Bits & Bytes
ONE-STOP TRAVEL SHOPPING ON THE WEB
ONE OF THE HOTTEST USES OF the Web, it seems, is delivering travel-related services. Microsoft Corp., for instance, recently launched a service called Expedia, which offers information about many global destinations and automatically scans the market for low airfares.
The latest competitor is www.biztravel.com, a well-funded New York venture founded by several industry veterans. One of its services lets travelers inquire about the frequent-flyer mileage and hotel points they have accumulated. In February, it will help book airline and hotel reservations, too. The editor-in-chief is Edward G.L. (Ted) Carter, who in the 1970s turned a former Rockefeller family retreat in the Adirondacks into a fancy hideaway called The Point. His new job is to oversee bizTravel's public discussion groups and travel-related articles. The president and chief executive is John I. Williams Jr., a former senior vice-president at American Express Co.'s travel unit. Backers such as Intel Corp., Informix Software Corp., and several venture funds, have put up a total of $11.6 million.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top
COMING SOON ON DISK: TOM, HUCK--AND ROMEO
READY FOR ANOTHER RECYcling of a cultural relic from baby boomers' childhoods? After the success of movies based on the Flintstones, Addams Family, and Brady Bunch TV shows, perhaps the boomers and their children are ready for something slightly meatier, such as digitized versions of Classic Comics. Originally introduced in 1941, those 10 cents comic books offered kids--and desperate college students--synopses of famous novels, plays, and epic tales. Through 1973, more than 1 billion copies of the 169-title series were distributed.
On Feb. 1, multimedia publisher Acclaim Entertainment Inc. in Glen Cove, N.Y., will first bring out $4.99, paperback-size reprints of the comics in a series called Classics Illustrated. The first titles: Tom Sawyer, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, and A Tale of Two Cities. Later this year, Acclaim will introduce CD-ROM-based "edutainment" versions--computer games designed to entertain and teach literature at the same time. They will include study guides and other materials not available in the printed versions. Pricing has yet to be determined.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top
A MASTER KEY FOR SECURITY PROGRAMS
ONE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN CORPORATE COMPUTING today is securing far-flung data networks against hackers and insiders bent on stealing information and services. A major problem is that no hardware or software supplier can solve the problem by itself, so corporations are forced to employ many different programs and devices to make all aspects of their networks more secure. But those products do not always work well together. Without lots of difficult programming, one supplier's "smart card" network-access key, for instance, may not be able to rely on the same password scheme as a particular Internet firewall program.
A startup company called Entegrity Solutions in San Jose, Calif., has come out with some software that may help. Based on work by Sead Muftic, a Stockholm-based computer researcher and co-founder of Entegrity, the software is intended to meld almost any combination of security products into a seamless electronic fence. Its main function is to translate between incompatible data formats and allow different suppliers' products to exchange information. That should make it a snap for technically savvy customers, consulting firms, and computer makers to create single-passkey setups. Led by several ex-National Semiconductor Corp. executives, Entegrity is backed by $2.5 million in venture and private capital.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top