Speed tricks recoup wasted time for users tangled up in the Web

You probably already know and use those basic tricks. There's
still another option when the remote Web server is running xSpeed encapsulation from
Datalytics Corp. If so, the Dayton, Ohio, company's $50 Blaze Web Performance Pack can
really speed up your local Hypertext Markup Language page loading via a
"streaming" Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

You can find more info at http://www.xspeed.com.


Every Web surfer knows about the PointCast Network, a bandwidth hog
that feeds ongoing news, weather and stock information at intervals to your desktop. If
you haven't tried this free, advertising-supported news service, see http://www.pointcast.com.

However, free isn't always best. Two new entries in the business of
pushing information across the Web, as opposed to your finding and pulling it down with a
browser, also offer free business news services that might be a better fit for government
users.

BackWeb, at http://www.backweb.com,
is more lifestyle-oriented than PointCast but carries plenty of business, technology and
weather info. Version 1.1 in beta form is posted at the site for Microsoft Windows 3.x
users, but when I tried to download the latest version, I couldn't make the connection.


This news service from BackWeb Technologies of San Jose, Calif., is
firewall-aware and has network versions. You'll need 16M RAM and 4M of disk space for the
basic software and another 6M on the disk for each channel you select-there are dozens.
Those minimum requirements also hold for Microsoft Windows 3.x, Windows 95 and NT
versions.

Intermind Communicator, at http://www.intermind.com,
is very business-oriented. The latest downloadable version takes up just 1.9M for Windows
3.x and a bit less for Win95 and NT versions. Intermind Corp. had 140 channels the last
time I checked, about three times as many as BackWeb, and that number probably will have
grown by the time you read this.
 


BackWeb and Intermind Communicator use less bandwidth than
PointCast, although all such services will slow down your local PC operation while they
retrieve data. On busy networks, it's best to set them to update only at low-traffic
times.

If you've just taken delivery of a brand-new, virtually empty 3G
hard drive, you could subscribe to all these Web news services and compare them side by
side. Let me know your findings.


In January I predicted we'd soon see large notebook screens. NEC
Technologies Inc.'s latest 13-inch-plus display might be even bigger than a desktop
monitor's view area.


John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant,
has been working with computers since the early 1960s. E-mail him at jmccormick@penn.com


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