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Week of November 11, 2001 News Archive

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Monday November 12, 2001 Top

Intel Displays Next Generation Motherboard Prototype

Intel's Hannacroix, on display at the Comdex Fall 2001 trade show this week, is a next-generation motherboard--the slab of circuitry that houses all a computer's main components. It's a vehicle to demonstrate many technologies Intel hopes to see in future PCs, including the faster version 2 of Universal Serial Bus (USB) connections, Serial ATA connections to hard drives, six-speaker audio, and 802.11b and Bluetooth wireless networking. With Hannacroix, Intel decided to support both USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394a "Firewire," two dueling standards for connecting devices such as digital cameras, MP3 players, network cards and hard disks. USB 2.0 is much faster than the current version of USB, which is best for devices with low data-transfer demands, such as mice or keyboards. Microsoft initially snubbed USB 2.0 in Windows XP but later announced support.

A host of companies announced at Comdex how their chips will be incorporated into Hannacroix: NEC is providing a USB 2.0 controller chip. Agere Systems is providing its IEEE 1394a chip. Cirrus Logic is providing a low-cost sound chip that supports six audio channels. Marvell is providing a chip that lets manufacturers splice newer Serial ATA interfaces onto older Parallel ATA electronics. Kawasaki LSI will provide a chip that lets manufacturers join a 100mbps Ethernet connection to a USB 2.0 connection. Silicon Wave is providing chips for Bluetooth wireless networking. Intersil provides chips that enable 802.11b "Wi-Fi" wireless networking via a USB 2.0 interface. Cypress Semiconductor provides a chip that bridges from USB 2.0 to the ATAPI standard currently used to connect CD and DVD drives.

Intel Introduces 802.11a Based Wireless Networking Products

Intel Corporation today announced availability of the industry's first suite of wireless networking products that allow companies and individuals to connect to the Internet and corporate networks five times faster than with previous wireless products. Intel's new wireless networking gear is based on the next-generation IEEE 802.11a standard. "Connecting to the Internet and other networks using wireless technology is the next step in making computing truly pervasive," said Taizoon Doctor, general manager of Intel's Mobile Communications Division. "Intel will help accelerate the growth of wireless networks by driving the development of wireless standards and delivering high-performance products and software. Our 802.11a family of products is designed to significantly improve the mobile computing experience." The Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN family of products include everything a small to medium enterprise needs to deploy a high-speed wireless network, including access points (wireless hubs), desktop PC and notebook PC adapters, and software designed for easy setup. In addition, Intel is providing a mini-PCI adapter to system manufacturers for integrating wireless LANs directly into notebook PCs.

Intel also offers an optional, dual-mode expansion kit enabling the new access point to support networks using products based on 802.11a and the IEEE 802.11b standard. The Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN family of products include Intel PROSet Software to enable easier configuration and management of wired and wireless networks. The PROSet software includes the Intel PRO/Wireless Adapter Switching software and advanced profile, power and network management tools to help network administrators reduce training costs and simplify deployments. The Adapter Switching software, developed by Intel Labs, enables mobile users to seamlessly switch between wired and wireless network connections without reconfiguring or rebooting the PC.The Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Access Point, the Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN CardBus Adapter for notebook PCs, the Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN PCI Adapter for desktop PCs are now available in the United States and selected countries where regulatory approval exists for the suggested list price of $449, $179 and $229, respectively. The Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN 3A Mini PCI Adapter for embedded solutions is also available now with pricing dependent on volume.

SiS Likely to Release Rambus Based Pentium 4 Chipset Soon

Chipmaker Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) may be close to launching a new chipset for Pentium 4 PCs using Rambus memory. The chipset maker announced Monday that it has expanded an existing licensing agreement with Rambus to include RDRAM--dynamic random access memory based on Rambus designs. The new agreement opens the door to SiS using Rambus memory in future products in the PC, networking and communications markets, the company said. As previously reported by CNET, Taiwan-based SiS has been negotiating a deal to offer the chipset for some time. "As a leading chipset supplier in Taiwan, SiS is poised to offer the broadest range of performance system solutions to our customers by offering RDRAM-compatible products," said Shing Wong, a senior vice president at SiS. SiS also offers chipsets for Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon and Duron processors, Intel's Pentium III and Celeron chips, and one that pairs the Pentium 4 with SDRAM.

Maxtor Releases 80 Gig Firewire Hard Drive

Maxtor Corporation today announced the availability of the 80 GB Personal Storage 3000DV, a 7200 rpm high performance external hard drive with FireWire connectivity. The 80GB Personal Storage 3000 DV is an ideal solution for storing and retrieving the increasingly large libraries of content generated by digital video editing, digital camcorders, digital cameras, scanners and MP3 digital music. It is also useful for backing up internal hard disk drives, playing games and/or file sharing between PC and Apple Macintosh systems. "FireWire is the standard for digital video editing due to its high speed, flexible connectivity and ability to add storage quickly and easily," said Tex Schenkkan, senior vice president, consumer electronics and business development at Maxtor. "Using FireWire, our Personal Storage devices are providing the performance that enables the creative community to make movies more productively and grow their digital portfolios of photographs and music."

"Apple enabled the digital video revolution with its invention of FireWire, the interface of choice for today's high-speed peripherals, digital video camcorders and fast external hard drives," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior director of Hardware Product Marketing. "With Apple customers creating the next generation of digital productions using iDVD, FinalCut Pro and iMovie applications, Maxtor's external storage devices provide the performance and capacity they need for storing their library of digital creations." Available immediately through Maxtor's network of nationwide retailers, as well as the company's on-line store,, the 80GB Personal Storage 3000DV has a suggested retail price of $349.95. To complement the Maxtor Personal Storage family, the company offers both 1394 PCI Adapter Card and 1394 CardBus products to upgrade previous-generation desktop and laptop computers not equipped with IEEE 1394 ports. Both are currently available at major retailers and directly from, priced at $49.95 and $99.95, respectively.

Tuesday November 13, 2001 Top

Apple Introduces Second Generation of AirPort Wireless Networking

Apple today announced the second generation of its AirPort wireless network solution for home, school and office. The 802.11b based solution features a new AirPort Base Station offering the first-ever support for America Online users, a built-in firewall for greater protection, 128-bit encryption for added wireless security, and up to 50 users sharing one base station. "Apple has consistently led the industry in 802.11 wireless networking," said Philip Schiller, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Now we're adding another industry first with support for America Online, and great new security features like a built-in firewall and 128-bit encryption." Based on the industry standard IEEE 802.11b, the AirPort wireless networking solution consists of the AirPort Base Station, AirPort Card and AirPort software. The new AirPort 2.0 software, available as an online download from Apple's web site in both native Mac OS X and Mac OS 9 versions, provides compatibility with AOL, the most popular Internet Service Provider in the U.S. The new software can also be used to add AOL support to existing AirPort Base Stations, as well as 128-bit encryption to existing AirPort Cards.

AirPort's new connectivity and security features include: compatibility with AOL, the most popular Internet Service Provider in the U.S.; two Ethernet ports, one 10BASE-T for wide area connections such as DSL or cable modem, and a new 10/100BASE-T port for local area networking; firewall protection providing added security from unauthorized access via the Internet; support for up to 128-bit password and data encryption; RADIUS support enabling schools and businesses to centrally manage user access control; and AirPort Card compatibility with Cisco's LEAP security method, popular in many higher-education institutions. AirPort offers a data rate of up to 11 megabits per second, enabling simultaneous sharing of a single Internet connection by up to 50 users and has a typical range of 150-foot radius from the base station. All Apple notebooks and desktops are AirPort-ready with integrated antennas and card slot, some with the AirPort card preinstalled. Apple's wireless networking solution is available immediately through The Apple Store, at Apple's retail stores and through Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $99(US) for the AirPort Card and $299(US) for the AirPort Base Station.

Apple Releases Update to Mac OS X

The 10.1.1 update delivers improvements for many USB and FireWire devices, including support for additional digital cameras, and overall improvements to CD and DVD burning. Enhancements have been made to AFP, SMB, and WebDAV networking, as well as improved support for printing. This update also delivers better application compatibility, including updates to the Finder and Mail application. In addition, hardware accelerated video mirroring has been enabled for the new PowerBook G4.

HyperTransport Gains More Industry Support

The HyperTransport standard for exchanging data between semiconductors is picking up speed. More than a dozen companies have licensed the new standard, the HyperTransport Consortium, an the industry group charged with stewarding the technology, announced Monday. Acer Laboratories, Altera, AMCC, Fast-Chip, Flow Engines, GDA Technologies, Josipa Company, LEDA Systems, Marvell Semiconductor, Nokia, Spinnaker Networks, Teradyne, Xilinx and 0-In Design Automation have all licensed the technology and agreed to work further to develop it. HyperTransport was originally developed by Advanced Micro Devices for exchanging data between multiple processors in servers. But the technology's reach has broadened into networking and other applications. Meanwhile, 3GIO, a similar technology developed by Intel, will compliment HyperTransport as the eventual successor to PCI, the longtime standard for connecting devices such as graphics cards and network cards to computers. API NetWorks, Apple Computer, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Sun Microsystems, Transmeta and SGI are members, along with AMD and PMC-Sierra. Graphics chipmaker Nvidia uses HyperTransport in its new nForce chipset for desktop PCs based on AMD's Athlon processor.

Wednesday November 14, 2001 Top

Opera Release Beta Version of Opera 6.0

Opera Software moved Tuesday to catch up to Microsoft and Netscape on the international scene with a test launch of its new browser. Announced Tuesday at Comdex Fall 2001, the test, or "beta," version of Opera 6.0 for Microsoft's Windows operating system brings Opera up to speed with heavyweight competitors Microsoft and Netscape by allowing people to read Web pages written in non-Roman alphabets, including Chinese and Japanese. Lagging behind Opera's new browser for Windows are its counterparts for the Linux and Macintosh operating systems. Opera has yet to finalize its version 5.0 browser for the Mac. But the company promised a 6.0 beta for Linux "fairly quickly." Jon S. von Tetzchner, chief executive of Opera Software, said the Opera 6.0 beta was faster, used memory more efficiently, and had incremental improvements in its support for standards promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium.

The company has followed Netscape and Microsoft with new options for displaying windows, including a choice between single and multiple document interfaces, and a persistent bar for bookmarks and search. With the 6.0 beta, people can run multiple copies of Opera simultaneously, preserving different sets of e-mail, bookmarks and other preferences. E-mail changes include the ability to import e-mail from Microsoft Outlook accounts and support for TLS (Transport Layer Security) for POP and SMTP accounts. TLS is a security protocol under development by the Internet Engineering Task Force. The browser also comes with a new default user interface.

In a feature reminiscent of information-gathering applications such as Atomica, Opera 6.0 offers Hotclick, which lets people select a word and pull down a definition or translation without leaving the page. To provide encyclopedia and translation content, Opera has formed a partnership with Terra Lycos. Other partners with Hotclick include search engine Google and e-commerce Web site Paying users of Opera 5.x for Windows get a free upgrade to the 6.0 beta. Paid users of Opera 4.x get a discount of about half off the $39 fee. Opera is planning to release the final 6.0 Windows browser by Christmas.

Thursday November 15, 2001 Top

AMD Introduces 1.2GHz Duron

AMD today announced a new desktop processor for the mainstream PC market, the 1.2GHz AMD Duron processor, offering best-in-class performance on digital photo, audio and Internet applications. "With the new 1.2GHz AMD Duron processor, customers can configure an AMD Duron processor-based system with low-cost DDR memory at or below the cost of competitive SDRAM systems," said Ed Ellett, vice president of marketing for AMD's Computation Products Group. "This will enable increased application performance and provide even more momentum to the AMD Duron processor's global success." The Microsoft Windows XP operating system was designed and optimized for x86 processors like the AMD Duron processor. A 1.2GHz AMD Duron processor-based system with DDR memory substantially outperforms a 1.2GHz Intel Celeron processor-based system with SDRAM on 3D gaming benchmarks, and also provides up to a 13 percent performance advantage versus a 1.4GHz Pentium 4 processor-based system with SDRAM on office productivity and digital media applications. Like all AMD processors, the new 1.2GHz AMD Duron processor supports AMD's Socket A platform. Motherboard solutions featuring DDR memory now enable top-to-bottom PC system price points. For commercial customers, AMD's Socket A infrastructure offers unmatched platform stability. The 1.2GHz AMD Duron processor is priced at $103 in 1,000-unit quantities.

802.11g Wireless Networking Standard Ready for Final Vote

An industry standards group has tentatively approved new technology that will speed wireless Internet connections in homes, businesses and public places. Technology companies, through an industry standards group called the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), on Thursday tentatively approved a new standard called 802.11g that reaches data transfer rates of 54 megabits per second (mbps). The new standard is five times faster and compatible with wireless networking kits that use the popular 802.11b standard that is in use today. The 802.11b networking kits, built by the likes of Cisco Systems, 3Com, Proxim, Intel and Agere Systems, allow people to wirelessly connect their laptops together, so they can roam around the house or office and still surf the Web. The technology has become popular in the past few years, spreading to coffee shops, airports and hotels. The standards organization is expected to approve the standard in a final vote next year, said John Allen, a spokesman for chipmaker Intersil.

The 802.11g standard has stirred controversy among technology companies as they have bickered over 802.11b's successor. The 802.11b standard is limited to data transfer rates of 11 mbps. Some tech companies at this week's Comdex show released new speedier wireless networking products that are based on the 802.11a standard, which matches the same speed of the proposed 802.11g standard. The faster 54 mbps rate allows for audio and video streaming and the swapping of big files. Because of 802.11a's release, some tech executives felt the new 802.11g standard was not needed. They also fear that a third standard would confuse and frustrate consumers if they buy wireless networking products that are not compatible with each other. The existing 802.11b standard and proposed 802.11g standard are compatible because they reside in the crowded 2.4GHz frequency, the same portion of the airwaves that microwave ovens and cordless phones operate in. The 802.11a standard has less interference because it operates in the uncrowded 5Ghz frequency. 802.11a is not compatible with 802.11b, however.

Supporters of the new 802.11g standard said the IEEE built the standard to allow each standard to co-exist with each other. The key element in the new standard is that the 802.11g technology is built the same way as the 802.11a technology, said Bill Carney, Texas Instruments' director of business development. That way, network equipment companies such as Intel, Cisco and 3Com could build combination wireless PC cards that support all three standards: 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11a. While the networking companies may build wireless technology that supports only one standard, creating technology that supports all three technologies could allay concerns of incompatibilities, Intersil's Allen said. "This makes logical sense. 802.11g can make the bridge between the existing wireless technology," Allen said. The 802.11g standard has been in the works for about a year, and the tech companies at the IEEE meetings this week considered scrapping the new standard because the effort has been so slow going, Carney said. The IEEE had been considering competing proposals by Intersil and Texas Instruments for the 802.11g standard. After heavy debate, the IEEE voted Thursday on a technology that took a bit from both proposals, Carney said.

Microsoft Releases Patch for Internet Explorer Vulnerability

Microsoft has issued a patch for a serious HTML vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which would allow hackers to gain access to a user's cookies and expose the sensitive information that they contain. The exploit was discovered on November 8, and was reported publicly rather than directly to Microsoft. On the same day, the software giant advised customers to disable Active Scripting, which would protect them from the Web-hosted and mail-bourne variants of the vulnerability. Microsoft is insisting that the patch released on November 14 represents a fast turn-around by its security team. "The vulnerability was publicly disclosed by someone who discovered the vulnerability on November 8, which was extremely irresponsible," said a spokesperson at Microsoft. "The immediate action that we took was to issue a work-around so that system administrators could protect themselves, and a patch was issued yesterday." The high-risk vulnerability in IE 5.5 and 6.0 allows malicious code to gain unauthorised access to the cookies that are used to customise and retain a site's setting for a customer across multiple sessions. Because some e-commerce Web sites use cookies to store sensitive information about users, it is possible that personal information could be exposed through the software hole.

Friday November 16, 2001 Top

AMD Tries New Marketing Strategy to Get Sales

What's the key to Advanced Micro Devices' future? Benchmarks and body paint. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker is in the midst of a multi-pronged marketing strategy to convince consumers, as well as corporate buyers, that its Athlon XP and Duron chips provide better performance and cost less than rival Intel's Pentium 4 or Celeron processors. AMD is talking with computer labs and benchmark testers to come up with new performance metrics for comparing its chips. Kevin Knox, a Gartner analyst turned AMD executive, is also hosting roundtables with CIOs to discuss the benefits of AMD's chips in a business environment. While corporate America to date has largely refused to adopt Athlon computers, the barriers are beginning to crumble. "I think there is acceptance. I hear more and more customers asking about AMD in the corporate space," said Achim Kuttler, director of Hewlett-Packard's PC client business, who nonetheless added, "but there is a big difference between asking and buying."

AMD is also tapping its loyal fan base to spread the word. Like Apple Computer, AMD has developed a fervent following with a segment of the computer buying public, and it is staging events across the country that allow consumers to talk--or sing--about their favorite processor to other potential buyers, said Patrick Moorhead, AMD's vice president of customer advocacy. So far, it seems to be working. At a recent event on a cold morning in Chicago, five shirtless guys sporting body paint came out to see the AMD roadshow. If lined up right, the first three spelled "AMD" while the next two sported the company and Athlon logos. Others come onto the stage to sing songs about AMD chips or chant anti-Intel slogans.

"We are not going to be the redcoats," Moorhead said. "We hide in the trees. We do untraditional marketing. So far, it's been a runaway success." "It definitely seems like a cult following," said Dean McCarron of Mercury Research. "Part of it is an underdog thing. It is similar to the 3Dfx Mafia," referring to 3Dfx, a former graphics powerhouse. Attendance at some of these events has been double expectations, he noted. AMD's marketing effort comes at what the company, and some analysts, believe is a historical juncture. Although AMD is once again in the red, its chips are being hailed for their performance. For the third year in a row, the influential Microprocessor Report has named Athlon the microprocessor of the year.

$100 Million Dollars of Counterfeit Software Seized

Law enforcement officials on Friday announced the largest seizure of counterfeit software in U.S. history, a shipping container of cleverly faked copies of Microsoft's Windows software valued at $100 million. Federal investigators and police said a well-funded syndicate operating in Taiwan and the Los Angeles area had tried to ship the pirated software here by bribing an undercover agent posing as a U.S. Customs Service official. "We intercepted the nerve," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca told reporters at a county warehouse, where nearly 31,000 copies of the Windows operating system were held. "This is like a drug cartel. This is like intercepting a drug cartel," Baca said. Police arrested three suspects, including a Taiwanese woman, after an 18-month sting operation aimed at cracking what was believed to be a distribution pipeline for bringing software knock-offs to Los Angeles, considered a hub for the underground business.

"Perhaps most disturbing is the high quality of the counterfeit products seized in this case," said Rich LaMagna, investigations manager for Microsoft. The copies of Windows Me and Windows 2000 Professional were indistinguishable from the real thing except for their lack of authenticating holograms on the CDs, flaws in packaging, and other slight defects, LaMagna said. More than 4,000 copies of the operating manual for Microsoft's newly released Windows XP were also seized in the shipment, suggesting software pirates were gearing up to produce and ship bootleg copies of the company's new operating system, which was released Oct. 25. There were also illegal copies of Symantec antivirus software in a 40-foot container full of software that was searched and seized after it was offloaded from a merchant vessel.

Justice Department Details Decision Over Settlement

The U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge on Thursday that its antitrust settlement with Microsoft will stop the company's monopolistic practices and asked her to endorse it without too much tampering. In documents filed with U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the department's attorneys said the settlement "will eliminate Microsoft's illegal practices, prevent recurrence of the same or similar practices, and restore the competitive threat that (other software) products posed prior to Microsoft's unlawful undertakings." The document, known as a "competitive impact statement" outlines the Justice Department's rationale for settling its three-year antitrust case against Microsoft. Under federal law, Kollar-Kotelly will review the department's arguments and outside comments submitted during a 60-day public comment period before deciding whether the settlement is in the public interest.

In Thursday's filing, the department said it had considered a long list of alternatives to the settlement, including the idea of continuing the lawsuit, before deciding to settle. But the department concluded that the courtroom battle would have dragged on for at least two years. Instead, it said it opted for a remedy with more "immediacy and certainty." In addition, the department said it had considered at least a half dozen other possible remedies, including the idea of forcing Microsoft to disclose all of Windows' inner workings to competitors. However, the department ultimately concluded that the settlement it reached with the company "provided the most effective and certain relief in the most timely manner." The department also told Kollar-Kotelly that she should not hold the settlement to too tough a standard. The deal "should not be reviewed under a standard of whether it is certain to eliminate every anticompetitive effect of a particular practice or whether it mandates certainty of free competition in the future," the department said.

Instead, the department argued, Kollar-Kotelly has only to conclude that the deal "falls within the range of acceptability or is within the reaches of public interest." And it said the judge "'is only authorized to review the decree itself,' and not to 'effectively redraft the complaint'..." Regardless of how the settlement proceeds, the company still must prepare for hearings in its ongoing case by the dissenting state attorneys general. The judge has scheduled a hearing for March to determine what, if any, further sanctions should be imposed against the company. A federal appeals court ordered the remedy hearings in a June 28 ruling, having concluded that the company abused its monopoly in personal computer operating systems. After the 60-day public comment period, the Justice Department will have another 30 days to respond to the comments. Kollar-Kotelly could also decide to hold public hearings before making a decision.

Weekend November 17 & 18, 2001 Top

Bleem Is Dead?

Apparently Bleem is dead. On Bleem's web site there is now a image of a tombstone with "Bleem!, April 1999 - November 2001" written on it, and Image of Sonic the Hedgehog with tears running down its face. No other information is know right now, but the company has had continuing financial problems due to pressure from Sony.

IBM Releases ViaVoice for Mac OS X

First demonstrated at Macworld New York this past July, IBM today released ViaVoice for Mac OS X. The new version takes advantage of Mac OS X technologies and gives previous users a couple of ways to upgrade to the OS X version. IBM has taken ViaVoice to the desktop with this newest release. Users can now enable common tasks, use AppleScript, open files and open applications, all without touching the keyboard. ViaVoice can also now be used with any text-based application, not just with Microsoft Word or IBM's own dictation software. In addition to bringing Finder voice commands to OS X, the ViaVoice product team set out to optimize ViaVoice for Apple's new operating system. "ViaVoice does take advantage of Mac OS X and its multi-tasking capabilities -- it's a wonderful operating system from that perspective," Toby Maners, Manager, Consumer Voice and Pen Segment, IBM Voice Systems told MacCentral. "There are several instances in ViaVoice where it's useful to be able to do multiple things at once." If you haven't moved to Mac OS X, but you still want to try ViaVoice, don't worry. IBM is leaving older versions of the product on the shelf and may even ship more versions to retailers if demand warrants such a move.

"We are leaving the two previous products in the marketplace because there are still customers who are using the older operating system and are not necessarily upgrading," said Maners. "We want to make sure if they want to try ViaVoice they can." ViaVoice will be available directly from IBM for US$171, which includes a USB microphone. The application will also be available from the Apple retail stores and other retailers. IBM is offering two ways to get the new product: if you own the original ViaVoice with an analog microphone -- you will need to purchase the full product, fill out a rebate and send it to IBM. The second version of ViaVoice has a USB microphone included -- you can buy an upgrade directly from IBM, which includes the CD and users guide, but no microphone. More details about the rebates are available from IBM -- please contact them with any questions on qualifications for either rebate program. System requirements for ViaVoice for OS X include Mac OS X version 10.1; G3 300MHz or higher; 192MB RAM (256 RAM recommended); 600MB of available hard drive space; USB port; Audio output jack or USB speakers; CD-ROM or DVD drive.

Sony Announces USB Storage Media

Sony will unveil today the Micro Vault USB-based storage media device that's designed to let you quickly transport and share files between computers without cables or adaptors. The device is due in January. "We wanted to provide a product that made it easy and fast to transfer data in a Mac to PC, Mac to Mac, or PC to PC environment," Tom Evans, vice president of marketing for the media & application solutions division of Sony Electronics' Core Technology Solutions Company, told MacCentral. "And its transfer speed of 1.5MB per second offers very quick access. Especially among Mac users, there's a migration away from floppy disks and this provides an alternative to the floppy as a bridge from computer to computer." The Micro Vault is about as long as a car key and thick as a highlighter pen. It plugs into any USB computer, including Macs. It's available in four models with storage capacities up to 128MB. Sony says the new media device stores any type of data, including digital still images, presentation materials and digital audio and video files.

Through the device's plug-and-play capability, users can now take such large files as PowerPoint presentations that include high-resolution graphics, video clips and other multi-media elements, and instantly transfer them to another computer, designed for situations when portability and compatibility are important, he added. Plug in the Micro Vault and a green LED display pulses to show it's connected. Begin transferring data and the LED flashes quickly. There's no external power supply, as the device is solely powered through the USB port. The Micro Vault USB media device doesn't require software drivers when used with Mac O.S. 9.x and Mac OS X 10.x (it doesn't work with earlier versions of the Mac operating system). It offers true "plug and play," Evans said. It has a cap that acts as a cover and protector of the USB contact points and doubles as a way to attach the Micro Vault to a keychain or necklace. The Micro Vault USB device will be sold in stores and online. It will come color-coded according to storage capacity, including a 16MB (orange), 32MB (red), 64MB (blue) and 128MB (black) models for suggested list prices of US$49.99, $89.99, $149.99 and $299.99, respectively.

Minor Updates to Mac OS 9 Coming Soon

Earlier in the month, Think Secret reported on Apple's development of the Mac OS 9.2.2 update. The release, dubbed Limelight update 1, or LU1, is entirely a bug fix and hardware support release, with no new features. After seeding the b7 release of LU1 early last week, Apple hit the final candidate stage, providing f2 to developers as the fourth seeded build. It is unknown how close to final release Apple is, but it bears note that there are very few known issues with f2, at the moment. As we begin to receive usage reports from sources, we will be able to develop a clearer picture of when we can expect LU1's public release. As previously reported, many system components have received updates in 9.2.2, most prominently in the areas of authoring support, ATI and nVidia software, FireWire, Ethernet, USB, and OpenGL.

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