Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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July 2001, Week 4 -- Seeing Double, and Then Some

 Radeon VE



   This is a lot of fun. ATI's new "Radeon VE" display card lets you work with nine screens on two or more monitors.

   The card works with Windows 98 and up and connects to flat panel monitors, television sets and the common CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors. These can be connected in any combination. Programs or their files, can be dragged between monitors or stacked up on any one monitor. If you have a DVD player in your computer the card can output the signal to a computer monitor or a regular TV.

   What makes it fast and easy is accompanying software that allows switching between monitors and programs with a mouse click or key combination. Hitting shift-F2, for example, switches you to monitor two, shift-F1 takes you back to monitor one. These key combinations can be changed to suit yourself. You can watch a demo of this at their web site:


   Different monitors can be set to different resolutions. Dragging a program between them will automatically change that program's display resolution to suit the new monitor's settings. On any monitor or combination of monitors you can flip through nine different desktops, each set up with whatever programs you want to work with there.


   All this is pretty nifty, as they say, and it costs around $100. When we checked current prices on they ran from $78 to $113. The card has 32 megabytes of display memory on board and easily handles the demanding graphics of the latest games. ATI is a Canadian company and the leading maker of graphic display cards; this one seems like a real bargain. ATI phone info: 905-882-2600.


Scanning in depth

   Avervision's new $540 "Document 100" camera allows users to scan three dimensional objects.

   A typical flatbed scanner, commonly used for scanning single pages will not let you do this. The whole problem is what photographers call "depth of field." The depth of field is the range in which an object is in full focus. In a flatbed scanner that range is only a fraction of an inch; anything that is further than that from the glass of the flatbed will be out of focus. You can't scan an orange or an electric motor, for example.

   The Document 100 camera has an extended depth of field and can be used to scan either flat documents or 3D objects. The lens can also be unscrewed and the camera connected to a microscope for viewing projection. Images can be displayed on a TV, CRT or flat panel monitor.  Unit is "plug and play," as they say. Avervision phone info: 408-263-3828; web:


Attention, James Bond


   This is too neat to resist. Timex has a new digital watch that costs $100 and can receive e-mail. It's the sort of thing where you can be warned: "Don't get in the taxi with the bearded driver."


   The message is limited to 100 characters and only 12 can be seen at any one time as the message scrolls across the watch face. It's one-way only; you can't reply. I know pagers can do this too, and show even more of the message at once, but this is a wrist watch, get with the adventure of it all. Timex paging service starts at $5 a month. The service automatically adjusts to changes in time zones. Phone: 800-448-4639; web:



-- This site lists financial links between scientists and business. Did you ever wonder whether the researcher touting the benefits of cheese, wine or any other substance was receiving money from a company or trade association? Look them up right here. Such links are often hidden, by the way. The research may be paid for by a non-profit group, which is then in turn funded by a business group.

--  This is the primary web site for the Center for Science in the Public Interest; the "integrityinscience" site listed above is one of their projects. Take a look at their cautionary articles on food; you'll never eat again.


--  Primarily aimed at little kids. Astronomy coloring books, space jokes, lunar landing and space invader games, etc.


--  See how the lungs and heart work through explanations and animation. You can also click on "," which has animation showing how cars work.


--  A site sponsored by the National Science Foundation. They used to have scientists and engineers answer questions submitted by the general public, but that got to be too heavy a chore and the site now lists answers to questions frequently submitted. Answers about careers seemed misleading to me.


Up in the air, junior birdman


Airport 2000

   "Airport 2000, volume 3," adds seven more airports to Microsoft's popular "Flight Simulator" for Windows. Flight Simulator goes back 20 years, by the way, and used to be used as a test for PC compatibility. This accessory pack adds airports at Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle to the many already available for desktop pilots; choose between three airliners. Web:

NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at   or