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PointCast upgrades a top-notch product

May 19, 1996


Information junkies rejoice! PointCast Network, the unique news interface with a built-in screensaver, has released version 1.0 of the PCN software.

Reviewed in an earlier column, PCN's beta release received many accolades from the on-line community, and more recently it earned C|Net Central's Internet Excellence Award for Most Valuable Internet Application.

PCN originally featured news courtesy of Reuters, Variety and PR Newswire, as well as stock market charts, weather maps, horoscopes and state lottery numbers.

The latest version of the software has been enhanced, and the results are impressive.

First, PCN now draws news content from Time Warner's Pathfinder Web site. This includes stories from Money, People, and Time magazines.

And now, the software will function as a plug-in for Netscape Navigator, allowing it to work from within the browser.

The SmartScreens screensaver has been redesigned, and for more interactivity, all URLs listed in stories found on PCN will be "live" links to those locations on the Internet. Click on the URL, and Netscape Navigator automatically starts, taking you to that location on the World-Wide Web.

PCN will also be offered to subscribers of MCI's Internet access service, MCI One.

If you are currently a user of the old PCN software, the company says the software will automatically update itself during updates to PCN's content. However, this may take some time, so visit PointCast Network's home page to get your copy and eliminate any delays in upgrading.

While under beta testing, PCN's central facility in Cupertino, Calif., recorded more than 20 million hits each business day. The company estimates that more than 200,000 people saw the PCN during a typical business hour.

PointCast is taking its distribution interface one step further, with plans for an intranet version of PCN that would allow companies to broadcast news and information with employees across a network.

NETSCAPE UPDATE. Users of the Internet's most popular browser should stop by the Netscape Web home page to take a look at Navigator version 2.02.

The update fixes the bug that meant the software wouldn't display updated Web pages for an hour.

In other Netscape news, the company recently unveiled LivePayment, a software system that lets companies accept credit card payments for information, goods and services over the Internet.

The system will make it easier for companies to charge for access to their sites or information they provide, and gives consumers additional security for Web transactions, and should be available by the fall.

For details, visit Netscape at http://home.netscape.com

RIDDLE ME THIS? The World-Wide Web has been called a time waster by critics, but a little time spent at their Web site could be your key to a new car!

Designed like a TV game show by the New York-based Interactive Imaginations, the Riddler Web site offers both head-to-head and solitary competitions that could lead to a big win, such as a Toyota RAV 4 sport utility.

Crossword puzzle fans can compete in a multi-player crossword competition, or check out the five-round multi-player trivia game. Or try The Daily Riddle or the Bloodhound Web scavenger hunt.

Players must register at the site, but playing is free.

New participants receive credits called CAPS, which are awarded for winning the various games. With enough CAPS, you can get the prize of your choice.

The prizes include CD's, weekend getaways, Apple Powerbooks, software and more.

I tried the ``Mental Floss'' solo trivia game. Interspersed among the game screens are advertisements that you have to look at on your way to the games.

Be careful, this site is additive! Thirty minutes evaporated while I was trying to determine which U.S. President was the only one born on Main Street.

Trivia fans will have to look up the answers themselves -- the Riddler site doesn't provide the correct answers.

THE ENVELOPE PLEASE. Theater buffs will want to check out the new Tony Awards Online Web site.

The site features information about the June 2 award ceremony, as well as information on the history of the award and digitized images of some of the great musicals of the 1950s.

And as has been the case in other media, the snub of ``Victor/Victoria'' by the nominating committee (and actress Julie Andrews' return snub) are among the topics of discussion at the site.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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