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Windows on the Web
-- by Nancy A. Lang
You don't have to take out a mortgage to build the home page of your dreams. If you shop around, you can find plenty of companies willing to provide you with a free plot. Yet unlike the online services that offer free home pages, these companies don't provide Internet access-you have to have it already.
The real estate tycoon of free home pages is likely GeoCities (http://www.geocities.com). Offering you both a free home page and a free e-mail account, the company boasts more than 400,000 "homesteaders" in its 33 themed "neighborhoods." You choose the neighborhood-Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Capitol Hill-that best matches the content of your home page.
Each homesteader receives 2MB of server space-the equivalent of 25 to 50 pages of text and graphics. If you're looking to expand, you can subscribe to GeoPlus, which, for $4.95 a month, gives you another 8MB of space.
The company also offers commercial home pages for $50 a month plus a $50 setup fee. You create and maintain your page, and you can update it as often as you like. Each commercial home page may use 5MB of disk space and generate 50MB of traffic per day. The page receives a listing in a special commercial page directory.
GeoCities' neighborhood arrangement is attractive to advertisers because it lets them reach a targeted audience. Companies like Microsoft, for instance, could advertise in Silicon Valley, the computer-related sector.
Another free home page service, Tripod (http://www.tripod.com), is geared toward young adults moving from college to the workplace. Its Homepage Builder offers two ways to create a home page-Quickpage if you want Tripod to write the HTML for you, or Custom if you want to start from scratch and write your own HTML. For $3 a month, you can purchase a premium membership, which entitles you to 5MB of disk space and enables you to maintain your own personal chat room.
U.S. Robotics offers a free home page service called Towne Square 2000 (http://townesquare.usr.com). Registered owners of U.S. Robotics products can create up to 10 Web pages for online resumes, small businesses, favorite links, hobbies and interests, and online classified ads; others can create up to three Web pages.
If you don't mind the spartan look, you may want to check out Angelfire (http://www.angelfire.com). This simple site allows you just 35KB of space. That's not much, but there are a few ways around the limitation. For one thing, if you choose graphic elements from the company's collection, the extra space won't come out of your 35KB allotment. In addition, you may earn more space if your page generates a lot of activity.
Regardless of the amount of space your page gets, the service will be free or it won't be at all, claims the company, stating ad banners will pay for the site.
Even if the cost of actual real estate remains prohibitive, you can always find a cyberplace to call home.