Supersonic test The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) will test a supersonic aircraft prototype at Australia?s Woomera test site this month. Jaxa sees the prototype as a potential successor to the Concorde, which went out of service in 2003. Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the jet flies at twice the speed of sound and Jaxa hopes it will eventually become a 300-passengers plane travelling between Tokyo and the United States in three to four hours. The test flight will mark the end of a three-year hiatus following the crash landing of an earlier prototype. A rocket will carry the plane to an altitude of 20 kilometres before releasing it at a speed of Mach 2 to collect information about its aerodynamics. The prototype should float back to earth by parachute after a 15-minute flight. Rocketman takes off Rocketman Dan Schlund took off at the Royal Melbourne Show last week with the assistance of the ?Rocketbelt?. The device, which was originally designed in the 1950s for the US military, can propel a passenger through the air for up to 30 seconds approximately about 15 metres from the ground using hydrogen peroxide rocket propulsion. The rocketbelt will be on display twice a day at the Royal Melbourne Show. Intel expands china R&D with Shanghai set-up Intel is expanding its research and development operations on the mainland with a new company set up in Shanghai that will employ more than 1,000 staff by next year. The semiconductor giant has formed a new organisation, Asia-Pacific Research and Development, based in the Zizhu Science Park in Shanghai. Financial details were not given. Asia-Pacific R&D will focus on product development and platform-level innovations geared for all Intel product and technology divisions, including the digital home group, digital enterprise group, mobility group, channel platforms group, digital health group, software and solutions group, and information services and technology group. The new company's staff would include software and hardware engineers, and employees for marketing, planning, management and business support services. The facilities at the Zizhu Science Park can accommodate up to 2,000 employees. 'China has one of the world's most compelling combinations of research and development talent and market potential,' said Wee Theng Tan, president of Intel China. Intel has invested nearly US$1.3 billion over more than two decades on the mainland. It has also built up a workforce of more than 5,000. Research and development has been a huge part of the company's investment strategy since it established software laboratories in China in 1994. Hedge-fund specialist deploys IP globally Backed by technology partner Cisco Systems, hedge fund specialist PMA Investment Advisors has started a global deployment of internet protocol (IP) communications infrastructure at its headquarters in Hong Kong. The new voice-over-IP communications system, designed with the colour 7970G Cisco IP phones, enables PMA fund managers to record all voice-based financial transactions with clients and traders. PMA has also linked the Cisco IP phones with Microsoft Outlook to boost productivity. Its staff can now call anyone on their Outlook contact lists with just a click of a button. Alan Ng, head of information technology at PMA, said such proof of transaction was mandatory to all firms in the highly regulated financial services sector. 'Apart from the need for an open-standard recording solution, our previous PBX [private branch exchange] system had reached its maximum capacity. It was time for us to make the move to a new, cost-efficient network that would offer the advanced features we wanted,' he said. IBM gives customers IT management help IBM last week unveiled in Hong Kong its first set of software and services that help companies automate the design and integration of departmental information technology processes, from releasing a security patch to changing or adding a server. 'IBM is offering customers a better way to manage the business of IT, marking a fundamental shift in the way companies approach the process and cost of managing IT,' said Lisa Buchan, business unit executive for Tivoli Automation at IBM Software Group's Asia-Pacific operations. This move would minimise disruptions caused by common IT changes - such as updating a complex application residing on a dozen servers - which typically cause up to 80 per cent of planned system outages. The new software and services include IBM Tivoli Unified Process, which helps companies learn how to alter a system, how to put the right steps in place, and what software and hardware are required. This online tool is available at www.ibm.com/software/tivoli/itservices. High-quality video links showcased Asia Netcom, a wholly owned subsidiary of mainland telecommunications service provider China Netcom, will demonstrate the ability of the next-generation internet, called IPv6, for high-quality video communications worldwide. The experiment, spearheaded by the WIDE (widely integrated distributed environment) project, will set up high-quality video links between Amsterdam, Beijing and Aichi in Japan. The event is a part of the finale of the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan that started on March 25 and concludes on Sunday. WIDE is a consortium working on practical research and development of internet-related technologies. Asia Netcom will provide an end-to-end IPv6 link between Tokyo and Beijing, using capacity on its own undersea network, and through a 155-megabits per second circuit between Hong Kong and Beijing from its parent, China Netcom. The link will be one of the first live trials of transporting broadcast-quality video over an IPv6 infrastructure between China and Japan.