Business World

THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 3, 1998 | Go to article overview

Business World


Redefining directors

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. corporate directors are expected to take a more active role in the coming years, becoming more involved in overseeing chief executive officers, reports Korn/Ferry International, an executive search firm. A survey of corporate directors found that more CEOs will face formal performance reviews by their directors, and that more retiring CEOs will be asked to leave their boards. But Korn/Ferry also found that directors themselves will be under more scrutiny, as more directors will also face performance reviews.

The last word on detection?

OKLAHOMA CITY (JR) -- Marty Vitch, manager of the Atlanta office for the C.H. Guernsey & Co. of Oklahoma City, has published a how-to security manual entitled The Intrusion Detection System Desk Reference. The 35-year security industry veteran covers all aspects of electronic intrusion detection systems, including interior, duress and exterior sensors; control units; data transmission and supervision systems; annunciators; and closed circuit television.

Hybrid in two years

LOS ANGELES (NYT) -- The Toyota Prius, the world's first mass- produced hybrid vehicle, has been a success in Japan since it went on sale last December. In about two years, Americans will have a chance to sample the car for themselves. The Prius (pronounced PREE-us) combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor, thereby promising pollution levels nearly as low as those of fully electric vehicles but with the everyday practicality of a conventional gasoline-powered automobile. For that reason, many engineers are more excited about the potential of hybrid vehicles than they are about electric cars.

In the eight months the Prius has been on the market in Japan, more than 7,700 have been sold. That certainly qualifies as a success, at least as measured against the modest expectations for any alternative vehicle. Sales are strong partly because Toyota is selling the vehicle for 2.15 million yen, about $15,500 -- well below the car's development and production costs and only about $1,500 more than the similarly sized Corolla.

Toyota says the Prius will reach the American market late in 2000. The price in the United States and other details of the American model have not been determined, but the challenge here will be greater than in Japan. Gasoline prices in the United States are a fraction of Japanese prices. Moreover, Toyota must substantially tweak the design if the Prius is to deliver its promised fuel economy and low emissions under American driving conditions.

In Japan's standard fuel-economy test, the Prius gets a remarkable 66 miles a gallon, about double the fuel efficiency of a similar gasoline car. It also has half the gasoline car's carbon dioxide emissions and only 10 percent as much output of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.

Portable Net music

ATLANTA (Cox) -- It's like the Sony Walkman, a palm-size device you can use to amuse or entertain yourself, listening to the pounding beat or the classical strings or maybe Toni Morrison reading. It can also plug in to your home or car stereo. But it does not play a compact disc or cassette. And it would like to be the future of portable music.

It's called MPMan. The device, made by NullSoft, is designed to handle the audio increasingly available off the Internet. You transfer the files from your personal computer to MPMan, which uses the MPEG 3 form of compression for handling audio off the Internet, a technique capable of compressing data up to a dozen times. The machine uses a built-in 32- or 64-megabyte flash card. The device costs between $250 and $500 and comes with a docking bay that connects to your PC, a carrying case, rechargeable batteries, and the appropriate software for transferring PC to MPMan and for playing MP3 files on your computer.

Now, MPEC compression is also good for making illegal copies of music, something that "is making the recording industry soil itself with fear," as Wired magazine so indelicately put it. …

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