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August 6, 1995

Local home pages add
fun to cyberspace

By Timothy C. Barmann

I am sitting here listening to New York, New York, the classic Frank Sinatra song. This is not Foxwoods, though, and it's not Sinatra singing.

I'm in front of my computer, checking out "Paul's Homepage," one of dozens of home pages created by local residents that are found on the Internet's World Wide Web.

Home pages are like sophisticated electronic billboards - they give their creators a chance to say or show anything they want to all of cyberspace.

They're quirky. They're silly. They're helpful. But mostly, they're fun.

A number of Rhode Islanders have taken to the Web, and I recently toured a few of their sites. Here's what I found.

My New York, New York experience was provided by Paul S. Levin, a medical technologist at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, who likes to play with computers in his spare time. (His home page address is: http://www.ids.net/~paul12/.)

He calls one of his Web pages "Paul's Selecta Song," where visitors are welcomed by a colorful, penguin-like cartoon creature dancing against a star- filled background.

The Selecta Song page has six icons representing songs from categories like '50s Rock, Country and Pop. Click on one and, if you have a sound card, you can hear a three- or four-minute song that sounds like it's being played on a fancy, electronic keyboard that can imitate an entire band.

But what's the point?

"This page serves no real purpose other than to give you a chance to relax and listen to some music before continuing on your journey through cyberspace," writes Levin on his song page.

The page has had a number of regular visitors, including "a Jewish grandmother from the Bronx," said Levin, of Smithfield. "She's having a ball on my page."

I had fun there too, but after I had my fill of Sinatra, Bette Midler and the Beatles, it was time to press on.

I was lucky enough to be the very first person to log on to Mary Jo Berman's home page (http://pages.prodigy.com/RI/mary_jo/). I know I was the first because a four-digit counter on her home page, which looks like a car's odometer, registers guests. It read "0001" on my visit.

Berman, of Coventry, is just getting started - she has only a couple of lines on the page. The most prominent one says, "Does anyone know how to make colored text? If you do, please e-mail me."

I didn't, so I moved along.

The doctor is on line

Next stop: the doctor's office. Yul D. Ejnes, a medical doctor from Glocester, maintains a home page for his practice called Coastal Medical, Renaissance Office, which has offices in Cranston and Providence (http://users.aol.com/renmed/RenMed.html, updated November, 1995).

Renaissance's no-frills home page has links to all sorts of medical- related sites on the Web. The "Patient Education Resources" page points to information about some well-known medical problems, including diabetes and breast cancer, and to more obscure ailments, such as Raynaud's Disease and Sarcoidosis.

While the page was set up primarily for patients of his practice, Ejnes said, he's had inquiries from people around the country who are interested in a specific diagnoses.

Renaissance's patients can send e-mail to any of their four doctors from the Web page, but there is this warning: "Please do not e-mail us about urgent or emergent problems; you should use the old-fashioned phone for this."

I can't imagine waiting for a doctor to e-mail me when I'm having chest pains, but I guess you never can be too sure.

Paired up in cyberspace

In case you are wondering who Scott McCallum's fiancee is, it's Melissa Chandronnet. His home page (http://stealth.loa.com/moskrin/) has a picture of her announcing that fact. You can click on Melissa's picture and be connected to her own home page (http://www.loa.com/thumper/).

Scott, 19, and Melissa, 17, first met online while they were in a "chat area" on Log On America, a Providence-based Internet access provider, where Scott now works as senior system developer.

Melissa's page doesn't have much on it yet - just a snapshot of her on top of a psychedelic pattern of colors. And of course, she has a link back to Scott's home page.

Some other interesting facts about Scott from his "About me" page: He's six-feet tall, 150-160 lbs., has long, dark hair and has been told he looks "a bit like Bono (from U2), although I don't see it. ..."

I didn't either.

Personal ads

Michael S. Hussey looks like your average high school freshman - or at least he appears that way in a picture posted on his home page (http:// www2.ids.net/mikehussey/home.html). But Michael is not waiting for school to start to find a date - he's hoping a personal ad on his page will interest "Miss Right."

"I am currently looking for a girlfriend," writes the 15-year-old, who will attend Cranston High School East in the fall.

After detailing his hobbies - science fiction, video games, computers, TV and movies - Michael describes what he's looking for in a girl.

She should be nice, respectful, have a good sense of humor and similar interests, he writes.

At the top of the list is - "good-looking." But next to that item, he adds: "(Almost impossible for me to get a girl like this. Just thought I'd put it in.)"

Well, good luck, Michael.

How to connect

To view these home pages, you need a modem and access to the Internet's World Wide Web. Several local companies offer this service, including Aquidneck Web of Middletown (841-5999), bbsnet WORLDWIDE of Portsmouth (848-2276), brainiac Services of Hope Valley (539-9050), Intelecom Data Systems of East Greenwich (885-6855), Log On America of Providence (453-6100), and Plymouth Commercial Internet eXchange of Middletown (849-3638).

Three of the major online services allow access to the Web. They are America Online (800-827-6364), CompuServe (800-848-8199), and Prodigy (800-776-3449).

Many of these companies allow subscribers to store their home pages on their computers, which connect to the Internet.

If you're interested in seeing local home pages, several Web addresses list them. Here are a few starting points I used:





Timothy C. Barmann is a Journal-Bulletin staff photographer. 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.