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by Sandy McMurray
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Sun newspapers


WELCOME NEW READERS!
published Wednesday, October 21, 1998 in Sun Media's Connect Monthly

Hi. Thanks for picking up the new expanded version of Connect.

My name is Sandy. I'd like to tell you a little about my job.

I get paid to explore the Internet, to play games, to try out new printers, scanners, cameras and other toys. Each week, I collect my thoughts and submit about 800 words about the topic(s) that grab my attention.

When my wife finds me playing Starcraft on-line, it's research. Two hours spent browsing at Computer City or Future Shop? Research. If I need an HTML editor to tune up my Web site, Macromedia or Adobe is happy to send one over so I can try it out. That's research, too.

When I install something new, and Windows eats it -- resulting in six hours of configuring and reinstalling -- I don't have to cry like everyone else. I can write about it and get paid.

I have the best job in the whole world!

I cover technology stories that the other guys miss. Last week, for example, I updated this Web site within hours of having two wisdom teeth extracted. I was doped up on Tylenol 3 at the time, and said so in a note on the site.

Within hours, I received e-mail from a concerned reader who suggested that I should not be driving "under the influence" on the Information Highway. He urged me to turn myself in to the proper authorities. Perhaps they would only suspend my ISP account for 30 days if I confessed.

This made a certain amount of sense. (I was still taking the painkillers.) Hoping to avoid a scandal, I immediately called the CRTC to confess my crime. But it turns out that the CRTC isn't legally responsible for regulating the Internet. Not yet, anyway. They're working on it.

And, apparently, "Information Superhighway" is just a metaphor! The Internet is actually just a bunch of computers all over the world, hooked together in a way that makes sharing information really easy if you have a computer and a modem.

So I'm off the hook, for now.

Atari 2600 game systemFAVOURITE OLD GAMES:
I'm just old enough to remember the dawn of video games. My family had a fancy version of Pong, made by Radio Shack, which included tennis, handball and hockey.

A few years later, our neighbour two doors down invested in an Atari 2600 game system and a pile of games. I spent long hours playing with that machine, and its little one-button joystick. Ah, memories.

Activision ClassicsThis week, a package arrived by courier which filled me with nostalgia. Activision has released 30 old Atari 2600 games on one CD for the Sony PlayStation.

Video games may have come a long way in 15 years, but my five-year-old, Alex, thinks River Raid and Boxing and Atlantis are pretty cool. The only thing that would make this package complete is a paddle controller. Kaboom just isn't the same with the multi-button PlayStation joystick...

SPEAKING OF VIDEO GAMES: As the Christmas season approaches, the battle for dominance in the console market is far from over. People often ask me, "Which system is better?"

It's all about the games.

PlayStation logoI think Nintendo still has more good games for young children than PlayStation, and I like the fact that you can have up to four players on N64. However, there are more games available for PlayStation, and a greater variety than N-64. (At least, that's my perception.)

Nintendo 64 logoEach system has its fans. I have one of each - not because I'm rich, but because Sony and Nintendo have kindly loaned them to me so I can review their games. (See? I have a great job!)

Sony and Nintendo recently dropped the price of their competing systems. You can get one or the other for about $180 (Canadian). The PlayStation now comes with a cool vibrating joystick instead of the old controller. Not to be outdone, Nintendo has packaged a new "atomic purple" controller with its N-64 game system.

Which system is better? My son, ever the diplomat, summed it up for me this way: "I like the one that has a new game this week." It's true. He thought 'Bomberman Hero' for N-64 was the best game ever until 'Spyro the Dragon' for PlayStation arrived... It's all about the games.

If you're considering the purchase of a Nintendo 64 or a PlayStation, take a look at the titles available in stores (and at your neighbours' houses). Then choose the system that's right for you.Don't forget to check the basement. You might still have an old Atari 2600 down there...Miss Abigail graphic

COOL SITES:
Miss Abigail's Time Warp Advice (www.MissAbigail.com) is a blast from the past for people who like to read "Dear Abby." The author answers readers' questions about life, love and etiquette using books published between 1832 and 1977. What To Do If Whistled At (1956) and Why Didn't I Hear From Him Again? (1953) are fascinating reading.

Ask JeevesDo you always use Yahoo, AltaVista or Metacrawler when you're searching for information? Next time, try something different. If you're looking for a little fun, bring your tough questions to Ask Jeeves (www.askjeeves.com) or Highway 61 (www.highway61.com), and see what happens.

To catch up on read.me columns from the past, visit my column archive. For some technical help, visit my Help page!

Thanks for reading!


 

 

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Let the record show that my friend Darryl, the Pastor of the church I attend, says he has the best job in the world. I stand corrected!


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read.me
by Sandy McMurray
read.me Extra
The stuff that didn't fit.

Wednesday, October 21 (Click here for the previous read.me Extra.)

THE BIG SHOW

Legal drama makes great TV. Ask Dick Wolf. Ask David E. Kelley.

The OJ show held the interest of the American public for more than a year. It was a ratings bonanza, and producers took note. Then the court case ended, and there was air time to fill. Uh-oh.

Fortunately, "Zippergate" came along, and CNN was back in business. Smart little panel discussions about the executive power and the Secret Service sold a lot of ads.

But now that the show is on hiatus until the impeachment mini-series. The yawning maw of television "news" needs something new to chew on.

Mac OS 8.5 box shotHey, isn't that Microsoft monopoly case starting up this week? Yeah! You can follow the case on the Web at Yahoo News, get documents from the Department of Justice, or follow Microsoft's side of the case.

Meanwhile, Apple Computer was talking about another profitable quarter, and the success of its new, blue iMac computer.

Apple's big news this week was the release of Mac OS 8.5, the latest update to Apple's operating system. The release costs about as much as Windows 98.

Smart PR move of the week: you pay less for OS 8.5 if you bought a Mac in the past 30 days, or if you own an iMac (which shipped with OS 8.1 inside). Rather than soak everyone for US$99, you'll pay US$19.95 (which includes a license for QuickTime Pro, which costs about US$30 by itself). For details, visit www.apple.com.

There's lots more going on, but it's 4:00am (again), so I think I'll go to bed.

I'd love to hear from you -- especially if you're a new reader.
E-mail your comments to readme@passport.ca I'll respond to as many as possible.


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