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THE CUTTING EDGE / PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY | POSTCARD FROM
CYBERSPACE / TERRY SCHWADRON

Caught up in the Weird Wide Web--Fries, Frogs and All

June 02, 1997|TERRY SCHWADRON

Every once in a while, I like to visit the stranger sites available on the Web.

It's a chance to check on how people can stretch technological development through playfulness. And, of course, my adult, serious, business-oriented personality gets a chance to feel superior to the silly souls who are simply wasting their time. . . . Not.

And besides, people keep sending me recommendations about the sites that stopped them. Remember, it's important to listen to our readers. . . .

The Translators: Heard too many Web sites with ponderous pronouncements lately?

The remedy appears to be available at http://voyager.cns.ohiou.edu/~jrantane/menu/pig.html. What you run into is the ability to translate any page on the Web into pig Latin.

Ooolcay!

Of course, the speaker of the House may not appreciate what you're doing to his speech, but reading it in translation may make the remarks seem more sincere.

Actually, Yahoo lists a number of what are called filtering programs that will allow for translation of text or HTML-coded pages at http://www.yahoo.com/Entertainment/ Humor--Jokes--and--Fun/Computer--Humor/Filters/Web--Based

A similar favorite translation program available through http://www.metahtml.com/apps/zippy will spice a Bill Clinton State of the Union speech with piquant observations of comic strip character Zippy the Pinhead. Oh, no!

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A Whiff of Faux: It looks good, and I wanted badly to believe it. The site (http://www.realaroma.com) is called RealAroma, and what it purports to deliver is a means by which computer instructions could be organized and released to emit, yes, aromas.

Smell-o-vision would be available in a mix of basic chemicals, much as the primary colors can be combined to create paper on ink.

It's exactly why the exercise of looking at the absurd can prompt some thought about what might actually be possible.

I don't even want to speculate on what the possible commercial applications might ever be.

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Driveways of the Rich and Famous: Well, sure enough, this is the site where we as visitors can join host John Cunningham as he drives up to celebrity homes and other inaccessible places. We follow his exploits driving up to the home of a movie star--or employee of a movie star--and being denied entry into driveway after driveway.

"Meet the people who know stars best--gardeners, mailmen and next-door neighbors," he says before allowing entree to photos and transcripts of talks with Woody Allen's doorman, Regis Philbin's maintenance man, Madonna's exterminator.

He offers his palmcorder travels (http://www.driveways.com) as parody of the kind of exploits that actually do become popular. There is a recipe for Shelley Winters' Neighbor's Rum Cake. ("Now you can eat like the neighbor of a big star.")

The interview with the talking rock that serves as an intercom is a highlight.

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X-Like Files: Science-Cyber Fiction and Fact Ezine will certainly fit on the list of the bizarre, says author Art Bacon of San Fernando.

He has created a site in which an alien creature living on Earth provides an e-zine that includes an alien glossary and a downloadable telepathy game. There are guest author stories and an "Ask the Alien" interactive feature.

Try it. You never know when the spaceship might actually arrive (http://www.alienq.com).

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Food Thoughts: A site devoted to the French fry?

"Long considered the dietary equivalent of television, the much-maligned French fry has been the subject of continuous attack from doctors, dietitians and parents for decades," trumpets the site. "It is generally considered more a complementary food than a dish in its own right. . . ."

And so, there are pages devoted to the history of the French fry, queries from readers, information about how the French fry is treated around the world, facts about the food, a section on French fry machinery, government regulations and standards, and French fry art.

Some countries even have automatic French fry vending machines, according to the site.

You get the idea--a place to "ketchup" with a passion that only some could share. (http://www.select-ware.com/fries/index.html)

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E-I-E-I-O: Everywhere one turns, there are pet pictures, odd-to-weird animal pictures, even animal farms.

Cows are the feature at the Web cow page (http://makinwaves.com/cow.html) with portraits of cows, cow trivia, cow prices, cows from around the world, cow sounds and more.

There are links to the alt.cows.moo.moo.moo newsgroup, cow facts of the day, links to commercial cow pages--far, far more about cows than most of us would ever have need to know. I guess it is comforting just to know that it is there.

A particularly unclever site concerns cat food (http://www.neosoft.com/stealth/catfood). It advertises itself as offering information about The Other White Meat.

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