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DECEMBER 8 , 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 46 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Holidays in Cyberia


Every year, the same thing. Address the cards. Plan the party. Assemble the tree. Buy the shirts, the frilly underwear, the diamond-stud earrings — and those are just the gifts for your poker buddies. Wouldn't it be nice to do something different for the holidays? Where there's a Web, there's a way. On the following pages, we've jotted down a few ideas that can put a little electricity back in the season — which, you may recall, 'tis the season to be jolly. Cheer up and get clicking.
Compiled by MARIA CHENG and BELINDA RABANO

They're Playing Our Songs

Give another little piece of your heart by creating a digital music collection as a gift. MusicMatch Jukebox (Musicmatch.com) helps you transfer favorite tunes from your CDs to your PC hard drive. You can also download MP3 singles from MP3.com, Soundbuzz or other sites including Napster (if you practice situational ethics). Once you've used Jukebox to create a custom playlist, you've got several delivery choices. MP3 files are too fat to attach to e-mail, but you can copy tunes on a disk with a rewritable CD drive. Or skip the gift wrap and upload the collection to a virtual storage site like myspace.com, where your giftee can download the songs with a private password.

Soul Food

Ramadan, Islam's high holy days, are underway. Visit Ummah.org.uk for software to assist in traditional Ramadan observances, including a service that pinpoints the correct time to pray. When breaking the fast, surf Islam.rg/ramadan/food, a collection of recipes for ancient and modern Muslim fare.

Happy Snappy

Don't just tell relations how much the children have grown. An online family photo album provides graphic evidence. At Gatherround.com, you can download free picture-sharing software that lets you arrange and edit dozens of snaps. If an online album is too daunting, cheer can be spread through photo e-mails. Hyper-competitive families will like Opholio.com, where members can participate in photo contests and vote for their favorite holiday shots. Like other online photo album services, Opholio offers families the option of inserting captions or even a custom logo. And while you can't yet airbrush out any embarrassing holiday accidents, you can ensure that no one without a password sees the incriminating photos.

AsK Santa

Hey kids. We know it's scary to sit on that fat bearded guy's lap. Tell him what you want for Christmas through a non-threatening Web interface at Christmasmarket.com/santa, where an artificially intelligent, artificially jolly Santabot is ready to take your order. There's usually a queue. It's faster to send an e-mail to St. Nick via Santa.com, which promises a Blitzen-like response. Just to be on the safe side, Santa.com also makes it easy to spam relatives with your list, and offers advice on how to be nice, not naughty (hint: clean your room). E-mail too impersonal? At Santa-claus.com, ping the Obese Red One and get an instant voice message delivered to your PC.

Deck Your Hard Drive

You stare at the computer all day, you might as well be hypnotized by something festive. Convert desktop icons and your cursor arrow into snowmen, elves, candy canes and other holiday-themed schmaltz. Turn your monitor into a winter wonderland with a screensaver. Download it all from Coolfunclicks.com, Kidsdomain.com and Bluemountain.com.

Master Someone Else's Domain

For $35, you can register a domain name for a friend or family member at a variety of websites, including Register.com, Registrar.com, Yahoo! and through your local ISP. The generous, or desperate, can register up to 30 domains at once.

Manage Your Time

Ease holiday-party hassle with computerized efficiency. E-vites.com lets you send out online invitations with sound and can help you track RSVPs. The budget-conscious can also set up a payment method so that partygoers can contribute to particularly extravagant events online.

Stop Being So Greedy

The Web can help you fit benevolence into a busy shopping schedule by linking you to a charity of your choice. Get started at Allcharities.com and Charitywave.com, two directory services that also act as a conduit for e-donations. Independent Charities of America (Independentcharities.org) offers an international charity screening service so you can vet an organization before giving.

Gifts thaT Click

Why get someone a chintzy URL when you can build them a whole website to call their own? Using Yahoo's Page Wizard, you can construct a site for your friends and family in less than 10 minutes. Pick a page design, upload a photo of your choice — or use their smiling all-purpose stick-man — and answer a few brief questions. Angelfire.com offers a similar service that includes site-building tutorials and tips for building the perfect celebrity fan site, just in case one of your close personal friends is a superstar.

Say It With Style
Electronic greeting cards are a great way to tell your friends you don't care enough to send a real card. Lessen their hurt by delivering souped-up e-greetings. At Bluemountain.com you can attach a voice message or a few bars of bad karaoke. Sugarqube.com offers free animated cards, complete with comic sound effects. Ramadan salutations are available online at Greetz.com/ramadan/.

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