The Sound of Silence
Concerts can be soothing to the ears, but the fits and starts of practice sessions are rarely harmonious. Yamaha's new Silent Electric Cello ($2,500) helps keep neighbors and relatives of musicians from tearing their hair out by channeling nearly all sound to an internal audio receiver and computer chip, then sending it to headphones plugged into the cello. A Silent Violin is also available.
New Spawn of CD-ROMs
Video-game makers have been capitalizing on their popular characters since the arcade's heyday (Remember Pac-Man bed sheets?) but have never come close to the level of mass-market merchandising now a habit for movie studios like Disney. That may change. More and more, PC-game companies are peddling their properties outside the virtual realm. The result: toys like this creature from StarCraft, the year's top-selling CD-ROM game. And move over, Barbie: a Lara Croft doll debuts this month. Online Help for Movers
One of the many hassles of moving is notifying credit-card companies, frequent-flyer programs and publishers of your new address. For $15 you can automate the process online at changemyaddress.com Simply fill out a form with your old and new addresses, then browse a well-organized list of hundreds of companies (everything from insurance companies to alumni clubs) and select the ones you want to notify.
--By M.M. Buechner and Anita Hamilton