S3, German partner land two contractsIf you're...


S3, German partner land two contracts

If you're tired of those old, run-of-the-mill computer games and have a few dollars to spare, you might want to give S3 Technologies in Columbia a call.

S3 builds computer-driven replicas of nuclear power plant control rooms, which are used to train operators. Last week, S3 announced that it and partner Siemens AG of Germany received two contracts worth over $55 million for simulators in Germany.

Kraftwerk-Simulator-Gesellschaft MbH is buying three simulators replicating control rooms and operations at three plants. Two of those will be built in S3's Stanford Boulevard manufacturing facility.

The second contract is from Hamburgische Electricitats-Werke AG, for a replica control room; it includes an option for a second unit this year.

S3 Technologies is a unit of Florida-based Bicoastal Corp.

School computers to seek out truants

Seven schools in Maryland will be using computer-based message systems in an effort to catch truants.

The state Board of Education is getting help from C&P; Telephone Co. of Maryland in setting up the six-month trial. C&P; will install 13 phone lines in the schools, which will hook up to computers to send one-minute recorded messages to the homes of students who were absent from that day's classes.

The schools include Canton and Hampstead Hill middle schools in Baltimore, and Lansdowne Middle and Overlea High in Baltimore County.

An early version of the program, started last fall, proved successful at Hampstead Hill, according to Principal Kevin Harahan.

"We've been noticing a 5 percent increase in attendance so far," he said.

That version required manual entry of students' names and phone numbers, he said. But beginning this week, the school will begin using School Voice SV-2000 equipment, provided for testing by Micro Delta Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Under the new system, each student will have a four-digit I.D. number. Teachers will simply check off the numbers of absent students at roll call; they'll then be fed into the dialing computer.

'Application' software sales up in N. America

North American sales of personal computer "application" software rose 14.1 percent to $5.75 billion in 1992 from $5.04 billion in 1991, the Software Publishers Association said last week. Applications are programs for specific jobs, such as word processing, rather than operating software or utilities, which keep the computer running.

Based on unit sales, the growth was even more explosive -- 36 percent.

Sales of applications tailored to run under Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system jumped 95.6 percent, to $1.93 billion, from $989 million.

Newly released dBase is termed much faster

One of the oldest PC application programs around, dBASE, has a new look.

Borland International Inc. announced the release last week of dBASE IV, Release 2.0, as well as the dBASE Compiler for DOS.

The new version of the data base management system is said to be up to 10 times faster for some chores. The compiler, sold separately, will let users convert their dBASE programs into stand-alone PC programs.

Microsoft projects large sales increases

While Borland has been struggling lately, its main competitor, Microsoft, remains a juggernaut.

Michael Maples, Microsoft's executive vice president for worldwide products, says that the company projects annual sales increases of 25 percent to 35 percent over the next three to four years.

One lucrative market is likely to be Japan, where more buyers are beginning to turn from dedicated word processors to personal computers. In the next few months, Microsoft expects to introduce a Japanese version of Windows 3.1.

Hughes Network tests new cellular system

Hughes Network Systems of Germantown has been testing a new type of cellular phone system that could dramatically increase the number of possible simultaneous calls.

Hughes reported last week that its E-TDMA system was able to support 11 calls per radio channel in field tests. E-TDMA is an extended version of the TDMA standard proposed for digital cellular calls. Current systems are analog.

E-TDMA is able to break speech into packets, assigning a channel only when information is ready to be transmitted.

Battles developing over new area codes

"Beginning January 1995," a Bellcore news release notes, "we'll have 640 additional area codes that will add more than 5 billion new telephone numbers in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean."

And some folks already are fighting over them. Interested parties gathered last week in Virginia for the catchingly named "Future of Numbering Forum." They considered who might get which numbers, and when.

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