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Making Laptops Less Portable For Thieves

Bits & Bytes


THERE ARE ELECTRONIC burglar alarms for houses, businesses, and cars, so why not for laptop computers? That's the idea behind Defcon 1, says maker Port Inc. in Norwalk, Conn. The $50 device for portable PCs combines a locking cable, a motion detector, and an alarm to help prevent laptop theft--which Port says reached more than 208,000 cases last year.

Defcon 1 comes with a retractable five-foot cable that can be locked to a special security slot designed into many current laptops or looped through a portable's carrying handle. The cable, which can be used independently of the alarm, secures the machine to less mobile equipment or furniture.

Once set, the battery-powered motion detector will trigger a 110-decibel alarm--louder than most common household smoke-detector alarms--if the PC is tilted or shaken or if its cable is cut. The 6.2-ounce device is available directly from the manufacturer or through computer dealers including Entex Computer Services and Ameridata.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG By Gary McWilliamsReturn to top


INTRANETS ARE GREAT for giving employees access to lots of company information. But sometimes, there's just too much to cope with. So CompassWare Development Inc. has come out with InfoMagnet, a program designed to reduce information overload.

Running on a server computer, the program keeps a profile of all users, indicating what subjects they're interested in. Then, InfoMagnet keeps its eye on the intranet's various information sources--Internet Web servers, repositories of Lotus Notes documents, and news wires entering from outside the company.

Each time an item of information shows up that seems to fit an employee's profile, the system notifies the person about where to look. What's more, users can enter English-based queries and can ask InfoMagnet to search multiple sources for information. It will not only run the search but also update their profile for future reference. Pricing starts at $4,995 per server and $100 per user.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG By John W. VerityReturn to top


WITH THE GROWTH AND USE of the Internet stemming principally from the U.S., it's no surprise that most Net data traffic--text files and E-mail, mainly--is in English. But as availability of the global conglomeration of computer networks spreads, Net surfers could be flooded with messages in different languages. Miami's Voice Pilot Technologies Inc. hopes to be one company with a solution to the impending Virtual Tower of Babel.

At the annual Comdex computer trade show in Las Vegas, the software company demonstrated its Global Automated Language Translator (GALT) software. Designed for PCs running IBM's OS/2 Warp 4 or Microsoft's Windows 95 operating systems, the software uses an enhanced version of IBM's VoiceType speech-recognition engine.

The idea is that if users want to send E-mail to someone in Latin America, they need only speak into their multimedia PCs. The PC records a voice file which GALT then translates into Spanish text before sending it out to the Internet. Any Spanish-based message sent in reply is translated instantly back into English.

Voice Pilot officials say that because the software uses speedy proprietary programming, GALT can be used for "real-time" translations--such as in an Internet chat room. What's more, Voice Pilot officials say that they're working on other versions for French, German, Russian, and Japanese languages, which should be available by early next year.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top

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