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Cut the high cost of using America Online, CompuServe

Jan. 7, 1996


AMy recent overview of the three major on-line services -- America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy -- failed to mention the fact that two of them can be accessed courtesy of your local Internet provider.

Many "newbies'' -- Net-speak for newcomers Ï get their first taste of on-line computing with one of these services. Why?

For starters, its the software is self-installing, and easy to use. All three services allow you to easily search -- and find -- information, a big plus when you want specific information. It's no fun to spend your money in cyberspace if you can't find what you're looking for.

On-line services' big drawback can be the cost. The services charge $9.95 for 10 hours of access each month, though each offers introductory free time when you sign up. But expect beyond that, to pay $2.95 for each additional hour you spend over the normal monthly time.

But the biggest cost is the long-distance toll charge. None of the three have a local telephone number for Hardin County. But there is a way to access both AOL and CompuServe without paying for a long-distance call.

Both services' software packages can be configured to use your Internet connection. Check the configuration screens once you have the software running, and look for a setting that will instruct the software to use TCP/IP, rather than dialing your modem.

Once the software is setup, save the settings, and go to your dialer software that your Internet provider has supplied. For PCs, this is probably Winsock; for the Mac, it can be MacTCP. Establish a connection with your Internet provider, and then start the AOL or CompuServe software.

If all the settings are correct, you be quickly connected. If you run into trouble, call the toll-free help lines provided by each service, and they'll walk you through the procedure.

BUDGET BACKTALK. One of the top print and broadcast news stories is the current budget crisis and partial government shutdown and its effects. Likewise, the shutdown is a hot topic on the Internet and specifically, the World-Wide Web.

In response to the shutdown, a Washington, D.C.-based Internet consulting firm, Business Information Network, has created "Shutdown '95," a Web home page to assist tourists coming to the city that may be stranded by the government shutdown.

The site offers a listing of museums and tourist attractions that have remained open during the shutdown, plus an opportunity to leave a message to voice your frustration.

GROWING AND GROWING. America Online and Compuserve recently have announced record numbers of subscribers to their services.

AOL claims 4.5 million subscribers, with its last quarter being its biggest yet for new subscribers.

CompuServe isn't far behind, claiming its membership just passed the 4 million member mark, with a goal of 5 million by next spring.

INTERNET VIA TV. A Japanese software company announced recently it has produced software that will enable TV viewers to access the Internet on TV screens with a special modem and a keyboard.

The new Net-capable TV sets could be available in 18 months. The software and additional hardware would add $200-$300 to the cost of a television set.

BOSNIALINK UPDATE. The Department of Defense's World-Wide Web site dedicated to information on Joint Endeavor, the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, has reportedly been very active since it began. The site began accepting e-mail messages to soldiers overseas on Dec. 18, and thousands of people have visited the site and sent holiday greetings and best wishes to the troops in Bosnia.

While messages to individual soldiers can't be sent from the site, the DoD has been distributing the messages to the troops through its various media outlets.

The BosniaLINK home page has public information on Joint Endeavor, including operation maps, fact sheets, news releases and even biographies of commanding personnel. Point your browser to http://www.dtic.dla.mil/bosnia/

HARDIN COUNTY ON THE NET. While local Internet access is relatively new to Hardin County, a number of businesses already have home pages on the rapidly expanding World-Wide Web, and that number is growing.

Do you have a home page on the Web? Send in the URL of your personal or business home page to the e-mail address below for use in a future column, or mail it to Jim Brooks, The News-Enterprise, 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

.Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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