MFS Datanet is able to transfer data quicklyNot many of us...


August 09, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

MFS Datanet is able to transfer data quickly

Not many of us need to send the text of a set of encyclopedias from coast to coast in less than half a minute, but it's good to know that MFS Datanet Inc. stands ready to serve when the need arises.

The San Jose, Calif., company, a unit of MFS Communications Co., last week unveiled the first national data network to use Asynchronous Transfer Mode, or ATM. ATM is a variety of packet switching that's both fast and able to handle "bursty" data streams, such as intermittent transmission of video or highly detailed medical images.

MFS has been making a name for itself as a "bypass" long-distance carrier, one that hooks up businesses directly to its circuits. In Baltimore, it has a fiber-optic line running downtown, and its network passes through Montgomery and Prince George's counties and will soon reach the Fort Meade area.

Steven J. Ingish, a spokesman for MFS Communications, says the system has been designed for tasks such as linking local-area networks. Such LANs might run at speeds ranging from 10 million bits per second to 100 Mbps.

Beyond the Baltimore-Washington region, the ATM network reaches Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Franciso. Other than in the New York area, service is limited to districts served directly by MFS' cable.

Mr. Ingish says that pricing varies greatly depending on individual circumstances. But Al Fenn, MFS Datanet's president, has said that a $30,000 monthly fee could buy a coast-to-coast, 10 Mbps link that might otherwise cost $120,000 in capital equipment and $120,000 a month in operating costs.

Accounting software available for $6.95 fee

Call it the bird-in-the-hand theory.

More and more software companies are seeing the advantages of selling their software at rock-bottom prices, or even giving it away, in hopes that they'll make their profit later through upgrades.

Computer Associates International Inc. inspired a feeding frenzy recently when it announced the giveaway of a million copies of Simply Money, a personal financial manager. It asked only for a $6.95 handling fee.

Now Central Computer Products of Fillmore, Calif., has announced that it will give away 100,000 copies of the Microsoft Windows version Do-It-Yourself Accounting, its full-featured business accounting program, also for a $6.95 fee.

Central says the program's DOS version has sold more than 200,000. It is a complete double-entry system aimed at the small to medium-sized business.

Copies are available through 1 800 373-3946, or by sending a check for $6.95 to 330 Central Ave., Fillmore, CA 93015.

UMBC will work with S3 Technologies

The University of Maryland Baltimore County has formed a partnership with S3 Technologies of Columbia to work on projects in the field of computer simulations.

The recent agreement expands an informal relationship developed over the past year. It gives UMBC's faculty and students access to all of S3's software for the purpose of researching applications and developing new software.

The school says that faculty members will be able to use S3's facilities for research, and students will have increased oppor tunities for internships.

S3, a unit of Florida-based Bicoastal Corp., develops computerized models of nuclear power plant control rooms. However, the agreement contemplates expanding the techniques into "biomechanical, biomedical and bioprocess applications."

Big Three to cooperate on developing software

Technology can make strange bedfellows.

General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp. announced last week that they will cooperate to develop supercomputer applications software to maintain the competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry.

The Big Three are coming together under the auspices of the United States Council for Automotive Research. They plan to focus on parallel supercomputers, which put thousands of relatively low-power processors to work on a problem.

They'll be working on tasks such as improving aerodynamics, designing new composite materials and graphically representing results of computer simulations.

Computers make good villains in new films

If you're looking for the perfect movie villain, it's hard to beat a computer.

Two films, one for TV and one for the big screen, will set hapless heroes up against the machines we love to hate.

Next Monday, Fox Broadcasting Corp. will offer "The Tower," pitting "a lone office worker against a diabolic central computer" in a high-rise. Our hero rescues a maiden from "the computer's omniscient, destructive power."

And mark your calendars for Oct. 29, when 20th Century Fox plans to release "Ghost in the Machine." Karen Allen plays a woman "who is being stalked by a serial killer who has taken the form of a computer virus." Could his name be Michelangelo?

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