Britannica's Info Bottleneck

Encyclopedia Britannica's belated jump into the for-free age is off to a shaky start. Since the encylopedia's free Britannica.com site was launched on Tuesday, it has been inaccessible to most would-be online visitors as a result of heavy traffic. "We were expecting millions of hits," said Kent Devereaux, senior vice president of product development and editorial at Britannica.com. "We weren't expecting tens of millions of hits." The company is updating its hardware so that more surfers will have access. "Next week, this will all be over," Devereaux said. Encyclopedia Britannica is a "content partner" with Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.

Speaking of Free Offers . . .

Microsoft's Gaming Zone site {lt}http://www.zone.com{gt} is offering gamers a taste of the company's latest title, Asheron's Call. Described as "Microsoft's answer to Ultima Online," this online role-playing game will be free to play until the finished product hits the stores (the site avers that programming on it is "thiiis close to being finished"). Note that even with a 56-kbps connection, it will take more than 2 1/2 hours to download the demo.

Story Updates

Living in Realtor Time

Is America Online's newest release a fixer-upper opportunity for Realtors? It seems that AOL's 5.0 release has been unceremoniously giving the boot to the Internet connection settings for an online service for Realtors, MRIS (Multiple Region Information System). In the process, some Realtors have lost all use of this software, the standard reference tool used by licensed Realtors to find out what homes are for sale across the country. This problem appears to happen when AOL's software establishes itself as a computer's default connection, and is a potential problem for any AOL subscribers who don't use AOL as their only "dial-up" service. Last week, MRIS posted a warning to its customers against downloading AOL's latest release, though a spokesman for AOL says this is a problem for only a "super super small group" of MRIS users.

Virus Update Update

Last week's review of Norton SystemWorks 2000 utility suite criticized the six-month time limit on automatic updates of its anti-virus software (as well as to the drivers on your system). You can, however, download updates to its anti-virus database for another six months by going to Symantec's Web site--you'll just have to remember to do that yourself instead of having the program take care of it for you. And after that, though, you'll have to pay up: $29.95 for another year's worth of virus protection.

-- Compiled by Mike Musgrove

Top Ten Bestselling Electronics at Amazon.com

1. 3Com Palm V

2. Panasonic DVD-L50

PalmTheater Portable

DVD-Video Player

3. 3Com Palm IIIx 4. Sharp

VL-H860U Hi8 Viewcam

Camcorder

5. Olympus D-340R

Digital Camera

6. Olympus D-400 Zoom

Digital Camera

7. GE VG4268 Video

Cassette Recorder

8. Toshiba SD-3109

DVD-Video Player

9. Sony DVP-S530D

DVD-Video Player

10. Panasonic PV-DV910

Digital Palmcorder

Camcorder

Source: Amazon.com

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EVENTS

Apple Talk--

Saturday, Oct. 23, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

At a general meeting of Washington Apple Pi, representatives from Apple Computer will talk about the G4, Mac OS 9 and the iBook. Ernst Community Cultural Center Theater, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Campus, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale. 301/984-0300.

http://www.wap.org/info/meetings/meeting.html

Community Communication--

Thursday, Oct. 28, 3:30 p.m.

The latest in the University of Maryland's lecture series about the Internet, "Online Communities: Sociability and Usability" will be given by Jennifer Preece, UMBC Department of Information Systems, A.V. Williams Building, Room 2460, University of Maryland, College Park.

http://www.cs.umd.edu/ hcil/f99-lectures.html

Send e-vents to ffwd@washpost.com

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