By JULES ALLEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 5, 2000
Cable modems and digital subscriber lines continue to proliferate at a snail's pace in some areas, but those who have them wonder how they ever got along without the speed and always-on availability. Free services such as Stream Search cement these thoughts. It's a fabulous way to get access to high-bandwidth content you'd normally have to search out by yourself. The site indexes Apple's QuickTime, Windows Media, Real Player and Liquid Audio formats.
Same engine, less filling
Well, maybe a similar engine with near similar results. Raging.com seems to be a work-alike of the popular Google.com search engine. At first glance it seems to be a less filling version of AltaVista.com, though subtle differences are apparent to longtime AltaVista devotees. But if you're keen on skipping the ads and all that other portal content you normally gloss over, Raging might be your next browser start page. You'd have to pry Google out of my cold, dead fingers, however, because it's the most accurate search engine I've ever used.
It makes the world go 'round
I amuse my accountant. While I've yet to meet the guy in person, I can imagine his eyes rolling in disbelief at some of the things I do to my finances and some of the crackpot investments I've tried. So places such as GE's Financial Learning Center are built for those like me who have a hard time figuring out money-oriented things, with helpful features such as mortgage and car loan calculators all over the site. But its real value is the largely unbiased advice. GE is a huge financial lender and would no doubt be tickled pink by the thought that you'd consider it to fund your second mortgage after using the site. But it doesn't push, which is very nice.
Silly but engaging
Fire up your Macromedia (www.shockwave.com/) Shockwave-enabled browser, turn up your speakers (hint: not at work) and pop over to Sissy Fight. It's an hysterical and very well done online game where you play a nasty little schoolgirl in the strictest traditions stereotyping has to offer. Using your mouse, you can pinch, insult, pull hair and generally cause playground mayhem. Advanced topics include ganging up on other girls and looking innocent when teachers might be watching. Go on, you little snitch, you know you want this. Mucho gracias to Chris Page for turning me on to this one.
Tech weenies only
Most of my bookshelf space is a tour de force of technobabble. I'd estimate a big chunk of the time I spend with my book-hunting is trying to find some lifesaving key phrase I found riveting just a day or so ago. Let's not even mention the heartbreaking rate at which the titles drift out of relevancy. If you can relate to this, you'll flip over iBooks.com. It's one of those must-have services that makes you wonder why it took so long for somebody to come up with it. For significantly less dough per title than the dead tree versions, you can add tech books to your online bookshelf. This service becomes exceptionally useful when you fire up the built-in search engine and pick out the bits that normally elude you in the print versions. I'd like to see more titles available, but it'll cost you nothing to give it a spin.
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