It is always good to return to websites that looked impressive the first time you saw them. Way back in 1997, Northern Light (www.northernlight.com) burst onto the scene as a search engine with a difference. Sure, it allowed you to find web pages of interest, but it also provided a cuttings-style service where you could pay to read articles from newspapers and magazines. Today it offers something in the region of 25 million documents covering a wide range of topics and interests. Prices for access to the special collection of documents such as newspaper clippings vary from $1 to $4 (70p to £2.76). Of course, getting people to pay for web content has always been a hot topic, but Northern Light seems to have cracked it – by offering a money-back guarantee. Northern Light will provide a full refund if any article you download and look at does not meet your needs. A brave policy, as it operates on an honour basis, but provides users with a commitment that it aims to offer the best. If users feel confident in what they are getting, then they are likely to make greater use of the service. The Northern Light charging model is certainly one worth exploring by others.
Expect to see cuts in Channel 4’s websites. The broadcaster is looking to streamline its operation and the result will be fewer people working in online operations.
Popcorn, the film entertainment site closed down by Carlton Interactive in September, appears to have stopped redirecting its traffic to FilmFour (www.filmfour.com). During the past week, users entering popcorn.co.uk have been given a page informing them the site is no longer available and advising them to use the Ask Jeeves (www.ask.co.uk) service. Meanwhile, Carlton Interactive has found a buyer for its gaming offering, Jamba. Bingo operator Gala is the new owner and plans to launch new services, including online gambling.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use digital recorder that can transfer recordings onto a PC, the new Olympus DW-90 digital voice recorder is ideal. It costs £99.99, weighs 65g and is no bigger than a credit card, so it is useful for discreet recordings. A handy feature is its ability to transfer via a supplied USB cable from the DW-90 to computer. To get the recorder to store 90 minutes of voice recordings, quality does suffer, but for interviews, using the high-quality mode does the job very well. Watch out next week for a competition to win one!