Ted Stevens, a Republican senator from Alaska, was widely mocked last year when he described the Internet as "a series of tubes." Odd, but there are thousands of web users who probably think he had a point. Last year, utube.com -- the website for Universal Tube and Rollform, out of Perrysburg, Ohio -- started crashing. Sometimes for days at a time, it was dead to the world. Universal's president Ralph Girkins called his man Tom, the guy hosting Universal Tube's site, and neither could figure out the problem. As they found out eventually, their problem was in the url: utube.com is, apparently, a lot like youtube.com. Some days more than 100,000 people were heading to utube.com looking for videos, not the tube-making machinery Universal sells. That was somwhere around 99,000 more than the usual traffic and far more than the tiny servers could handle. Seems there is a bunch of tubes around these parts, and Universal was left to scramble to keep their site live.

Universal sued, and the case is still working its way through courts in Ohio. Check out this article, which appears in our August issue. Don't miss the emails some people have sent Universal.