THE TRUTH IS ONLINE NASA's Mars Global Surveyor has been taking high-resolution color pictures of the surface of the red planet since 1997. Now NASA is releasing the first photographs to the public online at www.msss.com/moc_gallery all 20,000 of them, and they're gorgeous. The south polar cap, above, frosted with carbon dioxide, looks like the swirl in the center of a toffee. So much for all those face-on-Mars rumors.
NONE OF YOUR E-BIZ How much do the dotcoms know about you? How much should they know? Last week Congress opened hearings on an FTC proposal that would put limits on when and how e-commerce websites can collect information about their customers-- where they're logging on from, for example--and what the sites can do with such data. Right now there aren't any limits at all, and the FTC is concerned that Internet stores are abusing consumers' trust. Needless to say, the e-tailers aren't buying. They say the industry can police itself, and regulations will only slow the fledgling Internet economy's growth. Look for Bush and Gore to square off on this one come fall.
SECONDTHOUGHTS.COM E-commerce may be the greatest thing since the Hula-Hoop, but every once in a while you buy something online that doesn't quite live up to your expectations. That's why Mail Boxes Etc., the postal-services chain, is launching Return.com a website designed to make it easier to send back those disappointing products. Return.com will not only expedite the process and track the progress of your package online; if you bought the product from a participating retailer, it will refund your money on the spot, electronically.
--By Lev Grossman