Electronic postcards are quickly becoming the rage.

It shouldn't take an overactive imagination to figure out what this week's report deals with -- digital postcards, sent via email and viewed through a web browser. For the confirmed mouse potato, the lonely Casanova and the bored housewife, these electronic postcards are both a means of entertainment and a form of communication, enabling people to express themselves effectively over long distances...and, more often than not, indulge in a little harmless flirtation [we know...we've been there!]

So we thought that, this week, we'd point you to the best e-postcard sites on the Web so that the next time you need to send someone a postcard, you can find the perfect card [and prove, once and for all, that you're a geek] without having to make the arduous trip to the local gift store!

And for those of you who quiver with shame at the thought of being called a geek, hey...we have two words for you: Bill Gates, the guy who proved, quite conclusively, that being a geek does pay. So welcome to the club, you big geek, you!

First, we'll give you a quick run-down of the procedure involved in sending an e-postcard [it's pretty complex, so we suggest you pay close attention!]

  1. Log in to desired website through your favorite browser, using our handy list.

  2. Select category and card.

  3. Enter your email address together with the email address of the desired recipient.

  4. Enter an optional message.

  5. Confirm that things are as they should be, and all is right with the world.

  6. Hit the brightly-labeled and prominently-placed SEND button.

There...we told you it was pretty complicated. Pop quiz later, children!

And now for our carefully compiled list of the best sites for this kind of thing [which is, after all, the reason you're reading this report]. Here's what we found:

http://www.studentadvantage.com/qpid/kisses/

This one is so well-designed we had to put it at the top of the list. It lets you send someone a kiss, complete with sound effects. Check out the alien kiss, the teenage kiss and our all-time favorite, the French kiss. The interface, artwork and overall design are superb...and the sound effects...ahhh, the memories they bring back ;-)

http://www.bluemountain.com

The granddaddy of e-card sites, this one has a massive collection of cards for all occassions...and they're all very well-designed. You can choose for a wide variety of categories like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, romance ad nauseum ad infinitum, and the service will even send you notification when your card has been picked up. And if you don't like the cards they have available, you can even contribute your own!

http://www.mailameal.com

This one's for all the gluttons out there! Send pictures of your favorite food items to your loved ones and watch them salivate. Choices include soups, appetizers, meat, fish and vegetables. Whoever said that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach certainly knew what they were talking about!

http://www.alsirat.com/postcards/index.html Ominously titled "Postcards From The Grave", this site lets you send pictures of archaeological monuments, stone carvings and other sinister objects. One of the things we liked about this site was the ability to completely customize your card, from the color and style of the border to the image and the music. For example, you can use any image or any sound file from anywhere on the Web, simply by providing the exact URL! Not many sites allow this degree of customization; we thought it was pretty cool!

http://www.toonogram.com

Toons...cute, cuddly and funny! How could anyone resist? This site allows you to send cartoon postcards tailored for different situations: work, annoying neighbors, computers, long flights on airlines and the eternal quest to cut down on nicotine intake...you'll find them all here!

http://www.balloonboutique.com

This is a nice twist on an old idea. Send that special someone e-balloons – essentially pictures of different types of balloons with mushy messages on them. Not really our cup of tea...but there's no accounting for taste!

http://www.virtualpresents.com

Remember that cherry-red Ferrari you've always lusted after? Well, here's the closest you're going to get to it in this lifetime, buster ;-) And after you've cheered yourself up by mailing that present to yourself, check out your other options: furniture, pets, flowers, diamond rings and vacations in the Caribbean...they're all here!

http://www.zworks.com/forever/

Musical greeting cards? Old idea, right? Wrong! Check this site out - they allow you to add music to your e-card together with a customized image. And if you don't like their music; hey, just upload your own!

http://www.corbis.com http://postcards.www.media.mit.edu/Postcards/cardrack.html

And for all those who like classy and elegant postcards, these are the sites to hit! The first one is the world-famous Corbis collection, now owned by Micro$oft, and the second, an experiment by MIT's Media Labs. Corbis offers, among other things, stunning photographs of natural phenomena, wildlife and landscapes; and the Electric Postcard Rack offers paintings by da Vinci, Vermeer and Van Gogh among others, photography by Allan Ginsberg and Robert Altman, moody pictures of cities in the rain, of war and children, and contemporary art by digital artists. In a word, breathtaking!

http://www.garfield.com http://www.disney.com http://www.snoopy.com

And for those of us still hung up on comic strip characters, these are the sites to hit! Incidentally, we love Gary Larson's 'The Far Side'...and if any of you webmonkeys could direct us to a site which has 'Far Side' postcards, you will have earned our eternal gratitude :-)

http://www.nj.com/yucky/ecards

We had to mention this one...IOHO, it's quite unique. Here's why: it lets you send disgusting cards to all those people you love to hate! Just the right place to visit when you want to tell that special someone exactly what you think of them! Be warned, though...you need a strong stomach and a warped sense of humor to truly enjoy this site...needless to say, we loved it! :-)

And for all you diehards out there who still aren't satisfied, we thought we'd also point you to an index of all the e-postcard sites on the Web so that you can do some exploring on your own. Here you go:

http://www.pe.net/~chrystal/cyber.htm

You might also like to take a look at some of the newer sites out there:

http://www.cgreetings.com/ecards?func=showHome

http://ynot.go.com/

http://www.dna2z.com/DNA-o-gram/

http://gigglegarden.com/

And if you find a site which tickles your fancy, remember to tell us about it...our operators are standing by!

Till next time, stay healthy!

This article was first published on 08 Oct 1998.