GuruNet: Your personal information Guru is a mouse click away


The first thing I bought after installing my first CD ROM drive in my old 10 MHz IBM XT-compatible clone computer was an encyclopedia on CD.

For someone who grew up fortunate enough to have a set of World Book encyclopedias, the simple fact that all that data -- all four feet of shelf space -- could fit on a single CD ROM was mind-boggling.

In the years since, we've seen informaton explode onto CD and now the World Wide Web.

The handiest little infotool I've discovered comes from an appropriately named Web site called GuruNet.

Why GuruNet?

GuruNet bills itself as "your new Instant Expert" -- and on my test drive of the program, I wasn't disappoitned with the results.

GuruNet is a one-stop information source, combining the resources of an encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus and more.

Using GuruNet is simple: While running a program -- not necessarily a Web browser -- you hold downt he "ALT" key and left-click ont he world or phrase in question.

In seconds, a GuruNet window opens and the definition of the word or phrase is displayed.

And while GuruNet requires that your computer be connected to the Internet, it's important to realize that is capabilities go far beyond your favorite Web browser. GuruNet works in any program on your computer -- just point on the phrase or word and ALT-click it.

GuruNet isn't just definitions and useage, but also biographies, area codes, business profiles and stock quotes and charts. And with GuruNet's quick partnerships with a growing number of info sources, it's easy to see that this neat info tool could quickly become even more useful.

Signing up for GuruNet is simple and fast. After collecting some initial sign-up data, users download and install the small GuruNet program. With that completed, GuruNet lays dormant, ready to spring into action with the simple "Alt-click" of your mouse.

Like good software should, GuruNet stays out of your way until you need it.

Other than a short splash screen that shows up on your screen for a moment when your computer boots up, you'll never know GuruNet is running -- not until you need it. In fact, I've had to remind myself that I've installed it so I'll remember to quit searching for a dictionary

Unfortunately for the Mac -- and iMac -- faithful, GuruNet is currently available only for Windows 95/98/2000/NT PCs.

GuruNet is a complete product, but it is still considered a "beta" release, which means it'll continue to evolve and improve.

For more information on GuruNet, visit their Web site at

GET FIDGET? If you've been online a while, chances are you've signed up for one or more e-mail newsletters at one time or another.

At one point, I was overloaded with daily and weekly e-mail dispatches, and spent more time cleaning out my e-mail box than actually enjoying anything I was receiving.

As a lot of people eventually do, I unsubscribed to everything in frustration.

Enter offers a comprehensive list of e-mail newsletters -- or "eNewsletters," to use their term -- that are free for the asking. promises these eNewsletters are worth your time.

The Fidget directory contains more than 600 eNewsletters that have been categorized and reviewed to ensure that the content you receive is from reputable sources.

And the topics aren't just computer-related -- they range from parenting issues to finance and investing, from women's health to arts and crafts. also offers:

a selection of its own exclusive eNewsletters written by its own expert columnists;

lists of what the "digerati" are reading on and offline;

Widgets: A guide to Web-related tools and gadgets;

Fidget Sweepstakes: A monthly giveaway package.

It's a great stop if you're looking for information

GOING ONLINE. Actress-screenwriter Carrie Fisher, best known for her role portraying Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie trilogy, will be taking her talents to the Web next month.

Fisher won't be acting, but writing advice columns -- for the Digital Entertainment Network's Web site at

One column will be targeting 14-to-24-year-olds, with topics ranging from auto repairs to sex, drugs and rock 'n roll music.

Fisher considers herself as "obsessed" with the Internet, and will draw from her love of Web surfing for her second column, tentatively titled "Postcards from the 'Net."

Fisher will be posting her recommendations for Web sites and destinations online.

Digital Entertainment has been working to attract big-name talent to provide content for the site.

Fisher admitted in an interview that while she isn't in the age range the site targets, she has problems similar to those facing teens.

“Even though I’m not in the same age group that DEN targets, I pride myself on being incredibly immature, having only recently just recovered from drug addiction," she said in an interview with Variety.

"I have all the same problems teenagers do with skin, parents,career, dating — or not dating, as the case may be.”

"This is very interactive, and that’s what I like about the Internet."

DIFF'RENT VALUES. Charity begins at home, the adage goes. And for former child star Gary Coleman, charity begins with his own bank account.

The charity, Save Me, was started by UGO Networks, a New York entertainment Web site, and aims to provide Coleman some financial support when he needs it most.

Coleman declared bankruptcy in August and is currently unemployed.

Going up for auction in the fund-raiser are an array of Coleman's personal items: a purple bowling ball, size 4 1/2 bowling shoes, a sofa, a spatula and more.

Save Me is also selling stickers, t-shirts and a commemorative plate of Coleman and Nancy Reagan.

The ex-star of "Diff'rent Strokes" agreed to cooperate because "they liked me as a person first and a celebrity second," Coleman told USA Today. "I just want to be able to pay my rent, electricity, car insurance and water bill."

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