December 18, 2000-- Newsletter #110

By Joe Burns

December 18, 2000--Newsletter #110
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Have you played Goodnight Mr. Snoozleberg yet? You'll find the game at ( It is a ball and it is addictive. I finally got all the way through itwith no help mind you! Here's the concept; Mr. Snoozleberg sleepwalks and you have to alter the elements around and in front of him so that he isn't woken up. If you can get him to pass through the scene safely, you win. At the time of this writing, there are four episodes of play each with five levels. I absolutely loved the game.

Did you hear

Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine came out with it's best and worst of e-shopping. As we all know, it's more fun to read the worst than the best so here are a few that the magazine listed is the worst;,,,, and It looks like the biggies are good when it come to brick and mortar but lacking online.

Be careful buying that PlayStation Two game online. Both the US and Canadian Better Business Bureaus have cited numerous sites that will be more than pleased to take your money but can't deliver the game. This year it may be best to only buy the game if you walk out the door with it in hand.

Do you surf or chat when you're at work even though the boss wouldn't find it very amusing? Many at the CIA did just that. A secret chat room was set up on the CIA server and the brass found out. Four people were stripped of security clearances while 18 others were reprimanded and given suspensions without pay for five to 45 days. Nine contractors were stripped of their clearances thus disallowing them to work on CIA projects. Numerous other employees having minimal involvement received warning letters. All of this and the CIA stated that no classified information was passed in the chatroom. Maybe so but that seems like a pretty big noise to make if the people were only discussing what to wear the next day. has done a good thing. The online retailer shut its doors on November 7th but still had a ton of product left over. So, they donated 21 tons of dog food to Alaskan sled dog teams. Apparently this is a very lean year for business in Alaska and that meant not enough food for the dogs. The gesture should help a great deal.

I love stories like that.

Now onto today's topic

Lately there seem to be a lot of computer gadgets and services that are attempting to make your home computer a much more sensory item. When computers first came out, they were mainly white, bulky, and not meant to fit into faux-New-York loft step down living rooms.

Then, as the Web got bigger and better everyone needed a computer as much for fashion as need. I remember when I was a young boy being stunned when a new friend told me that he didn't have a TV in his house. His mother disallowed it. I couldn't fathom such a decision. My guess is that today kids would have the same reaction to a classmate not having a computer in the house.

Once computers became fashion statements, they needed to start living up to the moniker. The iMac came out with designer colors and rounded edges. Compaq began selling a series of colored tower faceplates you could interchange depending on your mood. The IBM tower itself was being redesigned to be more sleek and pretty.

Then there's the flat screen. Lousy picture, but wow! It really looked cool. (Yes, I know they're getting better don't write me upset I spoke out against your flat screen.)

I think that now that the design element of a computer is basically an expected element, now manufacturers are trying to go one step further making the computer, and the Web too, something that not only displays information, but also interacts. Yes, the Web interacts now, but I mean more than chatrooms and fancy forms.

The Web is attempting to go sensory.

Soon you'll be able to have you body scanned so that you can try on clothing. Gloves and full body suits are being developed so that you can get the feel of doing what you see on the screen. Want to go into a cyber hot tub? The suit will heat up and move giving you the sensation equal to what your viewing. Send you kid into a virtual petting zoo and the glove will attempt to equal what animal the child is touching.

Now, these technologies are still in the beginning steps. Virtual reality modeling is only so good at this point, but think down the road a few years.

Although I think these are all good ideas, I saw an advancement noted on the Web that I wonder if it will be a good idea or not.

Introducing (drum roll sound effect here) Smell-O-Web!

Yepper! Want to smell something on the Web? The technology is just about at your fingertips.

No, I am not lying just to make up a newsletter either. You can read all about it yourself at ( That's the company working hard to bring the Web to a forth sense. The technology is called iSmell. Head to the Web site and you could be one of the first to be sniffing your way around the Web. They won the EMMA award for technological innovation believe it or don't.

Here's the basic premise. A small plastic box is attached to your computer. That box is filled with small glass bulbs full of scented oils. You log into a Web site that has the capabilities to talk to the plastic box and choose a smell. The plastic box blows hot air across a series of oils to make up the scent. Really. is on board already.

Will this be a success? It will certainly be a novelty for sure. I remember distinctly going to a Saturday afternoon horror movie that promoted Smell-O-Vision. We were given a little card with a series of colored scratch-and-sniff dots. The screen would pop up a colored dot, we all scratched and sniffed and were horrified unless we scratched the wrong dot. Then we were confused. The theatre was dark you know.

So we've come this far. We can satisfy four of the five senses. Sight is covered. Hearing is covered. Touch is on the way and Smell is ready to sniff away.

As soon as we can lick the screen and taste what we see, the full five-sense process will be complete.



That's That. Thanks for reading.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum

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