What do personalized street signs, ordering dinner online and traveling with a recreational vehicle have in common? I came across them all for this week's column.
Ever have fantasies about seeing your name followed by the word "boulevard" or "expressway"? If you're an average Joe like me, it's highly unlikely this will happen, since "they" generally don't hand out street names for showing up in the morning, doing your thing and then heading home for dinner. Well now you can have a moment of narcissistic indulgence with the excellent java-driven Sign Maker. It even renders the text in the real highway font. Who was Howard Frankland anyway?
Imagine, it's 7:30 p.m. and you're just too hooked into an online chat session or Huge File Download to drop the connection to call out for food. So you do what any self-respecting geek would do: You open up a browser to hunt for sustenance (remember, you're a geek and the cupboard is bare). Well, it was one of those ideas that seemed like a good idea at the time when I skidded over to CyberMeals because it doesn't offer anything in St. Petersburg _ yet. I did run through the demo and the premise is excellent: You get a restaurant's entire menu online, pick and choose the items you would like and then have them delivered to your house, error-free. Before you get going with the e-mail about being able to do this with the telephone: If I get one more screwed up takeout order and have to go to bed hungry because they sent over pickled pig's feet instead of crispy duck, I'm coming to your house for dinner.
There are two types of people: those who think an RV is the best thing since sliced bread and those whose idea of roughing it is having to stay at the Marriott when the Hyatt is full. No prizes for guessing which group of whiners I fit into. However, there is something mildly romantic and almost appealing about traversing this great country of ours on the ground instead of in the air and flitting from one place to another at one's leisure. So if I were to undertake such an adventure, I would better have a list of modem-friendly RV parks. With the help of this page, I could find such places. The travel anecdotes posted here deal with the human aspects of living on the road. If you've ever considered selling up and doing this, Bill and Fran's travel diary might give you some insight into your decision.
During some of my less controlled moments on this planet, I've eaten things that, in retrospect, were best left uneaten. Haggis is one of those things, as I found out what goes into it after I had wolfed down more than a wee bit. Armed with antacid, a keen eye on indiscretions past and a Web browser, the House of Scrapple has me prepared for my next trip to the culinary wasteland that is northern Pennsylvania. If your stomach is strong and you got a giggle out of April 20th's Bacon Worship page, you'll be in for a treat and an in-depth view as to how this "delicacy'" is created.
This site kicks off by stating "this is the standard for all things to come." High self-praise indeed! Forgive the full-frontal assault with the author's ego and take the time to download this Macromedia Flash (www.macromedia.com) laden site. Once you get into it, it's a very good example of what you can do with advanced content creation tools such as Flash. Earthy types will no doubt be put off by the robotic feel. Regardless of tastes, you'll have to admit the animation is pretty cool. If you're really impatient or your modem is connecting at anything less than top speed, you're probably better off skipping this one.
Jules Allen is director of interactive services for Best Software in St. Petersburg. Send suggestions by e-mail to techtimessptimes.com or P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.
_ Type in the addresses exactly as shown above. Not every Web address begins with "www" and sometimes that final "/" is crucial.