Technology notebook

Reseachers refine plastic recycling

When you recycle a plastic bottle, it doesn’t necessarily become another plastic bottle.

Because of limitations in recycling technology, a common type of plastic used in water bottles and food containers weakens so much when it’s recycled that it can’t be used again for the same purpose. Some small amount of the plastic might make it into another bottle, but more often than not, it instead becomes synthetic carpet or clothing and can’t easily be recycled a second time. So when those products are used up, they end up in landfills.

Researchers from IBM Corp. and Stanford University believe they have developed a way to significantly improve the quality of recycled plastic and strip away those limitations.

A new recycling method the researchers announced this week involves a way to break the plastic down so that it can be reused again and again in the same form. It is an advancement that could intrigue beverage companies and help cut the environmental damage in making plastic from scratch.

Tax season ushers in e-mail scams

Tax season means computer criminals are going to be out in force, pumping out bogus e-mails that purport to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

These messages ask you to supply personal information in all kinds of scams. Often the scam e-mails offer help speeding up the preparation of tax returns or securing a big refund.

The e-mails also might just be a cover for criminals to install malicious software on your computers, by tricking you into opening attachments or visiting poisoned Web sites.

Scam e-mails can be stunningly convincing, so you often can’t tell just by looking at them whether they’re real or fake. They can use authentic-looking IRS logos and even e-mail addresses. Scammers can make it appear as if they’re writing from a legitimate government e-mail address, so you can’t trust the “from” line in e-mails you receive.

So what should you do to protect yourself?

Don’t supply your personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card numbers, to anyone e-mailing you for it. Also, don’t open attachments or follow links in unsolicited e-mails.

Change at top of Web consortium

A former executive with IBM and other tech companies has been named the new CEO of an organization in charge of coordinating the technical specifications behind the World Wide Web.

The Web’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, is remaining the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, and Jeffrey Jaffe, 55, will work under him as its CEO. Jaffe replaces Steve Bratt, 53, who left the position to run a Web foundation also started by Berners-Lee.

Jaffe brings both business and technical expertise. He has been vice president of technology at IBM Corp. and most recently chief technology officer at Novell Inc. He also was an executive at Bell Labs.

“Just as the Web is constantly growing and changing, so is the community around it and so is the consortium,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. “Jeff’s broad experience gives him a deep understanding of many different types of organizations, which will be invaluable in managing W3C’s evolution.”

The consortium, known as W3C, writes the technical rules designed to ensure that Web pages can work using different software, different computers and different languages.

Associated Press