1. B: Five years ago, this company was near death. Today, it's suing other retailers for copying the "signature" look of ratty jeans, pre-worn hats and large, collegiate lettering on the front of every garment. Want to reach the college freshmen? Benchmark A&F.
2. C: It stands for "The End Of The World As We Know It" and it's the rallying cry among those who are preparing for 1/1/00 by filling secret bunkers with canned beans and firearms. They laugh at your efforts to Y2K-proof your computers, because they believe the entire power grid is going to go down anyway, resulting in a dark age of anarchy and occasional cannibalism.
3. A: Watch this show once and you'll forgive Barney forever. Four rotund, gibbering moppets with TVs embedded in their tummies run through 30 minutes of visual humor. It's designed for babies and young toddlers. Ours don't give a darn, but the kindergartners are disturbingly entertained by the whole thing.
4. D: We've been hearing about HDTV since the go-go '80s and it's taken off like ... BetaMax. HDTV was supposed to give the networks a leg up in picture quality. It's hamstrung by, of all things, the networks, which can't figure out how to compete with cable and the Internet. When the FCC handed out unused frequencies to encourage broadcasting in HDTV, the big networks scooped them up and sent out simulated HDTV signals-which take up less room and leave extra capacity for even more broadcasts of "I Love Lucy." Sony-which must be sitting on $1 billion of HDTV inventory-still buys their airtime. Go figure.
5. D: The company that brings you Cross pens has the hottest data-entry device: a yellow pad with sensors underneath that allow your scribbles to be loaded into the computer. It's neat and has received rave reviews (even for $399 suggested retail), though the character-recognition software that turns scribbles into text is said to be a weakness. Those kinks will certainly be worked out, at which point we'll be looking for a new excuse for not taking notes.
6. B: This is one of the many places the Internet is most definitely headed. It's an irreverent, wisecracking, intellectual game show that you can play, any time, day or night, for real prizes. The site attracts millions of visitors a month and demonstrates one more reason why the networks are-and should be-scared.
7. C: By brewing it hot and strong, putting a fancy wrapper around the cup and focusing on brand recognition, Starbucks created demand for the $3 cup of coffee. Likewise, by giving them a disagreeable texture, packaging them in a squarish little tin and focusing on brand recognition, Altoids is creating demand for a $3 box of mints.
8. A: Take 10 million bytes of computer code written in Java and rewrite it in K, and you'll be down to 158,000 bytes, according to Hal Stucker in Wired magazine.What makes it work? We neither know nor care. What's the application? It can be used to write ultra-efficient software that will replace Intel chips as the sole source for our next generation of performance improvements. Microsoft will likely use it for a new generation of office products that are even more complicated, bug-filled and unintuitive.
9. The daily newspapers are publishing lurid descriptions of the president's sexual fetishes with a junior staff member, but the theater companies won't touch this movie remake of a landmark novel first published when Ike was in office. Kind of brings new meaning to the term "politically correct."
10. C: She's tough, sexy and really good with a bazooka-sized ray gun. She's the computer-generated star of the popular computer game Tomb Raiders
Scoring: If you got 1 to 3 right, you're spending too much time with the balance sheets. Stand up, stretch and enjoy the world around you.
If you got 4-6 right, you're doing fine. You know what's up and what's down and probably have your priorities in order.
If you got 7-9 right, you're at the leading edge and can make conversation with anyone.
If you got 10 right, you're spending too much time on the 'Net. Sit down and start paying attention to the balance sheets.