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Picks and Pans Main: Bytes

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When a California wildfire destroyed Mark Sedenquist and Megan Edwards’s Pasadena home and fledgling toy distribution business three years ago, the couple saw opportunity in the ashes. “We thought, ‘How many times does an adult get a chance to redesign who they are?’ ” says Edwards, 43. Instead of rebuilding, the couple used the insurance money to pay debts and put a down payment on a new American dream: a 32-foot-long, $74,000 custom-built motor home. Since March 1994, husband, wife and dog Marvin have logged 63,000 miles in search of the offbeat, from duck races in Calgary, Alta., to a Washington State man who collected giant wooden trolls.

This year the duo created the Web site RoadTrip America ( to share stories of the people and places they encounter. About 600 fans check in daily. “In 30 months we’ve never met a boring person,” says Sedenquist, 42. And they recently fulfilled a longtime goal of making camp at an ostrich farm. “The next morning we were all eating ostrich-egg breakfast burritos,” says Sedenquist. “That was perfect.”


She has been a doctor, a gymnast, even an astronaut. But is Barbie ready to get wired? America’s favorite 11½-inch clotheshorse is finally coming to CD-ROM in a three-title lineup led by Barbie Fashion Designer. The big deal: Not only can budding Donna Karans design doll-size outfits on their computers, they can print them out—on cloth, in color. With a little tape and Velcro, the tiny togs are ready to wear.

Appropriately, Barbie’s cyber-debut was the brainchild of a child. Until recently, E.J. Rifkin, ‘8, traced her computer-drawn Barbie designs from printer paper onto cloth. She asked her dad, Andy, then a software vice president with Time Warner, why she couldn’t print directly onto fabric. Dad got busy. But first, notes his wife, Sue, “E.J. had to convince him to play with Barbie.” Lucky she did. Soon after he took his idea for a CD-ROM with printable cloth to Mattel, the toy maker tapped him to head its new software division.


For this year’s high school seniors, applying to college is difficult enough without having to haul out Dad’s dusty old Smith-Corona. Fortunately, today’s typewriter-challenged youth can save time and Wite-Out by using new software or the Internet.

Most useful, at least for now, are software packages like Apply! ’97, a free CD-ROM (call 203-740-3504) that lets students fill out the forms from 535 colleges onscreen and print out finished applications. Also handy: Apply! ’97 and its peers print such data as names and addresses on every form after students enter them once.

CD-ROM isn’t the only technology vying to replace the paper chase. Rivals include Web sites like College-NET (, which offers paperless application to 40 schools; ExPan, a system that zaps student info directly from high schools into college databases; and colleges’ own online offerings. But technophobes need not fret. Even at way-wired Emory University, where almost a quarter of the applicants use some newfangled option, “neat handwriting is just fine,” says admissions officer Jean Jordan.