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How to win free stuff while diversifying your Web tastes

October 1, 1998
Web posted at: 11:20 AM EDT

by Cathy Kenny

(IDG) -- Do you ever grow just a little bit weary of combing the Web for interesting sites? If so, check out a new service that continually fetches new sites for you.

ProLaunch, a new release by JuxtaNet, delivers a new Web site to your browser based on your interests. For instance, if you're looking for Web sites devoted to travel issues, you can let ProLaunch deliver related sites to you, rather than having to crank up a search engine to locate sites yourself. You simply clue in ProLaunch about your interests and each time you log on to the Web, a different site is displayed.

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Unlike many other Web services, which subsidize their "free" service with advertisements, ProLaunch does not flood you with ads, nor does it use your personal or demographic data to solicit ads. The information you provide to ProLaunch is confidential and is backed by the Trust-e seal of approval; JuxtaNet is required to ask your permission before it can give out your name or any other identifiable information to third parties.

But ProLaunch is not entirely free of advertisement ties. As an incentive to its users, ProLaunch offers a member reward program similar to frequent flier programs. Each time you go a site recommended by ProLaunch, you earn points that you can later redeem with participating vendors.

To sign up with ProLaunch, you supply personal information such as your name, date of birth, home address, and e-mail address. You then indicate the types of sites you are interested in viewing. Categories include News, Personal Finance, Entertainment, Sports, Shopping, and Life Interests. Once you've indicated your interests, you then switch the start page in your Web browser to ProLaunch. ProLaunch works with America Online, Internet Explorer, Navigator, and WebTV.

The next time you load your Web browser, a Web site that matches your interests is displayed. You are awarded points when you click the site. To view another Web site, click your Web browser's Home button. Note that you can accumulate points only for the first two sites you visit each day, which are worth 20 points a click.

And you'll need a lot of points: It takes a staggering 10,000 ProLaunch points to earn a $25 gift certificate from Delta Airlines, for example. At least 5000 points are generally required to redeem items, again mostly gift certificates, from other participating companies including Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster Video, General Cinema, Home Depot, Hyatt, J. Crew, Spiegel, and TWA. ProLaunch also provides special offers and deals that let you earn bonus points.

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