Quote of the week: "I'm not really from Mattel. I'm from a small company purchased in a leveraged buyout."

Our essay #6 on the intersection of CD ROM and HTML neglected to mention several other examples of the genre: "Using the Internet for Profit" from CD Solutions/IDG, is an interesting software product that comes completely on a CD, and works nicely for both Windows and Mac users. Here is more information via their web site Although the CD isn't done in HTML format, it contains software that you need to get up and running on the net (including both on-ramp and browser) as well as a very good beginner's guide to the Internet and some basic commerce examples and terms. If you are already using something for your on-ramp and browser, this CD might be too basic for you, but if you know of someone that is just getting started, you might want to give this one a try.

There are other CD/HTML packages around, such as Windows magazine's CD edition, the new Gates "Roadie" book/CD package, and a new product from Quarterdeck (none of which we have seen yet, although you might want to read Dan Farber's review of the Gates book). Also notable is Frontier's Cybersearch product, which includes the entire Lycos catalog on CD along with browser and on-ramp tools (which we have used briefly -- while it is nice to have a local Lycos copy, it changes far too quickly to be a serious contender for the on-line version).

Web Informant scoops the NY Times!

Two concepts mentioned in previous essays (Browser Boy and the intranet) have gotten lots of media play in the past month, including a terrific analysis by Peter H. Lewis in this past Monday's Times. Now, we aren't assuming any causal (or even casual) relationship, but you did read about them here first.

Browser Boy is the $500 network-ready PC that Oracle, IBM and others are pushing. The term is Dick Shaffer's, by the way. A friend from Microsoft suggested the term"3270 jr," which is appropriate, given that we still think the connectivity issues are going to be its biggest hurdle.

And we aren't the only ones infatuated about the "intranet" either -- that internal corporate set of tools and techniques that mirrors the ones used on the Internet but isn't necessarily accessible from outside users. This past week's crop of press releases from Frontier, NetManage, and Netscape all mentioned the term, and numerous articles have appeared in the past several weeks on the front pages of PC Week, Computerworld, and other publications talking about the term and its consequences for corporations. (Here is our white paper on intranets, which we did for Attachmate, by the way.) A trendlet in the making?

Changes to our site

We have been busy doing some housecleaning over the holidays. A whole new set of Places pages is organized (we hope) better, with links to sites of interest divided by the kind of job you have: there is a page for marketing communications types, for webmasters, and places that offer superior technical support. Let us know what you think.

All of this is in preparation to a move to NT from our existing Unix server. That's the theory, anyway. Trying to find all the right tools to create a web "development environment" in NT has proved daunting (anyone have a good FTP client for NT? Drop us a line). More on that in a future essay.

Speaking of housecleaning, last time we tried to send these essays via MIME and had some problems, especially for those of you that are reading this on AOL. For this edition, our friend Marshall Rose (who knows a great deal about the subject) has developed a work-around for the mime-challenged AOL mail gateway, and you should be able to read your mail from us just fine. Thanks, Marshall, for keeping us from straying back into the land of the unwashed. We like to support the latest and greatest Internet standards when we can, but it sure isn't easy. And if anyone who works at AOL is reading this and cares, let us know when you get this fixed.

Web Informant goes into syndication

We are proud to announce our first syndication deal. Web Informant will now be carried as a regular column in Songline Studios' Web Review , beginning with their December 8th issue. If you haven't taken a look at this web-based zine, I recommend you spend some time with it. It has a nice mix of technical articles (we've mentioned the Ask Dr. Web column in past essays), social/political commentary, and features on web-based commerce. Songline is a spin-off group from the same people that brought us the impressive Global Network Navigator. They are also affiliated with O'Reilly and Associates, the quality technical book publisher responsible for the "Nutshell" Unix handbooks, the distributors of Website and other solid efforts.

So, if you are tired of getting these essays via email, an alternative is to just add the following Web Review bookmark to your browser and check it every two weeks.

We are still working out the production mechanics, but basically there will be some differences between the essays that are sent via email and the ones that get put up on Web Review's site: first off, you'll get the essays sooner via email, by about a week. Secondly, you'll miss our awards if you just look at the Web Review site.

(If you want to get the essays via email, do nothing. We'll continue to send them to you unless we hear otherwise.)

If you will be going to the Web conference in Boston 12/12-14, we'll be attending the show on Tuesday and Wednesday, and love to get together. We'll also be attending Lois Paul and Partner's benefit party at the Westin Copley Monday evening and moderating a panel about Windows 95 at the Boston Network Users Group luncheon at Anthony's Pier 4 (by the World Trade Center) the following day (Tuesday) around 3pm.

Finally, our opening quote is from the movie Toy Story, the first feature film that was created completely on hard disk. If you haven't seen it yet, download their nice "memory game" from their web site, available in Windows and Mac versions to whet your appetite. Disney has a hit on their hands: this is probably the first movie I've taken my daughter to that I -- as well as she -- wanted to see again.

David Strom
Web Informant site
An archive of previous essays may be found here