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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 6, 2003
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Are you a culinary klutz? Can't boil water without burning it? Then this site's for you. Rather than having to go through the hassle of -- heaven forbid! -- making or even warming up food, this menu mangling step-by-step guide shows you how to really impress a date or coworker. Yes, by taking simple, premade items such as an apple pie or a couple of off-the-shelf burgers, one can concoct such creations as the Surf and Turf and the, um, interesting sounding FryJita. A photo essay illustrates each creation, and it has a difficulty level guide in case you're unable to work out what the big words mean.
Like Rodney Dangerfield, I can't get any respect either. When showing off my techno Web creations to others in the trade, I'm regularly asked why everything is so "skinny." There are no animations, multimegabyte sound or video files, or hulking Java applets to slow down the flow of information. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that the information should drive the presentation rather than the other way around. And so does Meg Hourihan who, as you'll see from this article, just spent a while in Europe. If you're on a dialup connection, you'll feel her pain of waiting for screens to come up and the like. And if you're a broadband user and put together Web sites, take note.
A mildly popular form of exchanging money for goods when winning an online auction is the escrow service. The idea is that a trusted third party holds the cash while the buyer inspects the winnings. Then, if the thumbs are up, the money is released to the seller. Theoretically both parties are protected. But what if the escrow service is as hollow as a campaign promise? This site tattles on the fake escrow services and offers a lot of links to news sites covering the scam.
What could be more tedious than having to wade through all of those search results from the Web's favorite search engine? All that reading and clicking is enough to drive us all back to our recliners to gaze at the TV. Ah, but all is not lost. The eggheads at Google have come up with a way to turn search results into something a remote control maven would be proud of. Simply go to this site, and, one click later, the results from each match will be presented sequentially like a slide show for your viewing pleasure. Sarcasm aside, it's actually not such a bad idea. And if your carpal tunnel isn't on the mend, it could be useful.
I've been up at odd hours recently. Because I'm sleeping a lot less, I'm watching more TV, even if it's only on in the background. It's sort of a cheap way of dreaming. And the shows that catch my attention seem to be featured on this site. It's a windfall for detail nuts because it offers fact and figures to complement what you've just watched. So, for example, Al Gore's recent Saturday Night Live appearance touched on the now-evaporated Social Security budget surplus that was a part of his failed presidential campaign. There's an entry here that offers an easy to digest explanation and brief history of the subject, complete with pretty charts. Excellent.