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© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 1999

The honesty of strangers

I've found people to be, on the whole, an honest bunch. It's not just the kind souls who somehow make the news when they hand in $3-million they happened to find on the bus, but those who take the time to return pens, keys and such. Which is why this service might work. The premise is that if you lose your Palm electronic organizer, laptop or cell phone, the person who finds your goodies can have them shipped back to you free of cost -- on both ends. There's the option to offer the finder a financial incentive (it's an honor system). The words Federal and Express are liberally sprinkled around the site, so it appears to pick up the tab for shipping. To get started, you have to cough up $10 for ID tags, which is a pretty cheap bet on getting your expensive gear back from where it doesn't belong.

High on content . . .

. . . and low on buyers. However, this site could be today's acorn for tomorrow's mighty business oak. Just for fun, try to register a meaningful dot-com address that's less than four letters long. You'll find that space is pretty much exhausted. Companies are having to be creative when coming up with that perfect domain name to match a product or service. While your jaw might be scraping the floor when you learn recently sold for $7.5-million, it could be chump change in a few years when the short, expressive word combinations are really hard to come by. But for today, I think asking $3-million for is way over the top. Remember, if you can't say it on the phone and not have somebody mess it up, it's a useless domain.

Tech for humans

What's this? A site that talks about all kinds of dizzying personal and home technology in terms a layman can understand? How can this be? The content is great and technobabble for the sake of itself is non-existent. There are sections on all kinds of technology, but my favorites are the areas on home automation and home networking.

23 feet of low budget fun

It seems that it's almost an American birthright to spend at least a few months taking it easy after college. If you're lucky enough, exotic climes await you, your backpack and your wits (or your parents credit card for bail if your wits are lacking). In this case, the backpack is a slightly used, brightly painted RV. These four lucky college grads will spend at least a year driving around North America and reporting on their aptly named Web log. Maybe the good Internet startup companies weren't hiring.

Windows' Swiss Army Knife

And now for this week's truly geeky portion. One of the things that has kept crusty Unix administrative types ahead of their looked-down-upon Windows peers is a plethora of network analysis tools. Being Unix tools, they're built either for robots or for the enjoyment of people who read thick technical books as a relaxation technique. But the gap is narrowing with nifty freeware such as Sam Spade. The familiar standby utilities are included, but there are interesting features such as e-mail address verification (to see if an address exists) and analysis of spam. It could be good for humans such as yourself.

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