Best candidate for a dot-com rehab
Dot-com riches have remade, and revived, many parts of the city, including a number of historic buildings. The Smith Tower downtown, the PacMed building on Beacon Hill, and Pier 70 along the waterfront, among others, have all gotten a total makeover, for better or worse, courtesy of the dot-commers. So where to next? We recommend the shuttered Wonder Bread Bakery building on South Jackson and 18th Avenue South in the Central District. Wonder Bread's parent company abandoned the facility last year in order to move to a state-of-the-art bakery in Tacoma. It's now ripe for a high-tech makeover, with all the requisite amenities: There's a patch of greenery right next door (Pratt Park) for fitness-conscious professionals, a kitschy landmark sign, and, best of all, just steps away, the Hostess bakery thrift store is still open! Free pop is played out for the high-tech elite; how about discounted fruit pies?
Best place to admire real estate you'll never be able to afford
Better than porn! More entertaining than chat rooms! Instant gratification quicker than Kozmo.com can deliver! And it's all about money—or, more precisely, the money you don't have and the luxury properties you can't afford. Yes, we're talking about Windermere Real Estate's all-powerful Seattle search page, www.windermere.com, which allows you to click on the trendy neighborhood of your choice, enter a few particulars, then browse-browse-browse to your window-shopping satisfaction. Looking for a 2-bed, 1-bath loft with parking in Belltown? Not a problem, if you've got $1.2 million on hand! Waste hours at work looking through the regularly updated listings for that Ravenna Craftsman bungalow of your dreams. Drive yourself to despair with the specs and photos of places where you'll never live, then curl up in the sleeping bag beneath your desk and cry yourself to sleep.
Best reason to hang onto your old 14.4 bps modem
Sure, your connection is slow. Sure, you admire your friends' spiffy, high-speed Internet links. But progress has its price. When the aliens land (provoked by our sudden disruption of the galactic radio spectrum), all those with DSL, T1, or ISDN connections will be made to work in the Terbium mines of Saturn. Don't risk upgrading to a shovel and pickax!
Best dot-com workplace perk
Tucked away in a shabby corner of the Denny Regrade, allrecipes.com (321 Minor N, 292-3990) is in no danger of winning the award for Best Campus Location. The good news is once you've arrived, you won't give much of a damn about heading out for lunch. This vast site, driven in large part by enthusiastic reader contributions, has at its headquarters a professional-grade test kitchen—with amazing smells emanating from it at odd intervals throughout the day. We'd weigh a thousand pounds apiece if we worked here, and we would not care.
Best way to earn unlimited income from the Web while working from the comfort and privacy of your own home
Lord knows everyone else is cashing in, so why can't you? Just follow the example of TV's Big Brother and countless Webcasts by installing live, constantly transmitting video cameras throughout your home, then trademark the following domain name: www.family-of-nudists-sponsors-Swedish-exchange-student-program.com. Your licensed, registered, paying customers will soon be logged on 24-7 to watch you feed, bathe, and spank the naughty girls from Scandinavia.
Best career-search site
Are you looking for a high-tech marketing job? We aren't either, but even we destined-to-be-destitute workers can use the job search tips at Rosengren.net. And if you're lucky enough to be a schmoozing business muckety-muck, Rosengren.net has the inside scoop on all kinds of high-tech, high-level local jobs for you. At no cost to you, the applicant, you can look over job listings at up-and-coming dot-com startups and other more established businesses. (We were especially attracted by the opportunity to work at AwesomeCakes.com, but unfortunately, an ability to inhale frosting probably doesn't give you the chops to earn six figures—or even five). The site is maintained by Curt Rosengren, high-tech marketing professional (surprise!) and overall good guy seeking good karma and the chance to make new business contacts. If you dream of living in a Kirkland waterfront condo and sipping Starbucks lattes in a Lexus SUV, Rosengren.net looks like a damn good place to start.
Best campus location
Any number of flush dot-coms have snapped up sweet Elliott Bay views, and Adobe has those cool Fremont digs sitting geek-by-jowl with the Interurban sculpture, but it takes a monopoly to make a campus on the wallpaper-dull Eastside a haven of beauty. One Microsoft Way doesn't exactly take us there, but Microsoft's RedWest—the campus where resides, among other folks, the games staff, is so beautiful we're willing to consider signing on with the Redmond Menace. The fountains! The vaguely Eastern landscaping! The cafeteria! (OK, that last bit is on hearsay; the cafeteria doesn't welcome civilians.) If the breakup comes to pass and Microsoft really has to split up, we envy whichever new company gets custody of this joint.
Like the pyramids they endure, withstanding the rise and fall of the cyber-cafe craze, the threats to their performance space, the ongoing encroachment by the soulless likes of AT&T and AOL. We love Speakeasy (2222 Second, 728-9770, www.speakeasy.net) because we love our local businesses, especially the feisty ones. But Speakeasy's a no-fooling serious ISP, with good national access and competitive rates on both dial-up and DSL service. Best of all is Speakeasy's tech support, populated by actual human beings with not only real experience on the machines but names and phone extensions—when shit goes wrong, we know who to go looking for. The wonderful thing is that it somehow never comes to that. After years of dalliance with incompetent national ISPs and flaky mom-and-pop shops, at last we've found a stable home for our home pages.
Best reason to quit your dot-com job, sell your PC, leave Seattle, and live in a shack off the grid
Think this region's economy couldn't get any hotter? You're both right and wrong. An about-to-be-published seismology report will reveal that the recent proliferation of phone lines has caused intense local electromagnetic disruption to the center of the earth. This has resulted in the sudden, violent heating of once-dormant lava beds beneath Mount Rainier, with Seattle in the direct path of its likely lahar flows.
Best online place to fiddle while Rome burns
Yes, it's terribly fashionable right now to be flipping the big I-told-you-so bird at any number of struggling dot-coms. Make a blood sport of it by placing your bets at fuckedcompany.com, where Hollywood Stock Exchange-type speculation meets Celebrity Death Pool-type ghoulishness. Make your weekly pick of five companies destined for the dustbin of history and amass points based on their death throes, peccadilloes, and general bad behavior. You can't tweak the outcomes by posting bogus rumors (in fact, you'll score better if you bet on the dark-horse failures no one else sees coming), but keeping abreast of the posted blow-by-blow fall of the Empire might make you feel better about how things are going at your own company. And cheer up: Our all-Seattle predictions aren't doing nearly as well (that is, as badly) as we'd expected. The Puget Sound area must be doing something right.
Best government Web site/service
Beating out the online parking ticket payment program by a very, very angry staff writer's nose, the Seattle Public Library's highly useful www.spl.lib.wa.us has, ironically, made better book readers of us all. The entire library system's catalog is available online, and with your library card at hand you can search the shelves of all 27 branches, reserve books to be sent to your nearest local branch, and search newspaper and magazine databases such as InfoTrac and ProQuest. The folks working on these sites have some nice extras, too, including the nifty Nancy Pearl list (as heard on KUOW) that has already pointed us to several fun reads we never would have found otherwise. We categorically deny reports that we're abusing the system to check out music CDs and rip off copies for our own collection, but if we were to do such a thing this would be the ultimate tool of RIAA subversion. Eat your heart out, Napster!
Best pitch to get Paul Allen to invest in your start-up
Hey, the guy will put money into anything if you ask in the right manner (football stadiums excepted). So wander down to Vulcan Northwest with the following business plan: "It's a Web site all about Hendrix, devoted exclusively to Hendrix, featuring nothing but Hendrix, and—here's the golden part—the voters will pay for its corporate headquarters."
Best geek accoutrement
It's not cheap (at this writing it cost around four shares of Amazon stock), but 3133t geek boys of the Linux persuasion should ditch the "Got Root?" T-shirts in favor of the gorgeous Linux-compatible tie we recently saw on a fashionable Canadian (yeah, quit laughing)—tiny penguins, sea lions, and walruses cavorting on ice floes. Any ass with folding money can own the latest PDA (cell phone, pager, MP3 player), but a sense of style that won't get you thrown out of your better restaurants—there's something you don't see enough of in the Geek-American community.
Best dance chats
Writing or reading about dance can feel a bit like a one-way street. You get to say what you think, or read those thoughts in print, but sometimes you'd like some give and take, some kind of response. You'd like a chance to talk, but you can't always spend hours at a local coffeehouse after the show. Chat boards, beloved of teenagers and enthusiasts, give you a community of people just as interested as you are in the details of a performance or the history of a company, and you can log on from home wearing your bunny slippers. Balletalert.com, Ballet Alert's lively Web site, includes highly partisan discussions about various dance topics. And, for a more local perspective, the "After Talk" section of ontheboards.com hosts responses to their programming.
Best way to buy your Belltown dream loft in our overpriced dot-com-driven housing market
You've just found the perfect place with exposed brick, wood floors, original beams, 15-foot windows and 20-foot ceilings. There's just one problem: It costs $2.5 million and you're still delivering pizza and video tapes for Kozmo.com. The solution? Let your living place become your livelihood, thanks to live cameras on www.pay-my-mortgage.com. If you get behind on your payments, just invite the girls of the Lusty Lady over and throw a party!
Best fantasy vacation planning
All right, here we go: There are probably as many fantasy vacations as there are people in this world, and our fantasy may differ greatly from yours. In fact, our fantasy right now may differ greatly from our fantasy five minutes ago. If you recognize this indecisiveness in yourself, this desire to go anywhere and everywhere and see everything the world has to offer (to put it in the corniest terms available), then you'll share our love of Justfares.com. The friendly folks at this Seattle-based travel agency will help you customize a round-the-world flight package at an almost-affordable price. They even have deals letting you make your own surf or all-Pacific-Rim itineraries (and yeah, they also have good bargains on ho-hum round-trip fares). Even if you're a little short on funds for this kind of vacation (we are, too), Justfares.com is still perfect lunch break daydreaming fodder. Fiji or bust!
Best unclaimed domain name
Worried that you're being left out of the go-go, dot-com economy? Hoping to get rich quick, but don't know where to start? The first step on your path to financial independence is to secure a pithy, recognizable URL that's still available. Granted, they're becoming harder and harder to find, but we've located one short, snappy moniker that's been oddly left unclaimed: www.bill-gates.com, yours for the taking at only $29.99.
Best dot-com-inspired words and phrases
Sure, every industry has its own lingo. But recently the technology industry's lingo has completely seeped in and pervaded our culture to "virtually" change our world. And it's a brave new world we live in—it's a world where we send out a question via our "distribution list" and consider ourselves accommodating when we assure the members that they can just "little r" us on it; after all, no need to flood everyone's "inbox" and create a "monster thread" with the Reply to All button. It's a world where "TLA"s (Three Letter Acronyms) frequently pop up in friendly parlance, the prefix "cyber" snuggles up to just about every utterance imaginable, and "key words" are key in more ways than one. Will we one day be judging beauty pageants and dog shows on "look and feel," "user interface," and "scalability?" If acquiring tech-tested lingo is on your list of "action items," be sure to "log on" to www.netlingo.com, where "Netizens," "Newbies," and "dotsnots" can "surf" the site and brush up on their "netiquette." And if you're still not sure, don't have a "meltdown." "Ping" us on this, or perhaps send us a note via "snail mail" and we'll "take this offline." Don't "flame" us though, or we'll sick some "spam" on you. And we're not "gonking."
Best alternative to Amazon.com
Turn back the clock to those days before Amazon decided to become the Wal-Mart of the Web. Back then, they mostly sold books and the site lacked a zillion little index buttons beckoning you buy toys or patio furniture. For those yearning for those halcyon days, we recommend Amazon.co.uk, Amazon's British site. It's simpler and mostly features books (yes, they also have CDs and DVDs) with a minimum of hype. It is quiet and straightforward, like a good bookstore or a British breakfast. Relievedly, it lacks the increasingly frantic quality of the Amazon US homepage. More importantly, it also features books in English that you simply can't get here. Recently, we were able to get a BC publisher's title that Amazon UK had in stock, but was "special order" here in the states—meaning delivery could have taken weeks. One-click shopping is available and delivery is often faster and more efficient than from the US site.
Best populist remedy for Microsoft
Tired of reading about the damn antitrust trial? Wish you'd never heard of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson? Worried that a federally mandated breakup may force you to work on two computers? (One for the Net, one for Word.) Let the people of Seattle decide what to do with the much-loved/ hated local software behemoth. In our scheme, Bill Gates and company get to keep their monopoly, but have to share their wealth by hiring us all in the new "citizen/employee/stockholder" category, with free cafeteria privileges included.
Best technology-meets-culture organization
Growing up, we learned that Aunt Edna's expensive painting on the wall was "art," and our cheap crayon scrawls on the fridge were not. Here's where the 911 Media Arts Center (117 Yale N, 682-6552) comes in, nurturing the artist within us all by providing the common folk with opportunities to get involved in media arts. Want to make a movie, but have no idea how? Interested in provocative, noncommercial art (and no, we're not talking about Eyes Wide Shut)? Intrigued by art that reflects your life, not the experiences of 16th-century dead white men? 911 has instructional classes and seminars you can take, as well as affordable media-making equipment to lend, a screening room to show your stuff, and cheap, unusual events for the spectator to enjoy. At the cutting edge of media technology, 911 explores new media such as DVD and always keeps its focus on allowing normal people to produce high quality art. They're even starting up a Web site, Webflicks.org, to showcase streaming media and animation. So go ahead—get your artistic groove on.
Best place to get your Hello Kitty fix
We admit it, some of us can't resist the inexplicably cute white cat with the pie-wide face and no mouth that spurred riots in Asia's McDonalds when dolls were given away with purchases of Big Macs. But we were into Hello Kitty years before she became the rage, so there. Sanrio Gift Gate (Bellevue Square, 425-451-0631) is the regional flagship where you can get everything from backpacks to waffle irons bearing the coveted image. However, for pure eye candy, visit www.hellomimi.com, a most comprehensive fansite maintained by a Chinese-Canadian university student. The site doesn't sell goods, but it features pictures of rare Hello Kitty products: snowboard, vacuum cleaner, diet pills (!), even a Hello Kitty moped and compact car (unfortunately, the steering wheel is on the right-hand side). Then there's the Hello Kitty Visa and Mastercards available from the Bank of Japan for your fantasy spending spree.
Best excuse for being lazy
So what if it seems crazy that Kozmo.com will deliver a $3.99 video, not to mention a $1 candy bar, at no extra cost? Let the venture capitalists worry about business models; we feel virtually obligated to take advantage of such a good thing. We like Kozmo for its good selection of recent, foreign, and independent movies. (Browsing is easy by actor, director, or country.) You can also stay in your PJs while ordering dinner, household items, books and magazines or, if you want to help Kozmo actually make some money, electronics. Deliveries arrive at your door within an hour, so unless you're a fresh-air fanatic there really is no reason to leave your couch. Ever.
Best local media site (besides ours)
Super-clean design, robust power, a search engine that seems to read your mind—seattletimes.com has it all. This is not only the best news media site in town, it's one of the best in the country. Take any of the big media companies' online efforts, whether The New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, or others, and you'll see sites that are, for the most part, ineptly organized, toppling over with clutter, ugly, and unwieldy. Only our friends at the Seattle Times Company seem to have understood how to make a news site that is easy to navigate, thoroughly functional yet handsome too, and that serves people who want access to the newspaper—not to order flowers, find a hotel, or sign up for free e-mail promotions. God only knows how much money the company is losing on this expensive endeavor, but that's really not your problem, is it?
Best Luddite device
Remember the rotary telephone? Boy does this confuse your guests. "But how do I check my voicemail?" they whine (unless they have a cell, in which case they should just cower in the bathroom with it), and you say, "Like anyone calls you anyway" and fix them a drink. Aesthetically pleasing, the rotary has the added advantage of making you think twice before you place a call. Is it really worth all that time and effort? You save on long distance (FOUR extra numbers?!), and those late-night drunk 'n' dials to the ex-boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses take a nose dive. All that dialing is impossible when you're seeing double; you'll give up and go to bed—and that's really better for everyone concerned, isn't it? Go out and get your very own rotary telephone at thrift stores citywide or overpriced "vintage" stores on Pine Street. Let your legs do the walking.
Best reason to hate yourself
The year 2000 has brought you so many new and exciting things—and with those new and exciting things, so many new and exciting reasons to hate yourself. And while you could hate yourself for ordering your cat food from Homegrocer.com, you've determined that it's a valid enough resource and you really identify with their brand. Besides, human interaction makes you sort of itchy anyway. You could hate yourself for ordering that bag of cookies, A Kenny G. Christmas, and Sleepless in Seattle from Kozmo.com, but it's just so easy, and you don't have to tip! And while the whole concept of Mylackey.com could make you sick with hate, you've come to terms with the fact that you just don't have the time to press your Dockers or talk to your kids. So what's the best reason to actually hate yourself? You recently squealed "I just bought a condo online!" into your cell phone.
Best of Seattle, 2000
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