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Web sites you like

Journey off the beaten path to visit Internet links recommended by readers.

By DAVE GUSSOW, Times Personal Technology Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 10, 2000


The Internet hooked Linda Palmiere about three years ago. She discovered new friends, new places and a new way to share.

The friends showed up in WebTV newsgroups. The new places were the sites she visited. The sharing came when she created her Web page so other people could find useful information.

"I could be on (the Net) morning until night," said Palmiere, 54, of Homosassa. "I actually have to drag myself off it."

Palmiere earned the nickname "The Bagglady" because she sews mesh bags for scuba divers part time. She uses the nickname on her site (www.angelfire.com/fl/thebagglady/index.html), which is a collection of links in categories such as consumer information, Florida and travel.

photo
[Times photo: Steve Hasel]
Linda Palmiere of Homosassa set up her Web site, the Bagglady’s Basket, to share her online discoveries with others. Her site categorizes links under topics such as consumer information, Florida and travel.
Her place on the Web is for fun, not profit. She wanted to share her online discoveries with others. And it was in that spirit that Tech Times asked readers to submit their favorite Web sites, looking for destinations off the beaten path that might come in handy for others.

Readers responded with a virtual cornucopia of sites, some homemade, some treasures for info hunters, some fun, some geeky, some that have shown up in Tech Times previously. (Some readers sent only e-mail addresses and did not respond to requests for more information about themselves and were they live.)

As with any Internet search, not all sites clicked: We couldn't access some, some failed the good-taste test and some are better for family and friends.

But that left more than enough to share. So fire up the Web browser and check out these nominees:

Information, please: Access to thousands of libraries is one of the Web's best features, but sometimes finding the right library can be a chore. That's not a problem at www.LibrarySpot.com. It has links to just about any kind of library one can imagine, including government, image, law, medical, music and presidential. It has a "reference desk" of links ranging from dictionaries to "ask an expert." It has lists. It has everything one would want in a full-service library site.

Christine Dohlmar of Valrico says www.GuruNet.com offers a nifty feature, though it requires users to download its software. The idea is simple. If someone sees a word on-screen, he or she can point at the word, click the Alt key and a definition or explanation pops up in a separate Window. GuruNet works only with Windows.

Batteries not included? Some ideas may be ahead of their time, such as a mechanical ice cream cone "for imparting rotation upon the cup and rotationally feeding its contents against a person's outstretched tongue." Yummy.

Humor can be found along with inventiveness in patents at the Gallery of Obscure Patents at www.patents.ibm.com/gallery.

The Web is home to a lot of patent information, according to librarian Rhonda Kitchens of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library. She suggested sites such as www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/ENG/PTUT/ptut.html, which has a useful tutorial on looking up patents, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Search site at www.uspto.gov/web/menu/search.html.

While we're fiddling with gadgets, another reader suggests we check out the appropriately named www.HowStuffWorks.com, where people can look up explanations for everything from car engines to computers to music to food (really, the technology of "how bread works" is listed).

Not English only: Language no longer has to be a barrier to reading newspapers from other countries. Choose a country at www.ThePaperboy.com/usa/, choose a newspaper and click on translate. The site converts your choice to English from Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese. It has more than 2,000 links to U.S. papers, as well as current news headlines. Christine Dohlmar nominated this site also, which she says she checks almost daily. "When we get the news from around the world, it's really from our insight," she said. "If you can get it from their insight, it's a little more interesting."

It clicks for writers: It may not pay much, but www.themestream.com gives people a chance to publish their work online and earn a little, too. Authors can submit works in more than 1,700 personal or special interest categories, such as family, careers or hobbies. Each time a user clicks the article, the writer earns a dime. So, while one may not get rich off the experience, it does offer some exposure. Janette Santoro of Spring Hill doesn't write for the site but has enjoyed reading some of the items. One of her friends has submitted articles and is awaiting her first check: $220 for 2,200 clicks.

People can find literary criticism, essays, news and reviews at www.cybereditions.com/aldaily.

Shazam! Travel back to a simpler time, with Sheriff Taylor, Barney (the deputy, not the dinosaur), Aunt Bee and the rest of the Mayberry gang at www.mayberry.com/tagsrwc/index.htm. It's the site of the Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club, and it overflows with information for fans, including an episode guide, frequently asked questions and details on each character. Harriet Browder of St. Petersburg, who recommended this site, has watched the show from its first episode on Oct. 3, 1960. "All of us old die-hard Andy fans know the lines to almost every episode," she said.

That's entertainment: Internet radio isn't just for music. It also is for talk, and www.eYada.com offers 19 shows in Entertainment, Sports and Health & Fitness. Hosts include Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols; Kevin Cook, former Sports Illustrated editor; and Lionel, who also can be heard on WFLA-AM 970. Among the local listeners: Bruce Ford of St. Petersburg, who first heard about eYada while listening to a local radio station. "I like the eclectic mix they have," Ford said.

Movie fans might enjoy www.Cinescape.com, which includes news and gossip in its mix. The site was nominated by a guy named Skywalker . . . nah, couldn't be. Another reader, Conrad Weiser of St. Petersburg, finds Suncoast Free-Net's cultural calendar at www-scfn.thpl.lib.fl.us/menus/production/ccc.html useful.

And for those who like real golden oldie music, check (or sing along) at www.bol.net/overseer5/midisongbook.html, the MIDI Music Sing Along Songbook. It has nostalgic favorites from composers such as Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan.

Just for fun: Admit it. There have to be better ways to waste time on the computer than playing Solitaire. Download the Shockmachine at www.shockwave.com and play free versions of classic, and addicting, games such as Tetris and Frogger. It also has shows, music and greeting cards, but who has time for that?

A bit of schoolin': As kids get older, a parent can feel helpless trying to assist with homework. So bookmark www.HighSchoolHub.org, which offers subject guides, college information and reference material. Better yet, tell your kids to bookmark it.

For gardeners: Lawns, shrubs and plants took a beating during the drought, but people still love their gardening. At www.iloveplants.com, gardeners can find more than 5,000 links to garden-related information. "I love gardening and I would do research on the Internet," said Susan Myers of Dunedin, who created the site. "It was very difficult to find things." For now, the site is mainly fun for Myers, who has been a gardener for 27 years. But she hopes one day to make it profitable and turn it into a full-time job.

The great outdoors: Camping can be fun! Camping can be miserable! And anyone thinking of roughing it should check out Pete's Family Camping page at www.gwi.net/~spectrum/camping.html. Any site that includes a section on "Why do we camp?" is a can't-miss. April Anderson of St. Petersburg said she and her husband, Chris, camped a lot in college and before they had children. Now, with a 6-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, they sought tips for family camping. "It's a neat Web site," she said. "And Pete's very friendly." Send him a question by e-mail and he'll quickly respond, she said.

Build your own: Still can't get enough of the Web? How about building your own site? Links to free tutorials and tips can be found at www.projectcool.com. Kathy Hoffman of Palm Harbor says it's "a neat brownie point to be mentioned on this site."

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