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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 10, 2000

Free security scan

Worried about how secure your cable modem- or DSL-connected computer is? This site could help you understand the weaknesses that might open your system to an attacker. Answer a few simple questions and wait for about half an hour or while examines your computer to see how vulnerable you could be. The explanation page could be a little techno-heavy for the casual user, but it has some pretty good tips on how to lock down your machine. This page is primarily designed for people with high-speed, always-on connections, so modem users will probably want to skip it.

Brace yourselves

If you want to draw an automobile/computer comparison, today's state of the computer market is like the '50s, where fins, grills and style had more to do with car sales than performance. The multicolored iMac and cuddly iBook are top-selling PCs -- not because they're outperforming the competition but because they are bright and exciting to look at. So it makes sense to add bright, exciting-looking peripherals and carrying cases, no? This site has the first carrying case I've seen for the iBook. If it wasn't for the fact that this bag screams "Steal my iBook while I wait for my plane," I'd be all over one.

A bit of history

Our great-grandchildren will look back on these times as the second dark ages. The Web continues to explode at a furious pace, and we're not recording very much of it for tomorrow's kids. However, this site is attempting to make a difference. It chronicles the very early days of a product that helped launch the revolution, Netscape Navigator. It captures some early shots of the Netscape Web site as well as some early Mozilla artwork. It's worth the time to click around this site.

Was that it?

I purposely put off all kinds of important post-Jan. 1 things (such as writing my column) just in case the technological apocalypse happened. I'm a firm believer in why do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Like most of my personal behaviors, it comes back to bite me where it hurts. So unless something goes drastically wrong later, Y2K has been a big non-event. Here's a great roundup of all the teeny things that went wrong from Salon. So can we get back to discussions of boring things such as hackers and rogue missiles instead of two-digit dates? I for one am sick of hearing about Y2K.

Up-to-the-minute prices

I was wondering who would give a run for its money, and I think might be the one. Both sites return the best prices on gizmos that appeal to techno-shoppers. RUSure claims the most accurate prices, which may be a gimmick but it gives the impression that it's building an up-to-the-minute list on the fly. I have no evidence to believe it either way. In addition to being an easy-to-use Web site, there's a Windows-only browser-embedded application for the seriously hard-core shopaholic.

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