Destinations: A Grab Bag of Sites

Wednesday, September 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Over the last few months, we've gotten a lot of suggestions for Web site reviews that don't always fit neatly into our tidy weekly topics. And occasionally, we write about a topic only to have a new, improved page pop up on the Web within a few days. So we've broken with Destinations tradition to clean out some useful pages that otherwise could take us months to get around to talking about.

Having discussed consumer complaints on the Net before, this new entry needed to be included as soon as possible because you can't have enough outlets to get satisfaction from a company. The folks here act as a clearinghouse for complaints against online and off-line merchants by posting customers' problems with a service or product, then forwarding it to the offending company for response. The hosts don't have as much clout as, say, the Better Business Bureau, but they do have the means to publish response times and problems across the Web. Seven of their Top 10 most-complained-about companies are airlines, with telecommunications running a distant second.

Reserved Movie Seats

Maybe we're jumping the gun here, but the idea really piqued our interest. Started by a guy in Plano who got fed up with standing in line on weekends to see new movie releases, this slick-running site hopes to start selling reserved movie seats early next year. That's right, you can't actually buy reserved seats – yet. The idea, unlike other online ticket vendors, is to pay extra to bypass claiming the ticket at the window from a surly teenager unhappy with his hourly pay. Just walk in, ticket in hand, and sit down to watch the movie. He wants to install kiosks in malls, markets and restaurants – much like ATMs – for easy purchase. Now, if he could just find a way to disable cell phones in the theaters, we'd consider investing ourselves.

Alternative Obits

The way families and friends are scattered about the country, an online obituary page isn't a bad idea, though it costs $195 plus extra for pictures. The idea, however, is that the obituary is perpetual, so to speak, and subscribers can post a number of photos, eulogies, a guest book, letters and a biography. Clients can also e-mail notices to friends, neighbors and family members who, in turn, can respond with their memories and condolences. At first, the idea sounded odd, but we warmed up to it after reading some of the touching stories posted here. The price also includes help with submission forms; a funeral director can also handle the details.

In the job-hunting-slash-search-engine category – which is a pretty small category, by the way – WantedJobs has built a metasearch engine of more than 150 job posting sites covering about 3 million positions across this great land. Visitors select an industry or profession, the state they're hunting in and some keywords to narrow the process for a lightning quick (OK, it takes a few seconds) response. The engine coughed up eight jobs in New Mexico in only 0.8 second. Results pages show the date the position was posted, job title, the company and its location, plus the online source for the original offer. Candidates can typically apply for the job right then and there from the online ad. Let's just hope you don't find your current position offered here while browsing.

Save Our Sounds

Here's a fund-raising effort by the Smithsonian Institution to preserve its vast collection of endangered recordings on formats that would make that old 8-track tape collection seem high-tech. Since sound has been able to be captured – on wax cylinders, wire, what have you – the Smithsonian has collected recordings of Native American music and language, oral histories of ex-slaves, songs of immigrants, speeches of famous leaders and interviews with people from all walks of life. But the massive collection is in danger of being lost forever due to old age and deterioration. Samples of work that has already been saved includes a 1964 recording of "We Shall Overcome" at a civil rights meeting in Mississippi and the first beeps picked up from the Sputnik satellite.

3D Stock Charts

This site, which opened in July, features live, continuously updated graphic looks at buy and sell orders on the stock market. Plug in or look up a publicly traded stock, and the site will let you watch its progress through the day. The site also will highlight the six most active stocks. The service is free, though the site requires registration, and it also includes links to a nice array of investment sites, plus a slew of other financial news pages and quote services. Bully for them.