Technology briefs

IBM makes WebSphere wireless

IBM has announced a more wireless-friendly version of its WebSphere software. The WebSphere platform will now be able to translate Internet content into a form readable by a number of handheld devices, including some mobile phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants). The WebSphere Transcoding Publisher version 3.5 will extend its current HTML support (HyperText Markup Language) by including language translators for HDML (Handheld Device Markup Language) and iMode protocol. The software extensions will also help the conversion of JPG and GIF image formats into a wireless bitmap format that could make wireless picture delivery more available to users. IBM also added what it calls extended deck fragmentation capabilities. The company said these tools can break Web pages into smaller pieces when the system detects a device may have limited memory, according to a statement.

AMD revs ahead with 1.2GHz Athlon

Advanced Micro Devices improved its lead in speed specs over Intel with the release of a 1.2GHz Athlon processor. The 1.2GHz chip follows AMD's recent introduction of the 1.1GHz Athlon; it continues to forge ahead while Intel's Pentium III chip development is stalled at 1GHz, and the company's much-hyped Pentium 4 - launching at 1.4 and 1.5GHz - isn't expected until late November. Despite the widening speed gap between the Athlon and the Pentium III, few major vendors are announcing systems touting what may be the world's fastest desktop processor at its launch. Gateway is offering 1.2GHz Athlon systems now, but other vendors with Athlon lines, such as Hewlett-Packard and Compaq have yet to announce systems using the 1.2-Hz processor.

Meet Audrey, 3Com's wired appliance

3Com has shown off in the US the sleek first member of its Ergo family of Internet appliances. The $US499 device is designed for accessing the Web and e-mail. 3Com has designed it with a keen sense of style, so perhaps its name is intended to reflect the charisma of Hepburn. This slab of cream-coloured plastic with shiny steel buttons frames a responsive 4.75-by-6.25-inch colour touchscreen. The unit would look right at home in a well-appointed kitchen or a with-it doctor's office. Its sceptre-like stylus is Audrey's crowning touch: when not in use, it rests in a recess atop the unit like an Internet antenna; when you have e-mail, its top blinks with a green glow.

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