IT'S A NOISY, FUME-CHOKED JULY afternoon in midtown Manhattan. Tempers are flaring in the crushing traffic and stifling heat of West 34th Street. But inside the Source of Life Center, half a block from the Empire State Building, Terry Costiga and seven other refugees are enjoying the physiological equivalent of a cool ocean breeze.
IN 1971, BACK WHEN SOME OF US WERE KIDS, a game called The Oregon Trail showed the early adopters of the day how to have fun with computers. Created by three public-school teachers in Minneapolis, The Oregon Trail was a computer program that put students in a histori- cal simulation of a wagon road trip across America in the mid-19th century.
BETTER ACCESS TO STUFF WE can use is one of the promises of Internet technology. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are making good on such claims with a Web site (at www.thinker.org) that lets you search and surf from home a database of about 60,000 digital images --and that's only half of all the works the museums hope eventually to put online.
Since its debut in February, the PointCast Network, an information service that broadcasts free news updates via the Internet, has become a runaway hit. So popular, in fact, that some companies have complained about slowdowns of their internal networks because too many employees are using PCN on their desktop PCs.
AT LONG LAST, THE NEW VERSION of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (800-521-6265; about $40) is here. It's definitely better than the popular old one: video clips of Lynne Thigpen (from the PBS show) instruct the intrepid gumshoe in tracking down globe-hopping crooks, replacing the quaint yet low-tech animations of The Chief; the soundtrack includes traditional music and snazzy rock riffs, and locations are depicted in 360-degree computer illustrations of real places, rather than the...
HOLD ON TO YOUR joysticks. If industry players get their way, 1996 will be the year online interactive gaming finally takes off. Several ambitious companies are set to storm the Net with "twitch" game services: Catapult's Xband for Sega and Nintendo, and the Gen-X-targeted Total Entertainment Network will unveil Internet platforms this spring, while Mpath Interactive will introduce a Web-based service in early summer.
Like the other titles in the Sim series by Maxis, the latest, SimIsle: Missions in the Rain forest (DOS CD-ROM, $39.95,), starts with a premise. You represent a Far Eastern development company, and your mandate is to transform an untamed tropical archipelago into a profit center.