E-MAIL IS BY FAR THE MOST popular Internet service, delivering typed messages almost anywhere in the world within minutes. But if you can't wait that long, a company called PersonalNet has a scheme that lets people converse by exchanging snippets of text almost instantly, in a "real-time" conversation. It's called r.u.there? and it's priced at $29 a year.
To use it, you need a so-called SLIP or PPP Internet connection, commonly available from Internet access companies. The trouble is, each time you use SLIP or PPP, your personal computer gets assigned a temporary address within the Internet itself--different from your E-mail address, which stays constant.
PersonalNet's computer automatically finds these temporary addresses and makes the connection. It also keeps a public directory of other subscribers. More information, including directions for getting the required software for IBM-compatible, Apple Macintosh, and Unix-based computers, is available by sending E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.