1996: The Year We All Discovered Email
Miss Manners gets wired
Upgrading to NT woes


Quote of the week:
We were too busy, and at a retreat where I wrote our next priorities on a board, everyone said I had to take one off, so we took off email.
-- Bill Gates quoted in Time's annual Gates issue (1/13/97) on his regrets.

Yes 1996 was definitely the year everyone got on email, and even Microsoft is finally getting the picture. From my relatives to my neighbors, and in no small measure thanks to AOL, the general population is now comfortable with sending and receiving email. A CEO told me that about 40 percent of his contacts in the institutional investment analyst world were accessible via email -- no doubt probably the next-to-last industry sector to get wired. (Dead last: k12 schools.)

So what about the web? Well, the web is still too time consuming. And, the value of web surfing is no where near the value of email -- ask just about any sample of people in our industry or outside of it. Email is about the one thing they can all agree on. So why haven't we seen more email-centric applications? Mainly because email is so, well, ordinary that it hasn't really captured any attention while it has been getting all this critical mass. That will change in 1997, methinks.

Miss Manners gets wired

In keeping with our theme this week, I am glad to see Judith Martin getting with the program and giving her blessing to email. Her book, "Miss Manners' Basic Training: Communication" covers more than just cyber-manners, and goes into the demise of the (written) thank you note and warnings about flaming and TYPING IN CAPS. Almost nine years ago, I wrote a parody column for PC Week about what computer-related topics Miss Manners would deal with if she were interested in that portion of her business. I think you'll agree that it still holds up well today. Most amusing: PC Week heard from Miss Manners' lawyers, who were definitely not amused with my use of their trademark once the article was published. I guess a parody succeeds when lawyers get in motion.

Upgrading to NT woes

Over the new year I got rid of my Texas Instruments' Extensa laptop (running Windows 95) and tried to move everything over to an NT desktop. The TI was too heavy, battery life disappeared in a flash, and the support terrible. I wish I never bought the thing and am glad to see it go. In the meantime, I am trying to work with the ultimate thin client -- carrying NO equipment at all and just borrowing a desktop when I travel!

I said "tried" above: my suite of applications (Word, Approach, Freelance, Navigator, Intermind Communicator, the WS-FTP client, Quick Books and Eudora) is mostly working. I am not talking about the pain of reinstalling all this software. While it took a few hours, for the most part that went fairly easily. I did some fancy things like first installing Eudora on the NT machine, then copy all the data files over from my laptop.

Intermind's Communicator proved to be the real challenge: I had to have some help from their techs to move my data over, since the way the software works is to create a database tied to a particular version and machine. Lotus' Approach and Freelance are still in beta for NT v4, which makes me a bit nervous using them for production applications but I wasn't about to switch over to something else now. And, I am still looking for a virus checker.

I wonder if you all are having similar problems in trying to move to NT. Why not stick with 95? Stability, mostly.

Sitekeeping and self promotions dep't

My latest "Browser" column for the February 1997 Windows Sources is now out: Dress Up Your Web Pages, dealing with how to make the best use of style sheets. You can check my own home page for further examples.

I am also working with CMP Media on an exciting project called the Intranet Construction Site. It will appear as several print editions in Communications Week, Network Computing, and Information Week in April and May as well have its own web site with over 30 new articles on how to build and design Intranets. We'll have contributions from experts in corporate America as well as articles from leading consultants. I'm editing both the print and web versions.

Finally, an update on Amazon.com: as mentioned in WI#48, I have put some links on various web pages to their book catalog. If you follow the links and buy the books, I get a commission. I got my first check this week for $13.88, representing close to $200 in book sales. While their reports are almost unreadable, I still feel pretty good about what they are trying to do. As promised these funds will be donated to the Port Washington Community Chest.

David Strom
+1 (516) 944-3407
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entire contents copyright 1997 by David Strom, Inc.