June 1999: Internet Secrets
(or How I Learned To Do Everything Without Waiting In Line)
by Scott Rose, President of ScottWorld
(Note: This editorial was updated in October 2000 with new Internet secrets!)
I recently took a business trip to one of those exotic and exciting destinations that you often read about but don't normally get a chance to visit: Salt Lick, Kentucky. And so, mistakenly thinking that I would be the only one aboard the flight to this hidden locale, you can imagine my shock when the line to check in at the gate was longer than the line at my neighborhood artillery shop during their recent Y2K blowout sale. Do any of you know what's going on in Salt Lick that they're not telling us?
It was quite a predicament. I had less than 20 minutes to go to the bathroom, buy a $15 bottle of water, browse through the adult magazines, donate some money to the nuns, and still wait in the never-ending line to get my boarding pass and request a window seat next to the emergency exit (extra leg room, you know). Okay, I could probably skip the nuns, the water, and even the bathroom, but I definitely wasn't going to pass up this opportunity to browse through some filth in near-anonymity.
Yet the line at the gate wasn't budging an inch. In fact, it was growing. Families materialized out of nowhere to add more length and girth to the line. It was a no-win situation. I would either miss my flight or miss everything else I desperately wanted to do. It was major prioritization time. I quickly walked up to the vacant counter at the next gate, which was surprisingly empty considering how beautiful Yugoslavia is this time of year, and I asked the lady if she knew what the absolute latest cut-off time was to receive a boarding pass to Salt Lick. "I have to do some uh quick errands around the airport," I explained, "and I don't want to miss my plane."
She eyed me with a knowing look and said, "Here. Give me your ticket. I'll check you in right now." I immediately retaliated. "No, no, no... you don't understand. I'm not going to your destination. I'm visiting Salt Lick. That's my gigantic line over there. I'm just trying to figure out if I have enough time to -- well, you know -- do everything I need to do." She stopped, leaned over the counter, and whispered one of the greatest traveling secrets I have ever learned in my entire life: "We all have the same computer systems, sir. You can check in at any gate." I stared at her blankly. "WHAT?" "Just give me your ticket, and I'll give you a boarding pass right now." "NOW WAIT JUST A SECOND HERE. You mean to tell me that for the last 27 years, I never needed to wait in any of those lines that I always waited in?" "That's right, sir." "You're telling me that I was blindly following the masses, when all along I could have just side-stepped all the lines and picked up a boarding pass from ANY of your employees?" "That's right, sir." "You're saying that all of that wasted, stressful time for all those years could have been completely productive and relaxing?" "That's right, sir."
"Go to hell. I'm waiting in line."
It's hard to suddenly realize that you've been doing things the "old way" or the "slow way", so I don't expect you guys to immediately embrace all of the following Internet secrets. But once you get over the emotional hurt that no one told you about these sooner, you'll find yourself saving lots of time and energy. Welcome to the Internet Secrets issue.
For the life of you, you can't figure out how to change the settings in their email program to check your own Internet mail. But you try. After all, it can't be that difficult, right? Wrong. You end up screwing up their whole computer system, you lose all of your own email, you lose a close friend, and you never do hear back from the love of your life. Bummer.
Even you America Online users (God help you) can never find a copy of the normally ubiquitous AOL software when you truly need to sign on as a guest!
With these two web sites, all you need is a computer any computer with an Internet connection, and you have instantaneous access to all of your email! Send, receive, and forward emails from anybody's computer anywhere all from your own email account!
And MailStart is ultra-cool, because it leaves all of your messages on your ISP's server. What this means is that as long as you don't delete your messages from MailStart, when you come back to your regular computer, you will still be able to retrieve all of your messages normally via your normal email program! Hot diggity!
Never again will you have to worry about being on top your bills when you sign up for paymybills.com. This service not only benefits the constant traveler, but it can even make the homebody's life easier as well.
Paymybills receives all of your bills in the mail for you (you switch your billing address to their P.O. Box), they scan in all of your bills for you, and then you view and pay all of your bills from any web browser. The payments are taken out of your checking account, and credited to your billers.
Better yet, paymybills archives all of your bills for 7 years, and you'll never again have to deal with a piece of paper in the mail.
You pray that the DJ is gonna come on to rescue you. Surely she must know that you're breathlessly awaiting her expert knowledge so you can mindlessly purchase yet another CD that you only listen to once before realizing that the group is just a one-hit wonder. But she never comes on. You listen for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour -- listening patiently for some human intervention. You finally give up, and are forced to disturb your friends for weeks on end as you sing your own unpolished version of the song, ending with the unanswerable question, "Do you know who that is?"
Take it from me: Don't do that again. Instead, head on over to the International Lyrics Server, type in the lyrics you can remember, and within seconds you'll have the name of the artist and the name of the song.
The CD arrives in the mail, you pop it into your stereo, and as you're scanning the liner notes & photos, you suddenly realize that you don't know something. Something really important. Something that you never really thought about before, but now you unexpectedly need to know it more than anything else. You absolutely must find out before you can move on with your life was Roy Orbison blind?
Knowing better than to ask your friends again for their advice, you immediately do what I do. You log on to askjeeves.com, type in your question, and observe as your mouth hits the floor when your answer instantaneously materializes dozens of results compiled from hundreds of search engines on the Net.
Of course, none of this Internet stuff is much fun if you're still "dialing in" to the Internet with a sluggish modem and a normal telephone line. Even if your modem is a 56k modem, you're still wasting too much time waiting for pages to load in. How would you like to have instantaneous Internet access as soon as your computer turns on (no more waiting for the modem to connect), and flip through web pages as if you were flipping through television channels with your remote control? I thought so. That's why we highly recommend that you order a cable modem or a DSL line for your machine today!
ScottWorld is the leading Certified FileMaker Developer in Austin & Los Angeles.