Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 00:41:15 -0400
From: crispen@INTERNIC.NET

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Howdy, y'all!  :)

In an attempt to confuse everyone, Bob and I are swapping TOURBUS posts
this week (in other words, today's post is coming from Patrick at the
University of Alabama, and Thursday's post will come from Dr. Bob way up
there in Yankee-land).  Why the swap?  Well, CNET just launched a new

Now, I am well aware of the fact that it seems like CNET launches a new
service every other day.  In fact, will all of CNET's services --,,,,,,,,,, etc. --
it is becoming harder and harder to find sites on the Web that _AREN'T_
created by CNET.

Still, I think that CNET's new service is so important that I had to push
Bob Rankin out of the way so that I could be the first to tell you about
it.  :)

Before we get today's tour of our little bus of Internet happiness
underway, however, let's pay some bills.  Today's tour is being sponsored
by and (see the text inside the bus at
the top of today's post).  Make sure that you stop by and thank both of
today's sponsors for their support of my attempt to corner the ramen noodle
market.  :)

     Are You a Serious Stock Market Investor? If so, then visit
    Active Investment Research at 
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CNET's new service is called Snap! Online, and I first heard about Snap!
Online at a presentation that Halsey Minor, CNET's Chairman, gave a few
weeks ago at ISPCON-San Francisco.  Halsey said that CNET's in-house
research showed that new Internet users want 2 things:

     1. Help finding interesting content (I guess Halsey doesn't know
        about TOURBUS!); and

     2. Help understanding how to use the Web.

In short, borrowing a quote from the latest Seidman's Online Insider,
everyone seems to be asking "I'm on the Internet, so what do I do now?"

Snap! Online is CNET's answer to that question.  Snap! Online is a
combination of a personalized newspaper (like My Yahoo!), a "starting
point" for Web exploration (like Yahoo!), a collection of Web site
descriptions (like Lycos' Point Reviews), and a snazzy, all-inclusive front
end that allows you to do everything else you could ever want to do online
in one place (like America Online -- in fact, Snap! Online could easily be
considered to be "CNET's response to AOL").  According to a memo that
CNET's Bill Graves recently mass-distributed, Snap! Online offers

     - Top news and features from around the Web
     - Up-to-the minute headlines
     - Chat rooms
     - Personalized information like weather, movie listings, stocks
       quotes, sports scores
     - Easy & efficient searching for Web sites, Web events, business
       listings, software to download, maps, etc.

With the exception of e-mail, that sounds hauntingly similar to a
description of AOL, doesn't it?  Best of all, Snap! Online is completely
*FREE* (which, as you might have guessed by now, is my favorite word).
Snap! hopes to recover its costs with banner ads like the ones you see at
Yahoo! and AltaVista.

>From what I can gather from Halsey's speech in San Francisco last month and
from what I have seen in CNET's press releases, Snap! Online is ultimately
designed for new Internet users who have accounts with Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) that have entered into partnerships with CNET.  In return
for pointing all of their new users to Snap! Online, all of those users
will see Snap! Online pages that have the ISP's logo co-branded on it, and
the ISPs will receive a share of Snap! Online's ad revenues.

In the end, everyone wins.  CNET gets warm bodies for their new service,
new Internet users get an easy-to-understand front end from which they can
start to explore the Web, and the ISPs get the double benefit of providing
their customers with rich content that the ISPs don't have to bother to
create or update while at the same time receiving revenue from Snap!
Online's banner advertising.

Now, even though Snap! Online's services are geared to new Internet users
who access the Net through CNET-partner ISPs, that does not mean for a
minute that folks like you and me are not welcome to take advantage of
Snap! Online.  In fact, I was one of the first people to sign up for Snap!
Online when it debuted.  :)

Before I tell you how to get to Snap! Online, though, I want to make a
quick comment.  In our most recent TOURBUS poll, 67% of you said that when
you use computers you feel proficient most of the time.  Over 80% of you
have been on the Net for at least a year, and 22% of you say they have been
on the Net "forever."

Why do I tell you this?  Well, I am just not convinced that Snap! Online is
going to be all that attractive to the experienced Web surfer [I may be
wrong though ... let me know what _you_ think].  So why am I writing a
TOURBUS post about Snap! Online?  Well, I'm willing to bet that you have
friends and colleagues who are brand new to the Net, who look to you for
Net advice and guidance, and who have no idea where to start when it comes
to exploring the Internet.  If you are like me, you probably point people
like that to Yahoo! or Point Reviews or to one of the mega-search engines.
Well, consider Snap! to be the newest tool in your newbie-helper arsenal.

To sign up for Snap! Online for free, just point your Web browser to

If you are in the United States, type in your 5 digit zip code in the
appropriate box, pick a user name and password for yourself, and then click
on the "Enter Snap! Now" button.  If you are outside of the United States,
however, skip all of that and click on the words "Outside the U.S.?" on the
right hand side of the Snap! homepage.  This will take you to a new Web
page at,8,home-1,00.html

where our international TOURBUS riders will be able to subscribe to Snap!
(again, for FREE).

That's it.  You're in.  Simple, isn't it?  Snap! Online is organized into
13 channels:

     Business          Learning     News
     Communities       Living       Shopping
     Computing         Local        Sports
     Entertainment     Money        Travel

You can access any of these channels directly off of Snap! Online's main
homepage, or you can click on the "CHANNELS" frame button at the bottom of
the screen.  By the way, that bottom 4 button frame -- SNAP! HOME,
CHANNELS, FIND, and HELP -- appears at the bottom of every one of Snap!
Online's pages.  If you ever get lost, just click on the "SNAP! HOME"

As far as new content is concerned, Snap! Online seems to take a "why
reinvent the wheel" approach.  Frankly, I really like this approach. Each
of Snap! Online's channel pages contain only 3 new "feature" articles
written by Snap! Online's in-house staff (although new feature articles are
created throughout the day).  These articles are well-written though, and
they all contain links (a la to sites where you can find more
information about that particular story, and links to other sites where you
can find related information.

Most of Snap! Online's content, however, comes in the form of links to
articles at partner sites such as CNN Interactive, CBS SportsLine, E!
Online, ESPN SportsZone, MSNBC, The Motley Fool, Epicurious Inc. Online,
and Discovery Channel Online.  In fact, over 70 of the Internet's top
publishers are allowing Snap! Online to link to their content.

Snap! Online does have its share of problems, though.  Snap! Online wants
to be a jumping off point for newbies to explore the Web, but Snap!
Online's database of Web sites is rather paltry (currently they only have
links to and descriptions of 85,000 hand-selected sites on the Web,
although I am certain that that number will grow in the months to come).
For a newbie just starting out on the Net, Snap! Online's limited database
of Web sites will go a long way in making the Net a little less
intimidating.  If you are an "oldbie" like me, however, and you are used to
getting *AT LEAST* 85,000 hits every time you try to search for *ANYTHING*
at AltaVista, the size of Snap! Online's database can, at times, be
frustrating (for example, Snap! Online's Computing:Internet:Net
Culture:Spam page only has one link).

Snap! Online's other problem is that its chat client is only compatible
with Internet Explorer 3.02 or later.  Snap! Online has signed an agreement
with Microsoft making Snap! Online one of the preset channels in
Microsoft's upcoming release of Internet Explorer 4.0.  In other words, if
you read between the lines, I wouldn't expect to see Snap! Online's chat
rooms support Netscape anytime soon.  :(

Still, Snap! Online is a great starting point for newbies.  With all of the
ISPs that have recently signed on to be partners with CNET on this project,
I expect Snap! Online to be a *MAJOR* Internet player for many years to



MINI (adjective) - a great number.
Usage: "Mini battles were fawt durin' the War of Northern Aggression"

(Special thanks to Andrew Roberts for today's wurd)

[By the way ... that's "you-ay-won-eye-ex"]

  For info on my new book "Atlas for the Information Superhighway"

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