PULLMAN, Wash. – Student web designer Travis Baldree hits the enter key on the computer, and a cougar crouches and snarls at him. It’s not a warning to keep away; he did, after all, create it. It’s the opening icon that welcomes visitors to the new Cougar Information Network, or CougNet for short. And for Washington State University alumni and friends who join the network, the sight and sound of this virtual Butch feels like coming home.
CougNet, which makes its public debut today, provides a continually updated, interactive World Wide Web site with a wide variety of WSU information and networking opportunities, plus a free e-mail forwarding service.
“CougNet is information, entertainment and Cougar spirit,” said Mark Wilcomb, manager of CougNet Internet Services. “Nothing like this is being done anywhere else (among colleges and universities). It’s more than an alumni site and more than an academic site, because it reflects what the alums want to see, and it will continue to do that.”
As of July 15, 1,733 members–some from Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Cyprus and Mexico–had signed up to join CougNet, and the e-mail forwarding service has moved about 900 messages a day, Wilcomb said. The forwarding service is a particular draw for participants. Rapid change among Internet companies and people relocating means changes in e-mail addresses. Changing an address means getting that new address to all friends and colleagues. Some will lose track. CougNet provides an e-mail address that will never change.
CougNet e-mail forwarding allows members to use the e-mail provider of their choice (CougNet is not an e-mail service provider.). Any time a CougNet user changes e-mail providers, a single message to the CougNet office directs e-mail to the new provider. CougNet forwarding runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members also choose the CougNet name they want to use. CougNet addresses look like this: , so users show their Cougar pride each time they use the Internet.
CougNet also offers a web site with services for Cougars such as job search information, Cougar sports bulletins, news bulletins and an e-mail directory of other CougNet members called “Friend Finders.” An online store with Cougar merchandise, on-line “Cougar Postcards” and other new features and services are in development.
Baldree, lead programmer and art director for CougNet, is a WSU junior seeking a bachelor of liberal arts in web development. He created stylized images for the CougNet site that appeal to members featuring animation, sound and frames. The site also has a standard version available without animation and sound, but with all the information and graphics.
The e-mail forwarding service and use of the CougNet web site are free to CougNet members. CougNet membership is open to all WSU alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends.
To register for CougNet, visit the web site at http://www.wsu.edu/cougnet. Or send an e-mail to: cougnet@gocougs.wsu.edu. Memberships are processed within one working day of receipt. Participants will receive a confirmation notice by e-mail when membership is activated.

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