Web Informant #108, 13 April 1998:
Win $50 by finding stuff on the web!


This is no come-on email message. This is for real. Before I tell you about my contest, let me first describe my hobby. Some people collect stamps and salt/pepper shakers, I collect URLs to demonstrations of web-based technologies. Granted, there is limited appeal for this hobby, and I daresay that I won't be getting rich trading links anytime soon. But it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. Plus, I can do it anywhere in the world, when I have a spare moment and a good high-speed Internet connection.

I maintain a page of these links and try to keep it up to date at least once a month. On this page are technologies from web-based email services to embedded web servers and web-to-host gateways. It has grown over the years since I first got the idea to track these technologies.

To give you an example, go to Microsystems Software and try out their CaLANdar web-based calendar product. Use the user name Tom Sawyer, password of password.

You can view your schedule, add appointments, do everything that you would normally do if you had their software running on your local machine.

Yes, the bad news is tracking down these sort of demos is tough. If you were a vendor of one of these things, you would think the most natural thing in the world would be to put up a demonstration on your own web site that could show off how your technology worked. After all, you know people are just coming by with their web browser to check out your content: why not interest them directly in the product by taking them on a tour?

Amazingly, few vendors do this. And the most noticeable crowd that is lacking is also the most competitive market, high-speed network switches. Hence the contest.

I spent the better part of the day examining the web sites of seven switch vendors, all who have claimed to offer a web-based utility or embedded web server to manage their switches. I came up completely empty-handed. No matter how I searched, I couldn't find anything that would demonstrate this technology. So I figured, why not have some fun and create a short-lived contest and see if one of you could track this down?

While you are looking at the seven switch vendor sites, note the following basic web design mistakes:

This is a good example of how our own industry is its own worst enemy when it comes to using the web intelligently. If you are one of the seven switch vendors mentioned, I'd love to hear from you. Better yet, I'd love to see you improve your web site and show it off to my readers. But enough of that, on with the contest.


Good luck, and I look forward to your comments.

David Strom
+1 (516) 944-3407
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