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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2000

I want my MP3

The digital music format MP3 drives record company executives up the wall. They aren't sure how to make money from it, fear losing sales and cry copyright problems. This new service from sassy upstart ought to heighten their feelings about the medium. While it ultimately may sell more compact discs, virtual piracy of those CDs has become much easier. Using the Windows- and Mac-compatible Beam It software, your entire CD collection can be referenced on the Web, where you can play it anywhere at any time. No CDs are necessary after the first quick scan, which is totally brilliant.

Inviting imitation

Startup should be flattered by Yahoo's almost blatant copy of its Web-based invitation service. You can notify people of parties, club meetings and so forth via e-mail. The real power comes from adding directions, seeing who's attending, and other details. If you've got data stored in Yahoo and so do your attendees, you'll like the integration. Yahoo's version doesn't require JavaScript, which makes my paranoid techno friends happy.

Farewell, . . .

. . . for you shall never have another penny of my money. I had to cancel three credit cards after its system was compromised by a "sophisticated hacker." The hacker apparently tried to blackmail the site and then released the credit card information on his Web site when CDUniverse wouldn't pay. As a customer, I find it laughable that I found out about this compromise from and it took CDUniverse four days to get around to e-mailing me of the breach. I think online shopping is the bee's knees. But if it wasn't an inside job, why, oh, why keep credit card information in a database that can be downloaded from the Web?

Talking head? Apparently not

I'm not sure that I would be as glued to this upcoming news service as its creators would like. The idea seems to be that you get your own personal automaton newscaster, who just happens to be a virtual, attractive, 28-year-old female with blue/green hair. And she reads your personal selection of news. As if that weren't enough, "if Ananova could exist outside her digital realm you might find her working out in the gym at lunchtime, socializing in the evenings with her wide circle of friends or jetting off to the Alps for a spot of skiing." Perhaps I'll continue to get my interactive news from a much less smug service or one that might introduce avatars designed to appeal to non-middle-age white guys. will be in beta soon. I can hardly wait.

How the mighty have fallen

Here's an interesting article on yesterday's Work Space Of The Future that will be used by Pointy-Haired Bosses to discourage telecommuting. After all, if you can't see people, they can't be working, right? It does a post-mortem on advertising giant TBWA/Chiat/Day's foray into a virtual office, with people working either in unstructured office space or telecommuting. I think the biggest downfall was not allowing people to keep their portable computers and cell phones all the time. As for telecommuting not working, that's bunk, at least from my experience.

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