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In this report, we will tell you about some of the popular online services

available. The services act as a "Super BBS" that allows you to exchange

messages and information, chat among users, participate in several

conferences, shop online for just about anything (the computer version of

"Home Shopping Club"), as well as make airline reservations and do several

other things.

Online Information Service Advantages

There are several things that online information services all have in common

with each other.

* Large Database of files for downloading


* Extensive mail files for downloading


* Numerous conferences, forums, and discussions available

* One information database, AT LEAST!

* Several games available for one player or multiple players.

* A wide variety of user-friendly services

Many of these features can be found online at no charge. Since they charge

access fees, you might be wondering why anyone would pay for access to an

online information service when they can call local BBSes for free. Well,

the reason should be obvious. To put it simply, it is because they are BIG!

There are literally tens of thousands of people around the world who tap

into an online service.

You can find information on just about anything that you are interested in.

What? You like studying the life cycle of fish that live on the bottom of

the ocean? Well, you probably can find information about that topic some

where on an online information service. Interested in the latest political

nonsense? Yes, you can find information about politics. Just a general

question about what is available online? You can find it all on online

information services.

Many of the online information services will offer a continuous chat

conference known as "CB" or "Citizen's Band" conference. It works much

like CB Radio operates. You talk to people by typing on the computer.

There are hundreds of online games that you can play either by yourself

or you can play against another user. The advantage of online games is

that you can play against someone else who is online at the same time.

You don't have to make a play, and then wait a week for the next person

to log on and then play. You can play an entire game in just a few minutes

or an hour, however long it takes to play a complete game.

You might play a game where you get into a WWII airplane and do battle

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against the NAZIs, (all the other players are the NAZIs, or vice versa).

You might play a game where you and al of your teammates are in a dungeon,

and you will use your own knowledge and expertise to navigate the team

through the dungeon without being killed. This will be an exciting game

to play because each player has different ideas, so the game will be

different each time you play.

Even though these are all common on most online information services, most

of them offer databases for specific informaiton to users.

You may also use online information services to do your shopping. Many

companies offer items for sale in a service area usually called something

like: "The Electronic Mall," "The Mall," or "Electronic Shoppers Club"

(ESC). You shop by selecting an item that you want and selecting the

quantity, and then they bill you and send you the product.

Several of the online services offer what is called "Check-Free Transaction

Processing" from the CheckFree Processing Center. This allows you to pay

your bills electronically by debiting your checking account and crediting

the payee's account. This makes it so you don't have to write and mail

a check, and it takes care of a lot of paperwork you would otherwise have

to do. This service also provides you with updated registers showing your

account status.

Many software companies are offering online help for users, as well as

customer support. You can find conferences available that will talk about

almost any Microsoft product. These conferences are almost always moderated

by a person representing the software company being discussed.

In general, these online information services are a good place to go for

help on a specific matter or topic; or to get involved in a quick game of

chess or checkers, etc.; or to pick up on a good buy in the "mall".























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