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Taking It Off On The Web Pounds, That Is

Bits & Bytes

Taking It Off on the Web--Pounds, That Is

HERE'S ONE NOVEL WAY to make your health-care site stand out on the World Wide Web: Put some of its content on a diet. On Jan. 25,, an online natural-health-food store, began Webcasting a 29-year-old woman's daily struggle to get in shape prior to her wedding, which is scheduled for April. Three cameras--one in her kitchen, one in her home workout room, and one at her workplace--monitor her progress 24 hours a day., a San Francisco startup, says the stunt is a good way to stand out against online competitors and lure people to sample the site's vitamin products and diet and exercise planners. And the bride-to-be? Using the site's customized health-care evaluation, she has already restocked her refrigerator with fresh vegetables, tofu, and other soy-based food items and has started a new workout routine that includes three days of jogging and two days of yoga a week. So, the old-fashioned advertising testimonial goes digital--and live.EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEKReturn to top

Coming Soon: Valley of the Geeks

IT'S NOT ENOUGH THAT THE ADS PARODY STEVE JOBS'S THIN SMILE and his fingertips-pressed-in-Zen-contemplation pose. It's not enough that they mock his recent fashion preference, a sort of Nehru-cum-Gap blend of vests and collarless shirts. The producers of cable network TNT's upcoming two-hour film about theearly days of Silicon Valley have even ripped off Jobs's cuRrent advertising campaign for Apple Computer Inc., which features photos of the famous and not-so-famous using the "Think different" tagline.

"Think May 1999" is TNT's slogan on ads now appearing in five magazines to promote TBS Superstation Inc.'s Pirates Of Silicon Valley, due in late spring. But the good news for Jobs is that at least TNT hired ER heartthrob Noah Wyle to play him. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, on the other hand, will be tackled in full-nerd-metal-jacket splendor by Anthony Michael Hall, Hollywood's archgeek of The Breakfast Club fame. Another ad for the film features Hall in Gates's classic windshield-size eyeglasses and pants hitched just a scootch too high on the hips. Ah, the price of high-tech fame and fortune.EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEKReturn to top

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A Y2K Guinea Pig in Washington

THERE'S ANOTHER THING BUGGING THE U.S. Senate these days: the dreaded Year 2000 computer glitch. Already, the millennium bug has invaded the SeNate's offices on Capitol Hill, causing headaches for some staffers. According to Tim Wineman, fiscal clerk of the Senate, snafus during ongoing testing and installation of the Senate's new $7 million Y2K-compliant computer system have caused delays of up to two months in reimbursement checks to the offices of individual senators. Now, some creditors have come calling.

Overdue bills have been piling up for state office rents, credit cards, staffers' travel reimbursements, cellular phones, and pagers. Facing eviction recently from their state offices, some Senate aides demanded immediate action from the Senate's disbursement office. One Senate aide Says unpaid expenses amounted to at least $20,000 per office, mostly in travel expenses for state workers. "The frustration level has gotten pretty high," Wineman says.

According to Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), "the Senate has spent millions of dollars on this new computer system, and it's not working. If anyone had any doubts about the Y2K bug before now, they've been converted in their thinking." Wineman says the testing glitches should be cleared up by Feb. 1.EDITED BY MARCIA STEPANEKReturn to top

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