CIS SATURDAY, MAY 1,1999 TECH KOKOMO TRIBUNE Help is on Need an answer to a technology question? Have a comment about 'nology? Contact us at: 'nology - solutions, 730 N. Franklin, Suite 706, Chicago, IL 60610 or e-mail us @ email@example.com Ruthless.com Red Storm Entertainment www.redstorm.com / Windows 95/98 / $49.95 ($44.50 CAD) / $14.95 online I AVE you ever looked at die sky-high salaries that big! time CEOs pull down and diought:"Hey, I could do diat job"? Well diis game gives you the chance. Ruthless.com is a business simulation that puts you in charge of a fast-growing software company, and you'll learn quickly that being CEO isn't all luncheons, stock options and paychecks. Developed by authorTom Clancy, and based on the best-selling paperback of the same name, Rutliless.com lets you do all die usual business things such as introduce new products and build buildings, but it also lets you fight dirty. In fact, it encourages it. If another company is stealing your customers, you can firebomb its headquarters. Or you can bribe, frame, kidnap or assassinate its CEO. Of you can pull other dirty tricks. Of course, the real-life business tactics work, too.You can build a research- and-development department to make sure your products are of high quality. You can build a marketing department to promote your products.And you can build a human resources department to help recruit top-notch employees.And you'd better do this stuff, because your competitors are doing it, too. The game proceeds dirough turn- based play. As CEO, you can issue two orders each turn. After each turn, you see how your orders played out, and you see what your competitors did.You also see how all of this affected your stock price, market share and cash flow. The graphics and sounds in diis game are nothing to get excited about - in fact, some of the sounds get rather annoying - but diat's not a problem because it's the bottom line, not flashy graphics, diat matters. If tiiis game sounds complicated, that's because it is. But not in a bad way. It's complex, with a lot of different options and factors to consider, but it's not hard to pick up on. In fact, diere's a brief tutorial you can go through that gives you a good overview of how tilings work. And once you get started, your inner Bill Gates might just surface. We never realized it could be so satisfying to squeeze out an upstart competitor, or to watch your stock price climb after you downsize an inflated department. - Erik Battenberg Going, going, gone Parents, take heed: You may already know about kid- unfriendly sites on the Web, but have you considered online auction houses as a danger? While sites such as eBay have policies prohibiting minors from bidding, they work on honor systems and have no way of knowing if a bidder is of legal bidding age or not. Case in point: A 13-year- old boy from New Jersey who has placed online bids totaling over $1 million. Twice as nice Good news for IBM shareholders: The company has announced a two-for- one stock split, a move approved by 97 percent of the company's stockholders. Shareholders will receive one additional share for each share held as of May 10, with the split being payable on May 26. On April 27, IBM stock closed at $208.625. It's a jungle out there Amazon.com, the book-selling, video-selling, auction-bandwagon- jumping online retailer has gotten into the e-greeting card business. There is no charge for the service and no registration is required. More than 800 cards are available through the company's home page or at http://www. cards.amazon.com. By John W. Ellis IV G EORGE Jetson has a computer-driven personal craft that, with a few simple commands, takes him wherever he wants to go. So does Paul Moller. For more than 50 years, various companies have tinkered with the idea of a machine that is part car, part plane.The idea of a car whizzing through die air is the stuff of our most popular science fiction, from the book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" to the film "The Fifth Element." Now, Moller International has built what may become die first flying car to make it to die consumer market. Moller International, an engineering company successful with environment-friendly boat motors and small air surveillance robots, recently began testing die Skycar. Closer kin to the helicopter and airplane, the Skycar takes advantage of volantor technology that combines die vertical takeoff and hovering capabilities of a helicopter and the long range flight traits of a jet plane. "I was doing my best to imitate the hummingbird," says Moller, president of Moller International."That's the closest biological equivalent to die Skycar." Two editions of the Skycar are in development.-The M400 transports four passengers (or 875 pounds) 900 miles away before needing to refuel.The 720 horsepower engines get 20 miles per gaUon.The Skycar cruises at 350 mph (but can be pushed to 390 mph), and has a top altitude of 30,000 feet.The M150 has similar features, but is a single passenger craft for when you really want to get away by yourself. Each individual 160 horsepower engine weighs less than 80 pounds and fits into one cubic foot. It runs on any fuel (including diesel.gas find alcohol) and has lower emission levels than most cars. Skycar engines are constructed mostly of aluminum.The frame? Fiber-reinforced plastic. "This is extremely significant," says John Zuk, chief of advanced plans and programs for NASA. "It's really a breakthrough for the type of concept, and it has merits from a cost standpoint." Moller says that automobile traffic is heading toward critical mass. According to transportation data, 80 percent of trips taken in cars are more dian 100 rriiles round trip.Take into consideration the cost of roads, bridges, environmental pollution, pollution-induced healdi care and physical waste and the price seems heavy. In addition, more than 40,000 people die each year in car accidents. "The most significant thing is what the Skycar would do for safety statistics," Moller says. "Because die system will be totally computerized, everyone goes the same speed." Skycar owners won't have to worry about taking complicated flying lessons because computers do all the flying. Technical advances in die Global Navigation Satellite Systems, geo-stationary satellites and automatic dependent surveillance make it possible for an computers to navigate the Skycar to any destination. A Skycar owner need only take a short operations course. Driving to and from takeoff sites requires using fewer controls tiian those found in a car. Flight programming and protocols are all diat are left. Of course, if you're the kind of driver who ignores die gas gauge or forgets tO f get regular tune-ups, being stuck on die side of road is much more acceptable tiian falling out of the sky. But don't hit the eject button yet. An analysis of the Skycar by airplane manufacturer Boeing revealed diat the M400 is safer than die Boeing 777 because there are no critical parts. Several of the eight engines and two of the three navigation computers could fail and die Skycar would still fly safely. If all the high- tech appointments fail, two low-tech parachutes will get you back to ground zero safely. .The Federal Aviation Administra- tion is reviewing the Skycar, its control systems and plans to map out a diree-dimensional highway in die sky. Moller believes diat die process is two to five years away from being complete, but notes the unpredictability of dealing widi die government. If you are already thinking about racing in to trade in your sport utility vehicle for a Skycar, hold on to your stick shift.The Skycar is expected cost more than most families spend annually on shoes, car payments, bus rides, plane tickets and cruises combined. "We expect die Skycar to initially cost one million dollars," Moller says. Pricey as it may be, the Skycar will still cost less than most private jets and helicopters, and Moller International has already taken more than 100 orders from people willing to put down a $5,000 deposit. Military and police forces are likely to make up the bulk of initial customers. NASA officials estimate diat soon personal air travel will be a trillion- dollar market. Moller expects prices to drop - quickly with increases in produc- tion.The company already has 600,000 orders for engines to be . used in other types of craft, such as boats and jet skis.The more engines produced, the less the Skycar will cost, he says. Because aircraft depreciate much slower dian cars, this provides an opportunity for leasing options to bring the price of a Skycar down to $60,000 or below. "The world of the future is going to be one that you can get where you want to go very quickly" Moller says, then adds:"And you can read a newspaper on the way." Whole Paycheck! http://www.wholefoods.com/ Whole Foods has an online shopping service, but it's much more fun to "Ooh!" and "Ah!" at the products in the actual store.And this is one grocery chain diat's big on samples, especially in the produce department, in case you don't know what, say, an orange tastes like. We Deliver! http://www.pvapod.com/ Peapod, America's Internet Grocer, seems like a good idea. "Smart Shopping for Busy People" is the company's tag line and diey've delivered, more than one million orders. But we're still a little weird about somebody else thumping our melons and sniffing our peaches. Mo food or drink allowed? http://www.daan-daluca,com/ Even die New Yorkers we know call Dean & Deluca a food museunv.The store really is beautiful, bordering on pretentious, and you almost hate to pick -^ anything up, because it ruins the picture-perfect displays. Then again, you probably can't afford anything there anyway. Grocery nirvana http://www.byerlys.com/lndex.chtml All, Byerlys.The ultimate grocery experience. Carpeted aisles and subtle lighting in a store that stretches as far as the eye can see.Their bagels are die best we've found outside of New York and you don't take your groceries out to your car:They're loaded, a la luggage at the airport, into bins and sent down a chute, then magically reappear to be loaded into your car at die grocery pickup drive-tiini! o : exactly j S I and should I care? m You must have missed our story pri MP3 last JMR B week, If you are, like most JHL * ofus,afrnofpapular ^"™ *l jnusic ^^Jijjjipens to own a computer, yoil may care about , MP3. And jf you work in the music Industry, you definitely care. MP3 js qne of the fastest-growing methods of obtaining music, but It i. die most controversial. MP3 is more or less die equivalent of CDs for Internet use, When you download an MP3 clip, it will have nearly flawless sound, but won't take up half your hard drive.'lt's still a big file, and the more complex the composition, the larger the file can be, But the average four-minute song will be contained in about 4 megabytes.And song files are easily stored on a. Zip drive or ' other portable medium. MP3 has proven to be a boost for ^cfs that can't otherwise land a recording deal or can't afford to press their own demo discs, But an increasing hun^r of established performers are juinpihg onboard the bandwagon, Just recendyAjanis Mofrisette andTpri Amos announced plans for a summer conceit tour to be «>sponspred by J,com,the leading Web site that supports you-know-what, ffowever, not everybody is happy about MP3, and most of them are executives for the recording industry. They're worried about the unaudio- rized distribution of their artists' work on the Internet. It is illegal to do such without approval Jrptn the parties involved. Still, the labels have heen hesitant to even allow their pwn artists to put their work, into MP3 form. And All art and photos excerpted from reviewed sites. widi die recent debut of the Rio play'-" er, which allows for portable use of MP3 recordings, tiiey may be going Into panic mode, as diey have formed an alliance to look into developing a way to distribute copyrighted music through the Internet - and with a profit for themselves, For more information, go to • MP3.com for free or shareware play r , <, ers, and authorized clips. -Pavid Brian Wajdon'
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