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Technology for the new Millenium
Report from COMDEX

Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, viva Las Vegas. What a wonder of a city Las Vegas is. Sculpted out of the desert into one of the glitziest places on earth. This is where COMDEX, the world’s largest Computer Technology Show is held every fall. First of all, it was huge. This “exhibit” consumed all of the floor space and more of the Sands Convention Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center. The downside of the size and the number of people attending was the traffic and congestion both on the streets of Las Vegas and in the event centers. However, that should not deter you, it was well worth the hassle. 

Hopefully, this article will convey what seems to be coming along in the near future for computer users. Everyone has heard of ISP’s by now, but at this event, there was a plethora of ASPs (Application Service Providers). These are companies that will let you connect to their website and utilize their services and software applications, including just about anything you could imagine from utility products to business management and relationship products to leisure/interest products to organizers. These providers allow you to utilize their products for a fee. The beauty of this is that you do not need to have the software product downloaded onto your machine or network. If you use a service, you pay for what you use, rather than paying for the software and having it sit idle much of the time. This allows more freedom and flexibility for your resources and allows you to save your precious data securely on your system. 

Other major areas found on the convention floor included a Linux section with many applications and products. For those of you who thought maybe Linux was just a passing fad, think again, my friends. It seems that Linux is here to stay. Mobile computing and networking were also big. Wireless technology has come a long way and appears to be on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream in the not too distant future. Let me share some of the specific products I thought were outstanding. 
Quick Link
The QuickLink Pen and related products provide you with these devices that look like pens but are really miniature hand held scanners. You can scan individual words or whole lines and they can be used to obtain definitions, pronunciations or to transfer parts of text (as opposed to whole pages) into documents. They can also be used to help those learning English as a second language or for people with reading difficulties. There were several similar products but I was very impressed with this one by WizCom Technologies based in Acton, MA. 

Even though I don’t own a laptop, there was a product by Nvidia that makes one of my reasons for not owning a laptop moot. The GPU or graphics processing unit is now available for the mobile computer. GeForce2 GO is the product and if you are planning on buying a mobile computer, this is a real enhancement, allowing you to display better, faster graphics while using less of your main CPU’s processing power. Mobile DVD movies, 3D games, eye-popping presentations and business demonstrations are all beneficiaries of this technology. 

What also struck me about this event was the world representation. There were companies from Europe, Australia, and Asia there. Taiwan Software is a conglomeration of Taiwanese companies that has a large assortment of titles to choose from including games such as Seventh Seal by Softworld, Deep Raider by Infobank or informational titles Birds, Animals, etc. by Dance and Jump Software. 

SpeCDrom Interactive Inc., offers patent-pending technologies for transmission, display and compression of interactive video. The company claims innovation in providing companies with the ability to “video e-mail” high-quality marketing messages to prospective or current customers that can be viewed without downloading and require no file attachment. Another service, Bannervision, adds full-motion, advanced audio and video to web banner ads, potentially making them more effective.

Microsoft is clearly still a major player, their area was huge and they helped sponsor many “partner presentations,” as did several other larger companies such as Kodak, Sony and others. Microsoft often had lines forming to attend their demonstrations of Windows 2000, the Pocket PC or Office 2000. You have to give Microsoft credit; they know how to market their products. 

Easy CD Creator 4Roxio is a digital media management and recording software company. It is a division of Adaptec and produces such products as Easy CD Creator 4 Deluxe, SoundStream and GoBack. Easy CD Creator 4 lets you record analog data from records or cassettes and even download MP3 files. You can use this program to record and even edit photos and video onto a CD. SoundStream lets you record MP3’s to CD, burn music CD’s with any combination of artists and songs you want and even design your own CD labels and disk covers. Staying with the CD burning theme for a moment, CD Stomper has a new product out, Click’N Burn Pro version 1.5 which adds a few features that Easy CD Creator 4 does not have, see www.clicknburn.com for more specifics. 

Finally, there were the Orange Micro Inc., products. These are add-on cards that need to be installed into an empty slot in your computer, but they are well worth the trouble. For example, FireWire (IEEE-1394 technology) products let you take advantage of the newer Digital Video cameras. However, I was most impressed with their FireWire/USB PCI board. In a single PCI slot, you get both FireWire input/output serial technology and Orange Micro FireWire Boardtwo USB connection ports. At the demonstration, there was a side-by-side comparison of input using older USB 1.1 technology versus their FireWire/USB 2.0 card. There was no comparison, the USB 2.0 presentation was like watching a normal speed video clip of a skier, while the USB 1.1 was like watching the same skier in time-lapse photographic images. They have multiple products and combinations, so please check out their web site for more details. This is just a glimpse of the many outstanding products that impressed me greatly. There were far too many others for me to cover them all in this short article.

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