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By JULES ALLEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 8, 2000


Excited . . . about accounting?
www.NetLedger.com

Goodness, what's become of me? I'm understanding accounting! And it's NetLedger.com's fault. This Web-based service does all you'd expect from a small business accounting package but -- here's the killer for me -- offers a time-tracking module. I keep a note of what I've worked on and how long each bit took. It makes billing clients via e-mail a breeze. And NetLedger's e-mail support is the best I've experienced. The only bad news is the service is a bit flaky when using a Mac. But requests for bug fixes are acknowledged and then fixed in a timely manner. Why can't all Web services be like this? NetLedger comes in two free advertising-sponsored versions and a $4.95-a-month ad-free version.

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Free wheeling
www.MyFreeCar.com

Now that the free PC fad has been laid to rest, other "free" gimmicks, sorry, businesses are springing up to fill the space. If your automobile is new and hip (think new VW Bug), a cheery installer will show up at your pad, cover the beast with something akin to the film they slap on buses and install a Global Positioning System to make sure you're driving your personal Advertising Mobile where you claim your normal route takes you. For this, you'll receive about $4,500 a year, which ought to cover a chunk of your car payment. No, they don't buy you a car and, no, you can't pick the advertiser. The site requires the free browser plug-in from Flash.com.

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Has beans
www.JediKnight.com/~smpoole/coffee.html

According to my favorite coffee bean vendor, it's estimated that up to 90 percent of the coffee sold in the United States is stale. But if all you've ever experienced is stale coffee, why would you care? Probably the same reason that people drink the house red and keep the fast food business ticking. Or perhaps you're just a snob and fixate on impressing other snobs with your knowledge of beverages. Now I've been accused of snobbery in my time but I think I fall in the same camp as Stephen Poole, the author of this study on the perfect cup of Joe and who is passionate about the quest for the perfect cuppa.

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MS vs. DOJ
www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms_index.htm
and

www.microsoft.com/freedomtoinnovate/

Can it be that sports fans are more passionate about their domain than the Microsoft versus Anybody But Microsoft crowd? Sports types occasionally drop into crude name calling, but I think they'd be more prepared to help out a fellow fan in a crisis. I'm not sure I can say the same of those in the computer industry. Just try getting an unbiased opinion on the antitrust trial. If you can, get opinions from non-Microsoft stockholders as well as those with stock. Just for fun, take a couple of each from the opposing sides out for social beverages. Perusing these sites beforehand should give you enough ammo to get the fight rolling.

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Cut-and-paste Geek Web Toys
www.DanSteinman.com/dynduo/

There are two types of Web developers: those who rave over JavaScript, the built-in scripting language available in every modern browser, and those that consider it a curse. I'm squarely in the latter group as having to develop anything more than once is a fat waste of my supposedly valuable time. I take my hat off to Dan Steinman and the scripts that are available for download on this site. If you are dying for some whizzy functionality to your personal site such as pop-up menus and animation, cut and paste away because Dan has done the hard work for you.

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