CYBERPSACE HAS YOUR NUMBER\CD-ROM, Web make good calls.Byline: Mike Langberg Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire
My aunt recently wanted to find an old friend from her graduate-school days, a man who was living in Michigan when she last talked to him 15 years ago.
I popped a CD-ROM CD-ROM: see compact disc.
in full compact disc read-only memory
Type of computer storage medium that is read optically (e.g., by a laser). phone directory into my computer and found him in five minutes - in Tallahassee, Fla.
A quick phone call reconnected my aunt with her long-lost acquaintance, and they immediately arranged a reunion.
CD-ROM phone directories are playing high-tech Cupid for more and more such get-togethers, as well as helping small businesses put together mailing lists An automated e-mail system on the Internet, which is maintained by subject matter. There are thousands of such lists that reach millions of individuals and businesses. New users generally subscribe by sending an e-mail with the word "subscribe" in it and subsequently receive all new for a few hundred dollars that rival what mailing-list suppliers sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
The most important development in the directories is accuracy; most CD-ROM phone directories now appear to offer the correct listing - provided it hasn't changed within the past year or so - for 90 percent or more businesses and residences.
At the same time, prices are down. The high-end directories that sold for $150 to $200 in 1994 now cost $99; low-end products go for as little as $24.
And phone directories are finally moving into cyberspace Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general. See Internet and virtual reality. Contrast with meatspace. . The first free source of phone numbers on the World Wide Web opened its virtual doors in mid-February, a month after free phone numbers became available for the first time to America Online See AOL. subscribers.
All these directories work in essentially the same way: You enter the information you have - such as a person's name and the city where he or she lives - and get back listings that meet your criteria. CD-ROM directories are updated either quarterly or annually, so users have to keep buying the disks to stay current.
The first time you use an electronic phone directory, you feel as though you've broken shackles that you hadn't realized were holding you down.
You can instantly get the home phone number for every person named Anderson in Phoenix, for example, or find out how many people in Pennsylvania have the last name Zhang. With a high-end directory, you can also get the name and number for all the residents - who have listed numbers - on Easy Street in Mountain View, or produce a mailing list of every dentist's office in the greater Chicago area.
Electronic phone directories are much more forgiving than print phone books or directory-assistance operators. Want to find someone living in the New York metropolitan area New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island is the most populous metropolitan area in the United States and the third most populous in the world, after Tokyo and Mexico City. whose last name is spelled "Daley," "Daly," "Daily" or "Dailey"? Doing the job the old-fashioned way would require plowing through phone books or calling operators in seven area codes spread across three states.
With a CD-ROM on on-line directory, you just type "Da(asterisk)y," where the asterisk represents a "wild card" search for any name beginning with "Da" and ending in "y," and summon listings for Connecticut, New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of and New Jersey.
There are limitations, of course. The biggest obstacle is unlisted numbers, which don't appear in any electronic phone directory. About 20 percent of residential telephone numbers in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. are now unlisted; the number is much higher in some urban areas, approaching 50 percent in the Bay Area and Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. .
The other significant obstacle is the maddening literal-mindedness of computers. Some directories, for example, will provide thousands of listings in "Saint Paul Saint Paul, city (1990 pop. 272,235), state capital and seat of Ramsey co., E Minn., on bluffs along the Mississippi River, contiguous with Minneapolis, forming the Twin Cities metropolitan area; inc. 1854. ," Minnesota, but can't find a thing in "St. Paul St. Paul
as a missionary he fearlessly confronts the “perils of waters, of robbers, in the city, in the wilderness.” [N.T.: II Cor. 11:26]
See : Bravery ." If you spell someone's first name as "John," you won't see any listings for "Jon" or "Jonathan."
Finally, there is the problem of update lag. The telephone companies won't provide their directory databases in electronic form to the companies that produce CD-ROMs and on-line services.
None of these problems is a show-stopper, however.
Digital Directory Assistance Inc. ((800) 284-8353; Web site: http://www.dda-inc.inter.net) is the standard-setter for the industry, with a family of products under the "Phone Disc" name.
Pro CD Inc. ((800) 992-3766; Web site: http://www.procd.com), which sells a line of CD-ROM directories with "Phone" as the second word in their names.
American Business Information Inc. ((800) 555-5999; Web site: http://www.abii.com) offers a family of second-rate CD-ROM directories with numbers in the name, including "88 Million Households Phone Book Deluxe," "16 Million Business Phone Book" and "2 Million Canadian Businesses Canadian Business is the longest-publishing business magazine in Canada. It was founded in 1928 as The Commerce of the Nation, the organ of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The magazine was renamed Canadian Business in 1933. Phone Book."
Switchboard, a site on the World Wide Web at http://www.switchboard.com, gets four stars for the one simple reason: It's free.
America Online is a four-star contender with free white and yellow pages (Keyword "White Pages" and "Yellow Pages").
Photo (Color) An on-line switchboard offers nationwide phone listings. Knight Ridder
Knight Ridder (IPA: /ˈrɪdɚ/) was an American media company, specializing in newspaper and Internet publishing. Tribune Box DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE (See text)