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Readers' questions fill today's space ... let's cut to the chase.

Q: What's the best CD-ROM you played with this week?A: Great question ... and didn't sound the least bit made up.

"Compact Variety," a CD-ROM from Variety crammed with information on the movie industry is aimed at entertainment reporters but I found it fascinating.

The disc contains the last 10 years of box office figures, 800 Variety reviews, 200 industry events, 1,500 addresses and phone numbers, a Los Angeles restaurant guide, full-motion movie trailers and more.

It will be updated quarterly and costs only $19.95 for non-subscribers. Call 800-552-3632 for info.

Q: What's the most addicting game you played this week?

A: Thumbwrestling with my 4-year old son.

Q: On the computer?

A: Oh. Rayman, a hit on those kiddie game machines, has come to Windows (95 and 3.1) and it's pretty cool. To me it's like Super Mario Brothers except you get to play it after the dentist gives you too much gas. The colors are psychedelic and gloppy on every level, or at least that's what the press kit promises. I only got to level four, only 66 more to go.

Teens will love it, but even little kids can get the hang of it.

Visit UbiSoft at "http://www.ubisoft.com" for details.

Q: What's the best book for a person new to Windows 95?

A: A real question deserves a real answer. "Windows 95 Simplified" and "More Windows 95 Simplified" use huge graphics, easy text and plain old common sense to tell new computer users how to use the operating system. These are "learn by seeing" books.

They are from IDG Books and list for $19.99.

Q: What kind of computer is easier to learn to use, an Apple or a PC?

A: Recently at a computer conference they asked this same question and solved it by putting a box containing a PC system and a box containing a Power Mac on a stage.

It took some computer company representative 25 minutes to get the PC system up and running, correctly configured. The Apple person took 11 minutes.

Oh, the Apple person was a 13-year-old boy.

Score one for Apple.

The other side of the coin is software availability. Is the program you want available for the Mac platform or vice versa? Score one for the PC here.

Q: I heard it's possible to get a high-speed Internet connection over a small satellite dish. How does that work?

A: First, get out your wallet. Here's the deal. You get one of those small, 18-inch DSS dishes that offers digital video and audio. Because home satellites are only one-way, you need to call your existing Internet provider and establish a regular modem connection. You send data requests via your regular phone connection. (And pay that monthly fee). You receive data via the satellite dish...and tons of it. You connect at rate of roughly 400 Kbytes, or 100 pages a second.

You can get the new version of Netscape in 90 seconds versus about 10 minutes.

Charges vary, but for example one provider, DirecPC, charges by the amount of data you get. Thirty megs a month (not much) is $19.95 a month; 130 megs is $55.95.

Add in the cost of the dish and your regular Internet service...the technology is coming, but you'd have to want Internet real bad. See them at "http://www.cyberion.com/direcpc/" for details.

- NEWSGROUP PICK: "alt.config" where you can discuss the formation of new newsgroups in the "alt" category. Linger there for a few weeks before you post anything.

- WEEKLY WEB WONDER: Home and Garden TV's site at "http://www.hgtv.com" for lots of home improvement tips.

(James S. Derk is computer research editor for The Evansville Courier in Indiana and co-sysop of Courier Online. His e-mail address is JDERK evansville.net)