The cable television industry is in the midst of a radical transformation as it faces new competition from direct-broadcast satellites and new opportunities in Internet access and digital television.
All of this and more will be on the agenda as the California Cable Television Assn. hosts the annual Western Cable Show at the Anaheim Convention Center on Wednesday through Friday. Industry executives--including Tele-Communications Inc.'s John Malone and Time Warner's Ted Turner--and regulators from the Federal Communications Commission will share their views with an expected 23,000 attendees. For information, go to http://www.cct-assn.org/html/westshow.htm or call (510) 428-2225.
* Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Alice Waters, the acclaimed chef and founder of Chez Panisse, takes questions. Internet. http://www.cuisinenet.com
* Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Join the editor of the Guinness Book of World Records for a chat. CompuServe. GO CONFERENCE
* Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. and Thursday, 8 a.m.: Robert Ballard, director of the Center for Marine Exploration, gives lectures recounting his discovery of the doomed Titanic ocean liner. Internet. http://www.nationalgeographic.com
* Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Best-selling author Pat Conroy talks about his books, including "The Prince of Tides" and "The Lords of Discipline." America Online. Keyword: Book Report
* Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: Tune in for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' annual Animal Ball and Humanitarian Awards Gala, with hosts Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin. Honorees include Paul and Linda McCartney. Internet. http://ET.msn.com
* If you're in the market for a car, visit the California Air Resources Board's Web site (http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/ccbg/ccbg.htm) and check out which models have been certified as low-emission vehicles for the 1995-97 model years. Read up on just how clean these cars are and see an Emission Control Information Label before heading to the showroom.
* The 1996 Orange County Annual Survey is now online at http://www.communications.uci.edu/~inform/ocas/ocas.html. The survey, now in its 15th year, monitors social, economic and political trends. This year's edition has a special focus on the county's recovery from bankruptcy and attitudes toward volunteerism and charitable giving.
* Houghton Mifflin Interactive, publisher of the Caldecott Award-winning children's Christmas story "The Polar Express," is sponsoring a charity campaign to donate books to children's hospitals. Point your Web browser to http://www.polarexpress.com and post a holiday message. Houghton Mifflin will donate one book for every 25 messages received.
* FedEx ("The World on Time") has a Web site (http://www.fedex.com) so you can track the packages you've sent. Now you can visit SledEx ("Christmas on Time") to track the progress of holiday gifts en route to your home. Point your browser to http://www.sledex.com and admire this holiday-inspired spoof.
* The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest museum west of the Mississippi and now it has a Web site to match. At http://www.lacma.org, you'll find schedules of upcoming exhibits, films and other events, interviews with artists, archived information from past exhibits and links to other art museums on the Internet. Coming soon: access to the museum's research library catalogs.
* Have you saved copies of your important computer files? You can back up 500 pages worth of data for free on the Internet with NetBack (http://www.netback.com). Saved files can be recalled and modified 24 hours a day. There is a charge for storing more than 500 kilobytes.
* The Red Cross comes to the aid of people in crisis situations around the world. To learn more about the group's activities and find out how you can help, visit http://www.redcross.org. The home page for the Los Angeles chapter (http://www.earthlink.net/~redcrossla) includes suggestions for care packages to send to service men and women stationed in Bosnia and a list of facilities where you can donate blood.
* Corporate home pages may not be the most interesting places on the Web, but sometimes they are useful. For a Yahoo-style directory of corporate sites, check out Totem Pole at http://www.totempole.com