Read an Excerpt
Magazines, Shopping, TV, and Movies
In This Chapter
- Browsing CompuServe's magazine rack
- Shopping on CompuServe
- TV and movie information
Kids like CompuServe for its games; businesspeople like CompuServe for its news and information databases; and practically everyone likes CompuServe for its direct contact and electronic communication to software and hardware companies. But no matter what you use CompuServe for, you may be surprised to discover that you can also use CompuServe to read your favorite magazines, keep up with your favorite TV shows or movies, and do your shopping without leaving your home (except to go to work and earn money to pay your credit card bills).
Browsing CompuServe's Magazine Rack
Rather than rush to your nearest newsstand to read your favorite magazines, dial into CompuServe. Besides offering the most popular computer magazines such as PC World, Computer Shopper, or PC Magazine, CompuServe also offers non-computer related magazines such as Time (as shown in Figure 14-1), National Geographic, and Playboy. (Don't worry. You can actually see more frontal nudity in National Geographic than you can in Playboy.)
Besides offering the current articles and back issues, many of these magazines also offer separate forums where you can download files, chat with other members about your favorite magazine, or post messages to the magazine's editors and writers.
In case you just want to browse through CompuServe's magazine offerings and don't mind aimless browsing, follow these steps:
- Press Ctrl+G (Command+G for Mac users) to display the Go dialog box.
- Type MEDIA and press Enter.
- Click on a magazine category that you want to read, such as Sports or Financial.
CompuServe's media menu appears, as shown in Figure 14-2.
If you'd rather not waste time browsing through CompuServe's magazine rack, look at Table 14-1, find a magazine that interests you, and jump right to it using the magical GO command.
Table 14-1 Some of the Popular Magazines in CompuServe's Rack
|Magazine Name||GO Command to Use|
|Computer Gaming World||CGWMAGAZIN|
|Dr. Dobb's Journal||DDJFORUM|
|New York Magazine||NYMAG|
|Software Development Magazine||SDFORUM|
Shopping on CompuServe (GO SHOPPING)
Although most people still prefer shopping at malls that cover acres of land, more people are slowly accepting the idea of shopping through their computers. To encourage this trend, CompuServe offers several shopping areas specifically designed to let you browse and buy whatever you want.
To encourage you to browse and spend money, you can spend as much time as you want within CompuServe's shopping areas, and CompuServe won't keep track of time. When you're visiting a shopping area, look for the big (FREE) notice that tells you that visiting that particular area won't use up your precious monthly allotment of CompuServe time. So relax, roam through CompuServe's shopping areas, and see whether shopping by computer is really as convenient as science fiction makes it out to be.
For your protection, CompuServe only accepts credit cards for payment, and for additional security, they ship merchandise only to your credit card's mailing address. If you want to ship merchandise to a different address, you must call a sales representative (and use your voice, not your modem) at 800-848-8199.
The CompuServe Store (GO ORDER)
Like all good tourist attractions, CompuServe sells products to help you use CompuServe (books, binders, and wall charts), along with CompuServe souvenirs (T-shirts and coffee mugs) so that you can show everyone else which online service you belong to. Because you're not likely to find a T-shirt or coaster with the CompuServe logo on it in your local Kmart, CompuServe may be the only place to buy certain items.
In addition to trivia items such as CompuServe caps or pens, The CompuServe Store also sells guides to playing CompuServe's games, additional booklets explaining how to use specific CompuServe databases and financial services, and back issues of CompuServe's own magazine (in case you lost yours).
Besides offering many products at discounts, CompuServe sometimes offers credit (a bribe) for connect-time charges. Depending on the product you buy, CompuServe may reward you with credit ranging from $5 to $25. You can use this credit only to pay for your connect-time charges, but because you're already using CompuServe anyway, you may as well buy something through CompuServe, just to reduce your monthly CompuServe bill.
To visit The CompuServe Store, use the GO ORDER command.
The Electronic Mall (GO MALL)
The Electronic Mall (shown in Figure 14-3) is CompuServe's version of a real shopping mall, offering a wide variety of products from merchants that come and go, just like at a regular mall. Some of the products you may find here include contact lenses, cookies, sculptures, and mattresses from such well-known names as Lens Express, JCPenney, Sears, AT&T, and even the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Because real shopping malls can be confusing enough to navigate with all their multiple levels, bright lights, and endless escalators, CompuServe enables you to search through its Electronic Mall in the following two ways:
- By department (such as food, clothing, books, cosmetics, and so on)
- By merchant (JCPenney, Land's End, Sears, and so on)
In addition to shopping for products, you can also request catalogs and brochures (which are usually free) or download ASCII versions of these same catalogs so that you can browse through them right away.
To visit The Electronic Mall, use the GO MALL command.
The Shopper's Advantage Club (GO SAC)
To reduce prices over a broad spectrum of different products, many giant discount houses have sprouted up all across the country. In exchange for an annual membership fee, you get the privilege of buying items at a reduced rate.
Taking this idea to the world of telecommunications, CompuServe offers a similar shopping club called the Shopper's Advantage Club. For a yearly membership fee (available only to U.S. residents), you can shop for more than 250,000 brand-name items at 10 to 50 percent off the manufacturer's suggested retail price (which everyone knows is inflated anyway). To entice people to join, the Shopper's Advantage Club offers a three-month trial membership for $1 so that you can shop without making a commitment. (If only marriages offered this option.)
Get advice for buying electronics
Whether you're a millionaire, successful business executive, or starving student eating macaroni and cheese 364 days out of the year, you probably have a weakness for expensive electronic equipment such as stereos, VCRs, big-screen television sets, and compact disc players.
Which brand is best for you? You could see what Consumer Reports (GO CONSUMER) has to say about different products, but the best form of advertising has always been word of mouth. If people like something, they gladly tell others. If they hate something, you can bet they're more than happy to tell others as often and as loudly as possible.
That's what makes The Consumer Electronics forum (GO CENET) so useful. Members of this forum regularly swap advice about different products, discussing the pros and cons of specific items. For articles, reviews, or press releases about your favorite electronic devices, visit this forum and get the help you need to make a wise buy.
To visit The Consumer Electronics forum, use the GO CENET command.
After you're in The Consumer Electronics forum, leave a message to ask others their opinions about certain stereo, VCR, or television brands. Or better yet, download one of the many files available, listing comparisons of different products and see whether the brand you just bought on sale really is a bargain or a worthless piece of junk that will fall apart on you three days after its warranty expires.
Browsing through the Shopper's Advantage Club is easy. Just tell the Shopper's Advantage Club what type of product you want, along with how much and how little you want to spend. Then a list of products matching your criteria appears on-screen, tempting you with a nonmember price and a lower member price. A few items even have graphic images that you can download and view on your own computer.
If you still don't trust the Shopper's Advantage Club, ask for its free catalog (shipped to U.S. addresses only) and spend your leisure time paging through the various products.
To shop at the Shopper's Advantage Club, use the GO SAC command.
U.S. Post Office Store (GO POSTOFFICE)
Although you can send e-mail for free all over the world, you can now buy postage stamps from the U.S. Post Office Store through CompuServe. You can buy stamps to send your letters and bills, but the U.S. Post Office Store is geared more toward stamp collectors who want the latest Elvis stamp, the limited edition Olympic games stamps, or other types of stamps featuring portraits of people who died long ago.
To visit the U.S. Post Office Store and order stamps for your collection, use the GO POSTOFFICE command.
The Gift Sender (GO GS)
If you need to buy (and deliver) a gift in a hurry, visit the Gift Sender and order a variety of unique (meaning expensive) products ranging from Bonsai trees to fruit baskets, cakes, gourmet cookies, seafood, wine, and prime cut steaks.
To visit the Gift Sender, use the GO GS command.
Send flowers by computer
In case you forget an important anniversary or need to make up to someone in a hurry (because you acted really stupid before), don't panic. CompuServe provides two florists that offer delivery.
- 1-800-FLOWERS (GO FRESH)
- Flower Stop (GO FS)
With both services, you can order flowers and have them delivered to almost anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, neither florist has the facilities to send poison ivy to people you don't like, but if you want to send roses or carnations, at least you know that these two services can accommodate your needs.
Finding TV and Movie Information (GO HOLLYWOOD)
Because using a computer means planting your butt in a chair, it's only natural that many people who use computers also enjoy planting their butts in chairs to watch their favorite TV shows or movies.
Although you can't simultaneously use CompuServe and watch TV (yet), you can do the next best thing and visit various TV and movie forums on CompuServe. That way you can keep track of your favorite stars, Hollywood's latest movie developments, and the ever-changing network television prime- time show schedules.
Film festivals (GO FILMFESTIV)
Hollywood isn't the only place where people enjoy making movies. To encourage independent directors, writers, and producers, many cities sponsor film festivals throughout the year. If you like watching well-crafted movies that don't rely on explosions, special effects, or high-priced movie stars, find a film festival near your city or keep track of the different film festivals throughout the world, including the Prague Film Festival, the Montreal Film Festival, and the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
To find news about a film festival near you, use the GO FILMFESTIV command.
Movie reviews (GO EBERT)
The worst feeling in the world is shelling out money to see a movie and then finding it's boring, ridiculous, or illogical. To help you avoid movies that should never have been made in the first place (think of any movie that has Roman numerals after its name, such as Police Academy VI), read a movie review from movie critic Roger Ebert.
Although critics rarely agree on anything, reading multiple movie reviews that pan or praise a particular movie can give you a good idea whether you'll enjoy the latest movie or not. By using movie reviews to help you avoid worthless movies and bringing to your attention excellent movies that you might not have thought about seeing before, you can increase your movie-going pleasure and enjoy your visits to the movie theater more often.
To read Roger Ebert's movie reviews, use the GO EBERT command.
TV Zone forum (GO TVZONE)
Like it or not, television has helped shaped the civilizations of this world (which may explain why we're in such bad shape). For those of you who can't get enough about Seinfeld, E.R., Roseanne, Home Improvement, The Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead, or your favorite soap operas, visit the TV Zone forum and swap ideas, insults, and information with other people just as fanatical about their TV shows as you are.
Don't indulge too much in your favorite TV shows, though, or else you may not have any time left to use your computer and CompuServe. To visit the TV Zone forum, use the GO TVZONE command.