TV4all.com opens a whole new world for Internet users - new, but alas, sometimes very confusing.
According to the Web site, visitors have access to a database of 593 television stations that broadcast on the Internet from around the world, offering live and recorded TV programs. The site also carries a good number of radio stations, driving the number of Webcast outlets to 3,000.
The streaming video feeds mean that, although a high-speed connection to the Internet is ideal, computer users with a slower dial-up connection will also be able to browse the site without having to wait eons for downloads. What is needed, however, is Real Player, Windows Media Player, or QuickTime, and preferably all three (which themselves can be downloaded free).
The range of countries represented at TV4all.com is vast - Bosnia, Japan, China, Algeria, Bolivia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Norway, Mexico, and Iran are just a smattering. Surfers can watch the BBC world news, Vatican television, NASA TV (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and the controversial Arab station Al Jazeera, which emanates from Qatar. There's a ton of U.S. stations to pick from, including lots of religious programming.
Trouble is, not all the stations broadcast live 24 hours a day, and even then the connections can be spotty or worse - depending on the time of day, the connections may not work at all.
Another problem: If you speak only English, you won't be able to understand what's written or being said on most of the foreign stations, although some of them - Vatican TV is a good example - offer translations in English and other languages.
Still, there's enough here to satisfy most visitors: music, photographs, mini-movies, cartoons, newscasts, and lots of strange, colorful graphics. Go to a Turkish TV station and you may find yourself watching a mildly saucy film, while Jamaica serves up reggae music, Cuban TV presents live concerts and travelogues, and Canada boasts “raw video” - that is, unedited video - of such recent news events as the press conference in which a Clonaid source discusses the religious cult's claim that the first cloned baby has been born.
Fiction's top characters
Book magazine, a bimonthly publication, gathered together about 60 people of achievement - authors, editors, critics, actors, and teachers among them - to rank the top 100 characters in literature since 1900. At its Web site, the magazine gives the top 10 results, with a promise that the 2002 magazine edition containing all 100 will soon be available for perusal online.
Meanwhile, Bookmagazine.com tantalizes us with a list of the best of the best, with a line or two of explanation. See how the panel's choices match up with yours:
1. Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald); 2. Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger); 3. Humbert Humbert, Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov); 4. Leopold Bloom, Ulysses (James Joyce); Rabbit Angstrom, Rabbit, Run (John Updike).
6. Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles and other mysteries (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle); 7. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee); 8. Molly Bloom, Ulysses (James Joyce); Stephen Dedalus, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce), and Lily Bart, The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton).
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