Originally created 05/07/00

Pocket change



SURFING FOR SWEEPSTAKES:

Forget e-mail, online bookselling and digital pornography. For the next big thing to attract customers, the Internet's entrepreneurs have turned the clock back to one of the oldest tricks in the book: sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes, lottery and coupon sites now litter the Internet. Web surfers can win points toward sweepstakes entries for every Web search they do at IWon.com or every trivia answer they get right at WebMillion.com. They can play Web lotteries at LuckySurf.com or FreeLotto.com.

Most of these Web sites are less than a year old and far from profitable, but they all plan to attract habitual users, who can then be sent to advertisers.

SIMPLE SCANNING:

Canon, a big player in scanners for years, has recently introduced the CanoScan FB 630Ui, a diminutive $149 flat-bed machine targeting Mac users, but not for them exclusively.

After placing a photo on the glass, the user pushes the scanner's only button to bring up the CanoScan Toolbox on the computer screen.

Canon doesn't leave out owners of Windows PCs, either. Windows 98 drivers and software are included. Call 1-800-652-2666 or see www.ccsi.canon.com.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS:

Americans are fixing up their homes this year at the same pace as during 1999, but they're spending more money at it, American Express found in a survey of more than 900 consumers.

Thirty-nine percent of the survey respondents said they planned some kind of home fix-up, the same percentage as last year. Home improvement budgets, however, have risen 5 percent to an average $2,888, in part because consumers are undertaking multiple or more expensive projects.

PRESCRIPTION SAVINGS:

By getting drug prescriptions filled over the Internet, you can save 10 percent or more over the price at your local pharmacy, according to the newsletter Bob Carlson's Retirement Watch.

The newsletter surveyed pharmaceutical Web sites and found that by comparison shopping consumers should be able to get the prices they want. Shoppers still need to exercise the same caution they would in dealing with other online retail sites, and the newsletter advises consumers to buy only from sites that have seals from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.