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Sree's Thoughts on Cyber Currency Problems
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001

It seems like even celebrities are not immune to dot-com troubles.

Whoopi Goldberg and her high-profile pitches for a type of Internet currency known as Flooz could not save the company as it went under last month. Its dot-com death is just another example of the kind of problems some folks are having with cybershopping these days.

I presume Whoopi still hasn't been paid, since she took a stake in the company for part of her compensation. Many customers are angry with her, but give her credit: her Web site, is running a discussion board where people can react to the end of Flooz:, another Internet currency, went under last month. As did, a site which sold household goods at up to 10 times the price and promised consumers it would refund the full purchase price in 14 weeks (they made money on the interest on your cash). So people were buying $100 DVDs and $200 toasters in the hopes of making a profit. Sigh.

Here are some thoughts on this spate of problems:

There are just too many risks with these schemes. Be careful!

* CHECK WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY: Unless there has been some fraud (and there has been no proof of fraud in these cases), it may be tough to get your credit card to help. Still, no harm asking.

* CHECK BANKRUPTCY COURT: See -- it has info about the case.

* SOME GIFT CERTIFICATES STILL WORK: I still use's electronic certificates, cautiously:

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Sree's Site of The Week

As the name implies, this is a site that provides free translation of text in several languages.

Just type in some text you want to translate and it will turn it into Spanish, French, German, Portugese, Italian and Norwegian. Or enter text in Spanish, French, German or Portugese and it will turn it into English.

Especially useful is the "Web translator" feature, which allows you to just enter a Web site's address and you can see it instantly displaced in another language.

This is what we call a "gist" translation, where you get just the gist of the subject matter, not an exact translation.

It's about 60-70 percent accurate, which is often all you need to get a sense of what is being discussed.

There was a time when Web translations were terrible. Type in "I like pizza" in English and the translation in Spanish might as well have been "The sky is green."

Now short, simple, declarative sentences are almost perfect.

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To join the LOW-volume "Sree Tips" e-mail mailing list, send your name and e-mail address to No more than once a month, you will receive an e-mail message with tips and tricks about new, useful and fun Web sites.