Web Informant #203, 18 June 2000:
Asking for your support


This is a little different from my usual essays about the perils and pitfalls of web technologies. Instead, I'd like to take some time this week to tell you a little about my love affair with bicycling, and ask for your support.

I have always been a big biker: starting in fourth grade, when I would take rides around my neighborhood (back then it was safe for kids to do this solo). Unfortunately, one day I got into an accident with a car and ended up in the hospital, getting some stitches over my eye. That didn't keep me from continuing to ride, however.

I continued to take longer trips as a child, leading up to a 250 mile camping trip out to the end of Long Island with a friend the summer I was 15, and a cross-Canada trip the summer between college and grad school. There were many other trips as well, including a wonderful trip with my family last summer through the Loire Valley led by Backroads.

After grad school, I turned to more bike activism than actual riding. While in Washington DC I helped to successfully lobby the subway system to accept bikes in off-peak hours: we had pictures in the Washington Post carrying a life-sized piece of cardboard aboard a train shaped like a bike. It was legal to carry packages, even large ones -- just not bikes. Once DC changed its policy towards bikes, many other transit systems began accepting bike riders on their systems as well.

All this is by way of explanation that I decided earlier this year to get more serious about my riding. I had been using a bike bought back in DC many years ago and it was time to get something better and that I could enjoy more miles with. A friend suggested a bike builder and I contacted him over email, and within a few days I had my new bike, which has been a joy to ride.

But something was missing, something that would provide motivation to do more riding and put my efforts into a more meaningful context. Then I came across the Boston to New York AIDS Ride, the sixth such ride this fall. And it seemed like the right thing to do, so I signed up via their web forms.

The Boston - New York Aids Ride covers 275 miles in three days. Three six-hour, 15 miles-per-hour-every-hour days in a row. In September. Come rain, shine or Indian summer. I will be there, provided that I raise the minimum $1,700 in pledges by the August 1st deadline. That isn't much time, and so I am asking for your help.

I feel somewhat uncomfortable doing so. Indeed, I originally asked a friend of mine, someone who has seen me battle my own chronic illness for the past two years, to write a solicitation that I would send to this mailing list. But it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. Instead, I'd like you to think about my commitment and how long I'll have to train this summer just to get to the starting line.

Some of the money you pledge goes to support the ride itself (about 18%); some goes to AIDS awareness programs, and the bulk goes directly to two AIDS charities, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and the Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center. Nationally, over $62 million has been raised from AIDS Rides; this year the Boston-New York Ride hopes to raise about $6 million from its anticipated 3000 riders.

If you'd like to help sponsor me, you have two choices. Send me your fax number and I'll fax you a pledge form you can fill out. You can pay now or set up a payment plan for the future, even with your credit card. Or, if you'd like to do things electronically, you can download the PDF version of the pledge form, fill it out (include my name and rider #1334 at the top right hand corner) and send it in.

Please look over the pledge form and designate the amount that is right for you. Thank you in advance for your generosity. It will mean a lot to me.

Self promotions dep't

Bike riding isn't all that I have been up to over the past few weeks. In between the rides, I have managed to fit in a few articles as well.

The Realtime Black Hole list is one of the more effective anti-spam mechanisms. But it isn't perfect, and has angered some long-time Internet mavens. Read up on its weaknesses and my analysis as I shine some light on the subject for the O'Reilly Network/Web Review.

I have a regular series on SearchWin2000.com that contains tons of useful information for Windows users and network administrators, looking at little products that have big impact and ones that I have found to be personally useful. The first two reviews are Corecom's NetHelper and Techsmith's Snag-It.

My latest SD Times WebWatch column is about the O'Reilly Network's Meerkat news clipping service. You can find this one, along with links to all of the archived columns, here.

Here is an advertorial I wrote for ZD Custom Publishing and sponsored by CDW on evaluating wireless technologies.

Finally, I have begun several assignments for a new magazine launched next month from the folks at Institutional Investor. If you know of an CxO at a leading-edge financial services firm who would like to be interviewed for an upcoming profile, drop me a quick note please.

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David Strom
+1 (516) 944-3407
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