PowerPoint's basic sophistication is no longer a novelty; you can't faze attendees with a fancy fade or colorful graphic. However, the developer world is busily building new tools to keep PowerPoint hot. One of the most unusual is Karta Technologies' KartaNarrator, an on-screen virtual presenter. The program uses text-to-speech synthesis, so that words typed into PowerPoint's speaker notes area are delivered by one of seven animated characters.

Could your executives or speakers use a little wizard as a co-presenter? How about a parrot, or just a guy named Bill? With a bit of advance practice, a presenter can seem to be interacting with the animation.

The basic program costs $99,but the more customized products cost more. For more information about KartaNarrator, contact Karta Technologies Inc. in San Antonio, Texas, at (800) 725-2782. Or download a demo of the program at the company's Web site, www.karta.com.

Inspiring Times RCMA 2000 in Dallas More than 1,200 meeting professionals will gather in Dallas , Texas, February 1 to 4 to celebrate the dawn of a new millennium of religious meeting planning at the 28th Annual Conference and Exposition of the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA).

Keynote speaker Ed Foreman, a self-made millionaire and motivational speaker who even taught famous speaker Zig Zigler a few things, will kick off the conference in style. Also planned at the conference are more than 22 sessions on everything from registration to upcoming trends in the hospitality industry, an expo with more than 300 booths, and a Texas-style rodeo.

"Whether you're new to the industry or have been planning meetings for 20 years, there will be something for everyone," remarks RCMA executive director Dr. DeWayne Woodring, CMP, CEM.