Bits & Bytes
WHEN WWW STANDS FOR WILD WEIRD WITCHES
WHAT WOULD HALLOWEEN BE WITHOUT GHOSTS, goblins, haunted houses, and the World Wide Web. The Web? In this new age of Internet-everything, if you're up for a fright, then check out www. HauntedHouse.org.
Mythic Visions Inc., which bills itself as the world's largest horror and special-effects catalog, has come up with an extra treat this Halloween. The Great American Haunted House List is a state-by-state directory of spooky houses across the nation. Don't expect an actual haunting. This is strictly pay-as-you-go fun. The Web site has over 200 attractions listed, with a description of the place, hours, telephone numbers, and fees. The site is free, and so are the listings. (If you have a place you want listed, send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So what's particularly hair-raising this year? Mythic Visions lists a "haunted" firehouse in Oyster Bay, N.Y., a ghoulish plantation tour in the Deep South, haunted hayrides, and a scary steamboat in Pittsburgh. But the one that could send shivers up your spine: the Death Row Haunted Prison, an abandoned correctional facility in Nashville. Watch out for the chair with the arm restraints. Boo!EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
ARMCHAIR BASEBALL FROM THE WEB--OR YOUR STADIUM SEAT
WANT TO OUTMANAGE YANKEE SKIPPER JOE TORRE or order up your own replay of that tag you didn't get to see? Tech companies are descending upon the World Series to strut their stuff.
If you're a frustrated Bobby Cox, you can manage the New York Yankees or San Diego Padres--putting in your own pinch hitters, ordering steals, or sending your starter to the showers--by logging onto www.purebaseball.com. A joint venture of Boulder (Colo.)'s Reality Sports Inc. and Telescan Inc. of Houston, the free site calculates the odds of a successful decision by figuring probabilities, based on its huge statistical base of players' actual averages. The game will be available on the Web for as long as two months after the series' winner is crowned.
And if you're lucky enough to get tickets to the World Series at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, you can sit back and order replays or check out different camera angles from your seat. Williams Co. has outfitted over 300 of the stadium's seats with ChoiceSeat, an interactive, touch-pad television set that allows viewers to call up statistics, highlights, and historical information, or order merchandise. ChoiceSeat, which made its debut at the Super Bowl at Qualcomm in January, also is currently coddling sports fans at the Tampa Bay (Fla.) stadium.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
AN IBM NOTEBOOK THAT LISTENS TO CUSTOMERS
HERE'S THE PROBLEM: Your company has one of the strongest brands in the notebook-PC business, and yet consumers could give a hoot. What to do? If you're IBM, you spend 18 months on a series of research projects and then incorporate what you've learned into a new line of mobile PCs.
What did Big Blue figure out? For one, screen quality is a big disappointment. According to a poll of notebook-PC buyers at retail outlets, 68% regretted not buying a larger, higher-quality screen. Consumers also say they want better sound and easy Internet access.
What IBM cooked up is an aggressively priced new notebook PC--$1,499 for the entry-level model--with a top-flight 12.1-in. display. The new ThinkPad i series--the i stands for individual--also has four color-coded keys that can be set for one-button Net access. The computer giant also improved sound quality by housing the speakers next to the monitor instead of the keyboard, which dampens the sound when typing. Although IBM has stumbled in the consumer business, the new mobile PCs are part of a renewed effort in retail. Next from Big Blue: a scanner due out Oct. 26, costing under $140.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top