...Continued from page 1

More Techno-News

One major reason for French reluctance to jump wholeheartedly onto the Internet has been the high cost of computers. This goes without mentioning the total silliness of them being almost impossible to operate on account of being overloaded with lousy code.

But now two things have happened here. The first is 'plug-and-play' and the second is tying the price of a computer to a subscription to an online provider. Thus, supermarkets are peddling multimedia PCs for just under 2,000 francs, coupled tophoto: model underground louvre online access for 149 francs per month.

A model of the archeological digs under the Louvre; shown at the 'Cent Ans d'Histoire' exhibition.

Apparently, the online operator reimburses the supermarket the 2,000 francs, which is the wholesale value of the computer - in return for collecting 149 francs a month for forever. Well, for two years at least.

Le Parisien took out their pocket calculator and figured it out. The initial payment and the two-year subscription comes to 5,566 francs. Instead, if you buy a similar low-end machine for the going price of 4,000 francs and get a regular deal from an ISP, the user will save between 500 and a thousand francs over two years.

The sales model being tried is a bit like the one that sold several million portable phones; on the basis of one franc for the phone coupled to a large subscription fee for access. Nobody likes to mention that France Telecom's line fees are on top of everything.

In fact, today is supposed to be another 'boycott France Telecom Day,' by staying off the 'Net. The last one resulted in some talk by France Telecom about studying its rate structure - a bit as if they were dealing with striking truck drivers. Stall as long as possible, in other words.

The government says it wants the French to be online. The figure of a flat 100 franc a month rate for unlimited line-time has been put about. I think the pressure groups should have offered no more than 25 francs, so there would be some room to negotiate a deal even better than 100 francs a month.

The pressure groups should have gone after the abolition of line charges for local calls. This would have benefitted everybody.

Sloppy Le Parisien URLs

Last week, in my usual mad scramble, I just copied the URLs out of Le Parisien's feature about virtual museum visits, crossed my fingers and stuck them in here. It didn't work.

Besides my own typos, which were no fault of Le Parisien, they had more than a few. In the old days - about two years ago - most Web URLs were pretty conformist. You could look at some of them and half-guess they were wrong.

I checked the URLs about four hours later, but I don't remember which were flousey. If you accessedphoto: night on rivoli early from Asia or Europe, you may have hit some duds before I got the corrections in. My apologies.

Night time on the Rue de Rivoli.

I don't do much Web surfing and depend on a couple of Info services for tips. I find it disconcerting how many of the URLs they publish are duds. I can understand how some of them happen though. After getting the 'home' or default URL, the reviewers dig down into the Web site and when they find something interesting, they note whatever URL is showing.

But quite often, with code-trickery, URLs can be dynamically- generated. If you try them from scratch, they will return a '404' - not found. If this happens to you, simply try cutting off all of the URL that comes after the dot-com or dot-net, and hit it again. Nine times out of ten, you'll get the Web site you want.

Dismal Sports News

Paris' football team PSG has done no better last week than the week before. There is gloom in Light City.

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