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January 31, 2002|Reuters

Sites Can Do More for Their Country

Most congressional Web sites have plenty of room for improvement, with nine out of 10 providing paltry information and few services to their constituents, according to a report released this week.

Although some lawmakers and committees have set up innovative Web sites that allow citizens to easily get in touch or find out about issues, the Congress Online Project found that most emphasize rhetoric over content and fail to keep information up to date.

The report gave about 10% of the 605 sites it surveyed a grade of A or B, with Capitol Hill averaging a C-minus.

House Republicans were more likely than Democrats to have outstanding sites, the report said, and Senate Democrats had an edge over their Republican colleagues, echoing the parties' respective control of the two chambers.

The House Republican Conference's site,, was singled out as one of the most innovative sites on the Hill.

Sony Slashes Price of Memory Stick

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. said this week that it has cut the price on its proprietary portable memory format by as much as 40%, bringing the price of the technology closer to the leading standard.

This is the second price reduction in six months for Sony's Memory Stick. The flash memory format competes with CompactFlash, which has the largest market share in devices such as digital cameras, personal digital assistants and MP3 players.

Sony's Web site listed the top-end 128-megabyte version of the chewing gum-shaped Memory Stick at $89.95, down from $149.95. In August, Sony cut the price on the Stick from $279.99.

Prices on the other Memory Stick modules also were cut: 64 MB to $49.95 from $79.95; 32 MB to $34.95 from $49.95; and both 16 MB and 8 MB to $24.95, from $34.95 and $29.95, respectively.

By comparison, flash, or nonvolatile, memory in the postage-stamp-sized Secure Digital format retails from $30 for the 16-MB card up to as much as $150 for 128 MB.

Intel Trims Cost of Pentium 4 Chips

Intel Corp. cut prices modestly this week on some of its microprocessors, particularly on the Pentium 4 processors as the world's largest computer chip maker seeks to move the PC market to those chips.

Santa Clara-based Intel cut the price of its Pentium 4 processor running at 1.9 gigahertz by 12% to $241 from $273. The biggest price reduction was 18%, on the 1.6-GHz Pentium 4, dropping to $133 from $163.

Intel is phasing out its Pentium III processor, replacing it with the Pentium 4. The fastest Pentium 4 chips are made with 0.13-micron manufacturing technology, which lets Intel put more transistors on a single chip and get more chips from a single wafer.

That cuts costs for Intel, helping it to boost margins on the microprocessors.

The company also cut prices on its Celeron processors by 7% to 14%.

The fastest Celeron, running at 1.3 GHz, costs $103, down from $118.

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