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Site Seeing

If it's Thursday, I'm lost



© St. Petersburg Times, published August 17, 1998

The Web was good to me last week. I enjoyed vacation, found groovy sites, generally took it easy and occasionally forgot what day it was. I was so relaxed Thursday I even forgot to eat lunch. Well, I never could quite get the hang of Thursdays anyway.


Search engines are a lot like bad dating: You hook up with one you really fancy or one that your friends have been saying would be oh-so-perfect for you. You spend a lot of time getting to know how to get the best from your new partner and think fleeting thoughts like "this is the one" and "I could spend the rest of my life with this search engine." And then -- disaster! You find you can't get in one evening and none of your e-mails are answered. Spurned, you swear you'll never cheat on Yahoo! again. Well, I'm not sure where I was going with that, but Google is one nifty searching beast. It's a research project for those Big Brains at Stanford and it's seeking and finding what I'm looking for with amazing clarity.


Got your elbow on the pulse of things and use outdated acronyms -- like ASCII -- that are so old that nobody even remembers what they mean? You, my old chum, need a dose of Buzzword Bingo. Jot down a few choice buzzwords and litter your conversations with them in your next meeting. Discuss Portals (currently No. 1), Y2K (No. 7) and Relationship Marketing (No. 9). Your peers will think you've just jumped out of the pages of Wired. You hep cat, you.


I've seen some pretty good Microsoft bashing in my time, but none as great as that dished out by those who follow the Macintosh Way. Even the Linux crowd appear to be placid, afternoon-nap-type folks in comparison. So, a hefty dose of salt in hand, wander over to this site that critiques user interfaces. There's some lively discussion of the failings of Windows 95's interface inconsistencies and some are quite valid points. But, surprise, surprise, Mac OS comes out on top.


Big, glossy sites like Disney and the like often leave me feeling like the aftereffects of scoffing a pound of jelly beans for lunch. No, I never go over my half a pound rule at midday. National Geographic -- big as it is -- has done a graphically brilliant job of serving up a slice of New York City. A slice that goes 800 feet plus under the city. It's a slick site, to be sure, but without the saccharine aftertaste. The photo tour is vibrant and quite gorgeous. While graphically rich, it loads up quickly.


While we're riding this medium bandwidth graphic kick, this site serves as a great example of what you can do graphically without Java or plug-ins like Shockwave. While guaranteed to work only with Internet Explorer 4, it loaded up nicely in Netscape Navigator 4. It is high bandwidth, so anything less than 28.8k is going to feel sluggish. In no time at all, the Web is going to feel as graphically rich as a CD-based program. All we need are the big, cheap pipes coming into our homes and offices. I can"t wait.

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