Now you can check traffic conditions across the Washington region from your cell phone -- not by calling a friend already stuck in traffic, but by subscribing to a new video service that sends updates to any Internet-enabled phone.
Fairfax-based TrafficLand Inc. recently released what it calls AirVideo, an add-on to the $59-a-year traffic-monitoring service it sells (www.trafficland.com/airvideo). That price (or an $8 month-by-month option) now lets customers view live video on their cell phones as well as their personal computers. TrafficLand provides these feeds from nearly 300 Web cameras stationed on roads throughout the District and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
AirVideo works with any Web-enabled phone with software that supports the "WAP 2.0" standard for wireless browsing. In addition to the Capital Beltway and major roads in the District, camera locations include Interstates 81 and 95 in Virginia all the way to Richmond, I-270 in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as well as major highways to Annapolis and Baltimore.
TrafficLand's Web site offers free viewing of its traffic cameras, but only subscribers can bookmark their favorite routes or see video on their phones.
Please don't try to check AirVideo while you're driving, lest you become the accident ruining everybody else's commute.
Phone Home (Page)
Yahoo has rolled out a new Web site for cell phone users that lets people quickly look up local businesses, weather forecasts, sports scores, stock quotes, flight information and other data on the run. For example, you would type in "Redskins" and "score" to get a game update. Yahoo's mobile search feature requires a Web-enabled phone, but carries no extra fees beyond what your carrier charges for Web use.
Finally, Google is lending a helping hand. Its clean-and-simple home page may be great for quick queries, but many of Google's specialty searches require entering queries in the proper syntax. Now, Google has published a cheat sheet that outlines many of these shortcuts.
Firefox Heats Up
The Mozilla Foundation, developers of the leading open-source alternatives to Microsoft Corp.'s Internet software, released new test versions of the Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail reader last week. Firefox devotees say this Web browser is faster and safer than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, with extra features such as pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing; the new 1.0 Release Candidate 2 version should be the last before its official debut this week. The 0.9 release of Thunderbird, the e-mail software, fixes bugs and adds new message-grouping features.
Beauty pageants may be losing favor in the real world, but not online. Consider MissDigitalWorld.com, which bills itself as the "first ever virtual beauty contest," spotlighting women who exist only in 3D graphics software. Voting in the pageant -- organized by Naples, Italy-based Monumedia -- ends next month, at which point the first Miss Digital World will be crowned in a ceremony in Turin, Italy. The leading contender, with 4,972 votes as of Friday, was South American brunette "Katty ko."
E-mail Leslie Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.