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(000304) Car Talk @ cars.com
http://cartalk.cars.com/

Tom and Ray Magliozzi
Dewey, Cheatem and Howe
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Years ago, I had a roommate who had a Volkswagen Rabbit with a noisy muffler and a serious problem with a particular intersection here in Fort Myers. Every time Joe made a left turn at this intersection, the car engine would stop. It did not only happen to Joe either, once I tried it and the engine stopped the same way it always would. After coasting to a stop through the traffic light, the car would start right back up. The very next day, at that same intersection the car would stop running. Mechanic after mechanic could not figure out the problem. If Car Talk, the weekly show on National Public Radio stations was on at that time Joe could have saved a lot of time, aggravation and money. Even if the syndicated newspaper column were available it may have helped.

Site du Jour of the Day reader Basil Stetson wrote in recently to suggest Car Talk @ cars.com. In his message he said "I love 'Car Talk' on NPR… The problem I have encountered is that I am not good at scheduling my time around their radio show. I love it, but rarely hear it. I went to their web site… they've got streaming audio of their weekly show, so I goofed off playing games while listening to their show!" The radio show is perfect for doing exactly what Basil did too. Never terribly serious and always a load of fun, Tom and Ray Magliozzi answer letters and take calls on problems people have like Joe's Rabbit. The site has plenty more than streaming audio, visitors will find information about new and old automobiles. Sections for finding a good garage or junkyard, and the Car-o-Scope will provide model suggestions based on the answers to a few simple questions. Be sure to listen to the legendary call from a mother asking for advice about buying a new BMW Z-3 convertible for her 16-year-old daughter (http://cartalk.cars.com/About/Janet/).

The problem with Joe's car? One day it was finally discovered that the ignition switch had a loose wire. The combination of speed and angle of a brisk left turn on to eastbound Colonial Boulevard from Metro Parkway would shut down the show. It was that simple.  (Back to top of page)


(000305) 3G on W3: The Great Globe Gallery on the World Wide Web
http://hum.amu.edu.pl/~zbzw/glob/glob1.htm

Zbigniew Zwolinski
Adam Mickiewicz University
Poznan, Poland

The Great Globe Gallery culls hundreds of projections and images from many sources into an amazing resource for anyone interested in Planet Earth. Visitors should plan on spending as much time as possible here, the collection is just that good. Available in both English and Polish language versions, The Great Globe Gallery has many familiar images, but for every one you have seen, there are two or three you may not have. Thanks to Phil Konstantin for suggesting this site.  (Back to top of page)


(000306) MardiGras.com
http://www.mardigras.com/

New OrleansNet LLC
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

In February 1999, Site du Jour of the Day reader Eric Goff suggested this site which contains the history of Mardi Gras, traditions, live and streaming images of parades and people on the streets of New Orleans from no less than six cameras. In recent years the number of Mardi Gras celebrations and events has increased, dragging out over several weeks. The real excitement happens between now and the end of the day on Tuesday. The adult theme of Mardi Gras may result in images and behavior that some may not wish to view. Mostly it all boils down to harmless drunken fun once a year. The KaraokeCAM is probably the most obnoxious of all. Best of segments and images from all of the cameras should still be available after Mardi Gras.  (Back to top of page)


(000307) Atari - Online Games
http://www.hasbro-interactive.com/atari/shockwavegames.htm

Hasbro Interactive, Inc.
Beverly, Massachusetts, USA

Originating as arcade games and later showing up for Atari home console machines, four classic games are now available as free Shockwave games. Remember how much fun you had learning and playing Centipede, Frogger, Missile Command, and Super Breakout? Play them through this site, these games are quite fun and accurately recreated. Thanks to TheREALJoeyP for the suggestion.  (Back to top of page)


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(000308) Famous Left-Handers
http://www.indiana.edu/~primate/left.html

M.K. Holder
Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB)
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Anthropologist M.K. Holder has assembled this list of notable people who were or are left-handed. Mostly Americans, the list is made up of actors, artists, athletes, authors, musicians, politicians, and more. Available in English, French, Spanish and Pig Latin language versions, Famous Left-Handers makes for an interesting read with a number of surprises along the way. Visitors are invited to submit new names for the collection. If so inclined, take the time to complete the Hand Preference Questionnaire (http://www.indiana.edu/~primate/forms/hand.html) and perhaps add to the scientific understanding of dominant handedness.  (Back to top of page)


(000309) Everymail
Free web-based email in your language
http://www.everymail.com/

eGlyphs Inc.
Fremont, California, USA

When eGlyphs Inc. Chairman Umair Khan came to the United States from Pakistan in 1988 it did not take long to discover the challenges of communicating with family back home. When it came around, e-mail was a big help but the challenges it presented to people using Urdu and other languages due to different character sets was obvious. Umair Khan created a Urdu word processing program and released it as Shareware in Pakistan, the need for such a tool was quickly recognized after seventy-five thousand downloads of the program. Everymail is the latest incarnation of that word processor from eGlyphs Inc. — a browser-based free e-mail program that currently handles over thirty languages through the use of JavaScript. Multilingual support is a switchable option, an option that allows the use of an on-screen keyboard to enter text using character sets either not loaded, or not supported by an operating system of browser, or both. For users who would like to send a message using several languages at a time Everymail is just the tool. This is not a translator though, Everymail users will need to know the language(s) being used to send and/or read messages. Still in beta test phase, this was a really good idea. Thanks to Bob Cox for suggesting Everymail.  (Back to top of page)


(000310) EZDetect.com - Colorectal Cancer Info Center
http://www.ezdetect.com/

Biomerica Incorporated
Newport Beach, California, USA

Site du Jour of the Day reader B. L. Ochman sent a message suggesting the EZDetect.com - Colorectal Cancer Info Center site. The Cancer Research Foundation of America, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and the American Digestive Health Foundation have declared March National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (http://www.preventcancer.org/colorectal.htm). B. L. wrote "Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America. It strikes men and women in equal numbers, often with no apparent symptoms. However, several studies prove than an annual Fecal Occult Blood Test could prevent 33,000 colon cancer deaths every year. Sadly, doctors see only 37% of colorectal cancers at the early stages where it is 90% curable".

In addition to having information about Colorectal cancer at their site, Biomerica Inc. are sending their EZ Detect Fecal Occult Blood Test out for the cost of shipping and handling ($3.65 in the US and $5.65 for international orders), the suggested retail price for the test is normally $11.00.

Quoted from the EZDetect.com - Colorectal Cancer Info Center site:

"EZ DETECT™ is a simple, sanitary, fast home test requiring no stool handling. The user simply drops a test tissue into the toilet bowl, and if blood is present, a blue-green color will appear within two minutes. The test detects small quantities (2.0mg hemoglobin/100 ml water) of occult (hidden) blood in the stool.

Colorectal disorders such as cancer, cause blood to present on the outside of the stool from irritated polyps that have formed in the colon. This blood disperses onto the surface of the toilet water. The heme portion of hemoglobin, present in blood, oxidizes the tetramethylbenzidine that is on the test strip and causes a blue/green color change.

The EZ DETECT™ fecal occult blood test kit consists of a biodegradable tissue-paper-film coated with a chromogenic dye (TMB) and peroxide. The film is in the shape of a cross on the test tissue.

The EZ DETECT™ Stool Blood Test is the most advanced home test available to detect hidden blood in the stool, one of the primary early warning signals of many health problems. EZ DETECT™ is designed to detect blood in the stool that can be caused by bleeding ulcers, hemorrhoids, polyps, colitis, diverticulitis, fissures or cancer of the colon."

I am not a trained medical professional and cannot endorse nor verify the accuracy of the above statements or this or any other test. Seek professional treatment if you suspect that you may have a problem. Better to be safe than sorry. I have read though that a diet high in fiber can help under certain conditions, and know for a fact that cardboard isn't exactly what they mean by "high in fiber".  (Back to top of page)


(000311) The Gibraltar Frontier Website
http://www.frontier.gibnet.gi/

GibNet Limited
Gibraltar

The border crossing between Gibraltar and Spain has to be one of the strangest places on Earth. Depending on which side of the controversy one subscribes, Spain is still a little bit upset about losing Gibraltar nearly 300 years ago. Gibraltar remains an important and strategic point as it has been for centuries. The Gibraltar Frontier Website has four live cameras at the crossing and during peak traffic times, the wait to get from Gibraltar to Spain can take the better part of a day. Read about the history of the dispute and the effects it has on life in both Gibraltar and Spain. Be sure to visit The Gibraltar Home Page (http://www.gibraltar.gi/) for more information about Gibraltar and the people who call it home.  (Back to top of page)


(000312) Walkabout!
a european accident waiting to happen
http://www.nordicgiant.com/

Eric Strohl and Shane Smith
Nordic Giant Internationale
Clemmons, North Carolina, USA

Take two college buddies, send them from North Carolina on a grand tour of Europe for three months. Set up a site with remote controls so that our travelers can report back about their adventures on a regular basis, and what you end up with is Walkabout! a european accident waiting to happen. Eric Strohl is a graphic designer at Virtuoso Interactive, and Nordic Giant Internationale. Shane Smith is a graphic artist/production assistant for the Warner Bros. television show Dawson's Creek. Up to this point our heroes have seen parts of Italy, France and Spain, watched a fellow American fall victim to a team of pick-pockets in Barcelona, and shared meals with people they have met along the way. This sounds like it will be a great trip and the possibility of daily updates will make for an interesting site during the next couple of months or until they are deported, whichever comes first. Thanks to Matt Roszyk who suggested and has a hand in the production of Walkabout! a european accident waiting to happen. Matt helped Santa Claus out with SantaTracker 1999 (http://www.santatracker.com/) (SdJotD 991223). Compared to Santa Claus, tracking Eric Strohl and Shane Smith is a piece of cake and it shows in the quality of this site.  (Back to top of page)


(000313) ScreenSound Australia
The National Collection of Screen and Sound
http://www.screensound.gov.au/

ScreenSound Australia
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Dedicated to preserving and sharing the Australian story in film, sound and television, ScreenSound Australia tours exhibitions throughout Australia and at this site. An archive of this size, currently over two million audiovisual titles, is a difficult project to manage at best but the people at ScreenSound Australia seems to be doing quite well with it. Licensing titles from the collection is just a part of what is done here, and anyone who is interested in or researching Australian culture and media should have a look. Visit the shop, take the Virtual Tour, and while you are visiting see if you can find the name of the first feature film in the world. This is a great looking site with plenty of detail.  (Back to top of page)


(000314) U.S. Census Bureau
http://www.census.gov/

Bureau of the Census
United States Department of Commerce
Suitland, Maryland, USA

It's not too often that a Site du Jour of the Day episode is comprised of material lifted entirely from an outside source. The U.S. Census Bureau has provided drop-in articles for media use and I found this one interesting enough to pass along whole. For additional information on the U.S. Census Bureau, visit this site and if you are a U.S. Resident, please participate by completing and mailing back the U.S. Census Form that will be in the mail or has already arrived.

This is your future. Don't leave it blank. (U.S. Census Form and Pen)

The American Community Survey --

New Road Map to America's Future

Imagine how hard it would be to plan a long trip using a map that was five, eight or even nine years out of date. So many things may have changed that the old map might almost be useless.

For government agencies, the census of population and housing that takes place every 10 years is the road map that helps them make multiple decisions, such as where to put new roads and schools. Thousands of large and small community-based organizations also use census information to gauge the need for human services and match the unemployed with jobs.

To help keep the community's understanding of local needs and resources up to date, the Census Bureau is designing the American Community Survey (ACS), which eventually will replace the decennial census "long form."

During the census, 5 out of 6 of the nation's housing units receive a copy of the short form, which asks basic information, such as the name, age, sex and race of the persons in the household. About 1 in 6 addresses receives the census long form, which asks a total of 52 questions (including the seven short-form questions) about the residents' demographic characteristics, the housing they live in, how they go to and from work, the languages they speak at home and other information that helps define the patterns of community life in our country.

The information gathered from the long form is important in painting a statistical picture of the trends that affect our nation.

Information about income, housing and poverty rates is a tool that enables federal, state and local government agencies to put tax dollars to the best use. Statistics showing where people work and how they get there help cities and towns develop better transportation plans to save travel time and conserve natural resources.

"Our county is growing rapidly and we depend on census data very heavily to get a feel for our shifting demographics," said Anne Cahill of the Fairfax County (Va.) Office of Management. "We particularly want to understand how many people speak a language other than English. It was 10.7 percent in 1980, 17 percent in 1990 and we're estimating 30 percent for 1998.

"In the future we'd like to get the foreign language data more frequently," Cahill said. "Not only does this trend affect schools, but we also want to make sure that we have enough police officers and firefighters who speak foreign languages so they can communicate with recent immigrants in an emergency."

Introducing the American Community Survey

The problem with information from the census long form is that it is only collected every 10 years and it rapidly goes out of date between censuses. Try and estimate how many people use home computers today -- a question that could be added to the ACS questionnaire -- by looking at figures from 1990. Not even the most far-seeing crystal ball gazer could have guessed.

To have reliable annual data is why the Census Bureau is introducing the ACS. For now, it will contain only those questions Congress has already approved for the census long form. Every year, the ACS will produce accurate demographic and socio-economic information for every state in the nation, as well as every city, county, town or population group of 65,000 people or more.

The ACS is being implemented in four phases. The demonstration phase began in 1996 in four representative sites. In 1997, the survey expanded to eight sites to evaluate costs, procedures and new ways to use the information. In 1998, the ACS was extended to a ninth site consisting of two counties in South Carolina that also were part of the Census Bureau's dress rehearsal for Census 2000 to investigate the effects on both the ACS and the census of having the two activities going on in the same place at the same time.

For the 1999-2002 comparison site phase, the number of sites in the sample was increased to 31. The comparison with Census 2000 will collect several kinds of information necessary to understand the differences between ACS and the 2000 long form. It will compare the ACS estimates and the Census 2000 long-form estimates.

The ACS is slated for full implementation nationwide in 2003 and beyond. If approved by Congress, the monthly survey will replace the census long form in 2010.

The ACS will benefit the 2010 census in five ways: allows more effective targeting of neighborhoods requiring assistance (for example, neighborhoods in which a high proportion of the population speaks a language other than English); simplifies the 2010 census data collection and processing by replacing the long form; improves coverage through a continuously updated address list, including regular interaction with local officials; spreads the decennial census budget bulge more evenly over the decade; and establishes a cadre of professional, experienced field representatives in hard-to-enumerate areas.

The ACS is an important new way to help community planners, government agencies and the private sector understand the changing demand for services.

For a free interactive CD-ROM with data from the demonstration sites or for more information about ACS, visit the Census Bureau's World-Wide Web site (http://www.census.gov/acs/www ) or call 1-888-456-7215 (e-mail: acs@census.gov ).  (Back to top of page)


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(000315) [:|AccordionMan|:] - International Midi
http://members.aol.com/accrdnmn/

Anders H. Bakke
St. Augustine, Florida, USA

MIDI files of traditional and original Cajun, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, and Scandinavian songs done up in the style that is [:|AccordionMan|:]. Pointers to related sites and a lot more are on the individual pages for each flavor of music. The arrangement here of Lady of Spain is worthy of attention, and be sure to listen to the Cajun and Zydeco numbers. This is a nice collection of performances and MIDI files.  (Back to top of page)


(000316) The United States Patent and Trademark Office
http://www.uspto.gov/

United States Patent and Trademark Office
United States Department of Commerce
Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Throughout history, otherwise brilliant men and women have declared that the art and science of invention had pretty much given society everything it needed. More than once it has been declared that there was nothing left to invent. The United States Patent and Trademark Office site is a good place to look for information about the invention and innovation the world has seen in the last 130 years. Other sections of this site detail the The Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program began which started in 1871 as a way to help people protect their inventions and trademarks. The program has also worked for inventors and business people who may have "reinvented the wheel," if it were not for detailed public records. Last year was a big year for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a record 169,154 patents were granted. That number is up by almost 6,000 from the year before. One is left to wonder how much higher the numbers might be if there were still things left to invent. I guess we may never know. Resources at The United States Patent and Trademark Office site are numerous, anyone who has ever wondered what steps are involved to register a trademark or file for a patent should have a look. There is even a special section for students here.  (Back to top of page)


(000317) Guinness Beer FAQt and Folklore
http://www.ivo.se/guinness/

Alan Marshall
hosted by
Internet Venture Organization
Stockholm, Sweden

When St. Patrick's Day lands on a Friday the way it does this year, you can bet that beer drinkers have cause for celebration. It is probably safe to say that more Guinness is sold in the US on March 17th than on any other day of the year, and the official Guinness site (http://www.guinness.ie/) will be nearly impossible to access today. The Guinness Beer FAQt and Folklore might just have more useful information anyway. Amidst the wisdom visitors will find at the official HTML version of the Guinness Beer FAQt and Folklore site is this gem written by Alan Clinton:

A Guide For The Un-Initated To Buying Guinness In An Irish Pub.

  1. Choose your pub carefully. A pint of Guinness does not appreciate loud music, loud people or bright flashing lights.
  2. Ask politely for a pint of Guinness. Depending on the pub, it is possible to catch the barmans eye and mouth the word "pint", he will translate this accurately.
  3. The barman will fill the glass between 70% and 80% capacity. It will then be put to the side for a few moments to allow it "to settle". Once the brownish liquid has almost turned to a solid black the barman will then fill the rest of the glass. NB: do not under any circumstances take the glass before it is filled. Some virgins seem to think that the settling stage is the final stage and walk away with an unfinished pint. At this point we Irish DO understand the predicament, but I assure you it causes endless mirth as well.
  4. Once you have received your pint, find a comfortable stool or seat, gaze with awe into the deep blackness, raise the pint to your mouth and take a large mouthful. Be firm.
  5. A good pint can distinguished by a number of methods. A smooth, slightly off- white head is one, another is the residue left on the inside of the glass. These, surprise surprise, are known as rings. As long as they are there you know your're okay. A science of rings is developing - the instance that comes to mind is determining a persons nationality by the number of rings (a ring is dependent on a swig of Guinness each swig leaving it's own ring). An Irishman will have in the region of 5-6 rings (we pace ourselves), an Englishman will have 8-10 rings, an American will have 17-20 (they sip) and an Australian won't have any at all as they tend to knock it back in one go!
  6. As you near the end of your pint, it is the custom to order another one. It is a well known fact that a bird does not fly on one wing.  (Back to top of page)


(000318) FBI Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room
http://foia.fbi.gov/

Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Department of Justice
Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Back in 1975 the Freedom of Information Act changed to allow interested citizens and parties access to files gathered for the purpose of law enforcement. The act originally went in to effect in 1966 but amendments to the act, and the Privacy Act of 1974 made certain files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation fair game. Well, almost. Requests are processed and then set up for publication utilizing photocopies of the original files. These copies are then analyzed for content which is exempt under the FOIPA. Colored markers are used to cover such material and the exemption cited is written in the margin. These treated pages are then copied once more using a filter on the platen of the copier. This filter reads the colored marks as black and the copier reproduces them in that manner. The final copies are then mailed to the requester and a fee is collected when applicable. Since 1975, the FBI has handled over 300,000 requests, releasing millions of pages of files and FBI documents.

The FBI Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room is home to quite a few files and cases from the FBI archives, sort of a "Best of the Freedom of Information Act". Available as PDF files, read using Adobe's Acrobat Reader are files on the famous and infamous, even the sweetheart of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover has a special file containing 1,662 pages. Everything from the single page Roswell, New Mexico file to the 683 pages pertaining to Elvis Presley. Other celebrities are here as well. John Lennon comes in with a mere 248 pages, 142 pages are devoted to Lucille Ball and her 1936 registration to vote as a Communist. Released at the end of January this year, the 79 page file not on, but about George Orwell. One might have thought that Big Brother was watching Orwell just a little closer. The FBI Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room is one of those all day sites, harvest the PDFs to a local drive and then spend the rest of the afternoon digging through the dirt. Thanks to Ross of Hershey, Pennsylvania for the suggestion.  (Back to top of page)


(000319) Pranksta's Paradise
http://www.ccil.org/~mika/

Joel Majka
West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

The first of April is fast approaching, and with it comes April Fools Day. Why an episode featuring pranks and gags when it is still March? Sometimes the best April Fools Day pranks take a few days to prepare. Malicious behavior is not only rude, but in many cases it is against the law. Be careful when reading these ideas culled from various newsgroups and submitted by visitors to Pranksta's Paradise. Be even more careful if you should use any of this material as a starting point for an April Fools Day gag. Many of the entries read as if they were submitted by kids who failed to include the part of the story where their buddies beat the pulp out of them on the next day. Retribution is always the dark side of a good prank and sometimes it is a simple as jail time. Use your best judgement before trying anything here and always share your plan with a clear thinking accomplice or two. Unless it involves the potential for property damage or injury, avoid individuals who will fink you out. Again, use your best judgement and don't come looking for help if on the second of April someone beats the daylights out of you. As stressed at Pranksta's Paradise, if the person or people on the receiving end of your April Fools Day plan will not see the humor in the stunt, do not do it.  (Back to top of page)


(000320) iSingOnline.Com
Sing Your Favorite Song on the Net
http://www.isingonline.com/

Benjamin Dela Cruz
iSingOnline.Com
Union City, California, USA

If for some reason you cannot get enough performance time at your local Karaoke or Videoke establishment, then check out the brand new iSingOnline.Com. Using streaming audio and video, visitors can sing to a small collection of songs done up in simple and unique arrangements. If Karaoke is nor your style be sure to look at the video content here anyway. The production values and locations the producers of these videos have used are oddly different. This site does not broadcast people singing to popular numbers, instead it gives visitors the chance to have a go at Karaoke in the privacy of their own home or cubicle at the office. Work and Karaoke do not necessarily mix, but if it's your last day or something why not treat the people you used to work with to a treat. Crank up the speakers on your computer, don your made-special-for-the-occasion newspaper hat, stand up on your desk one last time with a stapler in your hand and belt out what is probably the most requested Karaoke song of all time — "Crazy" hasn't sounded this good since Patsy Cline did it.  (Back to top of page)


(000321) Cleaning Tips, Stain Removal Tips and more at CleanUpPages.com
http://cleanuppages.com/

CleanUpPages.com
DoItYourself.com Inc.
Mill Valley, California, USA

Without going to the Mega-Lo-Mart and counting brands and flavors on the shelves I would feel confident in estimating the number of household cleaners consumers in this part of Florida have to choose from. My estimate would be an even two hundred — not counting laundry products. All the smells in the universe are represented, pine, citrus, floral jubilee, and a number of other olfactory overloads formulated to give the false impression of clean. I've often wondered how the industry gets away with convincing consumers that a fake nature smell equals clean. The editors at CleanUpPages.com not only share that view on household cleaning products, they offer pages of solutions you already have at home for the purpose of cleaning. Tips for cleaning such hard surfaces as Terrazzo and light fixtures along with fabric care ideas and more fill the pages here. The Frequently Asked Questions files are great and include the "you might think it's funny now" Skunk Odor FAQ.  (Back to top of page)


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(000322) ResellerRatings.com
User Evaluations of On-Line Computer Hardware Vendors
http://www.resellerratings.com/

EarthWeb, Inc.
Dallas, Texas, USA

When it comes to buying a computer, finding a decent price is only the first hurdle. When buying from a company doing business by mail order or through their site, price can be the least of your worries. Sales people can make the experience either pleasant or horrible and competency comes in many different forms. Some firms have staff members who stand by and use the products they sell and others simply read from a database with hardly a clue about what they are reading. It is not uncommon to have the Special of the Week declared as the best thing going, only to find out that the dump would be the next stop if it was not sold. The Bait and Switch tactic is a personal favorite, an advertised item is conveniently out of stock and a higher priced widget will be offered. An acquaintance of mine just finished negotiating the purchase of a new computer system that is $300 higher in price than the original quote. Features were added by the sales person "because the warehouse it out of that model". During the week, with my suggestions, the extra $300 was turned into a DVD player instead of a standard CD reader, the ZIP drive jumped from an older 100 megabyte model to the new 250 megabyte package, and the capacity of the hard drive nearly doubled. Added software and upgrades included, this Bait and Switch turned out in the end to be a better deal for the consumer but it took experience and determination.

Other hazards to look out for include "Shipping and Handling Fees," the 10-30% on top of the really low price that certain retailers stack on to a purchase. Domestic mail and private carriers all have wonderful delivery performance lately from what I have seen, so saving $25 by waiting a day or two for delivery never hurts. The handling fee can be ridiculously high and with certain retailers is not charged. The box, packing materials and tape are figured into the price of the goods and not added after the fact. Always read the explanation of charges before approving a shipment, the "Shipping and Handling Fees" are not always disclosed at the time an order is placed. Restocking or repair fees for returns or busted stuff can be outrageous at times, if the company will even take them. Some close-outs are non-refundable so be careful.

How do you know if a company is worth dealing with? ResellerRatings.com is a solution that allows visitors the opportunity to rate companies who trade in computer hardware. The seven-point scale used here is based on feedback provided by consumers who have answered seven questions about their experience with a particular vendor. Over 1,100 companies have been evaluated to date. Comments left by visitors add to the information in the evaluations and while they are simply opinion, the tales told range from sheer horror stories to high praise. Reputations become quite clear after a while here. If you plan on buying anything from a company doing business on the Internet a stop here could save you hours of trouble researching a company, their products, prices, and level of service. Thanks to Soopafresh for this grand suggestion.  (Back to top of page)


(000323) R U SURE Comparative Shopping - Online Shopping Bot
http://www.rusure.com/

R U Sure Ltd.
Tel Aviv, Israel

Once you have decided on a purchase, be it computer equipment, music or electronics, finding a good price is important. Using the real-time search robot at R U SURE for product quotes can be a big help. By combining the results of your search and the vendor ratings provided by R U SURE at from ResellerRatings.com (http://www.resellerratings.com/) (SdJotD 000322), along with your own experiences, buying things on the Internet has become that much easier. R U SURE is not a merchant and they receive no compensation for referrals. The tools here check with hundreds of other sites for current prices and return them to visitors in no time. Windows users can download the R U SURE Shopping Agent and have it wander through the ether looking for low prices and even track auctions of interest. A live connection is required to use the R U SURE Shopping Agent but it will run quietly in the background.

A couple of searches from the site turned up one offering for the two Compact Disc set Peek-A-Boo: Best Of NRBQ (1969-1989), Borders had it for $24.79. Peter Gabriel's second album came up four times, ranging in price from $7.99 plus $1.98 S&H at AllDirect.com to $9.97 with no additional charges from CDUniverse.com. A bigger ticket item selected for demonstration purposes, the 15 inch 28MM 1024x768 Flat Panel TFT 5000 Opal w/Touch Screen Monitor was quoted at $1,679.95, $1,716.99, $1,765.75, $1,789.63, $1,793.73, and $1,864.99. Only four of the six merchants showed it in-stock though. The R U SURE portal allows visitors to jump directly to the site of the vendor offering an attractive price. None of this information is 100% accurate so do not be disappointed if that great deal vaporizes before you get to it. As always, use your best judgement when ordering items from a company you have not worked with before. R U SURE is a incredibly useful consumer tool that should not be missed. Thanks to Bob Cox for sending in this suggestion back in November.  (Back to top of page)


(000324) Ben Franklin & The Armonica
http://www.gigmasters.com/armonica/

Cecilia Brauer
Merrick, New York, USA

_________________________________

History Channel
http://historychannel.com/

The History Channel
A&E Network
New York, New York, USA

The Armonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761, and consists of a series of crystal bowls rotated on a spindle and played with wet fingers. After its introduction during the last part of the 18th century the Armonica experienced huge popularity but quickly fell from grace as a backlash of the fad — that a certain Dr. Mesmer used the instrument with great success to induce hypnosis might have had something to do with it all. Cecilia Brauer's Ben Franklin & The Armonica site was featured as Site du Jour of the Day on September 21, 1998 (SdJotD 980921) and this week Cecilia sent a message to let me know that she will be appearing on The History Channel's "Lost and Found". "Lost and Found" locates artifacts which played an important part in history and tells their stories, bringing history to life. Featured in the episode are Ben Franklin's Armonica, letters from Mary Todd Lincoln, and Jayne Mansfield's death car.

The program airs tonight at 8pm Eastern, and again on Monday, March 27 at 11pm Eastern, check your local listings just to be sure. Setting the VCR to record the show might be a good idea too. The episode will also be repeated during the coming year.

The History Channel site explores programming on the cable channel and history in general. Visitors will always find something interesting at the site, especially in a featured called This Day In History. The Speech Archives are worth looking at as well, visitors will find hundreds of RealAudio streams of "…Words that Changed the World" along with background information on the individuals involved.  (Back to top of page)


(000325) Michigan Live: University of Michigan Hockey Cam
http://www.mlive.com/cams/hockey/

Michigan Live Inc.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

The beauty part of having an indoor ice rink is that at almost any time, day or night somebody is taking advantage of the availability of ice. This viewer movable camera may show members of the different University of Michigan Hockey Teams, the Figure Skating Club or even Intramural and Recreational Hockey Leagues depending on the time of day and time of year. The camera allows zoom levels up to 32x making views of individuals on the ice or in the stands possible. Visit the Yost Ice Arena Calendar of Events page (http://www.umich.edu/~yostice/CalendarHome.html) to see what is going on. While looking at the Michigan Live: University of Michigan Hockey Cam, keep an eye out for the two Yost Ice Arena Zambonis.  (Back to top of page)


(000326) Rat's Fine Dining Cafe
http://rats.baweb.com/index.html

Rat's Restaurant
Trenton, New Jersey, USA

_________________________________

Chris Casey: Lessons Learned in a Rat Suit
http://www.casey.com/rat_suit.html

Chris Casey
Montclair, Virginia, USA

Located at 16 Fairgrounds Road in Trenton, "…Rat's Restaurant is a new full service restaurant where the atmosphere is like home and the food is fine European! Rat's staff includes a head chef, a sous chef, a pastry chef and a wine steward, with more than 15 years experience between them!…"

The site is new, the level of optimism at Rat's must be high, and one can only imagine what people at the New Jersey Department of Health (http://www.state.nj.us/health/) are thinking.

Lessons Learned in a Rat Suit is a short piece written by Chris Casey which looks at a job held at the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater in Huntington Beach, California. Nothing rude or disgusting here. If you have ever wondered what the appeal was with the entire Chuck E. Cheese thing, how about an Insider's look.  (Back to top of page)


(000327) Australian Custard Apple Growers Association
http://www.custardapple.com.au/

Australian Custard Apple Growers Association Inc.
Alstonville, New South Wales, Australia

_________________________________

Growing Custard Apple: Common Questions
http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/dpinotes/hortic/tropfruit/h99139.html

Queensland Horticulture Institute
Department of Primary Industries Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Peak season for Custard Apple, or Jadefruit as the sub-tropical fruit is sometimes called, started in parts of Queensland earlier this month. The season runs roughly through the end of September when harvesting in New South Wales has been completed. The Australian Custard Apple Growers Association Inc. site has news and technical information for and about commercial growers and exporters, along with recipes, nutritional data pertaining to Custard Apples.

Growing Custard Apple: Common Questions from the Department of Primary Industries Queensland offers assistance for growers at all levels of production. Not too common on tables outside of Asia, the sweet and juicy flavor of Custard Apples may be worth exploring the next time you visit a grocer that carries exotic fruit. Look for either Pinks Mammoth/Hillary White or African Pride, the two most common varieties sold for export.  (Back to top of page)


(000328) United Record Pressing
http://www.urpressing.com/

United Record Pressing
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

The United Record Pressing site can be viewed in one of several ways — a history lesson for visitors who never had the pleasure of buying and listening to vinyl phonograph records, an advertising site full of hints and methods for getting the most out of your production budget when pressing vinyl, or best of all, a look at a company taking great pride in an almost lost craft.

Without the market they once had, firms making records have found it necessary to offer competitive pricing structures and absolute quality controls. The United Record Pressing site shows that the staff is both knowledgeable and adept, the tutorials are well written and attractive. The technical information pertaining to the science of records alone makes this site worth looking at. There is life left for our trusty friend the phonograph record and it is nice to see people keeping the art alive.  (Back to top of page)


(000329) ThrottleBox.com
Free Music Videos at ThrottleBox!
http://www.throttlebox.com/

Spectra.Net Communications, Inc.
Johnson City, New York, USA

Streaming audio sites are becoming common as of late, it would seem as though everybody is getting in on the trend. For example, there is Site du Jour of the Day Radio (http://www.live365.com/cgi-bin/directory.cgi?autostart=sdjotd) (SdJotD 000220) and hundreds of other programs being broadcast as you are reading this. In contrast, the system demands of streaming video have limited the number of sites offering free storage and bandwidth to artists who are unsigned. ThrottleBox.com is one of the few sites offering free entertainment — video, audio, text, and images. Acts who are signed and actively promoted are represented at ThrottleBox.com, but it is the unknowns who make the site so charming. Using a proprietary client for Windows or emulated Windows systems, BOX files can be downloaded with a standard Internet connection. The latest promotional video clips, ranging from in length from 30 seconds to entire songs are available free, so are public domain shorts and cartoons and a whole lot more.

Visitors are required to fill out an anonymous registration form when downloading the ThrottleBox Player. Downloaded content can then be saved to a local drive. These BOX files are only playable on the ThrottleBox Player associated with the user who originally downloaded the files. Not a bad deal really — artists and labels get to promote their material, consumers can watch the content at will, or at least until it expires, which is an option artists can program into content using the ThrottleBox Assembly Tool. Every artist gets the same treatment here which is so nice to see. The quality and variety of material keeps improving every day. A site worth watching.  (Back to top of page)


(000330) Inner Learning Online:
Human Anatomy Online - Automotive Learning Online
http://www.innerbody.com/

Informative Graphics Corporation
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Through Inner Learning Online, visitors can explore the mechanisms inside humans and automobiles. Hundreds of illustrations, complete with text and animations are used to show how different parts work together in both cases. An ideal site for students, Inner Learning Online should prove interesting enough for the entire family. A Java enabled browser is required and while the information here is generally accurate it should not be considered as professional advice — either for a person or a car. That said, both sites are highly informative and the content here exceeds that available in encyclopedias and certain commercial software packages. Whether you are interested in Front Bumpers or Frontal Lobes, Inner Learning Online is the place to find out.  (Back to top of page)


(000331) The Register
Biting the hand that feeds IT
http://www.theregister.co.uk

Situation Publishing
London, England

If you were reading The Register recently you would have seen the nearly acrid accounts of MI5 and MI6 agents (one each) leaving their respective laptop computers where the bad guys could get them. The bad guys here were the individuals who found themselves new computers when the agents left them unattended — Top Secret data and all. Not really a scandal sheet, The Register looks at stories from the world of Information Technology with sections focusing on Channels, Hardware, Networks, Semiconductors, Software, and more. Updated daily with new and follow-up stories, articles at The Register are smart and more often than not, funny. A gang of seven reporters and editors track down stories and interviews so you don't have to. If daily updates are too frequent, the week-to-view headline index (http://www.theregister.co.uk/morenews.html) brings the best of The Register to one handy location. Concentrated IT news this good is often difficult to find and The Register will fast become a favorite if it isn't already.  (Back to top of page)


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Copyright 2000, Edward J. Pelegrino. All rights reserved.
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Updated March 31, 2000

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