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Published: Saturday, 5/21/2005

Fusion: Gates ahead, 4 gig in hand

GATES AHEAD

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is working on another book, once again about how technology is changing the way we live. There s no word on the book s title or a release date. In The Road Ahead, published in 1995, Gates wrote about his predictions for the Information Age how technology would become an integral part of how most people learn, work, shop and entertain themselves. Microsoft says about 2.5 million copies have been sold.

4 GIG IN HAND

PalmOne s new handheld with a built-in hard drive makes it possible to jam more rich content than ever into your pocket. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company hailed the LifeDrive as a new breed of personal digital assistant. LifeDrive ($499) has 4 gigabytes of storage, a large color screen (320-pixel-by-480-pixel) and is roughly the same width and length as most PDAs. By offering to manage a person s entire MP3 music collection, as well as movies, games, photos and large quantities of documents, the LifeDrive is the latest challenger to iPod digital music player from Apple Computer Inc. LifeDrive also can connect to the Web wirelessly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology and offers support for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files.

RETOOLING

Microsoft is working on a new Windows-based operating system designed to help companies make older machines run better. The software, code-named Eiger, will look and feel like much like Windows XP and will be equipped with Service Pack 2, a major security upgrade released last summer, said Barry Goffe, a group product manager for Microsoft s Windows client unit. The idea behind Eiger came from businesses and school systems that said they couldn t afford to replace an old fleet of computers but wanted machines running Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT to be more secure and easier to manage. Eiger will run a bare-bones set of programs directly from the desktop, including the Internet Explorer browser, Windows Media Center, a firewall and antivirus software. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has distributed preview copies of Eiger to about two dozen customers, but has not said when the software will be released or how much it will cost.

PIRACY STEADY

The rate of global computer software piracy was virtually unchanged last year, with illegal copies continuing to be most prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the U.S. Business Software Alliance. The alliance said that the rate of piracy averaged 35 percent around the world in 2004, compared with 36 percent in 2003. However, the value of illegal software rose to $32.7 billion, from $28.8 billion. Critics say such figures are exaggerated because those with pirated copies might not have actually gone out and paid full price for the software. They also argue that users of pirated software often later buy upgrades. The BSA survey, conducted by the U.S.-based market research firm IDC, covered business applications, operating systems, consumer software and local market software in 87 countries. Percentage of all software used coming from pirates:

1. Vietnam 92 percent

2. Ukraine 91 percent

3. China 90 percent

4. Zimbabwe 90 percent

5. Indonesia 87 percent

The piracy rate was lowest at 22 percent in North America.

HOT TO COLD

There are still times when the search for a Wi-Fi hot spot runs cold. Sony s new Vaio T-series laptops have the ability to catch a wave on Cingular s wireless Edge data network. The Vaio T-series machines (which include the VGN-T350P/L running Windows XP Professional and the VGN-T350/L with Windows XP Home) weigh slightly more than 3 pounds. They come with a 10.6-inch screen and have Sony s SmartWi program, which lets you quickly search for and select the best available wireless connection. Cingular s Edge network, which can transfer data at typical speeds of 70 to 135 kilobits a second, is available in 13,000 American cities and uses the GSM wireless standard which means the laptop may be able to find a connection even if you are traveling in Europe or Asia.

www.sonystyle.com

BURNED STEAKS

With the Grill Alert Talking Remote Thermometer ($75), you just stick a stainless steel probe into your sizzling meat and wait for the remote thermometer carried on an included belt clip to announce that your entree is almost ready or, a few minutes later, that your entree is ready. The probe is connected to a transmitter that sits next to the grill. The transmitter and the remote thermometer run on 2 AAA and 2 AA batteries, respectively. There is also a stand for securing the thermometer to a flat surface.

brookstone.com

MORE BLACK

In addition to the usual array of color inks, the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 uses four kinds of black ink to improve the reproduction of black-and-white photos. Like the printer it replaces, the R2200, the new printer has two basic black options: matte black for heavily textured papers and photo black for everything else. But the $850 R2400 adds two additional cartridges, light black and light light black, to improve monochrome photo reproduction. Each cartridge costs $15. All of the R2400 inks are based on pigments, which Epson says improves resistance to fading. The software it uses allows black-and-white prints to be made directly from color image files. It also gives users the option of making monochrome prints with a slightly warm or a brownish sepia tone.

TOLEDOBLADE.COM

Splash into summer with The Blade s Discover section, a guide to good times in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The section will appear in tomorrow s Blade and toledoblade.com

FROM THE BLADE S WIRE SERVICES AND STAFF.

CONTACT FUSION AT KCESARZ@THEBLADE.COM



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