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Will they, or not?                               
                    (Journal of Commerce; 03/31/99)                    

   Will they or won't they? That is the question.

   Will it be nobler for the Department of Justice and 19 state attorneys 
general to accept Microsoft's peace offer, or will we be subjected to another 
endless round of he said/she said signifying nothing?

   All parties were supposed to sit down and debate the issue Tuesday, but 
don't expect a quick settlement. Although details of Microsoft's latest move 
have been kept under wraps, speculation is that it's a token offering by Uncle 
Bill. The California attorney general has already turned thumbs down.

   According to PCWeek Magazine, settlement terms that are high on the fed's 
priority list would never be considered by Microsoft. These include the control 
of Windows code, contractual changes and a possible company breakup.It's 
expected that Uncle Bill's rebuttal list will focus on witnesses who can show 
there is strong competition in the market, especially in the wake of the recent 
America Online Inc., Netscape Communications Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. 
merger and business partnership.

   So on and on we'll go. Judge Pennfield Jackson will become more frustrated, 
Microsoft's star witnesses will foul up more testimony, and we can expect 
another 11 weeks (or more) of tongue wagging and finger pointing.

   Alas, poor Pennfield, I knew him well!DVD, or digital video disk, technology 
has come far since it was introduced two years ago.

   I've been playing with the new Hi-Val DVD3 Drive Kit ($349), which boasts a 
new Pioneer 4.8X DVD ROM drive, and with the new RealMagic MPEG-2 decoder card 
from Sigma Designs.

   This new drive plays DVD movies and games at more than four times the speed 
of the original drives and boasts the speed of a standard 32X CD-ROM drive. It 
is also able to access data on CDR and CDRW disks, which, in the past, has 
always been a big problem for DVD units.The kit's plug-and-play MPEG-2 card 
fits easily into a PCI slot on your computer's motherboard and has connections 
for standard computer monitors or your TV set.

   All of the flickers, pops and other annoying distractions related to slower 
drives are gone. You no longer have to install a second CD- ROM drive to take 
advantage of higher speeds and lower access times.

   For those who need to know such things, access time is 200 milliseconds, 
seek time for the DVD-ROM is 95 milliseconds, seek time for the CD-ROM drive is 
110 milliseconds, buffer size is 256 kilobytes and it can read up to 17 
gigabytes of data per disk.

   You get to choose from multiple camera angles and languages. It supports 
wide-screen, letter-box and pan-and-scan viewing ratios for movies. It's 
compatible with all VGA video cards.There's a built-in headphone jack, volume 
control knob (for CD audio) and a power eject button.

   What do you need to take advantage of all this? Older computers may have a 
problem. Hi-Val recommends you have at least a 133 Megahertz Pentium Intel-
based PC with 16 megabytes of RAM and two megabytes of available hard disk 
space.

   You should also have a sound card and speakers capable of handling Dolby 
Surround Sound.





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