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MailBITS/25-Nov-96

We'd like to congratulate ShrinkWrap programmer Chad Magendanz <chad@halcyon.com> and his wife Galen on the ahead-of-schedule release of their first non-software product - Quinn Pierce Magendanz. Rumor has it that Chad has already purchased a copy of My First C Compiler (see TidBITS-321), so the mononymous Quinn of Internet Config fame may soon have company in the Macintosh programming pantheon. [ACE]

Got a Holiday Gift Suggestion? We at TidBITS love the holiday season, even with the capitalist feeding frenzy that it has become. If you're interested in participating in one of our holiday traditions, send one paragraph descriptions of your favorite computer-related gift ideas (for giving or receiving) to me at <ace@tidbits.com> before 02-Dec-96. We'll edit them into an article for either TidBITS-357 or TidBITS-358, and we'll even see if we can wrangle some special deals for you. [ACE]

AOL Pricing Shenanigans -- AOL has managed to get itself in hot water with its new pricing plan, which takes effect 01-Dec-96. The new plan offers unlimited AOL service (including Internet access) for $19.95 per month - not a bad deal for some users. But what AOL only mentioned in the fine print, tucked away in a special forum, is that AOL intends to convert all existing accounts over to this new plan unless a subscriber specifically selects a different option. In other words, unless you tell AOL you don't want the new pricing plan, you'll automatically be billed for it. For typical AOL users, this means a fee increase of $10 per month.

A group of state attorney generals have been examining AOL's actions, and last week Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire announced a letter of agreement with AOL under which AOL will have to inform customers actively of the pricing change before they can access AOL services. Customers will have until 31-Mar-97 to make a positive assent to the new pricing plan, and subscribers who don't access AOL before the 01-Dec-96 deadline will be credited the difference between the new pricing plan and their previous subscription option. Still, the bottom line is that AOL is changing its rates effective 01-Dec-96, and if you have an AOL account, your rates will probably go up unless you intervene. [GD]

Microsoft Internet Updates -- Microsoft recently released two new Mac Internet programs: Internet Mail and News 1.0 and the first beta of Internet Explorer 3.0. Internet Mail and News, a separate application (based in part on John Norstad's NewsWatcher and Marco Piovanelli's WASTE text engine), replaces the email and Usenet news functionality in Internet Explorer. Although its interface barely departs from its Windows cousin and is no competition for mature programs like Eudora, Internet Mail and News is speedy and offers reasonable functionality, including a subject filter for newsgroups, drag & drop text editing, and easily-organized mail folders. The download is about 800K.

<http://www.microsoft.com/ie/launch/imn.htm>
<http://www.microsoft.com/ie/download/ieadd.htm>

Microsoft Internet Explorer for Macintosh 3.0b1 still lives in a relatively svelte 4 MB memory partition (although it hungrily consumes temporary memory in the system), and offers configurable toolbars, built-in video, audio, plus support for HTML 3.2 style sheets, Netscape plug-ins, and VRML (with QuickDraw 3D). Internet Explorer 3.0b1 also supports Java, using either Apple's MacOS Runtime for Java or (soon) the Microsoft Java VM developed jointly with Metrowerks (although using Java consumes another 4 MB of system memory). So far, reports of the beta's performance and behavior have varied widely. The download is about 5 MB. [GD]

<http://www.microsoft.com/ie/mac/>