A touch of fall
By JULES ALLEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 1998
h the joy of the cooler weather! Oh the hell of the out-of-state license plates attached to slow moving vehicles in the left lane! Fall in Tampa Bay is so bittersweet.
We often moan and groan about GTE and its local monopoly. But unless you've owned a land line phone in Europe, you haven't seen anything. We take flat rate, local calling as a God-given right: In England and other European countries, you have to pay by the second. So, companies like British Telecom have stacks of cash to invest in wonky schemes like the SmartQuill, a tomorrow-ware PDA-like device that works like a pen and "reads" your handwriting as you write. Come back, Apple Newton, all is forgiven.
Most people look up domain names by visiting Network Solutions Inc. (http://www.internic.net/), the company that currently manages the world's domain name system. This is a necessary site but gives you limited information. A much niftier idea comes in the shape of Domain Games, which has the same information as Network Solutions but outdoes it by presenting it in -- gasp! -- a useful format. This site allows you to do smarter searches so you could, say, show all of the domains with the word Florida in them and see which are taken. One of the nicest features shows you which domain names have been recently dropped because their owners have forgotten to pay for them or just don't use them anymore.
Everybody's got a Web-driven idea to put equivalent, real-world organizations out of business. iPrint is no exception. It originally started out doing business cards, letterhead, etc., but now has expanded to include promotional items such as T-shirts, yellow sticky notes, mouse pads, etc. The site has an exceedingly groovy interface and is pretty much idiot proof. Having done a spot of print design work in my time, I e-mailed a few friends in the local printing industry and they weren't worried. iPrint wants about $45 for 500 two color business cards and my chums' retail prices averaged out at around $35 for the same quantity. The real world triumphs once again.
Places like Tip World are the epitome of the Internet advertising-based model: In return for viewing a few ads, you get free information. Viva capitalism, I say. When you sign up for Tip World, you inform the service what type of tips you're interested in and once a day you'll get an e-mail containing the related info. If you're one of those gear-heads studying for a Microsoft certification, the MCSE Tips are actually quite good. It's pretty much technology oriented but there are a couple of sections that include things such as pregnancy and baby tips. Having neither of those things, I couldn't really vouch for the accuracy of the data.