Technology Notes

Information-highway license

Despite the state's reputation as one of the least friendly to car owners in the nation, driving just got a little easier in Massachusetts.

The Commonwealth's Registry of Motor Vehicles recently became the first in the country to offer its services on the World Wide Web. Massachusetts motorists can renew vehicle registrations, order replacement registrations, and pay tickets on-line. Later this fall they will also be able to order vanity and specialty license plates. The Web address is: http://www.state.ma.us/rmv.

Talking houses

Shopping for a home can be confusing. After seeing too many, features run together, it's easy to imagine amenities in one house that belong to another.

Now Realty Electronics of Fond du Lac, Wisc., has a solution: The "Talking House" is a tiny radio station that broadcasts all the noteworthy facts about a house to prospective buyers. The radio frequency is listed on the for-sale sign in front of a house, and the transmitter inside has a broadcast range of 250 to 300 feet. According to the Newspaper Association of America, driving around is the No. 1 way buyers learn about houses. Now they can tune in their radios to get prices and interior features that way as well.

2-in-1 drive

For computer users running out of desk space, Panasonic recently introduced its PD/CD-ROM drive.

The device uses 650 mega-byte rewritable optical storage cartridges and can play CD-ROMs as well. This is a precursor to the digital video discs that will play full-length videos in addition to music and computer programs. But while the DVDs are not expected on the market until Christmas, the PD/CD-ROM is available now for between $500 and $600. Panasonic promises its upcoming DVD drives will still be able to use PD cartridges.

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