On the Road, Again

Panasonic (Secaucus, NJ) has introduced a 1 Gigabyte Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card for PDAs, digital cameras, mobile phones and PCs. Featuring high-speed data transfer and content protection, the card has the capacity to store lots of still images, digital video and audio (you know, “stuff”). The memory card includes Panasonic’s proprietary high-density packaging technology. “You can mount eight 1 Gigahertz flash memory chips together for certain applications, such as broadcast video.” To find out how to do this, among other things, contact Panasonic.

Silex Technology (no, not the coffee pot people) has new biometric fingerprint readers and authentication software for your notebook, PDA and desktop. With a fingerprint reader you don’t need a password (which I usually forget, anyway). These new devices use silicon sensors from Fujitsu Microelectronics that scan at 500dpi resolution. Instead of recording a copy of the entire fingerprint, the readers capture a unique collection of data points from a user, according to Silex. The ComboMini ($179) is about the size of a keychain and connects to a USB port. Fingerprint data is stored on the card. Another new device from Silex is the FIC-ZOO ($199) fingerprint reader card for notebooks. Silex is coming out with the $149 FUS-200N USB reader very soon.

Duke University has given a 20-Gigabyte Apple iPod to each of its 1,650 entering freshmen this fall. The iPod will allow them to access class schedules, course information and play music. This is a joint effort between Apple and Duke University. There may be some merit to the idea but it hasn’t induced me to enroll at Duke.

PowerHouse Technologies (San Ramon, CA) will have its Migo Software in a watch. The software backs up your files and settings, Outlook and Web browser, references, cookies and wallpaper. The Migo plugs into a USB port and can bring up your normal desktop automatically. Migo is currently in a flash memory device and has a storage capacity of up to 1 Gigabyte. Prices range from $100 to $450.

PalmSource (Sunnyvale, CA) is planning a Linux version of the Palm OS. To do this they plan to buy China MobileSoft LTD., which has a Linux version for mobile devices. Their software (currently used in mobile phones) enables longer battery life and faster boot up times. Palm’s OS will run as a software layer on top of the Linux. It will use the same applications that run on the Palm OS. China MobileSoft now has software on at least 30 mobile devices, which will double the number of PalmSource phone licenses.

The FCC has approved Web access from planes. This action will allow airline passengers to access the Internet and possibly use their cellular phones in the air. Access could begin by 2006.

IBM now has the ThinkPad T42 with an integrated fingerprint reader built into select models. IBM’s Client Security Software supports fingerprint identification in addition to allowing IT administrators to install patches before boot up. It will prevent the computer from booting until the patches are installed. Check out their web site at www.ibm.com.

I’ve read that beginning next year, “all new Intel microprocessor designs will have not one but two ‘cores,’ or computational engines, on the same chip.” There are some high-end machines that already have two or more microprocessors on separate chips, working side by side on the same circuit board. Will notebooks be far behind? There’s no information available on the time frame for notebook processor evolution. This parallel processing is going to be a nightmare for programmers. Not that I have a lot of sympathy. It’s about time that they tighten up their code. The more memory, hard drive space and speed we get, the sloppier the code gets.

Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at chuckh@hal-pc.org for questions or comments.