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DECEMBER 8 , 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 46 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Asiaweek Pictures.
Deep Six-Figures
Trendy yachters get a pricey new toy, the bells toll for VCRs and a bee gets branded
Compiled by YASMIN GHAHREMANI

SCUBA tanks and flippers are fine and good for the marine-loving masses, but among the adventure-at-any-cost crowd, the underwater apparatus to be seen in this year is a new $620,000 personal submarine. The Triton 650 is a 2.8-ton submersible made especially for deployment from a "megayacht" (what you sail when a mere yacht just won't do). "There are about 225 yachts over 35 meters in length on the world charter market," says Bruce Jones, the president of U.S. Submarines, Inc., the company that designed the Triton. "In some cases, to be competitive they have to carry a lot of toys." Jetskis, fishing boats and helicopters (yawn) don't cut it anymore. But a personal sub stands out. The two-seater Triton is about as cozy as a sports car and even more likely to impress a hot date. The standard model can plumb depths of 220 meters, and a deluxe version is capable of 400 meters. Lateral, vertical, fore and aft thrusters enable the vessel to navigate around coral reefs or anything else, with pinpoint precision. The craft takes about six months to make, after which it is delivered to your yacht via container ship, along with a trainer who will help you prepare for your submarine pilot's license. Find out more and place your order at http://ussubs.com.


Illustration by Emilio Rivera III.
Bye-Bye VCR Couch potatoes will soon find themselves in a classic dilemma: stay hunkered down in the sofa or go out and buy the latest revolutionary TV gadget? Toshiba has come out with the first DVD recorder with a hard disk drive — the RD-2000. That means you can record 12 hours of Friends onto the 30-GB hard drive and then play them or archive them on a DVD-RAM disk. While a VCR can meet a similar need, next to digital recordings, analog tape images look as fuzzy as last week's pizza. The RD-2000 also lets you play a program before it's finished recording, or pause and instantly replay live television. In addition to DVD-RAM disks, it takes DVD-Video disks, VCDs and CDs. It will go on sale in Japan on December 22 for $2,500. Don't worry. The VCR still makes a nice foot rest.

Family Tree Tracer Chinese people the world over can now use the Internet to find out where their great-great-grandfather came from, or the origins of their surname. A Singapore-based website called Chineseroots.com has input 12,000 volumes of birth and marriage records from the Shanghai Library of China to its database to help users trace their family roots. It hopes to add another 78,000 volumes within the next six months. The records date back 1,100 years to the time when family particulars were first organized into ancestry booklets called jiabu. Users can create a family tree by entering the names of their parents or other ancestors into the site. Chineseroots.com also lists the origins of 1,301 surnames. The founders are hoping to tap into the community of 70 million overseas Chinese. All of the services are free for now but users will eventually have to pay a fee.

The Sting of Victory
Guinness ad creates a technology buzz
W hen you're the Guinness Book of Records you don't do things in a small way — unless of course it's the smallest way. For the launch of the new Guinness website, scientists created the world's tiniest ad, and mounted it on a bee's knee. The unconventional media placement gives the ad a certain clichE cachet. But it also defies the first rule of ad design: make the copy readable. Only slightly bigger than the diameter of a human hair, the ad is, in fact, too small to be seen by the naked eye. If you could read it, you'd see the words "guinnessworldrecords.com" spelled out in gold on a band fitted around the insect's joint. Scientists created it using a stencil and evaporated gold, which they layered onto a film with a laser. We think that makes the feat worthy of another world record: best-dressed bee in the hive.

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