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The advertising
industry is on
the verge of
being shattered
into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
There are no
more grand theories
that hold sway
over the entire
Michael Strangelove

Advertising is
one of the minor
arts, so don't
be intimidated
by it. Try
not to lose
your sense of
Keep it fun.
Robert Bly

is more
it seems.
John Gall

The System
is its own
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser


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May 28, 1998


If our access logs are anything to go by, then WebTV is becoming more popular (and doubtless will become more so now that You-Know-Who has bought it...).

So should you build its restrictions into your design criteria?

Well, first consider whether or not your audience is within the WebTV universe.

WebTV's target demographic is a price-sensitive mass audience which seems to be skeptical of new technology.

So, if you're producing subscription-based or advertiser-supported content, you'll need to evaluate whether the profile of a typical WebTV user matches your target audience.

If you're self-publishing, you'll need to decide whether you want to cater to a platform that doesn't support frames, Java, JavaScript, ActiveX, or any plug-ins. So if you use these tools on your regular site, you're looking at extensive remodeling.

However, if you do decide the WebTV audience is for you, there are some design issues you'll want to keep in mind.

WebTV displays color differently - it's a TV, not a monitor. You need to be sensitive to issues such as black text on white backgrounds.

While this looks great on a PC, it's difficult to read on a television, where light-colored text on dark backgrounds works best.

Graphics with text smaller than about 12 points may be difficult to read, and jiggling can occur with very thin lines and high-contrast non-antialiased borders.

WebTV places pages in a 544-pixel wide by 378-pixel high display area (roughly the equivalent of an 11-inch monitor). Since scrolling is an alien concept to most who aren't computer users, the WebTV designers chose to replace scrollbars with a videogame-like bump-and-scroll, using a remote control.

Although you can maneuver through a page vertically, you can't move horizontally beyond the window, so you need to keep your design under the 544-pixel width limit.

Though WebTV doesn't support frames, it does support its own *sidebar* tag, which allows you to place what amounts to a non scrolling vertical frame alongside your content. Since *sidebar* isn't backward-compatible with browsers that don't recognize the tag, you'll need to create a separate WebTV version of a page in order to take advantage of this extension.

Is it worth it? Probably not at the moment, but... --John Blower

May 27, 1998

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow...

It can be frustrating to attempt to access a site, which, on previous visits, loaded quickly and efficiently, only to find sluggish performance.

Obviously, there's a "traffic jam" somewhere - but where? And is there anything you can do about it?

The route data takes over the Internet from the site you are accessing to your PC can be likened to water. It follows the path of least resistance. But pinpointing the source of a data blockage in the myriad of routes the data could take seems almost impossible.

No more. NetMedic from Vital Signs does exactly that. The NetMedic "dashboard" includes a pane which displays your personal path from your PC to your modem or Intranet, to your ISP and the Intranet, all the way to the Web site you have requested. When the Web site responds, you see the Web pages as they return to your PC.

Specific sources of performance problems are highlighted in yellow or red.

Net.Medic tells you how well your ISP is performing: call completions, average call connection rates, service failures which prevent accessing Web sites, total connection time, and data sent and received. Now you can check if you should subscribe to a premium service or switch to a different ISP.

The Vital Signs site is attractive and easy to navigate. There are a series of preview screens which seem to give a good indication of how the product performs.

NetMedic costs a shade under $40. You can testdrive for thirty days, but only of you are on a Windows 95/NT platform. --John Blower

May 26, 1998

The Gorilla speaks...

...and we, the people, tremble.

The current dispute between the Department of Justice and the Gorilla from Redmond has been characterized as whether or not the Gorilla should allow competition in the browser market, most notably from Netscape.

Now, the seamless integration of an Internet browser with Windows 98 is, on the face of it, a sensible and advantageous development, not least for the consumer. The integration accords perfectly with Microsoft's view of the Web as simply another hard drive. The user takes data from the Web, manipulates it in accordance with their needs, then reposts it. This philosophy begs for a fully-integrated system.

However, it doesn't take a genius to see that the implications of this approach strike to the very heart of the concept of the Web as being a repository of data available to anyone with a browser and a conncetion. (It can be argued that this is an essentially elitist view, but that's another discussion.)

Let us explain. "Most people" are either unwilling or unable to change the default page of their browser. Those who follow this kind of arcana will have noted that, with each new version of the two major browsers, it has taken progressively more mouseclicks to make the change. Hence, both Microsoft's and Netscape's homepages are amongst the most popular destinations on the Web. By default.

It is not inconceivable that future versions of Explorer will make it all but impossible to change the default page from

And, let's face it, most novice users will be unaware of alternatives. They will go with what they've got. Which will be IE embedded into their OS, with as the default homepage.

In essence, therefore, Microsoft will be in a position to reduce the easily-available choice of destinations to ones of its choice.

Want traffic? Talk to the Gorilla.

This dispute is not about browser competition. It's about access to the Internet. Those who wish to see unfettered access to all the data on the Web must oppose Microsoft's attempted domination of the New Medium.

--John Blower

May 25, 1998

The Monkey Scratches

Reasonable people disagree.

In our seminars, we advise our clients that using a Microsoft product is a good news - bad news proposition. The good news? It's a Microsoft product. The bad news? It's a Microsoft product.

After years on the bleeding edge, we're getting used to over-engineered, underdesigned products that freeze our machines in the early revisions. Microsoft appears to be the only company in the marketplace with a solid willingness to invest in the long term while being able to successfully follow the agile entrepreneurs who lead the game.

While we're admittedly nervous about Internet mono-culture, we can't deny the significant productivity gains to be had by net businesses who use the integrated Microsoft Office / Internet Explorer suite. At IBN, we've saved thousands of hours by making a committed switch away from Netscape.

Lest the conspiracy theorists gain the upper ground, we want to remind you of the environment that Microsoft faced eighteen months ago.

From a recent issue of DaveNet:

This PC WEEK article, 6/17/96, is entitled "Andreessen eyes Internet OS".

"The only difference technically between Netscape's Navigator browser and a traditional operating system is that Navigator will not include device drivers, Andreessen said."

The article outlines a complete operating system built around Navigator and Netscape's server products, with CORBA used for RPC, programming in Java and JavaScript, with all the components of Microsoft's product line. Except for device drivers, Netscape was going to reimplement Windows and all the important client apps.

The argument in the courts is about whether or not Microsoft played fair. Our take is that they did what anyone would do under similar market conditions.

The Justice Department is way out of line. We don't need lawyers monkeying around in software design.

Tomorrow, Mr. Blower returns with the opposing view.

--John Sumser LinkExchange
LinkExchange Member

Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.

Check out the Archives....180 Weeks of Back Issues including:

May 25, 1998
  • European Design
  • Boys Of Summer
  • Relationships
  • Cheap is Dear
May 18, 1998
  • WinJobs
  • GifWizard
  • Tao of Design
  • Parry
May 11, 1998
  • Nice Niche
  • Scribes
  • Simple
  • Reveries
May 04, 1998
  • Tags
  • Trademarks
  • No War
  • Contentious
  • Sales Ambassador
April 27, 1998
  • George Lois
  • Dallas
  • Newsgroup Marketing
  • Pay 4 What You Get
  • Taking AIIM
April 20, 1998
  • Pragmatists
  • Asps
  • Bad Job Site
  • ClickZ Plus
  • Intellisys
April 13, 1998
  • Spring Break
  • Coming Of Age
  • Weblinks Co.
April 6, 1998
  • Pragmatists
  • Asps
  • Bad Job Site
  • ClickZ Plus
  • Intellisys
March 30, 1998
  • GIF Wizard
  • Intellectual Property
  • Job Corner
  • Technorealism
  • Surf Incentives
March 23, 1998
  • A Solution?
  • Lost In Space
  • Taxes
  • Guild, Schmild
  • WinJobs
March 16, 1998
  • Local Markets
  • DevShed
  • Hold That Thought
  • Peapod
  • Web Bloat
March 09, 1998
  • Tags
  • Trademark Domain
  • Transactional Analysis
  • Smart Art
March 02, 1998
  • Domain Chaos
  • Cunning Stunts
  • Malls
  • CyberSitter II
Feb 23, 1998
  • The Times
  • Meta Small
  • Correction
  • Flabbergasted
Feb 16, 1998
  • Nobody Told Them
  • The 5 Cs
  • One Seek
  • Take No Prisoners
Feb 09, 1998
  • Martha Stewart
  • Tenagra Awards
  • Interactive Email
  • Zero 1
  • Media-ocrity
Feb 02, 1998
  • Were They Thinking?
  • Great Recruiting Design
  • Link Info
Jan 26, 1998
  • What's In It 4 Me
  • Global Reach
  • Deadly Sites
  • Accomodating Design
Jan 19, 1998
  • It's Local
  • Dodgy Data
  • Luncheon Meat
  • Elementary?
  • Novices
Jan 12, 1998
  • Communities
  • Is It Worth It?
  • Luncheon Meat
  • Web Rings
  • Marketing With Titles
Complete Indexed Archives(42 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(42 months of marketing and design)

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All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941