EE's tools & toys

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  • T0OLS &TOYS

    General interest

    Novices ham it up Until recently, the U.S. Federal Communi-cations Commission restricted amateur radio operators with entry-level, novice-class licenses to Morse code transmis-sion. Now, following a rule change, novices may talk around the world over sideband transmissions in the 10-meter band, com-municate using FM repeaters, and patch ham radios into the telephone system but this all means that hams have a new license exam to study for.

    Radio Shack's $19.95 novice voice-class license preparation kit (one of several available from various companies) con-tains two audiotapes on learning Morse code and a 108-page book. The kit includes a practice test to prepare for the FCC test and an application for the license. Con-tact: any Radio Shack store.

    Recording at right angles Perpendicular recordingorienting mag-netic bits vertically in the recording medi-um to increase storage spaceis moving from research labs to production lines.

    Both Toshiba and Hitachi have announced products using the method, which may be useful in everything from floppy-diskette drives to videocassette recorders.

    In a four-year project at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, study of the new technology and its uses has resulted in the book Simulation of the Perpendicu-lar Magnetic Recording Process by Mar-tin F. Beusekamp. The "image-charge ef-fect," the "relaxation process," and other problems are discussed in the 228-page re-port, which costs $20. Contact: Martin F. Beusekamp, Box 247, 7550 AE Hengelo, the Netherlands.

    Source for Asian suppliers The Asian Sources series of trade journals covers products, manufacturers, and prices throughout Asia. The seven journals include Computer Products, Electronics, and Components. The publishers will pro-vide a free sample issue of any publication to anyone who sends name, title, compa-ny, type of business, address, and tele-phone, telex, or facsimile number. Contact: Publishers Representatives Ltd., G.P.O. Box 11411, Hong Kong.

    Computers

    Christmas computer kit Heathkit's Christmas 1987 catalog, now available, features a kit to build a personal computer with the Intel 80386 micropro-cessor. The resulting PC is roughly equiva-lent to the Zenith Z386 (Zenith is Heath's parent company). The kit includes 1 mega-byte of RAM, a video card compatible with

    the new Video Graphics Array standard, and a 1.2-megabyte floppy-diskette drive. Hard disks of 20,40, or 80 megabytes can be added at extra cost.

    Heath says the computer can be assem-bled in two evenings with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver. While the 80386-based machine is two to three times as fast as an IBM PC XT or PC AT system, its price is comparable: $3349.95 for the kit, which comes with a one-year warranty. The cata-log is free. Contact: Heath Co., Dept. 350-010, Benton Harbor, Mich. 49022; 616-982-3411; or Heath Co., 1020 Islington Ave., Dept. 3100, Toronto, Ont. M8Z 5Z3, Canada.

    PS/2s in print In July, less than four months after the debut of IBM's line of Personal System/2 computers, the first of what is bound to be a flood of books on the machines was pub-lished. IBM Personal System/2: A Business Perspective was written by IBM engineer Jim Hoskins, who helped develop the Micro Channel bus used in most PS/2s, and was reviewed by more than 50 other IBM engineers.

    The book does not evaluate the pluses and minuses of the PS/2, however, which it calls "the most amazing new product launch in personal computing history." It simply describes what the PS/2s are and how they work, including three scenarios on how they might be used by different-sized businesses.

    Some details of the forthcoming Oper-ating System/2 and IBM's Systems Appli-cation Architecture are given, but the book does not include any details on the newest PS/2, the Model 25. The paperbound 242-page book costs $19.95. Contact: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 605 Third Ave., New YorR, N.Y. 10158; 212-850-6000.

    Let us now Mac Another book is aimed at those fierce dis-ciples of one alternative to the near-ubiquitous IBM PCnamely, Macintosh users. The Macintosh Bible, by Dale Cole-man and Arthur Naiman, has won perhaps the ultimate accolade: Andy Hertzfeld, Mac guru and designer, said the book "contains a lot of things I didn't know." Its subtitleThousands of basic and ad-vanced tips, tricks, and shortcuts"is just what the book offers, plus a fair dose of opinionated commentary, for both Mac hardware and software, including popular "shareware."

    The $21 price of the 432-page "bible" in-cludes two free updatesstandard proce-dure in the software world but unusual for a book. Buyers (users? acolytes?) need only send in their name and address to re-ceive the updates, said to run at least 40 pages each, as they are published. Con-tact: Goldstein & Blair, Box 7635, Berkeley, Calif. 94707; 415-524-4000.

    Parlez-vous Gaussian? Remember Gauss's Law? Now there's Gauss's language. Billed as an alternative to Fortran, C, and APL, the Gauss Mathe-matical and Statistical System is designed for applications using matrix algebra. Be-cause the language allows functions to be

    Interactive images in Illinois Visitors to the Interactive Image, a hands-on comput-er graphics and imaging ex-hibition in Chicago, can cre-ate cartoons, design laser light shows, and work with scientific simulations cre-ated on a Cray super-computer.

    Sited in Chicago's Muse-um of Science and Industry, the show was put together by faculty, students, and alumni of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Other attractions are programs that display fractals as graphic patterns, create interlocking Escher-like patterns, and aid visi-tors in creating Zanimation cartoons.

    Visitors can also construct three-dimensional objects and animate them with lasers, producing highly colorful effects [photo]. Those wishing to play with the supercomputer imagesfirst created on a Cray X-MP at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign can add color to simulations of such phenomena as a jet stream.

    The Museum of Science and Industry is located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Admission is free. The show will run through Feb. 10, 1988. Contact: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, III. 60637; 312-684-1414; or Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, Box 4348 (M/C 154), Chicago, III. 60680; 312-996-3002.

    68 IEEE SPECTRUM NOVEMBER 1987

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