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Newt's Grand Old Party

by Hubert "Vince" Fournier, Special to TidBITS

In a move sure to spark some serious competition, Los Angeles-based Guzzlers, Inc., announced the release of Grand 'Ol Party 0.93b1 for Newton, billed as the world's only continuous, real-time guide to the Los Angeles party and entertainment scene.

Global Positioning Technology -- Grand 'Ol Party (GOP) is a Newton application that uses a PCMCIA-based Global Positioning System (GPS) transceiver to ascertain the user's location at any given time. With that information, GOP uses a PCMCIA-based cellular modem to access partyMCI, a commercial service that maintains an up-to-the-minute database of all "recreational gatherings" throughout the greater Los Angeles area. "You know, all the big celebrities have been subscribing to this service since, like, you know, Day One," said Bob "Spaz" Hubbard, Guzzler's President, CEO, and self-styled cyber-rocker. "How else do you think they know, like, what Oscar parties to go to, man? They have an inside source!" Spaz whips out his Newton. "Now, I just say 'Hey, Newton, where's the good stuff happening?' and it draws me a map! Is that cool, man, or what?!"

Filters and Intelligent Agents -- But GOP is more than a road map to the nearest party. "Like, GOP tells you whether you want to go to a party or not, which is totally important." Tapping an individual party listing presents detailed information about the gathering. A star-rating system indicates the number and relative importance of celebrities in attendance - four stars indicates a gathering of Hollywood royalty, "but, like, half a star probably means Kato Kaelin's there." Users can edit their preferences to give more or less weight to individual personalities. "Like, I've got Alice Cooper totally cranked up 'cause he's way rad, but I don't want to be partying with Jay Leno, understand?" says Spaz. Other user preferences include adding more weight to parties with high alcohol consumption ("see the little keg icons?"), upscale gatherings, live bands, controlled substances, hot babes, or hot tubs. Other information available through GOP includes movie premieres, concerts, and bingo tournaments in Toronto. ("That's a bug - that'll be fixed when we ship.")

GOP also integrates with the Newton's built-in address book so you can get in touch with all your party-going friends "in case you need to bum a ride or something."

Future Directions -- Spaz notes the possibilities for GOP are daunting. "We're, like, working with partyMCI to get more information on the parties, like playlists for the bands and stuff, and whether there's anything to eat." Another future feature is something called AutoCab. "Like, when, you know, you've had a little too much of the good stuff, your Newton will call a cab for you and put your home address on the screen so, like, you don't goof up and get dropped off at your mother's or something. Our beta testers have had some problems with that." The feature won't be in the 1.0 release because the PCMCIA Breathalizer cards aren't expected to be on the market until third quarter of this year. "But when they're ready, we'll be there, man."

"One mondo problem is that GPS is, like, only accurate to a few hundred feet sometimes," Spaz notes.. "When you're really out of it, man, those few hundred feet can make the difference between getting to a party or not! Uncool!" Spaz also notes other regional markets are prime candidates for GOP. "I mean, if I'm in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, right, this ain't gonna help. Personally, I don't travel much because of that, but, like, I can see how other people might want to go other places sometimes."

Nonetheless, Grand 'Ol Party is a compelling product. "Apple expects Newton will go through the roof when we ship," says Spaz. "Like, it's hard to find a metalhead anymore that's not looking up a cool party, or beaming his party preferences to his friends." At an estimated retail price over $3,000 - including Newton, necessary accessories, and the GOP software - GOP is only for serious partiers. But Spaz predicts the product will catch on. "Car thefts are way up since we announced this man. All that money's gotta be going somewhere!"

[We'd give you a URL, but all the details on Grand 'Ol Party can be found in Wired's cover story this month. What, you don't read Wired? -Geoff]

Guzzlers, Inc. -- <dudes@partyon.com>