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MailBITS/01-Apr-98

ActiMates Barney Acting Out -- In 1997, Microsoft's hardware group introduced the ActiMates Interactive Barney, a plush, interactive version of everyone's favorite purple dinosaur. ActiMates move, play games, sing songs, and - using optional wireless transmitters for VCRs or PCs with MIDI/game ports and Windows 95 - interact with compatible software, VHS video tapes, broadcast television programs, and even Web sites. However, children's advocacy groups are now warning parents about software programs dubbed "Barney Trojan Horses" appearing on the Internet. These programs, usually labelled as "Barney shareware," typically simulate a system problem when they run and appear to exit, but actually remain in memory and continuously send commands via the wireless PC transmitter. According to Chris Hedges of the Barney Advice and Research Foundation, the Barney character will misbehave when it comes into range of the transmitter and speak phrases such as "Let's go draw on the walls," "I hate sharing," "It's fun to throw vegetables," or "We can go pee-pee right here!" Hedges notes these programs deliberately don't attack the Arthur and D.W. ActiMates characters, but warns parents that Barney and the Internet are a volatile mix. [GD]

<http://www.microsoft.com/products/prodref/276_ov.htm>
<http://www.microsoft.com/products/hardware/actimates/>

Investing in Office -- Microsoft today announced a new promotion designed to win over more Mac users to Microsoft Office 98 for the Macintosh. Starting 01-Apr-98, Microsoft will place a single share of Microsoft stock, currently valued at about $90, in 100,000 boxes of Office 98 destined for individual purchase in the retail and academic channels. A Microsoft spokesperson explained the promotion saying, "Our extensive customer research showed that customers who owned Microsoft stock were 17 percent happier with their Microsoft products and in fact, 29 percent more likely to continue purchasing Microsoft products. Those are numbers that we, as a customer-driven company, can't afford to ignore." [ACE]

<http://www.microsoft.com/macoffice/>

Robin Williams Writes Another One -- When Macintosh users hear about Robin Williams, chances are good that they think of the author, not the comedian. Over the years, Robin has written many successful books about the Macintosh and design. I recently had a chance to preview her latest book, a follow-up to her long-standing The Macintosh Is Not a Typewriter. In the new book, titled The Macintosh Is Not a Toaster, Robin teams up with humor writer Dave Barry to examine the Mac's utility as a toaster and concludes that although you can stick bread in a floppy drive, the toasting action is less than ideal. Testing with Twinkies, pop-tarts, and other foodstuffs yielded equally poor results, even when using CD-ROM and cartridge drives. A chapter at the end of the lavishly illustrated book suggests other uses for Macintoshes, such as database work, desktop publishing, image rendering, and software development. The book costs $41.98 and should be available from Peachpit Press, your local bookstore, or your favorite Internet bookseller shortly. [TJE]

<http://www.peachpit.com/meetus/authors/robin.williams.html>
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0688040160/tidbitselectro00A/>