As the bigger second-line long-distance operators in the US get gobbled up by the majors, so newcomers are created, and Denver-based Qwest Communications Inc, formerly SP Telecom, which describes itself as a full service telecommunications company, says it has begun to build a new fibre optic link between Dallas and Los Angeles via Houston, stopping […]
As the bigger second-line long-distance operators in the US get gobbled up by the majors, so newcomers are created, and Denver-based Qwest Communications Inc, formerly SP Telecom, which describes itself as a full service telecommunications company, says it has begun to build a new fibre optic link between Dallas and Los Angeles via Houston, stopping off at San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and on to Bernardino and Riverside; it will also connect with border crossings to Mexico at five points in Texas, Arizona and California; the link is primarily being laid along Southern Pacific railway rights of way and will connect with Qwest’s existing Cal-Fiber system, which links Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and Roseville, and smaller communities up the California coast; a system being laid between El Paso and Denver via Albuquerque will also connect to the new Dallas to Los Angeles system, and when all are completed, they will form a Synchronous Optical Network ring.
Nobody seems to like using the backslash in MS-DOS commands very much, and it’s apparently all the fault of Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft Corp, who told Wired magazine to blame him for having to type the backslash – but no-one who hates the fiddly thing and has any sense uses it more than once or twice in their career – they simply bury the thing in that neat little collection of one- or two-letter batch or .BAT files they create so that they can whiz around visiting all the partitions on their disk and the server without a care – and the wonderful thing about batch files is that they’re worth taking lots of trouble over, because they are write and forget – you’re only going to have to write them once.
Southwest Airlines Co is to use handheld computers in 13 of its busiest domestic airports on July 15, so that passengers without tickets can check their baggage at airport kerbsides: US Federal regulations prohibit passengers from checking their bags at the kerb if they do not hold tickets, but the computers enable Southwest employees to call up the passenger’s name on the screen at the touch of a pen and print a receipt that functions as a ticket to check the baggage; the airline has invested under $200,000 for 39 hand-held, 80486-based computers, but the airline did not name the supplier; it may extend the scheme to other airports and says that so far about a third of its passengers have opted for ticketless travel, saving the carrier over $20m a year; Southwest says it also intends to make ticketless travel available on the Internet by the end of this year.
The telephone system renumbering problem is about to hit the Internet in spades: it has been known for some time that the system would run out of addresses fairly soon, and the issue played large at the Internet Society’s annual conference in Honolulu this week, the San Jose Mercury News reports; alleviation of the problem will involve what is being called Internet Protocol: Next Generation – but the thing may not be ready in time, although Digital Equipment Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Bay Networks Inc are among a handful of manufacturers producing prototype products and testing interoperability and the first packet of data using the next-generation IP was exchanged between DEC and a French research lab about a month ago; the new protocol will add enhanced security, easier set-up procedures and the ability to roam, and to assign priorities to packets to determine which will get through first if bandwidth is limited, but users will have to pay for priority; ideas if the new protocol fails are not too enco uraging – one idea is that current addresses might be sold and resold rather than assigned, or the Internet could be partitioned into several internetworks, perhaps with gateways among them form exchanging electronic mail.
Thousands of former IBM Corp employees are trying to win refunds for taxes they paid on the sums they received when they left IBM in its ruthless corporate downsizing: they argue that because they signed agr
eements not to sue the company for claims such as age bias, the payouts should be treated as non-taxable personal-injury payments, but the Supreme Court recently ruled that recoveries under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act can be taxed, saying such payments aren’t for personal injury; lawyers for the former IBMers hope that courts hearing their cases will decide that IBM was trying to avoid personal-injury or state tort claims, and that could mean some or all of the payments should have been tax-free, Neil Kimmelfield, a Portland attorney with Ball Janik representing about 3,000 former IBM employees told the Wall Street Journal, since many states consider age discrimination to be a personal injury.
SunSoft Inc has lost sales director John Lynch to Ilog SA’s US arm.
Filling in the missing piece of the jigsaw, Indonesia announced that a consortium led by the Bukaka Group had won the contract to install about 403,000 telephone lines in the eastern part of the country: The Indonesian side, led by the Bukaka Group, will hold 60% while Singapore Telecom Pte Ltd will have the balance, the ministry said; the other four regions had been assigned last month (CI No 2,690).
Determined investors in computer-related issues may think that they are the most risk-tolerant people in the business, but they are out-gambled by backers of small pharmaceutical companies – and things can only get worse as the world of computers and drugs become more and more intermingled: Protein Design Labs Inc shares plunged $6.75 to $14 after the company said data from a study showed Zenapax to be ineffective in preventing graft versus-host disease following bone marrow transplantation – It’s a one drug company and the one drug doesn’t work, one trader commented wryly.