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Hot fun in the summertime

Site-seeing by Jules Allen

In these hot summer months, you'll find geeks like me avoiding the outside at all costs and scurrying from air conditioning to air conditioning like palmetto bugs. So, avoid the Big Blue Room and Web it up with this week's batch of useless links.

Actually, this one is kind of useful. Have you ever been at a friend's or colleague's place and needed to check your e-mail? If you've got one of those Web-based services such as Hotmail or Yahoo!, it's not a problem. But if you've got something like AT&T, GTE or a local Internet service provider, you're pretty much out of luck unless you want to go through the hassle of reconfiguring your chum's e-mail client. Ugh. Step in MailStart, a safe and secure way to get your e-mail when you're out and about. MailStart leaves your mail on your server, so when you get back to your home or office, it's waiting for permanent download. Not a bad idea for checking personal e-mail from work, too. This free service relies on a standard mail access method called POP3. Therefore it won't work with proprietary services like AOL or MSN Classic.

Pass this one around to your co-workers and see how quickly they figure out how this magic online card game does its thing. Unfortunately for my research, but fortunately for the company, I work with a bunch of logical thinkers and most had this one figured out on or before the second pass through. It even loops back to the first page, and the terminally dumb could be clicking for hours until hunger or exhaustion kicks in.

Can't drive at 55? Then this site's for you. It's a user-compiled list of speed traps, and this particular page has good coverage of the Tampa Bay area. Especially St. Petersburg. Don't get me started on driving but, speeding be darned, I'd love to see my tax dollars going toward enforcing minimum speeds to help improve traffic flow, fines for the ultra-rude non-usage of turn signals, or at least keeping slow traffic out of the non-passing lanes. And if I have to take corrective action because one more self-important clown can't drive and use a cell phone at the same time, I'm going to scream.

As areas go, the Tampa Bay area is a pretty nifty place to live. It's usually sunny, and the cost of living is reasonable. So what's the "but?" I know I'm going to catch merry hell for this, but the radio stations are awful. WMNF (www.wmnf.org/) has its moments, but 90 percent of its programing alienates 90 percent of its listenership. And that's the brightest point on the dial. The overplayed, tired format of the other stations is, in a word, sad. Bless the maker for Wall Street's latest net darling, Broadcast.com. I can now get the groovy radio stations from the cities I used to live in (got thrown out of?) via Real Audio (www.real.com/).

This is a fun site that has some lively message boards and a remarkable collection of now-defunct candy bar wrappers. (Anybody remember Rollo's and Caramello?) Seinfeld aficionados will remember the based-on-real-life Soup Nazi episode, and this site contains some rather interesting clones of what is supposed to be the real thing. Maybe soup for you after all. Hey, we get ripped off all the time in the software business, so it's good to see other industries suffer a similar fate.


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