Ticker Talk — Page 2 Daily Hnahl •Obituaries — Pages 5, 6 Monday, February 14,2000 New device puts e-mail access into your hands A large swath of America is now absolutely addicted to Internet e-mail, from the casual America Online customer at home exchanging a few messages a day, to the intense corporate executive juggling scores of messages, or hundreds. But you can't be at your PC all the time to check your e-mail. So one of the great goals for the United States high-technology industry has been the development of the perfect portable email machine. In Europe and Japan, where cell-phone tech- Walter s. Mossberg npfogy and service are vastly superior to the inane United States ceU-phone system — but the penetration of computers and Internet e-mail is lower — this isn't nearly as much of a problem. The so-called "short messaging" services built into conventional digital cell phones are incredibly popular there. People just tap out brief messages on their phones and everybody's happy. It's kind of like using a pager. The same messaging services are available on some United States cell phones, but they can't interact with Internet e-mail and most Americans ignore them. There's lots of buzz about putting real Internet email on phones in the United States, and some phone companies now offer the service. But every one of these I've seen is clumsy to navigate. And despite some clever software, the telephone keypad is a terrible way to write out ah 1 but the very shortest messages. But there is one cool, new wireless e-mail device that really works well. I've been testing it for a couple of months and, to my surprise, I like it. It s called the eLink Agent, and it comes from American Mobile, in Reston, Va. The eLink Agent consists of two parts. The first is the hardware, a small hand-held e-mail machine, the Interactive Pager 850, built for American Mobile by a Canadian company called Research in Motion, or RIM. The most amazing feature of this device is a tiny but effective keyboard you operate with your thumbs. The second is the service, a radio-based network called Ardis that American Mobile operates. Together, they allow you to send and receive real Internet e-mail, using the same e-mail address and mailbox you use on your PC. Both are sold as a package by American Mobile, via the company's Web site, www.elinlonail.com. A similar-looking RIM device, called the Blackberry, has been available for awhile, and techies have taken to it in droves. But it only works with accounts maintained by big corporate e-mail systems. What makes the American Mobile eLink offering different is that it works with standard Internet e-mail, the kind of e-mail service offered by most Internet service providers, See MOSSBERG on Page 4 But there is one cool, new wireless e-mail device that really works well. I've been testing it for a ccupie of months and, to my surprise, I like it. ™ mn ,« a ,* h : ° Ut La P l °P 4 ne in * e Uniled Airlines terminal at O'Hare. Laptop Lane gives travelers access to computers, phones and a h.gh-speed Internet connection. Da , v Herald pho(o/Mark B|ack Laptop Lane takes off Airport business offers pay-by-the-minute offices including Net access, phones BY SCOTT DOGGETT AND NETTE HADDAD Los Angeles Times Brian Cruikshank, a frequently flying 32-year-old executive of a Canadian market research firm, found himself in the Phoenix airport recently with his laptop computer and more than two hours to kill. "I was at the Starbucks doing some work and I needed to connect," Cruikshank said. He noticed a nearby business center called Laptop Lane and triediL Cruikshank spent his time in one of the seven Laptop Lane rental offices in Terminal 3, simultaneously downloading e-mails from his laptop and using the rental firm's desktop computer to view Web sites. He also made several phone calls during his stay. Total cost: $14. "I really enjoyed that I could go into a room and have no interruptions and just get some focused work done," Cruikshank said. Laptop Lane, based in Seattle, has 15 facilities in 12 U.S. airports that allow travelers to access the Internet, catch up on e-mail or attend to other business. The company charges a flat fee of $2 for the first five minutes and 38 cents for each additional minute, which includes use of a private office and a desktop computer, unlimited U.S. long-distance calls, faxing, printing, online time and other services. Calls outside the U.S. cost only the AT&T international rate. Laptop Lane's main competition are airline clubs, many of which now offer Internet access and fax service. However, the airline clubs charge an annual membership fee, offer only public workstations and typically have steep service fees, such as $2.50 to fax a single page. Even after paying the membership fee, you're not guaranteed a place to sit at an airline lounge because of an average 30 percent jump in club memberships in the last year. A single canceled flight can result in standing room only at many airline lounges. Moreover, many airline clubs in the U.S. still don't offer telephone outlets for laptop computers, let alone desktop computers with Internet access. Laptop Lane doesn't charge a membership fee. It does offer overnight shipping and packaging, document scanning, document Todd Stockard, an MBA student from Dartmouth, uses the Laptop Lane services in the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare International Airport. D^ Her aid Photo/Mark Black shredding, color printing, conference room rentals and computer-related products such as international, plug adapters, laptop peripherals and office supplies. Although Cruikshank has used airline clubs for doing computer work, he dislikes their lack of privacy and generally high noise levels. And he prefers Laptop Lane's simpler fee system. John Rezzo, western region director of technology for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, was busy at the Phoenix Laptop Lane while Cruikshank occupied an office two doors down. Rezzo, whose flight to Dallas was delayed, leaving him with a 90- minute wait, said Laptop Lane is filling a niche for business travelers like him. During the 50 minutes he spent in his rental office, Rezzo read and sent work-related e-mail and personal e-mail, listened to his voice messages, placed two long-distance calls and read the day's news at a favorite Web site. Total cost: $21. Had the L.A.-based businessman wanted, he could have been on the See LAPTOP on Page 4 SURFING Engage in these Web sites "Thee, I do wed" should mean your future spouse, not your credit-card company, so vow to do a little webbing in planning your wedding. Before getting involved in choosing cakes and photographers, take in the big picture. Here are some good places to start in thinking about economizing: MoneyCentral www.ihe-wedding-pages.com/ planner/index.html tells you how to have thrills without the frills — including the key to saving big with your choice of day and date, and where to get an expensive wedding gown for a pittance. Address: http://moneycentral.msn.com/articles/family/wed/ 3259.asp?speeialmsnnip Quicken devotes a whole section to Life Events: Wedding, which includes resources for planning your wedding and establishing a budget, merging finances with your fiance, and strategies for cutting expenses — including 56 ways to save. Address: www.quicken.com/life_events/wedding/ For a wedding that's just right, have some premari- THEBU3?Z Microsoft 2000 Mckoff v Microsoft Corp. plans a couple of kickoff events in Chicago Thursday as part of its Windows 2000 launch. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' speech will be broadcast via satellite to cities around the world, including Chicago's Palmer House Hilton Hotel at an event hosted by the Executives Club of Chicago. A Microsoft-hosted event at Hyatt Regency Chicago Riverwalk runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and tal finance with Quicken's Premarital Checklist. Address: www.quicken.com/life events/ artic!es/906005732_4864 CBS Market Watch offers the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements. Address: hrfp://cbs.marketwarch.com/ archive/1 999041 5/news/current/personal.htx? sourcehtx/hftp2_mw Be sure to tackle how you'll divide the expenses — with either the traditional Wedding Solutions or Quicken's more modern way to share and shave the costs. Addresses: www.wedding.co.za/9806/arfic!es/WBudgefs.htm www.quicken.com/life_events/ articles/906057 1 49_29634 Whatever your figure, you can keep it by using free planners such as the 160 hard copy Weddingpages you can get by mail, or its companion online version. Address: www.ihe-wedding-poges.com/ planner/index.html The Knot's Budgeter starts with your total dollars, attendants and guests — and itemizes your expense categories based on those inputs. Address: www.theknot.com/budgetermain.cgi Wedding Element's budgeting article includes a chart with side-by-side, itemized comparisons of low average and "Versace" weddings. Address: www.weddingelement.com/budget/ If you're looking to save serious money, emulate Frugal, Money-Saving Weddings, which demonstrates ways to save money in nearly every expense category Address: http://home.att.net/ -rsenecal/wedoage.hlml includes a performance by "rock-and-roll painter" Denny Dentjand an appearance by Chicago ; Public Schools CEO Paul 1 Vallas, who will recognize '• finalists of an art contest spon- I sored by Microsoft Both loca- ! tions will have workshops on Windows 2000, the commercial version of its ubiquitous operating system. Register at www.rmcrosoftcorn/rradwest/windows2000. HARDWARE Looking good Sony Electronics Inc. has introduced a new line of high-resolution, high-contrast multimedia displays for home computer users. The monitors come in 17-inch and 15-inch sizes (with 16-inch and 14-inch viewable image, respectively) and incorporate the flat-screen Trinitron technology that Sony uses in some of its TVs. The HMD-A100 and HMD-A200 cost $250 and $400, respectively. The HMD-V200 costs about $500 and includes built-in stereo speakers, a choice of Slate Blue or Adobe colors, SOFTWARE Learning the fun way Two questions: Which is harder, bone or tooth enamel? Is 12 p.m. noon or midnight? Trivia questions like these can help teach youngsters without making them feel like they're in school. In recent months, several software manufacturers have released educational trivia games designed to be both interesting and challenging to kids. Unfortunately, the quality of the products varies widely. Here's a rundown on two recent titles. The Carmen Sandiego series has been around for almost as long as personal computers. "Carmen Sandiego's Think Quick Challenge" for grades 4 to 6 ($30, Windows/Macintosh) shows why this franchise has been so successful. It's a high-qualify, easy-to-use game where up to four players can battle it out in a trivia contest yet, during other parts of the game, may have to work cooperatively to defeat Carmen. Carmen's henchmen are using knowledge robots called "KnowBots" to steal the world's knowledge. For example, the evil Gnash is stealing alphabetical order and Madame Le Zaarde is taking all the radio frequencies. To find his hideout, players have to defeat some of the Know- Bots in a trivia game. Once at the lair, there's a final puzzle to be solved. If it functioned property, "Brain Quest: and optional matching keyboard and mouse. See www.sel.sony.com/SEL for details. Think Quick Challenge 3rd Grade" ($20, Windows/Macintosh) would be a state-of-the-art trivia game for kids age 8 and 9 — if this were 1990. Based on the popular series of quiz packets, the CD-ROM features a van that runs on brain power. To get to the next destination, the player must answer a series of questions, i Some of the questions are interesting.': Here's where you can !eam that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and 12 p.m. is actually noon. It's the technical limitations that give "Brain Quest" an inferior feel. There are 1,000 questions, but they are inexplicably broken up into five game packs. Instead of automatically jumping to the next pack when you've nm out of new questions, the game keeps repeating the 200 questions in the first pack until you tell it to switch to another. Finally, the game had some real technical glitches. CALENDAR Tuesday. The Association of Internet professionals Chicago meets at 6 p.m. atXpedior, 1N. Franklin, Chicago. Topic: Work force innovation: Non traditional sources of talent" See www.aipchicago.org for details. Wednesday: The Illinois Videomakers Association meets at 6 p.m. at the Northlake Library. Topic: Film/video critique. Call (630) 415-0079 for details. Sunday: The Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group of ' Northern Illinois meets at 7p.m. at the Schaumburg Township library. Topic: genealogy software. Contact Larry at (847) 506-1830 or lol- son@mount- prospectcom or see www.rootsweb.com/ —ilcaggni. CONNECT Send comments, calendar items and association meetings to Anne Schmitt at: aschmitt(n- dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4569. Write to Business Tech, Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006. Compiled by Anne Schmitt from Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Associated Press, Reuters.
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