Imagine if the music stopped every 30 seconds as you listened to your car radio and, to get the next 30 seconds, you had to reach down to punch a button on the radio console. And then wait 10 seconds. And then again, and again, and again.

Forget that!

Yet isn’t that sort of what you have to do now if you’re searching with one of the 411 “white pages” directories on the web? I use the one on AOL. And it’s terrific. Except that it only gives me 5 names at a time!

That’s fine if I’m searching for Anton Shevarnadze in Iowa City.

But what if I’m searching for Michael Smith (or Mike Smith or M Smith) — in New York?

Do you know how frustrating it is to have to click “next” after each five, and then finger-strum? (You’re supposed to be reading all the ads, which is why they make it so slow, while you wait for the next five.) And then again for the next five? And the next?

My friend Marc has fixed all this. (It was actually his dog Looe’s idea.)

Last month I directed your attention to a new site I have a stake in called Quickbrowse. It’s still in a sort of beta phase, and if you all try it out at exactly the same time this morning it will slow to molasses. (We will shortly upgrade our server.) But BOY has it come a long way in a month.

It’s now three things (soon to be four):

Quickbrowse – for surfing

Q-Search – for searching

Q-People – for finding Michael Smith in New York

Basically, all it really is is a simple tool for building one long — sometimes very long — web page that you can look at all at once without interruption.

The only sensible way to find Michael Smith in New York from now on (whether with the AOL people finder or any of several others) is by using Q-People as your portal to people-finders.

The only sensible way to search for information on Yahoo and Altavista and Lycos and the rest — unless you actually like being interrupted after every 20 “matches” — is by using Q-Search as your portal to seach engines.

And if you like to see the same set of web pages every morning — Dilbert and the sports page from your local newspaper and the Wall Street Journal and, dare I even dream it, this column — the only sensible way to do it is by using Quickbrowse as your portal.

(There’s actually a lot more to Quickbrowse, as my April 6 column tried to explain. You can set it up to email you various “collections” of web pages at specific times each day or week. You can have it send you the special weekend airline deals a minute after they’re posted. You can turn “images off” for faster browsing. And there’s an “Alt-Tab” trick — Ctrl-F6 with AOL — that’s a total snap to use and makes reading on-line newspapers far more efficient.)

We have an interesting corporate structure with Quickbrowse. Looe basically calls the shots and sets the broad strategy. But, being a dog (and of indeterminate lineage), he does not write clean code. Marc does that. David feeds Looe (and cheers on Marc). I feed Marc and David (until we figure out the revenue model, which is presumably to lose an ever-increasing amount of money and watch our stock soar off into the stratosphere).

In the last column I suggested that, given our dim prospects for profits any time soon, we would be willing to sell 1% for $1 million. This was a joke. Three of you, undeterred, inquired about smaller shares.

But we are having fun building this, and encourage you to use it and provide your feedback — to Looe (just click beneath his photo), not me.


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