Of mice and people. (Microsoft and Logitech introduce ergonomically-correct mice)
by Jill Champion
Of Mice and People
Both Microsoft and Logitech have chosen this summer to introduce new ergonomically designed mice. Logitech, maker of the Kidz Mouse and millions of OEM mice, made headlines two years ago with its new line of built-for-comfort mice. Its new three-button cordless mouse fits the palm pleasantly while substituting low-energy radio waves for the usual desk-encompassing tangle of mouse cable. The mouse can be sensed by its receiver over a range of six feet. Users can program the driver to interpret the middle button as a double click and the third button as a key-press (the default is the Esc key). The mouse is scheduled for release in August. Its suggested retail price is $149. Microsoft, also vying for the "Order of the Palm", introduced its latest version of one of the most successful rodents since Disney's. Its first redesign in six years boasts a more comfortable angle (while retaining ambidextrous operation), a thumb grip, and a weight over the ball for enhanced traction. The new mouse driver (version 9) provides many improvements to ease working in Windows, including an automatic snap to the default button in a dialog box, a magnifier for the two square inches of screen nearest the mouse pointer, and a wrap feature that moves the mouse pointer to the opposite side of the screen when you move past the edge. The serial version lists for $109.00 and the bus version for $125.00. The software's suggested retail price is $19.95.
Compaq Computer and Microsoft have formed the Frontline Partnership, in which both companies will work together to develop products "that are the easiest to use and the simplest to install, with the best performance and value in the industry"--including desktop PCs, portable PCs, docking stations, and hand-held computers, according to a press release issued by Compaq.
One area that the two companies plan to promote heavily to PC hardware, software, and peripherals industries is the new Plug and Play ISA specification codeveloped by Compaq, Microsoft, Intel, and several other companies. The goal of Plug and Play is to create automatically self-configurating hardware and software.
Whether you want one label or a hundred, forget your printer. The Labelwriter II is a hardware/software combo that plugs into your computer's serial port, ready to produce labels in any quantity instantaneously. Running as a TSR program (DOS version) or a full-featured Windows application (Windows version), the LabelWriter II software gives you a number of options for creative label making, including scalable fonts and the ability to mix font sizes and styles on a lineby-line basis. Other features let you create time-saving label templates, print POSTNET postal bar codes, and view WYSIWYG displays of each label before printing.
LabelWriter II uses a 1-inch printhead and retails for $249.95. The Labelwriter II Plus uses a 21/4-inch printhead and retails for $299.95. For more information, contact CoStar, 100 Field Point Road, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830-6406; (203) 661-9700, (203) 661-1540 (fax).
Sounds like a Bargdin
If your budget can't handle a Roland MT-32, you might want to consider Modular Circuit Technology's $49.95 Ad-Lib-compatible sound card. Called MCT-SOUND, the low-cost card is equipped with a stereo connector that allows external speakers, headphones, or an amplifier to be connected. MCT-SOUND is available through JDR Microdevices. JDR says that the card "makes the most of applications by producing the high-quality sounds they're designed to create."
For more information, contact JDR Microdevices, 2233 Samaritan Drive, San Jose, California 95124; (408) 559-1200, (408) 559-0250 (fax).
Photo CD Catolog
Searching through tiny photographs in a big stock-photo book is the old way of doing things, now that Kodak's new Photo CD technology allows high-resolution 35-mm film images to be stored on a CD for review on a computer or TV screen. And Kodak has formed a joint relationship with L.A.-based Westlight, one of the largest stock-photo agencies in the world, to market its new Kodak Photo CD Catalog, which allows Westlight's photos to be viewed and manipulated on a Mac or PC.
Ad agencies, publishers, or anyone else who uses stock photos in creative work can review and discuss each photo in a conference room instead of crowding around a light table," says Westlight's founder, Craig Aurness. And once a photo's selected, it can be quickly imported into a program like Photoshop to create a comp for the client.
For Kodak, the move is a major rollout of its Photo CD technology into the professional and commercial graphics markets, not to mention bringing ever closer the day when visual information available in a standardized, multiplatform digital format will be business as usual.
For more information about the CD catalog, contact Westlight, 2223 South Carmelina Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90064; 800) 872-7872.
Videogames on TV
Don't look up if you hear a sonic boom this fall. It's probably just Sonic the Hedgehog spinning faster than sound across your TV screen--on the new Sega Channel.
The Sega Channel is a sign of these electronic times--the first TV channel devoted to videogame playing and specifically to owners of Sega Genesi's game machines. Subscribers will choose from a wide selection of popular games, previews, and upcoming releases. News, playing tips, contests, and promotions will be featured regularly.
Set for test marketing this fall, the Sega Channel will be priced in the range of most pay-cable subscription services and, if all goes well, could be available to all U.S. cable operators by early 1994.
A new service from Orbit Enterprises allows you to "sign" a digitized version of your signature to letters, reports, financial statements, or anything else you regularly print out that requires your John Hancock. Orbit says the result looks hand-signed.
To use the service, you send your signature to Orbit for digitizing. The company returns your digitized LaserJet Signature Macro as either an easily installed DOS application ($75) or a TrueType font for Windows applications ($95). To use the signature, Windows users simply select a signature font, type a character, and choose a point size. DOS users enter a short printer command at the place in the document where the signature will appear.
The Signature Macro works with most word processors, including WordPerfect and Word, and it doesn't slow down printing time.
For more information, contact Orbit Enterprises, P.O. Box 2875, Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60138; (800) 767-6724.
Your Health on a Data Card
The newest thing to hit the healthcare industry is the Optical Card System, developed by Canon, that serves as a portable patient record. The credit card-sized OC20 optical card can store the equivalent of 1600 pages of text. Information is written to the card and read by a read/write drive unit, the RW20, that connects to standard IBM PC/AT and compatible computers.
Healthcare-system administrators, insurers, and providers currently conducting pilot projects with the card say it should help head off healthcare fraud and eliminate redundant medical procedures--and therefore help contain costs. Also, you can expect improvements in the quality of your care "when a comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date medical summary--including full medical history and drug therapy--is immediately available to a doctor during consultation," according to a press release issued by Canon. But healthcare is only the first application for the card.
Possible uses for optical data cards as storage media are almost unlimited.
It's Virtually Golf
The plaid high-waters are for real, but you'll only think you're playing 18 holes in Hawaii when you swing a club on this virtual-reality golf course, where you'll see exactly where your ball would land--fairway, green, hazard, rough, trees--if you were playing on an actual course. Technigen's Joytec Indoor Golf Center, located in Merv Griffin's Resort Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is where you'll find the thrills.
Besides having fun, you might learn something, too, because the computerized "green" you stand on analyzes your stroke, weight distribution, and other factors after every swing--it's sort of like having a built-in personal golf instructor.
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