Web shopping and pushing content via Intermind revisited

Quote of the week

There are no rules. The people who come out ahead in this business will be the ones who think about what's best for advertisers. [What about the viewers?] They're a smart audience. They understand.

-- Debbie Myers, VP of Production for American Cybercast, quoted in Entertainment Weekly on web-based advertising.

A sobering thought, indeed. It has been a busy couple of weeks, and sorry to take so long between issues. There is so much going on, and I'll try to bring some perspective as the products have been coming into my office fast and furious. Perhaps the most interesting story of the week was how reporter David Bank of the Wall Street Journal managed to crack into a few web-malls to find shoppers' credit card and ordering history. When he started calling the shoppers to tell them know that he (literally) had the goods on them, you can imagine the distress.

Turns out these malls were recording the data to directories that were viewable via the web Intro to Web Server 101 says keep this stuff off the published directories and in a place that few people can get. So much for that secure shopping experience. I give some credit to the Journal for exposing this practice, although putting the blame on the software vendors (rather than the mall operator) is somewhat misplaced.

Election coverage

Did any of you watch the US election coverage? Apart from the fact that all three major networks called Clinton the winner by 9:01 pm Eastern time, the most interesting thing was CBS-TV's cyber-set that Harry Smith was contained in. Add lots of blue-screen technology and a bunch of Silicon Graphics workstations, along with a database query tool set up by Bluestone, and what you have is what the NY Times called "election as weathercasting." Blue-screen, for those of you that don't know, is the ability previously used extensively by weather-people to stand in front of a blank blue wall, while through the miracle of TV you see him or her standing in front of a map of the local area. Smith brought up images and charts (who knows what Ross Perot would do with this technology in his 2000 campaign?) for our viewing pleasure.

Intermind update

As I mentioned in WI#44, I have begun to publish these essays via Intermind's Communicator technology. In the weeks since, I have heard from many of you about the wrong- headedness of this notion. And as I have thought about it, I have come to the conclusion that you are right. I will continue to publish two versions: one in HTML that will be available either directly from my web site or via the Communicator, and one that will go out as plain text via email. If you are getting both and want to unsubscribe to the email version, let me know.

While this will create more work for me than just publishing it via Intermind's technology, I recognize that email is still the best push technology there is. Many of us spend so much time in email applications that it is silly for me to try to assume that the browser will be the central desktop application any time soon.

Site-keeping update

I have been writing as always, and here are the latest articles that I have published.

Two reviews for Infoworld: one on Databeam's neT.120 conference server, and one on US Web's Sales Project Manager. I liked the former, hated the latter. You can find the links to both stories here.

It has been almost four years since I have appeared in the pages of Network Computing magazine. As many of you know, I helped launch this publication and was its first editor-in- chief back in 1990 for CMP. This week in the November 15 issue, I put together an advertorial supplement on NT in the Enterprise and wrote one of the stories on NT/Internet use. Here is the article.

I have been involved in the Networld+Interop show for many years, helping their programs department to plan better conferences. Now I have written an article for their web site, entitled, "The Show is Over, Now What," highlighting some of the new technologies that I saw at the last Atlanta show. Here is the article and you are welcome to leave your comments on their discussion forum.

The next copy of Windows Sources should be out later this week, and my "Browser" column is on using tables to produce better-looking HTML. I'll post a link here later this week when it appears on their web site.

These essays appear almost weekly and are available free of charge. Entire contents 1996 by David Strom, Inc.

David Strom


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