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Bits & Bytes
IT PRINTS, IT COPIES, IT COLLATES
IT'S COMMON IN MOST OFFICES to print a word-processing document once on a laser printer and then walk down the hall to make lots of photocopies. Hewlett-Packard Co. thinks it has a better way, with its LaserJet 5Si printer, or what it calls a mopier (rhymes with copier and stands for multiple original prints.)
The laser printer lists for $9,549 and features a beefed-up print engine that produces as many as 24 pages a minute--on a par with many midrange copiers. Like many of those machines, the printer also includes stapling and collating mechanisms, so workers can produce finished documents without having to leave their desks. And to keep network usage to a minimum, a PC needs to send an electronic file to the 5Si just once, no matter how many copies are required. The unit's built-in computer takes care of making the duplicates.
The unit's costs are compelling, too, according to HP's figures. The company reckons that by running the machine at 6,000 pages a month, the cost per printed page is 5.5 cents, compared with 6.5 cents for producing photocopies at the same rate. What's more, HP says its mopier is more reliable and will require many fewer service calls than the average departmental copier.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top
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THE WEB'S WIDER WORLD OF PIZZA DELIVERY
ONE OF THE WEB'S FIRST electronic-commerce setups was Pizza Hut's take-out service in the San Francisco Bay area. CyberSlice Inc. in Seattle plans to take the idea national.
Hungry surfers just tap into CyberSlice's Web site (www.cyberslice.com), enter their town and street address, and then get a listing of all the pizzerias that are open and ready to deliver to them at that moment. Once they've chosen a pizzeria, perused its menu, and picked a pie with toppings, CyberSlice's computer calls the selected merchant within two minutes and reads the order in a computer-synthesized voice. That way, pizzerias need not invest in any new equipment to participate. Consumers pay, as usual, upon delivery. The pizzerias will pay CyberSlice a fee ranging from 50 cents to $3 per order.
At first, the service will involve about 1,000 pizzerias in the Seattle, Boston, and New York metropolitan areas. But CyberSlice plans to expand to other cities by March. Local franchises of national pizza brands, such as Domino's Pizza Inc., may get involved, CyberSlice says. Meanwhile, the company is looking into applying the same technology to other types of locally provided food and services.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top
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THIS INTERNET `DOORMAN' DECIDES WHO'S ON FIRST
THE EXPLOSIVE POPULARITY of the Web has earned it a derisive nickname: the World Wide Wait. Usually, delays in receiving Web pages on a PC screen are caused when the communications line from a Web server to the Net gets overloaded. Someone with a high-speed Net connection may hog the line's capacity and make people with slower connections wait endlessly. Because there has been no way of guaranteeing different levels of service, Web sites have had to treat all visitors equally, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Until now. Packeteer Inc., a Campbell (Calif.) startup, has a device called PacketShaper that acts as a sort of doorman for Web sites. It helps operators allocate a site's capacity as they please. They can set it up to ensure that requests for certain popular Web pages always get top priority. Or, the device can reserve a block of capacity just for use by people at a certain set of Net addresses--a company's own engineers, say, who need access to a product-design database. Packeteer is scheduled to ship its $7,250 product in January.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITY By Robert D. HofReturn to top