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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

AsiaweekTimeAsia NowAsiaweek technology

APRIL 7, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 13


Illustration by Emilio Rivera III
See: Taking the Wraps Off Privacy

Cutting Edge

Flash
Fresh Strides in Technology On March 17, Marc Merger did something he hasn't done for ten years. He stood up and walked. The 39-year-old Frenchman was involved in a car crash in 1990 that severed his spinal cord and left him paralyzed. He was never expected to walk again. But now, thanks to a microchip, Merger is taking his first faltering steps on the road to recovery. The chip, implanted in Merger's abdomen, is wired up to 15 electrodes attached to his leg muscles. Using buttons on a special walking stick as a kind of remote control, Merger sends instructions to the chip, which orders the electrodes to stimulate his legs into movement. Merger originally received the implant in a ten-hour operation last December, only to have to undergo a repeat procedure in February when the chip developed a bug. By early March he was able to stand and after a few short weeks of practice make a first attempt at walking. The technique brings hope for thousands of paraplegics like Merger whose muscles remain healthy despite damage to their nerves.

Gadgets
A Robot Home Help That Really Sucks When you're raised on Jetsons-style dreams of the future, where smart robots handle all life's daily chores, it's a pretty depressing year 2000 where you still have to wrestle a vacuum cleaner around your dirty floors. Help is at hand. British manufacturer Dyson is in home trials with a robot vacuum that not only lets you put your feet up, but can hoover its way around your size nines if you leave them on the carpet. With three onboard computers and 50 sensors, the Dyson DC06 spirals its way methodically toward the center of a room, avoiding stairs, obstacles and curious pets along the way. The cleaner has a short 30-minute battery life, but recharges in only an hour. The DC06 will be available in Japan, Australia and New Zealand later this year, priced at around $3,900.

 
    TECHNOLOGY

COVER: Asia's Dotcom Shakeout
Internet mania continues, but many of the region's Web start-ups will have short, unhappy lives
Privacy: Online advertisers know (almost) everything about you
Valuations: How to price Internet stocks
Cutting Edge: A microchip helps a paralyzed man walk

Asiaweek/CNN Tech Index: Tracks 20 hot Asian tech stocks
Technology Home

From The Web
Taking The Wraps Off Piracy These are black dog days to be a pirate. Sure, piracy is at an all-time high. But time was you could make a dollar on an iffy copy of the latest albums, movies or software. Kids today want it all for free. Case in point: Napster, a free download for the PC that lets users trade songs in MP3 format, quickly, easily, illegally. Napster has made a lot of wallet-challenged teenagers very happy - and provoked a fuming music industry into a lawsuit. But pirate tunes are only the start. A hacker called Octavian has tweaked Napster to create Wrapster, a program that allows not just MP3s but any digital file, from Word documents to movies and software, to be traded over the Net. If you have the patience. Even over a fast broadband connection, downloading a feature film takes a while. But with bandwidth rising fast, you can bet Hollywood and the software industry are watching the music biz's court case against Napster very closely.

Crime
FBI Finds Cracker In Wales What would you do with the credit card of the world's richest man? Hacker Raphael Gray claims Bill Gates's card number was one of 26,000 he swiped to (he says) shame the lax security of e-commerce sites. The 18-year-old has been focused on different security since the FBI arrested him in Wales, March 25. Losses connected to Gray could total $3 million - a figure small enough to suggest he may have had the wrong Bill Gates's card.


e-mail: stuart_whitmore@asiaweek.com

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