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  THE PRINCE GEORGE'S JOURNAL MONDAY, MARCH 23,1998 A9

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Save a few bucks with e-coupons

By DAVID T. HUGHES

Special to The Journal

OK. Iíll admit it: I crave fried chicken. Even better. I love getting he lovely clucks at a bargain with coupons. Unfortunately, there's been a drought of coupons lately, so Iíve been reduced to paying retail for the golden fried artery cloggers.

The wait just got too much and I slipped into Herndonís Popeye's for a fix and imagine my surprise when I spotted some cards on the counter inviting patrons to check out the Company's Web site (www.popeyeschicken.com) for "fun, coupons and more!"

Yea! COUPONS!

Since I'm basically a fun-loving guy I rushed home took a drumstick firmly in one hand and with my free digits fired up my account with wizardnet. In a few seconds the friendly icon for Internet Explorer popped up and I typed in Popeye's URL. Yep, there as promised were coupons offering MORE bar-gains on chicken. All I had to do was print them out on my printer and save several bucks on various serving sizes.

Even better, I did a little looking around on the page and found a button that, once clicked, asked for my e-mail address and then promised to electronically send me MORE coupons in my inbox at a later date.

Once I had my fill of dinner I got to thinking this Internet coupon deal was a great idea. In fact, I thought I might look around with a few of my favorite search engines to see if any MORE coupons were out there on the Internet.

To shorten this down to a manageable tome, I found LOTS of coupons, but it took a few minutes of tweaking my Net searches. Just putting "coupons' in a search engine such as Infoseek or AltaVista found savings on pizza in Oregon and bike rides along the San Antonio River.

By typing "coupons".+Virginia the list became more manageable and I found the folks in Blacksburg and Charlottesville were really into the Internet coupon thing. Here's a site with coupons from around Virginia:

http://www.kooponz.com/va/va.htm

Another is http://www2.hotcoupons-.com/coupon/us/VA/.

Our Maryland readers will want to check out http://www.kwikkoupon.com/states/maryland and /maryland.htm and if you are going to the shore here's a great coupon site: http://www.atbeach.com/coupon.

The same thing holds true in almost any part of the country. Merchants of all types are turning to the Internet to draw new customers through their doors.

Newspapers and magazines have been the historic vehicles for coupons, but I notice in my trips around the 'Net that very few newspapers or their advertisers are using their pages for coupons and I think it's a darn shame. Apparently, newspaper ad (directors cannot see the forest for the trees and if an advertiser runs coupons in their printed edition then by gum those same coupons should be on the newspaperís Web site.

Small businesses spend thousands of dollars a year to have third party coupon consolidators mail envelopes full of coupons that most of us just toss in the trash. Why not take just a small part of that money and put up a Web site with electronic coupons customers can print on their own machines at home? The total cost for a YEAR of Web site hosting would probably be less than the cost of one mailing.

Take a page from Popeye's Chicken and tell folks about your Web site and coupons. There're lots of us out there with computers on the Internet or online services such as America Online.

I'm sure the printers who produce the millions of coupons wouldn't agree with me (grin), but I'll also bet if they put up a Web site with a coupon discounting business cards or other printing services business would increase.

What makes Web couponing so easy is that all a user has to do is print the page and the coupons themselves can be as fancy or plain as the merchant wants. Even little mom-and-pop businesses can be like the big boys and use coupons that donít cost an arm and leg to produce.

Deja vous you all

Many moons ago I wrote a few stories about a guy who had one of the best BBS systems in the nation, Tony McClenny of Reston, Va. He was very helpful and kind to me when I first moved to Virginia.

I was amazed when he showed me around what was then the "Virginia Connection" BBS. I told my readers how easy it was to find new files on McClenny's BBS and how e-mail only took a few hours or days to go around the world.

Then, one day I told McClenny about the Internet. I used his equipment and dialed into my local provider showing him all the neat toys like File Transfer Protocol, Archie, FAST e-mail, and USENET news groups. Initially, he was very polite, feigning interest in this text-based usurper.

Keep in mind McClenny's system had graphics and all kinds of bells and whistles and the Internet was kinda boring when compared to it. But my little demonstration planted a seed in his mind.

It wasn't too long thereafter that he had contracted with a local ISP to be connected to the Internet so his customers could use e-mail. read selected USENET news groups, etc. To shorten this, McClenny is now a full-fledged ISP offering the latest in all kinds of services for a reasonable price. He and his buddy, Andrew Bilski, have made their new World Data Network (www.wdn.com) one of the best small ISPs in the area.

I spoke to McClenny the other day on a personal matter and he filled me in on the changes he had made and I was surprised to hear how inexpensive his Web services were AND he said clients could use either UNIX-based servers or NT. WDN is also one of the few ISPs I have found around which offers the use of Microsoft Front-Page extensions for Web pages.

If you are a former Virginia Connection client like me, give McClenny a call for old timeís sake at (703) 648-0808. He said the BBS is still up and running, but the Internet is most customersí interest.

"We still offer both."

Webcrawler's corner

Speaking of old friends Ö. One of my dearest is Doug Cifers. We worked together in Guam, Saipan and Illinois. He was my publisher and I was his lackey (grin). Now Cifers is doing gangbusters in Florida running a bunch of magazines down there. His "Florida Living" publication was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal. If your Interested in diverse stories about my beloved Florida, check out the magís Web page at www.floridaliving.org.

Thanks to reader Larry Lowe for his favorite genealogy site at www.genserv.com. He said, "It has a database of over 12 million name. For a good entree into massive genealogy info, check our 'I Found It,í a genealogy search engine."

Need a driver for hardware and can't remember where to find? How about one for really old stuff? Here's your salvation: http://www.windrivers .com.

Free animated GIFS for your Web page and other goodies http://www-.mutlink.corn/tridget/.

Just what we need ... another search engine. Try it at http://designlab.ukans.edu/profusion/ and tell me what you think.

Women artists and writers hang out on http://www.moondance.org

David T. Hughes is an Internet professional and computer consultant and does free-lance writing for publications such as Washington Technology. He may be reached via e-mail at dhughes@wizard.net or snail mail at The Journal, 6408 Edsall Road, Alexandria, Va. 22312. He may also be reached any evening at his home (don't be shy) at (703) 904-9699. His Web page is http:/ /www.nec1701.net.

All opinions expressed herein are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this newspaper.