By JULES ALLEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 7, 1998
f I hear one more suggestion that the Netscape/AOL/Sun deal is the "next NBC," I'm going to scream. I'm sick of lazy old hacks who try to fit tired, old-media analogies around something entirely new. Not that it takes much to sicken me, of course. It is not the next NBC at all. It's an all new-media megamerger, baby, and it certainly isn't Weblike TV.
I dragged my TV out of the closet to watch a program recently. It's a ritual for me: out it comes, once or twice a month, with the idea that there is a neat program I might enjoy. And then it's banished to closet-land again for a few more weeks after the glass-fronted beast insults what passes for my intelligence. Anyway, off the topic of TV for a moment, I remember shelling out a considerable chunk of money in decades past for choice wristwatches. I simply had to have the expensive digital ones when they came out. Now, similar watches are advertised on TV and almost given away with fast food. This site tells you more about watches than just the time.
It's the time of year to get awful stuff like fruitcake from your old aunts who insist on kissing you twice an hour. Nobody actually eats fruitcake. Everybody knows that. Fear not, dear reader, it could be a lot worse. We could be swapping items like the salt-caked sabroso from the Bad Candy Web Site.
If there is one sure bet, it is that there are no sure bets in the computer industry. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM then, and nobody ever gets fired for buying Microsoft now. So as the year draws to a close, take a stroll down Failure Lane with your chums over at C/Net. Reminisce with the products that caused a huge media and market stir, but, when push came to shove, didn't actually make it. What a fickle bunch we are.
Do you sit in front of Jeopardy and instinctively pull the names of the major rivers in South America out of your hat? Do you excel at Trivial Pursuit to the point where people won't play with you anymore? If it is not your personal hygiene or a major personality defect, you'll probably get a bang out of this site. It is loaded with information that will almost never come in handy. But I can't stop looking either.
Local direct mail coupon outfit hits the Web. Hats off to Val-Pak for taking full advantage of the medium and creating a site that allows you to select the coupons that interest you. Slice and dice by geographic location, pop your e-coupons into a virtual envelope and print them out when you're done. Less trees die than traditional methods.