November 5, 2004 10:50 AM PST

Week in Review: Election takes center stage

The presidential election took center stage this week, with technology playing a role everywhere from e-voting machines to Web sites that tracked the election results.

Americans sat on the edges of their seats as the results were trotted out. For many, it was difficult to gauge who would win, as the Electoral College map became spotted with red, indicating that President Bush had won a particular state, and blue, to indicate that Sen. John Kerry had.

A few TV networks played it safe when calling election results Tuesday night, as it was uncertain which way the key state of Ohio would go. But that's not to say a number of newscasters were without cutting-edge high-tech gadgetry.

Among the most notable displays of electronic wizardry was on CBS Nightly News. Correspondent John Roberts seemed to mimic Tom Cruise in the movie "Minority Report," using his fingertips to control a 50-inch touch-screen monitor displaying maps of the country and various states. With a wave of his hand, Roberts magnified and dragged the maps around--each one spliced with detailed demographic, polling and election return data.

On NBC, Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert upgraded from an old-fashioned whiteboard and marker to a top-of-the-line tablet PC, a fancy laptop with a highly advanced, liquid crystal display that recognizes handwriting. Russert used the machine, made by Fujitsu, to illustrate the electoral votes garnered by each candidate as he chatted with anchorman Tom Brokaw. A larger monitor behind the newsman also displayed Russert's notes from the tablet.

The election, however, was not without a number of soothsayers--ranging from online betting exchanges to blogger sites that offered their predictions.

Unlike the amateur prognosticators who relied on their own computer models and statistical analyses of polls and frequently got it wrong, online betting exchanges proved to be eerily accurate in heralding Bush as the winner. Betfair, for example, predicted Bush would stay in office and had offered odds of 2-to-1 last week for Sen. John Kerry to win.

Bloggers also weighed in with their presidential predictions, serving as a cadre of part-time political analysts that offered everything from sound predictions to embarrassing guesses.

And from the blognosticators with their cybersoothsaying to e-voting machines to Web applications to help the undecided decide, technology also came out a winner.

The election drove millions of people online Tuesday night. Traffic soared on the candidates' Web sites, news outlets and Web logs. According to the latest numbers from Internet statistician ComScore Networks, the official campaign Web sites for both Bush and Kerry recorded many more hits on Election Day than they averaged on a typical Tuesday. President Bush received 380,000 visits to his Web site, or 101 percent more than usual, while Sen. Kerry's site charted 480,000 hits, 128 percent higher than usual.

Not everyone was happy with the week's news, though. At some technology companies, people were glum about the outcome, probably because of the high concentration of technology workers in settings such as the San Francisco Bay Area, the Seattle region and Boston--all areas that voted for Sen. Kerry.

For instance, the entire San Francisco office of recruiting company Coit Staffing needed a pep talk Wednesday. All 15 members of the office had voted for Kerry, said Tim Farrelly, president of the company, which serves clients in technology, biotechnology and other fields. "It was such a somber mood all day yesterday," Farrelly said. "We had a company meeting. We had to pump each other up."

What's under the hood? More firms provide a peek
Adobe Systems has quietly begun testing the waters to increase its involvement in desktop Linux. Adobe, maker of such major desktop software as Photoshop and Acrobat Reader, has begun to take a more active role by joining a prominent Linux consortium, Open Source Development Labs, which is working to improve Linux and employs Linux founder Linus Torvalds, CNET News.com has learned.

Adobe, for example, is seeking to hire a senior computer scientist who will "become maintainer and/or architect for one or more Adobe-sponsored open-source projects." Hosting open-source projects has

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