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Christmas Gift Guide
Internet

The week in review: Hail to the chad

As election recount verdicts and candidate declarations fly, the public continues to turn anxiously to the Web for up-to-the-minute information and to support their candidates.

As election recount verdicts and candidate declarations fly, the public continued to turn anxiously to the Web for up-to-the-minute information and to support their candidates.

The winner Want election news? Get it hereon the Web appeared to be Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who edged out presidential rival Al Gore in the battle for Internet eyeballs. According to research from PC Data Online, Bush's official Web site drew 491,000 unique visitors during the week of Nov. 18, beating out AlGore2000.com, which saw just 435,000 visitors.

The ranking reversed the previous week's standings, when the vice president's site proved more popular.

Major online news outlets stepped up to Webcast the Florida Supreme Court hearing into the presidential vote recount, taking the strain off of a system that supports only a few hundred online viewers. The closely watched event promised to introduce Web streaming to a potentially large new audience, which has flocked to the Internet for election coverage in the tightest race in history.

The photo finish in the race for president has caused millions of Americans to turn to an eclectic collection of election-related Web sites and news stories.

Hope for the holidays
Rather than embracing the holiday season, many e-tailers appear to be bracing for it. Many "pure play" online stores are entering the madcap holiday season hobbled by the effects of almost nine months of dot-com decline. Instead of boasting unlimited budgets fueled by the investor enthusiasm of 1999, many of this year's Christmas contenders are going in battered by layoffs, shrinking budgets and plunging stock prices.

With less cash on hand, many e-tailers have slashed their advertising budgets, which could mean fewer new customers during the holiday rush. Instead, many companies are trying to provide better service to the customers they already have, with less expensive direct marketing campaigns such as catalogs and targeted emails.

In one of the first signs of the holiday shopping crush, a flood of customers began to empty Webvan's shelves of Thanksgiving staples and at times slowed the site to a crawl. The largest online grocer saw its Oakland, Calif.-based operations run out of pumpkin-pie filling, some gravy products and turkey stuffing.

However, things may not be as bad some prognosticators predict. E-commerce companies are doing a good job so far this holiday season of whisking customers through their Web sites quickly, a new study found. The performance of e-commerce sites is strong, but there are signs that the rising holiday traffic caused some sites to slow slightly in the past week.

P4 to you
Computers containing the Pentium 4 went on sale with nearly all the major PC manufacturers releasing desktops built around the new microprocessor from Intel. But just as important as new PCs is that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, along with several review sites, will release performance benchmarks for the chip that should keep analysts and computer enthusiasts busy for week.

Early results showed Pentium 4 chips don't provide a real performance advantage and are often slower when compared with the fastest Athlon chips from Advanced Micro Devices, benchmark testers and analysts say. Consequently, the first Pentium 4 chips don't seem to be worth their price right now, they said.

IBM marks the final transformation of its desktop PC line with its first Pentium 4 models, the NetVista A60 and A60i. The computer maker unveiled NetVista in May, as it streamlined manufacturing and distribution, cut $1 billion in overall cost, and prepared to retire the IBM PC 300 commercial line and Aptiva consumer PCs.

Also of note
Tech-oriented mutual funds are on pace to finish the year in the red for the first time since the summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles and Ronald Reagan was president?The Illinois Institute of Technology released its analysis of the FBI's controversial email surveillance system, concluding that Carnivore technology "protects privacy and enables lawful surveillance better than alternatives"?IBM won a bid for a 320-processor supercomputer that will help the Air Force keep track of satellites, discarded rocket parts, space-suit gloves and other miscellany orbiting the Earth.