Bits & Bytes
NFL TRADING CARDS ENTER A NEW LEAGUE
PERSONAL COMPUTERS, AUDIO CD players, video-game consoles, the Internet--these are the playthings of today's technology-hip kids. It's a trend that companies marketing to kids can't afford to buck. At least that's what Topps Co. figures. The New York outfit recently introduced the Topps NFL CybrCard, a CD-ROM version of its popular sports trading cards.
Each CybrCard is a CD-ROM that features the statistics and performance history of a single National Football League player. The disks also contain approximately 90 digital video clips of memorable plays from the 1995 football season, which can be viewed on any IBM-compatible PC or Apple Macintosh machine. CybrCard owners can create their own trading cards on their PC's printer, choosing statistics and images that best highlight that particular football idol. Although each CD-ROM will retail for $20 for a single player, Topps will also offer $50 "three-packs" that bundle popular athletes such as Emmitt Smith, John Elway, and Steve Young together. Topps plans to add basketball after the coming season but has no plans as yet for baseball. By the way, bubble gum is not included.EDITED BY IRA SAGER By Paul EngReturn to top
SPYING ON THE WORLD THROUGH A CYBER-LENS
WANT TO CHECK TRAFFIC conditions on the Brooklyn Bridge before setting off for work? Or how about a look at the weather? Is snow falling on Mt. Fuji? Maybe a soothing glimpse of Lake Tahoe. Or the offbeat? Want to watch an ant farm or a school of piranha at feeding time?
Think of it as the ultimate Internet site for cyber-voyeurism. Video A Go-Go Entertainment Systems in Hackensack, N.J., has put together EarthCam, a directory of sites featuring live video feeds and frequently updated still shots to the Web. The database--there are 1,000 links listed so far--can be searched by keyword, location, or category, such as business, education, travel, entertainment, and, of course, the weird-and-bizarre.
The site, http://www.earthcam.com, is free. Video A Go-Go is working with corporate advertisers and sponsors to set up promotional video links. For example, the Virgin Megastore in New York's Times Square will soon have a video camera in the record store feeding shots of in-store events and customers to the Web.
Meanwhile, Video A Go-Go hopes that consumers will tune in for local weather and travel conditions. The company's directory already includes several local TV stations that have weather cams hooked to the Web, and traffic cameras on well-traveled thoroughfares could provide the latest road conditions for commuters.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
NOW YOU CAN CATCH UP ON YOUR WEBWARE
WEB SURFERS HAVE BEEN enjoying the Internet as a veritable smorgasbord of free software. Every week, it seems, there's a new Web browser or browser add-in delivering some function such as audio or video. But how does one keep up with the latest versions of those different programs, many of which require updating from different places on the Web?
Manageable Software Services Inc. may have the answer, with its new Catch-UP service. First, you have to grab a copy of the company's scanner program, which searches the hard disk on your Windows-based PC and prepares a list of Web-oriented programs. Then submit the list, over the Web, to the Catch-UP server. That machine keeps track of 500 popular free programs on the Net. Based on your list, it will then alert you by E-mail to any new version and provide a hyperlink to the site. Manageable, based in Palo Alto, Calif., plans to build subscribership by offering the service for free. Later, it plans to sell ads or even collect commissions on sales of software initiated through its service.EDITED BY IRA SAGER By John VerityReturn to top