UCD project offers smart answers


Computer scientists at UCD have made a breakthrough that could eventually automate even more customer enquiries in the teleservices industry. Researchers have developed a casebase (database of cases) reasoning system that can deal with complex queries to a computer help-desk or telemarketing service by using a database of previous queries and adapting the information accordingly. This is a major advance on the simple case-base reasoning systems currently used by teleservices companies, which can only function if there is an exact match between the new query and one in the case base. Using an adaptation-guided retrieval method developed by Professor Mark Keane and Dr Barry Smyth, the new system can adapt the cases in the case-base to the query and so provide a much wider range of answers than existing systems.

Hello Money: TSB Bank has opened a new telephone banking service. For the price of a local call, TSB customers can transfer money, pay bills, check balances and carry out many other transactions 24 hours a day. The system, which includes Sun hardware and CRM middleware from Graham Technology, was integrated by Kainos Software, an ICL associate.

That's Original: Many newspapers and magazines are increasing the amount of original content on their websites in a shift toward using the Internet as a medium in itself, rather than an alternate distribution system. This is one conclusion of the Media in Cyberspace Study, published last week, which found that 31 per cent of newspapers used original material for at least half their online content - more than four times the number of publications that did so three years ago. - info: www.mediasource.com.

Privacy Lobby: An Internet civil liberties group has asked the US Federal Trade Commission to prohibit Intel from selling the Pentium III because of privacy concerns. The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology said Intel used "unfair and deceptive trade practices" in describing the new chip's online serial number as a security feature, while omitting its privacy ramifications.

Piracy Lobby: The Business Software Alliance has called for greater government commitment to fighting piracy, higher damages and penalties, improved enforcement and faster judicial processes. The BSA wants an EU-level authority to co-ordinate cross-border copyright and intellectual property cases. Meanwhile, Corel has announced an amnesty, Corel Licence Program (CLP) Choice WordPerfect Amnesty, to encourage users to legitimise software.

Vote St Patrick: St Patrick is apparently the Internet's favourite saint. In terms of general mentions, Saints Paul and John are well ahead, but "St Patrick's Day" wins hands down when the saint's days are sought in AltaVista searches. As a result, those at www.planware.org/patrick.htm have opened an online polling booth in a campaign to make St Patrick the Net's patron saint.

Purple Rage: The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (TAFKAP) has initiated three federal lawsuits in New York against Net businesses selling his music or related products without authorisation. In addition, TAFKAP wants nine Web sites stopped from providing bootlegged copies of his music, along with pictures.

Speaking In Tongues: IBM says its new Simultaneous Translation Computer (STC) translates speech in real-time. Its speech-recognition system turns spoken input into text, which is then translated into the target language. The system will even match algorithms with phrasal expressions stored in the translation memory. Currently, the STC translates only English input, but several other languages are planned.

In Brief...Following news of the $16 billion parts pact between Dell and IBM, industry sources are predicting that the two companies may cut a deal under which IBM provides computer services to Dell customers . . . On Tuesday, finalists in a competition aimed at helping scientists to communicate their ideas to the general public, will attempt to make themselves understood in the last round of Merville Lay Seminars at the O'Reilly Hall at UCD . . . Intel has made its largest acquisition to date, with a $2.2 billion stock purchase from communications chips manufacturer Level One . . . Irish Continental Group has signed a contract with Fusion Business Solutions for business process software with implementation and consultancy services . . . As the drive to secure those vital e-commerce transactions continues, Inflo Communications has announced an Internet and email encryption program called Consus . . . Net profits at Cap Gemini have soared to 1.24 billion francs (£150 million) according to figures just released for 1998, an increase of almost two thirds on the previous year . . . Bull's new online banking service, iQ Banking, was snapped up within hours of launch by Deutsche Postbank . . . Corel has announced a plan to introduce a userfriendly, easy to install interface for the Linux operating system, at the LinuxWorld conference in California . . . Amazon has sent $5 discounts to all customers who haven't shopped at its site in a while, seeking to entice them to buy again . . . Macalla Software has completed an initial round of funding which raised £1 million and values the start-up company at £3 million


Today: Apex Software hosts a series of seminars on its new Euro compliant accountancy software in the Berkeley Court Hotel, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Free but registration is required. Times: 9.30 a.m., 11.30 a.m., 2.30 p.m., 7 p.m. - info: Marie Coyne, Apex Software (01) 280 7588

March 9th & 10th: Microsoft is hosting two days of DirectAccess briefings, aimed at organisations providing Microsoft services, at the Microsoft European Product Development Centre, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18. Time: 1.30 p.m. - 5 p.m. - info: 1890 211333

Modem World www.sligoweb.com

Links to online resources about Sligo www.irishpropertynews.com

Links to property resources

www.ericsson.ie/wso/tag New online magazine from Ericsson with the latest industry news and interviews


"It is my opinion that most services will continue to operate satisfactorily. I do not envisage significant problems in most parts of the world." Ron Balls of the International Telecommunications Union, the UN communications agency, expressing complete confidence that the Y2K bug will not affect world phone services. "What happened to Netscape? That's a long story. I have very little doubt about our ability to do that. That one is pretty much a slam-dunk for us." Bill Gates brims over with confidence at the launch of Microsoft's ambitious plans for e-commerce software.

Monitor compiled by Deirdre Veldon. Page layout by Sarah Marriott. Text-only email to computimes@irish-times.ie preferred (rather than attachments, faxes, letters, phone calls). Private correspondence should be marked "Not for publication".