Originally created 09/22/03

Techbits



INTERCOURSE, Pa. -- The front of an Amish buggy may seem an unlikely place to find state-of-the-art innovation.

But one company is using light-emitting diode, or LED, technology to create a light that lasts about 16 longer than traditional incandescent headlights.

Incandescent lights only last six to eight hours, requiring frequent battery recharging. The LED lights can go about 100 hours between charges.

Because there's less chance the lights will lose power after dark, they are also safer, said Elam S. Beiler, an Amishman and co-owner of SunLine Solar Inc.

The breakthrough came last year, when Lumileds Lighting LLC of San Jose, Calif., introduced the Luxeon V, which boasts a fivefold increase in brightness over existing LED lamps.

By bundling eight of the quarter-sized light cells inside a rectangular casing, Beiler created the next generation of buggy headlight.

Pennsylvania law requires horse-drawn buggies to carry a pair of headlamps if used at night or in low-visibility areas.

Despite their use of horse-powered transportation, their ban on television and their preference for a style of wide-brimmed hat that dates to the 16th century, the Amish do not prohibit the use of modern technology per se.

In just six months, SunLine has sold about 1,000 pairs of the $125 headlights, and several thousand sets of its $100-a-pair LED taillights.

-Mark Scolforo, AP Writer.

NEW YORK -- The leading developer of software for scrambling sensitive information sent through e-mail is trying to get Internet users to take privacy more seriously by automating many of the required steps.

Though Pretty Good Privacy software has been available for more than a decade, few people use it to keep passwords and credit card numbers from potential snoops.

Sending e-mail using PGP has been cumbersome. Users must create encryption keys and persuade recipients to create and distribute them.

"It's too scary for people," said Andrew Krcik, vice president of marketing for PGP Corp.

This week, the company announced a new product, PGP Universal, which streamlines the process.

The software will automatically create and store a key for you if you don't already have one.

Your friend doesn't have a key? The software takes care of that as well, offering your friend a secure Web site for picking up PGP mail.

"PGP Universal reduces the need to rely on users to comply with security policy," said Don Michniuk, corporate manager of information security at Bechtel Corp., which is testing the product.

Prices start at $3,500. The product is aimed at corporations, governments and other institutions and won't protect e-mail from bosses and others within the network. For that, you'd need the regular PGP products for the desktop.

-Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press.

NEW YORK -- Linux advocates tout the computer operating system as a smart choice for penny-pinching corporations. It's freely shared, lowering the cost of hardware that runs it.

But researchers at Gartner Inc. caution that a free operating system does not always add up to lower computing bills.

Gartner says that while Linux is a wise choice for some central computer servers, businesses might be better off keeping Windows from Microsoft Corp. on their workers' desktop machines.

The reason? Servers are often dedicated to performing a single function, but office PCs to do a lot of things, including running custom, Windows-based applications. Those applications have to be rewritten, a potentially costly endeavor, if a business switches to Linux desktop PCs.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver said many businesses are better off merely upgrading to newer editions of Windows, which tend to be more stable and crash less - qualities Linux boasts as well.

Companies should opt for Linux mainly on desktops used for limited functions, like data entry or a bank teller's platform, Silver said.

For now, Linux is used in a small percentage of desktop computers worldwide - Silver puts it in the "low single digits." But Gartner sees good potential for growth in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, where Microsoft's inroads are not as deep.

-Brian Bergstein, Associated Press.

GENEVA -- International negotiations have begun on how and whether to manage the Internet, along with associated problems such as junk e-mail and pornography.

Organizers said a two-week meeting, which began this week, aims to narrow differences among countries ahead of the World Summit on the Information Society in mid-December.

The summit, organized by the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union, seeks common policy on using information technology to create greater prosperity.

The current plan includes protecting minors from harmful content and assuring confidentiality of personal information, while addressing unsolicited e-mail, known as spam.

Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, a communications professor from Denmark's Aarhus University, said many users are concerned that governments will impose regulations that will stifle freedom of the Internet.

Kleinwaechter, one of the meeting's "civil society" representatives, said controls should stem from the users, not governments.

-Alexander G. Higgins, AP Writer.

DALLAS -- Xbox gamers will soon be able to reach Microsoft Corp.'s online video game service without wires.

For $130, the company's Wireless Adapter lets gamers use existing Wi-Fi networks instead of the usual tangle of ethernet cables, said Scott Henson, Xbox director of platform strategy.

Henson said the adapter, hitting store shelves Oct. 5, was made in response to overwhelming demand from people who pay $49 a year for Xbox Live, which has about 500,000 subscribers.

-Matt Slagle, AP Writer.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Private e-mails sent or received by city employees on government-owned computers are not public records, the Florida's highest court has ruled.

Public records are documents that are generated in connection with official business, and private messages don't count just because they're on a government computer, Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente wrote last week.

The distinction affects what messages are subject to disclosure under state public records laws.

The issue was raised by the St. Petersburg Times, which had sought all e-mails sent or received by two employees of the City of Clearwater three years ago. The newspaper was given only those e-mails the employees said were public.

-Jackie Hallifax, AP Writer.



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