Era of CD Copying

Microboard DSR-8000 is an automatic CD-Recordable (CD-R) machine that lets the technically nonproficient user copy CD-ROMs or music discs. Users can burn information on a CD, drop it into CD-ROM drive and access it on a standalone computer or network. With CD-ROM drives now basic equipment on any computer, government agencies -- cities, counties, libraries -- can store years of records on a single disc, back up large amounts of data, distribute it quickly and easily, access it from any computer on the LAN in matter of seconds and view, fax or e-mail it without having to deal with paper or microfiche. The DSR-8000 also provides an ideal solution when a CD is damaged. Government agencies can easily duplicate another one from their master CD, and the damaged one becomes a shiny coaster. The DSR-8000 features a master read drive -- Plextor 12X -- and five 4X drives as writer drives. If an optional VMI card is added, up to 26 CD-Rs can be processed at 4X speed. Copying is as simple as inserting the master and blank discs and pressing a button. A liquid crystal display indicates copy progress. DSR-8000 is well-suited to high-volume CD-R duplications and ideal for every storage need. Additional information is available by contacting Microboard at 612/470-1848.

The Write Stuff

The Quicktionary Reading Pen, a unique hand-held, battery-powered scanner, allows users to scan, see and hear the text. It is designed to provide "assistive technology" to more than 81 million people who have difficulty reading or seeing. Users simply slide the device over a word to automatically scan it and transfer it to a small LCD screen. It contains more than 400,000 words and idioms, reads multiple fonts and type sizes and switches instantly between languages. It weighs only 3 ounces. Additional information is available by contacting the Educational Products Division of Seiko Instruments USA Inc. at 310/517-7810.

Babbling Browser

IBM has combined the capabilities of its ViaVoice OutLoud text-to-speech synthesizer with Netscape's Navigator browser, to create Home Page Reader, which translates Web text into voice. "The software uses a male voice to read text and a female voice to read links," said Paul Luther, IBM's marketing program manager for special needs. With Home Page Reader's fast-forward key, the user can skim Web pages and quickly locate the needed information. It requires a 150MHz processor, 32MB RAM for Microsoft Windows 95 or 98, or 64MB RAM for Windows NT. It costs $149. Additional information is available by contacting IBM Special Needs Systems at 800/426-4832.

Satellite Imagery Helps Human Rights

Weather satellites no longer limit themselves to cloud formations. Now they provide information that can be used by human-rights groups and policy-makers to uncover cases of genocide in war zones like former Yugoslavia and Kurdish groups in Turkey. Students at the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., showed how high-resolution satellite data puts reporters in prohibited places and tracks human-rights abuses. The class, taught by Professor Christopher Simpson, teaches nontechnical students to read and interpret satellite images. The course is being offered both online and on campus. According to Simpson, "Satellite images are power tools that can capture images with a high degree of certainty, providing an important tool for policy-makers, journalists and human-rights activists." Students are also studying satellite imagery applications to monitor fires, man-made disasters and other crises. Additional information is available by contacting Simpson at 202/885-2037.

Flat is Where It's At

Flat-panel LCD displays are fast becoming the display of choice for a variety of computing applications. They can not only match a cathode monitor's viewable area and overall performance, but they are much lighter and require less space. ViewSonic's flat-panel display VPD150 measures 3 inches deep and weighs 15 pounds, with a 15-inch LCD display. It provides crisp screen images at 1024x768 and also boasts 200-nits brightness rating. It