P> Overcrowded, overrated, oh no!: Mindspring of Atlanta is looking for salespeople to cover the Washington, D.C., area. The firm, which has fewer than 15 people, also has filed or is planning to file with the Securities & Exchange Commission to go public. The tier-two provider has no venture capital, no presence outside of Atlanta and a molasses-slow World Wide Web site.

If that weren't enough to annoy industry insiders, International Discount Telecommunications of Hackensack, N.J., has filed to go public. IDT is a discount telephone company dressed in Internet clothing, advertising that customers will get the real, unfiltered [i.e. X-rated, smut-ridden, CompuServe-banned] Internet. It also is hyping a service that reportedly would allow a user to make a call with Internet phone software and have the call switched over to a normal phone system in another country.

IDT's former customers complain about severely overloaded servers and modems and unreachable customer support, while a disgruntled former employee has posted a Web page describing his view of the behind-the-scenes operations at the company.

More disturbing, IDT had its fingers all over the International Internet Association, an allegedly non-profit organization allegedly run by brilliant hacker types who would bring the Internet for free to the masses. In 1993, the IIA, quietly supported by IDT administrative personnel, had major newspapers across the country believing IIA would turn up more than 5,000 lines in Washington, D.C.

In reality, the IIA was a 20-line setup down the street from IDT's office. Faxed IIA account applications came back with requests for credit cards. People could call the Hackensack, N.J., number, which was busy 99.9 percent of the time, or take advantage of an 800-number option that would be billed at a "highly discounted rate" of $12 per hour, owned and operated by IDT. (Most long distance calling plans cost $8 to $10 per hour in 1993.) Many of IIA's technical contacts also just happen to work for IDT.

More Web Marketing Tools: Captivate Technologies, the Baltimore-based software maker, is now offering TARGET! software for marketers. TARGET! examines a database of domain information and compares it to a Web server's log file. As a result, data is generated that is more targeted and refined, providing companies with a more accurate marketing analysis of their Web site activity.

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