Stories by Mathew Schwartz

Web data: Cached or current?

For all of its virtual connotations, the Internet depends entirely upon its physical infrastructure to move information around. And the physical distance from server to end user leaves plenty of time for information, in the form of packets, to get lost, resulting in e-mails that never arrive, Web pages that load incompletely and streaming audio or video that pops, flickers or just dies. So getting files closer to end users can improve performance.

Microsoft releases update for Windows 2000

Microsoft on Wednesday released Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2). It is the first Windows platform to ship internationally with 128-bit encryption and includes myriad bug fixes, directory services fixes, application compatibility updates and security patches.

To trap a thief

If you want to break into a house, why spend time prying open the front door if the back door is wide open? Same goes when breaking into computer networks. Most networks and servers are set up with configuration errors that are well known to hackers, who can download free tools that will scan many different networks looking for those easy-open entry points. No genius-level code manipulation or high IQ is needed.

Trust but verify

Firewalls are guard dogs in a box, designed to resist brute-force attacks, foil hackers and generally police everything going in and out of networks. It's hard not to rely on them. But it's also easy to overestimate their importance in any enterprise security arsenal.

What do you know?

As the data pile builds in large organisations, new information search technology must burrow faster to use it or lose it

Handspring Launches Combined PDA, Cell Phone

If the person seated next to you on the bus tomorrow morning starts carrying on a conversation with his personal digital assistant (PDA), don't panic - he might be talking on a cell phone. This week, Handspring Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., released VisorPhone, a cellular phone that plugs into its Visor PDAs.

HandSpring Launches VisorPhone

If the person seated next to you on the bus tomorrow morning starts carrying on a conversation with his personal digital assistant (PDA), don't panic -- he might really be talking on a cell phone.

Know Who You Know

Last summer, a researcher asked the head of a small San Francisco media company - let's call him Gary - a simple question: "Who are all the people in your office space, and why are they here?"

Intercepting Messages

Everyone in Congress seems to be proposing new legislation for Carnivore, the FBI's black-box system for wiretapping - with a court order - the communications of a suspect in a criminal case through that person's Internet service provider.

Bluefly.com Might Be in Tailspin

Online retailer Bluefly.com posted substantial revenue increases but has announced that it is low on cash and might look for buyers.

Compaq, Seagate sued over disk drive technology

Convolve, a New York-based maker of patented motion control technology and MIT filed a lawsuit last week seeking $800 million in damages against Compaq and Seagate Technology. The plaintiffs are accusing the companies of patent infringement on their disk drive technology.

Technology: XHTML

Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) is a transition language that combines HTML and XML. Designed to replace HTML Version 4.0, XHTML is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium. XHTML Version 1.0, also known as HTML 4.01, is a reformulation of HTML 4.0 as an XML 1.0 application.

More Than a Game

It's the battle for delivering new types of paid content to consumers. On one side of the ring: PCs, WebTV, inexpensive Web-surfing appliances and many companies trying to decide how and when television and the Internet will "converge." On the other side: Sony, and a machine ostensibly built to play games.

Cheap Shots

The drive to get Internet tools for free isn't derived from some evolved sense of household budgeting; it's innate. "It is part of our animal instinct," says Timothy Hoffman, a psychotherapist and the director of Ambrosian Associates in Pastoral Counseling in Spencer, Massachusetts.

MIT Gets Funds for 'Human-Centered Computing'

At a press conference here Wednesday, MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) announced that its Project Oxygen -- an ambitious human-centered computing project -- will be getting a financial and research boost from six technology vendors.