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Web site promotes family, hobby communication via e-mail


As families mature, it seems as though siblings only reunite for special occasions, weddings and funerals.

It was at one such occasion recently that a member of my wife's family thanked me for e-mail.

I wasn't sure just what I was being credited with doing, since I've never claimed credit for inventing much of anything, much less e-mail.

But it finally clicked when my wife's family member repeated a single two-syllable word: Juno.

Juno is the free e-mail company that startled the online world with their offer of free e-mail to anyone who signed up for the service.

Months ago, I had copied a Juno software disk and passed it along -- and the disk has been making the rounds from family to family.

One of the handiest applications of e-mail is the e-mail list.

An e-mail list basically is way of creating an e-mail conference. Each e-mail message contributed to the list by members is sent to all the other list participants automatically.

E-mail lists have nearly endless business, personal and hobby applications.

For example, I'm on a number of e-mail lists. A couple are related to technology; another covers the brand of tractor I own; and another covers news and information.

The latest e-mail list I've joined is one I created myself with the help of a a Web site, eGroups.com.

Calling itself "the successor of e-mail lists", eGroups.com offers a variety of options that older e-mail lists could not.

eGroups claims their system is "spam free," meaning you no unwanted commercial solicitations can get set to the list. And the list doesn't divulge the address of other recipients.

The feature that attracted me to eGroups.com was simplicity. In just a matter of minutes, I had created an eGroup list for myself and my siblings -- no complicated setup, no software to install.

The eGroup you create can be moderated. You can choose to have the e-mails sent in groups once a day, or individually -- or if your e-mail client supports HTML, you can see your e-mail as a Web page.

And if you want a private eGroup, that's fine too. You can create an "invitation-only" eGroup, or make it open to the public.

How can eGroup offer its services for free?

The company's services are advertiser supported: This means that there'll be an advertisement placed at the bottom of each e-mail you receive via eGroup.

For a small group of individuals, it may be easier to cut-and-paste their e-mail addresses and send e-mails out that way. But if you want to easily manage and create a list -- and not have to worry about losing or dropping anyone's e-mail address -- eGroup.com is worth a look.

For more information, visit eGroup on the Web at www.egroup.com.

ONLINE APPROVAL. If there's been a common thread among business reports about the Internet lately, its the rosy predictions that electronic commerce is "the next big thing."

Even "Consumer Reports" magazine is getting into the act.

The magazine's Web site (www.consumerreports.org) has given online shopping its seal of approval, and even offer a few shopping tips.

But just like the "real" world of brick-and-mortar stores, shopping means knowing a good price when you see one. Going online doesn't mean an automatic bargain.

The magazine sent out 30 shoppers on the Web to buy a plain white polo shirt. The prices they paid ran from $12 to $39.99.

The magazine suggests that new online shoppers stick to buying books or CDs from the larger vendors to get their feet wet, and make sure that all financial transactions are using secure server technology.

LEVI'S ONLINE. In an effort to bolster sales of its Levi's and Dockers brands of casual wear, Levi Strauss will unveil two sales outlets on the Web later this month.

Sales have slumped for the once-dominant jeans manufacturer as designer jeans have returned to popularity. The company announced it would halt production at seven U.S. factories during most of December and January.

Levi's is also allegedly negotiating with America Online to sell their products in the online service's shopping areas.

Look for ad banners promoting the new sites once they go online Nov. 23 on a search engine or Web portal near you.

WEB MAKEOVER. My newly renovated Web site is now online at www.myoldkentuckyhome.com. You won't find Levi's jeans on sale, but you'll always find the current week's Online column there, as well as archives for previous columns.

The archive is currently being updated, so check back often for the latest additions.

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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