- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2006

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Lincoln online

The 16th president of the United States is the focus of the History Channel’s latest special, airing tomorrow at 8 p.m. In the three-hour opus “Lincoln,” Academy Award-winning producer Vikram Jayanti looks at the tragic episodes in Honest Abe’s life, his relationships and personal demons with the help of interviews with Lincoln biographers, psychologists, dramatic re-creations and examinations of his great speeches.

A complementary Web site from the cable network (www.historychannel.com/lincoln) sufficiently primes viewers for the program by offering a compact but insightful look at the man who led America through its Civil War.

An understated opening page leads to the primary sections The Man, Quiz, Timeline, Video, Images, Did You Know? and a bizarre game that one would find in any casino.

To begin an exploration of Abraham Lincoln, The Man culls a concise biography from Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia while Timeline does an excellent job of presenting significant moments of his life through text and images covering the 1800s to 1860s.

The Video section promotes the program through five clips of different sizes (from 30 seconds to 10 minutes in length) and Images contains 30 clickable icons that provide a visual chronology of a man born to pioneer farmers in 1809.

A quick look at Did You Know? paints a slightly disturbing image of the president with revelations including that he suffered two nervous breakdowns, stopped carrying a knife for fear he would commit suicide and frequently visited prostitutes before his marriage to the physically abusive Mary Todd.

The brain exercises begin with a Quiz in which visitors answer 20 multiple-choice questions and are rewarded 100 points for each right answer and lose 50 points for each incorrect one. They will need to scrutinize the site to learn the minutest of Lincoln details to succeed in the challenge. In a “game show” fashion, players can use special bonus cards to gamble on specific questions and earn extra points.

Finally, the oddest part of the site has a player answering more multiple-choice questions to receive virtual coins to play the Lincoln Slots. The player can keep accumulating coins for correct answers and then spin to try and get three images in a row. Winners enter a contest to receive a Lincoln Prize Pack that might include a DVD player/recorder, History Channel tote bag or any number of Lincoln-themed books.

Rockin’ the bowl

The popular college football bowl game season is over, and it should be noted that it contained one of the cooler online multimedia experiences for music lovers.

Viewers of the four Bowl Championship Series games — the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl — on ABC were told, via commercials and promotions to visit the ESPN Web site (www.espn.com) and type a keyword in the search area to be rewarded with a quartet of performances from popular rock ‘n’ roll acts.

Sure enough, the instructions worked, as did just clicking on a banner at the top of the ESPN front page. The link, which has since been dismantled, led to U2 performing “Vertigo,” Aerosmith delivering an intense version of “Draw the Line,” the Dave Matthews Band performing “You Might Die Trying” and members of Queen, fronted by singer Paul Rogers, letting loose with the anthem “We Will Rock You.”

AT&T; sponsored the online event, which acted as a clever promotion for the groups’ latest DVDs and album releases. But hey, free music videos from these giants is worth a look.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com). Joseph also writes a Web exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family friendly video games. Check it out at http://www.washingtontimes.com/familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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