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A funny thing happened

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
 

Simple gray rule


A funny thing happened on the way to the browser
 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1996, The Syracuse Newspapers

A friend passed along a list of fake Windows help screens she got from America Online—my favorite being "For more help, press Control-Alt-Delete"—and I was immediately reminded of a book I had started reading. It's one of the funniest cyberworld publications I've ever seen.

It's "America Off-Line" by A.J. Jacobs (Cader Books; $8.95). I'm not sure if I should ruin the plot, if I could call it that, by telling you what this book is about, so I'll try not to give it away.

"America Off-Line" is a how-to book for everyone who is tired of the typical wired-to-the-rest-of-creation book that touts the Net and cyberlife in general. It tells you some amazing things—where to find thousands of newspapers and magazines without paying a cent for the dialup connection, how to handle your finances without needing to look even once at the Quicken manual, where to find chat sites that offer much faster conversation that the ones you're probably used to, even how to use a device that attaches to your phone line just like your modem does but works without the need for software. (Whew!)

Some of this sounds amazing, and it is. You'll just have to read the book.

If you can't find it in a book store, ask the store to order some copies. The ISBN number is 0-8362-2433-7.

If you're designing your own Web pages, as millions of Web users are doing these days, you should drop by the site set up by the Web Consortium and look at its HTML help guide. It's at http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Provider/Style/Overview.html. Another good site for page guidelines is http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/StyleManual_Top.html. A thought-provoking site dedicated to keeping Web pages fast and sleek is the one hosted by the Bandwidth Conservation Society, at http://www.infohiway.com/faster/.

For years I've subscribed to an unusual Japanese magazine called "Look Japan." It covers Japanese politics, economics, trade, technology and even humor in a perspective that's almost unique—a view of Japan (in English) that never assumes the reader is either Japanese or Asian, but always assumes the reader cares what is happening there. Now it's on the Web at http://www.lookjapan.com. Check it out.


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