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Now, For Best Supporting Pc...

Bits & Bytes

Now, for Best Supporting PC...

EVEN OSCAR IS GOING DIGITAL, so why wait for co-workers to fill you in on pre-ceremony awards gossip and hype? Start handicapping the nominees early with E! Online, a Web site ( that lets movie buffs scan a complete list of nominations and download ready-made ballots for the office pool. Or visit's Oscarama, devoted entirely to Oscar-abilia such as T-shirts and videos of every available Oscar-winning film.

On, Hollywood fans can flip through pages of weekly updates on what the stars will be wearing and take an insider's look at rehearsal weekend.

Still not satisfied? On Oscar night, will broadcast live video of the red-carpet arrivals, transcripts of acceptance speeches, and backstage interviews--stuff you can't get on TV. So this awards night, why not pull out the Jiffy Pop and hunker down in front of your computer? EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEKReturn to top

More People Are Saying: "I Want My DVD"

THANKS TO FALLING PRICES, better marketing, and a rise in the number of homes with personal computers, digital video disk players (DVDs)--which play video as well as audio and computer data--are starting to take off.

Forrester Research Inc. says people are snapping them up at a faster pace in their second year on store shelves than they did during the second year of other technologies such as CD players and VCRs. The Cambridge (Mass.) research firm predicts that more than 4.3 million DVD players will be sold by yearend. That would be up from 1.2 million at the end of 1998.

According to Forrester, the cost of basic DVD models has dropped to around $300 from $600. That's key, since in more than half of the U.S. households with DVD players, the main breadwinner earns less than $45,000 a year. How are DVDs getting into those homes? Forrester says 73% of those households bought a PC after 1997 and that 90% of those machines came with DVD-ROMs, a trend

that is helping consumers make the transition to DVD players. EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEKReturn to top

Linux Gets a User-Friendly Facelift

THE RAP ON THE LINUX FREEWARE operating system is that it's just too hard to use. Its complicated commands are no sweat for the engineers who have made the fledgling software all the rage in technoland. But that user-unfriendliness helps explain why Linux has not been a threat to Microsoft's Windows operating system on desktop PCs, given Windows' graphical menus, icons, and point-and-click commands.

Help has arrived. It's Gnome, a new graphical user interface that can be downloaded for free from It has all the usual Windows-style features for launching programs and keeping track of information. But you can also create a series of "virtual desktops" that will assemble only the programs and files you're using for a particular project.

Gnome was conceived by Miguel de Icaza, a 26-year-old Mexican programmer. But to speed it to market, Red Hat Software in Research Triangle Park, N.C., which sells a bells-and-whistle version of Linux, did some final polishing in its lab.

Red Hat plans to ship Gnome to customers in a few months with its $49 Linux package.EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEKReturn to top

#$@%&! This Machine $@%&! This Machine $@%&! This Machine $@%&! This Machine $@%&! This Machines $@%&! This Machines $@%&! This Machine

IT'S 4 P.M., YOUR BOSS NEEDS THAT REPORT by five, the person you need to talk to isn't taking your calls, and now your mouse isn't moving. Your computer screen is frozen. What do you do?

If your response is to hurl the mouse at your monitor, guess what? You're not alone. It's called computer rage. Some 83% of 150 computer network managers surveyed recently by Concord Communications, a Marlboro (Mass.) network-management firm, say computer problems sometimes trigger violent responses from users.

Ignorance is partly to blame. One gripe sometimes heard by network managers: mice that don't work when users pick them up and point them at the computer screen. Another one: E-mails that can't be sent when addressed to a person's street name, town, and zip code.

More often than not, though, it's the machine that deserves the bulk of the blame. Anger caused by slow computer response times is common--but violent responses to that frustration is "obviously abnormal," says Boston-based psychologist Wilfred Calmas. Far better than kicking your hard drive, he says, is talking it out. "Just talking about it can make you feel better," Calmas says. And cut down on repairs. EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEK $@%&! THIS MACHINEReturn to top

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