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June 23, 1996

Tired of bungee jumps?
Hang out in the Web

By Timothy C. Barmann

Already tired of hearing about the X Games (formerly called the Extreme Games), scheduled to start tomorrow in Providence and Newport? Take a look at a World Wide Web page for the "Absurd Games."

Shawn Wallace, a resident "Web master" at AS220, a gallery and center for artists in Providence, helped come up with the idea for the games and the Web site.

Wallace describes the Absurd games as a "low-hype" alternative to the X Games and will coincide with those events.

The Absurd Games will include "contests" by Frotus, a performance art group based at AS220. There will even be an "opening ceremony," according to the Web site: ". . . An Absurd player will ride a train the length of the state from Westerly to Providence carrying a large paper mache torch."

Once the games begin, "things will just kind of happen," said Wallace. Some will happen at sites where the X Games are also being held, and others may be held anywhere.

Among the events planned is an "endurance-box sitting" contest, where people will see who can stay in box the longest, said Wallace. "It could be kind of interesting watching the final two box sitters trying to out-sit each other."

Another event is the "speed bolero" contest, where competitors will play the French composer Maurice Ravel's famous ballet, Bolero, as fast as they can.

If you miss these events, there will be plenty of others, Wallace said. He's solicited suggestions and got lots of responses. "A lot of them have to do with food," he said.

We'll just have to see what that means.

Visit the site (http://www.ids.net/~as220/absurd/games.html) to learn more about the absurdity those AS220 artists are up to.

All about bungees

If you are interested in the X Games, stop by the ESPN Web site (http://espnet.sportszone.com/editors/xgames/) to get the schedules, as well as everything you ever wanted to know about bungee jumping.

The sports network has hired three reporters to cover the events, and their stories will be posted daily, according to Susie Kamb, coordinating producer for ESPN enterprises.

ESPN also plans to post video and sound clips of the events that take place in Providence and Newport in AVI and Quick Time format. However, unless you have a fast Internet connection, or a lot of time on your hands, you'll be better off watching the games on TV rather than downloading video clips.

Another X Games site to catch is one put up by one of its sponsors - Burst Gum. It's at http://www.burstgum.com/destinationex.html

The Providence Journal Co. will put up an X Games site on the Web as well, through its electronic publishing arm, Rhode Island Horizons.

The site (http://www.projo.com/horizons/xgames/) will feature the work of Journal-Bulletin staff photographers who will cover the games, and daily stories by the newspapers' reporters, according to Horizons editor Andrea Panciera. Readers also will be able to contribute comments through a bulletin board at the Journal's X Games site, she said.

And Levi Maaia of East Providence said he plans to post his own photographs of the X Games on his Web site (http://members.aol.com/lee317/).

He said he will be a 10th grader at Moses Brown, where he is studying photography.

Born in cyberspace

A local Internet provider will help you launch your newborn into cyberspace by putting a free birth announcement on the World Wide Web.

Log On America of Providence is offering a free service called Baby Web, which will feature your child's photograph, birth date, name and weight "and anything else unique or interesting related to the birth," the company said.

Baby Web came about when David Paolo, president of the company, was making a page to announce the birth of his second son, Gianni. "It occurred to me that it was something in which other people would be interested."

He hopes the service will encourage people to use the Internet to reach family and friends. After your announcement is posted, anyone on the Internet can see it by typing in the address. (You'll need a graphical browser such as Netscape or Microsoft Explorer to see pictures.)

The Baby Web site is at http://www.loa.com/mosk/birth/. Those interested in submitting an announcement can send it to Log On America at 3 Regency Plaza, Suite 12, Providence, R.I. 02903. For more information call the company at 453-6100. Photos are not returnable.

Free-Net changes

One of the most active public message groups in Rhode Island is one found on the Ocean State Free-Net, the statewide public access computer system.

Messages have been pouring in since the Free-Net recently announced a contract it made with InteleCom Data Systems of East Greenwich to provide its pool of modems and its Internet connection.

Some have been critical of IDS and of its president Andy Green, suggesting that the Free-Net contract might not have been on the level, since IDS had a previous relationship with the Free-Net.

(One message writer even called Green the "anti-Christ of the Free-Net.")

IDS gave some technical help to the Free-Net when it was started in 1994, and after a major system crash in March, it loaned the Free-Net some hardware. It has provided Internet services and software to the Department of State Library Services, which started the Free-Net, since 1992.

Free-Net vice president Howard Boksenbaum said a request was sent to local Internet providers in February asking them to estimate the cost of Internet access and a 50-modem pool with statewide phone access for the Free-Net.

Several area Internet providers responded, and four proposals were examined closely. They were those of BBSnet worldwide of Portsmouth, Ultranet of Marlborough, Mass., BusinessOn of Warwick, and IDS.

A summary furnished by Boksenbaum shows that IDS offered the lowest estimate of annual operating cost: $18,000. On the high end was an estimate of $105,000 from Ultranet.

Estimates of the first year of service ranged from $33,000 (BBSnet) to $105,000 (Ultranet). IDS's estimate was not the lowest ($43,000), but it offered an Internet connection that is potentially 26 times faster than the one offer in the $33,000 estimate by BBSnet.

(Because of the cost, the Free-Net ended up contracting for 20 modems instead of the 50 it originally planned. It will pay IDS $10,000 in startup costs and $600 a month for the service.)

The Free-Net was scheduled to be down until tomorrow after IDS begins serving it.

The new modem phone numbers will be: Providence, 453-9698; Woonsocket, 767-8319; Newport, 845-2427; East Greenwich 886-6170; Wyoming, 539-3344. The Little Compton number, 635-8050, is unchanged but will not be online immediately, according to the Free-Net.

Computer calendar

June 23 - Matunuck Community Association and brainiac services, a Hope Valley Internet provider, will present at 1 p.m. an "Introduction to the Internet." It's at the association's building on Matunuck Beach Rd., and it's free. For more information, call Liisa Laine at brainiac at 539-9050.

June 24 - The Boston Computer Society's Rhode Island Macintosh Group will meet at 7 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the CIT Building at Brown University. Clare Durst, a Web page designer at Brown, will show how to set up a Web page for the Macintosh platform. For more information, see the group's Web site at http://ids.net/~louissn/rimac.htm, or call Bob Hazard at 884-3050, or Tom Feeley at 444-9677.

Timothy C. Barmann is a Journal-Bulletin staff writer. His column runs every other Sunday on the On Line page. Send him comments via e-mail at tim@cybertalk.com or U.S. mail, c/o the Journal-Bulletin, 75 Fountain St., Providence, R.I. 02902.