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Technology Notes

Protecting Your Internet Purchases

Shopping by computer is supposed to be safe, easy, and fun. No traffic to deal with, no trudging from mall to mall, and no Musak while you wait on hold. But many consumers are wary of typing in their credit-card numbers on-line. So how to make a purchase in the virtual mall?

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American Express has recently come out with a free brochure to advise concerned consumers. It outlines encryption, how safe passwords should be, what should set off alarm bells, and what recourse consumers have if they think they've been taken for a ride. To receive a copy, visit American Express's Web site at and look for the link, or write to American Express; P.O. Box 4635; Trenton, NJ 08650-4635.

Security challenge

What better way to test computer security than to invite the most notorious hackers to break in? That's just what most security software writers do. But most don't leave $50,000 lying behind a bank-vault door on the Internet for anyone who can break through.

That's what World Star Inc. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has done with its new security technology. "The key to the future of commerce on the Internet lies in finding solutions" to legal and security concerns, World Star president Brian Greenberg told the Winnipeg Sun. World Star claims its security system, which combines many types of security systems in layers, is unbreachable.

More than 3,000 hackers have tried to break in so far, and World Star plans to leave the prize up indefinitely. For your shot at the prize go to:

More recycling

American consumers recycled a record 622 million pounds of PET plastic bottles in 1995, those with a No. 1 recycling label, according to an independent survey by Robert Bennett, an engineering professor at the University of Toledo.

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Although this is an increase in volume over last year, it represents a 2 percent decrease in the percentage of No. 1 plastic being recycled. The discrepancy may result from the increase in single-serve plastic soda bottles on the market:

The bottles' portability means they get taken out of the home away from curbside recycling bins more often than larger bottles.

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