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Internet sites offer answers to all your questions


The Internet has earned a well-earned reputation as a repository of vast amounts of knowledge covering a nearly endless number of subjects.

One of the most common questions I hear from newcomers is how to best find that tidbit of information they seek.

There are a multitude of search engines and Web directories that make excellent starting points.

• One of my favorite starting points is Ask Jeeves, at www.ask.com.

The beauty of Ask Jeeves is its simplicity. Simply type in your questions in plain English. The site's search engine then checks its database and provides answers, including links to information found via automated queries at other search engines.

In most cases, I've found what I was looking for in short order.

• There's a new source that I began using recently that answers the age-old question of "how?": How do I treat a bloody nose? How do I remove candle wax from a carpet? The list of possibilities is only as limited as your needs.

The site is www.eHow.com, and its purpose is to quickly give you the "how-to" information that you usually must search around numerous Web sites to find.

When you visit www.eHow.com, the information you'll find here is straight-forward and to the point and written by professionals in that particular field.

To test eHow.com's capabilities, I searched for an answer to "How to prepare for back surgery?"

The eHow.com database had several related "how-to" articles, including "How to prepare for Herniated Disk Surgery" and others related to back pain relief and back exercises.

In addition to the database of "how-to" articles, eHow.com also offers relevant links to other Web sites that might also contain content you would find interesting.

For a quick take on that home or office "how-to", you might find what you're looking for at eHow.com.

• I've visited portions of this site before without realizing it, but the massive About.com site offers human experts, or "guides" who share their field of knowledge with visitors.

While searching for some data on Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, I visited an About.com content area hosted by Jim Zwick.

About.com chooses experts to serve as "guides," and Zwick is no exception. Zwick is an American Studies scholar, and has edited and authored a long list of Twain-related manuscripts and journals. He knows his Twain.

And Zwick isn't alone as one of About.com's experts -- the site boasts more than 650 guides who offer their knowledge and guidance on topics as diverse as agriculture to parenting issues.

Visit www.about.com today for more information.

ROTTEN APPLE? Computer maker Apple Computers seems to be a victim of their own success these days.

The company's earnings report recently earned accolades from Wall Street analysts, but brought on catcalls from some customers.

Apple's quarterly earnings beat analysts' estimates, which was the good news for investors.

The bad news for users is that Apple hasn't been able to get enough chips from its supplier (Motorola) to wipe out a $700 million backlog in orders for the new G4 computer. And in a move to please investors, Apple announced it would resolve the backlog by substituting slightly slower computer processor chips in some models.

The 500-MHz G4, for example, may ship with a 450MHz Motorola computer chip.

Apple only sold 64,000 G4s in the past quarter, which was half of what was expected.

The chip substitution is aimed at keeping the computers moving out the door and keeping sales -- and buyer interest -- alive.

The downside that has buyers in an uproar is that so far, Apple says it won't lower the price of the G4 computers with slower processor chips.

Why no price drop?

Computer memory prices are rising, and making up any difference that Apple would see in lower chip costs, the company said.

And if you want a "real" 500-MHz G4, you'll have to wait until sometime early next year, according to Apple.

One bright point is the IBM is now licensed to manufacture Motorola's G4 chips, so that should increase supply significantly next year.

For more Apple news, visit the company's Web site at www.apple.com.

iMAC WANNABE? Gateway has introduced its value-priced Gateway Astro model that retails for $799 and bears some resemblance -- in form and function -- to the Apple iMac.

Like the iMac, Gateway's Astro is an all-in-one sort of computer. The keyboard and mouse are separate. Plug in four cords and you're ready to go online.

The case is the usual "computer beige," and avoids the candy-colored cases that are trademarks of the iMac.

The Astro is equipped with a 400MHz Intel Celeron processor, 4.3 GB hard drive, 64 Megs of SDRAM, a 56k v90 modem, a CD ROM -- and something you won't find on an iMac -- a floppy disk drive. An Iomega Zip drive is an option.

Will it cut into the hip and trendy iMac's sales turf? Time will tell. But judging on eye appeal alone, the iMac wins this contest hands down.

Take a peek at the Gateway Astro at the company's Web site, www.gateway.com and click on the link for "desktop" computer systems.

INTERNET EVERYWHERE. 3Com has entered into a deal with Nokia to put its popular Palm handheld computer operating system in mobile telephones.

This would open up a whole new line of usefulness for phones, but not an unnatural extension of both devices (though it might be difficult to take notes while you're talking on your Palm/Nokia phone).

And America Online, the nation's largest Internet provider, recently agreed to develop its Instant Messenger software for use in Motorola's Timeport smart phones.

Using the Internet, phone users could send and receive text Instant Messages to other Internet users.

At the rate that science fiction is become reality, Dick Tracey's 2-way wrist TV can't be far off.

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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