A.T. Kearney, a management consulting firm in New York, offers up the following predictions for the fast-changing communications industry:
* Congress will call for more regulation of the Internet, especially to prevent security abuses and potential breakdowns due to lack of capacity.
* Baby Bells Ameritech and US West will merge, following in the footsteps of Pacific Telesis and SBC Communications and Bell Atlantic and Nynex.
* The newly combined British Telecommunications/MCI Communications will hook up with newly combined Bell Atlantic/Nynex.
* The Internet will continue its double-digit growth, but telecommunications companies will still fail to capitalize on the boom.
* Improved technology will reduce the cost of processing a home mortgage by $600 and cut the processing time in half.
* Being a designated driver on New Year's Eve is an important way to protect the safety of everyone who will be on the road Tuesday night. Pledging to be a designated driver will also score you discounts on alcohol-free beverages and other items at restaurants throughout the Southland. Just sign the Recording Artists, Actors & Athletes Against Drunk Driving's Designated Driver's License Pledge at http://www.la.digitalcity.com/RADD and take it to participating restaurants, which are listed at the site.
* Watch the Tournament of Roses parade on New Year's Day from a unique perspective: through a Webcam mounted atop the Edison International Rose parade float. Pictures will be updated every few minutes as the float makes its way along Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. The site is at http://www.edisonx.com/float
* For a look back at the biggest tech stories of 1996, check out the Year in Review at CNet's News.Com site (http://www.news.com). Get the lowdown on the Communications Decency Act, how PointCast is the unlikely winner of the Web browser wars and other news. Visitors can also peruse profiles of newsmakers ranging from Gil Amelio, Apple Computer's much-scrutinized CEO, to Kim Polese, the onetime Sun Microsystems programmer who made Java a household word.
* If you made a New Year's resolution to get educated, let Virtual University (http://www.vu.org) help. Free courses include Exploring the Internet, PC Basics and Eight Weeks to Creative Writing. Enroll by Jan. 10 and attend classes online.
* If you think the arrival of 1997 is already passe, skip ahead to 2000 at http://www.Everything2000.com. The site invites you to make goals for yourself to meet by the end of the 20th century and to share your expectations for the millennium. You can even start making plans for New Year's Eve 1999.
* Concerned about computer crime? So is the FBI. To read an official paper on the extent of the problem and strategies for solving it, visit http://www.fbi.gov/leb/dec961.txt
* Aspiring Hollywood moguls can test their talent at the Hollywood Stock Exchange (http://www.hsx.com), a rotisserie-baseball-style game where players buy and sell stock in movies and actors, then watch their investments rise or fall. Successful players can win quarterly Mogul Awards.
* If you're having trouble finding Spanish-language software, get help at http://www.guiasoft.com
* Want to find out which political action committees contributed money to your representatives in Congress? How about looking up soft-money contributions from outside the United States? For this and other public information from the Federal Election Commission, check out http://www.tray.com/FECInfo/index.html-ssi
* The International Network of Women in Technology (http://www.witi.com) is dedicated to news and information about new and developing technologies. The site features product reviews, job listings and networking opportunities. Visitors can also access experts in technology, finance, law and health.
* If you're looking for a handy updated compilation of Web-related events, try the Internet Conference Center. It brings you information on academic conferences and symposiums, workshops, expositions, seminars and training courses. It is at http://conferences.calendar.com/
* The address listed in last week's Cutting Edge for the New Hacker's Dictionary Web site was incorrect. The site can be found at http://www.ccil.org/jargon/jargon_toc.html
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