tags Security Technology - Wireless Healthcare News - Jan 12, 2006
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Encentuate, a provider of Enterprise Access Security solutions, integrates with a growing number of strong authentication technologies, including RFID, biometrics, one-time passwords (OTP), smart cards, and USB tokens.

Encentuate TCI's support for multiple authentication factors provides secure access to information systems while eliminating the need to remember cumbersome passwords and making security virtually transparent to users. The solution is also unique in that it leverages existing building access badges, such as HID proximity cards, to provide unified physical and logical access. The policies defined and managed by Encentuate TCI govern the use of these authentication factors.

"Each organisation is different, and each situation provides a unique access security challenge," said Peng T. Ong, founder, chairman and CEO of Encentuate. "What sets Encentuate TCI apart from other solutions is our ability to seamlessly integrate with a number of authentication technologies, from RFID to USB tokens. As a result, we can eliminate an organisation's dependence on weak passwords and ensure secure access to computer systems using a variety of authentication factors. The authentication opportunities are practically limitless and we work with each organisation to determine the solution, which is most effective for their requirements."

Encentuate TCI's ability to integrate with a variety of authentication factors provides enterprises a seamless path to strong digital identity without introducing additional complexity, cost or overwhelming deployments. With Encentuate TCI, organisations can efficiently manage risk, achieve regulatory compliance, decrease IT costs and increase user productivity. Encentuate TCI also integrates with existing information, network, and physical access infrastructure without any modifications. As a result, integration time and costs are reduced, allowing organisations to realise a much quicker return on their investment.

"Building access badges allow users to access many things -- facilities, parking, photocopying services, time and attendance technologies are just a few examples. At RF IDeas we enable organisations to extend the use of their physical security badges to all areas that employees are required to identify or authenticate themselves," said Greg Gliniecki, vice president at RF IDeas. "With Encentuate TCI and our RF IDeas reader technology, organisations can integrate access to information systems using their same physical access badge. This allows them to realise the extended value of their current investment in cards and be assured that their information systems are secure from unwanted access."

"By integrating XyLoc active proximity-based authentication technology with Encentuate TCI, the combined technologies allow users convenient information access, walk-away security and managed change of control, which improves access time, productivity and user satisfaction," said David Shook, senior vice president, Ensure Technologies. "This solution is ideal for complex access workflows in fast-paced environments, such as those found in hospital clinics."

"It is critical for organisations today to implement access security solutions," added Ong. "Simple password-based systems are ineffective and inefficient causing a number of bottlenecks within IT departments and at workstations, as well as potentially violating regulatory compliance requirements. Encentuate TCI gives organisations a choice of authentication solutions, each of which greatly improves security. With a simple swipe of an RFID badge or a fingerprint scan organisations can strengthen access to computer systems while allowing the staff to quickly access the information they need to be productive on their jobs."


12. UK Passport Service struggles with facial recognition - Look straight ahead and don't smile. - Bryan Betts,- Techworld - Jan 12,  2006
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The UK Passport Service is suffering high rejection rates with its biometric facial recognition technology, it has admitted.

The agency said recently revised guidelines for passport applicants have reduced the problem, but it is still rejecting one photo in every ten. In December, it was one in seven.

Photos are now scanned to generate a biometric based on key facial features, which is then stored in a chip on the passport. The biometric technology needs a full-face pose, a "neutral expression", and specific features such as the eyes and closed mouth clearly visible.

A UKPS spokesman said facial recognition is already being used to detect fraudulent or multiple applications, but that the ultimate plan is to be able to compare the stored biometric with a live picture taken at a border crossing. "To do that, the photo has to be of sufficient quality," he said.

He added that as well as difficulties with the pose, problems have been encountered with watermarked photo paper confusing the scanning software, and with digital photos printed at home. "We blow up the picture a lot, and a home printer is unlikely to be high enough resolution," he said.

UKPS, which expects to issue seven million passports this year - more than any other country except the US - denied that its biometric technology was at fault.

"We are improving the rejection rate - it's a submission issue, not technology," its spokesman said. He noted that the new passports are in response to US demands and follow standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

However, privacy campaigners have highlighted the unreliability of facial recognition in many trials, with error rates up to 50 percent in one, while unpublished studies suggest that the technology's sensitivity to lighting conditions can give false results in as many as one in 10 scans.

Indeed, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology has said that facial recognition is less accurate than fingerprinting. However, it is popular because of its relative simplicity of implementation - and of course its potential for covert use.


13. Japan plans to finger print all immigrants, visitors - Work - Jan 12, 2006
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Japan's plans to fingerprint foreigners at immigration checkpoints, aimed to prevent terrorism.

Stricter checks at immigration, including the compulsory photographing and fingerprinting of foreigners on arrival, are laid down in a revised immigration bill the Justice Ministry will present to parliament in the next few months, Isao Negishi of the ministry's Immigration Bureau said in an interview.

The revised law would allow Japan to deport any arriving foreigner it considers to be a terrorist, Negishi said.

A Japanese newspaper reported last month that a member of a radical Islamist group banned in Pakistan had entered Japan two years ago to try to establish a foothold in the country. A police report also released last month said the country was at risk of attack because of its close links with the United States.

A lawyers' group said on Jan. 11 that the country risks breaching human rights and invading individuals' privacy if it goes through with the plans.

Japan's Federation of Bar Associations said in a statement on its website that the plans should be abandoned because the fingerprinting of foreigners violated a constitutional requirement to treat people with respect.

The use of biometrics -- identifying individuals through techniques such as retinal scanning, face recognition and fingerprinting -- raises questions about privacy and control of personal information, the lawyers' group said.

"The proposal says the information will be used for criminal investigations as well," said Masashi Ichikawa, the deputy head of the committee on human rights for the lawyers' group.

"So the authorities could match footage from CCTV cameras to digitised pictures to work out exactly where an individual had been on a particular day," Ichikawa added. "We don't think that should happen to people just because they are foreign. Japanese people do bad things too."

The lawyers' group also expressed concern over the difficulty of defining "terrorism."

The Immigration Bureau's Negishi defended the constitutionality of the proposed law.

"We are aware that this information must be treated extremely carefully," he said. "But we do not consider the act of taking fingerprints a violation of the constitution in itself."

He added that the issue of whether an individual could be labelled a terrorist would likely be decided by discussion between various government agencies.

Fingerprinting and photographs were introduced at U.S. immigration checkpoints in 2004.

But the issue is a particularly sensitive one in Japan, where local governments were long required to fingerprint all resident foreigners, including "special permanent residents" of Korean and Chinese origin.

Many of these residents are descendants of those brought to Japan as forced labour before and during World War Two.

Local government fingerprinting was halted in 2000 and special permanent residents are to be excluded from the new rules.

14. Japan fingerprinting plan sparks strong opposition - People's Daily (China) - Jan 12, 2006
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TOKYO: Japan plans to fingerprint foreigners arriving at its ports and airports in a move aimed at preventing terrorism, a Justice Ministry official said yesterday, but the move is opposed by a lawyers' group.

Stricter checks at immigration, including the compulsory photographing and fingerprinting of foreigners on arrival, are laid down in a revised immigration bill the Justice Ministry will present to parliament in the next few months, said Isao Negishi of the ministry's Immigration Bureau.

The revised law would allow Japan to deport any arriving foreigner it considers to be a terrorist, Negishi said.

A Japanese newspaper reported last month that a member of a radical Islamist group banned in Pakistan had entered Japan two years ago to try to establish a foothold in the country. A police report also released last month said the country was at risk of attack because of its close links with the United States.

Japan's Federation of Bar Associations said in a statement on its website that the plans should be abandoned because the fingerprinting of foreigners violated a constitutional requirement to treat people with respect.

The use of biometrics "identifying individuals through techniques such as retinal scanning, face recognition and fingerprinting" raises questions about privacy and control of personal information, the lawyers' group said. It also expressed concern over the difficulty of defining "terrorism."

"We are aware that this information must be treated extremely carefully," Negishi said.

Fingerprinting and photographs were introduced at US immigration checkpoints in 2004.

But the issue is a particularly sensitive one in Japan, where local governments were long required to fingerprint all resident foreigners, including "special permanent residents" of Korean and Chinese origin.

Many of these residents are descendants of those brought to Japan as forced labour before and during World War II.

15. National ID proposal up for review - United Press International - Jan 11, 2005
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CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Australia's attorney general may appoint a retired judge or senior official to review a proposal for a national identity card.

"The government has been considering who would be an appropriate person to head a review of the national ID card, and there is ongoing discussion on the terms of reference of such a review," a spokeswoman for Attorney General Philip Ruddock said. "This review would be conducted independently of government."

The proposal by the government of Prime Minister John Howard for a national identity card has stirred controversy in the country, with unease being expressed over issues of privacy as well as government priorities in the war on terror.

The Australian newspaper quoted the opposition Labor Party's spokesman on homeland security measures, Arch Beavis, as saying the proposal was a "red herring" to divert attention from government security failures. In addition, he said, it would cost too much money to implement an ID card with biometric data and then obtain machines to read them.

The Howard government, in the wake of last July's London bombings and terror attacks in Indonesia targeting Australians, has increased security measures in the country. Raids in the country's two largest cities late last year netted more than a dozen Islamist militants suspected of planning terror attacks.

16. National push may get bipartisan support - By Lachlan Heywood - Sunday Times (Australia) - Jan 12, 2006
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PLANS for a national identity card could receive bipartisan support.

Acting Opposition Leader Jenny Macklin said yesterday Labor would consider supporting the introduction of a national smart card.

"Obviously people have a number of privacy concerns (about the cards) but, if the Government puts forward a serious proposal, we'll have a look at it," she said.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is expected to present the findings of a departmental review into the merits of a single identity card to Cabinet by the end of March.

Prime Minister John Howard and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie ignited the debate on a national identity card following the London bombings and Immigration Department bungles.

It is envisaged a national ID card, which would be used for services such as Medicare and Centrelink, would help prevent identity fraud.

Although acknowledging Labor would consider any proposal put forward, Ms Macklin said the party would rather see improved security at airports and ports.

"We've put forward a number of other very important proposals to the Government to improve security in this country," she said.

Embattled Nationals Senate leader Ron Boswell said this week his party would also consider a move towards a national identity card.

Most Queensland Coalition MPs have already voiced support for a new card using biometric technology, such as fingerprinting or facial recognition.

However, privacy advocates poured scorn on the idea, arguing a central identification system would be heavily targeted by organised criminals and actually increase identity fraud.

A similar plan for an Australia Card in 1987 was abandoned by then prime minister Bob Hawke.


17. Review to take sting from ID card - James Riley - The Australian - Jan 12, 2006
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A RETIRED judge or senior public servant will review plans for a national identity card as the Howard Government seeks to head off criticism of the proposed scheme.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock is considering a short list of candidates to head a review.

"The Government has been considering who would be an appropriate person to head a review of the national ID card, and there is ongoing discussion on the terms of reference of such a review," a spokeswoman for Mr Ruddock said.

"This review would be conducted independently of government.

"This is the next significant national security measure that will be looked at in the wake of John Howard's announcement that all national security areas would be reviewed after the London bombings."

Even before the review begins, the ID card proposal has become a political lightning rod for debate, just as the Hawke government's Australia Card proposal polarised the nation in 1987.

Senior Nationals this week said they were open to the proposal, but the card has drawn wary responses from Labor and the Democrats.

Labor deputy leader Jenny Macklin said there were more important security issues at ports and airports that needed to be addressed before an ID card was debated.

"Obviously people have a number of privacy concerns, but if the Government puts forward a serious proposal we'll have a look at it," Ms Macklin said.

Labor homeland security spokesman Arch Beavis called the proposal a "red herring" designed to draw attention away from failures in existing security programs.

"The Government can't even operate the Aviation Security Identity card properly, with 384 cards having gone missing," Mr Beavis said.

"How would it cope with a national ID card for almost 16 million Australians aged 16 years and above?

"Labor will consider any proposal the Howard Government puts on the table but until that happens our focus is on practical measures to improve national security, not red herrings about a national ID card."

Mr Beavis said ID cards containing some form of biometric data would cost $1.6 billion to produce. "Add the cost of the machines to read them and a system to maintain them and we are looking at a very expensive piece of plastic."

Democrats legal affairs spokeswoman Natasha Stott Despoja said the card would do little to prevent terrorism and would unnecessarily encroach on the civil liberties of ordinary Australians.

"While I recognise that privacy must be balanced with security, the scales are already seriously weighted against the protection of rights and liberties," she said.


18. Press Release - Sandia researchers aim to keep points-of-entry safe through systems-level modeling of operations - Jan 11, 2005
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Carolyn Pura, who serves as the program deputy for borders and transportation security in Sandia National Laboratories' homeland security business unit, is blunt in assessing the nature of her job. "Protecting our borders is difficult and expensive," she says.

Almost as quickly, however, she asserts that Sandia's recent work on border security is well on its way to providing an enormously valuable national asset by providing federal agencies with a reliable and comprehensive simulation capability that lets officials "test drive" various security solutions prior to investing in them.

The focus of the Borders Grand Challenge, funded by a three-year, $6 million laboratory-directed research and development (LDRD) project, was to develop simulation-based systems analyses characterizing the security of the U.S. Border System and the impact of new detection technologies and concepts of operation. The work capitalizes on a range of existing Sandia capabilities, including the Weapons of Mass Destruction Decision Analysis Center (WMD-DAC), the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC, a joint Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory program), and even the lab's expertise in robotics. Some 21 Sandia researchers from both its California and New Mexico sites worked on the project with Pura serving as principal investigator and Dan Horschel as project manager.

Models examine flow of people and goods

The interactive analysis that serves as the hallmark of the program has largely focused on the illegal smuggling of radiological/nuclear material but can also be applied to other threats such as explosives or chemical/biological agent attack. The work uses detailed models that capture actual facilities and procedures and examines border operations of all kinds. Of utmost concern is the flow of people and goods through the various border choke points.

"There is a cost-benefit tradeoff associated with any technology that might be used in border security," Horschel explains. With commerce, for example, officials must consider the flow of people and goods crossing the border, any delays that may occur due to security provisions, and the operational costs that emerge as a consequence of the flow and delay. Sandia's unique systems-level methodologies and tools address these complexities and allow homeland security officials to make data-driven decisions.

Economic impact is key

Sandian Mark Ehlen served as the lead for economic modeling. Ehlen points out that a unique feature of the program is its ability to project the economic impact that might be felt if a venue implements certain security options. A typical port whose processing time increases due to a newly configured set of chemical detectors, for example, might expect to increase its on-site inventories and shipments by up to 15 percent, leading to increased business costs and decreased sales figures. In addition, said Ehlen, the firms that ship through the port will be affected by the delays and increased costs and may take their business elsewhere. Such consequences will fluctuate from venue to venue, of course, depending on the security measures and the venue's own operational plan.

Sandia's models, by simulating the effects of detector placement, the use of facial recognition software, or the impact of other technology devices and strategies, can give decision-makers specific and reliable data to help make sound decisions about how and where to invest.

Mid-fidelity vs. High-fidelity modeling

The models themselves come in two primary forms.

"Mid-fidelity" models offer a broader, bigger-picture look at a border location that might give users the ability, for example, to view personally owned vehicle and cargo vehicle flows at an actual facility, using that facility's own procedures. A "higher-fidelity" model, seen on the computer screen when the operator "zooms in" on the activity, might focus on security interrogation and feature detailed sensor modeling. High-fidelity models, because of their visualization features and accurate geometries and motion, provide a sound environment for training and can be quickly reconfigured to address border concepts-of-operation.

Sandia's models have been integrated to include multiple domains, including air, sea, and land. All of the domains have been built with the capability of analyzing the impacts of different types of sensing equipment, from radiation detection to x-ray equipment. Both a land crossing pedestrian model and an airport, for example, examine the movements of people and look at biometrics technology, while a seaport and land cargo port analyze cargo inspection equipment.

"Hot Source" dilemma

One significant issue that security officials are known to face is the problem of "hot sources." These occur when multiple detectors sound alarms simultaneously due to benign radiation sources. Hot sources significantly disrupt port operations by causing large delays while the source is sorted out and determined to be non-threatening.

Sandia's modeling work helps users of the system address the hot source problem by examining various detection scenarios and options to consider. An "in-situ" option, whereby traffic is stopped while threat sources are localized with a portable detector and removed from the primary traffic stream, might be suitable for certain venues, while others might choose to maintain a "self-identification pre-sort" lane of traffic that allows medical patients or known radioactive shipments to sort themselves out of traffic. Sandia-developed simulations help officials identify the best "encounter geometry" within their facilities and the most "throughput-friendly" detector locations.

Though Pura and Horschel say the work represents the most comprehensive modeling work available on border security, the research has the potential to go much further. Ideally, Sandia could extend the capability to all ports of entry across the country, creating a complete national model that is able to examine changing security measures and operations and their impact. "What we have now are high-quality, targeted studies," says Horschel. "The value a national model could offer decision-makers at the highest level could be immeasurable."

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

19. BioBouncer Club Surveillance: Better Than Regular Bouncers? - the Village Voice - Jan 11, 2006
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For the five people who still think it's awesome to bring weapons into night clubs, this new "BioBouncer" surveillence device, all pressed-out page-1 Metro New York and elsewhere, might come as a major bummer:

Utilizing facial recognition biometric technology, BioBouncer compares the facial images of club patrons to a database of potentially dangerous persons who have violated club policy in the past. Upon a confirmed match, an alert is sent to club security personnel detailing the identified subject--including location, offenses, and special instructions. The offenses are divided into levels of alert so that more serious offenses (e.g. possession of a weapon) are treated with greater urgency.

This "highly skilled security guard," says JAD Comm prez Jeff Dussich, is hitting Manhattan as early as next month apparently, 10 clubs up for beta testing. Since people get antsy when it comes to privacy, Dussich insists a few things w/r/t his product's unintrusiveness:

Honestly I could care less about the civil liberties stuff--as if privacy violation isn't most clubs' bread+butter (yezzir). And when I really want to get my privacy violated, all I have to do is use the bathroom in my apartment and wait for my roommate to make ghost noises through the door crack like he always does.

What I do care about: Hey, what if I want to bring weapons into a club? What if I'm at Webster Hall for 80s Weapon Night? It seems like it'll be a tad annoying when I try to hang out with my hunting buddies at the Gun Club in the Upper West Side, but possibly can't because of my mild penchant for bringing Asiatic weaponry to indie rock shows. I assume if I just keep my machete in my pants, the BioBouncer won't detect anything--but why be deceitful about this? You gotta be kidding me if you think I don't like to roll up on a club pretending my machete is a really shiny moustache.

And that's another thing--come Halloween time, I feel bad for the guy who goes to Movida dressed like Spiderman when the Spiderman at Club Exit just got thrown out for committing five counts of knife murder a/k/a spider-dancing. And imagine all the twin brothers out there, or friends who just sorta look the same, who try to go into two different clubs at the same time--what will happen to their knives? Hey, human bouncers are the worst, but at least when they look at your face, you know where their hands are. They're on your face.

20. Global Biometric Revenues Projected to Grow from $2.1B in 2006 to $5.7B in 2010 - Government - Jan 10, 2006
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International Biometric Group this week announced the availability of the Biometrics Market and Industry Report 2006-2010.

In addition to analyzing the biometric industry by technology, application and market, the Report profiles leading biometric vendors.

Key Report findings include the following: Applications Addressed Include the Following: ===============================

21. Bringing Voice Services to Business Applications - Brian Silver, CTO, BlueNote Networks - Jan 11, 2006
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The most common question I hear being asked by IT managers today is “where will my users be when using their applications three years from now?” Trends are showing that the common answer to this rhetorical question is fast becoming “anywhere other than at their desk.” There are many more users coming “in here” from “out there” rather than just sitting “in here” to get “out there.” Broadband connectivity is turning more and more of us into migrant users or “application nomads.” Enterprise network design is moving away from the principals of “LAN+Backbone+WAN Uplink+firewall+VPN” to an “Always Connected, Always Chaperoned” approach. This leverages the Internet and emerging Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) to create networks that allow access not only for enterprise employees, but also for customers and partners. This connected network will truly blur the lines between “in here” and “out there.”

From an IP telephony perspective, this change has the ability to bring the enterprise’s telecom architecture in-line with its application architecture. By that, I mean the power of IP telephony doesn’t come from replacing the phone-jack with an Ethernet-jack. The power comes from when the interactive communications model starts to mirror the application architecture – servers, software, and modular service-oriented deployment models that leverage the same naming, database and security infrastructure that the traditional data applications leverage. Data applications today are focused on leveraging the Internet; reaching more customers and partners; and making business processes more efficient and productive. The problem with today’s phone systems, VoIP included, is that the centralized and desktop-focused PBX isn’t doing any of these things well. Leveraging the enterprise application infrastructure, including the Internet, hasn’t historically been the competency of the incumbent PBX supplier.
The answer to the problem is to leverage the emerging enterprise SOA for interactive communications much the way it’s leveraged for data communications. Breaking from the traditional mainframe/terminal model of PBX architectures, modular-software-based IP telephony systems enable the enterprise to deploy interactive services much the way they deploy application services. However, it is true that voice and video are different than email or instant-messaging, and as such there are some special architectural considerations when deploying these services:
1.      The incorporation of legacy voice equipment and leveraging the PSTN: There is nothing wrong with using the PSTN, and VoIP should be an addition to the telecom-toolbox, not a replacement for everything in it. But the PSTN and the PBX architecture have limitations. The PSTN has only one interface for its service – off-hook, dial, ring, on-hook – and cellular technology adds only mobility and ring-tones to this model. The enterprise PBX, including IP PBXes, are much the same as the mainframe was in the 1980s – focused on terminals – and the backhaul nature of the architecture forces a concentration of technology, keeping system costs extremely high. The PSTN is a globally reachable network, suitable for customer and partner communications, but without some IP technology, it is incredibly expensive to integrate into an SOA architecture. The task at hand now is building an enterprise telecommunication architecture that’s useful for the users as well as customers and partners in an architecture that’s the same as the emerging architecture for the “out there” data center applications. By creating an interworking environment for legacy and TDM/PSTN equipment, the enterprise can create a strong foundation on which emerging application technology and interactive services can coexist.
2.      Visibility and transport of IP-based interactive services: Voice and video are real-time services, and that means the time matters that it takes for the information to go from the source to the destination. The implications of VoIP on the underlying network infrastructure are somewhat different from non real-time data applications (like email or printing). Enterprises should plan for these real-time applications in their SOAs and incorporate tools for inspecting as well as managing real-time traffic from VoIP and applications. Software modules, deployed as services that focus on digital encoding/recoding, and route selection, based on real-time transport characteristics, are key elements of creating an SOA with interactive services.
3.      Federation and leveraging the Internet. Interactive services: These can be added to extranet and emerging Web-services solutions to allow partners, customers, and enterprise users to communicate with each other as well as traditional desktop telephone services. As business processes begin to be implemented “out there” as much as “in here,” creating federated interactive application platforms is as important as federated data application platforms. Other key elements of creating an SOA with interactive services include software modules deployed as services, which focus on identity management for calling parties as well as called parties; integration with enterprise and Internet-based trust brokers for third-party authentication and authorization for interactive access; and Internet-based voice communication services (e.g., Vonage®, GoogleTalk™).
Bringing voice services to business applications; enabling global reachability and federated partnerships; and leveraging an existing IT application infrastructure are key requirements for the enterprise looking to truly leverage IP telephony. The traditional PBX complex makes it hard, if not impossible, to coordinate interactive communications with enterprise Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs). Enterprises need to consider deploying modular, software-based IP telephony systems to bring telecom architectures in-line with existing application architectures.
Brian Silver is the chief technology officer with BlueNote Networks, which specializes in enterprise voice and multi-media software platforms, applications, tools and Web-service interfaces. He can be reached at


22. Press Release [Frost & Sullivan] Tremendous Growth Projected For European Homeland Security - Government Computer News - Jan 11, 2006
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Recent terrorist attacks across Europe have underlined the urgent need for theEuropean Union (EU) to enhance its security capabilities, particularly at its borders. This is driving the implementation of security technologies at major entry/exit points with demand for biometric identification/authentication systems, radio frequency identification (RFID) and explosive detection systems projected to surge over the next decade.

"Technologies that can increase security capabilities and supply chain efficiency as well as reduce costs at the same time are poised to experience significant demand growth over the next ten years," notes Frost & Sullivan( Research Analyst Friso Buker.

For instance, biometrics will be more widely deployed at airports for passenger processing and electronic access control, as the technology provides an opportunity to reduce labor costs while, at the same time, maintaining, or even potentially increasing, security capabilities.

By 2014, the European homeland security technologies market, comprising biometrics, screening, RFID, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and closed circuit television (CCTV) technologies, is set to amass nearly EUR874.0 million.

Airports are expected to display significant demand for identification/authentication and screening technologies from 2005-2014.

Seaports will exhibit notable uptake of screening and tracking technologies. Borders will generate the lowest level of demand for screening technologies in the first half of 2005-2014. However, the overall border demand will increase in the second half of this period, spurred on by the growing importance of UAVs.

The need to improve air travel security and facilitate economical and effective air passenger processing will promote the uptake of security technologies, especially biometrics. The passage of key legislation along with standardization efforts by industry associations are expected to provide further impetus to the biometrics market. Most EU national governments have already begun biometric procurement programs, with companies receiving numerous sizeable contracts for biometric technologies.

Government receptivity is playing a central role in the more widespread implementation of biometric systems. At the same time, the establishment of standards and safeguards is supporting public awareness and acceptance of biometric technologies. Even as the biometric industry undergoes significant changes over the next ten years, manufacturers of RFID will benefit from their expanded use at European seaports.

For companies keen to leverage emergent growth opportunities in the
European homeland security market, a prospective pitfall that must be avoided is to use the US homeland security experience as a template for entering the European market. The EU market is unique, in terms of both overall security requirements and security funding.

"The level of funding, the number of stakeholders, the identification of decision-makers and the selection of strategic partnerships: all these, and more, are necessary to prevent failure in this expanding market," explains Mr. Buker. "Without a true understanding of the hurdles that they need to overcome, market participants will struggle to achieve competitive success."

As the market expands, small industry participants are likely to be taken over by different types of industry participants that, in turn, are likely to be acquired by other companies that may not have existing expertise in the homeland security market, but are looking to gain a foothold in this lucrative industry.

Strategic partnerships and alliances with regional leaders will advance the prospects of potential market participants. Moreover, an in-depth understanding of the regional market along with its particular business idiosyncrasies will advance revenues in the long term.

Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, has been partnering with clients to support the development of innovative strategies for more than 40 years. The company's industry expertise integrates growth consulting, growth partnership services and corporate management training to identify and develop opportunities. Frost & Sullivan serves an extensive clientele that includes Global 1000 companies, emerging companies, and the investment community, by providing comprehensive industry coverage that reflects a unique global perspective and combines ongoing analysis of markets, technologies, econometrics, and demographics.

23. Press Release [Frost & Sullivan] -  North American Biometrics Market Expected to Triple Revenue Growth Through 2008, discusses Frost and Sullivan Report - Jan 11, 2006
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The North American Biometrics Market generated $527 million in 2004 and is projected to generate $1.4 billion in 2008 creating many entry and exit opportunities.

Toronto, Ontario (PRWEB) January 11, 2006 -- President Peter O’Neill spoke with Rob Allen, Financial Services Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan about their latest report signifying that the North American Biometric market would grow to three times its present size by 2008.

“Frost and Sullivan is one of the most respected research companies in the Biometrics market and they have produced a new report that carefully examines the North American growth potential through 2008. Our readers pay very close attention to this kind of research so we were very pleased to provide an in-depth examination of this, their latest report.” said Mr. O’Neill.

Mr. Allen is the lead research analyst for the Financial Services Group covering Automated ID, Security and Biometrics. Mr. Allen’s group primarily serves the financial services clients, mainly the venture capital markets and the private equity companies.

The report was conducted between August 2005 and December 2005 and approximately 25 companies were involved. Some of the key findings of the report were:

-The North American market generated $527 million in 2004 and is projected to generate $1.4 billion in 2008 creating many entry and exit opportunities.

-Simultaneous multi-modal biometric verification significantly improves measure-of-performance statistics yet 95 percent of market participants offer only one biometric application.

-Over 140 identified market participants globally, 60 of which operate from North America, many more still in early start-up phase.

-Market participants feel that a large amount of consolidation is necessary within and across segments as particular applications and business models succeed.

When asked about the most significant event to impact the Biometric market in 2005 Mr. Allen stated that, “First, from my point of view, is the emergence of L-1 Partners. Robert LaPenta has branched off to start L-1 Investment Partners, coming forward with this “biometrics only” investment company. That is huge! It really signifies that biometrics is here and is here to stay so I am definitely glad to see that.”

To read the entire interview, visit


24. US-VISIT to step up fingerprinting - By STEPHEN LOSEY - Federal Times - Jan 11, 2006
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The director of the nation’s program to screen foreign visitors entering the United States hopes to begin testing a more stringent fingerprinting system this year.

The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, or US-VISIT, last July was directed by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to start taking all 10 fingerprints from first-time visitors to the country. US-VISIT director Jim Williams said at a press briefing Jan. 5 that the program is still putting together a plan to expand the process. He expects the plan to be finished in a few months.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security finished installing US-VISIT at all 104 land border ports in December, meeting a deadline mandated by Congress, Williams announced.

US-VISIT now takes only two fingerprints of foreign visitors. The FBI’s identification system uses 10 fingerprints and a photograph to track criminals.

The Justice Department criticized the two-print system in 2004, saying it could allow terrorists or violent criminals to slip into the country undetected.

Williams stressed that he does not want US-VISIT to impede legitimate visitors and said the first tests will take place at low-volume border crossings and airports to minimize delays. The State Department also may help with testing, he said.

US-VISIT aims to register fingerprints from each of the 279 million foreigners who enter and leave the country each year and to cross-reference that data with 20 or more criminal, intelligence and immigration databases from multiple federal agencies.

Adopting a 10-print system will help improve information sharing, Williams said. US-VISIT is also trying to increase the number of fingerprints it receives each day from the FBI and is talking to agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services to find ways to better exchange data.

Williams also wants to work on improving the procedures used when people leave the country.

US-VISIT plans this spring to finish testing a new technology it hopes will speed up the exit process for visitors. The program is inserting radio frequency identification chips into arrival and departure forms used by visitors at three ports on the Canadian border and two ports on the Mexican border.

Visitors are now supposed to park their cars, get out and physically turn in their forms, called I-94 forms, before they leave the country.

RFID technology allows visitors to drive out of the country without stopping and still inform Homeland Security that they have left.

But the technology cannot tell whether the person in the car is carrying an I-94 that actually belongs to him or her, Williams said.

However, most visitors today do not turn in their I-94s at all because visitors ignore the rule and CBP agents are too busy watching people entering the country to stop them, and US-VISIT wants to have a better picture of who is leaving the country.

“RFID is not perfect, but it’s better than not recording people’s exit at all,” Williams said.

Williams said that US-VISIT has helped the Homeland Security Department catch more than 970 known criminals and visa violators since it began in January 2004. He said the system has not caught any known terrorists entering the country, but he believes it is an effective deterrent that discourages them from trying to come into the country through ports of entry.

Williams said about 0.1 percent of visitors are falsely identified by the US-VISIT system as being on a watch list of suspects, and that Homeland Security’s biometric support center can usually clear up any confusion in about two minutes.

Homeland Security plans to spend $35 million on US-VISIT this fiscal year, the same amount as last year. US-VISIT processed more than 44 million visitors over the last two years.

25. Press Release [US Dept of State] - World Travel Is Safer with US-VISIT, Security Official Says - Homeland Security plans more steps to boost travel, and safety - By Charlene Porter - All American Patriots - January 10, 2006
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Washington – After two years implementing new border entry policies and procedures, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports that further measures still are ahead as the agency strives to smooth and speed the process for legitimate travel and “stop the bad guys.”

The two-year-old US-VISIT program is devoted to “keeping America’s doors open and our nation secure,” according to the program’s motto.

Incorporating biometric entry procedures at border entry points was a key goal when the program began in January 2004. U.S. procedures now require an individual to undergo a digital finger scan upon entering the United States.

US-VISIT Director James Williams says one significant success is that the program has not caused the disruption that critics anticipated.

“There was a lot of fear and paranoia about US-VISIT,” he said at a Washington briefing January 10, “in terms of how it might increase processing times at the borders. In fact, it has not.

“At airports and seaports, we have slightly decreased processing time,” Williams said. “At our land ports of entry, we have in some cases significantly reduced the processing time, in some cases, from 10 to 11 minutes, down to two or three minutes.”

US-VISIT has processed more than 44 million visitors in its two years. Border officials have plucked 970 individuals from that river of travelers because enhanced security procedures identified them as criminals, drug traffickers or immigration violators.

Williams said DHS, the State Department and other law enforcement agencies involved in ensuring border security now are working to incorporate more new technologies into the border approval process in hopes of further facilitating the process for the 21st century.

By October 2005, DHS will require that some visitors entering the United States have an e-passport – a document provided by countries of origin that incorporates an integrated computer chip that stores biographic information in addition to information about the traveler printed on the document.

Nations that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are being asked to upgrade their travel documents in this way to insure their travelers retain the privilege of foregoing a visa application in U.S. travel.

Visitors from these countries are considered low risks for attempting to settle illegally in the United States because of prosperous, stable conditions and commitments in their home countries.

“We are very appreciative of the work that the 27 visa waiver countries are undertaking,” Williams said. “They also believe that this will enhance security and they’re working very diligently to meet that date.”


Williams said DHS has taken a number of steps to help other nations properly develop the new e-passport, including mock port-of-entry exercises to test new document readers that will equip each entry station to scan the microchip contained in the passports.

“We are trying to work with the rest of the world to enhance security and to improve immigration-border management around the world,” Williams said. “You do that through harmonizing around standards, technology and business processes and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Another new standard in the planning stage will require visitors to undergo a digital scan on 10 fingerprints rather than on only two.

Williams said this is necessary to avoiding confusing an innocent person’s prints with those of someone on the criminal watch list. Obtaining more data from each individual will help prevent the misidentification of innocent people.

In the years ahead, the United States also will implement new standards for entry at its land borders with Canada and Mexico, some of the nation’s busiest border points.

Those forthcoming policy changes are being viewed with some skepticism by people who frequently make those crossings, but Williams said the changes will be designed to hasten the movement of long lines of vehicles that back up on the borders.

“We’re looking at how we can leverage 21st century technology and business processes,” he said, “and then transform the borders to meet not only our national security [concerns] but our joint economic and prosperity needs.”

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

26. FBI says attacks succeeding despite security investments - By Bill Brenner - Search - Jan 11, 2006
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Despite investing in a variety of security technologies, enterprises continue to suffer network attacks at the hands of malware writers and inside operatives, according to an annual FBI report released today. Many security incidents continue to go unreported.

The 2005 FBI Computer Crime Survey was taken by 2,066 organizations in Iowa, Nebraska, New York, and Texas late last spring, which survey organizers deemed a good sample of enterprises nationwide. The report is designed to "gain an accurate understanding" of computer security incidents experienced "by the full spectrum of sizes and types of organizations within the United States," the FBI said. The 23-question survey addressed such issues as the computer security technologies enterprises use, what kinds of security incidents they've suffered and what actions they've taken.

The survey is not the same as the CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey, which has been conducted for several years and has a somewhat different focus, method and restricted number of respondents, the FBI said.

Among the findings:

    * Security software and hardware failed to prevent more than 5,000 incidents among those surveyed. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they experienced some type of incident.
    * A common point of frustration among respondents came from the nonstop barrage of viruses, Trojans, worms and spyware.
    * Use of antivirus, antispyware, firewalls and antispam software is almost universal among those who responded. But the software apparently did little to stop malicious insiders.
    * Of the intrusion attempts coming from outside the organizations, the most common countries of origin included the United States, China, Nigeria, Germany, Russia and Romania.
    * New York had the lowest percentage of organizations experiencing unauthorized access, but it had the highest percentage of those experiencing insider abuse, laptop theft, telecom fraud, viruses and Web site defacement. Austin was home to the organizations most likely (more than 91%) to have at least one type of computer security incident.
    * Of those admitting they didn't alert the authorities after a security breach, about 700 respondents said there was no criminal activity, almost an identical number indicated the incident was too small to report and 329 (23%) thought law enforcement wouldn't be interested.

The report quotes a number of high-profile security experts, including Eugene Spafford, a computer science professor at Purdue University, advisor to presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and director of the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) and Frank Abagnale, a former conman whose crimes inspired the memoir and movie "Catch Me If You Can."

"I continue to be surprised, not at the variety of incidents, but at the magnitude of flaws in deployed systems and the subsequent attacks and losses, all of which are accepted as business as usual," Spafford said. "So long as we continue to apply patches and spot defenses to existing problems, the overall situation will continue to deteriorate. Without a significant increase in focus and funding for both long-term cybersecurity research and more effective law enforcement, we can only expect more incidents and greater losses year after year."

Security technology doesn't catch everything
Asked what kind of security technology they've invested in, 98% of respondents said antivirus software. Firewalls were close behind with more than 90% either using software or hardware firewalls.

Operating system safeguards -- limits on which users could install software, password complexity requirements and periodic password changes, for example -- were used by about half of respondents. Virtual private networks (VPNs) proved to be a popular means of achieving security for 46% of respondents. Advanced techniques like biometrics (4%) and smartcards (7%) were implemented more infrequently.

Having more security measures didn't exactly translate into fewer attacks. "In fact," the report said, "there was a significantly positive correlation between the number of security measures employed and the number of denial-of-service attacks. It is likely that organizations that are attractive targets of attacks are also most likely to both experience attack attempts and to employ more aggressive computer security measures. Also, organizations employing more technologies would likely be better able to be aware of computer security incidents aimed at their organizations."

Few can avoid attacks
In the end, the vast majority of respondents (87%) said they experienced some type of computer security incident. The average organization experienced several different types of incidents, including virus-borne attacks and port scans, the report said.

More than 79% said they'd been affected by spyware and almost 84% were affected by a virus attack at least once in the last 12 months, despite the almost universal use of antivirus software. Port scans were detected by 33% of respondents, though the report suggests a higher number of scans have gone undetected.

New York had the lowest percentage of organizations experiencing unauthorized access, but the highest percentage of experiencing insider abuse, laptop theft, telecom fraud, viruses, and Web site defacement. Austin, being the most high-tech area surveyed, was home to the organizations most likely (over 91%) to have at least one type of computer security incident.

Repeated attacks are common
Another disturbing trend spotlighted in the report is that organizations are suffering repeated security incidents. Just over half of the respondents indicated that they had experienced up to four incidents, for example.

Almost 20% indicated they experienced 20 or more incidents, and large organizations -- with gross income greater than one billion dollars -- were more than twice as likely to be in the 20 or more attacks category. More than 45% of respondents from larger organizations reported the higher number of attacks, compared to 19.2% of overall respondents. Forty percent of organizations in the education and state government sectors reported 20 or more incidents.

The insider threat persists
Respondents were asked if they had experienced attacks at the hands of insiders. Of those who answered the question, 44% said they had experienced intrusions from within their organization.

"These results demonstrate the need for employee background checks on IT staff, as well as people in the mail room, accounts payable and accounts receivable," Abagnale said.

While the insider threat is real for all organizations, the report said that overall, more than twice as many incidents came from outside the organization than from within, which "underlines the importance of intrusion prevention/detection systems as well as firewalls, logs, password complexity, and other technology and physical security measures."

Meanwhile, 25% of those experiencing unauthorized access believed they had been hit from both inside and outside their organization.

Countries of origin
Surprisingly, the report said, 53% of organizations that acknowledged outside intrusions also identified the country of origin. Thirty-six countries made the list, but seven appeared to be the source for 75% of attacks.

The United States and China seem to be the source of more than 50% of the intrusions, the report said. Organizations with revenue greater than $5 million were more than twice as likely to identify China as the source of the intrusion attempt.

The report acknowledged that pinpointing the countries of origin is a difficult, unscientific exercise at best. "It is difficult to identify statistically significant trends with a high degree of probability," the report said. "Evidence of an intrusion that indicates a particular country may not be conclusive since computer hackers often use proxies and Trojanized computers in other countries to mask their identity and make detection difficult."

An example of this type of stepping-stone attack would be a Romanian hacker that uses a proxy computer in China to access a compromised computer in the United States, the report said. This U.S.-based computer would then be used to perform the computer intrusion. Those investigating the incident may falsely conclude that the source was within the United States.

What companies did after a security incident
Respondents were asked what they did after learning of a security incident. The top two responses were to install security updates and install additional computer security software.

The next most common response of hardening corporate security policies may indicate that the incident originated from within the organization and that the corporate security policies in place at the time weren't "fully mature," the report said.

Only 2% of organizations chose to seek civil remedy through a lawyer.

Incidents that go unreported
Respondents who did not report security incidents to the authorities were asked why not. Just over 700 said there was no criminal activity and almost 700 indicated the incident was too small to report. Those who thought law enforcement was not interested in such incidents numbered a disturbing 329 (23%), the report said.

An equal number indicated they did not think that law enforcement could help.

"This may be due to the nature of the security incident or it may be the public's perception (or experience) that law enforcement was not equipped to investigate computer crime," the report said. "While some individual law enforcement officers are not trained to respond to computer security incidents, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have become increasingly equipped to both investigate and assist in the prosecution of such violations."

The report added, "Computer related crime is the third-highest priority in the FBI, above public corruption, civil rights, organized crime, white collar crime, major theft and violent crime."

While law enforcement commonly hears about organizations' concern over minimizing public knowledge of a computer intrusion and concern over the effect on stock price for a public company, only 3% of respondents said minimizing the potential negative public exposure was a reason for not reporting an incident to law enforcement.


27. Construction sector puts Safeguard in place - By Gordon Smith - Silicon Republic - Jan 11, 2006
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With workplace safety an increasing concern and a growing number of overseas workers filling jobs in Ireland, Safeguard Systems, a specialist in identity management systems, has launched a new software product for the construction industry aimed at making contractor management and work authorisation simpler and more efficient.
Construction firms are obliged to keep forms to satisfy health and safety requirements but this can create a lot of paperwork. “This application works with the latest technologies,” said Peter Plant, a director with Safeguard Systems. “It will dramatically reduce the workload of the staff member who looks after all contractors by simplifying check in, data capture and ease of information retrieval for repeated work.”

Safework allows companies to monitor people while on the premises, where they are, who they are with and what work they are carrying out. There is an optional photo ID module to further enhance security.

The solution includes a feature for building a database history of all contractors categorised according to work type, job date and time. Contractors can be rated according to their abilities in certain areas and a search facility allows companies to choose a contractor on that basis, for example listing all electrical contractors.

Any accident or incident that occurs as a consequence of a contractor working on site is recorded in detail and attached to the job records. It also records the issue of and or requirement of personal protective equipment.

The Safework software provides details of specific health and safety regulations and records public liability insurance and FAS Safepass identification numbers, ensuring a company’s legal obligations are met. With foreign contractors an increasing feature in the Irish construction sector, the software includes a multilingual option with the ability to incorporate a selection of main European languages.

Safeguard in Ireland currently has a customer base of 3,500 across small vertical market operators up to large multinational businesses.


28. Britain plans total electronic surveillance of roads - By Mark Rice-Oxley, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor - USA Today - Jan 10, 2006
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LONDON — First there was closed-circuit TV. Then speed cameras. Then DNA profiling, plans for ID cards, and cellphone data storage.

In March, Britain will enhance its reputation as the surveillance capital of the West with a global first: recording the movements of all cars on the road and storing the data for at least two years.

It's a network of thousands of cameras harnessed to software that can read car license plates, check them against a central database, and alert police to suspected criminals or terrorists. Police chiefs are thrilled at the technology, arguing it will provide an unrivaled crime-fighting tool that will also aid anti-terror efforts.

In regional trial runs, the number of arrests per officer shot up from around 10 per year to 100 per year. Convictions also increased.

But civil liberty activists are aghast at yet another move by the authorities to spy on citizens in the name of security and law and order, warning of a growing bank of Orwellian technology.

"The freedom and anonymity of the open road is something that is culturally important here," says Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "Now like some scene in '1984,' the fact that we will travel and be detected and analyzed changes the whole psyche of the nation."

In their defense, police say they need the best technology available to reduce perennially rising crime rates and face an acute terror threat.

"Criminals use cars, it's as simple as that," says John Dean, a retired officer who is coordinating the rollout of the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) program.

"It's taken a while to get the police service to realize that this can make a significant difference to crime detection and terrorism."

Same cameras, new cross-checking

Britain's 30 million motorists have long been used to assiduous roadside camera surveillance, be it to deter speeding or monitor London's congestion charge — an £8 ($14) fee charged for driving into central London during business hours.

But the ANPR nationwide system will use the extensive camera network already in place as well as new cameras to capturelicenseplates from as many as 50 million cars a day and store them in a vast databank with date, time, and location stamps.

Within a matter of seconds, the database will signal whether the car may be of interest to police, cross-checking the plate against a list of stolen and suspect vehicles and also verifying for proper insurance, taxation, and roadworthiness. Dedicated ANPR operators will then alert roadside units to the rogue vehicle.

"People who drive stolen cars often steal them as a result of burglary," says Mr. Dean, so you might find property in the back or other material. It's very efficient."

Police say life is about to get tougher for criminals, whether they are involved with drugs, firearms, identity fraud, or property theft.

Or terrorism. At least one vehicle was used to convey the July 7 bombers and their materials part of the way to London last year. Police are not saying that ANPR would automatically have foiled the plot. But Dean says the technology, already in use at a local level in some parts of the country, had brought "benefits to the investigation."

Tracking movements over a long period

Even if an immediate arrest is not possible, the data will help the authorities build up an intelligence picture of the movements of suspicious vehicles and analyze journeys that drivers have made over several years. The intelligence service MI5 will also use the database, according to Frank Whiteley, a senior police officer.

But not everyone thinks that trusting cameras and cops is a good idea.Already in Britain there is a fierce lobby opposed to the proliferation of speed cameras, which many see as a tool of the tax man rather than a road safety enforcer.

Some wonder whether ANPR, which will cost tens of millions of pounds to set up, will be used primarily to drum up fines and revenues from road-tax delinquents.

Nigel Humphries of the Association of British Drivers lobby group worries that "real criminals have cars that can't be traced anyway." He says the system may offer benefits, but "there need to be safeguards."

Parliament should have oversight

Edward Garnier, a Conservative MP and spokesman on home affairs, says that Parliament, not the police, should act as arbiters over the system because of its implications for the criminal justice system and for civil liberties.

"I can understand why the police want to use this technology but they should not be the arbiters," he says.

Privacy and civil liberty champions take a more fundamental opposition to the scheme. Mr. Davies of Privacy International, likens it to "weeding with a bulldozer."

"So long as you believe that every person in government and authority is just and fair and that the machinery of the state never screws up, then it's fine," he says. In fact, the ANPR technology has fallen well short of a 100% score in policing London's congestion fee. Other police databases have similarly proven fallible.

Opponents of surveillance say Britain is rapidly emerging as the biggest of Big Brother societies, a "database state" with an increasing tendency for automated answers to social questions.

The government still plans to use biometric identity cards beginning in 2008, together with a national database. A national DNA database already has samples from 1 in 10 British adults, more than 100,000 of whom have never been charged or even cautioned. And last month, Britain persuaded its European partners to join it in storing data from cellphone records for up to two years as a counter-terrorism tool.

And it may not stop there.

Experts are already working on systems that can automatically recognize human faces and it may not be long before machines can pick out a "suspicious" face in a crowd. Many on both left and right of the political spectrum find the growing use of surveillance disturbing.

"Frankly I don't want to see a society in which the Big Brother element comes to the fore," says MP Garnier.


 29. Reading the IT Leaves for 2006 by Timothy Prickett Morgan - The IT Jungle - Jan 20, 2006
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The 2005 IT budget cycle has ended, and the 2006 budget cycle has begun. And that means the prognosticators, predictors, soothsayers, and auguries of the IT analyst community, and their counterparts on Wall Street, are all gazing into their crystal balls and trying to figure out what is going to happen in 2006 in terms of IT spending and technology trends. Some of you will follow trends, others will buck them, but none of us will escape their effects.

The primary thing that everyone wants to know first and foremost is what is going on with IT spending in the aggregate. Is it going up or down? This is the basic barometer, for better or worse, for the IT economy. And as I have said in past stories about such IT projections, the relatively modest changes in overall IT spending often mask very large changes underneath those numbers--the shift from mainframes to midrange computers, the advent of X86 servers, the increased volumes of servers but their dramatically lowered prices, and so forth. Still, whether we like it or not, the health and wealth of the IT economy is often judged by that aggregate growth or decline number, and this is the number that sets the tone for the business climate we will all live in during 2006.

The good news is that IT spending looks like it will increase once again in 2006. The bad news is that the growth will be smaller than in 2005, and it may turn out that 2007 sees even lower growth in IT spending than 2006.

Each of the major IT consultancies has its own way of reckoning the elements and size of the IT market, with varying degrees of services and telecom thrown into the hardware and software mix. So you have to take these estimates all with a grain of salt. According to Gartner, worldwide spending on IT by companies and governments will grow by 4.5 percent in 2006 to hit $1.76 trillion. Gartner is throwing a lot more things into the IT market than I would, and I often wonder if they are double- or triple-counting some of that revenue, as we do when calculating the gross domestic product of a country. (What happens when IBM sells a bunch of servers to a system integrator like EDS, which in turn supports telecom applications run by AT&T that sells a hosted service--perhaps e-mail hosting--to companies? How many times do you count the underlying technology sales that went into the ultimate service?) In any event, Gartner predicts that IT spending in the white-hot Asia/Pacific region will grow by 7.5 percent in 2006 to hit a whopping $210 billion.

Gartner has identified six trends that it thinks will be key in 2006 (among others). In early 2006, Gartner intends to flesh out its predictions with 50 reports (which you have to pay for, obviously). Gartner says that because people use their work notebooks and laptops at home and during business hours doing non-business activities (we all do it, come on. . . . ), companies will begin mandating that employees pay for and own the laptop they use. Gartner figures that employees will get a stipend for laptop purchases, much as employees who travel get mileage payments on their own cars. I would go one further and say that a corporate virtualized environment, like VMware's ACE product, fits nicely with such a scheme, since that makes your entire desktop environment portable. You could run your work desktop environment from a VM that you have stored on a CD and never actually load it onto your home PC. This provides a tamper-proof environment that businesses will feel safe deploying, and a non-invasive way to use the home PC to do work. As previously reported in this newsletter, Gartner is also suggesting that by 2010, the number of IT professionals will shrink by 40 percent, with "versatilists" who know different aspects of IT and the business surviving and system admins and other specialists doing about as well as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Gartner is also projecting that by 2010, 30 percent of U.S. homes will have only cell or VoIP phone access. This is interesting, but what I want to know is if businesses will be ahead or behind consumers on this one. The other four predictions were interesting, but not exactly related to general IT topics. So I am skipping them.

Over at Forrester Research, the merlins of marketing have released a more sophisticated and more specific IT spending projection to the general public--obviously in the hopes of selling even more detailed reports. However, Forrester's data is focused only on the United States. Forrester says that the Internet build-out that started in 2001 among companies (not dot-coms) will peter out in two to three years. Forrester says that IT spending in the United States grew at 7 percent in 2005 and will do the same in 2006, but the company is expecting IT spending to only grow by 2 percent in 2007 because it believes that the growth in U.S. gross domestic product will start to slow in the next two to three years, causing the inevitable decline in IT spending as companies cut IT projects first to save money when the economy tightens. Interest rates, high energy prices, a drop in the housing market are all factors in this projection.

Forrester says that computer makers--PCs, servers, storage, and such--will do relatively well in the U.S., with strong growth in early 2006 but a slip in late 2006 and early 2007, followed by a rebound in 2008 as a new IT spending cycle gets under way. Forrester is projecting an incredible IT spending growth rate of 11 percent in 2009 and 2010, but did not identify what on earth would push that growth. In the software sector, Forrester says that spending will remain steady at 6 percent revenue growth in 2006, with new SOA architectures in 2008 and the Vista operating system at the end of 2006 helping to stimulate software spending. The spending in IT services that commenced in 2005 will die out to a mere 1 percent growth in 2008, according to Forrester, but will rebound to 13 percent growth rates in 2009 and 2010 as companies try to digest SOA and other new technologies and seek help from outside their own walls to do it.

As many people have been projecting, Forrester believes that cheap, virtualized hardware, inexpensive and virtualized software, software implemented as a service, and integrated business intelligence will be the hallmarks of future systems. Forrester also thinks that RFID, telematics, biometrics, and mobile networking will spawn a new phase of application development, and that what it calls "social computing," meaning community development projects, blogs, search engines, and viral marketing, will reshape the way IT products are created, distributed, and marketed.

At IDC, the researchers are projecting IT spending growth of about 5.5 percent in 2006, down a bit from the 6 percent growth it calculates will be seen a few months from now looking back at 2005. IDC expects double-digit growth in IT spending in China, India, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

As with other consultancies, IDC is seeing a shift from selling IT products to selling IT services, and that hardware and software will not be immune from this change. IDC is predicting that SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft will deliver their ERP suites as services in 2006, in fact--something they have to do to compete against each other and new players in the market like

IDC is also telling people that proprietary, "go it alone" product development is a thing of the past, but at the same time IDC paradoxically lauds Google, which isn't exactly open about its core technologies and never will be. The fact is, the IT industry fears that Google will somehow use all of its PhDs to try to figure out how to make a large part of the IT industry irrelevant, and Google is not going to try to dispel that fear or the myth that it can take on a Microsoft or IBM and challenge it for supremacy in the IT space. Google is a young, smart company, and it is causing IT vendors to re-examine their strategies, to be sure. But Google is no more invincible than Netscape was, and the premise that people are attaching to Google--that essentially, you use Google as your application suite--is not one that the company has officially sanctioned. Google cannot withstand the full weight of Microsoft, which has 10 times the cash and several monopolies with which to fuel its competitive products. Microsoft is a lot stronger in 2005 than it was in 1995 when it took on Netscape and smashed it to bits. That said, if Google can keep companies like Microsoft honest and be a force for innovation among IT service and software suppliers, then that is wonderful. In effect, you have to wreck and recreate your own business before Google does. In that way, Google is not an explosion, but a catalyst that drives the explosion.

And, by the way, Google is not worth $120 billion (its current market capitalization, and a colossal 90 price/earnings ratio) any more than Sun Microsystems was worth over $200 billion at the height of the dot-com boom. Google had $3.2 billion in sales in 2004, and brought just under $400 million to the bottom line--which means it is a great business. Google has $5.5 billion in cash, and it might break $6 billion in sales for 2005, which is just stunning. But that ain't nothin' compared to Microsoft, which has a market capitalization of just under $400 billion, over $40 billion in cash after distributing $32 billion in cash in the summer of 2004 to shareholders. The company is set to book about $41.5 billion in sales in calendar 2005, and about $18 billion of that will fall right to the bottom line.

Google, say hello to Mind Boggle. A monopoly is a terrible, terrible thing--unless you happen to have one.


30. An Enterprise Wish List for 2006 by Robert Rosen - The IT Jungle  - Jan 10, 2006
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The programmers, administrators, and managers at large enterprises have returned from the holiday season and are back at work again. Having made their personal wish lists late last year and received many of their desires during the holidays, enterprise shops now have some professional wants and needs they want to get fulfilled, including advancements in open software technology, identity management, and a portable electronic newspaper, among others.

As president of SHARE, the largest association of enterprises that use IBM technologies to support their applications, I get involved in lots of dialogues with my peers. Over the past year, I have collected a list of the most wanted product and service enhancements my fellow SHARE members are seeking not only from Big Blue, but from all IT vendors. Rather than concentrate on what new features they want in current products, I asked my peers what they needed from IT vendors to address their more painful problems. Here, in no particular order, is the SHARE wish list for 2006:

  1. Relief from the abuses of IP-based applications, including email spam, phishing, and viruses; instant message abuse by spim; and peer-to-peer file sharing. Don't give us a bolt-on solution like spam filters. Deliver real progress in building a network protocol environment providing accountability without unacceptably compromising confidentiality.

  2. Improve identity management as a key that may yield improved results in networking. In particular, the number one wish for relief from spam attacks may come true if users know with certainty the sender of an IP packet. But there's still the need to maintain confidentiality. Naturally, such improvements must work in a heterogeneous environment.

  3. Build a standards-based distributed file system that is scalable, high performance, secure, manageable and referenced by a single name space. DCE/DFS had most of these capabilities, but is no longer supported by any vendor. While open AFS may be the future strategy, development is still needed. IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) provides a high performance file system that might be made more secure via NFSv4 access. A meta-data control engine might also provide some name space resolution help before 2006 is over.

  4. Provide truly interoperable calendaring capabilities that will allow easier collaboration among colleagues working at different campuses. These should be reliable, standards-based, and enable calendar synchronization with PDAs, cell phones, etc.

  5. Deliver far longer-lasting batteries or replacements so that battery-powered devices can run for days without a recharge.

  6. Create easier-to-use open source software, ensuring that the software and distributions are enterprise-worthy during installation, operation, and administration. For instance, a Linux distribution needs to install correctly with all drivers including video, sound and peripherals and arriving perfect out-of-the-box. Oh, a good flash drive version of Linux would be nice, too.

  7. Produce a simple-to-implement ssh version of remote desktop for corporate access from the Internet.

  8. Provide free wireless access at all airports.

  9. Ensure easier server consolidation. After a few years of unabated growth of our server farms, the cost of maintaining the software and hardware upgrades necessitates easier server consolidation.

  10. Demonstrate excellent proof of value and easier implementation of Service Oriented Architectures. What are the cost benefits and best ways to achieve those benefits? Give us the information we need to prove there really are benefits.

  11. Help us meet future networking requirements in a cost sustainable way. This is especially applicable within advanced organizations and research groups.

  12. Encourage more cooperation between vendors and research institutions to enable cooperative initiatives for early testing of new technologies. IBM's PowerPC "Cell" processor is an example. It will be available in Play Station 3 this year, yet begs for research on how to use it in HPC and other environments. Adoption will be slowed by lack of exposure in research environments. Such cooperation can answer key questions: How can key research applications work on the Cell processor? What other applications might users find for the Cell processor?

  13. Build a standards-based data reference model which allows users to share, by reference, portions of an enterprise's data. Further the idea of separating the display of enterprise data from the data itself so that users can point to it (perhaps in an email) and enable these displays across all device types.

  14. Find ways to make more intelligent use of Digital Rights Management. Everyone recognizes that intellectual property needs protection, but current schemes punish the innocent and don't deter the guilty. This affects IT professionals who are trying to do the right thing.

And finally, here are five non-traditional yearnings from the 2006 wish lists of my fellow SHARE members:

  1. Given all the mandated activities of the past few years (e.g., SOX, new technologies), give enterprise-class users a breather to fully incorporate and absorb all the changes we're dealing with. When people get further and further behind, they tend to skip two or three upgrades, potentially leaving security holes and problems for vendors. A breather will help everyone absorb it all.

  2. Help us properly integrate newer capabilities such as RSS, podcasts, and blogs into the standard ways our companies run our businesses. This isn't easy, since these types of communication relate more to individuals than company processes. With the next generation of IT professionals coming aboard, solving the problem of letting the individual tailor his or her experience within ongoing company policies and processes is a problem needing an answer.

  3. Create the next generation electronic newspaper. Imagine a device that is large enough for anyone to read (like the 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper). Maybe add a grayscale display (or color, if not too expensive) that is flexible (liked a rolled up newspaper) and has intelligence to accept subscriptions, payments, and archive the contents for offline reading all of an individual's news feeds and documentation.

  4. Apply much more ingenuity to servers. Most new IT professionals are accustomed to growing up with extremely interactive (i.e., "hands-on") hardware platforms. If we hope (and expect) to grow the IT industry and keep IT popular (i.e., ensuring a continuing influx of personnel), then we need to encourage the hardware vendors to apply that same ingenuity to servers that is used in the desktop world. I am not saying that we want the ability to "reboot the mainframe at the drop of a hat." Once, you could watch the lights blinking on and off and pretty much make an assessment of system status. I realize this isn't possible today. But somehow, vendors and users working together need to discover ways to keep the IT professional team interested in system performance at a time when the CPU is cruising along at a zillion MIPS and your task is completed before you've poured that second cup of coffee.

  5. Support and encourage attendance at SHARE and other conferences, where people get perspectives from people just like them and in doing so, gain from those in the trenches and recognize the value.

Robert Rosen is president of SHARE. He is also CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. SHARE is an independent, volunteer run association providing more than 2,000 of IBM's top enterprise customers with user focused education, professional networking and industry influence, representing more than 20,000 individual computing specialists.


31. FBI checking prints in death row cases - By Richard Willing - USA TODAY - Feb 10, 2006
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The FBI is reviewing the cases of all state and federal prisoners scheduled for execution to determine whether bureau fingerprint examiners made errors that led to death sentences.

The monthly reviews were first disclosed in a Justice Department report released Friday. They began 18 months ago, after FBI examiners mistakenly matched a print found near the site of terrorist bombings in Madrid to a lawyer in Portland, Ore., said Joseph DiZinno, the FBI's deputy assistant director for forensic analysis.

The lawyer, Muslim convert Brandon Mayfield, was held as a material witness in the bombings for two weeks. He was released after Spanish police matched the print in Madrid to an Algerian linked to Muslim terrorists. The bombings killed 191 people, most of them on commuter trains.

The episode embarrassed the FBI. It prompted the bureau to focus on fingerprint analyses it had done in death penalty cases, out of concern that an error could lead a wrongful execution. Since the reviews began, the FBI has examined at least 92 death penalty cases and found 10 in which it had analyzed fingerprints, DiZinno said. No error has been found, he said.

The FBI is continuing to examine death row inmates' convictions at least a month before their scheduled executions, DiZinno said. Nine inmates across the USA are scheduled for execution later this month, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C., group that opposes capital punishment. There are more than 3,000 death-row inmates across the nation, but it's unclear how many of their cases involved fingerprint analysis.

"There is no doubt in our minds about the scientific basis or validity of fingerprint identification," DiZinno said. "We wanted to ensure we didn't make a mistake."

He said the FBI also reviewed analysts' work in about 100 convictions for various crimes in which fingerprints were matched through IAFIS, a computer system that compares prints of potential suspects to crime scene evidence. IAFIS, which the FBI says is the world's largest biometric database, contains prints from 47 million criminals and suspects, plus millions more people, including former military personnel. No errors were found in that review, which dated to the system's launch in 1999, DiZinno said.

Mayfield's prints, held in IAFIS because he had been in the Army, were among 20 sets of prints the system flagged as possible matches to the Madrid site, according to the Justice Department report released Friday.

An FBI examiner compared a Mayfield print to one from the bomb site and declared a match. His erroneous conclusion was confirmed by two other FBI examiners and a consultant. The FBI did not back away from its stance until Spanish police matched the print to the correct suspect, the report said.

The FBI review comes as the death penalty is under increased scrutiny. Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has ordered DNA tests to check whether coal miner Roger Coleman was innocent of the murder for which he was executed in 1992.

It also comes amid increased attention to fingerprint analysis. Fingerprints, long thought to be unique to individuals, have been used in U.S. courts since the early 1900s. But critics such as Simon Cole, a professor of criminology at the University of California-Irvine, say fingerprinting is not backed by sufficient scientific research.

This month, Bruce Budowle, the FBI's chief scientist, called for more scientific "validation" to improve fingerprint ID techniques. He wrote in Forensic Science Communications, the bureau's online journal, that there is "overwhelming evidence" fingerprints can be used to make "reliable identifications."

32. ‘Use biometrics to track foreign workers' - By DAWN CHAN - The Malay Mail - Jan 20, 2006
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The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (CASSA) has urged the Government to introduce compulsory fingerprinting or biometrics for foreign workers, particularly Indonesian maids, before issuing them work permits. Its president Jacob George said there is a big loophole in the recruitment and visa process which could encourage runaway maids.

Biometrics electronically scans the identity of a person by reading, analysing and comparing live finger images with a template of the fingers in a database.

George said biometrics could prevent a foreign maid from leaving the country undetected, and prevent her from returning with a new passport.

He said: “Their fingerprints would be readily available in the Immigration database.

“It can then be proven that their arrival in the country and absconding are not coincidental, but a well-planned exercise arranged by a criminal syndicate which helps runaways relocate.”

He said employers of runaway maids faced a RM250 fine, and had to pay RM7,000 to the maid employment agency for procurement of the maid.

George was commenting on a recent report by The Malay Mail that two Indonesian maids from Central Java robbed a family in Bandar Baru Sri Petaling and fled.

“There must be a political will to plug this loophole. If we fail to do this, Malaysians will continue to pay penalties when maids escape after committing theft.

“Some of them even throw unfounded allegations against their employers when they are caught,” he said.

33. DHS seeks to outsource identification system - By Greta Wodele, National Journal's Technology Daily - Gov - Jan 10, 2006
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The Homeland Security Department is seeking to "completely outsource" a government-wide "smart card" system for verifying the identity of federal workers and contractors. But the plan may run afoul of some lawmakers, privacy advocates and a congressional mandate.

"The government is seeking information on the capability to provide outsourcing of the infrastructure needed for any or all" components outlined in a recent request for information about creating the system, the General Services Administration wrote in a document posted Monday at FedBizOpps.

GSA last month posted a request for information from companies on the potential of such a system, saying the agency wants the "capability to completely outsource the technical solution." Companies had until Monday to respond, and GSA said the contractor would have until August to design a system that would satisfy a 2004 presidential directive ordering a system by October.

President Bush issued the directive to establish common ID credentials to control access to federal facilities and computers. "This policy is intended to enhance security, increase efficiency, reduce identity fraud and protect personal privacy," GSA said in its request for information.

But the administration's plans for a privately run system could spark the ire of members of Congress and privacy rights advocates who repeatedly have voiced concern with companies controlling homeland security databases that contain personal information.

The department also appears to defy a congressional mandate to more effectively use a transportation security clearinghouse database. The database should be the "central identity management system for the deployment and operation of the ... transportation worker-identification credential program," read the conference report to the fiscal 2006 Homeland Security spending bill.

The database is run by a consortium of airport owners. The worker ID initiative aims to control access to airports by issuing a smart card to employees of the Transportation Security Administration and airports.

The Homeland Security Department would give the private sector responsibility for collecting, storing and maintaining workers' personal information, such as driver's licenses and passports, as well as digital photographs and scanned fingerprints. Companies potentially could secure a lucrative five-year deal, as the system would be used for hundreds of thousands of employees and federal contractors, according to the GSA document.

GSA wants to know if a commercial vendor can issue and distribute a card within 24 hours; notify or suspend a card within 20 minutes; and activate a card within five minutes. GSA said individual agencies would control personnel management systems, background investigations and access-control systems for their own employees.


34. Pay By Touch . . .  today announced it is launching its service in all five Hornbacher's grocery stores in Fargo, N.D. and neighbouring Moorhead, Minn. - FinExtrea - Jan 10, 2006
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Beginning today, shoppers in Hornbacher's stores will have the option of quickly and securely paying for groceries using a finger scan linked to their financial accounts.

The Hornbacher's launch is part of a companywide implementation led by Hornbacher's parent company, SUPERVALU, Inc. Other SUPERVALU stores throughout the country, including Farm Fresh, Cub Foods, and bigg's have already implemented the Pay By Touch service to provide a safer, faster and more convenient way for shoppers to pay for their groceries. The new system eliminates the need to present cheques, IDs, credit, debit, membership or loyalty cards at checkout. SUPERVALU stores using Pay By Touch are already seeing gains in customer service capabilities and customer loyalty.

Pay By Touch's patented biometric payment products are free to consumers and enable shoppers to quickly and securely pay for purchases using a finger scan linked to their personal identification information, financial accounts and loyalty programmes. Shoppers register once, and then can securely pay with a finger scan anywhere Pay By Touch is installed. Pay By Touch's biometric payment products enjoy the unique protection of more than two-dozen US-issued patents.

Separately, Pay By Touch announced it has launched its service in select Cash Wise grocery stores in Minnesota and North Dakota. Shoppers in these Cash Wise stores will now have another alternative in paying for groceries.

35. Members introduce legislation  School lunch scanners, ethanol among subjects of bills introduced by southeast Iowa legislators . - By AIMEE TABOR - The Hawkeye Newspaper (Iowa) - Jan 10, 2006
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[IM extract only]

DES MOINES — Southeast Iowa lawmakers aren't wasting any time getting back to work.

Lawmakers from the area either submitted bills before Monday's opening of the session, submitted them on the first day or are close to getting some of their first bills for the session introduced.

State Sen. Tom Courtney, D–Burlington, introduced a bill during Monday's opening session that would allow school districts to use finger–scanning devices they bought for the school lunch program.

The bill provides an exemption to the previously approved child identification and protection act and would allow districts to use biometric technology to scan a child's fingerprint. Last year's bill left some school officials questioning whether the new equipment could be used.

Under the bill, a child's fingerprint can't be stored and the technology can't recreate the fingerprint. Also, it can't be used on a child if that child's parent or guardian submits a written objection to the use of the device.

Courtney, who was recently appointed to the Administrative Rules Committee, said he's also pleased because it reviews the changes that are proposed by any state office.
* * *

36. Press Release  - FingerGear(TM) Computer-On-a-Stick(TM) Now Available in Micro Center Stores; USB Device Offers Complete Pre-Installed Desktop Environment on a Portable Flash Drive - Jan 10, 2006

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. & HILLIARD, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 10, 2006--FingerGear, manufacturer of Smart USB devices, and Micro Center, a nationwide chain of 19 computer superstores, announced today the immediate availability of FingerGear's Computer-On-a-Stick (COS) in all 19 Micro Center locations. The COS is the first and only bootable USB device that enables a user to instantly transform their existing PC or laptop into a crisp new fully loaded desktop environment with no software to install.

In addition to its onboard Operating System, the Computer-On-a-Stick features the Mozilla Firefox browser, an email client, the OpenOffice Suite, integrated PDF creator, Zip compression tools, cross-compatible Instant Messenger, and dozens of other most commonly used applications. "The COS is clearly the future of the USB flash drive," says FingerGear CEO Jon Louis. "Now you can carry not only your data, but also your entire operating system and all essential software applications on a small bootable USB device to use anywhere, on any Windows or Linux PC, without leaving a trace."

Moreover, with its write-protected OS and default 256-bit AES encryption, the COS is among the most secure, virus-proof, portable computing devices in the world. And best of all, startup takes less than 10 seconds and shutdown in 3.

About FingerGear

FingerGear is the consumer products division of Bionopoly LLC. Bionopoly is a leader in the field of secure computing devices and fingerprint biometrics. Bionopoly is a privately held company located in Silicon Valley, CA. For more information on FingerGear products, visit

About Micro Center

Founded in 1979 in Columbus, Ohio, Micro Center operates 19 stores in major markets nationwide. Micro Center offers more computer and computer-related items than any other retailer (over 30,000 in stock). Micro Center also boasts more square footage devoted exclusively to computers and computer-related items than any other retailer (stores average 45,000 square feet). The Company's selection, service and sales staff approach is modeled after Nordstrom and other service-oriented retailers, thereby offering a more upscale atmosphere than big box consumer electronics stores.

37. County plans to extend forensic investigations. Grants to help pay for more training. By Edward Carpenter -The San Francisco Examiner -  Jan 11, 2006
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SAN MATEO — Car thieves and burglars beware; forensic scientists at the county-run crime laboratory could soon be on the case.

County officials plan to train local police this year in securing crime scenes for forensic investigation and collecting evidence to be used by scientists to glean latent fingerprints or DNA that can be run through the state’s databases.

Using three federal grants to better train officers and buy automated equipment, the San Mateo County Forensic Laboratory hopes to expand its investigations capabilities beyond violent crimes into property crimes, officials said.

“The sheriff has decided we would like to move this out into the municipal agencies,” Forensic Lab Director Jim Granucci said. “The big advantage for us will be to automate the lab to check DNA against the growing Prop. 69 database.”

Approved by voters in November 2004, Proposition 69 requires the collection of DNA from convicted felons, as well as from adults and juveniles arrested for or charged with certain violent crimes. In 2010, the program will be expanded to include all adults arrested for or charged with any felony. The samples are submitted to a state DNA database that currently contains about 350,000 individuals, officials said.

Collecting evidence from stolen cars or home burglaries could tie multiple crimes to one perpetrator and be used to match criminals already captured to unsolved cases, Granucci said. It is estimated that a top burglar commits more than 232 burglaries a year, according to a report posted on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s Web site, which operates under the U.S. Department of Justice. “When [police] analyze DNA from a burglary, they get evidence that often solves several other cases as well,” according to the report.

The lab will use three federal grants worth about $1 million that were awarded this year and last to purchase new equipment that will be able to cut the time needed to process a DNA sample by half, from about four to two hours, said Alice Neumann, DNA Technical Leader for the lab.

Because of shows like “CSI,” more jurors want to see this type of evidence before they convict someone, Granucci said. “The problem is that we can’t do it in 40 minutes and four commercials [like on television].”

He hopes the faster forensic technology will help investigators further reduce property crimes in the county, which dropped from about 9,100 in 2000 to 7,600 in 2003, records show.


38. An Electoral System You Can Count On - By Gary Krasner  - The American Daily (Arizona) - Jan 12, 2006
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[Readers are reminded that Biometric Bits is non-partisan, but it does attempt to equitably provide information concerning partisan perspectives that relate to identity management].
January 1st was the deadline for states to enact voting-related legislation that's in accord with the 2002 federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). By so doing, states would be eligible for federal grants to finance wide-ranging measures to improve voting systems, making polling places and voting devices handicapped-accessible, ensuring that only eligible voters are registered to vote, and stuff like that.

The closeness of the election in 2000 brought attention to the flaws and sloppiness in state electoral systems. Two percent of the votes cast could not be counted for a variety of reasons. Votes from ineligible voters or nonexistant people could be just as massive. We now face the prospect of judges deciding all close elections, instead of voters.

For the most technologically advanced nation in the world, I feel certain I'm not alone in wondering why we can't accomplish so simple a task as accurately tallying votes. At first glance, it would seem like a rudimentary undertaking for a nation that landed a man on the moon 35 years ago. (Pardon the cliché.) But not all the flaws with the system are based on technology. And each of the two political parties have their own agendas for mending the system.

What Republicans Want

Each political party obviously wants what it thinks will benefit it the most. What Republicans want most is that votes which are cast are by eligible voters, and that local precinct workers have as little access as possible to completed ballots.

On the latter point, Republicans believe that to the extent that it's feasible, it may reduce ballot tampering. This concern can be traced to elections well before 2000. Ballot stuffing in Democrat-controlled inner cities is legendary. It can include scanning completed paper ballots more than once, or by padding extra votes into lever-type voting booths before the polls open or after they're closed. Or after an election is decided, election workers can "discover" completed ballots or provisional ballots that had not yet been tabulated. In the 2004 Washington state gubernatorial election, 573 such ballots were found, which miraculously made up the margin that the Democrat candidate needed to win. The opposite of ballot stuffing would include the intentional loss, damage or manipulation of completed ballots so that they cannot be tabulated, or the voter's intention be determined.

Democrats counter that ballot manipulation of these sorts can be prevented with better trained election workers or more poll watchers. But many counties cannot afford the expense, or find sufficient volunteers. This often leads to situations in which the minority party is unable to observe as many polling sites as the majority party. Under such conditions, it just takes a few hyper-partisan workers to do what they think is best for the nation—one way or the other.

With regards to the former point (voter fraud), polls show that four out of five Americans support the requirement of some form of photo ID to register to vote. Yet only 17 states require some form of documentation. Compare that to the ID requirements to rent a video or similar endeavors which we would agree holds less collective importance to our republic.

Republicans would note that in 2001, voters registered in several cities totaled more residents over the age of 18 that was indicated by the U.S. Census. Much to blame for this was President Clinton's "Motor Voter Law", which required state Departments of Motor Vehicles to register to vote all license holders, even those which offer mail-in registration which don't require identification. Board of Election officials were barred from challenging the legitimacy of an individual's voting status, and the law made it difficult to purge former voters who were deceased or moved away.

For example, voter registration rolls in Philadelphia spiked 24 percent since 1995, while during this time its population declined by 13 percent. In 1999, CBS's 60 Minutes found in California, completed mail-in registration forms for fictitious people, and the subsequent absentee ballots filed in those names. Authorities in Wisconsin convicted a heiress from New York working for Al Gore of bribing homeless people with cigarettes if they rode in a van to the polls and voted. In 1997, Almost five thousand homeless or other ineligible voters were paid $10 apiece and driven in vans to file absentee ballots for Miami mayoral candidate Xavier Suarez.

The provisions in HAVA which is hoped to meliorate registration abuses included incentives for states to improve screening of non-citizens, convicted felons (if the state bars them from voting), people registered with the names of deceased citizens, and the legally incompetent. Republicans support such measures, realizing that they can't compete with Democrats in reaching into the pool of poor, immigrant, or otherwise disenfranchised unregistered and/or ineligible voters (With the intent to defraud.)

Democrats might privately justify violating or stretching voter registration laws on the grounds that they need to level the playing field against the (supposed) well-funded Republicans. But Democrats obviously can't publicly argue in favor of allowing ineligible or unregistered voters vote. So instead, they counterattack with the claim that residency screening and requiring proper IDs (etc.) are racially-motivated voter intimidation to suppress voter turnout, which denies minorities and the poor their rightful franchise. Yet in reality, wide-scale, intentional voter intimidation is either a relic of the past, or negligible in terms of the percentage of the vote affected. Part of the reason is that it's the only form of voting fraud that's prosecuted to any extent. By contrast, racially-charged allegations of voter suppression have been enough to dissuade federal prosecutors from pursuing incidents of voter fraud. Yet permitting vote fraud to continue through lax registration requirements denies legitimate voters their rightful franchise just as much as unwarranted restrictions on voting might.

What Democrats Want

For obvious reasons, Democrats—and most prominently, the left-wing of that party—have been the most vocal in challenging the efficacy of the last two national elections. They claim there needs to be more accurate vote counts. Though one must wonder about the veracity of that claim, given that historians and pollsters think electorate has shifted more conservative over the last 3 decades. Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat that won the presidency with a majority of the vote.

Nevertheless, the type of election fraud Democrats are most concerned about is vote count, and their catch-phrase since 2000 has been, "let all votes count." Even if the intention of the voter can't be discerned, or his eligibility to vote is in question. Of course, they always leave out that second clause, but they'll gladly settle for those "flaws".

Fortunately, Congress and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), set up by HAVA, looked beyond bumper-sticker slogans. One of them pertained to voter errors, such as overvoting and undervoting the ballot—which is most prevalent among the elderly, minorities, or poorly educated voters using punch card or optical scan voting systems. Studies show that loss of votes from "spoilage" (either the voter or the precinct worker unintentionally mishandles the ballot, rendering it unreadable) adversely affects minorities by a factor of 3 to 1. Essentially, it's the same socioeconomic group most prone to over- and under-voting ballots.

Curing this was one of the mandates of HAVA. The prevailing assessment is that to best assist the handicapped, elderly, non-English speaking or poorly educated people to vote accurately, calls for a technology that the Left has resolutely opposed: A digital ballot, or "DRE" ("Direct Recording Electronic"). Essentially, it's a computer that uses touch-screen activation for casting the vote. Since most households today have computers with mouse user-interfaces, I believe DREs should have that as an additional or backup option.

But Democrats on the left fear that this technology will provide Republicans with an edge in ballot tampering, essentially because most companies that produce DREs are run by Republicans. Their opposition to electronic voting builds on an existing bias: Corporations create DREs; corporations are evil; therefore, DREs are evil. Or at least, their vote tabulations cannot be trusted. But there are myths abound.

One is the notion that computer hackers can alter the vote totals via the internet. But DREs are stand-alone devices not connected to the internet. In the 20 years they've been used, there's no verified case of tampering with their vote totals, despite allegations that incidents where malfunctions occurred were instead intentional attempts at fraud.

Another example involves allegations that DREs produce a disproportionate number of undervoted ballots among minorities—the group that was supposed to benefit from DREs. But at least for the presidential elections in 1992, 1996, and 2000, the type of voting machine used accounted for a mere 2.5% of the difference in undervoted ballots. In other words, neither punchcards nor optical readers nor DREs with touch-screens actually produced significantly higher rates of undervoted ballots among Blacks or other minorities. The left might still allege fraud, yet the undervotes registered on DREs might have been either voter-intended, or device malfunctions.
The overall performance of DREs has not been perfect to be sure, any more than optical vote scanners have. There's lots of room for improvement for DREs. Touch-screens can be misaligned. Software can have bugs and produce glitches resulting in votes being lost or miscounted. There's also unconfirmed claims that localized electronic hacking is possible.

But many besides the left are attentive to problems with DREs. The GAO has called for "rigorous security and reliability standards", but it will not be ready by the next election. Such failings are intolerable. It undermines faith and integrity in the electoral process, and plays into the paranoia on the left—which can be summarized simply as, "rage against the (Diebold) machines."

The quality of the solutions thus far vary, and are of limited scope. Senators Clinton and Graham filed legislation that would require computerized voting devices to produce paper records of the vote. But as a remedy to prevent fraud, it's also necessary to direct what must be done with that paper after it's produced. I think my plan in the next section tries to address that.

Personally, I would require there be entries on each line for "no choice", for which the voter must select, to indicate an intentional non-vote for any candidate. Also, for the sake of perception if nothing else, companies that produce DREs should be restricted to far less access to the hardware and software than they appear to have now. My proposed plan addresses that as well.

The plan is necessarily bold and comprehensive, which is required to satisfy all the transparency issues. Because even with the remedies that GAO and others have urged, computers are by their nature complex devices, and who's inner workings are less visible than paper or punch ballots, which people on the left still prefer. The voting system I outline offers the efficiency and accommodation to the handicapped (etc.) that only computer interfaces can offer, but with the transparency and confidence that paper ballots are perceived to offer.

If DREs continue to be employed absent of a comprehensive plan like mine, then I fear that confidence in election results will wane. Computer glitches will never be proven to the losing side to be accidental. Opponents of electronic ballots will continue to argue that it's impossible to verify that the vote which was cast was the vote that got tabulated. And the other side will continue to allege that the vote that was cast wasn't from an eligible voter. And of course, whenever exit polls don't resemble the subsequent actual vote, the left will challenge the accuracy of the actual vote.

[Note that when this occurred in 2004, not only had left-wing Democrats dismiss the admissions from liberal mainstream media that their polling consortium had skewered their test samplings more toward Kerry, they also wouldn't accept the logical sequelae that it had the effect of discouraging Republican voters and depressing turnout for Bush. And all this occurred BEFORE their rage against the DRE machine had taken hold the way it has now. Today, the paranoia and distrust is at it's zenith.]

One can only appreciate the juxtaposition from the usual political stances: The Republicans favor the HAVA voting reforms that call for modernization, while Democrats prefer the status quo and urged states not to enact laws to qualify for the HAVA grants. They oppose robust voter eligibility screening and want states to keep using paper ballots or the old lever-operated mechanical machines.

Preventing Voter Fraud

The ideal remedy to all forms of voting frauds must be comprehensive, else those who feel cheated from ballot tampering will feel justified in perpetrating voter fraud, and vice versa. Thus, we cannot merely seek the ideal voting device, for example, without trying to get voter fraud under control. As John Fund notes in "Stealing Elections", prosecuting election fraud is almost nonexistent for a variety of both political and practical reasons. So we need a systemic, uniform and comprehensive solution.

Almost every type of flaw in our voting system which I mentioned in the previous sections can be traced to one factor common in all balloting systems used in the U.S.: A ballot once cast cannot be traced to the voter who cast it. It might seem obvious that this prevents us from discovering what Republicans seem most concerned about: ineligible voters. But it also prevents what Democrats claim to want most—that all ballots are counted, and counted accurately.

My proposed solution might also seem to violate an axiom in this country: the privacy of our vote. But with encryption technology, that should not be a concern. After I run through my proposed ballot system, you will see how that's accomplished:

The state supplies a registered voter with a unique registration number. That number will never have other data linked to it, other than the person's name, date of birth, current residential address, political party registration, and a face photograph of the person. As it's always been, voter registration information will be in the hands of local election officials, to allow them to properly identify people as eligible to vote or not. Election officials will never have access to how people voted. As you'll read later, such information might only need to be "unblinded" to authorized investigators to look into indications of fraud or tabulation errors. I suggest that it may be the state's attorney general, or some nonpartisan entity that the state may designate.

The sole reason for the ID number is that numbers are unique identifiers that cannot be duplicated, and it's required for the computer tracking process described later. Voters must register as usual. They will receive their voter registration card in the mail—sent to the address they claimed as theirs. The card itself will contain only 3 pieces of the total information: The person's photograph, his registration number, and his election district. It will also contain a magnetic strip of the registration number, so that the voter can "swipe it" while in the voting booth, for ease and speed.

That's right, voting will be a little like a transaction at an ATM booth. People will go to central locations to cast their votes, just like they do now. Casting your ballot will also be done in a private booth, just like it's done now. The voting machine would essentially be a computer terminal. The user interface will employ touch-screen activation, with the option for mouse input and voice recognition (for the visually-impaired).

Voters will either swipe their registration number into the computer, or enter it manually. The method of entering your votes might be through screen activation, or whichever method Congress deems best. After the voter reviews and confirms the entries on his ballot, he must enter his PIN (personal identification number). This PIN is just like a PIN you use on an ATM machine. It's not known to anyone but the voter. Without the correct PIN for that registration number, the votes entered into the computer will not be recorded, transmitted or tabulated. It won't go anywhere.

The process to ensure proper identification is necessary to stem voter fraud, and as I'll describe later, ballot manipulation. The PIN number prevents anyone else from voting using that voter registration number. The computer will store votes cast as "write-once" (then read anytime) data, to be sure. But the unique PIN adds an extra layer of assurance that votes cannot be altered (for any given registration number) or multiplied after they're cast. Only one completed ballot per registration number will be allowed. The photo of the voter on the card will prevent various forms of fraud as well, but at the same time represent a far less intrusive measure than say, having your fingerprints registered, as is required to vote in Mexican elections. Indeed, voter ID cards with photo, thumbprint, voter ID numbers, and magnetic strips are commonplace in the very same countries that the left urges us to emulate with regards to paper ballots.

The Computer Hardware & Software

Algorithms necessary for tallying votes are not complex—no more so than those which tally votes from inputs via paper scanners. So the transparency issue just with regards to understanding the program software isn't a daunting problem. Rather, the concern among some is that the use of computers tends to involve greater time and distance between the vote when it's cast, and the (usually) centralized location that tabulates that vote. The greater that distance, the greater are the opportunities to defraud. The idea that fuels this attitude is that fraud is inevitable and can't be prevented. And when it occurs, we should have a system in place that ensures that the effects will be limited just to the machine or voting precinct where the perpetrators operated. In other words, the preference for paper ballots seems to be that the inevitable cheating will be decentralized—limited just to the location where the perpetrators have access to ballots.

This appeasement to unlawful activities which violates the very basis of our democracy is unacceptable. Nevertheless, I describe below and in the next section ("The Fail-safe Feature") how the mechanism of voting and its redundancy features under my system deals with the centralization issue.

The system software and voting program will be open source-code written by a federal agency, commission or single government contractor. Congress will mandate the required features, capabilities and requirements that must be written into the software—many of which are difficult or impossible to implement when using paper ballots. For example, you'd be able to select the language of your choice. It must display the text in user-selectable variable font sizes for the visually-impaired. As an option for the hearing-impaired, it must employ an audio selection system—also with a language-selectable option.

Each state will be responsible for supplying the computer data which would consist of all the federal and local races, referendums, etc. The software will display solely those candidates up for election in each specific election district. Computers allow for last minute changes to be made.

Private companies will manufacture the computer hardware, which will be in exact accord with narrow specifications (screen size, audio specs, user-interface, recording device for output data, etc.) authorized by a Congressionally designated authority, such as GAO or OTA. This authority will also establish a uniform criteria for state election workers to test and maintain the machines. Neither the manufacturer nor election officials would be able to tamper with the software because the software would not be loaded into the computer manually or on-site. Instead, each terminal will be connected to a closed network hub at the polling place, which in turn will be connected via broadband connection to mirrored webservers run by the federal government (for the system and program software) and by the state (for the ballot data).

About Data Security

The system I'm proposing will require security measures on the same level as ATM machines, or better. Data encryption will be required, and not optional.

The network hubs will employ hardware IDs, similar to network "dongles" that many businesses use for security. This ensures that each polling place is legitimate, and will be authorized to receive the software and ballot data for each location.

Since the system software and voting program are downloaded into RAM, the computer hardware manufacturers will not install firmware in ROM that could contain suspicious or hackable code. In a couple of years, perhaps even the downloading of any and all code would be unnecessary, when the technology for web-based software becomes sufficiently capable. (web-based software is essentially software that can run on a computer without having to install on the computer itself, the code which runs the program.)

For hackers to successfully tamper with software, they must have two things: an exact copy of the code, and sufficient time to analyze what each line of code does. Hackers are denied both under this system. Even if they get past the other security measures, the state and federal governments would have 12 months between elections to modify the source code ever so slightly to stymie would-be hackers.

Besides, as you'll see, the system I'm proposing denies the opportunity for people at the local level to engage in vote manipulation. Most of the opportunity for fraud defaults to more centralized and upper level points. This reduces the pool of suspects—and together with stiffer penalties for vote fraud—would discourage even the most partisan from breaking the law. Yet the one vote per registrant limit renders hacking a daunting task on any level of system access. One would have to create entire identities, using residential addresses that will either be detected as nonexistent, or else a duplicate of another voter's.

In short, successful vote tampering would be virtually impossible. When the polls open, the precinct worker will flip the "on" switch on the computers. The operating system and voting software will be download from the federal webservers. Then the ballot data will be downloaded from each state's web servers. Before the polling places close, the precinct worker will just have to remember to turn the computers off and shut the lights before they leave.

The Fail-Safe Feature

The part of the plan that ensures error-free and tamper-free results involves a process that's best achieved through computer voting. It also employs the features that those on the Left seem insistent upon having: a confirmation system fed back to the voter, as opposed to a central monitor. Because according to the caviling as I understand it, no one can be trusted to catch fraud or errors, better than the voter himself. (Having partisans of equal strength present to monitor proceedings is an ideal that's not possible to produce in many counties and precincts.)

After the voter completes his ballot selections, the screen displays a summary screen of how you voted. If you made errors, you can go back and correct them. When you finally approve your ballot and enter your PIN, the system records your vote simultaneously to 3 separate entities, and all while you're still inside the voting booth:

First, the ballot you completed is transmitted directly to a central location where state election officials electronically tabulate the votes. All votes are tagged with the voter's registration number, and no votes can be tabulated without them. The registration number remains with the vote even after tabulation, but it's encrypted and therefore indiscernible to people at both ends of this transmission (i.e. both locations). This whole process is computerized anyway, with the electronic vote data remaining untouched and unseen by humans. The transmission and encryption encoding reinforces this blindness further, and would be similar to the security involved in ATM transactions.

Since voter registration numbers are still digitally linked to the votes cast at this stage, the vote data for that number can be printed and mailed to the registered voter in the same manner that people receive their bank statement. Along with the information on how you voted would be printed your registration number and address information, all on water-marked paper. It would be very hard to mass produce such printed materials to defraud the government and sway the election. Besides, what person would present a counterfeit or doctored printout when his name is on the printout, and would implicate him in the fraud?

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. All we've done thus far is blind any election officials to the identity of the voter, and speed up the transfer of the ballot from the voter to the final vote tabulator before unlawful ballot manipulation can occur locally, because we cut out the "middle man". But we're not done yet.

The second place to which your vote is instantaneously recorded is to a "write-once" (then read anytime) media installed and physically locked inside the computer terminal. The media might be an optical or laser disk, or perhaps a memory card. This data is likewise tagged with the voter's encrypted registration number. After the polling site closes, precinct workers manually remove the sealed box holding the media, which is then delivered to a second separate state agency, be it the Secretary or State, or Attorney General, or whichever entity the state so designates. If the seals are broken, there will be an investigation.

Regardless of which two state entities are the recipients of the raw vote data, federal law will mandate that they be separate entities independent of each other, with technical experts from all political parties present to monitor the entire proceedings. Each would be equipped with computers and software (software via the federal government) necessary to process the votes. The vote counts from each agency would have to match. If they don't, then the election cannot be certified until an investigation discovers why the tallies don't match. The third place where the vote is recorded may help uncover the reason for possible discrepancies.

The third "place" where the vote is recorded is to each individual voter: Before the voter leaves the voting booth, he takes with him a paper printout of his completed ballot. The voter is advised to review the printout before leaving the polling place. If there's an error, then the complaint must be registered right then and there. If the printout is correct, the voter is advised to retain this printout.
This printout represents the most accurate record of that voter's intent, because it's not printed out in the same way as the aforementioned ballot summary that state election officials print it and mail to the voter. As I explained above, the first state entity that obtains a record of your vote immediately tabulates it, then spits out the text data (comprising your ballot choices) onto a water-marked paper, formatted to appear like the ballot summary that was displayed on the computer screen that you approved when you were done voting. In other words, it's an indirect representation of your ballot in the same manner that a voice recording is transcribed to paper.

What is different about the printout that the voter obtains directly from the computer (while in the voting booth) is that this printout is as close to an optical photograph of the screen as you can get. In computer jargon, it's a dump of the screen buffer (i.e.: whatever is being displayed on the screen) directly to an output device, such as the printer port. "Screen captures" or "snapshots" is an old feature of computers. It can be triggered via hardware or software. When I owned an Apple II in 1980, hackers instructed users on how to solder a switch to the motherboard that would trigger a direct dump of the screen buffer. Hard-wired in such a manner, it would be difficult to shield from view any unlawful tampering. The bottom line is that the printout that the voter takes from the booth is the closest representation of the ballot that he saw on the screen and approved.

Assuming the printout accurately reflects the way the person voted, what happens next is the point in the process that will satisfy the wingnuts on the far left who think conservatives have been rigging the elections (when conservative win, that is):

When you get that printout of your vote in the mail, you can compare it to the printout you took home with you on election day. Alas, that's the final check in the process. The "snapshot" of the summary page (or pages) that indicated how you voted must match the page (or pages) printed out by the state agency at the point in time when that agency received and tabulated the votes. If you fail to get it in the mail, you can go to the Board of Elections to get it.

If the printouts don't match, you can place the ballots in a furnished post-paid pre-addressed envelop to the state attorney general, or some other designated nonpartisan or bipartisan committee responsible for investigating vote fraud. I would suggest people first make photocopies and perhaps send copies to their political parties.

In the final analysis, the success of this plan is based on the various hardware and data security measures, along with the decentralized two-tier parity checks: One between separate agencies, and the other between agency and voter.

Can This Plan Work Politically?

Implementation of this plan is technologically feasible and affordable. However, it breaks with some traditions, diminishes state authority to a degree, and would require Congress to amend federal election law to permit greater oversight and involvement by federal entities in state-run elections.

The part of this plan that makes it effective is a revolutionary idea, at least in American elections: For the first time, voter anonymity AFTER the vote is cast will be partially removed. Partially; not totally. The ballot the voter completes and is sent to the three locations, remains electronically tagged with the voter's registration number, even after the votes are tabulated (though not indefinitely thereafter). Computer encryption can be used to obscure a voter's name from his registration number. At most, all that a casual viewer might see is an encrypted registration number on a recorded ballot.

After an election is certified free of errors and fraud, there wouldn't be any need to retain that part of the digitized information that holds the personal identifiers. The software would permit state officials to easily strip off the names, street addresses, photographs, and voter registration numbers from the part that holds the election results. Once this information is purged from the data, journalists, historians, pollsters and political parties can then be given access to it to perform the usual statistical analysis of voting patterns measured against party affiliation and zipcode area.

Thus, the chances of a breach in the privacy of ones' vote is small, and far outweighed by the advantage in restoring faith and integrity to our elections.

Remember, the sole purpose of temporarily linking the vote to the voter is to (1) prevent voter registration fraud, (2) prevent errors or tampering of the votes just cast, and (3) catch possible errors and tampering of the tabulated votes later on.

At no point will local election workers handle ballots. Ballots will not be stolen or mysteriously lost or damaged. Stacks of completed ballots will not mysteriously materialize days after an election. Indeed, all forms of ballot tampering will be impossible at that level. At the very top level in which tampering might conceivably be attempted, it's discouraged by a daunting array of redundancy checks and features outside the control of one person or agency.

Voter error will be a thing of the past. Overvoting (selecting more than one candidate in a category) will be impossible. Undervoting—through an oversight—will also be impossible: The voter that accidentally misses a category will be alerted by the user friendly, multilingual interface which could also adequately alert the hearing- or visually-impaired voters.

Additional controls can be built into the process that would be impossible if paper ballots were used. Computers can do parity checks all along the way—and in real time. Attempting to cast votes from duplicate registration numbers will be blocked at the input stage, or will certainly be detected by later surveillance of the data. Nonexistent or duplicate addresses will be caught in the registration process, but also can be electronically searched for after the vote to investigate voting abnormalities. Party affiliations that don't match the vote, or cross-ballot voting patterns which drastically depart from prior election patterns or the current norm will trigger red flags before the day ends. None of this is possible under any other system. Certainly not with paper ballots.


Since the federal government will have a greater role in state elections under my plan, Congress will have to enact amendments to address the Constitutional issues. But a computer balloting system holds unparalleled advantages. For the individual voter, the technology will streamline the process on election day. There will be no justification for minorities to wait on long lines in the rain in order to vote. Handicapped individuals will be able to vote with dignity. The current worker-intensive system that requires large numbers of volunteers to police it will be history. Beyond the initial investment—which will be mitigated by the uniform standards imposed by the Feds—holding elections will be less expensive and there will be little of no voter fraud, vote manipulation, and tabulation errors.

The only thing wrong with computer ballots (or DREs) today is that the standards they must comply with vary greatly between counties and states. The hardware and software systems need to be more uniform, or preferably (as my proposal recommends), virtually identical. Voting machines must operate without errors. Yet bugs are likely to occur anytime you need to get a new program to run in a new or adapted operating system, which is running off a computer who's user interface is handled by thousands of voters who are complete computer illiterates. It's hard enough for a behemoth like Microsoft, let alone small computer companies. My ballot proposal mandates uniformity across states and counties. Private enterprise conservatives will just have to realize that when it comes to elections, there's no time to wait until for a corporate shakeout of poorly performing companies. National elections are too important for that.

Politically, it would be an uphill battle to implement my system. State and local election officials want to control "their" turf.

Democrats (in the majority) in large cities will suddenly become stalwart states rights' advocates. Their comrades on the far left have already become complete Luddites on this issue. Since 2001, they've become obsessed over alleged voting fraud. They've donned their tin-foil hats and won't listen to any proposals that involve computers. They see Republican conspiracies and black helicopters everywhere. (They actually believe Senator Paul Wellstone was assassinated by President Bush.) Their only solution is to use paper ballots.

But a return to the Middle Ages isn't a solution. Today, we place our very lives in the hands of computers. Computers are not only used to design planes, trains, automobiles, office towers, and nuclear power plants, they operate them as well. Commerce and banking are all computerized. System security, redundancy checks and backup provisions assure near perfect performance and reliability. When computers fail, others take over. Computers have improved our way of life, and they're the only means to resolve the problems which—commissions that have studied the problem have found—are inherent with paper-based ballots.

So it would be foolish to allow left-wing paranoia and distrust of Republicans in power to sway us from using a rational system that holds a cornucopia of advantages. As a side benefit, under my system, left-wing political rants, boorish allegations and attempts to undermine the legitimacy of Republican office holders would come to a crashing end.

39. Background checks - Health workers are scapegoats - Letter to the Editor -  Asbury Park Press (NJ) - Jan 12, 2006
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If you are a licensed health care professional or certified health care employee, you will soon be receiving a letter from the state Office of the Attorney General informing you that you must undergo a criminal history background check and have your fingerprints recorded. The letter says you have 20 days to respond or have your license or certificate suspended.

This is shocking to those of us who have spent our whole lives working to help the physically, mentally or emotionally sick, or the disabled. The work is grueling and the hours long. You work weekends, holidays and nights, and you are underpaid for the care provided and the level of education required to perform that care.

The background checks came about because a male nurse committed horrific crimes against humanity. In doing so, he brought disgrace upon a noble profession and severed the respect and trust of our health care system by the public.

What is most unsettling is the fact that the Division of Consumer Affairs has contracted a private company, Sagem Morpho Inc., to do the fingerprint recording. The fee for this service is $78, to be paid directly to this company.

Why are health care professionals and certified health aides being penalized for a despicable individual's crime? Why are the hospitals and agencies, which have turned a "blind eye" for years in the hiring process and would not allow their Human Resources departments to give more than dates of employment (for fear of being sued), not bearing the costs of enforcing this law? Who is this company profiting off the backs of professional nurses and health care workers?

All professional and certified health care personnel should be outraged that they have been made the scapegoats. Don't allow this to happen without voicing your concerns. Start calling, e-mailing or writing your state legislators, organizations, hospitals/agencies and Board of Nursing today.

Cecile Apollo

40. State says troopers wrong on job posts - The union and the commissioner disagree on whether civilians should get some jobs. - By Mark Scolforo - Associated Press - Philidelphia Inquirer - Jan 12, 2006

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The state troopers' union has misrepresented talks aimed at putting more officers on the road, State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said yesterday, and he asked the legislature to intervene.

In a letter to lawmakers, Miller said a Dec. 14 letter from the head of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association was inaccurate and urged the General Assembly to pass legislation to mandate the reassignment of 68 troopers by filling their administrative and forensic jobs with civilians.

"The PSTA leadership is making this about politics instead of public safety," Miller said.

Sgt. Bruce Edwards, the union president, accused Gov. Rendell of political posturing.

The current state budget authorizes money for 180 new positions - 120 troopers and 60 civilians to assume troopers' nonpatrol duties - but half of the money is contingent on the sides' reaching a deal on civilian jobs by the end of June.

No talks have been scheduled since union leadership unanimously opposed the Rendell administration's most recent proposal to use attrition to hire civilians for certain duties.

The proposed deal also would have kept about 45 supervisory corporals on the road. The administration lost an appeal of an unfair labor practice ruling that requires corporals to oversee police dispatching centers. The union recently asked the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to enforce that ruling.

The administration proposal also would add 15 clerks to police stations around the state to assume paperwork duties currently performed by patrol troopers, settle five health-care benefits grievances, and convene a committee to look into whether the department should change how it handles minor disciplinary infractions.

Edwards, the union president, said existing labor law requires the two sides to negotiate the civilians issue.

"You're dealing with a governor that really doesn't want to hire more troopers. And he was being pressured into a situation where we were being successful and it has become a hot topic issue, and he's trying to blame us," Edwards said.

The administration wants to hire civilians as fingerprint, ballistics and document examiners; liquor control commanders; communications specialists; and procurement and supply officers.

In Edwards' letter to Miller, which also was sent to all members of the General Assembly and Rendell, the union president said converting forensic jobs to civilian status would make the department's criminal investigations less effective.


41. Press Release - Digital Persona, Inc. Receives Prestigious Info Security Product Excellence Award for Authentication - Jan 12, 2006
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REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Digital Persona, Inc., the leading provider of biometric authentication solutions for enterprise networks and commercial applications, today announced that the company has won the prestigious Product Excellence Award for authentication from the Info Security Products Guide. Selected from more than 700 products and solutions from across the globe, the DigitalPersona(R) Pro 3.2 fingerprint authentication solution also received a 4.5 out of 5 star rating as a result of the review.

The Info Security Products Guide Awards recognize and honor companies' excellence in all areas of information security. Winning products are determined by the guide's editors based on a set of criteria, including most unique feature, benefits for customers, platform/interface support, and target customers served. The guide provides useful information to end-users of information security products by fairly and accurately evaluating today's leading products and vendors. To read Digital Persona's award winning review, please see:

"DigitalPersona Pro is a winner and has earned very high overall evaluation marks," said Rick Justice, Group Editor, Silicon Valley Communications, publishers of the Info Security Products Guide. "The coveted Product Excellence Award from Info Security Products Guide is the highest industry recognition honor for products that have passed stringent evaluation tests with only the highest ratings. The goal of these reviews is to provide useful information to end-users of info security products by fairly and accurately representing products that excel in all areas."

"We are honored to receive such a prestigious and competitive award," said Fabio Righi, CEO, Digital Persona Inc. "It is a testament to our leadership in fingerprint authentication solutions in enterprise environments and demonstrates Digital Persona's continued traction to industry experts as well as current and potential customers."

According to Info Security Product Guide editors, the highlight of Digital Persona's solution is that it does not store any fingerprint images, but rather it identifies data points on your finger and uses these data points to create a digitized stream that is a unique representation of your fingerprint. Fingerprint data is encrypted and cryptographically bound to a user to avoid tampering. The user's data is stored in Active Directory and managed with Active Directory policies. The stored data cannot be reverted to the original user's fingerprint image, which in turn provides a highly secure solution.

About Digital Persona, Inc.

Digital Persona is the leading provider of biometric authentication solutions for enterprise networks and commercial applications. Founded in 1996, Digital Persona designs, manufactures and sells turnkey solutions that improve security and regulatory compliance while resolving password management problems. Its award-winning fingerprint technology is used worldwide by over 25 million people in the most diverse and challenging environments.

Digital Persona has strategic relationships with market-leading manufacturers and resellers including Intel, Dell Inc., Microsoft, GTSI Corp. and Hewlett-Packard. DigitalPersona(R) Pro, the company's flagship turnkey security solution for enterprise authentication, is used by leading organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense, Cargill, Telefonos de Mexico S.A. de C.V, (TelMex), United Bankers' Bank and Sutter Health/CPMC.

Additional information is available by contacting Digital Persona, Inc. at +1-650-474-4000 or at

About Info Security Products Guide Awards

The Info Security Products Guide plays a vital role in keeping end-users informed of the choices they can make when it comes to protecting their digital resources. It is written expressly for those who are adamant about staying informed of security threats and the preventive measure they can take. Readers will discover a wealth of information in this guide, including award- winning case studies and deployment scenarios, people and technologies shaping info security, and the best selling products. The Info Security Products Guide Awards recognize and honor excellence in all areas of information security. To learn more, visit and stay secured.

42. Keynote Remarks by Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation - 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show - Las Vegas, Nevada - January 4, 2006
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ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Chairman and Chief Software Architect of the Microsoft Corporation, Mr. Bill Gates. (Applause.)

BILL GATES: Thank you. My wife and I were certainly thrilled to be named persons of the year for our work with the foundation, and to share it with Bono. The competition, I'm sure, was quite rough, as it always is. Kids probably would have voted for J.K. Rawlings. I'm sure Mother Nature was a choice that almost got it. In fact, probably if there had been one more hurricane, Mother Nature would have been on the cover. For a lot of reasons, I'm glad that didn't happen.

Another past winner was the PC itself; all the way back in 1982, it was recognized that this was something phenomenal, that this would really change the world. And that was when the PC was just at the beginning. Microsoft had MS-DOS, we didn't have graphics interface, and we had just started to build up the software industry around the work that we're doing. And over the last 24 years, it's been quite phenomenal what's grown out of that. And what I want to share tonight is a little bit of glimpse of how that will keep revolutionizing itself, and moving faster than ever before with the magic of software connected to the innovation of our partners.

The Digital Decade

Now, we talk about this as the decade of Digital Lifestyles, the decade of Digital Workstyles. That means that all these tools are becoming mainstream. And it's not just one application that makes it happen. It's not just banking or advertising, or filling out your tax return, or even instant messaging, it's the fact that as you adopt those things they really go together, and it becomes more and more familiar to work in that fashion.

2005 was a very big year. A big year for the personal computer, growth of over 11 percent in Windows PCs, a big year with the introduction of the Xbox 360 that we've been building up to for over five years. But this next year, in some ways, is probably even bigger. This is the year that [Windows] Vista, Office 12 and many other products will come out, and the realization of [Windows] Media Center as a volume mainstream product will really be clear to everyone in the marketplace. Consumers are getting more and more connected. They're getting richer experiences, and software is really at the center of that.

I thought I would start off and show a scenario that we think will be real by the end of the Digital Decade, so within the next four years or so, this will be something we think will actually be realistic. Let's start off, let's say we're at home in the morning. We've got a screen here that shows some of the information that we care about. It comes up and it's kept up to date. We just touch it. We've got some of the kids' drawings here. We can just grab those, move those around, pick different pictures that we want. We see the time of day here. All very simple to work with.

Down here we've got a little bit of a map, and because everyone in the family has decided that they're willing to share their location with the rest of the family, we can see here on the map where mom left early and headed off to that soccer game. We see the family schedule there. So, we're able to track everybody and know what's going on. Here we've got a connection up to our video, and so the latest news information has been categorized. It picks the ones that would be of interest to us, and it actually lets us navigate. So, here I can pick a particular show, news item, that's relevant to the work that I do, and I can see there's been a storm here, it's interrupting the supply chain of a lot of different companies, probably including mine. That could be a real challenge. So, I'll click this button here and say, I would like to track that topic. I would like to continue to watch that video clip, and so as I head in to work that video has now been connected up to my cell phone, and I can watch that as I'm getting into the car and heading off to do my work.

When I arrive there, I've got a nice desktop screen. You can see it's got a lot of area. We think this will be very important. You want to have more information that you can just glance at and work with in a very simple way. The idea of a big screen that uses your full field of vision makes sense to us. Now, of course, instead of using a password, I'll just use my fingerprint here, so I'm authenticated in a more reliable way. I see a lot of different information here, including that news story that I was tracking. I go ahead and set up a little conference call that's going to have a lot of people talking about this problem. And so we can see here our Chief Operating Officer is online, our VP of Operations is only connected up through voice. We're talking through the issue. There is the article there, people are annotating that, seeing how it affects us. I've actually got here on my Tablet PC, that's really logically just part of this screen one PC. I've got a little chart here, and so what I would like to do is go ahead and go in and select that, say, OK, this is a chart that I think is relevant, and I can drag it up here, I can either move it to my desktop, or I can move it into this video conference. So, I'll go ahead and drop it there, and we'll sit and talk about this thing. And say, OK, what's going on with it.

It was actually created, I can see, by Thomas Anderson, and so I'm interested in bringing him into the conversation we have here. So I go off and select him, and say that I want to do instant messaging in a side conversation. We're talking to him, and I indicate, hey, you really ought to come in and give us some advice. I can simply drag him over into the conversation, and so he's there. He's now part of that, so not only do we have his document, but we have his advice, and we figure out pretty quickly what needs to be done.

And actually as we get towards the end of the call, I notice that it's been looking at the traffic in my schedule, and it says there's a traffic jam, so I'm going to have to leave a little bit earlier to get to the airport. I've got a flight today, and actually it puts that right here on my telephone as well, along with the map, suggests an alternate route, so I can grab onto this, and take that with me as I leave work.

Later that day, I find myself in the airport, and all I've got with me on this particular trip is my phone. And yet I'm very interested I figuring out what's the latest, what's going on. And so I can take my phone here, and I just put it down on a table that's here in the airport lounge, and it recognizes it. It's got a little camera here, and a little Bluetooth, nothing very complicated with the magic of software behind it. And it says it wants me to authenticate that this is really me, my phone. So, as soon as I put my fingerprint there, I'm connected up, and I actually get a full-sized desktop. And so now, if I want to read mail, or browse, that's all there. Actually, what I'm going to do is take a business card that somebody handed me while I was on this flight, and just put that down on the table there, and the camera scans that, detects it's there, recognizes it, I'll just flip that over, I've got a little note I made when I was talking with this person about some information they would like to see, and it sees that, gets that text, and then I can take that and say, OK, go ahead and put that into my contacts. So, as I drag it up there, I can see the information being connected up and put down into my phone. So, now I have a reminder of a task, send him that information, and see his picture, his name, his e-mail, it's all been added to my contacts list there.

Well, that's pretty nice, I'll take that off and go ahead and look at whatever mail has come in. In fact, I see that Thomas when we were working there in the office has got a press release and here, because it's very critical they know I'm agreeing with what they've got here, again, I authenticate that this is me, and I make my digital signature available because of the fingerprint there.

Now, that that's sent off, here I am, I'm able to do anything I want, I can see up in the right-hand corner through my calendar it knows the flight I'm taking, so it's showing me exactly how much time I have before I have to leave, so I can work here and get the benefit of the full screen, even though this phone normally just has that small screen. When I'm done, I just pick this up, and of course it's smart enough to recognize now that it's logged me off, and somebody else can come in here and use this and that's just simply available to them.

So, it's a very simple thing to have all these devices working together, and I have that Digital Workstyle, my calendar, the traffic, my contacts, my rich communications done in a very different way.

The phone is very different, the idea of meetings is very different, the way we collaborate, we're able to share across different companies, it's all very different, and that's because we've taken software and put it at the center, the digital approach applied to all of those activities.

Well, we see that in so many areas. I think five or six years ago, if you'd said to people that software would be incredible in terms of making photos better, music better, TV better, phone calls very different, they would have been quite skeptical, they would have thought how can software do that.

Well, now particularly in music, to some degree in TV, they've seen that it makes a huge difference. It allows them to pick the things that they're interested in, it allows them to see it when they want to, to share with friends what they've seen and what they like.

And so this really is the symptom of the great progress we have here in the digital decade.

Software: Make Things Simpler and More Effective

The PC sales growth with Windows PCs exceeding any expectation this year was a great example of that, more relevance, more things that are going on there. Broadband was a luxury only three or four years ago, and now has actually overtaken dial-up, and we're getting over a hundred million broadband users here in the United States and we'll have 80 percent of all online households broadband by the end of the decade. And the U.S. is not even the leading country in that respect, all the developed countries moving very quickly.

So what does it mean? It means that software will come in and make things both simpler and more effective. Picking the music that you want, finding out other things by that artist or similar artists, not having to think about disks and putting them in the case; entertainment, finding the things that are great, seeing them when you'd like to, having a digital jukebox so anywhere in the house you can call up the movies that you own and see those exactly when you want to; photos, organizing not just photos but all the memories of your kids growing up, being able to search those, send them off to relatives, have them appear on various nice screens around the house like that one I had in my kitchen in that scenario I showed; communications, not just with the voice but also with the screens connecting people together, letting them annotate documents, work together in a very rich way: These are scenarios that people can understand, if we make them simple, we make them inexpensive and we drive them through a single interface, everything you learn, the concepts for one activity, whether it's gaming or office productivity get applied across these different activities.

Software for the User

Likewise, these things need to work across all the different devices. So it's not just software for the PC or software for the phone or software for the videogame, it's software for the user. And my preferences, my interests, like how I charge things or the news I care about or who my buddies are, all of those things are reflected on those devices. As I move between devices, the people I've chosen to share my presence with becomes available to them. A friend can see, if I want, what game I'm playing and say they might want to play with me, ask me to join in and do something else; if I'm on my PC working, they can notify me that there's a contest coming up, something that they'd like to engage me in. Even watching TV, the ability to chat with your friends while you're watching the same show or different shows should be something that's very straightforward.

So this cross-device approach is a very, very important approach. In fact, that's complemented by the fact that there will be what we call Live services where a lot of your files, your information will actually be stored out in the Internet, and even if you pick somebody else's device up, once you authenticate, all that information becomes available to you. So moving between different PCs can be a very, very easy thing.

There's a lot of themes there, themes of personalization, themes of empowerment, themes of everything moving to the Internet. What is telephony moving to the Internet? That's voice. What is TV moving to the Internet? That's Internet TV or IPTV. People have to have confidence in these things, automatically backed up, security built-in, very reliable systems that use the cloud storage for those kinds of guarantees, and easy connections, connecting to people, connecting up to devices, a very strong way of driving through all these different scenarios and making them very simple.

In sum, it's very revolutionary, but every year we have big milestones, more adoption, and it only really catches up to us in terms of how it's changed the world of media, changed how the business models work there, changed the way that magazines and newspapers are delivered, changed the way that entertainment gets done, bringing these new interactive elements in; TV, where we've picked the new segments we want, we interact with a learning show, we can find the video that wouldn't have been available in a broadcast system; all of that is becoming very, very mainstream.

Now, a huge component to this is going to be the investments we've made in the Windows platform. The Windows PC is a part of this ecosystem, so it's got to connect up, but a very important part, both as it presents a nearby interface, what we call the two-foot interface, and as it presents a ten-foot interface, the Media Center interface.

The Next Generation: Windows Vista

And so we're going to show you tonight a glimpse of a lot of [Windows] Vista that we've never showed before. We're going to ship this by the end of the year, and so we've got a few months here, we'll continue to refine the user interface, get feedback, make sure we've got this exactly right. But we're very excited to show you where we are, show you some of these new capabilities.

So let me ask Aaron Woodman, the group product manager, to come on out and give you a little look at [Windows] Vista. (Applause.)

AARON WOODMAN: Thank you, Bill.

I'm super excited to be here to get the opportunity to show you Windows Vista. You know, as Bill mentioned, there were really three things our customers wanted from the next generation of Windows PCs. They wanted clarity, a way to cut through that clutter. They wanted an increase confidence while using their PC. And lastly, all of our customers have grown to expect Windows to be a bridge to communication and entertainment experiences. Let's take a look at how Windows Vista really starts to deliver.

The first thing you'll notice is a fresh user interface. All the applications are actually surrounded by glass. It gives you the opportunity to see what's in front, but it also gives you a sense of depth and seeing what's happening behind itself.

We've also improved how you switch between applications. In fact, if I go down to the task bar, I actually get now live previews of the applications, including motion video. We've extended that same live preview concept to do fast application switching of ALT-TAB, meaning that I can now see all of the applications as they're running, find the appropriate one, and continue to see what's happening behind it in the applications in a live mode.

Lastly, in Windows Vista we've created an entirely new way to switch between applications, Flip 3D. Flip 3D moves all of my applications into a 3-D space, allowing me to scroll through them with my arrow keys or quickly with my mouse. And you really get a sense of the graphic capabilities behind Windows Vista.

We've also given you a couple of new ways to actually see information itself. The two that I like are Windows Sidebar and Windows Sideshow. The Sidebar is a space over on the right-hand side of the screen that houses small applications or gadgets that give very specific functionality or information at a glance. There are four in my Sidebar. There's actually a picture window showing some of the pictures that my friends have placed up on MSN Spaces, I have an RSS feed; I even have an egg timer. My favorite though is actually a prototype built by our partner, Fox Sports, and this allows me to see the latest upto-date sports information that I care about. The nice part about this gadget, I can drag it to the desktop and see a little bit more if I care about it. It's a great way to stay on top of the information that's important to you and cut through that clutter.

The next innovation is really the Windows Sideshow. I'm going to hold up this laptop so you can get a sense of what I'm talking about, but essentially it's a small LCD screen built right into the side of the laptop. And essentially it gives me some small applications or gadgets, again providing some specific functionality. My favorite is actually the calendar application, meaning that I can look and see where I need to be, when I need to be there, without having even to have me power the laptop on. That's information at your fingertips, that's what you should expect from the next generation of Windows PCs.

Bill talked a lot about information on the PC, and consumers have been clear, they want great tools to find the information when it's relevant to them, search is important to them. Windows Vista delivers. In fact, if I go to the Start menu, I can now type the application I'm looking for without having to search through lots of folders and immediately find the information that's important. I can go to the Windows Vista library and search for content that I care about. And it's going to search through all of those documents, no matter where they're stored, what they're called, and bring the relevant information to me, providing me that sense of clarity that I look for.

And the last thing, when we think about information it would be hard not to talk about the Internet, and the Web has been critical in bringing the information we care about to consumers.

Let's take a look at our implementation of tabbed browsing but with a twist. I'm going to go up and do a quick MSN search on something that I care about. It's going to bring those up, and I'm going to open up new tabs and they're going to open up right underneath the address bar there. I'm going to go through and decide, yeah, mountain biking zone is interesting, not sure what that one is about, couple others here, and you can see they're all opening up on the right hand side. But that twist I talked about is Quick Tabs. This gives me the opportunity to see all those tabs, the state that they're in, and make quick, fast decisions, really taking the clutter out of the concern in deciding, oh, I don't want that tab, not really that one either, that's the one I was looking for; a great way to give tools that consumers are looking for, give them the information that they expect from the next generation of Windows PCs.

Well, what about confidence? We've made huge investments in Windows Vista in terms of the security, making and hardening the Web experience, including things like the anti-phishing browser. My favorite is parental controls. For the first time ever, the Windows operating system is going to have built-in parental controls. I'm going to go ahead and select my son's account, Toby, and you can see the types of restrictions. As a parent, I now get to decide [what I] implement on my PC: I have Web restrictions, time limits, games. Games is a wonderful example of us working with something that the industry has already rallied around, and that's the game ratings from the ESRB. This means that now when you buy a game, on the packaging you see an emblem, on the game itself, and ahead of time you can decide as a parent whether you're comfortable with that PC and your child playing that game on that PC. That puts parents back in control and it gives them that sense of confidence that they expect with having that PC in their home.

Well, what about experiences? It would be hard to come to the Consumer Electronics Show and just talk about clarity and confidence; well, what about the experiences we expect from Windows? I'm going to talk and show three that I think really move ahead: gaming, memories and music.

Gaming is a wonderful place to start. It's been really paralleled with the PC since we started bringing them into our homes. In fact, there's one application I can think about that has this long rich history working with the PC, Microsoft Flight Simulator. The Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around now for over 20 years. Every time the PC has improved in its performance, its capability, its graphic ability, Microsoft Flight Simulator has really been there to take advantage of those opportunities.

I brought with me actually a sneak preview of the next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It's a really immersive environment that's being led by Windows Vista graphics and the next generation of DirectX.

You can see the realism of the reflection. And I'm actually going to drive or going to try to drive with my Xbox 360 controller plugged directly into my Windows Vista PC. You can really start to see the smoke from the boat, the independent and kind of live life that you see with the waves, with some of the birds and the trees that you'll start to see.

This is the immersive environment that people expect from PC gaming in the next generation of Windows PCs. Windows Vista really starts to deliver.

Off the west coast of Maui, it's not a bad place to be.

So the game developers actually have a little bit more than a year to continue working on the product, so the final product is going to be even better. But one thing is for sure, gaming is going to be awesome on Windows Vista.

All right. Well, what about memories? We all expect memories to be part of Windows, and Windows Vista really delivers an entirely new experience. I'm going to open up the Windows Photo Gallery, which is really the hub of the memories experience within Windows Vista. It gives me an opportunity to see a snapshot view of all the memories I care about, including digital photos and digital video.

I can easily and quickly pace over the images that I'm looking for. We've given you a couple of new tools to find the images. We give you dates so you can quickly find things by date, by tags, by keywords. I can search by keyword. It's a great way to put consumers back in control and easily find the memories that are important to them.

We've also implemented edit functionality right into the operating system. I'm going to actually open up a picture that I want to edit and go to fix. And you can see the types of controls over on the right hand side. I'm going to actually select to crop this image and apply that, and then go on to the next picture. You can imagine how many customers have looked for that type of simplicity.

We also want to continue to provide confidence in the experiences themselves. So what can you imagine would be more frustrating for a consumer than coming back to a picture and feeling like they've lost that original fidelity, because of the number of times they've edited it? They've cropped something a few years ago for a print and come back to the photo and decide, man, I really want the content I cropped out.

In Windows Vista we always save an original, which means years later you can come back to this photo and decide actually I want to see the original fidelity, I want to see the original image. We give you the confidence so that you can do what you want with your memories and never feel lost. It's a great way to put consumers back in control of their PC.

Lastly, I want to show you the experience that we've improved in terms of enjoyment. I'm going to go to some of my favorites and open up the Slideshow. The Slideshow is a wonderful way that people have started to enjoy their photos on the PC. It's a wonderful creative way to gather and get a sense and stay connected to the things that are important.

We've made two good additions in terms of the Windows Slideshow in Windows Vista. The first is the addition of themes. In this case it's the white border moving on a sandy beach and those nice transitions. The second improvement is motion video. That means you no longer have to separate your digital still pictures and your digital video pictures. If you're interested in sharing with them, the Windows Slideshow gives you that opportunity. It's a great way to put consumers again back into control of their PCs and give them what they're looking for.

Well, music. It would be hard to come to the Consumer Electronics Show and not talk about music from Microsoft. In fact, I've brought with me the next generation of Windows Media Player. The first thing you should notice is clean user interface. In fact, when I click on artist, I no longer get this list that scrolls on to infinity, I get this nice, clean user interface. We've really done a great job of integrating the graphics, in this case the visuals or album art. I click songs, I not only just get a list of songs but I get the album art associated with that. In fact, it's actually dynamically there so I can decide how much or how little I actually want to see.

We've improved the management experience within the next generation of Windows Media Player. I go to genre and I get what we call Digital Stacks and that's the ability to visually see how much is in the actual collection. And you see blues has two or three albums, bluegrass only has one. If I scroll down, you can see the Latin collection has a little bit more. It really gives you a sense and an ability to make choices very quickly off of some visual information.

Lastly, we've improved performance. When I select songs, I'm going to scroll through, and this is a 10,000 song library. You can see how quickly I get the album art, I get the title, I get the ratings. That's the performance you should expect from the next generation Windows PC.

And because it's Windows Vista, search, which means I have that 10,000 song library, I can instantly scroll down to the ones I'm interested in. I can do it by artist. That's the type of control that we expect consumers are going to want and we're going to deliver within Windows Vista.

URGE: Microsoft and MTV

I'm actually going to bring Bill and introduce Van Toffler, the president of MTV Networks, the music group, to come back on stage and talk a little bit more about some of the things we're doing within music. (Applause.) Bill, Vance.


So thank you. I'm Van Toffler, and it's a privilege to represent MTV Networks here tonight to announce our new venture, URGE, alongside with Microsoft and Bill Gates. Though I have to tell you I'm personally really excited to give Mr. Gates in person backstage the massive $50 royalty check for being the inspiration for our MTV film "Napoleon Dynamite." (Laughter, applause.) Separated at birth. (Laughter.)

Bill, was that a bad career move to put that photo up? You don't need to answer that, it's too late.

Anyway, I thought I'd kick it old school by bringing some handwritten notes here. Microsoft and Bill Gates are synonymous with innovation and technological breakthroughs, and MTV Networks has been at the forefront of innovation around music and content catered for young adults for 20 plus years.

We were the first to put music on a new platform in the early '80s when we introduced the notion of music television, and you can all personally thank me later for introducing to the world both Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice, though I think it was a year apart, so please cut me a break.

And today the pairing of MTV Networks and Microsoft takes us down another path of innovation, the digital expansion and migration of the musical experience. The seeds of many of our cultural revolutions have been born in the world of music, and the digital revolution has proven to be no different. Today, with URGE we're bringing to market a unique approach to digital music, one focused on the emotional connection to music. URGE will offer a customized relationship with music, a sense of musical discovery, along with access to millions of songs from major labs and indies, an opportunity to listen to over a hundred radio stations, a chance to learn about the roots of songs and lyrics, plus interaction with hundreds of artists and access to their playlists of must-haves.

You can also take URGE and make it your own and personalize your own soundtrack and make it for any mood or event.

With URGE we're undertaking a long journey with music fans, and this is just the beginning. Like our TV brand, URGE will be continually reinvented. It will be programmed for music fans by music fans. Subscribers will customize and drive this service, they will tell us what sucks and what they hate about the service, they will customize it, program it, share it, change it and move with it.

In addition, taking advantage of our 25 year plus of experience and relationships with artists, labels and music fanatics, we will engage an army of music professionals, bloggers, musicians, creative gray album producing musical freaks, and experts in all genres of music who will help guide the consumer experience as well, which is definitely unique to URGE.

So please taken note we are trying something new with URGE, like music television was 25 years ago, and that's certainly needed some reinvention along the way. Can you say, "Flock of Seagulls video 30 times a day?" Thank God, times have changed. Yet, today with URGE it is our mission to create a truly immersive, emotional, engaging and entertaining experience around music, which will only get better with time.

So we believe today marks a great day for music, for labels, for artists and also marks the continuation of a wonderful collaboration between Microsoft and MTV Networks.

So maybe, Aaron, we can take a look at URGE?

AARON WOODMAN: Absolutely. We're super excited to be the ones to have the opportunity to give you guys a sneak preview of what the URGE music service is going to look like.

Right below my local library is the URGE music service, and it's really kind of that deep integration into the player, working alongside with MTV and the player team to build a great experience.

The first thing you should know is URGE is going to deliver music across genres. They're going to actually deliver hundreds of hand built playlists, over a hundred CD quality radio stations, and the top music you expect. They're going to do that in an environment that is creative and has great design.

When URGE music service launches, they're going to have over two million tracks available for individual song or album purchase or as part of an all you can eat subscription.

And because it's built exclusively in the Windows Media Player, it's going to have those same great tools that you have on your local library now against this 2 million track library. In fact, when I open up the music service it looks a lot like the above library.

I can search by album or artist. Artist is a pretty good way to start. I've been listening to Green Day, I've been talking to Bill a little bit about it backstage. So if I wanted to find Green Day, instantly the results are brought to me, two million songs to the few that are interesting to me.

I could quickly and easily open up my My Playlist, and I could drag these 15 albums over to make an instant playlist and start listening. That's the type of program you can expect from the MTV relationship.

Besides the albums, they're going to really leverage the strong voices that are behind and are in MTV to provide you really great content. In this case, if I go to rock informer, you get some of the strongest voices in the music industry delivering editorial blogging and editorial context and text. In this case I don't only just get the text, I actually get the songs themselves so it's a great integration between the content you're interested in and the music you can listen to, all in a single place.

They're going to actually do that same type of integration with some of their channels. In fact, the MTV channel hub shows a wonderful integration, showcasing new and upcoming artists, superstars, content from some of their channel programming like TRL, VMA, some of their MTV Unplugged, and they're going to build those same type of channel hubs for both VH1 and CMT.

Lastly, why don't we do one more artist search? What's an artist you've been listening to?

VAN TOFFLER: You know, Aaron, I thought you'd never ask. Justin Timberlake.

AARON WOODMAN: Timberlake, all right.

VAN TOFFLER: I hear he has a new album.

AARON WOODMAN: I can quickly find Justin Timberlake and in this case I can actually open up, and not only do I see the albums that I expect when I open up Justin Timberlake's stack, I now actually get some great programming from MTV. My favorite is the auto play mix. When I select that, I get a custom, dynamic playlist built around Justin Timberlake and artists like him. It's a great way to get fresh music.

In fact, I can actually save the feed, meaning that every time I log into the Urge music service or synchronize my device, I get the latest music, meaning that there's no stale music in my experience.

Lastly, why don't we actually take a listen to one of those tracks? (Music.) (Applause.)

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: Well, thanks, hi, how are you doing? This is not my usual stage. (Laughter.) But thank you for having me here tonight. I'm here because I'm the type of artist who is always interested, I'm a consumer basically as well, I'm always interested in the newest and coolest things. And from what I've seen, and you guys showed me earlier, I really think URGE is going to be it. I mean, URGE offers artists like myself a new way to specifically reach our music fans with a ton of options to play, interact and buy music.

And I've got a little secret, I want to let the cat out of the bag; when I release my new album this year, which by the way features Mr. Gates's singing debut, we'll be doing a duet - (laughter) - [singing] "Artistry and technology" - no? (Laughter.) Whatever. URGE and I will be doing - the point is URGE and I will be doing some new and creative things together, so I look forward to it and hope you guys look forward to it, and thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. (Applause.)

VAN TOFFLER: Thank you.

BILL GATES: Great, thanks.

Pretty cool.

One of the special things we've been doing with Windows is creating a tablet version. Now, this fits in with the fact that the growth in PCs was not only fantastic but portable machines are making up a higher and higher percentage. And what we want to do is get this capability, the tablet capability down so it's the mainstream of Tablet PC. We've got dozens of partners building great Tablet PCs, they're getting better and better. In fact, there are some new technologies that are going to make that price premium for this tablet capability very, very small.

Gateway is helping us lead the way with this new CS200. It's a great machine at very much a mainstream portable price.

Part of the way that we're getting this premium down is we're using new digitizers that are called passive, and that means that it will be a simple decision to say, yes, I want to get that tablet capability.

Now, we're investing a lot in this in Windows Vista. The investment is our research group, new ideas of how we adjust automatically to your handwriting style, and so as you use it, it will just get better and better.

We're taking this idea of notetaking, annotating, reading to a whole new level, and we'll have a lot of partnerships around Windows Vista where people are bringing digital content down so that consuming it on the screen instead of on paper starts to be more attractive, that the readability is there and all those rich features that you think about can become available. With OneNote we have a new version of that that will drive this forward and let us do a lot better there. So driving that to the mainstream is something we're very committed to.

New Device Partnerships

Another area of investment for us has, of course, been the Windows Mobile area, and we got into that about three years ago. We've seen a great growth in terms of getting down the learning curve, the breadth of the relationships and depth of the relationships we have. And, in fact, we've got more than a hundred Smart Phones out now with 93 mobile operators in 55 countries.

This year we'll ship more than five million devices, which is a 36 percent year over year increase, and we have some really fantastic stuff coming out this year. In fact, probably right at the top of the list I'd put this new device here. This one you probably heard about, we announced it just a few months ago. It's our partnership with Palm, and Palm does a fantastic job on their devices. Here they were able to take our platform and do a number of unique things that had never been done before. They were able to take and build an ability that they would be able to make it all work with a single-click operation.

So here you can see they made it so you can put the photos in, I can just scroll through those photos, anybody I want to call I just select and I can decide which phone number, how I want to connect up with them, and so this phone is amazing for single hand operation, amazing for nice shortcuts that are built-in, based on the experience they've had, they've brought that to the Windows Mobile platform.

This is on sale starting tomorrow. That's actually ahead of schedule, they got it done, got it approved by Verizon, who's the key partner here, because they're connecting this up to their EVDO broadband service. So the responsiveness of this device getting any sorts of attachment, music, images will be fantastic because of the bandwidth of that device. So a lot of new things that come out here and great to see their work.

We will have more variety of devices coming out this year. One will be a device from Motorola called the Q. We'll have a lot, some of which will bring high resolution cameras in, music capability in, a lot of innovation there.

We also are working with people who do wireless phones in the home, and so this is one that happens to be from Phillips. We've also got a partner Uniden doing something very similar.

This operates, has all the capabilities of that classic in the home wireless phone. You pick it up, you can connect up, make normal phone calls. But they've also built in the ability to do messenger voice over IP calls. And so you just push a button here and, in fact, you get your messenger buddy list. It's completely up to date, I can scroll through here, pick anyone, I can see their presence data and so I can also call through the Internet to any one of my buddies. In fact, this uses what we call the Windows Live Call Services that come through our partner MCI.

So this is a phone that is a very inexpensive phone, but bringing that messenger Live Call Services in along with normal phone calling.

Software and TV

Well, let's now talk about TV. As I said, TV is, of course, a big activity and one that we see software really surprising people with what it can do. The best realization of this is when we have software working on your behalf, creating an individualized video feed to you, to the screen that you're watching.

So what does that mean? That means that the ads can be targeted to you based on the things that you're interested in, and so therefore far more relevant, far more impactful, something that you won't want to skip over as much as one that wouldn't mean anything to you. It means that as you get into a new show, the subjects you care a lot about, you can get more in depth information about those, the subjects you're not interested in you can either easily skip over those or actually have it in advance understand that you don't really care about some sports and you care a lot about others. You might have a ski resort you'd like to see the weather of every time you sit down for your nightly news that you're seeing whenever you want and when you're particularly rushed you just say that and it will condense things, just pick the highlights that are the most important there.

This platform will lead to creativity in doing shows of all types: learning shows, game shows, sport shows with extra information, multiple views.

It's important to note that it completely blows open any of the limitations that channels used to create. We talk about tail video, things like a physics lecture or a high school sports game that never would have made it into that broadcast world now can be sourced in and if it's something you're interested in easy for you to navigate and find. And that's one seamless experience, not your normal TV here and your Internet TV over there, taking that remote control and having that just work that way.

So interactivity, choice, personalization are all things that never were possible before we had this platform.

Now, where are we on this? Well, last year was the year that we did trials, very successful trials, and this is the year that the lead customers - AT&T, Verizon - are rolling out in commercial deployment. Over the course of this year these deployments will really scale up into very large numbers, and that's when you'll really start to see the innovation come in, and people recognize that it blows away the previous video platform, and allows for an opportunity to create lots and lots of new things.

Windows Media Center

Now, as that video comes into the home, it will be received on many different devices. You want to be able to see it anywhere, and on those same screens you want to be able to see your own information, your own photos, select music, all those things brought together on every screen in the house.

And that's where Media Center comes in. Media Center is, of course, the other special version of Windows besides what we've done with the tablet. And this was a pretty unbelievable year for Media Center. When I stood here a year ago, we had about a million and a half copies out; now we have 6.5 million. And we're not stopping there but those are big numbers. Most pieces of software don't ship anywhere near that and we're going to drive that up even further for portable devices, devices anywhere you want to get at media, we think Media Center can add a lot of value.

We've got 130 manufacturers doing that, we're in 33 countries, the U.S. is where we're the furthest along, so some of the additions that we make will make us even stronger on a global basis.

Now, there will be special enhancement, a lot of work that gets done with Media Center as we move into this Vista version.

One of the partnerships that's going to be very important for Media Center is our partnership with Intel on this. Of course, we do a lot of things with Intel. We've benefited from their incredible innovation over the years and we've worked to make sure our software takes full advantage of that.

Centrino is a great example of that. We did lots of portable features and they drove those scenarios to the mainstream. Centrino is a great example of each of us doing what we do well.

You're going to see another great example of this with Vive. I got used to saying it right, it rhymes with "five" and "live," so don't make the mistake if anyone from Intel is around, it's Vive. And you're going to see a lot of information about the kind of breakthrough experience that Intel technology enables here, combined with the Windows Media Center, so that's our strengths coming together. This is things like the 7.1 surround sound, which at the chip level they make that very, very straightforward, the dual-core processor helping out on that.

Now, Intel is our key partner here but we have many others that are doing content that exists in the Media Center environment. You can record, of course, it's fantastic at that, and you have special people, over 150 partners who have designed on our online spotlight new capabilities. And this spans all sorts of video experiences, really giving people a glimpse of those new capabilities. And so we're excited that that's a list that keeps on growing, neat new things that go on there.

We're also partnering up with people who provide video connections. One of this, who's very important here in the United States, is DIRECTV. They've been a leader in a lot of things, and the partnership we're announcing that's new today and a very broad multiyear partnership includes the ability to get that DIRECTV video onto the Windows Media Center PC. We'll also connect up to our portable devices, connect up to Xbox 360, and so these Media Centers will let you enjoy the high definition and normal definition DIRECTV content and take that away on a portable media device, so a lot of flexibility there.

Also we're working with BSkyB, who's sort of a sister company of DIRECTV over in the UK, who's done a lot of innovative stuff there and they'll be setting up through our alliance a video on-demand capability, which is one of the things DIRECTV will be doing, and here that video on-demand will be for Media Center customers both to get things on a two-foot experience and on a ten-foot experience. And they've got over 8 million subscribers in the UK who will be able to do those downloads and use those great capabilities.

The best way to understand this I think is to take a look at some samples of how that works, and it's great to have the vice president who's led the Media Center, Joe Belfiore, here to give you a look at that. So let's welcome Joe to the stage. (Applause.)

JOE BELFIORE: Hello. Thank you. Good evening, hello. It's good to be here. I'm going to take you on a quick, hopefully quick 15-minute tour of Windows Media Center and where it is today, where it's going in the future, and how this Windows platform software can tie together content and services and devices in a very compelling way to deliver fantastic entertainment experiences to consumers.

A quick housekeeping note: For those of you interested, last I heard, at the half, Texas 16, USC 10. (Cheers, applause.)

Let's start out and talk about some of the things that are going on with the Media Center today. And I want to talk about some of our terrific partners and some announcements that we have to make at the show. As many of you know, Media Center is a platform and it enables content providers and software developers to create all kinds of compelling application experiences and services that work with a remote control either on your PC, your Media Center PC, or streaming through extender devices like the Xbox 360.

Today, we're announcing five additional online spotlight applications and services, and the one that I want to demo and show is the Comedy Central Motherload. The idea of the Comedy Central Motherload, think of this as an interactive TV channel. I choose the Comedy Central Motherload from my online spotlight guide, and instantly I start getting streamed content like you see here, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

But it doesn't stop there. Although the experience is programmed, I can use my remote to navigate around and find different types of content that I'm interested in. I might get clips from old Daily Shows if I'm a new fan, I might get previews about what's coming up on the Chapelle Show, I might watch background information about "South Park." I can even dive into the Comedy Central archives and get clips from old shows or get video of new and up and coming comedians. It's a terrific way for content providers like Comedy Central to have a great deep relationship with their viewers and offer a fantastic interactive experience to those viewers in lots of rooms in the house.

With these five additional partners, our total number of online spotlight applications promoted around the world comes to 110 right now, and those are all live and available to anyone in an integrated way in today's Media Center experience.

So that gives you a sense for some of the application experiences. Now, I want to talk a little bit about some hardware innovation. One of the things that's been very interesting about Media Center is the degree to which our OEM PC vendor partners have done cool, interesting hardware, and this year we want to show you a piece of up and coming hardware that we think is cool and interesting. This is a PC from Averatec. It's really small, as you can see, I'll pick it up, pretty lightweight, very quiet, runs Media Center, and in this configuration, of course, you can either set it on your desk like this or it's flexible enough to go into your entertainment system. And this particular model actually has all the remote control capabilities built in and has a tuner.

And Averatec will make these PCs available this spring with a tuner for under a thousand dollars and without a tuner for 499. So we think this is a great example of the continuing innovation that we've seen from PC OEM partners like HP and Sony and Dell and Gateway, building great interesting PC form factors for Media Center.

Of course, the hardware innovation doesn't stop specifically with the PC form factors. Our idea, as Bill said, was to try to create a software experience that a user could enjoy with a remote on their couch or could take with them in a portable form factor.

So I also want to show you another new device that is now becoming available this spring, and it's kind of small so I'm going to walk up here and try to give you a reasonable view of it. This is the Toshiba Gigabeat. There we go, you can kind of see it there.

Now, I actually have small hands, so in my small hands this is a really tiny device. This particular model has a 30 gig hard drive and when playing videos you get about four hours of video playback time on the battery.

And as you can see, it's really little, and one of the cool things about it, of course, as a Media Center guy, if I turn it this way and hit the Windows Start button, you can see that in its up and down mode you get the familiar Media Center user interface, which lets you sync all of your music, all of your pictures, all of your personal videos, broadcast video like my recorded TV shows, and of course videos that I might download or load online from service providers like this one that I have running here.

What this actually is is the movie "Hitch," which we purchased before the show from the newly available, the newly announced Starz Vongo Service. The Starz Vongo Service, and I'm going to take a walk over here while I explain this. The Starz Vongo Service is one of many services that are coming online that let consumers get access to digital content that they can use either on their PC or on a portable device like this Toshiba Gigabeat.

One of the things that's great about it is, it offers a flexible way for users to decide how to pay for their content. They can either buy it, or they can sign up for a subscription for $9.99, and get all the movie downloads that they want. And the Starz Service actually has a lot of movie. Right now it's getting up to about a thousand movie titles, the same great content that you see on the Starz channel through broadcast. So, whether you get your content from broadcast on your Media Center using its tuner and record it, or whether you download it over the Internet, maybe because you don't have a tuner, you still get a great flexible platform that lets you watch it either on a handheld device, or on your big screen. And the devices that we're seeing in terms of the portable devices, are getting more and more interesting and flexible. The Toshiba was compelling because it had such a nice small form factor.

And now I want to show you this one, this is a new LG Electronics Portable Media Center device. The thing that's really cool about this one, of course, is the killer wide screen form factor for watching video. And, again, you see, here I have "The Aviator" from the Vongo service playing back on my LG Portable Media Center device. And, of course, if I push the friendly green button, I get my consistent familiar experience with access to all my personal content, again, whether I've created it myself, downloaded it from the Internet, or recorded it straight from broadcast TV, a huge wealth of available stuff.

Windows Live

So, that gives you a couple of examples of portable devices, and hardware, and how the hardware industry is starting to do some more great things overtime with this Windows platform. And now, I want to change gears a little bit and talk about how services can further make the user experience related to entertainment and discovery of content even better. So, imagine now that I'm at work, or I'm on the road with my laptop, and I'm accessing the Windows Live using my Web browser wherever I am. What we're looking at here is the, a beta of the Windows Live home page. And the idea in general is that I can customize this with all kinds of different software services.

And what we've done here is precustomized it with a TV service for Windows Live. So what you see here is, this shows me what's happening on my Media Center PC, the shows that I have scheduled, recordings I've already made. Down here, I can get a program guide of content that's available for me to choose to record. And up here is one of the new things our team is working on, a recommendation service that helps you find shows that you might like to watch.

If I click on that, immediately you see it's a service offering me a bunch of choices that might be things I like simply based on what I've already been watching, and what I've already been recording. Now, if I provide the service with more information, like I don't really like reality shows, and I love medical drama, then the service gets a lot smarter about what it can recommend to me. So, here you see, it gives me a recommendation for "Gray's Anatomy." When I move my mouse over that, the service detects that "Gray's Anatomy" is the name of the TV show, and offers me information about when that show is available in my broadcast lineup, and gives me the opportunity to choose to record it right then and there. So, that gives you a sense of some of the service work we're doing that will come online a little later this year.

What I want to show you to expand your thinking on this is how the service can offer lots of different ways of interacting that fit with the personality and care of the particular user who is using it. So, switching over to the beta, a beta of Windows Live Messenger, you can see I have my buddies in here. One of the buddies that I have is a TV service. So, think of this as me interacting with a smart agent that's part of the TV service that I signed up for. So, here I am, and if I'm like some of the people in my family, addicted to instant messaging, then this is an incredibly comfortable and natural way for me to communicate with the service. So, I'll say hello, and it looks like our service might be offline, the risk of Internet based demos. So, I will close that and give it one more try. Let's see, okay, TV service are you there? Hello. Here we go.

Hi, Joe, would you like some help figuring what to watch. The TV service is inviting me to start a TV service activity. This idea of activities is new to the Windows Live Messenger, and when I click accept you can see over here it presents me with a bunch of interactivity. The service says, these are the shows your friends like. That's kind of an interesting thing. Immediately the idea of community becomes something that's factored in and the service can use to do a better job of helping me find things that I like. It knows who my buddies are because I've signed up with buddies, and as Bill described, if I choose to share information about my preferences, and what I like, then that could be used to make everyone's experiences better. So, these are shows that my buddies like. I can just move over there and choose one of those to record.

That's not what I want to do, how about what's on tonight? So the TV service is finding out what's on tonight, it switches over to a grid based guide, only reminding me that I'm here with you instead of watching the Rose Bowl, that's OK, because that's not actually what I want to be doing. How about showing SciFi. I like SciFi. OK, well, here's what's on in SciFi tonight. It further filters the list to show me that. And even better it says, I have a strong recommendation for you and a trailer to watch, cool. The trailer is for "Battlestar Gallactica," would you like to watch the trailer? Yes. Show me the trailer.

And instantly, the service can find promotional material, trailers, background information on content I might be interested, and it starts streaming it to me directly so that I get better information up. It says, if you like this trailer, would like to record it let me know. OK, record it. It finds my Media Center PC, sets up the recording, and now in the future I'll have this show available to watch when it's convenient for me.

So, you get a sense of how the service, both by having a lot of data on the back end, and knowing things about me, can do a good job of recommending things that I might be interested in watching.

OK, we're going to change gears now a little bit, and I want to talk about some future things that are happening with Media Center in terms of great content, and content experiences that are coming. So, I'm going to move over here, and I'm going to talk for a minute about high-definition DVDs first. High-definition DVD is coming online this year, and the first thing that I want to show related to this, this device right here is a Toshiba HD-DVD player, and this device will actually be available this March for $499 as a device that consumers can get to start watching HD-DVD disks. It's a straight-forward player device, as you would imagine, available really soon. What I want to demo is the HD-DVD playback capabilities as a user might get benefit out of interactivity and compelling content running on a WindowsVista Media Center PC.

So, let's switch over and start taking a look at HD-DVD on a Windows Vista Media Center PC. Now, the first thing that you think about when you think about HD-DVD is incredibly great looking high definition content. Well, we've got that. And as you'll see in this movie from Universal, "The Bourne Supremacy," the video content looks fantastic. And this is a great way for consumers to get access to it.

What I want to spend some time talking about, which I suspect many of you have not seen, is how the interactivity capabilities of HD-DVD can really change the viewing experience for consumers who use HD-DVDs. So, you'll see the movie has started here, and now I'm going to start interacting with it in some ways which I can with standard DVDs, and some ways that are new. And I want you to see how much more fluid and immersive the environment stays while you're watching the movie.

So, the first thing we'll do, we'll jump in, and let's say I want to jump to some other scene. I can choose scenes, and I'm not taken out of the movie experience. I can browse around and see what's available. We'll jump to chapter three, and you can see we've jumped there, and now we're back to watching the movie. And the other thing that happens to me a lot when I watch movies, I'm watching this movie, it's rented, and I see someone in the movie, and I could swear I recognize this actor or actress, but I have no idea who they are or what they've been in. With HD-DVD's interactivity layer I can go to the features area and it immediately shows you recent actors. This is smart enough to show you, in order, the actors that are in the scenes you're watching. So here I'm watching the scene and I see this woman, I think I've seen her before, silly as that, click a button, it's Franka Potente. Done.

I now have the answer to my question, I didn't have to leave the immersive experience of my movie. So I find out more about her, I can click, get her bio, and what I really want to know is what other movies she's in. There we go, I now get the answer to my question, staying in my immersive environment, and if you imagine a family setting, everyone isn't angry at me, because I stopped the movie to figure out what other stuff this person is in. Another great thing about HD-DVD is these players can be aware of the Internet and make sure this content is updated, so you really get a fantastic experience related to this interactivity.

OK. Let's look at another example. Another thing that I like to do, a great feature of today's DVDs is being able to get extras like commentary. Although, today when you get a commentary you get a faceless voice talking to you about what's going on. Well, with the interactivity layer of HD-DVDs you get a much better experience. So here I've asked for producer commentary, and in this case, in our prototype, you can see the producer sitting here talking to me about what they intended to do in the movie. Now imagine the possibilities, imagine if this person could actually be walking around and pointing things out that are happening in the movie, or showing me props, models and things that were used to create the special effects. Suddenly my ability to get extra value through the movie is greatly enhanced by the power of the interactivity capability.

The last thing I want to show here that I'm excited about in HD-DVD, is a feature that is part of every HD-DVD, which is that it enables digitally legal copies to be stored on the hard drive of a device like a PC. In this case I can go to the menu, choose manage copies, there are offers that are available here from Universal, in this case I'm going to choose to copy the high definition movie, rather than the full disk image, and you can see here a user interface has popped up that enables me to complete this, the high definition movie is being copied to my hard drive, and now I can put the shiny disk away somewhere safe, and have complete access to my movie library in a compelling, exciting way, as I get more and more of these high-def HD-DVDs.

So that gives you the sense for some of the things that we're excited about in terms of the consumer experience around this particular type of high definition content. And now what I want to do is switch over and talk to you about a feature that's coming in the Windows Vista Media Center, and give you a quick demo of it, one that I'm very excited about, and that is Media Center's ability to receive digital cable natively.

So what I have here in my hand is a device from Dell. This is a digital cable receiver. And you see here, let me show you how this works, on the back I have a spot where I connect my cable, pretty straightforward, and on the front I have a spot where I slide in the cable card. And this cable card is courtesy of Cox Cable here in Las Vegas. I connect to my PC. In this particular case I could connect it to a laptop or a desktop. We're super excited about this, because the benefits that it will bring to consumers are very compelling. Today, with a Windows Media Center PC, you have an analog connection or you can receive HD over the air. And what that means is that you're missing out on some of the really terrific content that your digital cable, your cable company is offering today.

You can't get high-def simply by plugging a cable in. You can't get great stuff like ESPN HD, or Discovery HD, and you can't get premium, or pay services like Showtime HD, or HBO HD. With Media Center, and it's digital cable ready capabilities all of that will change. A consumer can buy a digital cable-ready PC, attach the cable, slide in the access card, and now they have access really to the most compelling and broadest set of terrific content, from standard definition to high definition, even in its premium form.

So we're thrilled to have worked with the cable industry in the U.S. to have reached an agreement. We're excited to announce that that will be a part of Windows Vista this fall, and I'm going to give you a look at what that actually looks like. So let's switch over to Windows Vista Media Center and take a look.

So here you can see, pretty straightforward, I've used my Windows Vista Media Center to choose the Starz Channel, and I've made a recording of "The Aviator" on Starz, and here we are watching high-definition, premium content that has never left the digital form, it's stored on my PC hard drive, and it's available for me to watch either through my PC itself, or streaming through an extender like the Xbox 360 in another room in the house, also a high definition capable device.

So that's something that we're very excited about. Now, I'm going to wrap up by giving you a look at the newly revised user interface to the Windows Vista Media Center Edition. Here we're pressed the start menu, and you can see I'm still watching my high def movie in the background there. As I move through it should look pretty familiar. We've tried to enhance it so that not only do you have quick access to very common tasks, but we really wanted to take advantage of wide screen, high definition displays in an incredibly compelling way.

So let's take a look at well take my music library as an example. If we go into the music library, what you'll see here, keeping in line with what you saw earlier in Windows Media Player we can handle incredibly large libraries very well, both because of our user interface design, but also because of the performance work we've done. What you're looking at here is a library of over 10,000 songs with a few styles and albums. You can see how quickly and smoothly I can scroll through it, and how much more content I get visible on my wide screen display.

In addition, taking advantage of Windows Vista's deep and powerful capabilities for searching and querying to give you lots of great views on their content. I can look at albums by artist, which is a compelling view, and one that we hear a lot of people asking for is being able to view my albums by year. If I want to go back in my collection to find all that great '80s stuff, I know where to scroll back and look for it. We think that the PC is a terrific device for creating these kinds of views, and don't forget, of course, all of this remotes through the Xbox 360, and can be available in any room of your house through its extender capabilities.

The last thing that I want to show, we'll go down here and take a look at the movie library. This will give you a sense of how this user interface design change applies not just to music, but will also apply to photos, and does to movies, as well, in a compelling way. Here are the movie libraries showing me everything that I have available right now, whether it's because I have a DVD changer hooked up, or in this case, with "The Bourne Supremacy," because I've done a digitally legal copy onto the hard drive on my PC, there is the movie we were watching a minute before, and if I wanted to click it, I could jump right in and be watching it again.

Xbox 360

So that gives you a quick look at some of the things that are happening today with Media Center, and some of the places that we're going in terms of trying to really bring together some of the world's best and broadest set of content into the PC, get it delivered on a wide range of really compelling companion devices, and make that experience compelling and great for the user. The one device that I actually haven't spent that much time talking about, although I've spent an awful lot of time using lately, is the Xbox 360. So to pick it up from where I've left off, I'm happy to introduce Peter Moore, who leads out Xbox and gaming for Windows businesses to come out and talk to you a little bit about the Xbox 360 and what's happening with that.

Thanks. Good night.

(Video segment.)

PETER MOORE: Good evening. So let me get this out of the way: USC 17, Texas 16. (Cheers.)

All right, let's focus on some important things here.

So it's five years ago today right on this very stage that we used CES to unveil Xbox, challenging the conventional wisdom we got in the future of what console gaming was about. Xbox as we all know is now a success story in more than 22 million homes worldwide. We envision with Xbox a community connected through Xbox Live, the first and only unified online gaming service. Xbox Live is now a movement of more than 2 million members that grows and diversifies each day. We believed that Halo would be a great franchise. Well, not only is it a great franchise but Halo 2 recorded the greatest day in retail entertainment history with $125 million in sales in one day.

And we built partnerships to create an incredibly diverse portfolio of high quality games that will number 800 by the end of this year.

In the Xbox generation we were the thought leader.

Let's fast-forward to Xbox 360. We're quickly moving from thought leadership to market leadership. And tonight I'm pleased to announce that Xbox 360 achieved an unprecedented global launch for the world of videogame consoles. In the first 90 days we will have launched Xbox 360 in nearly 30 countries, and Xbox 360 is on track to ship between 4.5 and 5.5 million consoles by the end of June.

Xbox 360 has a stunning attach rate of four games per console, and an accessory level and attach rate of three per console, both of which are nearly double the previous record.

Now, it's no secret to anybody in this room that our biggest challenge has been meeting the high consumer demand for the console. We are working to deliver consoles as quickly as we can manufacture them. To further bolster our capacity for output, I'm happy to announce that next month Selectica will join both Flextronics and Wistron as our third manufacturing partner. We need to meet the consumer demand worldwide and having this ability now to do that with three manufacturing partners helps us do that.

Xbox Live continues to lead the way in defining online entertainment for this global audience that we're delivering. Xbox Live is regarded as the standard by which all over online game services are measured. It's a seamlessly integrated world through the entire Xbox 360, and players are instantly connected to a vibrant online community the moment they power on the system.

Now, on Xbox 10 percent of customers connected their box to the Internet, on Xbox 360 more than 50 percent of all consoles worldwide are now connected to Xbox Live.

And Xbox Live doesn't only connect people around the world via games and entertainment, it also offers access to high definition content. Xbox Live marketplace is a one-stop digital download center where you can access high definition games, music, movie content from our leading industry partners.

Using our free Silver level of service, all Xbox Live players can connect to the Xbox Live marketplace.

As evidence of this, tonight I'm pleased to announce that in just four weeks since the launch of Xbox 360, more than 4 million Xbox Live marketplace downloads have enhanced the games and entertainment experiences of Xbox 360 owners around the world.

With numbers like that, Xbox Live is a proven form of mainstream entertainment. In fact, on a share basis, the 18 to 34 male demographic that we deliver through Xbox Live is comparable to network programs such as "CSI" or "The Office," and that fact and the popularity of Xbox Live has not gone unnoticed. Movie studios and record labels like 20th Century Fox and Epic Records have recently released movie and music video content on Xbox Live marketplace, and just two weeks ago Paramount Pictures chose Xbox 360 to world premiere the "Mission Impossible 3" trailer on Xbox Live marketplace, spotlighted right there on today's Xbox Live marketplace blade.

Now, digital distribution of content isn't limited to just music and video content. Watch out for Xbox Live arcade, where hundreds of thousands of people are downloading and playing casual, classic, puzzle and new action pack games like Joust or Geometry Wars or Hearts.

By March, we'll be proud to announce that more than 20 games will be available through Xbox Live Arcade, games like Streetfighter 2 from Capcom, games like Texas Hold 'Em and Marble Blast Ultra. Texas Hold 'Em will be the first fully sponsored game on Xbox Live Arcade, sponsored by our partners at (River Vail ?).

Xbox Live marketplace and Xbox Live Arcade are proof positive that high definition content delivery via the Internet is real and it's happening right now.

We're on the verge of an explosion in the kinds of high definition content available. Similarly, we're seeing a revolution in the way consumers can access all of that high def content, download it from the Internet, streaming over the whole network and, of course, high def optical disks.

Five years ago, we envisioned the future would include the convergence of high definition movies, things like games and photos, movies and, of course, television. Today, Xbox 360 is delivering on that vision.

Tonight, I'm proud to announce that later this year we will be launching an Xbox 360 external HD DVD drive. Soon millions of Xbox 360 owners can pop in an HD DVD disk and enjoy high definition movie playback.

In fact, Xbox 360 is the killer app for HDTV adoption. It's driving HDTV monitor sales. A recent study concluded that 9 out of 10 Xbox 360 owners have either purchased or intend to purchase an HDTV in the next six months. And 90 percent of them say that it was Xbox 360 that is the primary reason for making that purchase, 90 percent of them say it's about Xbox 360.

But exciting as all of this is, Xbox 360 continues to be about great games. It's my pleasure to announce that by June of this year Xbox 360 will have 50 high definition games from the best names in publishing, including 2K Games, Capcom, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft.

So without further ado, let's get it on by demonstrating the heavyweight power of Xbox 360 games pipeline. The upcoming blockbuster, EA Sports Fight Night Round 3 is the undisputed champion of boxing videogames. Now, for a game of this quality we need some world class fighters. And since we're in Las Vegas, we really need to do this right. So please welcome Al Bernstein, the host of one of the greatest boxing shows on television, both ESPN and Showtime, and a commentator of the World's Greatest Respect for the past 25 years. Please welcome Al Bernstein. (Applause.)

AL BERNSTEIN: Well, thank you very, very much. I am delighted to be here this evening. Ironically, just about two weeks ago, I was in New York shooting a whole sequence of shows that had to do with the Ali-Frasier trilogy and interestingly I'm going to get to participate in that very fight and those very fighters here that EA Sports has provided. And trust me, what I viewed in New York and what you're going to see is just as realistic, that's for sure.

Now, I've announced a lot of fighters in my day, but none exactly like the two that I'm going to talk about right now. First of all, in this corner, playing the role of Mohammed Ali, he floats like an MSN butterfly and he stings like a bee, let's welcome back a true heavyweight, Bill Gates. (Applause.) Can't wait to see your style, Bill.

And they're going to be playing this game.

Now, in this corner, playing the role of Joe Frasier, he's the sultan of security, and he's the prince of productivity, the Motor City hit man, Steve Ballmer. (Applause.)

STEVE BALLMER: Yeah, baby!

AL BERNSTEIN: Oh, wow, we've got some fisticuffs already happening, look out here.

All right, you guys are fired up here, I can feel this, I can feel it.

STEVE BALLMER: You've got it, you've got it. C'mon, Bill, 30 years I've been training for this opportunity. (Laughter.)

BILL GATES: You've got the weight on me, I give you that. (Laughter.)

STEVE BALLMER: Heavyweight division!

AL BERNSTEIN: Can we have a heavyweight against a middleweight, is that possible?

STEVE BALLMER: He could be a lightweight with all this weight he's been losing.

AL BERNSTEIN: Oh, ooh, a lot of trash-talking up here.

All right, trash-talking aside, we've had enough of that, guys. I want a clean fight, I want you to touch your controllers and come out boxing. Here we go.

Mohammed Ali and Joe Frasier, this is the kind of rivalry that you see on EA Sports Fight Night Round 3 and Mohammed Ali starting out very, very quickly in this match, using the jab, and keeping Joe Frasier at bay.

This is exactly the kind of action that is so realistic and makes fight announcers like me feel like I'm calling exactly a real fight. Great hand speed by Mohammed Ali. And this is where you see in this game - oh, Joe is punching with some good left hooks as well.

STEVE BALLMER: Yeah, baby!

AL BERNSTEIN: Joe is getting some hooks in there, but as you see, the power of Mohammed Ali starting to take effect, and in this game you can see Joe Frasier slowing down, one of the great features of this game. And Mohammed Ali taunting, as always. Big power punch by Ali. Frasier is slow but as in real life, even this can't stop Joe Frasier, because even being tired he will come on against Mohammed Ali. And look at him, the man knows left hooks.

Steve, you've got the control, except Mohammed Ali's hand speed makes a big difference.

Just the kind of action that you get here with all these great rivalries. Frasier and some huge trouble from the right hand. Did you say lightweight, and Joe Frasier in all kinds of trouble, now getting pelted by Mohammed Ali. Like real life and down goes Frasier. Didn't somebody say that once before? It could be over. He's throwing in his controller.

Ladies and gentlemen, watch these replays, they are so realistic that it's unreal.

Fight Night Round 3 showing you the realism and great work of this game, and it's so much fun to play.

And the champion, Mr. Bill Gates. (Cheers, applause.)

PETER MOORE: Don't throw your controllers at home, please, thank you. (Laughter.)

STEVE BALLMER: You get the heck beat out of you and you throw your controller.

PETER MOORE: Thank you. Well, the sweet science has never looked so good. Well, thank you, gentlemen.

EA's Fight Night Round 3 coming to Xbox 360 on February the 14th, and following tonight's speech, very important, those of you connected to Xbox Live will be immediately able to download that demo directly from Xbox Live marketplace, a playable demo, free for everyone to download and play.

So Xbox 360, as you see I think, is the future of games and entertainment, a system that enables breakthrough digital entertainment experiences, all fueled by a combination of powerful hardware, innovative software, and groundbreaking global services. The HD era has begun and the Xbox 360 is leading the way.

Thank you very much and thank you to the fighters. (Applause.)

2006: The Digital Lifestyle

BILL GATES: All right, good job.

All right, well, we've seen a lot tonight, and I think what it says is that 2006 is going to be a big year for digital lifestyle. There's a few themes that I think really stand out here. One is high definition, Xbox 360 driving high definition, the content partners, Media Center now going to be easily connected up to the sources of high definition, movies going to be much more available there, the screens really catching on, coming down in price, so that's a very, very big thing.

Second I'd say is partners, partners of all kinds, the partners who build the amazing hardware you saw here tonight, the partners who do traditional content now coming in and seeing the opportunity for interactivity, even people who think about advertising are now partners because this platform will let them do new and different things. The software industry is stepping up and doing software that uses the Internet in new ways, reaches out to users, create communities, works across devices, and us building a platform to make that easy for those people to do.

Another theme is that this all has to work across these devices, whether it's calling people, seeing their presence, knowing what they're interested in, making it easy for them to navigate; it's got to be user centric, and that's a big theme that's going to make these things a lot simpler.

Software is providing power, but software has got to provide simplicity. And that's why our investment levels are going up, investments in the toughest problems: security, privacy, speech recognition, video recognition, and all of those things will fold into this platform. The magic of the work that people like Intel does allows us to be more and more ambitious with that software.

And so even though this year is going to be amazing, you'll see acceleration in the future as the power of these systems, the natural ease of use gets better and better with that software centricity. So we're all going to have a lot of fun, a lot of productivity using these systems.

Thank you. (Applause.)

43. He's the voice for the dead - Lt-Col Tan Peng Hui is Singapore's only dental forensic expert. - By Andre Yeo - The Electric News (Singapore) - January 12, 2006
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Among the cases he's worked on are the SilkAir crash in Indonesia, the tsunami disaster and the body parts murders of Chinese national Liu Hong Mei and Filipino maid Jane Parangan La Puebla

WHEN Lieutenant-Colonel (Dr) Tan Peng Hui was a kid, he was interested in reading detective novels.

He said: 'I was interested in the techniques they used to solve crimes and how one clue could lead to the killer.'

That sparked his interest in this unusual field. His job now: To identify victims whose bodies have been torn to pieces, heavily decomposed or had been burnt beyond recognition.

It's the kind of expertise needed if a bomb kills people here.

Dr Tan, of the Ministry of Defence, is the only dental forensic expert here.

He has been involved in investigations of major disasters in the region. Like the SilkAir flight MI-185 which crashed into the Musi River in Indonesia in 1997 and the tsunami which hit Asia in December 2004.

And he was involved in the body parts murder probe at the Kallang River and in Orchard Road, last year.

The body parts of Chinese national Liu Hong Mei, 22, were found along the Kallang River and at a Tuas incinerator plant in June.

And in the Orchard Road case, Filipina Guen Garlejo Aguilar was charged with murdering Filipino maid Jane Parangan La Puebla.

Her severed head, arms and legs were discovered in red plastic bags at Orchard MRT station last September.

In all these cases, it was Dr Tan's job to identify the victims.

Dr Tan, who graduated from NUS in 1987 with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery, said: 'Whether it's a plane crash, terrorist attack or natural disaster, the challenges are the same. There will be missing limbs, heads and body parts.

'Every body part we find will be given a number and each will be treated as a different body. We will assume they came from different bodies.'

In the case of a suicide bombing, he said, body parts found could also belong to the attacker and can help in identifying the bomber.

Dr Tan, who obtained his graduate diploma in forensic odontology (teeth) in 1993 in Australia, said there are three main methods for identification - fingerprints, dental records and DNA.

Fingerprints are the most common. They are most vulnerable as soft tissues are involved. When exposed to the weather they can be compromised.

The other problem is that Singaporeans only have their right thumbprints on their IC.

In the SilkAir crash, many left palms were found which made identification more difficult.

Then come dental records.

As teeth are harder than tissues, they will be better protected. They are also more durable, making them a better way of identifying victims.

The limitation, Dr Tan said, is that it is not uncommon for dentists to chart their records wrongly which may result in wrong information to investigators.

But the biggest problem is if the victim has not seen a dentist, and there are no records to compare with.

Teeth can also become fragile in an explosion. Said Dr Tan: 'Teeth that are incinerated can still survive. Officers must not touch them because they will crumble before your eyes. We need to spray super glue over the teeth to preserve and stabilise them before removing them.'

For heavily decomposed bodies or where just the skulls remain, facial reconstruction may be carried out.

The 21 main points of a victim's face are identified and 'flesh' or plasticine is applied to form the facial features.

A facial superimposition can also be done where the X-ray of the skull is superimposed over his photograph. But this presents other problems.

First, the photo must be life-sized. Then, when investigators have an idea who the victim is they will then approach the family for his photo.

The difficult part is blowing the photo up to make it life-size as it involves complicated calculations.

Once done, they will be able to compare the picture of the victim with his X-ray.

But DNA is the best bet, he said.

'We have reached the stage where even though you have little DNA, you can magnify it. It's expensive and slower as it can take up to five days to identify a victim.'

Although he has never been involved in a bomb blast investigation, Dr Tan feels he and his team are ready for that challenge if it ever presents itself.

He said: 'With our existing forensic techniques, we are confident of handling a disaster.' So far, his most demanding case has been the tsunami in Thailand. Then he saw several hundred bodies a day compared to just a few here in a year.

With that disaster and the two high-profile body parts murders among others, Dr Tan said: 'I did more forensic work in 12 months than I ever did in the last 12 years.'