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All free (for now)

www.NewsIsFree.com/

Let me introduce you to my newest startup page. It's one of those deep joyous experiences that will have you partying like it's 1998, the height of the dot-com madness. Yes, it's a no-cost, must-have service that will have you lusting after the free Web of yore. Basically it takes new summaries from oodles of well-known and not-so-well-known Web sites and lists them in one place. So you can get all the news that's fit to link from the New York Times, the BBC and odd places such as 802.11b News and Scripting.com. I'm not sure if ads are in the future for this site, but it's taking donations via PayPal.

Hey, Bill, can you spare a dime?

www.PetitionOnline.com/ raingate/petition.html

Okay, so this site is asking Microsoft's Bill Gates for more than a dime. It wants a huge chunk of his multibillion-dollar fortune. Come on, Bill, you know deep in your heart you don't stay up at night wondering about Mac OS X, IBM, Linux, Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems or the Department of Justice. They're mere distractions. You could shake out your pocketbook and save the rain forests! Just think how much of a splash that would make vs. having to watch Steve Ballmer prance around on stage like the missing link and begging a star-struck audience to "give it up" for him.

I pray my firewall to keep

www.Catholic.org/isidore/

Whatever your faith, maybe even if you are an atheist, you might find this site as interesting as a Catholic might. Personally I'm fascinated by all religious history because the bulk of the messages are similar across all faiths. If that doesn't encourage tolerance and have you thinking out of the box, who knows what will? St. Isidore of Seville is the proposed patron saint of Internet users. Being a saint ran in the family; his brother was St. Fulgentius and his sister, Florentina, was a nun. But, save his prolific writing ability, I can't really make the connection between this person and being wired. Drop me a line, I'm willing to learn.

The Web is alive with the sounds of ...

www.ModifyMe.com/

Usually I bump up against interesting eye candy all the time. Unless it's stunning or outlandish (in a family friendly way), you don't get to see it. But getting excited by an interactive work that's primarily aural is new territory for me. Oh sure, my iPod is rarely out of reach, but creating a sound is a skill I've never really developed. Hey, at least I can dance. This site gives you about as much creative range as your average Fisher-Price toy. But if you'd like to pretend you're a skillful musician, click around and see what you can come up with.

Big Blue's OS/2 blues

www.LinuxAndMain.com/features /os2retro.html

If your first computer had Windows 98 on it (and maybe still has Windows 98 on it), there's a whole chapter of computer history you missed just a few years before. This well-documented account of how IBM repeatedly fumbled an operating system called OS/2 makes for riveting reading. Like other products of the past, such as Betamax and rotary engines, having a better technology doesn't mean you're going to win the race. It's something for the Linux folks to consider.

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