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Product Review
Epson 600 Colour Printer

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20 October 1997

Toldyaso!
Well I did jokingly say that I should post a permanent headline which reads "Another Security Flaw Found In IE4" - and it seems I might not have been too far off the mark.

In addition to the concern that some people have expressed over the ability for Microsoft's new browser to return information about your Net activities to some other site on the Web - without your knowledge or permission, it seems that another "hole" has been reported last week.

The full details of the latest hole are best documented at News.com but in a nutshell, it allows the operator of a malicious site to suck down files from your hard disk.

They won't have access to all your stuff - but it's still a threat that needs to be take seriously by those who have sensitive information on the PC they use for Web surfing.

I'll say again - Web clients are getting too fat! Every time you double the size of a program you increase the difficulty in catching all the bugs and verifying all the security mechanisms by a factor of four or more.

Sooner or later someone will realise that "thin is in" and "fat is NOT where it's at".

Fortunately, at present anyone concerned about the current set of security woes with IE 4 can simply switch to Netscape's offering - but what happens when your browser is built into your desktop? When the boundary between browser and OS becomes so blurred as to be indiscernible?

Wez de channelz dudez?
So, IE4 was supposed to be launched "rich with content" from local providers.

Indeed, a lot of local content providers have announced their "push" channels - but very few are delivering yet.

More importantly - what's going to happen when these push channels finally get launched? Will traditional publishing organisations such as TVNZ, TV3, NBR and the like switch their focus away from the Web and focus almost exclusively on "push"?

I think they just might.

Why would this be?

For exactly the same reason that print-media publishers prefer you to subscribe to their magazines or newspapers rather than buy them from the local newsagents' shop.

Subscribers are a captive audience. If you're delivering your publication to their doorstep or PC then you can go to your advertisers and quote some "solid" figures. Most people suffer from a huge amount of inertia and once they've subscribed, it takes quite a lot to make them unsubscribe.

If your favourite magazine or Web site goes lame for a few editions you might decide to skip an issue or two until it gets its act together. The problem is, from a publisher's perspective, you might also find something better during that time and never bother coming back. Subscriptions and "push" provide a measure of protection against that sort of thing and offer publishers a small measure of extra insurance.

"owning" the reader

push, pull, shove?
So what's a Web site for?
So, if so many key content providers are going to be emphasizing push, what will their web-sites look like?

Well in theory the Web sites could simply be a mirror of the stuff that's pushed through the channel - but I doubt that this will be the case. Okay, in the short term the two will be the same but look for a growing divergence.

Before long, we'll see a new type of Web site appearing. These will be sites that are designed to do nothing more than try to sell you on the idea of subscribing to the publisher's push channel. You won't find all the really good stuff on the Web site - it will be hidden away for "push" users only.

Why?

Because they really want you to subscribe for all the reasons I mentioned before.

The Web sites of traditional publishers will probably become somewhat barren in terms of real fresh content and users will be forced to subscribe to push channels or do without. Is this the end of the Web as we know it? Well not the end of what we know but the start of a new model that will lure the "big names" in traditional publishing onto the Net - and we can't complain about that, can we?

Doin it right
Over recent months I've plucked the guts out of some big-name sites and exposed some pretty shonky work. It's not much fun being consistently negative about such things so I thought I'd take a regular look at sites which are "Doin it Right". But NO! This is not "Yet Another Award". Award sites seem to be popping up everywhere now - here's another example of what I mean.

First up - a site by that likable Scottish rogue, Paul Reynolds of McGovern and Associates.

It's the Wasabi site and here's why it works.

It's simple. Resisting the temptation to build a site which was an exercise in saying "look how many plug-ins and smart tricks I can do", the layout is sparse, clean and visually attractive.

Yes Gloria... sometimes less IS more!

No frames, works at any screen resolution, good support for those cruising with images off or using text-only browsers and pretty fast-loading; who could ask for more?

So, that's the mechanics and aesthetics - so look at:

The content. This could easily have been just another "brochureware" site, but the designers have been smart enough to add some extra value and really harness the two-way power of the net by providing some recipes and inviting visitors to contribute their own. And... one thing that has proven effectiveness in bringing people in to the site - a competition!

Good work! I notice there's a "Last update" date given so hopefully this means that we'll see something new next time we visit.

There's also some interesting information on the product and the company. In fact I can't think of anything they've left out.

Now I know about how much this site cost the customer and I suspect that it's around 1/10th of the price of the Toyota sites I groaned about last week. Just goes to prove - you don't always get what you pay for and that a site doesn't have to be large, flashy, complex or expensive to work - in fact quite the opposite!

Take note you "experts"

TV Chat
Sleep! Sleep! I need Sleep!
The backlog
Well despite my best efforts to rid the Auckland pharmaceutical scene of Vitamin C and garlic pills - this cold lingers on and to bring you a real-audio version of today's Aardvark would have required extensive editing to remove the regular interruptions from coughing and spluttering - fortunately it's much easier to wipe this stuff off the screen ;-)

As is always the case when you work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, losing even a single day causes some pretty big backlogs of work and this means that I still haven't had the time to try out IE4.

I promise I'll do it for next week though - honest!

Xerox
I Can't Believe It's True!

What evil portent of the future is this?

www.crime.co.nz

 
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