Bits & Bytes
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NETIZENS WEARY OF WASHINGTON'S PREOCCUPATION with the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal are sending a message to Congress: Move on!
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Wes Boyd and Joan Blades--whose former company, Berkeley Systems Inc., created the Flying Toasters screensaver and the CD-ROM game You Don't Know Jack--have launched a bipartisan Web movement called the Million Move-on March.
The campaign's goal is to collect 1 millioN names by Election Day on a Web site whose message recommenDs that President Clinton be censured and Congress focus on more vital issues. As of Oct. 2, more than 125,000 people had visited the site (www.moveon.org) and endorsed the campaign's move-on message.
On Nov. 2, the organizers are planning to stage a demonstration on the steps of Capitol Hill. The specifics of the event haven't been worked out yet, but when it comes to public sentiment, Blades suggests, Congress doesn't know Jack.EDITED BY ROGER O. CROCKETTReturn to top
WEB MERCHANTS HAVE A LOT TO LEARN
ONLINE MERCHANTS LIKE TO BOAST THAT SHOPPING ON THE INTERNET is much easier than driving to the store, fighting crowds, and dealing with testy clerks. But according to a new survey of 239 Internet-savvy Web shoppers by market researcher Zona Research Inc., it's clear that cybermerchants have a lot of work to do to make their virtual shops more attractive to consumers.
All of the people surveyed had shopped on the Web at least once in the past 60 days--35% of them more than 10 times. But that's far less than the several times a day that most people shop for or buy something.
What's the problem? Some 28% of respondents overall found it at least somewhat difficult to find the product they wanted to buy, and only 8% found it very easy. Even worse, 62% gave up looking for a product at least once. And of those, 34% bought the item at a traditional store or from a catalog.
Zona's prescription: Cybermerchants need to make it a much speedier task to locate the exact products shoppers are looking for--and make it painless to buy them once they find them. Zona Chief Economist Robert Jack Staff recommends that companies take advantage of the more intuitive search engines that are now coming onto the market, incorporate voice recognition, and better organize their sites.EDITED BY ROGER O. CROCKETTReturn to top
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A FAX THAT SOARS STRAIGHT INTO CYBERSPACE
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO SEND A SHEET OF PAPER that's loaded with information--say a list of phone numbers or sales figures--to someone's E-mail address? JetFax Inc. is offering a solution.
In November, the Menlo Park (Calif.) company plans to introduce a combination fax/copier/printer with a twist. The JetFax M900i will allow users to scan the contents of a piece of paper into the machine and have that information forwarded to an E-mail address. The machine, which will cost about $2,500, routes the data to a server at JetFax, which then passes along the information.
The tiny company won't have the market to itself. JetFax licenses an older version of the technology to Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oki Electric Industry--but that technology requires a personal computer hooked up to the fax machine. The company will begin licensing the new wizardry behind the M900i to larger rivals, such as Hewlett Packard, though they probably won't have products on the market for several months.EDITED BY ROGER O. CROCKETTReturn to top