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Windows, schmindows

Recently, I've looked at sites that almost exclusively require Windows to get the most out of them. It wasn't an intentional poke in the eye for users of other operating systems; it just happened that way. Today, revel with me in non-Windows-specific Web cruising. If there's no column next week. you'll know that I took an assisted walk off a short stack of unsold copies of Bob (www.btam.com.tr/catalog/products/Bob/).

www.deal-mac.com/

If you're in the market for some new Mac-friendly hardware or you're just shopping prices, Deal Mac is an excellent stop. It doesn't sell anything and, although it carries advertising, it seems to be quite an unbiased lot. The search function is powerful, and I experimented searching for several PC-only devices that should be available on a Mac but are not. It found them and I was surprised by the lack of moaning about this and some suggestions on how to skate around the problem. You Mac users are an amicable bunch, aren't you? (Do not type the address without the hyphen! Especially if you're at work and your Internet usage is monitored. Without the hyphen you get a porn site. Gulp. I hope I can keep my job.)

www.slashdot.org/

I've been debating the inclusion of this site for months, and I finally have an excuse and a relevant column in which to drop it. Slashdot is one of my daily haunts and bills itself as "News for Nerds." It's not fibbing, either. It deals mostly with media darling du jour Linux, a totally free Unixlike operating system. It includes a lot of links to geek toy news, geek humor and things that entertain the pocket protector set. The real power of this site is the user feedback. You can comment on every story, and I've strapped on my asbestos underwear and joined in on a few occasions. Birds of a feather, with flamethrowers.

electriclichen.com/linux/srom.html

Does your computer platform rule? Or does it suck? This one tickled my giggle meter almost as much as the language meter at the Perl Journal's site (www.tpj.com/tpj/rules/). Apparently somebody with too much free time used that time to write a program that scans the search engines for occurrences of phrases like "Windows sucks" and "Mac OS rules." This program then tabulates them and keeps track of what's naughty and what's nice. As we all know from search engine usage, what you're looking for and what you actually get can be completely different animals, so take this with a pound or so of salt.

sunsite.unc.edu/pub/micro/ pc-stuff/freedos/

Operating systems like Linux smell and taste like Unix but they're not actually Unix at all. Unix is copyrighted and you have to pay money if you want to use it. With that in mind, MS-DOS is an operating system that is copyrighted by Microsoft. If you want to use it, you have to pay money, too. Fair enough. But if you want a clone of MS-DOS and don't want to pay Microsoft a bean, keep an eye on the FreeDOS project. Its goal is to create a 100 percent-compatible version of DOS that doesn't use any Microsoft code at all, which means you would owe Microsoft diddly. This project is still in the beta stage, which means that it may crash and do weird things to your machine. But I seriously love the concept of a free DOS-like operating system _ notably for schools and other places short on cash that still have a need.

www.vcnet.com/bms/

You think I'm bad with this Microsoft-free thing? You haven't seen anything yet. The Boycott Micro$oft site gives you all the ammo you would ever need to bash Microsoft over dinner. How trendy. The Whole Microsoft Catalog section lists the mind-ware and companies that Microsoft has assimilated over the years. If you've been in the computer industry for a while, it makes very interesting reading. What's different about this site is it's well thought out, too: Nice to look at in a conservative way and doesn't sound like a raving nut case who authored an anti-MS site. Ralph Nader would be very pleased.

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