close this bookVolume 2: No. 06
View the documentNews -- computer industry
View the documentNews -- funded research
View the documentDiscussion -- career news
View the documentNews -- job opportunities
View the documentNews -- new journals
View the documentNews -- AAAI and journals calls
View the documentComputists -- David Lewis, Larry Bookman
View the documentI'd like to welcome two new members
View the documentDiscussion -- taxes
View the documentResource -- home business computers
View the documentResource -- legal software

President Bush made two mentions of R&D in his State of the Union address: he wants to make the R&D tax credit permanent, and he proposes $76B in federal support of R&D. Budget numbers show that $38B is for defense-related R&D, and that federal civilian R&D will remain almost constant except for NASA. [Michael Schrage. SJM, 2/3.]

The U.S. government is increasing funding of high-performance computing by 30% this year, to $638M, to reach $1B over five years. NREN will be a supercomputing network, but either the government or commercial vendors will have to build a separate national network. "We will be short some millions of technicians by the end of this decade," says D. Allan Bromley, director of OSTP. The government is considering increased support for two- year colleges. [Ware Myers, Computer, 1/92.]

Belgium has greatly reduced support for basic research, especially in the Flemish northern region near Flanders. The National Fund for Scientific Research (NFWO/FNRS) has been split into French and Flemish parts, corresponding to Wallonia and Flanders regions of about 5M inhabitants each. The French- speaking government is strengthening its part of NFWO to more closely approach the 1% of GNP spent on research by neighboring France, Holland, Germany, and the UK. The Flemish government is cutting support for its part of the agency, ending long-term contracts and cutting research-center overhead budgets by 80%. Universities are also faring badly, and young researchers will have to emigrate. Should you wish to express support for basic research, write to Focus Research, Triomflaan 63, B-1160 Brussels, Belgium. [Francis Heylighen (fheyligh@vnet3.vub.ac.be), CYBSYS-L, 1/29.]

Prof. Soo-Young Lee (sylee@eekaist.kaist.ac.kr) of the KAIST EE Computation and Neural Systems Lab would like leads to neural- network market surveys that would help his proposal for a big Korean national project on intelligent computers. [Neuron Digest, 1/29.] There might be a ground-floor opportunity here.

India has relaxed restrictions on foreign companies, allowing them to operate directly instead of through subsidiaries, own property, borrow money, and sell under their internationally known trademarks. The U.S. is applying pressure for trademark, patent, and copyright protection, with trade sanctions threatened for 2/26. [NYT. SJM, 1/31.]

The Central Weather Bureau of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has ordered two Y-MP supercomputers. [CW, 1/20.] Might be a customer for pattern-recognition or neural-network R&D.

The Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Partnership for Education, administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is sponsoring partnerships between NSF-funded university research centers (at $100K over two years) and research centers in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. A project on multimedia, multilingual knowledge-based engineering is being conducted by UPittsburgh's Parallel, Distributed and Intelligent Systems Center, UMalaysia's Dept. of Mathematics, and the National University of Singapore's Institute of Systems Science. [Spectrum, 1/92.] (It's not big money, but you can tap pots like that when you've got a big center.)

IBM is purchasing between 5% and 10% of France's Groupe Bull, giving Bull access to IBM's RISC technology and joint operating system development with Apple. HP was a disappointed Bull suitor. [SJM, 1/29.]

As clones and hardware from the East cut into U.S. profit margins, computer companies are moving toward the lucrative U.S.-controlled software market. Nearly everyone is supporting Unix, but they are also working on next-generation proprietary operating systems. Windows and its applications remain strong sellers. C++ is the most popular object-oriented language, and will have templates and run-time exception handling by the end of 1992. Object-oriented databases are becoming available. Ada remains a sensible option for embedded systems and large-scale projects, and Ada 9X will have object-oriented support. CAD utilities and tools will out-pace monolithic CAD frameworks (as the tools have a larger market). [Richard Comerford and Wayne H. Wolf, Spectrum, 1/92.] Unix (or Posix) is also winning on mainframes, which are often losing money as they get "cheaper, smaller, faster, larger," and massively parallel.

Whatever happened to IBM's SAA? It was intended to be a proprietary operating systems architecture, but has merged with AIX and evolved into IBM's version of open systems. It now includes more than 90 implementations of national and international standards, and links such products as MVS, DB2, OS2, and Microsoft Windows. It's also moving into object- oriented interfaces (CUA '91), and may set the standard there. IBM will likely market the services under other names, but the functionality is here and will continue to evolve. [Sam Albert, CW, 1/20.]

IBM's educational systems division has been doing so well -- 25% market share -- that it's being spun out as a wholly owned subsidiary called EduQuest. [Deidre A. Depke, BW, 2/3.]

American Express is selling minority equity in its Information Services Corp., and is renaming it First Data Corp. [AP. SF Chronicle, 2/4.]

Bill Gates is dismissing Michael R. Hallman and has given up on finding an outside "white knight" to run Microsoft. Operation of the $2.3B company will now be split among Michael J. Maples (Applications Software), Steven A. Ballmer (Operating Systems), and Francis j. Gaudette (CFO). [John Markoff, NYT. SF Chronicle, 2/4.]

Apple has promoted David Nagle to Senior VP for Advanced Technology, which gives him a seat in the company's executive management committee. Nagle has been active in the IBM alliance and in Apple's Consumer Products Division. Hew was formerly a research scientist and head of Human Factors Research at NASA Ames. [SF Chronicle, 1/29.]

Metaphor Computer Systems has promoted Charles H. Irby to Senior VP of Development and director, as well as CTO. He was previously chief designer of the Star user interface at Xerox PARC. [SJM, 1/31.] (Interface design leadership seems to be a good route into top management.)

Wavelet theory has drawn the attention of the business community. Some researchers think it's a breakthrough in radar target detection, signal analysis, data compression, medical imaging, and other data analysis tasks. Ronald Coifman, a Yale mathematician, has co-founded Fast Mathematical Algorithms & Hardware Corp. (Hamden, CN) to develop software for decomposing signals into wavelet sets. Aware Inc. (Cambridge, MA) makes wavelet-based chips, underwritten by R&D funds from a $4M DARPA pot; one use is 150:1 compression of digital movies. [John Carey, BW, 2/3.] I haven't followed this area closely. Are wavelet basis sets really better (or faster) than Gabor functions, differences of Gaussians, or binomial waveforms? Regardless, the availability of chips and of government/military/commercial money makes this an interesting research area.

The mirror defect in the Hubble Space Telescope may prove to be a blessing. Although it does prevent certain narrow-aperture experiments, the blur reduces "faint object camera" saturation from very bright sources. Images reconstructed on an MP-1 massively parallel computer (in minutes or hours) are of better quality than with a perfect mirror. This phenomenon is likely to be useful in other imaging domains as well. [Michael Alexander, CW, 1/20.] (Now what we need are holographic detectors.)

Irvine Sensors Corp. (Costa Mesa, CA) is working on an integrated 128 x 128 IR sensing array and neural processor that would pack 128 128-node neural chips into the space of two sugar cubes, for 10^13 interconnections per second -- close to the 10^15 rate of the human brain. Initial funding of $635K is coming from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) through ONR. [Military & Aerospace Electronics, 11/91.]

Intelligent Computer Systems Research Group (Rockville, MD) has raised money to sponsor the work of others in developing a Learning and Thinking Machine (LTM). Technical analyst Peter Lockwood is a spokesman for ICS Research; other co-founding computer professionals wish to remain anonymous. The group hopes that $5M to $10M over five to eight years will produce a machine able to learn from books, databases, and spoken instruction. One company they regard as promising is Cognitive Modeling Designs (Rockville, MD). [Michael Alexander, CW, 1/20.]

Three researchers at RPI (Troy, NY) have a $300K grant from the Henry Luce foundation to build Autopoeisis 2000, a program to write fiction. Bad fiction, no doubt, but it's a start. The three are David Porush, a literature professor; Marie Meteer, a computational linguist and programmer; and Selmer Bringsjord, an assistant professor of philosophy. [Rick Ratliff, Knight-Ridder. SJM, 2/2.] Sometimes what you can sell is more important than what you can do. The important point, though, is asking the right sponsor. It's very unlikely that NSF would have funded this.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth in the next decade will be fastest in small companies and in computers, legal work, and careers for the well educated and trained. Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, and Colorado are picking up quite a few California companies; both costs and wages there are below the national average. Growth has slowed in Oregon and Washington, but Texas is beginning to recover. The Northeast is a disaster. [Larry Reibstein, Newsweek, 1/20.]

Yale recently considered closing its engineering department, and many other schools are likewise cutting back. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) says that the EE department costs 1.6 times as much as the math department but brings in only .8 times the revenue. [George F. Watson, The Institute, 1/92.]

Recent Bay Area layoffs include 300 at Varian Associates Inc. (Palo Alto, CA), 700 at Tandem Computers Inc. (Cupertino, CA), 130 at Chips & Technologies Inc. (San Jose, CA), and 170 at Pyramid Technology (Mountain View, CA). [Ken Siegmann, SF Chronicle, 2/4.]

A recent survey of 311 small high-tech companies (under 1K employees) showed 27% expanding by an average 39%, for 2,554 new jobs. Only 13% were shrinking or had failed. [CorpTech, High Technology Careers, 2/92.]

Software appears to be the healthiest EE/high-tech industry. Corptech's survey shows industry employment up 6% in November, 6% in December, and almost 8% in January. Next-best industries were telecommunications and then computer hardware.

The Washington, DC, area has fared rather well due to the abundance of professional-services and systems integration companies. It's a particularly good area for Ada programmers and communication system developers. Local start-up incubators include the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology (Chantilly, VA); the Center for Innovative Technology (Herndon, VA), (703) 478-7254; and the Technolgy Advancement Program (College Park, MD), (301) 314-7803). Booz Allen & Hamilton Technology Center (Bethesda, MD), (301) 951-2200 is looking for AI/NN developers and other EE/CS personnel; other companies that are actively hiring include Arinc (Annapolis, MD), (301) 266-4600; CIA (Washington, DC), (703) 482-7754; Fairchild Space and Defense (Germantown, MD) (301) 428-6000); PRC Inc. (VA), (703) 556-1000; TV Answer (Reston, VA), (703) 715-8600; and Veda Inc. (Alexandria, VA), (703) 684-8005. [Kate Colborn, EDN News, 12/12.]

Digital signal processing (DSP) is an area where EE and software skills come together. There is a need for better interfaces to DSP tools as the technology (speed, memory, etc.) grows at two orders of magnitude per decade. C code is standard, although parallel and object-oriented programming (in C++) are likely trends. Among the companies actively hiring are Comdisco Systems Inc. (Foster City, CA), (415) 574-5800, and Motorola Semiconductor Products SE, DSP Op. (Austin, TX), (512) 891-2000; [Marjorie Stenzler-Centonze, EDN News, 12/12.]

Tactical defense electronics looks to be stable or increasing. Hot areas are information and communications systems, integration, electronic combat systems, C^3I, and intelligence. Conventional cost-plus R&D contracts will be the norm. Basic research may suffer, as there is no longer a need for "leapfrog" technology. [Thomas L. Fagan Jr., Spectrum, 1/92.]

The more specialized your field, the more likely it is that you will have to move to get a job. Send 300 letters in your local area, then start working newspapers, trade associations, and Chambers of commerce in distant cities. The National Ad Search, a weekly classifieds compilation, may also help you locate booming industry centers. Stay with a friend or at a hotel while interviewing so your address doesn't foreshadow relocation costs -- but don't move until you actually have a job. [Dody Tsiantar, Newsweek, 1/20.]

Software developers often embed their names somewhere within their applications. That's true with Microsoft's new Windows applications, but the company refuses to reveal the hidden invocations. It seems that companies have been using the signatures to hire away Microsoft's best programmers. [Charles Bermant, CC, 1/28.]

Tim Finin (finin@algol.cs.umbc.edu) sent me a Women in CS report announcement. It's a 100-page tech report by Ellen Spertus, a graduate student in the MIT AI Lab. Bound hardcopy of AI TR 1315 is $8 plus shipping from publications@ai.mit.edu. You can also FTP the text (or PostScript, DVI, or compressed DVI) from pub/ellens on ftp.ai.mit.edu. [Rick Weingarten (rweingar@cs.umd.edu), Forsythe list, 1/31.]

ACM will be generating mentoring materials for women and minorities, supported by $47K from NSF. A training manual for SIG newsletter editors is also available. Contact acmhelp@acmvm.bitnet. [ACMemberNet, 1/92.]

UC Berkeley's Center for EUV Astrophysics needs a Science Software Manager and two scientific programmers to work with data from the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer Project. The former requires Sun X-windows experience and pays "$50.2K to $75.3K midpoint." Respond to Box #07-104-11 (Q) by 2/7. [High Technology Careers, 2/92.]

Arete' Associates (Sherman Oaks, CA) is advertising for physical scientists for oceanic and atmospheric data modeling and analysis. [Spectrum, 1/92.]

An Anaheim, CA, company needs an experienced, Japanese-fluent EE Ph.D. as Director of R&D for Japanese voice recognition and keyboarding. $5K/month. Job #PM 10524, P.O. Box 9560, Sacramento, CA 95823-0560, by 1/31. [Spectrum, 1/92.]

M.S. software engineer needed to develop engineering data interpretation software for IBM systems. $45K. Ref. 3792; 7310 Woodward Ave., Room 415, Detroit, MI 48202. [CW, 2/3.]

PHD/CS associate scientist needed for advanced R&D leadership in knowledge-based software development. $1154/week. #V-IL-4838-D; J. Schaffer, Illinois Dept. of Emp. Security, 401 S. State Street, 3 South, Chicago, IL 60605. [CW, 2/3.]

UAdelaide needs a researcher to work on insect visual modeling and/or neural processing for radar signals. R.E. Bogner (bogner@eleceng.adelaide.edu.au). [connectionists, 1/30.]

The Center for Cognitive Science at NYU has a tenure-track opening in CogSci, esp. NN, PatRec, motor control, learning and memory, reasoning, language, judgment, and decision making. Cognitive Science Search Committee, 6 Washington Place, 8th floor, NYU, New York, NY 10003. [Dave Touretzky (dave_touretzky @dst.boltz.cs.cmu.edu), connectionists, 2/3.]

The AI Center at NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, CA) needs an MS (or better) EE/CS research assistant in neural networks and fuzzy logic for intelligent control. Job T008, Vera Novosel, Sterling Federal Systems, 1121 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303. [Hamid Berenji (berenji@kronos.arc.nasa.gov), m.j.o, 1/29.]

Intel wants experienced computational scientists in Portland, OR, and Sunnyvale, CA. Jennifer Shelley (jennifer_shelley @ccm.hf.intel.com). [Nancy Martin (nmartin@cadev6.intel.com), m.j.o, 1/29.]

Recruiter Stuart D. Abramson (abramson@well.sf.ca.us) needs supercomputer application analysts for scientific applications in Mississippi (to $50K) and North Carolina ($70K), and for visualization of weather models in North Carolina ($75K) and aerospace data in the SF Bay Area ($40K to $50K). [m.j.o, 1/31.]

GO Corporation (Foster City, CA) is seeking an experienced BS/MS senior software engineer in handwriting recognition and pattern recognition. Brian Hurley (brian_hurley@go.com). [m.j.o, 1/30.]

Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, WA) needs a software design engineer to work on natural language support for Windows NT. Lynn Davis (lynnd@microsoft.com). [m.j.o, 1/31.]

The Australian National University, Dept. of CS, has two tenurable openings in IS, AI, DB, and SE. Contact R.B. Stanton (rbs@cs.anu.edu.au) by 2/14. [David Hawking (dave@cs.anu.edu.au), m.j.o, 2/2.]

A NY City finance house is looking for a very experienced Smalltalk contractor and several less-experienced candidates. Wehn Associates Inc., (212) 675-3224, Fax (212) 633-6125. [Paul Bennett (paul@dialogic.com), m.j.o, 2/3.]

UNorthern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA) has two tenure-track CS openings, esp. AI and software engineering. Philip East (east@nova.cs.uni.edu). [hausmann@iscsvax.uni.edu, m.j.o, 2/4.]

A Midwest company needs a technical consultant in AI, object- oriented systems, DSS, and planning or financial systems. Rob Scott, CIS, P.O. Box 456, Brookline, MA 02146; Fax (617) 232-6240. [Marty Lebowitz (cisml@world.std.com), m.j.o, 2/4.]

UMinnesota needs a Ph.D.-level senior researcher in real-time distributed databases. Michael Pietrs (piet@ux.acs.umn.edu). [m.j.o, 2/5.]

The NASA Ames AI Lab has a summer student opening (undergraduate or graduate) on the COLLAGE Multi-Agent Planning Project. Amy Lansky (lansky@ptolemy.arc.nasa.gov). [su.jobs, 1/31.]

Language Industry Monitor is a 12-page bimonthly newsletter covering NLP technologies, including speech processing, handwriting recognition, computer-aided writing, multilingual computing, terminology management, and machine translation. Topics covered in the first year included EUROTRA, UNICODE, Arabic, Microsoft's new NL group, Reuters' content scanning, etc. Contact Colin Brace (colinb@paramount.nikhefk.nikhef.nl), Fax +31 20 6854300, to subscribe or submit material. Language Industry Monitor, Eerste Helmersstraat 183, 1054 DT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. [NL-KR Digest, 1/30.]

The Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia; David H. Jonassen, Editor. Quarterly, starting Fall 1991. [Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (aace@virginia.edu), IRList Digest, 1/8.]

UNIX USER is a new bimonthly newsletter (16-24 pp.) for Unix newcomers. Contact Hanson Computer Consulting (Batavia, IL), 73765.776@compuserve.com. [Steve Hanson (hanson@pogo.fnal.gov, comp.newprod, 12/23.]

The AI in Education Society (AI-ED) is a new international society sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Membership included the AI-ED Newsletter, the quarterly Journal of AI in Education, and various discounts. Contact aace@virgina.edu. [SIGART Bulletin, 1/92.]

COMPUTATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, 7(4), 1991, is a special issue on natural language generation. Copies are available for US$17.50. Contact T. Pattabhiraman (patta@cs.sfu.ca) for a list of articles or for ordering instructions. Vol. 8(1) will be a continuation. [NL-KR Digest, 1/30.]

Bob Bolles (SRI) and Olivier Faugeras (INRIA) will join Takeo Kanade (CMU) as Editors in Chief of the Int. J. of Computer Vision (IJCV), replacing Rod Brooks. [SIGART Bulletin, 1/92.]

The Object Technology Laboratory at Santa Clara University is organizing Tuesday 4-5pm seminars on research directions in next-generation database systems. Contact dbsem@otl.scu.edu for information or to volunteer. [Mohammad Ketabchi, SRI bboard, 1/10.]

AAAI Press is seeking proposals for edited collections of papers from AAAI activities. Guidelines are given in AI Magazine, Winter '91.

AAAI is collecting short (5- to 15-minute) video segments to be shown at AAAI-92. If you'd like to publicize your work, contact Richard Skalsky(skalsky@aaai.org) by 3/1/92. [AI Magazine, Winter '91.]

Int. J. on AI has begun publication and seeks articles. Nikolaos G. Bourbakis (bourbaki@bingvaxu.cc.binghamton.edu). [Computer, 1/92.]

AI Expert needs articles. Alan Zeichick, 600 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107. [AI Expert, 12/91.]

Decision Sciences, likewise. James Hershauer, Dept. of Decision and Information Systems, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, by 2/1. [IEEE Expert, 12/91.]

IEEE Trans. on Knowledge and Data Engineering. C.V. Ramamoorthy, (415) 642-4751. [ibid.]

2-D shape analysis; Annals of Mathematics and AI. Janos Csirik (h873csi@ella.uucp), by 1/31. [Computer, 1/92.]

Learning in computer vision; IEEE Trans. on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence. Bir Bhanu (bhanu@shivish.ucr.edu) by 8/3/92. [PAMI, 12/91.]

Expert-system software for power networks; Electrosoft. F.D. Galiana, McGill, by 2/1. [Computer, 1/92.]

Intelligent simulation of high-autonomy systems; Int. J. of Computer Simulation. Albert Y. Zomaya (zomaya @swanee.ee.uwa.oz.au) by 2/1. [Ibid.]

Distributed and parallel computing systems; J. of Computer and Software Engineering. Yelena Yesha (yeyesha@alcol.umbc.edu) by 3/15. [Ibid.]

J. of Intelligent Information Systems: Integrating AI and Database Technology. Karen Cullen (kluwer@world.std.com). [IEEE Expert, 12/91.]

Due to page limitations, the SIGART Bulletin will no longer publish the dissertation abstracts compiled by Susanne Humphrey and Bob Krovetz. (I assume the lists will still be available from the authors.) The Bulletin will print submitted abstracts as space permits, and is now accepting advertising. [W. Lewis Johnson, SIGART Bulletin, 1/92.]

David D. Lewis (lewis@tira.uchicago.edu) is interested in information retrieval, NLP, and machine learning. He recently completed a Ph.D. in CS under Bruce Croft (UMass Amherst), and is now an RA at the Center for Information and Language Studies (UChicago) working on stochastic parsing, phrase clustering, and text representations for inductive learning. He has consulted for several firms, served on workshop program committees, and helped with the DARPA MUC and TREC evaluations. David would like to hear of open faculty or research positions in text-based systems.

Larry Bookman (lab@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu) just got his Ph.D. in CS from Brandeis University, working under Rick Alterman and Dave Waltz on a two-tier model of semantic memory for text comprehension. Larry also taught for several years at Northeastern University, and he's interested in getting back to Boston. His research interests include text understanding, summarization, case-based reasoning, NLP, information retrieval, and connectionist models, as well as AI in general.

If you have only five or ten items to record, you can do your U.S. tax forms yourself. With up to 20 pieces of information, H&R Block's average fee of $51 may be a good deal. For $100 to $200 you can have an enrolled agent do your taxes, and for $500 your CPA can do them. Keep in mind that Money Magazine's annual survey typically finds 50 different answers from 50 preparers, differing by as much as $2K. [Jerry Morgan, Newsday. SF Chronicle, 2/3.] If you want clerical help with a simple return, there are about 200 tax-preparation programs retailing for $50 to $75. Top-selling PC programs include TurboTax, TaxCut, EZTax, Your Income Tax, and Tax Edge. [Ken Siegmann, ibid.]

Barron's has recently published a series of readable financial guides. I don't have a list, but the 133 p. Keys to Surviving a Tax Audit is only $4.95. (516) 434-3311. [Jill Andresky Fraser, Inc., 1/92.]

The IRS allows you to write off $10,000 in capital equipment each year as a direct expense -- saving the hassle and expense of depreciating the equipment over several years. You can even carry excess capital costs -- those exceeding your income for the year, after taking out other expenses -- forward to be expensed out in the following year. Don't treat capital purchases as expenses if the equipment is likely to be converted to personal use -- Section 179 of Schedule C forces you to calculate the depreciation and pay taxes as if you had sold the asset. If you had depreciated the asset to begin with, you would not have to pay additional taxes until you sold the equipment to someone else. [misc.jobs.contract, 8/27.] (The rules covering depreciation are very difficult to interpret, so consult your accountant.)

If you're employed and take a home office deduction for part of the week, it's supposed to be for your employer's convenience rather than your own. Get a letter from your boss saying that your corporate office is used by someone else on those days. If you're self-employed, combining outside rent expense with a home office deduction is likely to trigger IRS suspicion. And if you use the home office to moonlight, the IRS won't allow a deduction unless it's your principal income. Keep records, pay your cleaning service by check (instead of cash), and check with an accountant if you plan to sell your home and office during the coming year. [Joan Warner, BW, 1/13.]

The average home office worker spent $1,830 on a computer system, according to Link Resources (NY). Peter H. Lewis of the NY Times decided to see what he could buy for that. He recommended the $1,798 Dell 316SX with modem from Dell Computer Corp. (Austin, TX; (800) 626-4294), or the $1,495 Mac Classic 2/40. [SJ Mercury, 7/28.] (Dell had good press last year, but Northgate is also an excellent discount supplier.)

I've also heard that the average home-office start-up spends about $3,300 on furniture and equipment. Start cheap, then get what you really want after you've experimented and can afford it. (Exception: pay whatever is necessary for a good chair.) A desk is necessary, but can be any horizontal surface. A door blank on top of 24" filing cabinets works well for those who don't need drawers and pull-out shelves. Buy other equipment only when you really need it. Buy used if you can; it's a rare home business that has to maintain a prosperous image for office visitors. (You can take clients to restaurants if you have to, or meet at their offices.) Save your cash for a computer, printer, software, supplies, and perhaps a FAX, hands-free phone (handy when you're put on hold), stationery, legal and accounting help, incorporation fees, mailing lists, brochure design and printing, etc.

I mentioned Personal Law Firm in V1 N14, a program that prints 30 legal documents. Jonathan Rosenoer recommends LEGAL LetterWorks, in Mac or IBM formats, $79.95 from Round Lake Publishing. (Sorry; I don't have a phone number or city.) You get 165 legal forms and a 460-page manual, with chapters on wills and gifts; real estate; commerce; finance; starting a business; corporations; selling a business; general contracts; employees; and legal authorizations. The manual includes explanations and warnings not in the software, including the fact that Louisiana law may differ. [SMUG News, 11/91.]

Desktop Lawyer provides 304 legal forms and 43 legal checklists for just $139. (PC formats are WordPerfect 4.2 and ASCII; the Mac format is Word 4.0. Text size is 2.7Mb.) There's also an excellent manual telling how to use the forms, including discussions of the underlying legal principles. The package seems to include everything you might want for business and incorporation, real estate, investing, estate planning, and personal legal protection. Open University, P.O. Box 1511, Orlando, FL 32802; (800) 874-0388. [Richard Eckhouse, Computer, 12/91.]

-- Ken