Bits & Bytes
PAMPERING A DINO IN YOUR PC
INSTEAD OF BETTING HEARTS or playing Tetris on your office PC during those idle minutes, how about throwing a ball to your own digital dinosaur? You can do just that thanks to Expert Software Inc., based in Coral Gables, Fla., which ships the Rex CD-ROM game--the PC equivalent of the popular Tamagotchi digital toy. That means Rex, or whatever you name your dinosaur, is your responsibility from when he hatches until he grows up.
That's no wee thing. Rex is demanding. He needs to be fed, bathed, and played with, or he follows the fate of his real-life predecessors and becomes, um, extinct. But for all his demands, he's everything a person looks for in a pet: He dances, sings, colors cave drawings, and burps. You may choose to have as many as five dinos at once running around digital landscapes of deserts, jungles, caves, and forests. And you can switch him off when your boss stops by your desk. Each dino's life span depends on the time you spend with it, but typically runs 20 days. The $14.99 program is available at CompUSA Inc. stores--an inexpensive way to put the past in the present.EDITED BY HEATHER GREENReturn to top
WILL SHOPPERS TAKE TO CYBER GROCERIES?
IT'S A NO-BRAINER BUYING computers, books, and airline tickets on the Internet. But groceries? You can't exactly sniff cantaloupes over your modem. Even so, a recent Andersen Consulting study predicts online shopping for groceries and household goods will soar, as more consumers choose to buy over the Web and avoid store trips that average 47 minutes, not including driving and parking.
Online purchases of food and household goods and services are expected to jump up to $85 billion by 2007, up from $100 million last year, as the number of households shopping online mushrooms to as many as 20 million--some 15% of U.S. households--up from 200,000 today. The report's results were culled from two years of tracking the buying habits of 1,800 U.S. consumers and 800 online shoppers. Consumer Direct Cooperative, an Andersen-led consumer packaged-goods group that includes Coca-Cola Co., Nabisco Holdings Corp., and 29 other companies, conducted the report to get a bead on whether shopping patterns are changing because of the Internet.
Still, it may take some time for online grocery shopping to take off, the study concluded, since most efforts are in the pilot phase. What's more, shoppers shy away from the extra delivery fees that are currently charged for Net groceries. Maybe they want to sniff the cantaloupes after all.By Robert D. Hof EDITED BY HEATHER GREENReturn to top
A NET SCHOOL FOR OLYMPICS COUCH POTATOES
ARE SKIERS AERODYNAMIC? How do skaters maintain their balance? These are some questions kids--and quite a few adults--think of as they watch the Nagano Winter Olympics. Answering such puzzlers is the aim of a Web site designed by PBS, with help from IBM and CBS, that uses the Olympics to teach math, science, and social studies concepts to students, grades 4 through 8. PBS Cyber School (www.ibm.pbscyber school.org) offers more than 80 interactive challenges centered on figure skating, skiing, and snowboarding. Students reason through problems and, guided to sites including that of National Geographic, find the answers. Cyber School shows the promise of computer learning, but also its irritations. Some online resources needed for problem-solving are frustratingly slow or contain ads. Still, it's better than just vegging out in front of the tube.By Steven V. Brull EDITED BY HEATHER GREENReturn to top