January 2005, Week 4
-- The New Wave
www.callwave.com has a new service that lets you screen incoming
cell phone calls. The fee is $4 a month.
It's designed primarily for people taking cell phone calls at home
or the office. You can hear the speaker but they can't hear you. If you
want to take the call, press "1" on the cell phone. If you press "2,"
the call can be transferred to a land line at your home or office
number, or recorded.
If your cell phone is off but you are near one of your PCs, the
software will detect the incoming call and put on your computer's
speakers. You can click on a button to transfer the call to a regular
All this requires some inconvenience. In order to have the call
screening you have to get a "Call Wave" number. Only calls coming in on
that number can be screened or transferred to land lines. That means
giving that number to friends, family, business contacts, etc., so you
can screen or transfer their calls.
Call Wave sells a similar service that lets you
see calls coming in on a regular phone line while working on your
computer. As with the cell phone screening, you can listen to the
incoming call on the computer's speakers before deciding whether or not
to take it. The cost for this service is also $4 a month.
If your computer is on a broadband connection (cable or DSL), this
essentially creates a second phone line since the computer will still be
active while you take the call or decide to ignore it. There's a 30 day
free trial for either of these services. More info at their web site:
Home movies, and everything else, on
www.streamload.com is a service that lets you send, receive and
store megaloads of data, including streaming videos.
For $10 a month you get 10 gigabytes of online storage and the
software for sending and receiving high quality video in real time.
That's a little more than two standard DVDs. You can email videos as
easily as you email photos. Of course once you're going digital you can
do the same with music or any other file. Share your photos as
thumbnails, and the recipient can print any picture at home.
Prices go up along with the size of the storage, till you reach 720
gigabytes for $400 a month. Actually you can go up to 50,000 gigabytes,
often written as 50 terrabytes, at a price that can be negotiated.
That's is probably enough storage and file transfer to handle everything
Congress or any other government has ever done.
The numbers report
http://fifty.lycos.com we get the top search engine requests for
2004. Five of the top ten were searches for news and pictures about
women. Janet Jackson and Paris Hilton were one, two; Britney Spears was
fourth; Pamela Andersen was eighth; and Michelle Vieth was ninth.
Rounding out the rest: Clay Aiken, third; Nick Berg, fifth, KaZaA sixth,
tatoos seventh and poker tenth. President George W. Bush was 81st on the
list, just after "prom hair styles" and slightly ahead of "golf clubs;"
Fox News was last among the top 100 searches.
Meanwhile, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the top search for
consumer items at
Yahoo.com was for digital cameras.
www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishadvice/advice.html A long web
address that finally ends up giving you information about dangerous
mercury levels in specific kinds of fish and seafood. Go easy on the
swordfish. But you knew that, right?
www.epa.gov/airnow Shows a map of the U.S. with a depiction of
what's going on weatherwise each day. It shows where there's unhealthy
air for that day, including particle and ozone pollution.
www.worldcommunitygrid.org An organization that's trying to
create a giant public computer grid. They ask that you donate time on
your computer when it's normally idle. One project involves searching
all the possible shapes a protein can be folded into. They don't ask for
your identity when you sign up.
"The PC Magazine Guide to Digital
Photography," by Daniel and Sally Grotta; $25 from Willey Press
PC Magazine does a ton of coverage on digital cameras and from that
sea of verbiage they have culled some interesting tricks. While almost
any effects can be done with editing software, quite a lot can be done
with the camera itself. Among the most interesting: shooting in infrared
instead of visible light, which can give beautiful, other-worldly
effects. While digital camera manufacturers usually try to get rid of
this effect, quite a few still have it if you know how to kick it in.
"Oddworld, Stranger's Wrath," from
Electronic Arts, $50, for Xbox only right now.
This is one of the most famous computer games of the last several
years. It is a very odd world indeed and many of the characters are well
known to fans of the game. "Stranger" is a bounty hunter taking down
Oddworld outlaws for fun and profit. The disk contains an hour of
animated Oddworld movies.
"CSI: Miami," from the French software house UbiSoft, $50 for the
PC. Copies the popular television show, using the same cast. You can
examine the clues along with the team and try to solve any of several
Copyright 2005, Universal Press