Online Shopping with Pat & Mike
Pat and Mike -- The TuneUp Boys Attention shoppers: Will the two middle-aged white guys please approach the check-out counter.
(Somebody call security.)
By Pat Dane & Mike Walter

We never asked Ed McMahon to invite us to become millionaires.

Not even once.

Yet every three weeks, we get an envelope in the snail mail, urging us to buy some crummy magazines and to take a moment of our valuable time to fill out and return a good-for-nothing reply card. All for a one-in-six-billion chance to shake Ed's hand and get a check for a million clams.

But as annoying as these McMahon-o-grams can be, they're a part of life. And now this junk is hitting the Internet -- in the form of unsolicited e-mail pushing us to sign up for this great new service, or to check out that stunning new cyber mall.

As Supreme Masters of New Media, we could easily rally the Netizenry in an unprecedented spamming campaign against these direct marketers. We could disable their precious new services. And we could plaster their cyber malls with crude graffiti -- or worse -- publicity shots of Mike.

But there's a small problem: We just aren't that upset by junk e-mail.

Drop 'til you shop
In fact, we take direct e-mail -- and the burgeoning market for online advertising -- as positive signs that electronic commerce is starting to boom. Of course, as far as one of us is concerned, the ad banners for "www.4 A Good Time Call Pat" can go.

Tune Up Tip
To Block or Not To Block, That is the Question

Online advertising -- and even junk e-mail -- has its place. But if excessive junk e-mail is driving you nuts, there's help:

You can send the devilish e-mailers a photo of Pat in a bathing suit (they'll never bother you again), or you can download software from Cyber Promotions that filters out junk e-mail before you receive it.

But junk e-mailers needn't fear: Cyber Promotions also offers software that bypasses its blocking solution. How's that for serving two masters!

Both packages cost around $50.00

But contrary to the conventional wisdom of the Web, which dictates that every junk e-mail must be responded to with a flame, we feel that the more e-mail and advertising that marketers are dropping, the more the digerati will be shopping.

However, for all the e-mail and advertising -- and the success stories in this issue of E Business -- not every idea for an electronic storefront is a good one. As a matter of fact, hopeful entrepreneurs approach us every day, asking our opinion about their concepts for new e-comm sites.

As Arbiters of Internet Excellence, we feel it's important to publicize the more, shall we say, "daring" ideas we've come across, most of which would never fly:

Virtual Value Jet (
Place reservations for Value Jet's flights -- and experience 3D, VRML versions of virtual flights up and down a Virtual Eastern Corridor. For added realism: 20 minutes into every flight, their server crashes.

Baudway Productions (
Pay-per-view, real-time video streaming delivers live Broadway shows over the Internet: Now you can hate CATS from the privacy of your own home.

Shoplifters Online (
Everything in this cyber mall is free, as long as you can get past the security guards. Just the sheer thrill of this family shopping experience is worth the three-to-five years upstate.

Two Peas In A
Online adult supermarket where you can get your Missile Pops from the freezer section and download jpegs of "the other white meat."

The Doctor Is
This site brings telemedicine to a new level: Now, you can visit your doctor via the web --and download illegible prescriptions for the wrong medicine. But first you'll have to sit in the virtual waiting room for an hour-and-a-half.

The UFO Gift Shop (
The original idea for this site involved selling gifts for those preparing to reach a higher level of existence by hitching a ride on a passing comet ... But that's been done to death.

Publisher's Clearing House (
The promise of this site is that you won't have to wait for real-world Ed McMahon-o-grams to experience all the fun of ordering magazines you never wanted and entering a contest you'll never win.

Of course, most of these ideas are simply ridiculous. But before you pass them off as the comedic musings of a couple of Web columnists with too much time on their hands, consider this: The Publisher's Clearing House site is real.