Bits & Bytes
Published: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 12:42 a.m.
Whether you're a homeowner checking out a local plumbing service or a driver looking for a good repair shop, the Better Business Bureau site at http://search.bbb.org/search.html can provide you with information on businesses across the United States.
If the holidays have you dragging a bit more than usual, you may need a break at the office. In lieu of a lifelike doll sitting in your chair, what better way to make your manager think you're actually working than reading an online book? For all she knows, it's that important e-mail she sent out outlining the company's strategic plan for 2003. Try it at http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/.
'Serious Sam' a wild shooter
Looking for one of those adventure games that makes you think, solve puzzles and keep your gun holstered except for dire emergencies?
Don't look at "Serious Sam," a wild and woolly shooter that offers armies of uglies requiring an almost constantly twitching trigger finger.
"Serious Sam" was whipped up for the Xbox by Croatia-based Croteam for Gotham Games.
For my money, they did a great job.
"Serious Sam" stars Sam Stone, a muscle-bound hero in a tight white T-shirt, jeans and red sneakers destined to become mankind's hero after fighting off waves of monsters spawned from another dimension.
However, even Sam, the one-man army, can't save mankind alone. So he's sent back in time via the "Time-Lock," an ancient artifact that could let Sam change the past to save our future.
Thinking? Forget it. The most complicated thing you'll have to come up with is the right weapon for the job. You collect an amazing pile of hardware, ranging from a simple knife to the amazing SBC cannon, which fires uranium-filled cannonballs, and the screen-clearing Serious Bomb.
Sam needs every round, every bomb and every ounce of laser energy, because the creatures he faces in this 3D epic are legion.
"Serious Sam" is a lot of fun for a single player, but it also offers a multiplayer mode that allows either cooperative play or challenging your friends to a death match.
- William Schiffmann
The Associated Press
Astronomy picture of the day
Check out NASA's picture of the day at http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html for a breathtaking image of the universe, along with a caption written by an astronomer. Here's a case of technology making us feel small and insignificant in a good way.
Wondering if you're eligible for benefits from the U.S. government? Check out the government's online questionnaire at www.govbenefits.gov/GovBenefits/jsp/GovBenefits.jsp to determine if there is grant or scholarship money in your future.
Keep those warm holiday feelings throughout the new year by volunteering to help the worthy cause of your choice. Volunteermatch.org makes it easy to find opportunities in your area.
Your good friends at the Internal Revenue Service are offering a tax tip each day until the April 15 deadline. Information on common mistakes to avoid, changes in the tax laws and other topics will be available at www.irs.gov/newsroom/index.html.
Top tech stories
While the world of technology continues to evolve, our lives are forever altered in ways both good and bad. Check out eWeek's collection of the top 10 technology stories of 2002. Type in www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,796498,00.asp.
How-to help guide
So your family finally let go of that Christmas tie tradition and actually gave you something cool to use. Now if you could only figure out how it's supposed to work. Have no fear. PC Magazine has collected numerous how-to guides for seasoned computer pros and newbies alike. Check it out at www.nyq.pcmag.com/category2/0,4148,798223,00.asp.
In some cases, the name of a Web site says it all. Check out Pcsounds.com for plenty of noises, clicks and notes for your computer.
Early recorded sounds
After you're finished tinkering with all those new sounds on your PC, check out Tinfoil.com for a selection of history's earliest recorded sounds. It's a quick lesson on the origins of audio technology.
A brain museum on the Web? You'll find it at www.brainmuseum.org. Check out images and information from the world's largest collection of the brains of mammals. Download photos of brains for everything from kangaroos to seals, camels and bats (not to mention people). Learn about brain function, brain development and "brain architecture." This intriguing site is a cooperative venture of the University of Wisconsin, Michigan State University, the National Museum of Health and Medicine and the National Science Foundation.
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