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Rocky Mountain Forest

1998 on the Web
Daily Technology Diary

Rocky Mountain Forest
  January 1998  

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Prelude  
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The potential opportunity enthralls me. Where but on the Internet could a middle aged, middle class everyman have the chance to share his thoughts and opinions with the rest of the world? I am excited by the prospects. Now comes the challenge. I am up to the task of keeping this diary on a daily basis. However, I need to make it interesting enough for the rest of the world to beat a path to my door. So bookmark this page, and stick with me.

Obviously to attract an audience, I have to make you the reader aware I am here. To that end, I will share my experiences with Web site promotion in the Tips and Tools section of this site. You will learn, as I do, what has been successful at grabbing an audience, and what has not. But content is king. I may be listed #1 in all the popular search engines and still not entice you back if I don't provide quality, meaningful information. To that end, your comments and suggestions are of extreme value to me.

My intentions are to provide a running commentary, including my opinions and predictions, about the news of the day in the Internet and computer industry. Being a 25 year computer professional, I have a good grasp of the issues that interest us, the personalities that annoy us, and the technologies that will propel us into the 21st century. I have worked with a majority of the hardware and software kingpins during my career, so I will avoid succumbing to the prejudices and favoritism rituals.

 

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Thursday, January 1  
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Welcome to 1998. Welcome to 1998 on the Web. Like the last 4 years have been, 1998 will be an exciting year for those who design, develop, sell, learn, and play on the Internet. From my home in Nitro, West Virginia, USA I will share with you each day the news and opinions of this wonderful industry.

First, allow me a moment of sports commiseration. Like most Mountaineers from the state of WV, I am a big fan of the two Division 1A football programs here. For the first time in ages both of those teams competed in bowl games this year. The Marshall University Thundering Herd lost a heartbreaker to Ole Miss 34-31 in the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich. on a last minute score by Ole Miss. In another barnburner, the WVU Mountaineers simply ran out of time during their second half comeback of a 35-30 loss to Georgia Tech in the Carquest Bowl in Miami, Fla. Oh well, I'll make predictions for the 1998 seasons in August.

You can see my
predictions for the computer industry elsewhere on this site. Most of them deal with hot topics like browsers, Java, Microsoft, and Apple, but occasionally I'll also try to delve into the obscure. One of these is my thoughts on the Inferno operating system from Lucent Technologies.

When you visit the
Tips and Tools page here, you will see how I am doing at promoting and tracking hits to this site. I will share my experiences with Web graphics and dynamic HTML, and I will also detail my real world life in corporate computing. I will be transferring my mainframe system performance management skills to client/server systems in 1998 and look forward to the new challenge. As I learn, so will you in this diary.

The Microsoft FrontPage 98 beta HTML editor software expired today, so I guess it's back to good ole Notepad. I like to beta test software, so I will share my opinions and experiences with products I try. I have just begun dabbling with a 30 day demo of Dreamweaver from Macromedia, another WYSIWYG DHTML product. Stay tuned.

I have discovered a problem with the Windows 95 version of Internet Explorer 4.0 Final and 4.01, or at least something that used to work with IE4 preview release 2 that does not now. When you place an object inside a table cell, then act upon that object with dynamic HTML(i.e. scripting), it loses it's tag properties such as HREF or ALT. For example, you can't click on a button that has been animated. It all worked fine with IE4 PR2.
Anyone else have any experiences like this?

MacWorld Expo begins on January 6th in San Francisco. Look for Bill Gates to steal some of Steve Jobs' limelight with the probable announcements of the Internet Explorer 4.0 final version for Macintosh, and the Mac Microsoft Office suite. No CEO yet though. Thanks Dave. What do you think?

I'll leave you with this thought for the day: "If at first you don't succeed, you shouldn't try parachuting."

See you tomorrow . . .

 

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Friday, January 2  
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If you are a new user of Windows 95, there are some hard disk utilities available in the MY COMPUTER application that are useful protection against failure, and can improve system performance. These utilities are SCANDISK, DEFRAG, and BACKUP. I ran these today on my PC to start the new year. You should too.

Click on the MY COMPUTER icon, right click the hard drive, choose Properties, and select the TOOLS tab. First scan your disk for errors. I usually select a thorough surface check and fix errors automatically. Timing depends on the size or your hard drive and the speed of your machine, but 2 minutes per 100 megabytes is a good rule of thumb.

Next select the DEFRAG utility, the advanced button, and click the full defragmentation radio button. Click start. Again depending on the size of your hard drive and how fragmented it is, timing is variable. My 500 meg drive was 6% fragmented and took 45 minutes to run.

Finally, and most important, BACKUP your system!!! I won't go into detail because all systems are configured differently. Some only have floppy disk drives to receive the backup output, others have zip drives, and still others have access to network drives and utilities. The point here is JUST DO IT!!! It is very important. Don't catch yourself saying someday "So that's why they do backups".

If you have any questions or need assistance, let me know.

Here are some early statistics about visitor traffic to 1998 on the Web. During the last week of December, after this site was first posted in preparation for going live on 1/1/98, there were 65 unique guests hitting the pages 153 times. Yesterday, on January 1st, there were 9 visitors, including one from the Netherlands, registering a total of 24 hits. Most of the referrals came from three search engines. Obviously I have a lot more work to do to increase site exposure. Were you watching football instead of surfin' the Net? Those who have been here already, please come back. To learn how I get these stats go to the Tips and Tools page. Tomorrow I will tell you about browser and OS predominance.

To help with my credibility, as suggested in yesterday's diary(see above), Microsoft will post the Macintosh version of Internet Explorer 4.0 on Tuesday, January 6th. Go to c|net to see the announcement details.

Thought for today: "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."
- Satchell Paige, baseball Hall of Famer

 

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Saturday, January 3  
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I wrote a Newarticle for the Tips and Tools page today titled "Wrapping Text Around Graphics". For some reason I really stumbled with this HTML technique for a long time. As you will see in the article, it's quite simple. I hope it helps you.

Following a sluggish start on New Year's Day, there were a few more visitors to 1998 on the Web yesterday. There were 18 unique guests registering 29 hits. Two were from Canada and one from Jordan. I mentioned yesterday I would detail the browser and operating system usage. Since I reset the statistics counters to zero on January 1st, browser activity has been as follows: Netscape Navigator 1 - 2%, NN2 - 2%, NN3 - 15%, NN4 - 25%, Internet Explorer 3 - 19%, IE4 - 27%, and WebTV - 10%. So far 91% of you have had Windows 95 with the other 9% on the Macintosh OS. Don't try to make any inferences from these numbers yet, they are statistically insignificant. I will keep you posted as the year progresses.

For the past year my local cable television company has been making a system-wide upgrade to fiber optic delivery. They are supposed to be finished later this month. Having been limited by a 28.8K or slower dial-up connection to the Internet for the past three years, I am really looking forward to the opportunity for megabit access that my cable company will now be able to offer. If you don't know much yet about cable modem Internet access, I recommend visiting Cable modems.com to learn more.

Thought for today: "Always ride your horse in the direction it is going."

 

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Sunday, January 4  
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If you haven't experienced Web Cams or Net Cams, you are in for a treat. Web Cams are real-time cameras posted at locations all over the world to give you a feeling of what is happening there right now. They are at beaches, on top of buildings, some even hidden like Candid Camera. If you wonder what the weather is like in Vail, Co., just hop on the Web and look at Vailcam. Want to see what the elephants are eating at The National Zoo? Some cameras update as frequently as every 15 seconds, while every few minutes is more common. For a good index of Web Cams to get you started, visit Virtual Web Cameras, but don't forget to come back here when you're done. Enjoy!

Tomorrow evening, January 5th, NASA goes back to the moon for the first time in 25 years. The Lunar Prospector is set to launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral at approximately 8:30 EST Monday evening. The unmanned science mission will be the first to the moon since Apollo 17 in December 1972. This time the price tag is measured in millions instead of billions.

Lunar Prospector's survey has geologic goals. Scientists hope to answer questions such as How did the Moon form? What minerals are in it's soil? and Is there ice in it's shadows? The Lunar Prospector will go into orbit around the Moon about four days after launch and will continue to operate for the next 18 months. You can learn more about the mission and follow along with it's progress at NASA's Lunar Prospector Homepage.

Where were you when Neil Armstrong took mankind's first steps on the Moon in July 1969? I was in a motel room somewhere in the Carolinas on the way to the beach to begin family vacation. I was 16 years old, it was the middle of the night, and I don't recall being nearly as excited as my Dad was. Nearly 30 years later, I understand my father's awe, quite an accomplishment for 20th century science. Share your experiences.

Thought for today: "To have seen the light is to have seen the dark."

 

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