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Hot on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on February 2, 2001
(Issue 1905, Accessing the Internet)

Mail box is getting full again; time to find out what's really happening on the 'Net ...

Mary Krimmel, who has a pleasant habit of sending along truly useful links, dropped a line letting me know about As Mary writes: "They invite everyone in the world to draw a self-portrait or other self-expression. They show every drawing submitted; it's easy to draw and click "send". So far I think they have over half a million." Mary does warn that the philosophy of the site's sponsors is to urge limits on population growth, but adds, "Their social message is subtle, tactful, easy to avoid and entirely inoffensive."

Proteus Internet Search

Duncan S. Williams, academic director at the Navy College Learning Center at the 32nd Street Naval base, sent along a link to the above. It's not a meta-search, but instead is a master set of links to all the major search engines – or at least two dozen of them. There's also a fairly in-depth Web guide linked off the bottom of the page. Both are pretty useful sites worth a bookmark if you do a lot of research online.

With the senior set among the fastest-growing segments of the online community, it's no surprise at all to find more and more Web sites targeting this demographic. is a fairly comprehensive guide to life in the slow lane – think of it as a Yahoo for AARP members. It's well-organized, has a clean, accessible layout, and is full of good links and information.


Wondering where to go to buy the best surplus HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) equipment? Well, wonder no more – PlanetHVAC is here.

Okay, it's easy – and a guilty sort of pleasure – to make fun of highly specialized fields like commercial air conditioning repair. But the existence of PlanetHVAC is evidence of the sort of wide-ranging impact the Ineternet is having across the board. While it might be difficult for a air-conditioning parts depot to survive in all but the biggest cities, on the Web, your customers can find you anywhere.

PlanetHVAC isn't a dealer but a broker, providing a meeting ground for buyers and sellers of an admittedly esoteric line of industrial goods. I'm no expert in this sort of thing (can't even afford air conditioning in my apartment), but it seems a good place to at least try to find parts for an older or obscure bit of equipment you might hope to fix rather than replace.

Robert Posadas asked me to review his – and I would have, except that it caused both Netscape 4.76 and Internet Explorer 5.0 to crash in Windows; in fact, IE crashed so hard I had to re-boot the system. After reboot, I tried again. Not sure what's causing the problem – there is a plugin needed to watch the video, but it shouldn't cause the browser to crash. The page started to load on my Linux box (using Netscape 4.75), but I don't have a sound card in that system and the RealVideo player refused to budge without one.

But I was able to at least browse around the site via the Linux system a bit; for $95 a year, you get up to 30 minutes of video hosted. Which is a good price, but since the site uses frames, you can't link directly to your own page – it would be a better bargain if you were able to have an actual address you could get to. (Of course, you could cheat, and link to the frame your page is in, but I imagine that violates the terms and conditions in some way.)

Anyway, it's a site with some potential, still a bit raw, and pretty empty right now.

So ... we'll re-visit at another time when hopefully our computer woes will allow us to go forward more completely.