New gadgets, old recipes now online

If you were to read this article online at csmonitor.com, chances are you would be doing it on an obsolete piece of equipment.

With the pace of development in technology, one is torn between anticipation for the promises of the future and a nostalgia for simpler times.

But fear not, the Web can cater to both desires by offering up such sites as EdgeReview and The Household Cyclopedia.

Launched in April, EdgeReview is an online magazine dedicated to following the latest developments in consumer technology - from robotic lawn mowers to glass stereo speakers to "intelligent" downhill skis. The coverage itself is reminiscent of Hollywood trailers - brief and perhaps overly optimistic (being largely derived from their creators' press releases), but sufficient to make fans impatient for the release.

The design of the site is easy to follow, with recent additions and "Short Takes" featured on the homepage, and archived pieces divided into lifestyle, electronics, technology, and gear categories - accessible through a menu bar near the top of every page.

The categories are fairly nebulous with many of these items. One example is the "Ottoman" - a computer built into a footrest - which certainly uses both electronics and technology, while the unusual container for the technology presumably qualifies the package as a piece of gear.

Each featured innovation is given its own page, generally with a description, photos, contact information for the manufacturer, and a purchase price. (All too often, the last statistic is "$n/a" - doubtless because manufacturers are reluctant to commit to prices before products hit the shelves.)

Printer-friendly and e-mailable versions of the reviews are also provided, so you can more easily share your discovery of the SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle (strap-on helicopter), or the E-Holster ("Carry your PDA, cellphone, and anything else you need like a spy").

If the visit to EdgeReview has you wanting to turn back the clock, The Household Cyclopedia is standing by. You'll immediately notice that the Cyclopedia site design is a good deal more basic than EdgeReview's - and with good reason. The Web site is a "porting" to HTML of a 19th-century book containing all the wisdom that might be required by those living in a time when people did things for themselves.

The topics - categorized, and accessible directly from the home page - are appropriately encyclopedic in their variety, and advise the reader on everything from crop rotation, beekeeping, and making "sour-krout" [sic.], to recipes for such nonedibles as ink, glass, matches, and even photographic plates and chemicals.

A large number of illustrations are also available from the bottom of the home page, but the words alone have been enough to attract casual visitors and also artists and crafts workers looking for information about past techniques.

The server seemed temperamental during some of my visits, but while you're waiting, you can always go back to ER and check out the "Ergoseat .... The truly comfortable way to ride a bike."

EdgeReview can be found at www.edgereview.com. The Household Cyclopedia can be found at http://members.xoom.com/mspong/

*Jim Regan provides 'Today's Links' to csmonitor.com. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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