No Sound Yet, Just Bingo!

BOSTON (05/23/2000) - OK, so this week we still won't do the next part of the sound feature Gearhead started a few weeks ago. That was what we had planned to do, but because Gearhead is inexorably joined at the hip to Backspin author Gibbs, Gearhead's computer equipment has been involved in the recent relocation of the Gibbs Institute. As a result, the network is down until the paint dries in the new office, which rather cramps our collective style.

Wish us luck out here (four miles from our previous location). We can't get digital subscriber line or cable modem, and the cost of a frame relay connection is crazy. We may have to use Direct PC. You will, undoubtedly, hear more of this saga.

Instead, this week we will follow up on a Backspin column: "How to play tech support Bingo". After Gibbs wrote the piece, we were contacted by one Mohan Embar of Mohan Embar Inc., the owner of the cool site name www.thisiscool.com.

Embar told us of a piece of software he created called BSBingo for Palm OS systems. This software presents a list of words and phrases (typically corporate "yuckspeak") down the left-hand side of the Palm screen. As you tick the phrases off, the corresponding square in a bingo grid on the right is filled in. If you are lucky enough to fill a row or column, the software displays "bulls**t" or whatever expletive you have specified. According to the rules, you should shout the same word to indicate your win.

In our exchanges with Embar, we lamented that BSBingo, being written for Palm OS, limited the number of players (and left us out, since the palmtop of choice here is the Cassopeia 105). Embar rose to the challenge (or bait), and the results can be found at www. thisiscool.com/BYOBingoIntro.htm.

The new version is called BYOBingo (for "bring your own bingo") and you can get versions for Windows CE, Palm OS, and Windows 95, 98 and 2000! (For CE, "only Palm-sized PCs running Windows CE Version 2.11 are supported," Embar reports.

"Other models might work but are unsupported. HPC and HPC/Pro models should work.")As the instructions say: "BYOBingo is highly customizable. You can substitute the default word list for your own. You can change the board color as well as the picture that flashes when you get bingo. You can move the word list around.

Whereas similar games target professional settings only, BYOBingo can also be used in other settings, such as long car rides ("license plate from Maryland").

Using the Random Board option, you can play a classical bingo game with numbers."

We love this! Even better, you can print out bingo cards with the target phrases in the cells! Now you can add a bingo card to each attendee's agenda.

Meetings will never be the same again!

Embar, fine-spirited public figure that he is, has gone even higher in our estimation by releasing the programs to the public for free.

Gearhead is about to introduce BYOBingo to our company, and we expect far greater productivity in future meetings as well as rather more giggling than usual. Well done, Mohan!

Shouts of "Bingo!" to gh@gibbs.com.

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