Bits & Bytes
MAKE THAT JUNK E-MAIL DISAPPEAR
ARE YOU READY TO CANCEL all those online services, electronic magazines, and newsletters you subscribed to in the excitement of discovering the World Wide Web? Go ahead and try. Most electronic services won't simply go away at the click of a mouse.
Dot Com Interactive, however, will help you get rid of pesky cyberservices. Cancel-It! is a free service offered by the New York-based company. Just go to its Web site at www.cancel-it.com and fill out an electronic form. The service keeps a database of addresses and automatically sends a message to the service or E-mail site. If the address is not in the database, staffers will manually send the cancellation notice and then enter the new address in the company's database. So far, the company's Web site design business is paying the bills, but advertising or corporate sponsors may support the service in the future.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
A LIGHTNING-FAST PHONE LINE--CHEAP
NETWORKING STARTUP NetSpeed Inc. is aiming to cut the cost of bringing high-speed communications to the office and home. On Jan. 27, the tiny Austin (Tex.) company will introduce a system that will let up to six customers share a so-called ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber loop) line. ADSL, which operates at up to 8 megabits per second, is highly reliable because it strips computer data off local phone switches, avoiding busy signals when heavy use from Internet services clogs the voice network.
What's the big deal? Until now, ADSL--which rides on existing phone wires, delivering data at more than 400 times the speed of the fastest modems--has needed a dedicated phone line for each customer. That has made it more expensive for telephone companies to install than rival digital technologies such as ISDN. ISDN, which operates at 128 kilobits per second, costs a phone company just $300 per subscriber to install, compared with $2,000 per line for ADSL. NetSpeed's shared approach, says CEO John F. McHale, can cut the cost per customer to between $200 and $500. U S West Inc. is testing the gear.By Gary McWilliams EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
ONE ANSWER TO `BLOATWARE'
SOFTWARE ISN'T WHAT IT used to be: inexpensive and svelte. Take, for example, Microsoft Corp.'s $200 Office 97 package of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. A "typical" installation takes 120 megabytes of hard-disk space. Now, a San Francisco startup company called Xoom Software Inc. thinks it has the answer to expensive "bloatware."
In February, the company will start $30 yearly subscriptions to its Web site, dubbed the Software Network. From it, subscribers can download Xoom's own software suite which includes programs that are compatible with Microsoft Office 97. By cutting out fancy features--say, animated icons found in Office 97--each application is reduced to less than 10 megabytes. But if Xoom subscribers want such features, they can log in anytime during the year and add them. Subscriptions to Xoom's Web site include free updates and support.By Paul Eng EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
HOW TO CRUNCH AWAY THOSE HEAVY DEBT NUMBERS
IF YOU WENT A LITTLE overboard with your charge cards over the holidays, you're in good company. According to the Federal Reserve, consumer debt in the U.S. now exceeds $1.19 trillion--up more than 9% from $1.09 trillion a year ago. The average household carries $22,500 in total debt--up 15% from the amount of four years ago.
That could add up to a ready market for Debt Analyzer, a program from Insight Software Solutions in Bountiful, Utah. Like the packages used by professional financial counselors, Debt Analyzer enables consumers to figure out how long it will take to pay off all their debts. Just put in the amount owed, the fixed or variable interest rates, and your income, and the program does all the calculations. The software can also figure out how much needs to be paid per month to meet your budgetary goals--say, debt-free status by Thanksgiving--and other "what if" scenarios such as debt consolidation. Debt Analyzer can work on any IBM-compatible PC using any version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and is available directly from Insight Software at www.win tools.com. Oh yes, the company will gladly bill your credit card $25 for the program.By Paul Eng EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top