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ONCE, CYBERSPACE WAS A refreshing break from the physical world. But junk mail, that annoying reality of paper communication, increasingly intrudes. On the World Wide Web, junk E-mail is beginning to become an unwelcome fact of life for many Net surfers. Yet there may be a way to satisfy online mass marketers and still protect consumers from being inundated with junk E-mail.

Maritz Inc., a marketing company that specializes in incentive programs, started a Web site called Goldmail ( at the beginning of June. The site hopes to attract Web surfers to its ads with an awards program. It works like this: After registering with Goldmail, visitors are asked to fill out a short profile, including their real name and home address. The Web site will then give them a special E-mail box that Maritz fills with ads from vendors. For each piece of E-mail members open, Maritz will award them "points" good toward merchandise or gift certificates. If members take further action--say, clicking onto an advertiser's Web site through the ad--they get additional points. Maritz, based in Fenton, Mo., says it will not give a member's personal information to advertisers but will share general demographics with its advertisers.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top


ONE OF THE GREATEST things about E-mail is that you can pick up your digital letters at any time, as long as you have a computer and telephone line handy. Now, CompuServe Inc. has a way to get at your electronic "in" box with just a phone--no computer necessary.

The No.2 online information service has just launched its CompuServe Communications Card. The plastic card allows callers to place discounted longdistance calls over a network operated by Atlanta-based Premiere Technologies Inc. More important, through a special personal identification number, the card gives holders access to their electronic mailboxes on the CompuServe network. Callers can have CompuServe's computer read their E-mail to them over the telephone using textto-speech software, send back canned responses such as "message received," and forward messages to a fax machine for printing.

CompuServe subscribers aren't charged any additional monthly fees for the service except for Premiere's calling-card rates--about 25 cents to 50 cents per minute.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top


THANKS TO THE EXPLOSION OF the Internet, it might be time to rename the PC the "personal communicator." Not only is a PC hooked up to the Internet an easy way to send E-mail around the world, it seems that every week, new products arrive that improve a computer's ability to handle voice calling as well. One of the latest is from Kingston Technology Corp. in Fountain Valley, Calif.

Kingston has a new add-in sound card called NetVoice that connects any IBM-compatible computer to a standard telephone. This is a big switch from most Internet- phoning schemes, which depend on software that essentially turns a desktop PC into a speakerphone. Unfortunately, that forces callers to communicate through the PC's tinny mike and speakers. NetVoice produces better clarity and privacy because it allows the caller to use an ordinary phone. What's more, NetVoice is "full duplex," which means that Net calls will no longer be like CB-radio chats in which only one person can speak at a time.

Like other Internet-calling setups, NetVoice will work with any Internet service provider and requires both caller and answerer to be connected to the Net. Pricing isn't set yet, but Kingston says the NetVoice card and software should be available to PC manufacturers this fall.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top

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