We see so many articles about phones that sometimes we think we should be writing a phone column. Instead, we’ll write a little bit about this phone:
It’s called “DuraFon,” from EnGenius. This is not a cell phone. It’s a cordless phone that still works when you walk into an area where your old cordless phone didn’t. (Work, that is.) Oh yeah, we forgot one other thing: It’s expensive.
For US$540 you can have a cordless phone that keeps on talking even if you’re 10 floors away in a big building, or three blocks away in the city. The maker claims you can be a couple of miles away if you’re in open country (whatever that is). If you’re back in your home or office, it’s also a regular phone. You plug it into the phone line just like the cheap ones.
But, just like the ads say on late-night television: That’s not all you get. If you buy extra DuraFon handsets, for a mere US$340 each, you get cordless phones that can work as walkie-talkies. The range stays the same, and you can talk to just one of the other people with one of these phones, or all of them at once. Other walkie-talkies, like the ones from Motorola, can do this too, but there’s a significant difference here.
For instance: If you’re in a business where you have to be out in the yard (like a lumberyard), or on the farm, or out in a warehouse, and the phone rings back in the office, well, you just answer it. Your cordless phone will ring too, and you pick up as if you were in the office, or take a walkie-talkie call. You can also connect an answering machine to the base phone if you prefer.
We found the sound quality to be good and the features all worked as claimed. The price was kinda scary, though. More info at www.engeniustech.com.
The boss is still boss
It has been brought to our attention that some people who should be working will use some of that time to browse the Web instead. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
We have a report from the makers of “iBoss Pro” (not a completely disinterested party) that their studies show that on average employees spend six hours a week fooling around with the Internet. They got their results from their own iBoss, a piece of hardware that costs US$110 and is made by Phantom Technologies (www.iphantom.com).
Said piece of hardware sits between the PC and the Internet cable and connects to both. It does not slow down the computer. What it does do is prevent the user from going to chat rooms, gambling and gaming sites, and other known distractions. (If you need to go to chat rooms and all that, don’t use it.)
By the way, we think their estimate of six hours a week at work being spent playing on the Internet is way understated. We recall that a couple of years ago, a study of government employees found that many — particularly those working for the Social Security Administration — spent close to half their time on the Web. But hey, it’s only tax dollars.
Games and the man (or woman)
When we first started writing this column more than 25 years ago, games took up a little more than 25 per cent of all computer use. Experts predicted that would soon drop to zero, and we noted at the time that we thought it unlikely. Now, after all this time, games take up a little more than 25 per cent of all computer use, just as they always have. Here are three new ones:
Auto Assault by NC-Soft, for Windows XP. Auto Assault is what’s called an MMORPG. That stands for massively multiplayer online role playing game, which is such a mouthful that it’s usually reduced to the acronym. There’s even a web site: www.mmorpg.com.
MMORPGs are an effect of high-speed Internet use and a marketing model that says: If we sell a game once, we make twenty bucks. But if we sell a multiplayer online game, we can charge everybody US$10 a month to play, and we’ll make money forever. This is proving to be the case, because the fact is, game players like competition.
In Auto Assault, you build your own character (the “RP” part of MMORPG) and it can be human or alien. You design the fighting vehicle he or she will drive. From then on, it’s open season. Players who’ve been there say it’s a lot of fun.
Tycoon City, New York from Atari. Have you ever wanted to rebuild New York? Who hasn’t? Here you can put down hundreds of new buildings, design new neighborhoods, talk to the locals, take in a few shows, revive disco. (Club 54, where are you?) Hit it, Jackson; take it from the top.
X-Men, the Official Game” from Activision. Why read a comic book when you can be a comic book? Makes sense to us. Let the wild scenes and characters leap off the page and into action.