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Cursor goes down, across

Published Oct. 13, 2005

A Deerfield Beach software company just introduced a computer game without dragons or space creatures or race cars. It's simply a way of doing the New York Times crossword puzzle without worrying about cross-outs.

Puzzle Master, from Centron Software Technologies Inc., retails for $49.95 and is available in both IBM-compatible and Macintosh versions.

It offers 200 daily and 50 Sunday puzzles from the Times.

Crossword fanatics can time themselves on the software. They also can use the program to design their own puzzles.

_ ALAN GOLDSTEIN

When it means bad taste,

this takes the Tacke

The advertising business gives itself more awards than agencies have shelves to put them on.

This year the Tampa Bay Ad Federation adds one more, the Tacke Award, which honors seedy spoofs of well-known commercials. Rather than a pat on the back, it is a kick in the pants for ad clubs, said Adfed president Bob Guckenberger.

For the first time in the Tacke's 10-year history nationwide, the Adfed's 22 chapters throughout Florida and the Caribbean will compete at a regional conference in Tampa on Oct. 25.

"This means the Tackes will be bigger than ever. More filling, with less taste," rhapsodized Jerry Greenfield, Tacke committee chairman, in a recent Adfed newsletter. "The 1991 Tacke Awards will be the most lavish display of professional irresponsibility in advertising since those guys on cable started screaming about their paneling."

Two years ago, the Tackes included a commercial for Ben Goy, with a rabbi advising people to rub a little on to get rid of thousands of years of guilt. "You get that Episcopalian feeling," he said.

A commercial promoting the "I Will Work For Food" franchises promised viewers their own corners, cardboard signs and stocking caps.

Although the Tackes feature the worst in advertising, their sexual content will be regulated because of recent law enforcement patterns, Guckenberger added.

_ DENISE L. AMOS

Port authority member

does not hide opinions

Roy Wilcox, one of the most outspoken members of the Tampa Port Authority, is pondering political office these days.

And why not? Wilcox recently sold his firm, DeWitt Advertising, and retired at age 51. Now, he is scouting opportunities in state politics.

Wilcox isn't specific about what office he may have in mind, but the ad man acknowledges that some of his political aspirations arose during the hot debate this year over a gay rights amendment in Tampa and Hillsborough County.

City and county officials approved the controversial amendment. Soon after, Wilcox says, a religious group concerned about gays asked him to run for public office.

Elected officials today don't represent the beliefs of the majority of voters, Wilcox said.

When asked how he feels about gay rights, Wilcox said, "I would definitely take a stand.

"My stand is for the values we have been raised with," he said. "My values and the gay rights values are different."

_ BERNICE STENGLE

Latest battle of Kuwait

centers on Tampa Bay

The big-stakes competition for a lucrative contract to dispose of unexploded mines and other ordnance in Kuwait has apparently narrowed to two companies in the Tampa Bay area.

The Gulf Reconstruction Report newsletter reports the competition is now between Conventional Munitions Systems Inc. of Tampa and an Olin Corp. venture. Olin has its ordnance division in St. Petersburg.

"Our understanding is it's between us two," said Ed Alber, marketing director for Olin Ordnance. But the newsletter report and Olin are both relying on back channels for their information.

As previously reported, Conventional Munitions has received support on the contract from five Florida lawmakers who sent a letter on the company's behalf to the Kuwaiti Embassy in Washington.

Conventional Munitions is a division of a German company, Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm of Munich. In March, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report said Messerschmitt was a big supplier to Iraq's war machine.

_ ALAN GOLDSTEIN

He can find consolation

in his compensation

It may have been the challenge of the job that persuaded G. Robert Durham, one of the nation's top corporate leaders, to come out of retirement recently and take the reins of troubled Walter Industries Inc.

But the pay is not too bad, either.

Durham, known by his nickname "Bull," will receive in his first year a $400,000 salary and a $350,000 bonus, according to records filed recently in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

His salary will stay the same for the second year, but the size of the bonus be determined by the company's board, according to the two-year contract.

Durham, the new president and chief executive officer, may earn every penny of it in wrestling with the problems of Walter Industries, which is struggling to reorganize about $2-billion in debt in bankruptcy court in Tampa. But he still will make a bit less than his boss, according to the last public record of Jim Walter's compensation. Walter, chairman and founder of the company, was paid a salary of $434,478 and a bonus of $500,000 for the year ended May 31, 1990.

_ BERNICE STENGLE

In pricing policy, airlines

often find less is more

Everybody who buys perishable commodities ranging from broadcast time to airline tickets is trying to figure out how "yield management" works.

And with airline price-fixing suits in the news, travel agents are not the only ones interested in how airlines use computers, probability and discounts to fill planes and maximize profits.

Aeronomics Inc., a Fayetteville, Ga., consulting firm, recently offered a relatively simple explanation in Business Travel News.

Here's how an airline typically would price a flight with 100 seats to earn $500 profit.

Say it costs $3,500 to fly a 100-seat aircraft.

If all 100 seats were priced at $50, historical purchasing trends say the airline could sell only 50 seats. That comes to $2,500. Loss: $1,000.

But with four price levels _ $20, $40, $60 and $80 all cloaked with different advance purchase restrictions _ the airline can expect to sell 20 seats at each level. That comes to $4,000.

Take out the $20 and $40 passengers, however, and the $80 unrestricted fare would have to be raised to $97.50.

"At $97.50 only three will actually fly" at top price, said Robert Cross, Aeronomics president. "You either have to find a way to keep those low-paying travelers on the plane" or that flight must be canceled.

"When any product becomes more scarce it becomes more valuable," he said.

_ MARK ALBRIGHT

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