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15 September 1997
What a crock!
Microsoft have announced that they're pulling all the Java apps from their Web site.

Why? Well the lame excuse they're giving is that it slows down the loading of the pages. Funny thing is though - they're leaving in the ActiveX applications and it's been my experience that for the same level of functionality Java applets are often a lot smaller than their ActiveX counterparts.

Maybe Microsoft should fess up on this one. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Microsoft are getting really worried about Java's threat to their desktop domination. Every day we're seeing more and more large corporates announcing their support for Sun's NC concept and Java.

It has been exceedingly obvious that Microsoft has always seen Java as a threat and that it only licensed it because it "had to" in order retain marketshare while it developed a counter-strategy. More recently they've been making it quite clear that they wanted to steer their J++ language away from the Sun Java spec and to create a hybrid that was more tightly bound to their own operating systems. I suspect that Microsoft thought that (as they have done so often in the past), developers would follow Microsoft's lead and discard true Java for J++.

Now that they realise that most developers aren't going to play ball this time - look for Microsoft to distance itself as far as possible from Java, although they'll continue to promote their own bastard child J++. The removal of all Java applets from their Web site is just the first phase of this distancing operation.

Despite their attempts to embrace it, the Net is still very hostile to Microsoft. The next six months could be a turning point in their evolution as they face the impact of MSIE4 (which I believe will be largely negative) and that of having to face-off against the combined might of IBM and Sun in the Java wars.

There are chinks appearing in the previous impenetrable Microsoft armour and an awful lot of competitors looking to exploit the slightest signs of weakness.

A Mobile Menace?
Yes he's at it again - that "Internet Expert", Danny de Hek, has again shown his ignorance of the Net (despite his continued claims to expertise) by spamming New Zealand newsgroups with the announcement that he's heading north.

This announcement was met with great happiness and joy from at least one South Island based Net user however it appears that at least a few North Islanders in the industry are bracing themselves for his arrival.

It seems that he's changed into "New Zealand's Mobile Internet Consultant" - I wonder why? Is someone chasing him? And why was (is?) his own Web site at www.nzcenterpoint.co.nz not responding on the weekend - is it working now?

Perhaps it's time that either WDNZ or ISOCNZ became pro-active in educating the business community to the importance of employing the right people.

Unfortunately small business is being bombarded every day with stories of how the Net is becoming an essential part of their marketing and communications strategies. These same small businesses can't be expected to recognise the difference between a "wannabe" and a true expert. You don't have to know much about the Net to appear to be an expert to the average person and when they're being charged just a few hundred dollars, many sole-traders and small companies find it hard to justify doing any kind of in-depth research to authenticate the claims of the person concerned.

So... get yourself a flash car, a portable PC, a digital camera and the world's your oyster - unless we, as an industry, realise that we have a responsibility to protect an emerging market from the risks associated with such "experts".

Personally I think a fax-drop to all the motel, camping-ground and tourist-lodge operators around the North Island would not be a silly thing.

Hide your wimmin and children


Put your ear muffs on NOW!
Let me bore you by Real-Audio
For the true masochists amongst you, my dulcet tones will soon be available on the Net in Real-Audio, direct from TechTalk a U.S. Net News site operated by Technology Consultant and broadcaster Ken Rutowski.

I'll be contributing to the site on a fortnightly basis with a summary of Internet news and events from around NZ.

Be careful what you say MS is listening!
Hmm... this week's column is almost turning into a Microsoft "hate" session, but anyway...

Be very careful what you call Windows NT. It seems that now it's reached the status of "very popular" operating system, Microsoft have decided to clamp down on the mis-use of its trademark.

News.com reports a Microsoft spokesperson as saying:

"When you use the word NT in the industry as slang for Windows NT, you're diluting the trademark value of Windows NT. We are very aware of our intellectual property rights and we are following through on very reasonable steps to protect our trademark".

It seems they were happy enough for people to use the much catchier and easier to spell monika of 'NT' while the product was ascending the ladder of success but now it's reached critical mass they're getting all huffy about it.

According to Microsoft they're planning to do what Sun did shortly after the release of Java - come down like a tonne of bricks on anyone using their trademark as part of a product or domain name.

I wonder what this means for NZ domains such as:
And of course (what a great tie-in) we can't forget the site of New Zealand's Leading Mobile Internet Consultant: www.nzcentrepoiNT.co.nz.

Yeah... okay, so I'm being silly - but then again just look at how silly Sun got with the over-zealous enforcement of their trademark - sometimes the big wheels don't take much notice of the ground over which they run.

Xtra risky or Xtra good?

Last Week's Survey
Last week's survey yielded the following results:

Rate the aesthetics of the Site:
(1=poor 5=excellent):
5: 17%
4: 38%
3: 07%
2: 23%
1: 15%
Rate the ergonomics of the new site: 5: 16%
4: 31%
3: 15%
2: 23%
1: 15%
Rate the quality of content: 5: 10%
4: 38%
3: 30%
2: 15%
1: 07%
How often do you visit the site?: Daily: 38%
Weekly: 15%
Seldom: 32%
Almost Never: 15%
Do you think the new look is an improvement?: Yes: 62%  

As I suspected, the results of the survey indicate that the new Xtra site tends to polarise opinion. There were two definite camps - those who visit regularly and rate the new site highly and those who seldom visit and rate it poorly.

If I had only included votes from users with XTRA email addresses the results would have been far more positive. There were a few very negative submissions from people who, it appears, may have had an hidden agenda - but they've been included in the results anyway.

I think a 62% approval rate for the new site (especially considering approval was 100% of those who visit the site daily) is pretty reasonable.

I Can't Believe It's True!

Are you a North Shore ratepayer? If so then take a look at your local council's Web site (no doubt constructed at great expense to yourself) and then ring them with your complaint.

It starts off bad with a missing Java applet on the front page and gets worse with terrible use of colour, a sudden switch to 800 pixels wide for the "images" page and the need to download a 4MB PDF reader just to see what's on this month.

North Shore City Council

Stranger still - they're not using the domain name nthshore.govt.nz which they have registered - but the far more cryptic nscc.govt.nz. Let's hope ratepayers are getting better value in other areas!

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