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By JULES ALLEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 21, 1999
Unbiased? Actually, yes!
Here is a nifty surprise: A really unbiased source of reviews for goodies such as electronics, household items, espresso machines and the like. I was exhilarated to learn of our mutual admiration for my new Henckel kitchen knives, but sad to learn there are people who gladly will shell out $1,600 for a carry-on bag. Enjoy this ride while you can, for it surely shall be consumed by advertising lust or bought out and ruined like www.shopper.com. Bah.
At last! You don't have to be a skinny minnie to enjoy the same virtual fashion experience as the waif set. These Web-based virtual models seem to be popping up everywhere since they swept past my online radar a few months ago. But they seem to be aimed at people with a Victoria's Secret body type. Unless I am being more cynical than usual, that is almost completely marketing rubbish because nobody in the real world is built like that. Well, no more than the equally ridiculous notion that all the guys on my floor are shaped like Charles Atlas and wear nothing but spandex to work.
A Web master's nightmare
Been a little economical with the truth on your Web site? Posted something that is blatantly untrue yet not libelous? Then look out: The users of Third Voice are coming. The premise is that you make comments about Web pages and attach them -- sticky-note-like -- to the site. You are posting them to one of Third Voice's servers, and it is doing some smart coordination so other Third Voice users can read your comments. Unless you care for the technical details, your thoughts might as well be scribbled in the margin. This innovative gizmo is available only in Internet Explorer flavor but should be available for Netscape at some point. Alas, it is Windows only.
The spy who quit on me
Got a bad dose of Big Brother in the office snooping and sniffing around your private e-mail? Need to send some e-mail with complete anonymity? Then your Java-enabled browser is your best chum because Hush Mail encrypts the traffic between you and the Hush Mail server. The corporate network won't know what hit it. There is an added bonus: If you are sending to another Hush Mail user, the mail is scrambled and can't be read by anybody but the recipient. Cloak and dagger paranoia? Maybe. But in some cases, your privacy is worth a little protection. Watch out, though. Using this software could violate conditions of your company's net-usage policies. It is a moot point if you're using Hush Mail to find a new job of course.
Long before they started dropping Starbucks out of planes and into your local Barnes & Noble, I was ridiculed for my seemingly eccentric coffee habit that now would be classified as gourmet. My tastes have naturally retreated to the fringe, and I travel with my espressomaker if the destination's caffeine habits are questionable. If you can relate, INeedCoffee.com is your kind of site.
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