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by Barb McPherson, Public Relations

Just like last year, keeping up with new technology is a challenging priority. Here are some of my favorite new toys and neat stuff.

IBM's Better Mouse: IBM has introduced their new ScrollPoint Mouse, a mouse with a third button which is actually a pointing stick, a tiny button similar to the ones found on many portable computers. You can use this button to quickly scroll through windows, zoom in and out of documents and activate frequently used commands via a HyperJump grid. Easy to install and only $60.00.

Intriguing Software: Voice recognition software. You speak words and commands and your computer does the typing for you. Several companies have programs available that sound really neat. Capabilities have now improved from distinct speech (slight pause between words) to continuous speech dictation at 100 words per minute. As prices go down (now under $200.00) will typing become a thing of the past? Special versions are available for medicine, law and others.

Practicality Award: Rach, Inc. markets a product called the Legtop Podeum Platform for people on the go who have trouble keeping their laptops on their laps. This device has a flat surface on top, to which you attach your portable computer via Velcro strips. Basic unit is $50 with a few options like shoulder straps & cases, etc. for a little extra. Check out their site at www.podeum.com.

Most Popular: Three people in our office bought Compaq palmtop computers. At only $200 for a basic unit, it's convenient and functional. It fits in my purse and weighs about a pound. Big people might have trouble with the little keyboard, but I don't find that a problem and the men haven't complained. It is backlit and has Windows CE on it (abbreviated versions of Word and Excel, Calendar, Contacts and Solitaire). It comes with 2MB or 4MB RAM and runs on AA batteries. Available options include a modem and a write-on screen. It also has an "umbilical cord" which you can use to transfer information into the desktop of your choice.

What's your favorite technical toy? E-mail me at bmcphers@erbs.com.

The employees at Erb's wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a terrific New Year!

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