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Site Seeing

It's geek week



© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 1998

Site Seeing focuses on the world of the geek this week. People laugh at our geek culture, giggle at the hardware hanging from our belts and chortle over our socially inept ways. Ha! That's okay. We wear jeans to work!


This one grabbed my attention and is an interesting exercise in deception. When you click the first link on this page, Windows 95 users who use a modem to access the Internet will see a familiar screen: It looks like the line has dropped and re-login is required. This isn't the case at all. You're still connected and this screen is actually a trick to get you to enter your user name, password and ISP dial-up number. Obviously, don't do it! Paranoids and online veterans will sniff this one out in a second, but less experienced users could well fall for a simple trick like this. Best experienced in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.


We've all been there. You're chugging away on a very important document and haven't saved in about 30 minutes. Then -- boom! -- the computer bombs and loses your hard work. And as sure as it's hot in Florida, when three, four or more techies are gathered together, then they shall inevitably start arguing about how Macs are more stable than Windows and how Linux is heading for World Domination. If you get into these kinds of fights, be sure to keep this URL handy as it keeps track of what blows up the most. I think these altercations are an adult payback for losing the "my dad can beat up your dad" taunts from kindergarten. Actually, the real payback for that is having the school bully wash your Lexus.


This excellent, Java-driven resource will be of interest to anybody constructing a Web site. It's a whizzy color mixer that might just help remove the confusion between the people ordering a Web site ("I'd like a nubby, pastelish color for that background, please") and the people constructing the site ("Chris, what do you think the Pantone color for "nubby' might be?"). This interactive wheel-o-color beats guesswork any day.


History is nothing, if not a distortion of the facts. And this is why you should always volunteer to take notes at a meeting because then you'll be the one writing the history. Therefore, you'll get your own way. It's interesting to see how Microsoft and IBM each present their versions of recent times gone by. Those with elephantine memories will remember the scuffle for your computer's desktop a few years ago and how Microsoft outmarketed IBM to make Windows the "choice" of a new generation of users. Yeah, right. Ask Janet Reno about choice.


Even the hard-core techies have flipped over this one: If your e-mail program is Microsoft's Outlook Express, Netscape's Navigator Mail or Qualcomm's Eudora, there's a microscopic chance that a rogue attachment could crash your e-mail program. In an extreme, unlikely case, not only could it crash your e-mail program but also run some villainous code on your computer. This article from Salon Magazine's excellent 21st column questions whether we should be more afraid of system crackers or sloppy programers. My smug Mac chums have sent me numerous e-mails gloating about haphazard Windows code and how unaffected they are. Yawn.

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