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Published on .

Bits and bytes from the new-media front.

A whole lotta of lava. If you're like a lot of holiday mallgoers, you invariably end up spending way too much time at Spencer Gifts, browsing that great emporium of tricks, gags and slightly risque novelties. But for those unwilling to fight the crowds, rest assured that your favorite tacky tokens-and the ubiquitous lava lamps-are now available on the Internet. Direct your Web browser to http://www.-btg.com/spencer.

Ring in the new year via modem. What do ballroom dancing, a petting zoo and Internet access have in common? All are part of First Night '95, the annual New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Grand Central Terminal. Added to the regular lineup of music and events this year is entry to the Internet via a bank of computers and large-screen monitors. "First Night in Cyberspace" is being coordinated by the Echo online service and aims to help regular folks overcome their fear of cyberspace.

A true skin game. From Upjohn Co. and the Cleveland Clinic comes what's sure to be a stocking-stuffer for flesh fans: the Upjohn Dermatology Challenge CD-ROM. Designed to help medical students learn the basics of dermatology, the CD-ROM features a game that can be played by up to four people. Don't blame us if this one gets under your skin.

One need look no further than the recent Comdex/Fall show to know that the adult market for CD-ROMs is hot. Consider Pixis Interactive, which introduced "Space Sirens" at the computer industry show last month. With advanced technology called Touch & Feel User Interface (TFUI for short, pronounced tuh-foo-eee), Pixis claims in a press release that users can interact with the Space Sirens by selecting an icon to represent an-ahem-"appendage," whether it be a hand or "other special interface tools." The exact nature of such tools is wisely left up to the reader's imagination.

E-mail Interactive Media & Marketing Editor Scott Donaton at YWKJ04A@-prodigy.com. or SDonaton@eworld.com or @aol.com. E-mail Associate Editor Debra Aho Williamson at YNXB44A@prod-igy.com or DWilliamsn@eworld.com.

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