Sounding Off in a Chat Room

Excite has taken the electronic chat room to the next level. With Voice Chat, you can now speak in a chat room.

Upon entering the room, you see a list of names representing its occupants. You can instantly hear everyone in the room, as if it's a conference call. Pressing the Control key on your keyboard lets you speak (provided you've got a microphone and a sound card).

In an ordinary chat room, you know who is typing because each line is preceded by the person's name. Voice Chat automatically highlights the name of the person on the list who's speaking. Most Voice Chat participants tend to follow the rules of polite conversation and only interrupt in an appropriate manner.

To limit the possibility of further confusion, Excite allows no more than 10 people at once in a Voice Chat room. And if someone insists on being rude, you can simply click on the name and everything he or she says will be blocked out.

Craig Crossman, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service

Financial Planning Add-Ons

'll like the new Quicken 2000. It takes us into the new millennium with some major and appealing enhancements, particularly concerning personal financial planning for today's bodacious bull market.

Added to standard Quicken modules for tracking spending and investments are Internet tools that make possible such things as constant stock price updates, "what if" scenarios about possible stock buys and asset mix changes. There's also a fascinating net-worth module that lets you use Internet databases to estimate the market value of your home based on comparisons with your neighbors' properties.

The Internet additions continue with superb "life-event" planning tools for retirement, home buying, education financing and debt reduction.

Another big feature is careful integration of TurboTax software, which allows stock-investing wage earners to track such complexities as capital gains implications, quarterly tax estimates and various W-4 withholding scenarios.

James Coates, Chicago Tribune

Quicken 2000

by Intuit Inc.

1-800-446-8848 www.intuit.com

$90

For Windows 95 or 98

Voice Chat

by Excite http://voicechat.

excite.com

Free of charge. Requires downloading of software.

For Windows