Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 01:19:59 -0400
Sender: The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 27 April 1999 - More Fax Thingies / Easter Eggs
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
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TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Fax Thingies / Easter Eggs
We do try hard to make TOURBUS useful to an international audience,
but last week it was the Americans who did the griping. A couple of
people wrote in who were concerned about the fact that people faxing
to their eFax.com number would have to pay long distance charges.
I'll have some comments on that in this issue, along with some other
Internet faxing thingies, and then we'll have a bit of fun hunting
for "easter eggs".
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Is eFax Expensive For Fax Senders?
The eFax service randomly assigns you a US fax number, so you may
get a number in California when you live in New York, or vice versa.
But I don't think this is really a problem. The average fax takes
less than two minutes to send. And since most people in the USA are
paying between 5 and 10 cents per minute for long distance calls,
this means that it will only cost people 10-20 cents to fax you.
If you really feel bad about that, get a toll-free number which
rings on your eFax number and pick up the tab yourself. Since you
didn't have to spend a couple hundred bucks on a fax machine,
everybody's happy, right?
And as I mentioned in the last issue, readers outside the USA who
receive faxes from the US or Canada - give the senders your eFax
number and they'll thank you, since they'll be able to fax you
without paying international long-distance charges. (You can even
tell them you have an "international office" in the city where your
eFax number is located - how impressive!)
Other Internet Faxing Thingies
Some other readers kindly wrote to tell me about a few online fax
sending and receiving services I didn't cover, so I'll mention those
FAX4FREE - http://www.fax4free.com
This web-based service allows you to send a free fax from anywhere
in the world to a US fax number. Soon they will offer faxing to
other countries at "the least cost pricing available."
JFAX - http://www.jfax.com
Not a free service, but they offer senders local fax numbers
worldwide. You can choose your fax number in any American,
European or Asian big city. Faxes are delivered through email
like efax, and the fees for International faxing are quite
reasonable I am told.
CALLWAVE - http://www.callwave.com
Similar to eFax.com, but no fax viewer is provided.
Sotfware Easter Eggs
Did you know that pressing Ctrl-Alt-F while using the Netscape browser
will do something very fishy? Can you make the Win95 Start Button
disappear? Visit the Easter Egg Archive and you'll learn about these
and other fun but undocumented features buried in popular software.
An "easter egg" is a hidden feature intentionally put into a program
by the developers, just for fun. It could be a special keystroke
combo that shows a list of the programmers' names, a secret command, a
humorous response to a documented command, hidden games or animations.
Easter eggs are not software bugs, since they're put there on purpose
for entertainment value. They're not viruses, and they are always
harmless. Why do they exist? Simple - programmers have a strange
sense of humor, drink large quantities of caffeinated beverages, and
consume twinkies at alarming rates. This results in a faster pace of
software development, so the programmers take up the slack in their
schedules by adding pointless but fun features to the program.
The Easter Egg Archive is fun to explore, and has a catalog of "eggs"
you can hunt for in Windows, Mac, and Unix programs. Each egg comes
with instructions for trying it out on your own computer.
Reminds me of days gone by... when I was a student at RPI, we had a
mainframe computer that would occasionally clear the screen and show
the message: "Gimme a cookie." You couldn't get back to your work
until you typed "cookie" and pressed enter. At least it said "thank
you" after the appeasement.
That's all for now, see you next time! --Bob Rankin
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