By Samantha Miller
July 31, 2000 12:00 PM

Home Work

Ashley Power finds running her own teen site beats passing notes in algebra class

For Ashley Power, running a Web start-up is a piece of cake compared to a truly terrifying ordeal: eighth grade. “The most popular guy said I was cute,” recalls the San Fernando Valley, Calif., 15-year-old, “and this girl who had a crush on him decided to make my life miserable. I’d go home and cry every single night.”

So Power created a gig that made her more popular than any head cheerleader: the online teen hangout, which attracts 100,000 visitors a day. Grown-up investors chipped in funding, and now the about-to-be 10th grader lords it over more than 30 adult employees, who help her manage the site’s chats, advice column and games. She also stars in Whatever, a Clueless-like cybersitcom she co-writes with her stepdad, Mark Schilder, 38, a TV-commercial director (mom Michelle, 34, works in advertising). Powers is weighing offers to take Whatever to TV and recently met with actor Richard Dreyfuss to talk over ideas for new shows for the site. So what is her next big move? “Getting my driver’s license,” she says.

MY favorite Site

Jerry Yang

The Yahoo! cofounder trembles for the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake monitor ( “It tells you about all the earthquakes happening around the world,” says Yang, 31. “You can see the activity around the world’s hot spots.” No. 58 on Forbes’s list of richest Americans, Yang also clicks on the site’s Silicon Valley satellite pix. “You can see the logos on companies that weren’t there three months ago.”

Internet Manners

When I play online games, people send me chat messages like “a/s/l” or “gg.” I don’t know what they mean. What should I do?

Abbreviations and acronyms are part of the fun of the Net. Next time you’re befuddled, just ask the person you’re chatting with—it’s not impolite of your fellow players to use lingo, but it would be very rude for them not to let a newcomer in on the code. (By the way, “a/s/l” means “age, sex, location” and “gg” means “good game” or “gotta go.”) Shy? Try a Net-slang dictionary such as

Is it poor manners to keep e-mailing someone who doesn’t ever e-mail back?

Could the address be wrong? Could your target be taking a break someplace without e-mail, like the Big Brother house? If not, and he or she is perfectly capable of replying but doesn’t, take the hint.

Ear to the Groundless

Secret NASA sex experiments in outer space? Bananas laced with flesh-eating bacteria? David Emery, who collects and debunks Net rumors at, has heard some pretty strange-but-untrue tales. The most bizarre? Could be the Attack of the Toilet Spiders. “This e-mail started traveling around claiming that there was this spider from South America that was migrating into the U.S. under the toilet seats of airliners,” says Emery, 47. “Five people supposedly had died after being bitten by it.”

Emery quickly confirmed the story was a hoax—neither the airport it referred to nor the species of spider exist. “I often think I have the silliest job on earth,” says the single San Francisco-area resident, a former sitcom writer who spun his taste for folklore into a paying gig for the encyclopedia-like three years ago. He calls experts, checks newspapers and peruses medical journals in search of the truth. Though rumormongering “goes back to the dawn of mankind,” he says, e-mail has made it an international pastime. “All you have to do is click.”

Click and Get It

Bidders for the Lost Cup

Up for auction on http://www.planethollywood com from July 27 to Aug. 3: the Holy Grail (below) Harrison Ford sought in ’89’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: the signpost from TV’s M*A*S*H(“Coney Island: 7033 miles”); the Fox Mulder nameplate from )avid Duchovny’s X-Files door, and a Styrofoam gold bar from 1964’s Goldfinger.