Table of Contents




Title: Comdex Fall 2002 Report
by  Robert Sanborn and Roy Linker


The events at Comdex really gave us a chance to hear about new and different technologies and people affecting the computer industry and when the times are tough as they are, it is a great place to see some really interesting products.  Adobe showed us what was new in Photo Shop Elements 2.0 and I can see why it is fast becoming a favorite of digital camera users everywhere. New features in this program that make it worth looking at are the batch renaming tool and an auto stitch tool for merging different photos together. The help files have been improved and the entire manual is available to you and when you ask for help while working with a particular tool, the help for that tool comes up. It has a great save for web feature that tells you how big and how long it will take to download a particular picture. Another is the built in web gallery feature to help you quickly build and upload a gallery of pictures to your web sites. There are also terrific printing options to allow you to create photo albums or different sheets of a single photo. The cost is $99 at www.adobe.com. Adobe also gave us a quick look at In Design, which is an impressive desktop publishing program that targets high end graphics users. 

JASC, www.jasc.com was also at the event to show off some of their new products like After Shot.  This program is designed for those people buying digital cameras and wanting to easily handle the pictures. In fact, according to JASC, in 2002, 16% of households have a digital camera and by 2003, that number should jump to 20%. After Shot is a great tool to organize your pictures and has some other pretty neat features as well. The batch features are good for dealing with a group of pictures, and it as a very easy to use red eye removal tool. There are quick fix buttons to help you correct the color balance on a picture and has a good stitch feature as well to combine several pictures into a panorama. You can download a free copy of the JASC After Shot Starter Edition at http://deals.jasc.com/comdx2 

Creo, Latin for “I Believe”. Their new product, called, “Six Degrees” is all about building relationships between your emails and your files on your computer to help you get the right information out of your computer. What this program does is to help you track, organize, and manage your email messages and the files that come with them to help you quickly find information you need. Creo, www.creo.com, has actually been around for a long time in this business (17 years), and is a Canadian graphics company long into imaging and software and is the world’s largest supplier of pre-press equipment. So this is a big departure for them with Six Degrees. The program generates keywords for subject lines and files attachments in Microsoft’s Outlook program (not Outlook Express) and gives you a very easy way of finding messages, contacts, files, and quickly allows you to work with that information. I think this really has a promising future and can’t wait till it is expanded to other email programs like Eudora. 

The National Cristina Foundation, http://www.cristina.org/. This organization since 1983 has become a world wide effort with projects in many countries to bring computers and technology to those people that cannot afford it. It is a terrific organization. If you have an older computer that needs a new home, this is a place to send it to. Their Phoenix project has refurbished thousands of computers worldwide, in the past 10 years, has given over 15,000 computers to families and organizations in the Baltimore Maryland area alone.

Intel Technology Briefing 

One of the great things about attending the events at Comdex Fall is the chance to listen to people that really know technology give us some insights to what is new and what to look for. Once such speaker was Pat Gelsinger, VP and Chief Technology Officer for Intel Corporation. Pat got his start at Intel as an engineer and quality assurance technician working on the 8086 and 8088 processors. He moved up to work on the really fast 12 megahertz 386 and then was one of the original designers on the 486 platforms. Pat says that one of the first things he noticed about the speed of the technology was that faster hardware creates a vacuum that software then rushes in to fill. He then went on to tell us about what Intel research has found about the personal computer. For instance, 70 percent of homes now have a personal computer with 40 percent of those having more than one. There are somewhere over half a billion PCs in use today with the actual 1 billionth PC being produced and shipped in 2002. By 2005, we will see PC number 2 billion being shipped. Of all those systems, 18 million of those will be sold in China in 2003. By 2004, their research shows that web development will dominate the applications being developed. 

Online revenues will be jumping very soon as well. They are predicting that by 2006, online gaming revenue will be at $1.8b and Digital music revenue will be $1.7b.  So with all this research going on and with the numbers looking so large, Intel naturally will be a big part of it all and Pat tells us that what drives Intel today is for them to continue to “Obey the Law”. That law of course is George Moore’s law of doubling the transistors in a processor every 18 to 24 months and they have been doing this for the past 30 years. The good news for all of us is that the cost of performance drops every time a new processor comes out. 

The breakthrough in technology for the next 30 years according to Pat will be the Hyper-Threading Technology (HT) that is now available in their new 3 gigahertz Pentium 4 processor.  What HT does is to make a single processor look like multiple processors to the software. There are some packages out there that take advantage of this and are seeing a 25% improvement in performance. With a quick calculation, you can see on a 3 Gigahertz system, something like having an additional 750mhz on your computer. So look for new software applications taking advantage of the HT. For a more in-depth look at HT, go to Intel’s web site at http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/20021114comp.htm. Pat also talked about Intel’s upcoming technology called La Grande Technology (LT). He sees this to be a technology that focuses on a safer processing environment with hardware means to enable protected execution, memory, and data files. 

The next major technology that Intel is encouraging is the Universal Plug and Play (UPNP) and Pat says that there are over 400 companies working on applications and devices. He sees this technology being the one that can actually bring different systems together in both the home and office. As the digital home becomes more of a reality, people will want to be able to plug different devices into their network and as the wireless local area networks (WLANS) become hugely popular in the next year, he sees a lot of mobile devices becoming part of those networks. Right now there are an estimated 25,000 wireless hot spots in the USA and that number will balloon. 

Another technology that Pat told us about from Intel was “Banias”, a platform for mobile processors that will enable high performance, long battery life, seamless wireless integration, and an innovative form factor. The notebook prototype he showed us was incredibly advanced showing a super thin design, extremely bright screen, and was always connected. And it only weighed in at 2.2 pounds. This is stuff to dream about as I lug my old dinosaur weighing 10 pounds with cables, batteries, and struggling to keep it connected. This is great stuff to look forward to. 


One of the highlights of any event is the Microsoft dinner and presentation. Besides good food, it is always an entertaining evening whether by intention such as this years visit by Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome fame, http://www.lockergnome.com and Leo Laporte of Tech TV fame at www.techtv.com. While very entertaining, and the old video clips that Leo showed us were real rib ticklers, Leo and Chris had a lot of interesting things to say about technology and the ways you can help yourself with lots of information available on the internet. One of their tips involved email and helping you and your recipients know the difference between spam and real email. Check out www.habeas.com for one solution. What it does is to put headers into an email to help authenticate the email. Another web site they gave us was www.aotc.info, the American Open Technology Consortium. This site is devoted to helping us educate our lawmakers, either in Washington or at our local levels about technology. Well worth visiting. 

 We also had a preview of some of Microsoft’s newest products such as the Tablet PC and the Smart Display.  The Tablet PC is certainly making the news everywhere but the Smart Display is something new to us. It is a table that connects to your PC wirelessly and allows you to see what your display would normally show in a remote location. This unit was from Viewsonic and weighs just 2.2 pounds. If you look at Microsoft’s web site at www.Microsoft.com you will also see a wide range of broadband and networking products. They are presenting a total networking solution for the small office and home that is easy to connect and setup. And I think that people will find that the easier software makes the difference.   

Microsoft is also coming out with new versions of Windows XP Media player as well. Media Player version 9 offers more features to help smooth out the volume between tracks, a mini-play mode, and a new info center. What is really neat is the variable speed option to speed up or slow down the play of the music without changing the pitch at all. What that means is if you have a 10 minute clip to play and only 9 minutes to play it in, you can speed it up and may not notice the difference at all. Want to see some really neat films, try www.bmwfilm.com. Yes, the car company has a whole series of new and innovative short films. Some new technologies are coming out including video smoothing technologies for low bandwidth downloads. The goal is to give you higher quality film downloads at lower speeds. 

There are two new Windows XP operating systems available now, one of which is part of the Tablet PCs, and the other is Windows XP Media Center edition. XP Media Center is available only on new computers that are built specifically for media users from companies like Gateway and HP (and more to come later), and while it is mostly Windows XP, it also includes a lot of enhancements for digital media. Essentially what Media Center does is to give you control over your home entertainment in both music and videos and watching TV. You can record for later viewing, integrate the web with the music, and do it all from a single remote unit that comes with Media Center. It gives you a single unified view and way of handling images, video, music, and DVD as well.  Check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/.  


“The Exceptionally Useable PDA Phone”, the Handspring Treo 300, from Auri Rahimzadeh. I found it a very interesting visit with Handspring, www.handspring.com, at the one of the events. The Treo traces its roots from the Palm Pilot of several years back and what first surprised me was that in our heavily computer oriented audience, far more people owned a cell phone than owned a PDA.  Peter Skillman, Director, Product Design Engineer, gave us a very informative and entertaining look at where their development processes came from, how they did the research that ended up with what we see today, and how they came up with the concepts we see. Peter tells us that they had looked at a number of alternatives and found so many problems such as the odd keypads on email pagers, no keypads on PDA devices, and the problem of an ever shrinking cell phone.  In looking forward, we hear that the future of personal computers is in the wireless systems and as many of us have seen in the past, the best technologies don’t always win.  For the PDA markets, Palm still has 80% of the market in the US and 50% of it world wide and of course their contention is that you don’t need Windows on the box. What surprised me was that there are 15,000 Palm OS software packages available today and with the explosion of cell phone growth, they really see an opportunity to get in that market. Handspring expects that products like the Treo will be 10% of the phone market in five years.  

What probably causes more problems in the US is the problem of coverage. They tell us that in Europe, the question of “Do you have cell phone coverage?” is not an issue. Here in the US, we have quite a few divergent cell phone technologies and as my friends found as we traveled around before Comdex, coverage can be a problem. Of course, I really should not expect to find a cell phone tower in the middle of Death Valley’s 3,000 square miles but coverage is a problem we will have to deal with.  

As part of the program with Handspring, Andrea Butter, the former marketing genius behind the Palm products from 1993 to 1999 and noted author of the “Piloting Palm” book (look for it at www.pilotingpalm.com), had a discussion with the President and COO of Handspring, Ed Colligan. Their comments were very interesting to us as they talked about a wide range of technologies. Not surprisingly, Handspring was not all that impressed with the introduction of the Tablet PC noting that it had been around for years with little success. They are impressed though with how batteries in notebooks and other devices are improving. In talking about other technologies, they said we shouldn’t look for much improvement in voice recognition. If you can’t do it very well with a supercomputer, how can you expect much out of a desktop? Of course, it will be much easier for command and control types of applications but don’t expect much more. When asked about Bluetooth, they seem to think that it is a standard looking for a home. But, if Bluetooth comes into automobiles and they can communicate with phones, it might be the answer to hands free access to your phone in your car.

Robert Sanborn is an Independent Personal Computer Consultant and writer for the Indy PC News and can be reached at indypcnews@indy.rr.com

Roy Linker is the Associate Editor of PC Lifeline email him at roy@PCLL.com


Last Update:02/28/2003


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