Use your computer to prepare tax returnsHappy New Year...


January 04, 1993|By Steve Auerweck

Use your computer to prepare tax returns

Happy New Year from Uncle Sam -- tax forms hit the mail over the weekend.

If the news revives that throbbing headache, here's a small consolation: Your personal computer can make tax preparation quicker and more accurate, and speed a refund.

The Internal Revenue Service is touting the use of the "1040PC" format for tax returns. The format, available on many tax preparation software packages, looks like a standard computer printout, the IRS says. The computer skips blank lines on the tax forms, making for a more compact return.

Last year, the IRS received nearly 1.5 million 1040PC format returns; its projection for 1993 is 6.7 million returns.

The revenue service cited several advantages to the computer-prepared returns:

* They're more accurate, because the software prevents many mistakes and the format speeds entry into the IRS system.

* They ease record-keeping at home.

* Many software packages include a direct-deposit option for refunds, or, if tax is owed, let you file early but send your check along with a voucher on April 15.

The IRS provides programming guidelines to software developers and tests their 1040PC products. Packages that meet the specifications bear a 1040PC logo.

UB institute to hold hypermedia seminar

The University of Baltimore's Institute for Publications Design will give writers and designers the chance to spend "A Weekend in HyperSpace" on Jan. 15-17.

The seminar will cover the theory and mechanics of hypermedia, which combine various media -- print, sound, video, etc. -- in ways that let you browse freely, choosing various links from one topic to another.

The seminar, which costs $80, will be run by John McDaid, a New York University professor who wrote a hypertext novel called "Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse"; Kenneth Calvin Hisley, a knowledge engineer at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and Stephanie Gibson, a communications professor at UB.

The seminar will cover hypercard programming techniques, constructing hypermedia stacks and reading hypermedia structures.

For more information, call the institute at 234-3920.

Compact-disk version of Clue to go on sale

Armchair detectives will be able to put hypermedia to the test next fall, when Parker Brothers releases a compact-disk version of the classic mystery board game "Clue."

The disks, designed for the Phillips multimedia system, will use digitized pictures and CD-quality sound to let a player walk through the mansion where Mrs. Peacock and her friends have been murdered again and again since 1944.

Last year, Parker released versions of several of its games, including "Clue," for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis video games.

Newest flight game is big hit for MicroProse

Hunt Valley's MicroProse Inc. has seen sales of "F-15 Strike Eagle III" take off since the game's introduction two weeks ago.

MicroProse has sold more than 110,000 copies of the flight simulator, making it the company's most successful product introduction.

The new version lets two people play at once -- in a dogfight, as pilot and weapons officer, or in teamed planes.

The first two versions of the game sold more than 1.5 million copies.

ComNet to be held next month in D.C.

The largest conference and exposition for the voice and data communications industry, ComNet, will be held Feb. 1-4 in Washington.

This year's show will feature 450 exhibitors, 84 conference sessions, 32 tutorials, two hands-on workshops and an executive symposium.

The Open Software Foundation (OSF) will sponsor a pavilion and will host demonstrations by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Data General, Bull Worldwide Information Systems and Stratus, among others.

Information on the show is available from World Expo Corp., (800) 225-4698.

Computerized pianos are selling fast

Yamaha Corp. of America says consumers are snapping up its $40,000 computerized grand pianos faster than it can build them, Bloomberg Business News reports.

Terry Lewis, vice president and general manager of Yamaha's keyboard division, says the company sold more than $3 million worth of the Mark II Disklavier pianos in six weeks and has a sales backlog valued over $4 million.

"We've seen people we've never seen before come into dealer showrooms," Mr. Lewis said. "They're male, middle-aged audiophiles who drive Lexuses and Infinitis and probably don't even intend to play the piano at all."

The piano plays performances by the likes of Chick Corea or George Gershwin, all stored on 3 1/2 -inch floppy disk and played back through a fiber-optic-based reproduction system.

There are 200 disks now in Yamaha's PianoSoft library, and the company has signed up Windham Hill Records to produce several of its records for the Disklavier market.

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