If you have been following new Internet software fairly closely, then you probably have heard about ICQ - which is supposed to sound like I Seek You. ICQ has taken many parts of the Internet community by storm. The idea is simple. Using ICQ you can keep track of friends and contacts. ICQ beeps your friends when you come on-line, then lets you communicate through messages similar to e-mails, or by real-time chat similar to the 'talk' under the old Unix text systems popular on the Internet five to 10 years ago. ICQ has proven so popular that 17 million people had subscribed as of the end of August. More than four million were using the service each day, and a peak of 600,000 were using it at the same time on September 1. Many users are now including ICQ identification number on business cards and at the bottom of e-mail messages. To top it all off, a recently published guide book to ICQ was listed as the number-two bestseller on the on-line bookstore of Barnes and Noble at www.barnesand noble.com. So, what makes this product so popular? These are some of the features: On-line alert. Any ICQ contact can be tracked so that when they come on-line, the software pops up a notification message. For instance, I may be waiting to call but am fed up with playing voice-mail telephone tag. Instead, I configure ICQ to notify me when the person comes on-line. When I receive the notification I can phone or initiate an ICQ chat session. Easy file transfer. Many Internet users find existing methods of transferring files - such as FTP or e-mail attachments - difficult and counter-intuitive. ICQ provides a built-in file transfer mechanism that many users find easier to use. In addition, ICQ provides fault-tolerance features which help ensure completion even if the connection is lost in mid-transfer. With traditional FTP software, if you lose the connection, you need to start from scratch. You can transfer entire directories with ICQ, a feature lacking with most FTP software and unavailable using e-mail attachments without first using a ZIP utility to archive the directory to a ZIP file. Direct, multi-user chat. If you find someone is on-line, initiating a chat session is as simple as selecting a menu option and waiting for the other user to accept. Not only are two-way chats possible, but it is possible to set-up private, multi-party chat and conferencing sessions. In addition to these features, ICQ is a much broader service and tool. For instance, if a user has provided a home page URL in their profile, you can jump to that page and view it in either in Netscape Communicator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. The ICQ Web site highlights many other services and features, including subject-related networks, a home-page gallery, message boards, virtual communities and more. If you find yourself needing a convenient way to find people and know when they are on-line or if you are simply looking for a new convenient way to meet people on the Internet, give ICQ a try. ICQ software is available for free download for Windows 95 and NT, Windows 3.1, Macintosh systems, and Java environments on most operating systems (visit www.icq.com ).