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Commentary for: 13 April 1998
Last Week's edition

Guess who's on the Web?
award logo Guess who's got a Web site you've probably never even visited?

Want a clue?

Well they spend a small fortune on the most irritating kind of TV advertising.

Still don't know?

What if I threw in a few terms like "thousands of luminous spheres" or "Suzanne Clip"?

Yep, you got it - Prestige Marketing, those masters of the Infomercial, have their own Web site - but you're excused for not noticing because these mavens of TV marketing apparently don't quite understood the importance of including their URL on their TV commercials.

Why aren't I surprised?

What does surprise me though is that the creators of the site (is it WebMasters?) haven't pointed out the futility of building a Web site that isn't promoted in any way.

You'd think that an ad-budget the size of Prestige's would stretch not only to including their Web site address on the TV commercials but also to buying a few banners here and there.

Oh well... go figure.

The difference between news and opinion
A couple of people have grizzled at me recently because they claim that my "in depth investigative journalism" skills are lacking when I write this column.

Perhaps it's time to remind people that this column has, in big bold letters at the top of the page, the word "Commentary". I've repeated it beside the date just for good measure. Hell, it even has an exclamation mark after it to emphasize the point.

Aardvark Weekly is not intended to challenge Russell Brown's efforts at Computerworld, Chris Barton at The NZ Herald, the journalists at The Listener or those at North and South. I have never claimed that what I write here is exhaustively researched or probes the full depth of every subject I mention - it's just my commentary on the industry and the people in it. That's the way it is and has always been.

If it's news you want - that's the role of Aardvark Daily.

Unfortunately I only get to spend about 2 hours on a Sunday night to create this column, and while much of its content is based on events and information I've come across during the previous week, it's almost always a hurried affair in which I try to ask questions and raise issues rather than examine the facts in minute detail.

If I had the luxury of 10-20 staff like IDG or a month or so between issues in which to do my research like the people at North and South, and if I billed this column as "real journalism" then the criticisms would be valid. Since this isn't the case, readers will have to accept Aardvark Weekly for what it is - one man's opinions and observations, often given with a very cynical or tongue-in-cheek perspective.

Of course I could assume that the reason these people complained in the first place may have been because my opinions differed from their own when I mentioned them or their products recently - but that would just by my cynicism showing through wouldn't it?

It's what *I* think

Spread the word, tell a friend about Aardvark
Aardvark's popularity continues to grow steadily and I thank all my readers for their regular visits. I would like to take this moment however to ask you to mention Aardvark and give the URL to a friend or a work-mate this week. There are still tens of thousands of Net users who don't know about Aardvark - maybe you'd like to help them out (But please, no usenet postings or unsolicited emails or chain letters ;-)
We don't need no steenken standards!
Oh for some standards
One thing we're never short of in the Internet industry is "standards". The only problem is that it seems different companies often choose to implement these "standards" in different ways.

Take HTML for example - Netscape and MSIE both support the HTML standard right? Well yes and no.

Despite the fact they both profess to support the same standards, it's not at all uncommon to find that the same page looks slightly (or significantly) different when switching from one browser to another.

Then of course there are the vendor-specific extensions that both Microsoft and Netscape have added to their browsers. An example of this is the scrolling marquee extension added to MSIE 4 but which doesn't exist in Navigator.

Well it gets worse....

Who's heard of DHTML (Dynamic HTML)?

Essentially it's just a combination of some extensions to HTML (such as cascading style sheets) used in conjunction with some javascripting but, unfortunately (you guessed it), there's a whole lot of trouble in trying to build a DHTML site that works with both mainstream browsers.

If you want to see just what DHTML can do, check out www.htmlguru.com but note that you'll need a version 4 browser to see the good stuff.

Now I'm the first to admit that the results here are pretty impressive if it's "fancy stuff" you're after. Ultimately though I don't see a whole lot of functionality I'd want to use on my own site.

This is particularly true when you look at how much work is involved in building a cross-browser compatible DHTML site. Another useful resource you might want to investigate is at www.dhtmlzone.com where there some tutorials and very interesting articles.

If you're feeling brave - have a play. Remember, you don't need your own Web server or hosting account to play with this stuff or even plain HTML pages. You can create them on your own hard disk and view them with your browser without a Web server - so there's no excuse for not giving in to curiosity and "having a go".

Me... I'll wait until Microsoft and Netscape can agree on a few basics first.

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The I.C.B.I.T Award
I Can't Believe It's True!

Yet again (this *IS* getting boring I'll admit) it seems that any site built by a TV company is a complete misuse of the Net.

And it seems, the bigger you are, the bigger the mess.

News Corp have done a fine job of wasting everyone's time and bandwidth with this little gem - and you don't even get a wannabe-video for their efforts.

Note: if you don't have a soundcard or don't think it's worth the 180Kbyte front-page, give this site a miss.

Star TV

It wouldn't be so bad if you got something marvelous for your 180Kbyte download, but you don't.

Of course abuse of bandwidth isn't their only crime. Choose Rate Card from this page and then click on one of the channel-icons.

 
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