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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 24, 2000

Photo album on steroids

After viewing photos of my partly completed kitchen remodeling, a colleague told me, "You take photos like you write." Harumph. The images were tucked away in an online photo album and had traces of the mistakes amateur photographers make, such as overexposure and red eye. I just wish I had found this site before I tried to dazzle that critic. The Online Photo Lab is a Linux-powered editing application that allows you to do interesting things to your images after you upload them. It's based on Gimp, a free application that's popular on open-source operating systems. But the Webified version is easy to use and doesn't require installation of anything on your PC.

Faster class

The Mac version of Internet Explorer has received a much-needed update. While it's a hefty download for the modem bound, it's worth the time. The knee-jerk instant gratification includes an Aqua-inspired make-over. Aqua is the code name for the much anticipated interface update from Apple due this summer. The most significant enhancement is the speed at which the new IE 5 renders HTML pages. My online banking account is no longer dog slow when I check on how little money I have. Paranoids will dig the ability to filter cookies on a site-by-site basis. For some reason I can't seem to get Flash or Shockwave to work with it, but Java works in this version.

All oldies, all the time

Life has a curious way of distracting you as the years pass. One moment you're young and wild-haired, drinking from life's fire hose. Before you know it, Madison Avenue is trying to lure you into buying a family car with the anthems of yesterday. And then you do the math and realize just how much time has slipped under the bridge as you stumble over '80s nostalgia on the Web. This site isn't as slick as others that are popping up but is clearly a labor of love. Rubic's Cubes, The A-Team and Ronald Reagan await your visit.

Up, up and away!

I first heard of this legend on that brilliant Darwin Awards site ( The Cliffs Notes version is that somebody who deserved to be removed from the gene pool strapped a rocket to his car and, several miles later, made a person spot on the side of a mountain. This site contends that the author was the first person to pull this stunt. While no one was harmed during the testing, some material things bit the proverbial dust. It's all one huge HTML page, but it's well written and entertaining.

For the geek in you

HTML, the markup language that describes how a Web page should be presented, has had curious and proprietary extensions made by the Web browser vendors. It's not entirely different from slang and its usage: Sometimes you don't quite get what a person is talking about if he wanders too far from the English path. And if you've ever wondered why that Web page you're looking at is kind of broken, it could have something to do with the purity of its markup language. Should you develop Web pages, Validator ought to be strapped to your tool belt. Not only will your validated HTML display much faster on slower machines, but you'll also be checking your site in different browsers a lot less. This assumes that you write HTML and don't use awful tools such as FrontPage or GoLive.

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