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© St. Petersburg Times, published June 26, 2000

A Furby summer

I own a Furby. A holiday season or so ago I had an e-mail signature phrase that essentially said I would be very unhappy if I didn't get a Furby for Christmas. In case you manage a group of programmers, don't ever put this kind of thing in writing. They'll take it at face value and buy you one. So I'm debating if I should stump up $40 of my hard-earned cash to send my Furby away to summer camp. It'll get to mingle with other Furbies, which, on the whole, is a good thing since they "talk" to each other via an infrared gizmo where their forehead should be. And I'll get a bunch of snaps of my Furby in assorted action poses around the San Juan mountains in Colorado. This is either the most insanely brilliant way to make money or the most stupid idea I've ever heard. I can't decide which.

Reach for the sky -- slowly

Our summers may be hot and miserable, but at least we have some alternatives, such as sipping a beverage at our favorite beach. Life is different in the Midwest. If you don't think so, just check out the CornCam, which keeps you updated on the progress of a cornfield every 15 minutes. I couldn't help but use it since it's so straight it's actually kind of weird. All that's missing is the Stuckey's cam every 500 miles and you'd think you were in the heartland of this great country.

And speaking of the coast

Live on the beach? Wish you lived on the beach? Or want a photo of a favorite spot? If you can ignore the frequent non-user-friendly server crash errors, this site is a visual feast for Florida coastal fans. You can get the site to send e-postcards of your favorite scene to a chum or copy and paste the URL if you would rather do it manually. The pictures themselves are a few years old, so if you've used your lottery winnings to build that dream condo on the beach in the past year, you'll have to get the Polaroid out and snap it yourself.

Sledgehammer for a walnut

Poor Apple Insider. This news and rumor site was caught with its grubby little hands inside the cookie jar by Adobe. Adobe, it seems, was not exactly thrilled by the fact that Insider posted pre-release screenshots of an upcoming Photoshop 6. And in true corporate giant fashion, it decided to squash this gnat with a gazillion-dollar lawsuit. The Insider apparently ran into a similar objection from Microsoft Corp. and had to pull pre-release screenshots of Microsoft's Word 2001.

An interactive lava lamp

Building interesting Web animation is an art form. It's not like film animation for, say, a George Lucas-like production where you can throw money at a problem to make it go away. It's different with limited bandwidth and variations in viewer computer power that go along with doing things in Flash, Shockwave or Dynamic HTML. The creativity to hold a fickle Web viewer's gnat-size interest for more than a picosecond is a hard task. Run your mouse all over this site for clickable hot spots from this creative design agency. It's an interactive lava lamp, baby.

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