By Jules Allen
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 1999
This site clearly demonstrates that Web-enabling things such as coffee machines and fish tanks are totally boring. A much better idea is to show, say, a radio-controlled car and let morons, um, talented writers like myself drive it around until their little mouse fingers cramp up and the car's battery dies. My goodness! What is the attraction here? Well, at least it keeps me off the road, even though I'm not sure if it is just a very smartly written Web application with a bunch of static images.
Alas, the joy of summer in Florida. I attempted my monthly walk outside one night recently and ended up with a mouthful of bugs. My guess is that when things taste really bad, nature is trying to tell us not to eat said things. A lesser man would join a gym, of course. But, frugal as I have become in my old age, I'm going to pocket the money and get cable TV.
As popular as the black Model T Ford was when your dad's dad was young, he still had a choice of colors if his budget allowed him to buy another brand of horseless carriage. Unfortunately, we are stuck with Network Solutions and its domain data base monopoly. Maybe the launch of Register.com is a good thing. You now have a choice in who takes your $70 to secure two years worth of you.com. These guys are the first of many registrars who will supposedly provide value-added services. You still can get your car in black, but at least you have a choice of dealers.
Sometimes it is good to be a megacorporation with so much revenue that doing a bang-up job on a public information site isn't even a blip on the bottom line. Gillette has done a super job of this online cancer support community. Of course, the physical implications and options for treatment are covered. But where this site stands out is covering the psychological and mental trauma that nobody really talks about.
In 1980, media giant Fox donated 11-million feet of Movietone news reels to the University of South Carolina, including a large number of reels dated between 1942 and 1944. In what looks like the start of a Web-enabled cataloging effort, USC has placed some film clips in Real Video format and of course still photos that any browser will support. Note that the video files don't stream like some Real Video-enabled sites do -- you have to download them before they will play. And that could be a wait with a modem.
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