NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
What Were They Thinking...?
Products that never saw the light of day

by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group , January 2002
(click to email author)

Ever wonder about the stuff we never write about? I write for PC World and I'm on the inside. I get to see all junky software, bizarre gadgets, and wacky hardware. Here are a few that ended up in the trash can.

Do It Yourself Receipts
Do you cut those rebate coupons out of the newspaper? You know the kind: Send in the product's UPC code, fill out the form, and include the store's original receipt. Do you always fall for it? Don't feel bad, it happens to all of us, In fact, it's a well-thought out marketing scam, because you never, ever save the store receipt, and never send anything, saving the company plenty of bucks.

Fortunately, there's BoguStub, a hot solution developed by a cool programmer with too much time on his hands. From an easy to use Windows interface, type in the name of the store, the date purchased, and the price and name of the purchased items. And Voila!, out pops an authentic receipt from your laser printer, complete with accurate sales tax added to the total.

BoguStub's features include a handy pull-down menu of local stores, the ability to change tax tables, and even a friendly "Thanks for shopping with us!" tag at the bottom of the receipt. BoguStub is also useful when you've lost a receipt and need to return an item. Future releases will let you print a color watermark on the receipt, add store names to a look-up table, and print realistic perforations. List price: Free. LastMinuteProductions, http://www.bogusystem.com/

Just Expense It!
Face it: no one likes the hassle of filling in expense accounts. But there's no getting around it, especially if you want to get reimbursed. Fortunately, there's FillUp 2.0, a handy macro for getting your spreadsheet up to speed, quickly and easily. All you need to do is give FillUp a starting range, say, $150. Within seconds, FillUp works backwards, breaking the amount into your spreadsheet categories, including travel and entertainment, transportation, and lodging, to name just a few.

The program's smart, using odd numbers, such as $5.21, $16.63, and $35.17, and the total is never an even number. Don't have a spreadsheet with categories? No problem because FillUp will do it for you, in over seven professional categories including sales rep, attorney, and journalist. What's more, FillUp even prints receipts, from taxi and airline tickets to restaurant stubs and itemized hotel portfolios. Macros available for Excel, Quattro Pro, and Paradox. List Price: $75. FillerUp Corp, (212) 555-fill, http://www.fillerup.com

Lickity Split Replies
It's a fact of life: In today's economy, many people are out of work. At the same time, busy executives barely have time to read, never mind answer, their electronic mail. But with QuickReply, there's a quick solution for everyone. QuickReply is a remote communication package that actually pays you to log onto an executive's e-mail service, read the messages and respond with bright, business-like repartee. There's more free time for the executive and you get a couple of bucks in your pocket.

QuickReply comes complete with a built-in spell checker, thesaurus, and grammar checker, and includes plenty of sample responses. Don't know an executive? It's easy. Just choose from a list of high quality execs supplied by QuickReply. Price includes payment of $1 per message processed. List price: $149. Total Solutions, (415) 555-quik. http://www.quickreply.com

Give me an A+
Want to help your child get into college? Forget about Encarta. Ignore Comptons. What you need is Make the Grade, an extraordinary CD-ROM based program that actually writes your child's reports and term papers. Here's how it works: From an easy to use menu, you--or your child--answer some simple questions. Start with "What grade do you want?" Then, "What's the subject or topic of the report?" One more. "What grade of school are you in?" Choose from writing styles including casual, terse, convoluted, and scientific, to name just a few. Finally, decide how many pages you'll need.

Make the Grade searches through the CD-ROM's 200 gigabytes of highly indexed, compressed data. The program quickly finds the facts and details about the chosen subject, keeping your child's profile in mind. In no time flat, your child has a polished report ready to go. What's more, Make the Grade discovers items even the professor probably doesn't know. The professional version creates theses, dissertations, and newspaper and magazine articles. List price: $79; Professional $249. MG Systems, (213) 555-grad. http://www.makethegrade.com

Tell Me About It
Do you need to get some work done? Tired of hassling with Windows and exhausted from installing all those upgrades? Try The Couch, a hot new product from the cool streets of Beverly Hills. Within six hours of using The Couch, you'll be ready to give up your computer and get a life. Features include WAVs with appropriate and supportive responses, dynamic help screens so you can determine your weekly progress, and a handy dialer for those late night crises.

Helpful Wizards are also available to guide you--step by step--through those times when you're nagged with insecurities and doubts. And if that's not enough, you get valuable look-up tables with the most common computing neuroses: Writers Block Disorder, Computeritus Confusidis, and the deadly (and often life-threatening) GPF Deficit Disorder, to name just a few. The list price for The Couch is $150 an hour but I've seen interns and psych assistants working for as little as $50. The Couch, Psyche International, (800) LAY-DOWN, http://www.psyintl.com

Play it Safe
You've seen them on everything from old-fashioned floppy disks and Zip drives to hard drives. AVOID EXPOSURE TO ALL MAGNETIC FIELDS. DO NOT BEND OR FOLD. Unfortunately, most people don't pay close attention to the warning, resulting in damage to untold thousands of disks and drives. Millions of dollars and more than thirty thousand jobs are lost each year because of this carelessness. Luckily, GayGezunt's got a hot answer: bright fluorescent BeSafe Tags that will be noticed and remembered! Self- adhesive and tough to remove, BeSafe Tags carry the important warning all end-users should heed.

Available in over thirty colors, such as Hot Pfunk, Sizzling Scatado, and Cool Culumber, the tags use standard fonts as well as Algarian, Zonk and Bondini. Try BeSafe Tags on other items, such as your morning newspaper, your car, your spouse, and your children. List price: $3/roll. GayGezunt Int'l. (714) 555-safe. http://www.gaygezunt.com

Yes, before you send me a zillion e-mails, all of these products are entirely fictional. Except, strangely enough, BoguStub, which is a legitimate product, available on the author's web site.

Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He's also a founding member of APCUG. Write to him at steve_bass@pcworld.com. Check PCW's current edition at http://www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index.asp and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at http://www.pcworld.com/bass_letter

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