Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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January 2001, Week 4 -- Here's Looking at Everyone, Kid

 

   Are we ready for this? The whole world is going wireless, sure enough, but it's more than that. We're all under observation, and about to be more so.

 

   There are an estimated six million web cams out there. Those are digital cameras connected to the worldwide web, sending their pictures either continuously or every few moments; you can plug in and watch from anywhere. AipTek www.aiptek.com  introduced a "pen camera" just before the year end, and they were sold out within a month. Prices ranged from $79 at the start to more than $300 as it became clear this was an item with far more demand than supply. You wear the camera in your pocket or clipped on a notebook, and simply click.

   Now Casio has introduced a wrist camera. List price is $200. It looks like a wristwatch but can take and hold 100 pictures, stamping each one with the date and time. The face of the "watch" is an LCD (liquid crystal display) that lets you review any and all the pictures you snapped. You can add a description of up to 24 characters to any picture. The pictures can be transmitted to another Casio wristwatch camera by infrared beam, or to any computer using a low cost infrared receiver kit from Casio. Check it out at www.casio.com.

   At least two companies are currently testing wrist cameras that can send and receive continuous sound and pictures by radio. This is essentially the fictional Dick Tracy two-way television watch made real. We can expect to see them some time this year. The same technology will be available on handheld computers like Palm and Jornada, but they're harder to hide.

 

   Nobody will be in the clear anymore. We just thought we'd let you know.

 

See the web, be the web

-- www.room102.com  This new search portal for the Internet is so interesting that we decided to break it out on its own instead of leaving it as an Internut.

   A search portal is your doorway into the worldwide web, of course. The most well known is Yahoo, but there are dozens of others and they each have their peculiar characteristics. What's downright fascinating about this one is that it shows the home page of each site as you click through, much like a slide show of web sites.

   You can select a category, as you do with most search engines, and start the slide show. It is much more engaging, and even more informative, to see a site's presentation page instead of two lines of text describing what it's about. We selected newspapers and magazines, which then broke into subsets by countries, and then just couldn't stop going through newspapers we'd never heard of and reading stories about events that would never have made the international wires.

   Believe me, this search engine is addictive, so be prepared to spend time here. The only other engine we've come across that shows you home pages instead of just brief descriptions is "Bullseye," http://info.intelliseek.com/prod/bullseye_pro.htm which uses a variant of the "Profusion" engine www.profusion.com.

 

 Internuts

 

-- www.netdocuments.com One of several sites that allow you to set up free storage folders, but one with interesting extras. This one gives you three megabytes of storage, which is much less than other sites, like http://driveway.com, www.idrive.com, and www.xdrive.com. But what they have done here is set up convenient folders, like "finances," "photos," etc. You can scan a photo directly into this site using a free program they provide. They offer extra storage for $5 a month for every 50 megabytes. Site is unusually well organized and easy to use.

 

-- www.zillions.org Child products, reviewed by children. The site is sponsored by Consumer Reports, the well-known nonprofit consumer products testing organization. Unlike the regular Consumer Reports site, which charges for use by nonsubscribers, this children's testing site is free. The kids rate 10 of those new scooters, for example, and tell you which ones are best and which don't hold up.

   
A village in France, from Adventures Magazine

-- www.tripadvisor.com Want to know where to eat in Barbados? Or a colorful place to stay in San Francisco? This site has links to guide books, newspaper and magazine articles, and opinions from other travelers, for the U.S. and the Caribbean.

-- www.adventuresmagazine.com  New online travel magazine with personal points of view (something like the "Lonely Planet" series of travel guides www.lonelyplanet.com). You can subscribe to a print version of "adventures" for just $2 a year. Coverage is confined to North America to start with.

 

-- www.gameoverdude.com Cool name for a new site with news and reviews on video games.

 

 Books

 

   "Just the Tips, Man," by Flisser and Richardson, is a small book of tips for using Microsoft Word 2000. It's spiral bound, with a base that folds out so it can sit on your desk like a small calendar with pages that can be flipped. Each flip of the page brings up a new tip for using Word 2000; there are more than 500 of them. Most of the tips are applicable to Word 97 as well.

 

   We loved this book. The tips are far more useful on a practical level than going through any of the huge reference books for Word. Cheaper too. Just the Tips, Man is $16, from Nerdybooks. Web: www.nerdybooks.com.

 

NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.

 

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