P> Don't Sugarcoat It
Press releases are usually about as interesting to read as a corporate brochure -- and just about as informative. But Washington Technology recently received this candid release, titled "Romania Sacks Telecom Minister," from International Technology Consultants, Bethesda, Md. Among WT reporters, ITC has gained a reputation for issuing press releases that tell it like it is. "Romania's Minister Communications Adrian Turicu was removed last night by presidential decree. The move comes amid Romania's failure to accomplish several of its telecommunications development goals for 1995.... Romtelecom lagged behind schedule on its implementation of the Development Program of Communications, new telecom legislation languished in Parliament for much of 1995 and steps to introduce GSM cellular service in Romania ground to a halt. Inefficiencies exist at several levels of government and private enterprise and have retarded growth in Central Europe's second largest nation eager for improved telecommunication service."
A Cash Cow In reverse
Two years ago, Novell Inc. of Provo, Utah, paid $855 for WordPerfect and made it a separate division. Last week, Corel Corp., Ottawa, Ontario, paid Novell approximately one quarter that amount for WordPerfect. Novell had originally planned on buying the once-venerable WordPerfect for $1.4 billion, until the threat of a shareholder revolt scotched the deal. Interestingly, Novell's share price over the last two years has roughly tracked the same downward trajectory as the value of WordPerfect.
PSI Is One Popular Corporate Name
In addition to PSINet Inc., two infotech companies in the greater Washington region call themselves PSI International -- one in Fairfax, Va., and the other in Towson, Md. An outfit called PSI Software operates in Nevada City, Calif., and there are two companies called PSI Technology Corp. -- one in Andover, Mass., and the other in Austin, Texas. A company called PSI, in Livonia, Mich., calls itself "the world's largest independent industrial component company." All in all, CorpTech, a directory of high-tech companies, lists 25 U.S. companies that use the capitalized initials PSI in their corporate name.
Computer Chess Heats Up
IBM Corp.'s Deep Blue computer will interface with world chess champion Garry Kasparov. The man and the machine will play a six-game tournament starting Feb. 10 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Although computers have not beaten grand masters in tournaments, they are getting better. Thus Deep Blue can calculate 100 billion chess moves within the three minutes allowed by classical chess. To assess the value of its moves, the computer draws upon a database of opening moves and a database of end-game moves once five or fewer pieces are left on the board. In mid-game, the computer relies solely on its calculation speed to compare the myriad options that it faces. "It has no human intuition or pattern recognition as a human player does," which allows players to greatly narrow the number of optional moves worth considering, said event spokesman David Grijns
Mergers and Acquisitions Grow
The infotech industry spawned a record number of mergers and acquisitions during 1995 -- 57 percent more than in 1994, according to Broadview Associates L.P., a mergers and acquisition firm based in Fort Lee, N.J. The 1995 total was 2,913, compared to 1,861 in 1994. Takeovers grew by 78 percent from 879 in 1994 to 1,563 in 1995.
See No Evil
Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J., has developed a 360-degree electronic eyeball, innovatively called the Panoramic Camera. The device uses a compact charge-coupled device camera and four triangular mirrors to offer full motion, in-focus video of objects up to great distances. The roughly 2-cubic-foot camera could be used for surveillance, distance learning or entertainment, said Sam Bleecker, an AT&T spokesman. Bell Labs is part of Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, N.J., one of the three independent companies arising from the AT&T breakup.
Internet by Satellite
Mark Twain Computer Manufacturers Inc., La Grange, Mo., claims to have developed an Internet product that works without modems or on-line services. The connection is provided by satellite via a 24-inch dish and works with any computer, according to the company. Mark Twain is marketing the service to computer dealers and resellers. Dealers would make a commission from sales. Mark Twain also said the service could work for schools that can't afford traditional Internet access.
In addition to providing e-mail and fax transmissions, the dish transmits 100 television channels, including HBO, Disney and Playboy, for about $40 a month.
Digital Directory Assistance
PC411, a leader in providing instant on-line access to telephone directory listings, has announced an agreement with Dallas-based Texas Instruments to ship its on-line directory assistance software with all TI TravelMate notebook computers.
Creating a World Wide Web site can be very expensive -- much to the advantage of Web developers, according to a study released by Forrester Research Inc. The developers reap 71 percent of the dollars spent on Web sites, while Web-boasting companies gain only 17 percent, said the study. However, marketing the new Web site is cheap, mostly because the Web address can be added to existing product packaging and advertisements, said the study.
Little-Known DOS Options
Backup not found: (A)bort (R)etry (P)anic
Bad Command: A)bort, (R)etry, (T)ake down entire network?
File Not Found: (A)bort, (R)etry, (G)et a beer?
REALITY.SYS corrupted: Reboot universe? (Y/N/Q)
E-mail returned to sender: Insufficient voltage
Error: Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to continue
Smash forehead on keyboard to continue.....
Enter any 11-digit prime number to continue...
EXCELLENT command or filename!
Copy File? Y'all reckon? (Yep/Nope)
C:\WINDOWS C:\WINDOWS\GO C:\PC\CRAWL
C:\DOS C:\DOS\RUN RUN\DOS\RUN
Best file compression around: "DEL *.*" = 100compression
CONGRESS.SYS Corrupted: Re-boot Washington D.C (Y/N)?
Hidden DOS secret: add BUGS=OFF to your CONFIG.SYS
Hit any user to continue.