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Choose from the list (A-G) the sentence which best summarizes each section of the article (1-7). There is one extra sentence that you do not need to use.




A The rivalry between formats will possibly lead to the decline in sales.

B Viewers enjoy better imaging and sound reproduction accompanied by greater options.

C Japanese producers are going to take up the leading position by making their product cheaper.

D Movie fans are facing a strong fight of the world's biggest companies as they bring the next generation of DVDs to Britain.

E A unified format is preferable to a universal player.

F Consumers are advised to stick to Blue-ray standard as it has more supporters all over the world.

G Both rivals have powerful backing in the world.

H Eventually, viewers could lose as the fight between different standards goes on.

 

Discuss the advantages and the disadvantages of quick technological changes. What advice would you give to computer developers and producers? What should they take into consideration to make technology more convenient for users?

TEXT 3

X-Y POSITION INDICATOR FOR A DISPLAY SYSTEM

Years before personal computers and desktop information processing became commonplace or even practicable, Douglas Engelbart had invented a number of interactive, user-friendly information access systems that we take for granted today: the computer mouse, windows, shared-screen teleconferencing, hypermedia, groupware, and more.

At the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco in 1968, Engelbart astonished his colleagues by demonstrating the aforementioned systems using an utterly primitive 192 - kilobyte mainframe computer located 25 miles away! Engelbart has earned nearly two dozen patents, the most memorable being perhaps for his "X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System": the prototype of the computer "mouse" whose convenience has revolutionized personal computing.

Engelbart's inventions were ahead of their time, but have been integrated into mainstream computing as industry capabilities have increased. It was not until 1984 that the Apple Macintosh popularized the mouse; but today it is difficult to imagine a personal computer without one. And the huge success of Microsoft's Windows95 proves that Engelbart's original windows concept has also become a virtual necessity. In a recent talk delivered at MIT (June 1996), Bill Gates himself praised Engelbart for his pioneering work. Byte magazine, in an article honoring the 20 persons who have had the greatest impact on personal computing (September 1995), went so far as to say of Engelbart: "Comparisons with Thomas Edison do not seem farfetched."

Engelbart now works out of the Bootstrap Institute, which he founded, where he is an inventor and a consultant in multiple-user business computing. His current locus is on a type of groupware called an "open hyper document system," which may one day replace paper record keeping entirely.

 

TEXT 4

A NEW APPLICATION OF LIGHT

The digital compact disc, now commonplace in stereos and computers, was invented in the late 1960s by James T. Russell.

Russell was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1931. At age six, he invented a remote-control battleship, with a storage chamber for his lunch. Russell went on to earn a BA in Physics from Reed College in Portland in 1953. Afterward, he went to work as a physicist in General Electric's labs in Richland, Washington.

At GE, Russell initiated many experimental instrumentation projects. He was among the first to use a color TV screen and keyboard as the sole interface between a computer and an operator; and he designed and built the first electron beam welder. When in 1965, Battelle Memorial Institute opened its Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Washington, Russell joined the effort as senior scientist. He already knew what avenue of research he wanted to pursue.

Russell was an avid music listener. Like many audiophiles of the time, he-was continually frustrated by the wear and tear suffered by his vinyl phonograph records. He was also unsatisfied with their sound quality: his experimental improvements included using a cactus needle as a stylus. Alone at home on a Saturday afternoon, Russell began to sketch out a better music recording system and was inspired with a truly revolutionary idea.

Russell envisioned a system that would record and replay sounds without physical contact between its parts; and he saw that the best way to achieve such a system was to use light. Russell was familiar with digital data recording, in punch card or magnetic tape form. He saw that if he could represent the binary 0 and 1 with dark and light, a device could read sounds or indeed any information at all without ever wearing out. If he could make the binary code compact enough, Russell saw that he could store not only symphonies, but entire encyclopedias on a small piece of film.

After years of work, Russell succeeded in inventing the first digital-to-optical recording and playback system (patented in 1970). He had found a way to record onto a photosensitive platter in tiny "bits" of light and dark, each one micron in diameter; a laser read the binary patterns, and a computer converted the data into an electronic signal which was then comparatively simple to convert into an audible or visible transmission.

This was the first compact disc. Although Russell had once envisioned 3x5-inch stereo records that would fit in a shirt pocket and a video record that would be about the size of a punch card, the final product imitated the phonographic disc which had been its inspiration. Through the 1970s, Russell continued to refine the CD-ROM, adapting it to any form of data. Like many ideas far ahead of their time, the CD-ROM found few interested investors at first; but eventually, Sony and other audio companies realized the implications and purchased licenses.

By 1985, Russell had earned 26 patents for CD-ROM technology. He then founded his own consulting firm, where he has continued to create and patent improvements in optical storage systems, along with bar code scanners, liquid crystal shutters, and other industrial optical instruments. His most revolutionary recent invention is a high-speed optical data recorder / player that has no moving parts. Russell earned another 11 patents for this "Optical Random Access Memory" device, which is currently being refined for the market.

James T. Russell has many interests beyond optical data devices. In fact, he has claimed, "I've got hundreds of ideas stacked up — many of them worth more than the compact disc. But I haven't been able to work on them." Digital engineers and consumers alike will be lucky if he does find the time.

 

TEXT 5

 

SOON THE NET COULD BE HEALING ITSELF

 

IBM has unveiled an ambitious initiative to develop technologies that share the basic biological abilities of living organisms.

Senior researchers at the company said the growing complexity of computers and networks demands that the technology does a better job of maintaining and healing itself.

The researchers warn that without these efforts there is a danger that networks will soon become unmanageable.

This week IBM is sending 75,000 copies of a manifesto written by Paul Horn, senior vice president of IBM Research, that details the aims of its Autonomic Computing initiative.

Mr Horn warns that humans are losing the battle to manage the increasing complexity of computer systems and networks. This complexity is only going to increase as computer technology shrinks and finds its way into ever more devices. If the current rates of the expansion of digital technology are maintained, soon there would not be enough people to keep the world's computer systems running, he said. He called finding ways of handling this complexity the next "grand challenge" facing the technology industry.

Ideally future networks should resemble the autonomic nervous system which maintains and monitors many basic bodily functions without conscious help.

What is needed, argued Mr Horn, are computer systems that do a much better job of configuring themselves, can work around disruptions, heal any damage they suffer or fight off potential problems.

IBM is planning its own research programs to create technologies that can turn relatively dumb networks into smarter alternatives. It is also planning to spend millions over the next five years funding 50 research projects at universities to take on the complex challenge.

The likely outcome of the project is a series of software standards that define how to build software or hardware that has these more biological properties.

IBM is working closely with the Global Grid Forum. This industry body is driving efforts to turn the disparate computing and research capabilities of the world's science labs into a shared pool of resources that anyone can plug into. This effort is already driving the creation of software that hides the individual quirks of individual machines and instruments behind common interfaces.

 

TEXT 6

APPLE MOVES ALL LAPTOPS TO INTEL

 

Apple is making the MacBook available in black and white

Apple has moved closer to completing its shift to Intel chips used by its PC rivals. The company has launched new MacBook laptops to replace its previous consumer model, the iBook.

Apple is in the process of moving all its computer products from IBM to Intel chips as part of its efforts to attract more consumers and increase its 5% share of the US market. The remaining Macs still running on IBM are the high-end desktop PowerMacs.

"Apple began the transition to Intel Core Duo-based notebooks in February with the 15-inch MacBook Pro, and now just 90 days later we have completed the transition with the release of the all new MacBook," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

The new laptops have much in common with the more expensive MacBook Pro models, such as the built-in webcam. The 13-inch widescreen MacBooks feature Intel Core Duo chips, with prices starting at £749 ($1,099). Apple says the new chips mean the laptops are four to five times faster than their predecessors.

The MacBooks come in time for the important back-to-school shopping season. Apple is hoping the Intel-based consumer laptops could tempt students away from Windows-based notebooks.

In April, Apple released a program called Boot Camp that made it easy to install Windows XP on new Macs. The software opened a whole new world of compatibility to anybody with a Mac running one of the new Intel processors.

Boot Camp is currently available as a free trial, and it is scheduled to form part of Leopard, the next version of Apple's OS X operating system.

 

APPENDIX 1

РЕФЕРИРОВАНИЕ

Реферирование представляет собой интеллектуальный творческий процесс, включающий осмысление, аналитико-синтетическое преобразование информации и создание нового документа - реферата, обладающего специфической языково-стилистической формой.

Рефератом называется текст, передающий основную информацию подлинника в свернутом виде и составленный в результате ее смысловой переработки.





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