Tech Buzz 08/01

Online auction fraud, next-generation managed desktops and more
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the August 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Auction fraud: Buyers and sellers, beware! According to a study by market research firm eMarketer, most U.S. Internet crime takes place on auction sites.

Rob Janes, an eMarketer analyst, says that given the popularity of auction Web sites such as eBay-which reportedly attracts 16 million users per month-it's not surprising that 87 percent of online fraud in 2000 was found to be related to such auctions in eMarketer's "The E-Privacy and Security Report." The average cost to online-auction fraud victims was about $600.
- Melissa Campanelli

billion will be spent on ASP services in 2004, up from $300 million in 1999.

Computing Gets Sharp: I assume you're familiar with thin clients, where a server powers employee terminals that, at their simplest, consist of a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard. The attraction comes from easy upgradability, centralized management and added security. A main disadvantage, though, is that high demand on the server slows down the overall network and puts a damper on computing speed.

That's where the next generation of managed desktops, called CPU Blades, steps in. ClearCube Technology didn't design its new breed of hardware to work off a single server à la thin clients. Instead, each worker gets a CPU Blade with all the typical PC parts: processor, memory, hard drive, Ethernet and video. Barely taller than 5 inches, the slim CPU Blades are designed to be rack-mounted in a Cage with other Blades-one for each user. USB ports allow peripheral expansion, and printing is achieved via your office network.

Having all the main hardware in one location is a boon to IT staff. CPU Blades are compatible with most Ethernet servers, meaning software upgrades are done over the company network. Both Windows and Linux are OS options for the Intel-based systems.

Currently, ClearCube's sales team targets large enterprises; you won't be running out to buy a herd of CPU Blades tomorrow. But the technology holds promise for small call-center operations, financial businesses and other companies that deal with similarly configured workstations. They haven't hit the mainstream just yet, but they're still worth keeping an eye on.

Refreshing "Refresh": We all know bandwidth is limited and costly. Imagine for a second the wait you face when you hit "Refresh" to get the latest version of a Web page. Multiply that by all your Net users, and you're looking at a lot of bandwidth being spent to needlessly update entire pages, when only small bits of data-such as stock quotes or auction bids-have changed.

Caching, the most popular method of enhancing bandwidth, doesn't address this inefficiency; it only stores old content closer to users' browsers. But two companies-Bang Networks and FineGround Networks-have recently come up with solutions for sending new content to users' Web browsers without requiring page reloading.

Bang and FineGround get to the same result via different "dynamic content accelerator" technologies. Bang's DirectPath service is powered by a network of specialized hardware routers and software that streams only new data to browsers without resending whole pages. FineGround's Condenser solution is a software approach that runs on Linux and Solaris servers. It eliminates redundancies in updated Web pages and only sends data that's changed. The company touts up to 40 times more bandwidth savings than with caching alone and impressive increases in download performance.

These new technologies aren't affordable yet-FineGround's Condenser, for instance, starts at $50,000. They may also never become as cheap and ubiquitous as laser printers, but competition and time could bring them within reach of bandwidth-starved entrepreneurs with lots of dynamic Web content. Meanwhile, you can keep a lookout for leading sports and news sites like and to offer the first glimpses of content acceleration.
-Amanda C. Kooser

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