Web review

Mailsurf

www.mailsurf.com

Following in the footsteps of Hotmail by offering a free e-mail service, Mailsurf distinguishes itself by going a few steps further. Not only can you send e-mail, you can send it to an SMS-equipped mobile phone, a fax machine, or even get it printed out and sent through the post, for free. In addition, signing up gets you a file storage space, homepage, and discussion forum. For some reason, I couldn't see anything about a free set of steak knives with every purchase - but, considering the price, it sounds like a good deal anyway.

White Pages Directory Search

www.whitepages.com.au

The Internet has many advantages over paper as a source of information. It allows for fast searches of huge databases, and at its best it can deliver the right data more quickly than any other method. Unfortunately, the White Pages Directory Search site is so annoying that it makes a roomful of phone books look good.

The five flashing ads on the left of the page effectively distract your eye while you try to deal with the positively stupid search menu in the middle. Visit almost any search engine on the Web and you'll be able to type in your query and start a search with one click. Have the misfortune to be stuck with the White Pages interface, and you'll find yourself scratching your head as you try to work out whether the phone number you're after will be listed as "Capital City" or "Regional", or whether it's classified as a "Business/Government" or "Residential" number. If you don't guess right on all of the compulsory but completely unnecessary categories, you'll just have to start your search over, and keep on guessing until you get the right ones. This site seems designed to serve some sort of corporate agenda rather than its users.

Death Row Serial Killer Profile Test

www.editionnine.deathrowbook.com/noflash/nf_sertest.htm

If the White Pages site annoys you as much as it annoys me, you should probably visit this site afterwards . . . just in case.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisationwww.asio.gov.auNaturally, I checked out the Employ-ment section first. I was bitterly dis-appointed to learn from the helpful FAQ that ASIO staff are not issued with guns (or two-way radio wristphone laser bombs, either).

However, all is not lost: the section about Protective Security clearly indicates that at least some ASIO personnel get to sneak through cyclone fences and blow things up.

Hey guys, you need a computer journalist? I've got experience at destroying hardware and data like you wouldn't believe!eighty-eightyninewww.1980-89.comI was surprised to discover that some people don't want to forget the 1980s. In fact, whole Web sites have been created to commemorate the phenomena of a decade that's probably better off left in the past. Do we really need to be reminded about Duran Duran, leg warmers, Boy George and the greatest masturbation songs of the 1980s? If your answer is "yes", then eighty-eightynine is the place to be.

Online applications

www.thinkfree.com, www.onlinephotolab.com

Microsoft's .NET project proposes that your data and applications will no longer be bound to a single computer, but float freely about somewhere "out there" on the Net, accessible from any computer you happen to be on. You don't have to wait for Microsoft to deliver on its promise to see what that would be like - there are Web sites that let you do it already. These "application service providers" can give you a glimpse of the .NET future, with one significant difference - they're free.

ThinkFree promises users a suite of common business applications, such as a word processor and spreadsheet, which can be used from any computer with a modern Web browser that supports Java. Even though the use of Java permits the applications to run on any operating system, their files are compatible with Microsoft Office formats. The company also offers online storage of your files, so you can access and work on your documents from any Web-enabled computer, anywhere in the world - another promise of Microsoft .NET. However, I couldn't test the applications, because their server was down for maintenance during the review period. That's something to consider before jumping into the brave new world of online-everything . . .

Online Photo Lab is a less ambitious project which lets you store and distribute up to 50MB of digital pictures, as well as providing a powerful, wizard-driven online image editor. The service is free, though users are encouraged to contribute by sharing their pictures with others.

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