If you live in a city, you need to know about Craigslist: a large, Web-based system of announcements, requests and ads. Just choose the city you live in (or nearest you), and you will find oodles and oodles of useful information, perfect for meeting people, buying things, selling things, bartering, looking for a job, looking for someone to work for you, offering a service, finding a place to live, offering a place to live, checking out local events, or simply talking about stuff in one of the many discussion forums.

Craigslist was started in 1995 by Craig Newmark of San Francisco as a mailing list related to events in the San Francisco Bay Area. The mailing list was so useful that Craigslist began to grow, first into a group of mailing lists and then into an elaborate Web site. What is incredible is the whole thing happened purely by word of mouth with no advertising.

What I like best about Craigslist is that it is so straightforward: simple, fast and easy to use. There are no graphics, banner ads, or any of the other general annoyances you find on so many Web sites.

Hint: The Craigslist forums all have URLs that look like the following:

For example, the arts forum is:

If you want to experiment, use this URL, but put in an ID number of your own. You will find that there are secret "unlisted" forums. For example, forum #1974 is the "farewell forum". I have listed a link to it below. Try changing 1974 to a different number and see what you get.


Electronic Greeting Cards

Would you like your friends to think you are thoughtful and considerate with very little effort on your part? Send them an electronic greeting card. All you have to do is choose a picture or graphic, fill out the form, and your message is on the way. (Actually, if you really want your friends to think you are thoughtful and considerate, a better idea might be to buy them all copies of this book.)


Email Via Your Browser

I have a friend who recently went on a trip to Iowa. She was concerned that, as she was traveling, she wouldn't be able to check her email. But here's a solution. All you have to do is use one of these Web-based services that allow you to check your regular email account using a browser. This means that, wherever you go, as long as you can find a way to access the Web, you can check your mail. (Beware: some of these email services make it possible for people to create mail that looks like it comes from a fake address. So, if you get a message from offering you a job, you might want to doublecheck before you pack your snowsuit.)


Freecycle (Stuff for Free)

Freecycle is a large collection of mailing lists devoted to helping people give stuff away for free. Just subscribe to the list for your area (there is no cost), and then use it whenever you want to give or get something for free. It's that simple, and it works well.



"Kvetch" is Yiddish for "complain". When life gets to be a bit too much, take a moment and see what other intelligent and accomplished people are complaining about. By the way, speaking of kvetching, it strikes me that a lot of the trouble in this world is caused by other people. I mean, I'm okay and I know that you're pretty cool, but what about all the other people in the world? Don't you wish they would just shut up and do whatever you tell them?


Last Word on Science

I believe everyone should understand the basics of science: chemistry, physics and biology. Why? First, being knowledgeable and using your brain is good for you, and, two, a lot of what happens around us from day to day is understandable if you understand basic science. For example, have you ever wondered why the sky is blue? Or how a dog tracks a scent? Or how a smoke detector is able to detect smoke? Or why we have fingerprints? This Web site has the answers to all these questions and more. You know, there are two things in life I really like: good questions and smart answers. Plan on spending some time here, and it won't be long before you agree with me.


Pocket Internet

When I was a little kid, one of my favorite things was when the whole family went downtown to meet my father after work and he would take us out to eat at this restaurant that had a big buffet. I liked that there were all different types of food and that I could sample them all. (My favorite item was the small baked crabapples.) This Web site is like an Internet buffet. There are samples of all the different types of things that people like to do on the Net. If you are teaching somebody how to use the Web, this is a good place to have them start.


Reminder Services

We all know how embarrassing it is to forget something important. For example, last month I forgot to send my sister a card for her gerbil's birthday. And a couple of days ago, Bill Gates called me to ask if I was finished with the "Buns of Steel" video he loaned me. This need never happen again -- to me or to you. On the Net there are some great electronic reminder services. Just specify your email address, a date, a message, and how many days' warning you want. On the right day, you will receive email containing your message. (By the way, Bill, don't forget you still have my copy of "Harley Hahn's Internet Advisor".)


Straight Dope

The Straight Dope is the name of a syndicated newspaper column written by Ed Zotti under the pen name Cecil Adams. The Straight Dope site contains archives of many of the questions that Adams has answered. The answers are thoughtful and knowledgeable. What I like is that Adams does not confine himself to questions that have an easy answer. Thus, not all of the answers are exact, which I find thought-provoking. If you can't get enough straight dope from Adam's columns or books, try hanging out in the Usenet groups.



Google Newsreader

Virtual Presents

I love virtual presents, and I love to send them to my friends for no reason at all. This is a great place to visit if you need to get someone an impressive gift that you can't afford. You can send your friends a vacation, fine jewelry, animals, food, flowers, and a lot more. What's a virtual present? Try it.


Voice Mail Via the Net

Suppose you call someone really important, like the President of the U.S. or Madonna. You just know you are going to get voice mail. Now you may have voice mail at work, and you may even have it on your home phone, but as one of my readers, you are more important than the President (and maybe even Madonna). So why shouldn't you have your very own Net-based voice mail?