News From the Net: Tidbits, Tips and Trends on the Infobahn
A new breed of client now populates the Web where users can customize personal information such as local weather maps, street guides and stock quotes. Here is a collection of the more sophisticated ones that I came across while reviewing recently created Web sites.
While this application does not really fit here, I just could not bring myself to ignore it. Free e-mail. That's right, "Free Internet E-mail Service," as the promotional package announces. And it is. Just install this program and you are on your way. You find a list of local numbers; if there's not one for your area code, they give you an 800-number to dial. What's the catch? You have to reveal a whole lot of demographic data about yourself, like your annual salary. Other than that, it's supported by advertisers. Your address will be firstname.lastname@example.org. For my money, with its straight-forward screen and crisp graphics, this program is great for relatives and distant friends who just want to keep in touch with e-mail. Btw, currently there is no version for Mac.
Among the more eye-opening CCs (customizable clients) is MapQuest, which allows you to search for addresses at the street level and save the map you generate. There's more: the so-called Interactive Atlas is Java- as well as ActiveX-enabled. You can retrieve directions (TripQuest), get mileage distance between two cities and gather information about local points of interest. Be sure to register; this provides you with your own URL to MapQuest and allows you to save the maps the server generates.
3. Wayfarer's StockWatcher
Need a continuous feed of stock information that is 15-minute delayed? Here's the answer. Using Visual Basic and ActiveX, this service lets you enter securities of interest, and it updates them as you eye the monitor. Let me know if you figure how to terminate this client, aside from forceful withdrawal by Control-Alt-Delete.
4. Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition
For a limited time, that is, until July 31 if you register before May 31, you can get the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition delivered to your desktop for free in all its pristine graphics glory.
At this IBM site, you find a desktop client that streams headlines across your monitor. Called NewsTicker, the program offers Reuters-collected news, which you can bring up as full text. This URL also links you to the infoMarket site, which IBM offers to subscribers for a monthly fee. It features their so-called Cryptolope technology and boasts of being the "most comprehensive collection of commercial information on the Internet." Incidentally, the search screen is one of the most poorly designed, given the HTML tags now available.
John Makulowich writes, talks and trains on the Internet. For details on his series of presentations, see http://www.cais.com/makulow/worshop.html