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.....technobabble .....for the week of March 12, 2001

.....technobabble.....one of the hottest emerging technologies today is the wireless local area network (wireless LAN or WLAN). Numerous technologies are competing for a share of the market, with the IEEE 802.11 family of standards probably the most popular for PCs. Other technologies such as Bluetooth (now under the auspices of IEEE 802.15) focus on short-range "personal area networking" for hand-held devices such as palmtops and cellular phones. One of the biggest issues with wireless networks is that there is only a limited amount of radio frequency bandwidth available for various products to use. Limited bandwidth means limited transfer rates, so various industry groups are often found fighting over existing bandwidth, and arguing for increased allocations from the Federal Communications Commission here in the USA. It was reported this week that the FCC may change some of its rules to allow for increased performance in wireless networking; this is great, because one should recall that many of the FCC regulations were put in place before wireless networking became popular. The changes may allow the speed of IEEE 802.11b devices to double from 11 Mbits/s to 22 Mbits/s.....

.....it seems that every week in this column I have something to say about the sad state of the Internet economy, and I think that maybe that will be enough for a while an perhaps things will settle down a bit. And then the next week comes and it gets worse! :^) There was another sell-off of high-tech issues this past week, partially sparked by more earnings warnings and layoff announcements from big tech companies, including Intel and Cisco. Mighty Yahoo!, once the darling of the dot-com world, dragged down the NASDAQ when it announced poor results, and that it was searching for a replacement for its CEO. Believe me, I hate having to report this stuff every week, especially considering the business I am in, but at the same time, I think it's important to keep abreast of what's happening.....

.....speaking of the state of the economy, here's a related article, which assessing the bursting of the Internet bubble in a retrospective that you may find interesting to read. My only comment is that I was only surprised at how fast the bubble burst and how far it has come down since.....

.....at the same time that bad news pours in about the state of the present, every week we see a new and fascinating glimpse of the future from researchers who are breaking new ground in the world of technology. This week I happened upon an amazing article about the state of nanotechnology research. Researchers are creating transistors whose sizes can be measured in atoms, and a team in Japan is said to be "months away" from developing a single-electron tunneling transistor that can function at room temperature. To understand just how amazing this is, consider how incredibly small the circuit features are on a current microprocessor: less than one micron (one millionth of an inch) between transistors. Now, shrink this down by a factor of 1,000! Don't expect to find this in your PC for many years, but it's very cool to see the early stages of what could be the next processing revolution. (Of course, many new technologies with a great deal of promise never actually pan out--there's a lot of road to be traveled yet.....)

.....snow totals from Southern Vermont this week: 38". Yikes. I now have snow banks approaching 8' in height. Should be a fun mud season. :^) If you're curious as to what it looks like around these parts, here's a nice shot of my front yard. Oh, and that's from before the last 10" on Friday! Note the errant chipmunk tracks. ;^) Here's a picture of my wood pile. For perspective, note that the top of the woodpile is 6.5' off the ground, and there's an extra 10" of snow on it now.....

.....wow! It seems that Canadian officials may have decided that "enough's enough" when it comes to the perceived annoyance by many of cellular phones ringing in public places. Industry Canada has decided to start public discussions about legalizing the use of jamming technology, which could allow companies to block the use of cell phones in certain places. I am sure I would surprise nobody in telling you that this idea is meeting with far less than enthusiasm on the part of the cellular phone industry.....

.....as the PC market continues to soften, prices are coming down just about everywhere. Great news for consumers, even if not so great for hardware producers and sellers. This week saw Intel slashing prices on its CPUs, and the price of DRAM chips continuing to drop as well. I expect this trend to continue, which is both great news and bad news, depending on one's perspective. This article summarizes recent trends in the PC industry..... :^)

.....that's it this time. See something you liked? Disliked? Give me your feedback, please!

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