Tangerine Travels #1: The Agony Of the Heat

I can see the picture in my head. The spinning globe, the bright superimposed letters reading Tangerine Travels, and that godawful deep voice: "Spanning the Globe--or at least the Internet part of it--It's Brett Larson's Tangerine Travels!" Dissolve to me, sitting at my desk, with a Tangerine iMac. Not one of those new-fangled fancy ones, with a drawer-free DVD drive and FireWire. No! This iMac is a trusty " Rev. C " (catchy!) model.

Good ol' Rev. C, or Rev for short, keeps me toasty warm on these cold November days. Some would say too warm. I fear that at some point this computer will melt through the desk and crash to the floor. You think I could claim it was an alien computer abduction and get myself into the Weekly World News? No? Then Macworld will have to do for now.

Into the Void

Internet: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Tangerine iMac. Her mission: to discover strange new Web sites, to seek out... well, you get the drift.

Considering my tangerine companion is equipped only with USB, and I had to search around for something to get this column started, I decided to try and find things I can use on my USB port other than my mouse and keyboard. I don't want a printer, or a scanner, but something with more, shall we say, Je ne sais pas. So I--logically, you'd think--took a visit to www.usb.com.

Don't try this at home with young children present. It turns out that www.usb.com is the site for the Universal Savings Bank --or is it Universal Savings for your Business? Either way, all I saw was a picture of two guys holding a bicycle, and so far as I know, nobody's yet created a USB-equipped bicycle.

Next stop: www.usb.org , which looks as though it might be legit. In fact, it claims to be a site "from the creators of USB"--and wasn't it awfully nice of them to come out of their lab for just enough time to make us this friendly Web site?

In any event, this site offers a huge list of USB devices, and since it serves both the PC and Mac communities, it's a good place to go to find out which USB devices work with which operating systems. Unfortunately, many products tend to mention Mac support only when followed by a date (in the future) when the device is expected to work.

Item of the Week

My favorite item in this whole USB shopping spree? The Symbol Synapse Cable , which lets you connect a bar-code reader to your iMac via USB.

This is a must in any true nerd household. The possibilities are endless! Imagine categorizing your CD collection in a database and actually using the bar code to keep track. But why stop there? Apply the same principle to your video collection, or maybe your books. Hey, if it's good enough for Amazon.com, it's good enough for you!

This technology could come in really handy when you're throwing a party. Your guests could all wear badges that, when swiped through your bar-code reader, could capture their information, or track just how many helpings of your snacks they've helped themselves to! With this you could decide who you would invite back, or who you could take out of your party e-mail list. You too could have a database filled with a mailing list of your customers!

URL Crapshoot

Continuing with my random Web wanderings, I took another shot in the dark: typing in a domain name I had never visited, nor even knew existed. I threw my caution to the ether and cried, "Bring me something good, little Tangerine buddy!"

Then I typed www.ibookworld.com , wondering who had taken it upon themselves to create the counterpart to our very own imacworld.com site.

I was shocked to find that www.ibookworld.com had nothing to do with Apple's new consumer portable. Instead, it's some kind of online bookstore that boasts "Free Samples." What is this, a deli-style bookstore? A sort of "Buy one potato salad, get one macaroni salad free" business model?

In any event, I'm a sucker for free stuff--I was hoping to find I could acquire a free copy of Anthony Robbins' Power Talk!: The Decision That Ensure Your Success! , but instead got excerpts from A Husband's Little Black Book by Robert J. Ackerman.

I also got a few recipes from the back of Campbell's Soup cans. Now tell me, who in the world considers the back of a Campbell's Soup can to be a publication? And even if you do consider it to be one, why go to a Web site for a free sample when you can copy 'em all down at your local grocery store?

True, standing at the grocery store holding a notepad sounds very low-tech--but it too, my friends, is free.

Big Jukebox Is Watching You

My right to privacy on the Internet is frequently a subject I ponder. I often worry that as I speed through web sites with glee from my DSL connection at home, that someone is watching every move I make. Every breath I take. Every claim I stake.

At this point, I also begin to envision Sting standing outside my building with a laptop and wireless Internet connection, seeing what I'm seeing as I surf around. That's when I realize that perhaps I've taken this paranoia a bit far--I mean, Sting? However, I do believe that one of the guys from Men at Work is my UPS delivery guy.

What could I possibly have on my computer that anyone would want, I ask myself? Maybe e-mail from my grandmother; perhaps Sting really wants Nan's secret cookie recipe!

Well, Sting may not be out there, but someone does know if you're listening to one of his albums. This from an enterprising reporter at the New York Times who discovered that RealNetworks' RealJukebox software monitors what you use to encode your music , what type of music you like, and if you have a portable player attached to your system, and sends the results back to RealNetworks every time you launch RealJukebox. (RealJukebox isn't available for the Mac OS, and today I'm thinking maybe it's just as well!)

The story in the Times doesn't mention about RealNetworks wanting to know what you're wearing or if you've heard any dirty jokes lately, but who can tell what's next? The company claims that it is only trying to tailor their service better to their users, but has also said it will revise RealJukebox to be a better net citizen.

Me, I have nothing to hide. In fact, I'm planning on linking to my browser's cache file from my home page, and having at it! We have no secrets here! If Big Brother is watching, let's all give him something to look at!

I Can't Take Any More

I didn't really want to meet Mahir. But, well, often when you troll the Internet looking for good stuff, you find... Mahir. And then he gives your browser a big, sloppy kiss. It's all ugly from there.

Mahir seems like a gentle man. He simply wants to bring someone home to Turkey, where he apparently lives. Mahir needs a little help with his English, but makes up for it with a plethora of pictures. I invite you to see Mahir's home page for yourself, or perhaps to pass it along to any single ladies you know. The choice is yours. Don't say I didn't warn you.

As for me, Mahir has drained any energy that was remaining in this little tangerine iMac and its pilot. And so that will have to end our travels for this week. Until next week, I kiss you!

Got a site for Brett and his iMac to visit? Send it to brett_larson@macworld.com. Looking for women to come visit you at your palatial Turkish retreat? Brett doesn't want to hear about it.

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