A Guide to Hot Sites

With the change in season, it's a good time to review the new and/or different offerings on the World Wide Web to focus attention on the more innovative and imaginative work done by developers. Here is a list, in no particular order, of sites worth viewing, if not studying and joining.

1. Marimba


As the home page says, Marimba is a Java startup company opened last February by four members of the original Java team, the object-oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems Inc. Its mission? "To provide the tools and infrastructure for creating a new breed of network-managed applications for consumers and businesses." Download Castanet, Bongo and Castanet Tuner, then return to explore "channels," virtual locations for Java-based applications, such as music tutorials and crossword puzzles.

2. Firefly


This is one of the Internet's slicker applications, better known as intelligent agent software. With it, you create personalized communities online.

Where is the privately held company, Firefly Network Inc., going with this technology? "We will soon be offering a suite of software tools to enable any electronic network... with technology that allows businesses to cultivate profitable customer relationships based on a better understanding of their customers' tastes and preferences." No surprise that one of the company's investment partners is the stock brokerage firm, Merrill Lynch.

3. OnLive!


If you've read "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson, you'll love this site. Right now, it's the poor man's version of Stephenson's Metaverse or even MUD with an attitude.

Basically, it's virtual reality markup language with audio. You create an avatar, or graphic mask, and enter a virtual landscape, such as Utopia. There you chat with others, listen in on conversations, view your surroundings. Don't be misled by the current state of art. This technology will become a major force for education and what Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web concept, refers to as "intercreativity."

4. The Platinum Rule


Here is the Web site for the book from Warner by the same name, written by Tony Alessandra and Michael J. O'Connor (ISBN 0-446-51970-7). Whatever its validity, the test on the site to discover your basic business personality, one of four, is an interesting exercise in the use of interactive forms and immediate results for those with a low threshold of patience and a short attention span. What is the Platinum Rule? "Do unto others as they'd like done unto them."

5. Microsoft


Microsoft's Web site should be a regular spa stop for any Internet traveler, just to review what's upgraded or modified, new and different.

You will find new versions, beta or otherwise, of NetMeeting (2.0; and Publisher 97 (free 60-day trial;, among others software/clients.

6. Netscape


Netscape on Oct. 15 modified its corporate strategy to focus on intranets. You should stop by to see what, if any, impact it may have on your company. By the way, the newest version of Netscape Navigator, 3.01b1 Gold, emerged Oct. 10.

John Makulowich writes, talks and trains on the Internet. Send e-mail to The URL for his home page is

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