Windows to the Future

After months of delay, Windows 98 finally has been released to the consumer market. According to Microsoft, sales of Windows 98 are on track to match those of Windows 95 over its first three months on the market.

Government Technology tested the Windows 98 on a TriGem PC with a 200MHz AMD processor and 32MB of RAM. The menu-driven transition from Windows 95 to Windows 98 was installed without incident.

Windows 98 provides users the option of saving their old operating system and, if need be, easily removing the new software.

The earlier versions of MS-DOS and Windows use FAT16 file systems to store files and folders on the hard disk. Windows 98 uses FAT16 by default and gives the user the option of using FAT32. FAT32 improves disk performance and increases available disk space.

Setup installs a base version of Internet Explorer 4.0 and McAfee virus-scan software that automatically updates over the Internet. With the Internet connection help function, users can easily setup an Internet account and connection. The help function also guides the user to setup e-mail, newsgroup and directory services.

Windows 98 provides users several ways to view their desktop. The Web version allows users to browse through files and folders as if they were using their browser.

The maintenance function combines the benefits of ScanDisk, Disk Cleanup, Disk Fragmenter and Compression Agent. Users can schedule these tasks to run automatically.

Windows 98 supports cable or broadcast TV. Users can watch TV shows, search through program schedules and be reminded when certain shows are on -- if their PCs have a TV tuner card.

The software requires at least a 486 processor and no less than 16MB of RAM.

For additional information, contact Microsoft at .

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Pocket DVD

Digital versatile disks (DVDs) are the next big thing and are finding their way into computing and home entertainment.

PalmTheater, developed by Panasonic, is a portable DVD player with a built-in LCD monitor. Its 5.8-inch LCD screen -- 280,000 pixels -- and the built-in stereo speakers provide crisp, clear film image and superior sound. Users can view the images on normal, full or zoom display modes.

PalmTheater is about 6 inches square, 1 inch wide and weighs 2.01 pounds without the battery.

Lack of standard has made the future of DVDs a little unclear. For example, a new technology called Digital Video Express, developed by Circuit City, requires a special drive. Digital Video Express disks can be purchased and viewed, but only within two days of purchase. After that, the disk locks itself, and more viewing time must be purchased online. It's like pay-per-view that takes up shelf space.

For additional information, contact Panasonic at .

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Food Quality Inspection

To increase quality assurance at food-processing plants, researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute have developed a new mobile data-recording system that allows inspectors to collect food information more efficiently.

Wearing the system, inspectors can walk through different processing points and enter data using voice-recognition software and visual images. The hands-free system features a noise- canceling microphone, a head-mounted monochrome display, an earphone and noise-reducing earplugs.

The hardware consist of a PCMCIA motherboard, Intel 486 chip with 75 MHz, 16MB of RAM, 500MB hard drive, SVGA video controller, 16-bit sound and wireless network.

It runs with Windows 95 operating systems and its features, including wireless network software and voice-recognition software, can be customized. It is powered with a nickel metal hydride battery.

For additional information, contact Chris Thompson at 404/894-6143. E-mail: .

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Infrared Inspection to Prevent Power Outage

Power outages can cause serious crises, disrupting