Product News

Product News

by / September 30, 1998
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 .


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 .


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: .


Infrared Inspection to Prevent Power Outage
Power outages can cause serious crises, disrupting
air, train and automobile traffic.

To reduce the risk of power failures, Pacific Gas & Electric is using specially equipped vans with infrared cameras to find electrical problems before the outages occur.

A roving equipment operator scans powerlines and equipment with the infrared camera while driving at normal speeds. If the images on the screen show an abnormal temperature differential, or "hot spot," the location is further examined for possible repair or replacement.

PG&E is also using a hand-held infrared devices to detect hot spots in underground equipment.

For additional information, contact Bill Roake at 415/973-8702. Internet:


From Welfare to Workfare
To receive block grants under 1996 welfare reform legislation, state and local agencies are required to move people from welfare to workfare.

Magellan, developed by Valpar International Corp., is a software tool designed to help people assess career options. Magellan uses nine independent assessments that measure seven job-related factors -- academics, physical skills, temperament, interpersonal skills, data skills, interest and time required for training.

Magellan requires Windows 3.x, 95, or NT. It requires 8MB of RAM, 15MB of disk space.

For additional information, contact Valpar International Corp. at 800/528-7070.


Where is the Leak?
Pacific Gas and Electric is using pipeline current mapping (PCM) to locate and repair corrosion in underground natural gas pipes.

PCM emits very low frequency electrical signals, creating an electric flow from the pipe into the ground wherever the pipe is damaged. A hand-held receiver detects the current flow and pinpoints the exact Location of the breach.

For additional information, contact Bill Roake at 415/973-8702. Internet:


Portable Phones for the Deaf

Wyndtell's mobile communication system is providing people who are hearing impaired with a complete wireless communication service allowing them to communicate from any location.

The system allows two-way e-mail with two-way text phone (TTY) messaging, faxing, alpha paging, voice-to-text and text-to-voice communication. The system runs on an interactive palm-size device with a built-in keyboard. It can be activated to alert users in four ways: vibration, light-emitting diode, screen messages and audible rings.

A built-in address book simplifies sending messages to TTYs, e-mail addresses, telephones, fax machines and alpha pagers.

For additional information, contact Wynd Communications Corp. at 800/549-9800 or TTY 800/549-2800. Internet: .


Quick Scans
Hand-held bar code readers provide a superior mode of data entry and a reliable tool to identify items and forms.

Similar to a pen in size and weight, the Symbol InfoPen combines the functionality of a contact bar-code scanner with memory and a high-quality A.T. Cross writing implement.

To scan a bar code, the user simply presses a button on the scanning side of the InfoPen and sweeps the wand tip across the symbol. The LED on the pen changes from red to green, and the pen beeps to indicate a successful read.

The InfoPen scans from 3 inches to 35 inches per second and reads both Code 128 and UPC/EAN. It also stores up to 100 average-size bar codes in nonvolatile memory -- allowing the device to retain data and configurations even when the power is off.

When finished collecting bar-code data, the user simply presses the scanning button once and returns the InfoPen to the InfoWell for easy data upload. The InfoWell is a docking station that connects to a host -- usually a personal computer -- via RS-232 cable. The data is optically transmitted through the tip of the scanner into a sensor in the well that passes the data through a communication port to an application residing on
the host.

The system is suited to office-supply management, office automation, catalog shopping, Internet-ordering applications, etc.

For additional information, contact Symbol Technologies Inc., at 516/738-2400. Internet: .


Speech Recognition Customer Service
Many state and local government agencies provide information to the public by the menu-driven touch-tone telephone. However, many users experience long delays on overburdened systems.

Applied Language Technologies has developed a speech-recognition system that provides a superior mode of customer service and access to information. The system allows callers to use natural, conversational speech to ask the computer what they would normally ask an operator.

Demonstrations are available at 888/SAY-DEMO (888/729-3366).

For additional information, contact Applied Language Technologies Inc. at 617/428-4444. Internet: .


Incarceration in the Info Age
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority and Tulsa County Sheriff in Oklahoma will use HOLD'em2, a criminal management system, for its new 1,400-bed jail.

The system allows jails to conduct intake and booking, manage facilities' functions and track inmates in custody.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the New Zealand Department of Corrections currently use the system.

For additional information, contact EPIC Solutions at 619/675-3525. Internet: .


The Big Picture
PC Magni-Viewer magnifies on-screen information by 175 percent, allowing the user to see more clearly.

The adjustable PC Magni-Viewer sits on any monitor. The magnification system features a 19.5-inch-by-15-inch base that rotates 360 degrees.

It costs $250.

For additional information, contact Bausch & Lomb at 800/771-1168. Internet:.


10GB Storage for $149
The Bolt tape drive provides users with 10GB of storage on a single cartridge. Bolt uses an ATAPI (EIDE) bus interface rather than a floppy interface and does not require an additional card slot.

Data transfers at 5.33Mbps. Bolt is compatible with Travan TR-3 cartridges in both 750-foot and 1,200-foot lengths -- 6.6GB can be stored on a 750-foot cartridge and 10GB on a 1,200-foot cartridge.

It costs $149.

For additional information, contact AIWA at 714/862-0200.


Local Government Software Guide
The Software Reference Guide 1998, published by the International City/County Management Association, is a comprehensive directory of software and information technology resources designed specifically for local governments.

The Software Reference Guide 1998 is divided into three sections. The first section describes more than 800 software programs, hardware requirements, functions, price, etc. Programs are listed alphabetically by 18 government functions, from administration and building permits to public works and utilities.

The second section includes technical resources such as publications, databases, electronic bulletin boards, networks and organizations.

The third section contains a product index by vendor and by application.

The Software Reference Guide 1998 is also available on CD-ROM, providing the ability to search by application, price, hardware, vendor or any combination thereof.

For further information, contact ICMA at 800/745-8780, or write to: Publication Department, ICMA, 777 North Capitol St., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20002-4201.


Government Market Report
Channel Information Services report Government and Education: Vertical Market Outlook and Analysis provides valuable information about the government IT market and the reseller channel.

According to the report, 1998 government spending on information technology will total $71 billion. It found that state and local governments account for more than half of all government IT spending.

The report also found that in 1998, companies will sell $36 billion in products and services to the government market. The fastest-growing sector is the country's 86,000 K-12 public schools.

The 15-page report provides information on: * The number of government sites in the United States
and estimated average annual IT spending across these sites; * Government sectors that resellers serve, by size and type; * Hardware and software products sold to government accounts; * Services that resellers provide to government sites; * Number of PCs in use at government sites; * Percentage of PCs networked and enabled for Internet or intranet access; * Percentage of desktops, servers and workstations sold into government accounts as white-box solutions; and * Government reseller demographics.

For additional information, contact CMP Channel Information Services. Call Liz Gallagher at 516/733-8698. E-mail: .

If you have a comment about a product or service you are using -- or have a suggestion for a product news item -- please e-mail Kaveh Ghaemian at or fax 916/932-1470 with the details. Include your phone number for verification and note whether we may publish your comments.

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