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© St. Petersburg Times, published August 28, 2000

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A family affair

The more I learned about the drunken horde that claimed to be my relatives, the less I wanted to know about my family's past. But then I got wise about what was going on. My theory is that my address and phone number are on some moocher-oriented Web site back in the Old Country and I'm listed as the best free place to stay in Florida. So, being able to trace one's family tree suddenly was of paramount importance to me and worked as the first line of defense at the threshold. In all seriousness, if you're keen on the thought of genealogy and aren't sure where to get started, you could benefit from a click around this place. It contains a good how-to section on photos, research, analysis and the like.

Swivel magic

I'm in love with a small, $20 piece of plastic and rubber. It's one of the simplest yet elegant laptop-friendly devices I've seen. This ingenious device goes by the name of CoolPad and performs two important functions: It lifts your laptop off the desk so air can get underneath and keep it cool. This isn't a problem for my hot-running PowerBook because it has a protective layer of skin seared from my thighs to the underside. But your notebook might not have been on my lap and therefore may be in need. The second feature is the computer can swivel 360 degrees without gouging marks in the client's oh-so-polished mahogany boardroom table. It's perfect for boring PowerPoint presentations. It comes in a black or iBook-color basic design, but the real fun is with the nifty adjustable height version.

Avoiding the oops factor

Conceptually this is a Mac klutz's best friend and, hype withstanding, could be high on my list of must-haves when it's released (if you look up Mac klutz in the dictionary, there's a picture of me). It's a simple-to-use utility that will allow you to undo silly things such as deleting an important file or recovering from a system crash. Those nice folks at Ziff-Davis liked it enough to give it Best Of Show at the recent MacWorld bash, so maybe it has legs. We'll see when it's out in the fall.

A thumbs-up

Movie critiques are as subjective as the audience itself and, until you find a reviewer who swings in your direction, relying on reviews can be hit and miss. What I particularly like about this site, apart from the concise reviews it produces, is the review matrix from places such as the Seattle Times, New York Post and that Ebert fellow. Even if you don't agree with the style, a sea of red blobs should alert you to Hollywood stinkers long before you plunk down those hard-earned dollars at the ticket window.

You know, for kids

Weird name, wild graphics, clean jokes and interesting games make up much of this kids' delight. It's a free, mostly Macromedia Flash-powered site for the still innocent crowd and a refreshing break from Pokemon or whatever the burger chains are hawking these days. I'm guessing that's under 10 but bigger kids like me get a bang out of the place, too.

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