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GET A RINGSIDE VIEW OF A YEAR IN THE TECH WORLD. 4

10 TECH OBSERVATIONS Your Money

GREEN CARS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE BEST WAY TO SAVE. 3

Online dating sheds stigma

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TIPS TO NAVIGATE STORM SEASON

As more people become Internet savvy, dating services join mainstream By Wailin Wong TRIBUNE NEWSPAPERS

Jay and Christina Lorance first met in an MSN chat room in May 1996, when the Internet, or even the idea of communicating electronically with a stranger, was an unfamiliar concept to many Americans. Their online interaction led to four months of telephone calls and snailmail letters, culminating in a face-toface meeting in Colorado. Jay showed up with a ring. One year and four months later, they were married. “We shocked a lot of people,” said Christina Lorance, 41. “I’m from New York and he’s from Oklahoma, so the first question everyone had was, ‘How did you meet?’ … When we said the Internet, their eyes would bug out. They didn’t even think it was true.” Digital culture has changed drastically since the Lorances’ first virtual meeting. Online dating is now an accepted and commonplace way to meet someone, having largely shed its stigma as an option for only socially stunted nerds. Match.com, one of the leading websites, celebrated its 15th anniversary in April. While advanced technology can’t guarantee in-person chemistry, that hasn’t stopped dozens of new offerings from touting their matchmaking algorithms or catering to a demographic niche. Michelle Teplitz, a 29-year-old Connecticut native, was drawn to Jdate, a site geared toward Jewish singles, because she wanted to meet someone with similar values. “It weeds out the people you wouldn’t want to talk to in a bar,” said Teplitz, who met her husband of three years on JDate. Online dating has grown into big business. Match.com is part of IAC/ Interactive Corp. and recently became the exclusive dating service on Yahoo, while eHarmony has acquired other web properties related to weddings and parenting, including Weddingbee and JustMommies. Web-based dating also is taking on new forms, such as mobile applications and services

AMY BETH BENNETT/SUN SENTINEL

Captain of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sky, Goran Blomqvist, says he uses traditional nautical charts as well at the Internet and sophisticated radar to detect and track hurricanes. Most modern ships can outrun a tropical storm.

AMY BETH BENNETT/SUN SENTINEL

Royal Caribbean has a situation room at the Port of Miami to monitor ships and storms. Tracy Murrell is the cruise line’s director for maritime safety.

Please turn to Dating, 2D

“As soon as you talk about 7 million people going on dates, they can’t possibly all be computer geeks.”

CHELSEA MATIASH/SUN SENTINEL

Mike Maynard works in the control center at Spirit Airlines’ headquarters, where flights are scheduled to make sure planes don’t get near hurricanes. Flight cancellations usually start 12-24 hours before a storm’s predicted landfall.

Planes, trains and cruise ships have plans for severe weather By Ken Kaye SUN SENTINEL

The last place a cruise ship captain wants to be is anywhere near a hurricane, its furious seas and howling winds. “If a storm is tracking toward Nassau, we’re going to get as far away from Nassau as we can,” said Crane Gladding, senior vice president of revenue and passenger service for Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line. With a busy hurricane season pre-

Andrew Fiore, doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied online dating since 2003.

dicted, passengers who book cruises to the Caribbean, a frequent haunt of tropical storms, need to brace for the possibility they might see their itineraries suddenly changed. Cruise lines say they monitor the tropics carefully and change itineraries only if a system poses a potential threat to a ship’s route — something that could happen even after an ocean liner has left the dock. That might frustrate some passengers, who generally purchase tickets months in advance. But travel

agents recommend you expect the unexpected during storm season. “The chances of having a vacation ruined by a hurricane are really pretty slim, but you have to be aware that it could happen,” said Debbie Rauch, owner of Great Escapes Cruises & More in Lighthouse Point. If a tropical wave appears in the eastern Atlantic, don’t press the panic button and cancel. Tropical systems can take up to 10 days to arrive in the Please turn to Hurricane season, 2D

COMING MONDAY

REAL ESTATE Q&A

E-mailing your doctor

Second credit check can torpedo loan approval

E-consults — using e-mails to communicate with your doctor — are not only convenient for pa-

Q: I am buying a new home and received my loan approval last week. I was just told that my approval has been rescinded due to my debt-to-income ratios now being higher than what is allowed. How can a bank ap-

tients but might have significant health benefits. The electronic exchanges with doctors helped patients better manage their own health care, a study found. Check out Consumer Columnist Daniel Vasquez’s column in Monday’s Your Money.

prove my loan and then decline it the following week? — Shirley A: Louis Spagnuolo of WCS Lending in Boca Raton says Fannie Mae recently announced it is reviewing the rule requiring lenders to do a second credit check shortly before borrowers close on their loans. The rule is designed to identify new debt that might undermine an applicant’s ability to repay the mortgage. For homebuyers and lenders, the second

check has created a slew of problems. Lenders are concerned about the rule because Fannie Mae can require them to buy back loans in default up to two years after closing if there is evidence the borrower had more debt than was disclosed at the time of closing. For answers to more questions and other real estate news, go to the House Keys blog at SunSentinel.com/housekeys.

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TRAVEL COMING MONDAY Andrew Fiore, doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied online dating since 2003....

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