DID YOU HEAR?

PC vendors’ dream of a PC in every home is halfway to reality. A new study by Palo Alto, Calif.-based market research firm Dataquest indicates that the percentage of U.S. homes with a PC hit 50 percent last year. Just 27 percent of U.S. homes had PCs in 1995. Strong sales of lower-priced PCs are credited with the boost in “homeshare.” In 1997, 43 percent of U.S. homes had PCs.

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Talk about the democratization of technology. Not only are lower prices making the home PC more ubiquitous, but the homeless in some cities can now have voice mail. Chicago-based U.S. Cellular Corp. is providing free voice mailboxes for homeless people in 120 shelters across the United States. The purpose of the voice mailboxes is to give the homeless a callback number – other than a shelter’s phone number – for prospective employers or landlords, so that they can improve their situation.

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Information technology professionals will continue to command higher salaries this year, according to the 1999 RHI Consulting Salary Guide. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based IT staffing service forecasts a 7.3 percent increase in average starting salaries for IT professionals in 1999, more than double the 3.5 percent gain the company forecast for 1998. Programmers with application development experience in C, C++ and Visual Basic can expect to see the largest salary gain, 18.4 percent over last year. Database administrators can expect a 16.3 percent gain. Help desk managers and CIOs can expect the smallest gains, just 3.4 percent and 4.4 percent annually. The hottest industries? Finance, insurance and real estate, and business and professional services.