- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2000

Last September the World Wide Web got a new, decidedly human interface after Lenny Young found himself in a New York City cab, with a lost driver, in search of the Chrysler Building.
Mr. Young decided that there should be someone he could call, like a cyber-directory assistance operator, to give him the same information he could find sitting at a computer station.
Enter iNetNow, Inc. (www.inetnow.com), a company trying to become a businessman's personal cyber-concierge. Subscribers to the service simply make a toll-free phone call (888-iNetNow) and speak to a surfing expert, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The main reason for the company's existence is to be able to access the Internet while mobile," said Mr. Young, president of iNetNow. "As the Internet becomes a stronger part of our life, we will need access to it all the time, even when we don't have technology at our fingertips."
Monthly service fees range from $4.95, for five calls, to $21.95 for unlimited calls. Subscribers can call for assistance in making dinner reservations, finding the best travel deals or settling a trivia argument.
INetNow prides itself on returning quick answers that can be delivered to the user by fax, phone or personal digital assistant (PDA), or by a hand-held computer such as a Palm Pilot.
The company uses what Mr. Young describes as an "untapped pool of L.A. young people that have tremendous technology skills because they are on the Internet, they write on line, look up information on line and have exited college technically proficient."
They are searching the same Web members have access to. But they have the added bonus being able to use a proprietary search engine developed by the company and Mr. Young, who also puts his searchers through a type of iNetNow University where they learn how to work efficiently, and quickly.
For persons still wondering like I did when I first read about this service who would pay someone to conduct a Web search, the answer is someone who needs information quickly.
"We have all spent hours looking for information only to have to spend hours reading and using it as well," Mr. Young said. "But like directory assistance, which we all use all the time, it's not about how you get the information, but what you do with it."
A free on-line service from iNetNow is the Companion Page, a personalized Internet portal where users can store their address book, calendar, to-do list, favorite Web sites and stock watch lists. After registering for the Companion Page, users can edit a news list to get the headlines they are most interested in and create a stock portfolio.
Though you do not have to be a paid subscriber to use Companion Page, only paid subscribers can contact an iNetNow operator to find the phone number. They then can be connected to their next meeting when they have left their hand-held PDA or Daytimer in the cab, or get stock information when hearing a "tip" while dining in a restaurant.

Plenty of 'Bull'

The line separating the television and computer monitor blurs a bit more with TNT's original series broadcast "Bull." The story of renegade brokers on Wall Street, the show chronicles how a group of six traders rally together to start their own firm in response to the emerging financial economy, fueled in large part by the Internet.
"The subject matter demands that we merge the Internet world into the show's reality because the financial field is so immersed with technology," said Scot Safon, senior vice president of marketing for TNT. "With all the discussion about wireless technology, no one wants it more than stock traders who demand market cause-and-effect information immediately."
Just as the medical and legal series that came before it, "Bull" will also serve as an education vehicle helping to familiarize its watchers with terms and jargon used in both investing and cyberspace.
"The great American pastime is no longer playing baseball, its the market," said Michael S. Chernuchin ("Law & Order," "Brooklyn South") series creator, executive producer and head writer. "There is definitely a type of synergy between the show and cyberspace. Viewers will be drawn in because it is relatable to almost everyone."
The TNT Web site (www.tnt.turner.com/series/ bull/ or www.tntbull.com) is playing a role in the series as well. Viewers of five concurrent shows, beginning last Tuesday are able to enter an on-line sweepstakes with five $100,000 payoffs. Viewers will need to identify the stock tip provided during the course of the shows weekly airing.

Bookmark

Author Richard Power has written a riveting chronology of computer crime with "Tangled Web, Tales of Digital Crime from the Shadows of Cyberspace" (Que, 402 pages. $25).
In addition to providing a glimpse into the minds and lives of cyber-criminals and the misdeeds they commit, Mr. Power also discusses the costs of these crimes and what is being done to prevent and solve them.
I found Chapter 6, "Joy Riders: Mischief That Leads to Mayhem," especially interesting as the author delves into some of the crimes that began as pranks but ended up on the front page. These include the case of the 16-year-old "Datastream Cowboy" and Kuji, the hacker who made it into the Goddard Space Flight Center data banks in 1994.
Especially useful was a feature found in the final chapter that provides a comprehensive list of "suggested World Wide Web sites, publications, and other sources of material pertaining to information security and high-technology crime."
Have an interesting site? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Business Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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