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Browser add-on lets you surf in the Express lane


One of the first things you usually hear newcomers to the Internet talk about is the vast amount of information you find online.

Usually the second thing you'll hear is how difficult it can be to find exactly the information you're looking for.

The Web is an ever-growing resource, there's no denying that. And despite the also-growing number of search engines, finding relevant information can be an elusive task -- for newcomers and old-timers alike.

Anyone who offers a product or tool that improves my Web surfing is in line for Jim's Gold Star -- along with my undying gratitude.

I haven't given out many Gold Stars lately -- but that may change.

The folks at Infoseek, the search engine, have released a search tool called Express that is one of the best helper applications I've run across yet.

Express isn't a new search engine. It's a small program you download and install that works with your Web browser.

In fact, Express actually becomes a part of your Web browser.

Once you install it, Express adds a button and a pull-down menu to your Web browser, right next to the browser's address window that shows the Internet address (or URL) of the site you are viewing.

Click on the Express button, and the browser window opens to the Express interface, which gives access to multiple search and information sources.

Under the Web Search category, you can search for a term or phrase, and Express will poll a list of search engines for you automatically, and then rank the relevance of the results for you.

You can use a single search engine or half a dozen -- it's your choice.

And Express also gives you access to other types of information sources beyond the usual search engine.

You can do easy searches for online telephone directories (both white and yellow pages listings), e-mail directories, driving directions, street maps, television listings, movie listings, movie reviews, online games, news, weather and sports and more.

And if after your search you want to view several different Web pages, Express will allow you to preselect which ones, and it will download those pages in the background while you're reading the first one. Nice touch!

For more details, visit Infoseek's Express Web site at http://express.infoseek.com/.

MCI DSL ROLLOUT. MCI WorldCom made good use of the Comdex/Fall '98 computer industry trade show to announce their rollout of DSL service in selected cities beginning by year's end.

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, service gives Internet users speeds many times faster than the existing analog modems.

The service will be offered in more than 400 points-of-presence (POPs) at first, with 600 by March and 1,000 POPs total by the end of 1999.

MCI will be offering packages aimed at both corporate and home users.

The first cities to have the service are the large metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, San Diego, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Pricing for corporate customers will begin at $500 per month, while home users will pay a rate in the $40 to $60 range. Equipment charges will add to the cost as well.

For more information, visit MCI Worldcom's Web site at www.mci.com.

AMD CHIP ALERT. Users of AMD K6-2 chips running at 350 MHz or faster were warned this week of an intermittent problem that occurs when running the Windows 95 operating system.

The computer may return an error message when booting, according to a notice posted on AMD's Web site. The error usually involves a Windows protection error, and requires restarting the computer.

The error occurs only with AMD K6-2 systems running Windows 95 OSR2, OSR2.1 or OSR2.5.

The error is attributed to a software timing loop in Windows 95. The problem doesn't occur in Windows 98 or Windows NT systems, so one fix is to upgrade the operating systems.

Another fix is available directly from Microsoft. Try their Web site (www.microsoft.com) or AMD's Web site (www.amd.com) for details.

AOL SHIFT? Internet stocks appear to be the darling of Wall Street, and a pair of the street's top gainers are rumored to be close to cutting a deal.

The nation's top Internet provider, America Online, and Netscape Communications were said to be in talks that could replace Microsoft Internet Explorer with Netscape Navigator as the browser of choice for AOL.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the talks were ongoing, but noted that AOL continues to be pleased to be a partner of Microsoft.

Internet Explorer was named AOL's Web browser in 1996.

The browser deal included Microsoft's promise to include AOL's access software in its Windows 95 package.

AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case credits the deal with Microsoft as crucial to the phenomenal growth the service has undergone in the past two years.

SYQUEST FILES. SyQuest Technology filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, and announced it had agreed to sell "substantial assets."

The assets include its patents, manufacturing equipment, finished goods and inventory for existing products. The buyer was not disclosed.

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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