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FOR MANY WEB SITE DESIGNERS, graphic artists, and art directors, finding that "perfect" stock photo can be a big chore. PhotoDisc, a digital stock photography house in Seattle, has a more elegant and speedier solution than thumbing through countless photography books or buying CD-ROMs.

The company has put more than 50,000 digital images on its Web site ( To make looking for that "just right" photo easier, the Web site uses two search engines. One is the typical key word or topic search, so browsers can easily look for pictures based on themes, such as "Christmas." The other is a visual search engine, designed by San Mateo (Calif.)-based software company Virage Inc., that allows users to key in color, form, texture, and composition requests--say, a fiery orange sunset on a flat, sandy beach.

PhotoDisc says the Web site's libraries will constantly be updated with new photographs. Downloading costs are $80 per image and takes from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the resolution of the picture and the speed of the Internet connection.By Seanna Browder EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top


NOT SURPRISINGLY, AS PRODUCTS such as phones, TVs and VCRs get smarter, they often make the user feel, well, dumb. How many consumers, for example, still can't set their VCR's clock? And the owner's manual is sometimes of no help since they often read as if written by engineers in a language understandable only to other engineers.

But one telecommunications company is hoping to change that. A division of Richardson, (Tex.)-based Siemens Business Communications Systems Inc., itself a unit of Germany's Siemens AG, recently signed an exclusive agreement with IDG Books Worldwide, the publisher of the hugely successful "For Dummies" series of technical help books. The agreement taps IDG writers and editors to create simple, nonimposing user guides and manuals for Siemens products that follow the whimsical format of the "For Dummies" books. The first collaboration will be a user manual for the the g1050, a wireless Personal Communications Service (PCS) phone Siemens plans to introduce that has a built-in phone book and speed dialer. Most cell-phone owners don't use these features because they can't figure them out, says Siemens.

Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top


BY NOW, MOST SAVVY computer owners know to guard against such computer viruses as Michelangelo, which could trash an infected PC's hard drive on Mar. 6, the artist's birthday. But what about new viruses? With the Internet reaching into every corner of the globe and by some estimates helping to spread over 100 new viruses a month, the chances of infection are high. IBM Corp. and Symantec Corp. are separately testing independent immunity systems.

Symantec is using its Bloodhound technology, which crawls through the Web looking for viruses, to create antidotes that the company can ship to customers. Bloodhound spots viruses by looking for well-documented "fingerprints," or patterns of software codes typically used by hackers. When a virus is located, it's shipped to a Symantec lab for analysis and the development of an antidote. The Bloodhound software, which will be ready later this year, will work with Symantec products such as its $69 Norton Anti-Virus program.

IBM's approach is similar. Early next year, new software tricks will be included in its $49 Anti-Virus for Desktops and other programs. Its setup will ship suspected viruses to a corporate administrator who will then pass the files on to IBM's antivirus headquarters in Hawthorne, N.Y. An antidote is sent back to the administrator to be used for inoculating the entire network.By Ira Sager EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top

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