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6th January 1997
Welcome to the new look Aardvark Weekly. Just as with the daily edition, the weekly has been redesigned to make life a little easier for you - the reader. Of course I welcome any comments you might want to make regarding these changes, be they pro or con.

Predictions for the New Year
Well, here we are at the start of another year and I'm about to be so bold as to make some predictions which will no doubt come back to haunt and embarrass me this time next year.

This will NOT be the year of the Network Computer
That's right ... despite the early enthusiasm from many large corporates (including some such as Air NZ and Telecom here in New Zealand), the Network Computer will go nowhere. Why? For exactly the same reason that so many people prefer to drive their own cars to work when there is perfectly good public transport available - convenience and control and flexibility.
Prediction

1

Prediction

2

Advertisers will ask "where's the return?"
The halcyon days we currently enjoy where advertisers are happy to pay good money for "promises" or "hits" will come to an end. Instead, many will be demanding results and become far more selective about their Net-advertising spend. This may affect organisations such as NBR who are presently proudly claiming that they were "in profit" from day one of their web-site launch. There's going to be a huge amount of pressure on Web sites to provide "performance" advertising.
This will NOT be the year of the Web TV
Net TV will fail for the same reason that Teletext has only reached a very low level of penetration into the TV-set market - TV sets are for watching television programs on, not for computing. Remember when the average home-computer plugged into the back of the TV set? Why do they now come with their own screens?
Prediction

3

Prediction

4

Apple will be split up and sold off
Yes... this is a bold prediction but I believe that Apple's day has come and gone - although the fruit of its loins will live on for many years to come. At the very least, a significant amount of Apple stock will be bought up by one of the other large players in the industry (Microsoft?) and it's possible that the acquisition (by whoever) will be total.
Microsoft will strengthen their Net position
Despite the holes which still exist in their understanding of the Net, Microsoft will continue to gain market-share in such important areas as the browser and server markets. Netscape won't give up without a very big fight however and look for Sun to up the ante in the Java standards war. Java could yet be Microsoft's Archiles heel and MS are playing the wrong hand if (as it appears) they think they can grab control of the standard at this early stage.
Prediction

5

Prediction

6

Look for an increase in "user-pays" sites
What? You mean PAY for something on the Web? Yes, that's right! Like it or not, the failure of Web advertising to live up to expectations combined with the need for many organisations to move from red ink to black in order to satisfy nervous investors means that you're going to see a sharp growth in the number of "paid-subscription" or "pay per use" services on the Web.
Java bites back at Microsoft
An interesting tid-bit of information. Of course it's just coincidence (call it serendipity), but the latest release of the Sun Java 1.1 beta JDK has the ability to bring the otherwise "rock solid" Microsoft Windows NT to its knees with the dreaded "blue screen". Surely it's not a case of "Sun's Revenge" for Microsoft's recent announcement that they're going to do their own thing with Java? Nah... couldn't be...
"Owch!"

Hey, ISP.. are You here?
How many ISPs are there?
Can you guess how many ISPs there are in the world?. Two thousand? Three thousand? More?

Well if you visit The List you'll find out. This is a site which makes a good effort at listing all the world's ISPs - but a quick check of the NZ page shows that they've got a wee way to go.

Don't look Ethel!
So you've just created that fabulous new web page and you're pretty sure it's all "honky dory". Mistakes? Nah... couldn't be!

Well, to save yourself some embarrasment you might want to run it through this rather nifty on-line HTML analyser - it even checks your spelling!

Much of the meat at this site is only available to those who pay - but the Single Page analysis is free. When I ran it on a number of "big-name" Web pages recently (and my own) it was surprising just how many seemingly professional sites come up with basic HTML errors. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to find out which sites those were - but I'll admit that I'm planning to fix mine real soon now!.

"Oops!"
"Hello... is there anybody there?"
Ergo Oopsies
They're everywhere! I mean the Web-ads for Ergo Financial Services. The cute little spinning logo Java animation seems to be dotted on a raft of sites around the web. If you click on the banner, you are swept off to another Java extravaganza where you can do calculations on your mortgage and all manner of other "whizzo" things. So I contacted them from their Web site, posing as a customer to see if there was any action behind the glitz.

Bad news... after two weeks of waiting for a reply I gave up and rang them to find out what was going on.

"Oh... we had some problems" was the reply. "But they're sorted out now". Fair enough I guess, it can be difficult for any organisation trying to find their footing on the Internet and I guess they had a few teething troubles.

Apparently "all is fixed" now - but maybe they could have put a little note up on their Web site for those poor unfortunates who tried to contact Ergo through the Net and probably thought they were being ignored. Who knows just how many potential customers they lost during that period?

Maybe others will learn a little lesson there - make sure all your back-end systems are in place before you start spending dollars on Web advertising.

Hey, where are the ads?
Okay, you've noticed haven't you? There are no ads on this issue of Aardvark Weekly - yes, you're getting it for free today. Why?

Well I'm planning to change the way I sell advertising on Aardvark. Instead of selling a lot of adds at a low price and cluttering up your viewing pleasure with what may seem like endless graphics, I'm aiming to limit each issue to just one or two advertisers - but I'll be charging them a little more.

Of course the onus is then on YOU, the loyal Aardvark reader to make sure that you patronise these advertisers so they get their money's worth! If not, I'll just have to clutter up the page again :-)

"Ad-free day"
"What do you think?"
The new look - well?
Okay... well you've seen the proposed new look for Aardvark, what do you think?

Please email me with your comments. I'm particularly interested in what your comments regarding the smaller font size used in the second half of this page. It means I can get more on the page - but is it easy enough to read on your screen?

How about the plan to reduce the ads? Okay by you?


I Can't Believe It's True!
Publishers are flocking to the Net like bees to honey. But they still don't get it do they? What's wrong with this page?
The Independent

Could it be that these people consider the Net to be a "write only" environment? Where's the email address or feedback form?
 
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