Bits & Bytes
FAXES AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
FOR MANY PROFESSIONALS on the go, sending and receiving faxes can be a hassle. Laptops with fax modems and appropriate software can do the job. But why lug around a PC and deal with quirky communications software just to look at a fax? Reflection Technology Inc. in Waltham, Mass., has a simple, elegant solution for those who want the fax and nothing but the fax.
Its FaxView Personal Fax Reader connects to any landline or cellular phone. Like its desktop cousins, the eight-ounce machine can automatically answer the phone it's connected to in order to receive faxes. But instead of printing them, it stores up to 25 pages in its memory. To view them, owners look through a two-inch-wide window, and FaxView's technology creates an image of the page that seems to float in front of the user's eye. Owners can zoom in on the image, store, delete, and forward copies using two buttons on the device. Creating fax messages requires tapping out letters from a "virtual keyboard" that can be called up on the display. The $499 unit, available through cell-phone dealers, also features a fax directory that can store up to 100 names and fax numbers.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top
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VIRTUAL BRICKS FOR THAT BUDDING BUILDER
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE a kid, and "interactivity" meant sitting down with a pile of blocks to create castles, skyscrapers, or any of a thousand things? Gryphon Software Corp. in San Diego figures that plenty of computer users still have that desire to build and has introduced a virtual construction toy called Gryphon Bricks. On any Apple Macintosh computer, the software reproduces building blocks that look and "snap" together much like those little plastic pieces made by Denmark's Lego System.
Not only do players get a limitless supply of cyberblocks but they also can do such tricks as animate the objects they build or print out a step-by-step blueprint of their creation to share with others. What's more, players can save the on-screen antics of animated objects as a digital movie, which can be passed along via E-mail. Macintosh owners can download a free trial version of Gryphon Bricks from the company's World Wide Web site (http://www. gryphonsw.com). By mid-September, software retailers should have the $39 CD-ROM, which will run on both an IBM-compatible PC and a Mac.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top
THIS NEW BROWSER CAN READ FROM THE NET--ALOUD
PRODUCTIVITY WORKS IN in Trenton, N.J., has developed a Web browser program for people who are visually impaired or dyslexic. Called pwWebSpeak, the software can "speak" the contents of a selected Web page as well as display the page in various sizes of large type. It also can drive Braille output devices including printers and "displays"--rows of pins that recreate Braille characters so the visually impaired can "read" one line at a time with their fingertips.
To read the Web pages faster, the software automatically recognizes and bypasses various nontext items such as graphics. Designed to run on PCs using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 operating systems, pwWebSpeak sells for $250 to commercial customers, but educational and government institutions will be charged only half that, the company says. The first college to choose pwWebSpeak for campuswide use is Thomas Edison State College, also located in Trenton. The school specializes in teaching adults through online classes.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG By John VerityReturn to top