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Cyberia

By DAVE GUSSOW

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 23, 2000


ONLINE INVESTING: Financial information and investment services have boomed along with the growth of the Internet. The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition's Guide to Online Investing (Crown Business Books, $25) by Dave Petit and Rich Jaroslovsky offers topics ranging from the best Web sites for research to differences among online brokers. It also explains how to choose a broker, how commissions work and the pros and cons of online banking and other personal finance services.

THE CLUB SCENE: Online book clubs are becoming popular destinations for readers as forums to talk with authors or with each other. In fact, using the popular Google search engine (www.google.com) turns up more than 27,000 hits under book club. Offerings range from Oprah Winfrey's site (www.oprah.com/obc/obc_landing.html) to iVillage's site (www.ivillage.com/books/) "for women who love words" to the Arts & Entertainment (www.aande.com/bookclub/) site. Books Online (www.booksonline.com) offers links to more than a dozen membership clubs, including the Book of the Month Club, the Mystery Guild and Quality Paperback Book Club.

COMING TO TERMS: In the continuing quest to let people at least try to stay current with tech jargon, Webster's New World offers the eighth edition of its Dictionary of Computer Terms (IDG Books, $12.95). Maybe if the high-tech industry figured out how to communicate clearly, many of its gadgets would be easier for people to understand and use. But then book publishers would have less to do. One of our favorite resources for looking up tech terms online is at www.webopedia.com.

IMPACT OF THE INTERNET: Whether one thinks of the Internet as a good or bad influence on society, no one can question that it definitely has had a major impact. In Fast Forward: America's Leading Experts Reveal How the Internet Is Changing Your Life (Morrow, $24), former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Alfred C. Sikes, with Ellen Pearlman, asks 24 experts ranging from futurist Alvin Toffler to former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to Charles Schwab to define the Internet now and where it's heading.

IT'S A MYSTERY: Mystery lovers can enjoy a daily dose of a whodunit at www.mysteries.com, which also offers chat boards, a search feature for more than 10,000 mysteries and quizzes to test your mystery expertise. It's part of the Arts & Entertainment network.

Dave Gussow is the Times technology editor.

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