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.
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 offers a 140-degree horizontal viewing angle and pivot capabilities with multidimensional data-structure viewing with PerfectPortrait software. It consumes only 40 watts of power. Additional information is available by contacting ViewSonic at 909/869-7976.
Look Who's Talking
The mm220 videophone allows users to make face-to-face calls. Users simply press the video-call button, key in the number and press OK. It is designed for connection to an ISDN phone line, which provides far clearer images and faster transmission speeds than conventional phones. It is built around the H.320 international communication standard and provides a color LCD display, built-in adjustable camera, keypad and full duplex echo-cancellation for speaker phone. Additional information is available by contacting Motion Media, in England, at +44-0-1454-313444.
Get Out of Jail (Not Quite Free) Card
The Santa Clara County, Calif., jail will be providing suspects arrested for certain crimes -- misdemeanors, vandalism, assault, DUI, vandalism, etc. -- access to a bail teller machine, allowing them to use their credit card to get out of jail. The machine won't spit out cash, but will transfer funds to secure bond. The machines are expected to save taxpayer money and ease jail overcrowding and unnecessary stays for those ordinarily without ready access to cash. California's San Luis Obispo is currently operating one kiosk. The suspects get part of the money back from the county once the case is resolved, and the county gets a percentage as well. Local bail bondsmen are complaining about the competition, and the matter is currently in court. Additional information is available by contacting Judicial Solutions. Call John Bergmann 949/494-6282.
A Time Clock of Your Very Own
Keeping track of time can cost time. But now, the hand-held Electronic Time Machine simplifies the excruciating chore of writing down your arrival and departure times and doing the subtraction. The complete time-tracking and reporting system eliminates the need for paperwork, math work and guesswork. It can be programmed to track time by user, client, project and task, and the information recorded can be transferred to a personal computer or laptop to generate timesheets, payroll records, invoices, and performance and productivity reports. It features control locks to maintain data integrity and security, it holds up to 3,600 timing transactions between uploads, has a capacitor that powers the memory during battery changes and an LCD display. An alarm tone can be set to periodically indicate timing status. Records are filed and editable. The TimeWriter software is compatible with Windows 3.x, 95, 98, and NT. Additional information is available by contacting Stratos Industry Inc. at 800/990-TIME.
Kaveh Ghemian is the Products Editor. Email