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Technically Speaking
New Products
by Rick Smith (May 1993)

I will be writing a column which will attempt to answer questions from readers in various computer-related topics. I'm 37 years old and have been involved in computers for and computer graphics since 1973. I have worked on minis, mainframes and microcomputers. I have had my own personal computer since 1978. I write software, repair hardware, design systems and work primarily with PC oriented systems,

Now for some interesting products, I've seen at recent computer trade shows.

Trackballs
For many of us involved in computer graphics, there is generally a need for a pointing device. I have used mice for quite awhile (in the beginning) and even have the green button Microsoft mouse. I have always found that with a cramped small desk or a messy large one, a mouse is quite inconvenient. Always picking it up to drag it across the "pad", running off the pad and have to roll it again. This quickly gets tiring and if you work on several different computer systems, each mouse has a different feel, the buttons are in a different place and you need to get used to each mouse each time.

If you have encountered some of these problems and dislike a mouse as a pointing device as much as I do, CH Products has a high-performance trackball called the Rollermouse that works for both right and LEFT handed people! It is available for the IBM PC, PS/2, Macintosh, Amiga, Sun and NeXT computers. It has an excellent "feel" much like the large arcade trackballs and is extremely comfortable to use. It is great for general game playing to production work with a desktop publisher.

Mapping
For those of you with a husband, wife or business associate which say "This is computer graphic is pretty, but has no practical value" or "You paid how much for that monitor?", here mapping software is a product category that everyone can use.

Automap's Intelligent Road Atlas (available in both DOS and Windows versions) allows the computer to figure out the shortest, fastest path between 2 cities on the continental U.S. You can set parameters for your speed on different highway types, your desire for changing roads and within a few minutes (less for short routes) the computer creates a route.
You can then print out this chart complete with time intervals so you can check on your route progress. Another feature is the ability to play a geography game of a particular area. It has levels of zoom and contains 262,000 miles of roads.

If you need to see all the roads, (yes, virtually all the roads and streets in the US!) De Lorme has the entire 50 states on a single CD! De Lorme also makes excellent paper state atlases - the paper one for Illinois is 50 pages and would cover an area of 15 by 20 feet! You can find locations by name, zip code or telephone area code with exchange. It has fifteen levels of zoom from the entire US on the screen to showing an area showing less than a square mile. To print, you paste the map onto the Windows clipboard and use an application like MS Paint. There is also a version that supports GPS tracking.

Copyright 1993 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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