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Internet

Firm simplifies community Web addresses

Centraal today will announce its "My RealName" technology, which allows community Web sites to be found with a single keyword instead of a lengthy URL.

Centraal is bringing its system of simplified Web addressing and navigation to the home page-building masses.

The company, whose RealNames System substitutes common names for full URLs, today will announce "My RealName," a variation on its RealName product.

RealName allows firms to enter nongeneric keywords into its Web search database. The technology for both the corporate and the individual products allows Web sites to be found with single keywords instead of lengthy Web addresses, or URLs.

Users of free home page communities such as Tripod and GeoCities have a special need for some sort of address simplifier. Because many thousands of site builders need addresses under those community domains, the URLs tend to get long as the communities tack on neighborhoods, subdivisions, and address numbers to accomodate more residents. For example, the "Planet Basketball" site on GeoCities is located at http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Park/8879/basketball/index.htm.

Centraal will offer My RealName subscriptions to home page builders at GeoCities, Tripod, Fortune City, Angelfire, and Xoom.com. Each builder is entitled to one free name; subsequent subscriptions will cost $100 annually.

But the paid subscriptions may be a tough sell. Not only is the $100 annual fee nearly three times what it costs to register a domain name per year, but RealName search bars are relatively hard to come by on the Web.

Centraal promises more partners to be named soon, but so far the only major sites supporting the technology are AltaVista, Inktomi, Infoseek Express, LookSmart, and NeoPlanet.

One recent coup for the company, however, is its listing as a search customization option in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5 browser.