Electronic airline ticketing, Internet Weather Report, and books for the holidays

http://www.strom.com/awards/47.html (Revised 11/26/96)

Being a frequent traveller, I have been experimenting with the electronic ticketing offered by United and American. I'd found that a single feature can make or break my use of either service, with United coming out on top.

Why? It has to do with the support that both services provide for faxing an itinerary to me. United managed to get the fax to me while I was still on the phone with the agent, providing a quick way to review my reservation and complete the transaction with some faith that everything was entered to my liking. American's fax takes 24-48 hours after you hang up the phone, or so they say -- I never got anything from them. This presented a problem at the airport and I ended up having to negotiate my way around the metal detector "cops" who insisted on seeing some piece of paper like a ticket.

I don't know why American can't do an immediate fax, but for me I'll stick with paper tickets until they do.

Internet weather report

I don't give out awards for web sites anymore, but if I did I'd give another kudo to the fine folks at ClearInk a nod for their Internet weather report.

No we aren't talking cloudy with a chance of meatballs here -- the weather refers to the conditions of the major US backbone providers and their ability to properly route packets across their territories. Jon Stevens has put together a very simple (but powerful) graphic that tells you what is happening with the backbone net traffic at any given moment. Think your MCI or Sprint connections are particularly slow today? Check out this page and you'll see packet delays over the past 24 hours.

Self promotions dep't

This week instead of going to Comdex (my sympathies for those of you that are there) I took a Bermuda break, as they say in the commercials. I gave a speech on Intranets to a group of Bermuda-based businessfolk on behalf of Internet Bermuda Ltd., the sole ISP on the island. You can examine the slides here.

Books for the holidays

With holidays fast approaching, it might be time to consider that perfect computer book for your friends, associates, and loved ones. Given that there are hundreds of linear feet of them in my local Barnes and Noble, I'd like to draw your attention to a few good ones that stand out among the crowd.

Amazon.Com logo

As a service to you, I've joined Amazon.Com's associates program. For more information about this program, read the next issue of Web Informant.

Web design

Web Page Design: A Different Multimedia, by Mary Morris and Randy Hinrichs, Mary Morris book (Prentice Hall, $24.95) There are lots of good web site books, but Morris and Hinrichs tell you what makes a web page work from both a design and a technical perspective. There are lots of good examples here, and lots of tips and hints on using color and graphics to your advantage. Go to Amazon.com and buy this book now!

GIF Animation Studio: Animating your Web Site, by Richard Koman (O'Reilly $39.95) This is a wonderfully illustrated book that takes a novice through the process of how to produce animated GIFs. These are simple ways to spice up static pages, and there are variety of tools (some included on the usual CD ROM). Koman shows how to use the tools and offers plenty of examples. Go to Amazon.com and buy this book now!


Building the Corporate Intranet, by Steve Guengerich et al. (Wiley, $39.95) At my speech in Bermuda, several people asked me is there anything that one could use to provide a step-by-step implementation of Intranets? This book is a good starting place. Guengerich (who runs BSG, a Houston-based consultancy) has put together more than a blueprint including lots of good advice, a section on avoiding common mistakes, what to implement when, and even technology suggestions. Go to Amazon.com and buy this book now!


How to Program Java, by Peter Coffee (Que, $39.99). Given that the number of Java books can easily fill a small country, this is a standout. It is for the Java novice, and Peter (a long time friend at PC Week) does a great job introducing objects, classes, and other concepts along the way. Go to Amazon.com and buy this book now!

Politics and education

The Connected Family, by Seymour Papert (Longstreet Press, $22.95) There are many books about education and how to buy computers. This is the first one I've seen that actually tells you how to use them with your children. This is one book I wanted to send to every Board of Education member in our school district. Papert is one of the developers of Logo. On the CD are some sample games that will open your eyes when your kids start actually doing primative programming while they are playing the games. Go to Amazon.com and buy this book now!

Corporate Politics and the Internet, by James Gaskin (Prentice Hall, $24.95) Gaskin, another long-standing friend who has written for many publications, has put together in a single place a reference manual for corporate Internet newbies. He addresses things like putting together an email policy, intellectual property, and tips and hints for corporations putting together acceptable use policies. Go to Amazon.com and buy this book now!

David Strom


+1 (516) 944-3407


entire contents copyright 1996 by David Strom, Inc.