College applications are just about finished, and the waiting has begun. While seniors chew their nails in anticipation, they might want to take a virtual tour of the schools of their choice. is a handy index of just that, with links to maps, movies, and other online information provided by hundreds of colleges and universities. The site even offers links to such places as Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the College of Wooster, which provide real-time videos or continuously updated freeze frames of campus scenes. If possible, however, you'll want to find a fast Internet connection to use this site: Most colleges seem to think everyone has the sort of zippy Net linkups they offer their students, so these graphics-rich pages can take a long time to load.

Economic and financial statistics can be found on the Web by the ton, but the site run by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is particularly rich in data. Of course, the site offers a huge repository of downloadable information from the Fed and other government agencies. But it also provides the full text of Fed publications, including the Beige Book report on regional economic conditions and the St. Louis Fed's own respected Review. One aspect of the site should be particularly appealing to teachers. For just the $1.50 cost of return postage you can borrow videotapes on economic subjects.

Far too many Web sites give you beautiful graphics and nifty Java doodads but sabotage their usefulness by making you wait forever for information. Consultant Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group runs this site to show how it should be done. Simple but attractive, the pages load in a flash and are filled with Nielsen's pithy opinions on design. Example: ''You might say that my Web page is so brilliant, so wonderful, that people will wait for it. No they won't! Because there are 2 million other places they can go instead.''

Small businesses generally need all the computer help they can get. Utility and antivirus software publisher Symantec's small-business site is one place they can go for help. Although Symantec would like to sell some software, the pitches are mostly unobtrusive, and the suggestions on issues such as disaster prevention are generally sound. One amusing, if scary, feature: a collection of computer horror stories submitted by readers.


Updated Dec. 17, 1998 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1998, Bloomberg L.P.
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