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Chris Kridler writes the Tech Today column, which appears on Tuesdays. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she's also worked at The Charlotte Observer and The Baltimore Sun. Her writing, including articles, humor, poetry and reviews, has appeared in Newsweek, Premiere, bOING bOING, The Maryland Poetry Review, The Charlotte Poetry Review and several newspapers. She's also had cartoons and photographs published, and her storm video has appeared on "National Geographic Explorer" and other shows.
October 4, 2005

Student cashes in on brilliant, simple idea


Everything used to be new on the Internet, and free. Now, few things are free, and there isn't much in the way of novelty.

When a colleague shared a press release from a British student trying to raise a million dollars by selling pixels for $1 each on his Web site, I thought, hey, at least it's new!

Alex Tew is selling the pixels in 10 by 10 blocks ($100), which is still pretty tiny when you're talking about pixels. Some companies are buying bigger blocks so they can have more visible logos and patter.

The Million Dollar Homepage (www.milliondollarhome has been filling up since I first looked at it. Tew has raised close to $250,000 so far, in a little more than five weeks, all because he had a simple, brilliant idea.

It's rare when someone sets out to make a publicity phenomenon. Usually they just happen, like the "Hampster Dance." This one has imitators already.

Tew, a business student, is trying to earn a million bucks to pay for school, spoil his parents with a vacation and invest in his future. And buy socks. That's what he says.

"On the admin side of things, I've spoken to an accountant," Tew wrote in his blog Sunday, "and yes there will be a hefty tax bill but there will still be a significant sum leftover."

The clicks range from personal sites to online casinos. The grid looks like madman's Scrabble, dizzying and colorful.

The smallest blocks are represented only by tiny symbols, and their mystery is alluring. Of course, their worthiness as advertising is debatable, given that many symbols offer no clues to the content behind the link. But maybe their proprietors hope the curious will come calling. I did.


I followed one of the popular searches noted in Yahoo!'s Buzz Log and found a site that purports to have pictures of ghosts. There are so many ways to explain away such "ghost" photos, but they're interesting to examine in this Halloween season. There's also a list of known fakes or camera effects, some of which look a lot like the "real" or unexplained pictures.

Check them out here: ghostpics/

And if you're feeling all creeped out and superstitious, I highly recommend The Skeptical Inquirer site, which may gleefully burst your bubble: www.csicop .org

Contact Kridler at 242-3633 or

Past Columns
Make digital holiday gifts like the pros
Time to reboot the Christmas tree
Tickle digital ivories for fun on a keyboard that teaches
Catastrophic movie gets weather all wrong


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