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By JULES ALLEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 17, 2000
Show me the love
Forgive Eric, for he is such a silly character. And being a former resident of Gainesville, he's almost a local. This site doesn't exactly help stamp out the thought that there are more weirdos per capita in the Sunshine State than anywhere else, but it's a strangely addictive way to while away an hour or so. This ex-resident does nothing more than solicit requests for emotions and take pictures of his interpretation. Sounds innocent enough but instant classics such as "Did I leave the oven on?" and "Faked surprise" amuse me in the most perverse way. The usual "you must have a healthy sense of humor to visit this site" rule applies. Blessings and twisting of the flat cap to Site Seeing devotee Kevin Chesters for this gem.
Free Net appliance
The "free Internet-access goods in return for your hallowed demographic data" rears its dazed head in the shape of this cool-looking device from Brit music and travel giant Virgin. Rather than handing over your life's history for a personal computer, such as with the failed Free PC company, you give up your mother's maiden name and inseam measurement for a pure e-mail and Web device. Does it do word processing and spreadsheets? No, because it's not a PC. But if you buy a lot of stuff on the Web, or at least pretend you do when you fill out the application, it could well be the freebie you're looking for.
One of the best legal extortion rackets, next to the Office Suite upgrade business, has to be the must-have book that accompanies your favorite computer topic. When a new version of, say, your favorite database comes out, you can either prop up a hugely uneven table with the old companion book in your possession or see if your local library wants it. The library has actually said "no thanks" on some of the more esoteric tomes shoveled its way, but it's quite happy to see most of what I cart down there. La-dee-da, I digress. So if you're amazingly cheap, like I am, you'll be thrilled by a search engine for nothing but books. Apparently it does non-computer books too, but frankly, who cares?
Web logs made easy
Here's a free and easy-to-use tool for anybody who keeps a Web log, a personal journal hosted on a Web site. Opening up your favorite HTML editor and just popping the new stuff on the top of the page isn't exactly hard. But just in case your Web design skills fall on the wrong side of "useless," Blogger provides some rather nice-looking templates. It also allows you to update your site from anywhere you have access to a Web browser (Palm VII included), and e-mail updates are promised soon. One negative is you have to hand over your site's FTP access information, which scares security paranoids like me. A large pinch of salt might be in order: It took me years of therapy to convince me that the INS didn't put a chip in my brain when I came into the country, but you might not have a problem with this.
These fuel-ish things
Talking of government agencies, here's an informative and well-done site from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy concerning that gas guzzler in your driveway. Owners of the 65 mpg Honda Insight can beam with smug delight at their choice of fuel efficiency. Those who drive a 13 mpg, 150 mph Bentley Arnage should whip themselves with their designer leather belts and forgo the caviar for a week as a penance. Most of the driving tips and car-care bits are common sense. But, if you've been on the roads lately, common sense isn't exactly thick on the ground out there. I did like the fuel efficiency lookup page, but it goes back only to 1985, the year my editor acts like he was born.
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