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Edited by Brain Dakss ([email protected])

Saving Energy Pays Off
The Duquesne Light Co. in southwestern Pennsylvania has launched an online exchange that gives midsize commercial energy customers the power to save money.

The exchange is activated during peak demand periods, when the price charged by Duquesne's supplier crosses a certain threshold. An automated E-mail notification system lets commercial customers know of upcoming "exchange events."

Customers who log on to the exchange and pledge to curtail energy use during specific hours get paid a set rate per kilowatt hour by Duquesne.

Participants either curtail their electricity use or run their own generators.

-- Jennifer Maselli ([email protected])

McLearning Moves To Web Menu
McDonald's will be giving employees a break from conventional training with servings of online learning. In October, the home of the Golden Arches will launch a Web-based pilot program to teach its workers proper customer service and standards for hygiene and food storage.

"McDonald's has been training its employees for 50 years. They're already experts at how their employees respond and learn best," says a spokesman for DigitalThink, the E-learning provider that will help design the courses and host and deliver them. "What we have to do is take that and translate it to the Web."

-- Christopher T. Heun ([email protected])

Eyeing Easy Identification
The eyes have it at Heath-row Airport in London, which next month begins testing a system that identifies arriving passengers by the colored iris around the pupils of their eyes. About 2,000 U.S.-based frequent fliers on Virgin Atlantic and British Airways will take part in the six-month test of the EyeTicket technology.

They'll peer into video cameras that will capture their unique iris code of 512 bytes of binary data. Upon arriving at Heath-row, the fliers' identities will be confirmed by the British Immigration Service in just two seconds as they go through a special line. They won't even need passports.

-- Cheryl Rosen ([email protected])

Future Web Access Today
Some home buyers in California will get a preview this month of where home and office Internet access are headed: Web, video, and telephone services capable of being delivered at 1 Gbps over fiber-optic lines using LAN-oriented Gigabit Ethernet technology. That's about 1,000 times faster than cable modems and 10 times quicker than the Fast Ethernet now used in many offices.

The service is planned for a 140-unit community being built in American Canyon, Calif. Competisys will offer the service using equipment supplied by World Wide Packets. But because most current computers aren't equipped to handle 1-Gbps Internet feeds, Competisys says it will serve up the service at just 1 Mbps to 6 Mbps until PCs can catch up.

-- John Rendleman ([email protected])

Palms Help Track Dolphins' Health
The Baltimore National Aquarium is using Palm handhelds to let veterinarians monitor infant dolphins, which have a high mortality rate. The Palms run Pendragon Software apps tied to a Microsoft SQL 7 database. Vets can instantly review collected data for dangers based on heart and breathing rates, diet, and other factors.

Staffers credit the new system with saving calves born this spring. "Statistically, we should have lost two of these animals," says James Williamson, the aquarium's Animal Information Management Systems administrator, "but all three are still there."

-- Matthew G. Nelson ([email protected])

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