There's a double dose of big news for rabid Harry Potter fans. This week, J.K. Rowling, author of the phenomenally successful series of Harry Potter books, has had two paperbacks published, each with an initial printing of 2.5 million copies. The paperbacks purport to be Harry's textbooks at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and as such they shed more light on young Potter's enviable and often scary life at the Hogwarts School.
Undoubtedly there'll be a run on bookstores by Harry's millions of fans.
The other news is the release of the first trailer for the much-anticipated movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, based on the first book in the series. The preview can be seen on the Warner Bros. Web site. The movie hits theaters on Nov. 16.
It's a fair bet that most Harry Potter fans not only know about the trailer but have probably watched it several dozen times. For those poor young souls who somehow haven't heard about the preview, here's what to do:
Go to the Harry Potter/Warner Bros. home page and click on The Daily Prophet, which contains the latest news and events concerning Harry and the upcoming movie. Click on the main headline - “Hurrah! The Trailer Is Here!” Choose Real Player, Windows Media Player, or QuickTime, signify your preferred download speed, and soon you and Harry will be walking into the Great Hall of the Hogwarts School together.
It's a good little preview that will surely whet the appetites of Hogwarts aficionados everywhere.
The site is tailor-made for Harry fans in several other ways. You can officially enroll at Hogwarts; download bookmarks and coloring pages; post and read messages in the Dialogue Center; see how a scene from the Sorcerer book was adapted to the movie screen, and shop for Harry Potter keepsakes and other souvenirs in the Wizard's Shop.
Speaking of movies, Travelago.com is a travel site with an interesting twist. In addition to booking flights and hotels, providing online maps, offering weather information, and keeping on top of local news and events in cities around the world, Travelago also has a library of high-quality streaming videos touting the virtues of more than 1,000 U.S. and foreign destinations.
Armed with Real Player, Windows Media Player, or QuickTime (they can be downloaded free), click on a country and see a video giving an overall look at the people, culture, and sights. Click the video button for a tour of individual cities. For example, the New Orleans video, about four minutes long, gives a ground-view look at the French Quarter, creole cooking, zydeco musicians, streetcars, street artists, cemeteries, swamps, and bayous. The site's primary focus is on the U.S. and Europe, but there are also informative videos on places as exotic as Cairo, New Delhi, and Istanbul.
You've been on the Internet, but have you ever been in it? Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has a nifty new exhibit called Networld that gives visitors the chance to actually experience how the Internet works. Using 33 computers, 25 liquid crystal display screens, and other electronic equipment, Networld creates a virtual environment where you can immerse yourself in a data stream and explore the cyberworld with an avatar - a digitized version of yourself.
The museum's Web site contains a series of pictures and text describing Networld, but thankfully it doesn't attempt to duplicate the actual experience of seeing the exhibit in person. A tour of the Networld pages will certainly pique your interest , however. One page, for example, describes a way to test your digital strength at the exhibit: “Find out how heavy text, pictures, or video would feel if the ones and zeros used to represent them on the Internet were thrown into a bucket.” Another hands-on experiment lets visitors control the Internet connection: “Clamp it shut or blast it wide open and see how long a text, video, or graphics file takes to cross the network.”
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