Bits & Bytes
NET SURFING MADE EASY IN HONOLULU
THE IDEA OF RUNNING A global corporation on an "intranet" is gaining in popularity. Potentially, it's an inexpensive and efficient way to manage operations across different time zones and types of computers. Potentially. But global Internet traffic can be painfully slow. One reason: Nearly all data pass through a network-access point of at least one of the major U.S.-based communications providers, such as Sprint, MCI Communications, or AT&T. That can create a bottleneck because those services are quickly becoming oversubscribed, causing traffic jams.
How to get around this? Ship your traffic through Digital Island. The Honolulu-based startup claims to have a speedy way to handle international Internet traffic. It's in the process of connecting countries on every continent with direct connections to its central servers in Hawaii. Even if a call originates in Europe, DI says, it will get to the U.S. faster through its server because phone circuits in Honolulu are less crowded.
DI's architecture also allows it to hook directly into any Internet carrier without having to pass through another company's network. Since traffic slows every time a carrier hands off data to another network, the fewer handoffs, the faster data can be delivered. The network goes live this month, with Cisco Systems using it to deliver maintenance data and software to customers around the globe.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG By Ira SagerReturn to top
HOME HANDYMEN THAT DO WINDOWS
WINDOWS 95 WAS SUPPOSED to make your personal computer so easy to use that you wouldn't need extra programs to help you out of a jam--like when you're adding a new joystick. Well, it hasn't quite worked that way. Win 95 is a big step toward making Windows PCs more like Apple Computer's user-friendly Macintoshes, but it's still easy for PC owners, especially newbies, to get confused.
So software maker Symantec has seized an opportunity. The Cupertino (Calif.) company has released a set of "utility" software products geared specifically for users of the Windows 95 operating system.
PC Handyman, Symantec's $50 CD-ROM, offers more than 140 digital video clips that teach owners basic how-to's as well as offering tips on fixing such problems as a nonworking modem. For PC owners who just want to make sure their new machine is working properly, the $30 Healthy PC checks for computer viruses and cleans up cluttered hard-disk drives. And to keep the nerds happy, Symantec has also released the latest version of its Norton Utilities program, an $80 set of diagnostic software that geeks have been using for the past 14 years to solve various problems that plague owners of personal computers.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top
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CRUISING THE INFO HIGHWAY FOR TRUCK PARTS
THE INTERNET IS A GREAT way to find people from around the world who share similar interests, from sports to fashion to truck parts. Truck parts? Sure. Just ask Parts-In-Excess (PIE), a young outfit based in Guilford, Conn., that offers a worldwide "virtual warehouse" of excess or obsolete parts for commercial trucks.
PIE combines inventory lists from 1,900 buyers, sellers, and manufacturers to create its electronic warehouse. Members pay a onetime $250 fee for an access code that lets them list on or browse the PIE site using any Net-capable computer. PIE serves as broker and collects 2.5 cents per line listed per year, plus a 10% commission on sales. Sales agreements are confirmed by fax, and payments are made by check or credit card if the lots are small.
While PIE's current inventory is expected to more than double, to $100 million, by yearend, industry sources estimate there is as much as $1.4 billion in heavy-duty truck-parts inventory in the U.S. and Canada. PIE's principals, encouraged by their $562,000 in sales since April, plan to expand the virtual warehouse to include parts for heavy-duty off-road vehicles used in mining and construction.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG By Resa W. KingReturn to top