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Fine-tune your trades with free real-time stock quotes


"What do you think the market will do next?"

That's certainly one of the most heard questions from people with money invested in the stock market -- and one with as many answers as there are people to ask.

Stock quotes became available online a number of years ago, and quickly became a standard item that any financial site carried.

However -- at least in the early days -- the stock quotes were always delayed at least 15 minutes. If you wanted up-to-the-minute quotes, you used a broker or knew someone with better connections.

And when real-time quotes became available online, they were normally at a fee-based financial site. After all, if you've got a tidy sum wrapped up in a stock and need data on its value "right now," up-to-date information could save your financial hide.

But now, a number of financial sites are offering real-time stock quotes at no charge -- if you can handle a few restrictions and limitations.

Freerealtime.com offers just that -- free, real-time quotes and news.

There's absolutely no few, however you'll have to register to obtain those free quotes -- and registration includes information on your demographic profile.

Freerealtime.com is advertising supported, so that information is used to aid the content providers in directing advertising that might interest you (in addition to the site's financial information).

Once registered, you get unlimited free quotes. No international information is available.

For details, visit the site at www.freerealtime.com.

• InfoSpace.com also offers free real-time quotes. Their all-in-one portal Web site has a link to "finance" information, and that's where you'll find the free quotes.

InfoSpace's real-time quotes also require you to register. Users are limited to 50 free quotes per day.

Visit InfoSpace at www.infospace.com.

• Stock Investor is a free financial newsletter distributed via e-mail.

The newsletter is sent out monthly, highlighting research or "buy" recommendations issued by an investment professional, brokerage house or stock analyst.

Subscribers also gain access to an unlimited number of free real-time stock quotes at the Web site.

I can't vouch for the newsletter's quality, but the quotes are plentiful and free -- and plenty of information to help you in making your own investment decisions.

Point your Web browser to www.stockinvestor.com for more details.

• The Thompson Investors Network offers Thompson Real Time Quotes (RTQ) at http://rtq.thomsoninvest.net.

Of all the sites, the Thomson one offers quick hits of what the markets are doing at the moment.

Five small charts indicate the activity on that particular exchange -- including the Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ, New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange -- with links to international charts, currency an other indices.

After-hours investors can get see the day's trading history, or check out a recap of the markets.

To get free real-time quotes, you'll have to register. Users are limited to 100 quotes per day, but overall, Thomson RTQ is a site jam-packed with meaty financial data.

• And finally, the Discover Wall Street Web site offers free real-time quotes to all who sign up for the service.

Discover Wall Street is a TV and radio program that airs across the country. To find out more about the programming and free, unlimited real-time quotes, visit their Web site at www.discoverwallstreet.com.

FANTASTIC PLASTIC. My mom and dad never used it much, but if there's one name brand that symbolizes smart use of plastics, it's Tupperware.

For many years, Tupperware has relied on the "party" system for distribution. The system has served them well -- and continues to do so.

But the folks at Tupperware have added a new way to buy that much needed bowl, tumbler or cake box -- via the Internet.

It's a great use of new technology -- and while it can't replace the socializing that makes a Tupperware party a success, it sure gives consumers quick access to that all-important catalog.

Tupperware's Web site offers a full line of merchandise, all featuring Tupperware's guarantee quality. If you're a fan of the company's products, this is one site you'll want to check out.

And if you're interested in a Tupperware party, the site has tools to help you plan one that'll be a real treat for your guests.

Visit the company's site at www.tupperware.com.

MICROSOFT Y2K HOAX. There's an e-mail message making the rounds related to making your Microsoft Windows operating system Y2k compliant.

The message warns that your copy of Windows 95/98/NT "will fail on January 1st unless you fix it now."

The "fix" involves going into the computer's Control Panel, selecting "Regional," and changing the way the computer displays the year.

The default is for a two-digit year. The message instructs you to change the setting to show a four-digit year. Doing so will make your copy of Microsoft Windows 95, 98 or NT Y2k compliant, according to the message.

A posting dated August 11, 1999, on Microsoft's Web site points out that "the steps are not required actions and do not have to be performed in order to obtain compliance."

The date setting -- two digit versus four digit -- is for display purposes only, and it has no effect on how the computer's brain processes dates.

According to Microsoft, dates in Windows are stored and processed in a four-digit format regardless of this setting.

For the full press release, visit Microsoft's Web site at www.microsoft.com/y2k/hoax/y2khoax.htm.

FREE ACCESS. As reported several weeks ago in this column, Internet search engine/portal AltaVista has started offering free dial-up Internet access.

The required software can be downloaded from the Web site -- www.altavista.com.

Users of the free service will have a small window containing ads that will be visible any time the user is online. The ad window takes up less than 5 percent of the desktop area.

AltaVista currently is the 10th most-visited Web site, and the company's plan is to attract greater numbers of visitors with free Internet access.

AltaVista's service also offers user to navigate the Web through a small window -- a "MicroPortal" -- that can remain open on a desktop while the user continues other activities on a computer.

The MicroPortal can be configured to display news, weather or other information, and will contain a certain number of ads.

For more information, visit AltaVista on the Web at www.altavista.com.

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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