Bob and Joy Schwabach
 

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May 2008, Week 4   

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TINY WEB SITES

Webcards  lets you create small web sites, about the size of large index cards, for businesses that don’t have the time or money to build and maintain their own. Just fill in a form and it’s done. 

The cards, which we thought looked quite good, are $9.50 a month. You can create  a free card  without giving out a credit card but it will only be posted for 24 hours. Each card can have tabs for videos, discussion groups, reviews, "On Computers" webcard photo galleries, product announcements, etc.  Click on “coupons” or “contact forms” to add these items as tabs. The card can be posted to the web and/or emailed.       

You can create a card with just a few clicks. And here’s the kicker, as they say: The card will turn up in a Google search, just like anybody else’s web site. That’s because each card is given its own web address. Your small business, or your individual profile if you’d like to do one, will come up in any web search. 

For an additional charge, cards can be used as ads on other sites, including Woman's Club of Evanston webcardphone directories and social networking sites. Any changes made to your card are instantly updated across all the websites that have them. Even though this service is brand new we already saw a web card at the big real estate site, Trulia.com. 

They’re easy to update, which is normally a problem for small business owners. (In fact it must be too much trouble even for big businesses, because we have frequently reviewed products which, while new, and readily available for sale at retailers, were not listed on the maker’s own web site.) With a simple index card site, new product listings would be a cinch, even for small changes; restaurants, for example, could show the changes for the day’s menu.  

Fold a Protein for the Future  

FoldIt (at http://Fold.It ) is a game designed to teach you how to fold proteins. While it’s designed as a game, the purpose is serious. Finding the correct protein configuration offers solutions for curing many diseases. TheFold.Itright protein can lock onto molecules and viruses that are causing the problem, enabling them to be removed. Think of it as fitting the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, which in the case of proteins involves hundreds of thousands of pieces. 

FoldIt starts with three-dimensional models of known proteins and asks you to try to twist them into the optimum shape for attaching to other molecules. This may sound like a job  for cellular biologists but because it’s designed as a game, you can get pretty good at it in about 15 minutes. Joy was soon folding proteins as if they had just come out of the drier, eventually refining one that had more than 8,000 possible shapes.  

The program was developed by two graduate students at the University of Washington and David Baker, the biochemist in charge of the University’s Baker Labs. Baker says his 13-year-old son is already better at determining protein shapes than he is, and in some ways, better than an army of computers. Baker has developed a project called Rosetta@Home that taps into idle PCs to calculate all possible protein shapes.  We joined a similar network a couple years ago called the “WorldCommunityGrid.org .”  

There are 200,000 volunteers in the Rostta@home project, but so far, they haven't been enough. The mathematical problem is so huge that all the computers in the world could take centuries to solve it. “People, who have intuition, might be able to home in on the right answer much more quickly, “ Baker says. 

FoldIt.com is funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Intel, Adobe, Microsoft, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Nvidia. 

Internuts 

  • WellSphere.com  is a good place to get nutritional information and calorie counts on restaurant meals. Many restaurants today are part of a Wellsphere.comchain and serve standardized meals from a semi-permanent menu. The web site provides suggestions for alternative meals at these restaurants. You can look up this information on the web or get it by phone. That can be help you decide what to order while you’re sitting in the restaurant.
  • HGTV.com offers home improvement calculators which provide you with cost estimates for various remodeling jobs. These vary by location,HGTV of course. HGTV, by the way, stands for Home and Garden TV, and is a regular cable channel. Search on “calculator.”
  • PimpMySearch.com  lets you create a customized Google search page. Instead of the screen being headed Pimp My Searchwith “Google,” for example, it can look like “My Search Engine” or “The Kids’ Homework Tool.” Trivial, but amusing.
 

The Numbers Report 

  • According to Symantec Corp., 80 percent of all email in April was spam. The figure peaked at 87 percent at one point during the month. The web site Spamhaus.org, on the other hand, estimates that 90 percent of all email is spam. This past April marks the 30th anniversary of the first spam, which was sent by an employee at the since defunct Digital Equipment Corporation.
  • Electronic games and game machine purchases are the fastest growing area of web commerce. In fact, the growth is more than triple the rate for the next highest category: sports and fitness equipment.
 

 


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