First and last
By JOHN TORRO
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 31, 1998
eb watchers have been inundated with "first" sites lately. The latest, which we didn't feature here, is the first open heart transplant over the Net. Yawn. A more exciting broadcast would have been Tech Times editor Dave Gussow opening his wallet and paying for lunch the other day. Now that was a first.
Another week and another tip of the Stetson to the inventive nature of these sites that want to be your browser's startup page. Just a wee while ago they were search engines and now they're morphing into zero-cost, full-blown, thin-client applications (a program so "thin" it takes up hardly any space on your computer. In this case, no space at all.). The latest gem from Yahoo! is a Web-based calendar that is accessible from anywhere you have a browser, sends you e-mail reminders, allows you to synch-up your Palm Pilot calendar and does it all without plug-ins. So it will work on your Mac just as well as it will work on your PC. The one feature I'd really like to see is a public version of my calendar that would allow me to share pertinent information with those who might have an interest in my working day
At lunch recently, I found myself hotly debating the merits of specific browsers with a person I didn't know two tables away. Just before the exchange, and after a few choice words, my newfound sparring partner wondered if I was "one of those wonks" that built their own PC. Of course! As I know what's going on under the case, I can upgrade it as cheaper, faster components come out and in theory never have to buy another PC. I wish Erik Bakke's Build a Computer site had been around when I got started. It shows how easy and cost-effective building your own box is. Sort of like an expensive Lego set, if you will
If you do find that you want to build your own PC, there's a ton of advice on what to buy from Big Boys like Ziff-Davis, C/net, etc., and perhaps more impartial advice from little guys like Cool Computing. This site is a geek labor of love, and while I think it's chasing the game market, the reviews are still relevant for business users. I've been eyeing a couple of video cards to replace my 3-year-old card and this site reviewed both.
What is it about being involved in the world of computers that makes you want to risk life and limb to explode things and/or try to make explosive things defy gravity? Rhetorical question, of course. A Site Seeing reader sent me this link about a guy who fashioned his own liquid nitrogen-powered rocket from a 5-gallon water bottle. I'm truly envious. There are huge disclaimers all over this site about how one shouldn't do this at home, lest ye shall not have a home afterward. Good advice. And even Winn-Dixie doesn't carry liquid nitrogen in the freezer section. I checked.
Oh yes, just what I need to remind me how old I'm getting. Star Wars turns 20 and now I'm reminded the politically incorrect camp classic Planet of the Apes turns 30. This site is a lot of fun but isn't modem friendly. Unless you've got some time or bandwidth on your hands plus the free QuickTime video player (http://www.quicktime.apple.com/), you might want to skip it.