By JULES ALLEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 17, 2000
If you've got at least a 56k modem and the Windows Media Player or the RealPlayer, your eyes are in for a feast of moving pictures. MediaTrip.com is an online entertainment company that lets interactive multimedia strut their stuff and provides free hosting. This has joined AdCritic.com toward the top of the fun area of my bookmark list.
What is this site about? The mission statement, if you can call it that, is hidden in the Call for Essays area. But, like a car wreck on the interstate, you can't pull your eyes away from it. Think of it as a visual directory presenting nine random head shots of individuals or pseudo-celebs. Clicking on each will whisk you off to a Web link and no two are alike. Very weird. Very entertaining.
First there were free PCs that were advertising-supported. Next came PCs that were given to you if you promised to use an Internet access provider for a period of time. Said ISPs are now in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission, which stopped short of using the word "scam" about these agreements. While the third wave isn't going to get the same media play as the former, it genuinely is a free PC. All it requires is for you to jump a wall at a university and do a little dumpster diving. I kid you not. And I think the site's author also is serious.
Here's a rather nifty addition to any semi-busy site: a free, ad-supported message board that can be made to look just like your site. Places such as the now Yahoo-owned eGroups have done this for a while, but you couldn't change the look. If you're against ads, $30 will buy an ad-free version. Sounds a bit pricey to me but what do I know? Take note if your site isn't very busy: There's nothing worse than a message board populated with "Hello? Anybody here?" postings.
Old dogs and authoring newbies can learn from this highly informative, if not a little dry, Web resource. It's packed with tips, tricks and optimization techniques for the serious Web author or programmer and assumes at least a semi-technical audience. A bonus feature is a free analysis session to get your site listed earlier in search engines such as AltaVista.com. It's worth bookmarking if this kind of thing floats your boat.
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