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Never wonder again about 'How Stuff Works'


As the father of a very curious six-year-old daughter, I'm frequently asked questions touching on any number of subjects.

It's all a part of being a parent, and a normal part of a child's growth and development.

The hard part is coming up with the right answer for every question.

In the case with my daughter, that chore became easier once I discovered the "How Stuff Works" Web site, found online at http://howstuffworks.com.

It's undoubtedly one of the best sources for quick information on how things that you see and use everyday actually work.

The list is extensive -- and continues to grow, including appliances, home electronics, mechanical devices (engines and related devices), computers, biological organisms, your body, all things automotive, and much, much more.

One of the neatest aspects of the "How Things Work" is the way the site ties its answers to current events.

Recent "How Stuff Works" entries that were related to current events include "How NATO Works," "How the Year 2000 Problem Works," and "How Election Campaigns Work."

What sets the site apart from most sources of information is the clarity with which the information is presented -- every explanation is very clear and concise, and avoids the use of jargon.

"How Stuff Works" is the brainchild of a man named Marshall Brain, a former educator at North Caroline State University.

And for those of you who have for years used the lubricant WD-40 and wondered just what it meant, "How Stuff Works" has the answer.

I've found the extremely useful and just a lot of fun to browse. You may not win a trivia contest after visiting "How Stuff Works," but I guarantee you'll leave the site with some new fact or figures you never knew.

Visit "How Stuff Works" at http://howstuffworks.com.

HOAX BUSTER. If regular readers of this column believe I'm devoting more space to debunking e-mail hoaxes, it's true.

E-mail hoaxes waste not only your personal time and e-mail space, but they clog precious Internet bandwidth and company e-mail servers with bogus information.

Here's another handy Web site that's frequently updated by a guy who works hard to debunk hoaxes, and it's one you may want to keep handy in your Bookmarks or Favorite Sites.

The Computer Virus Myths site has a lot of useful information that will let you quickly check to determine if that e-mail you received at work is legitimate or yet another hoax, destined for your desktop trash bin.

The site is the brainchild of Rob Rosenberger, an internationally recognized expert on computer virus myths and hoaxes. He has co-authored or served as consultant on a wide variety of books and articles about Internet viruses and hoaxes.

If you've gotten e-mail about a new computer virus, you might want to visit Rob's site and check for yourself. Visit the Computer Virus Myths site at http://kumite.com/myths/.

WOMEN MAKING A MARK. If a new recently released study is any indicator, women will make a major economic impact in e-commerce this holiday shopping season.

The Harris Interactive survey predicts the number of women who will shop online this holidays season will jump to almost six times the number who shopped online last year.

Male shoppers have outnumbered female shoppers online, but the Harris survey is correct, then this year could mean the end of what's called the 'gender gap' for electronic commerce.

The poll of 5,802 online users also indicated that the greatest obstacle to making a purchase online continues to be security concerns about transmitting credit card information via the Internet.

Overall, roughly one-third of users surveyed said they will make at least one purchase online over the holidays. That compares to 8.3 percent of the online population that shopped online during the 1998 shopping season.

WIN2000 UPDATE. The next update to the Windows 95/98 operating system, dubbed Windows 2000, should be available by the end of this year, according to Microsoft Corp. Chairman and CEO Bill Gates.

Computer manufacturers should be selling Windows 2000-equipped PCs by year's end, Gates said in a conference with Dell Computer Corp. managers.

The new operating system is aimed at the small business and corporate level user, and includes features from Windows 98 that are incorporated with the power of the Windows NT platform.

Two versions, Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server, will be released.

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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