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What I Do


Last updated Sunday, May 4, 2008

adobe.mag Articles

From April to October 1996, I wrote a series of 19 articles for adobe.mag, a short-lived spin-off of Adobe Systems's Adobe Magazine. The column was called Web Spy, and was about sniffing out features, sites, and technology that affected web designers and HTML coders. The articles are all in PDF form, but the PDF Reader is available for all platforms for free.

Why Leap

Whither the Internet?
It's everybody's business
My last column in which I discuss the future of the Net and my departure for, a company I've since left.

As the year draws to a close, so too does this column. After two and a half years of putting my money where my mouth was -- that is, running a business dependent on the success of the Internet -- as well as writing and acting as editorial director for conferences about it, I'm now jumping out (with a parachute) at 35,000 feet... (November 15, 1996)

Correcting Assumptions

Speed bump
Still valid opinions about the future of bandwidth; updated by my upcoming Autumn 1997 column in the print Adobe Magazine:

The signs on the Infobahn say, "Full Speed Ahead" . . . but some bumps in the road might send unlucky travelers hurtling off the edge and into the ditch. While digital prognosticators see a future in which bandwidth is abundant and cheap, more practical short-term limitations may put this vision five or more years away... (July 1, 1996)

The Franz Kline phenomenon
Some commentary (more appropriate now than ever) about how the Web is an ephemeral media and blurs the line between archive and contemporary reflection.

Writing a column for a Web-based publication has been an interesting challenge. Part of it is the difference in cadence. Writing for a print publication, even if the material eventually winds up on the Web, provides some distance, particularly in terms of time... (June 15, 1996)

Look backwards: Or, those who forget the past are condemned to . . . uh, how does that go again?
Why it's necessary and useful to provide support for a range of browsers

The terrible miniseries "Wild Palms" showed a future not too many years away in which nostalgia had become so intense that men were wearing fin-de-siecle, high, detachable collars once more... (July 1, 1996)

Just round 'em up and brand 'em! or, Consistency is the guiding light of the Web developer

You often find yourself in a bizarre twilight zone on the Web -- you're at a page you reached through a search engine, an index, or someone's hot-links page, and there's no name, no logo, no contact information, no way of knowing where you are... (May 15, 1996)

Net Workings

You've got mail!
How E-mail gets from here to there

Sometimes it seems like no two people use the same program to send and read mail. Some folks are inside companies that use Microsoft Exchange, Lotus cc:Mail, or CE Software's QuickMail; others use UNIX text-based readers like pine and elm; and millions more use Eudora or another PC or Mac-based mail program (not to mention AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy users using those proprietary systems). Given all this heterogeny, how does mail get from one person to another? ... (October 1, 1996)

Letters, we get letters: But how we get them -- aye, there's the rub

I'm really not that old, but I did once own a 300 bit-per-second (bps) modem. Back in those days, every bit counted. Because of this, many of the bits (no pun) and pieces of today's Internet reflect some of the odd standards required then to maximize every ounce of data transmission... (August 15, 1996)

Domain Names

What's in a name?
Becoming a master of domains
Beyond the friendly face of the World-Wide Web, the Internet seethes with a variety of low-level activity, rather like Richard Feynman's description of a vacuum. At any given time, everything appears placid and calm, but when you look closely,thousands of tiny transactions bind high-level language to machine-level events... (September 1, 1996)
Staking your claim
Mastering domains, part two
(September 15, 1996) The argument could be made that registering a domain name in 1994 was the equivalent of being at Sutter's Mill in 1849 and just hauling off boulders of gold... (September 15, 1996)

Search Engines

Categorically NOT: Don't believe everything you read about search engines
A short screed about how the utility on the Net is abused by folks reporting on it.

For the last several years, it's seemed as if you couldn't pick up a newspaper or listen to news radio without reading, or hearing someone say, something like, "The word 'spin doctor' was used in 1,343 newspaper articles last year, according to a search on the widely used Nexis database."... (August 1, 1996)

A two-part article on how the search engines index and serve pages.

Searching the surf
Part 1 of 2. How to find Web info more easily
The amount of information on the Net grows massively and daily. Tracking this growth is a mammoth undertaking; providing a window onto it, seemingly impossible. Yet the search engines -- Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite, InfoSeek, and others -- do exactly that, and millions of users visit those engines every day, attempting to surf the tidal wave of data... (October 15, 1996)
Behind the search engines
Part 2 of 2. How they find the sites you're looking for.
Search engines make the Web go. They provide a forum for advertising; they direct people to sites; they're a Baedecker and traffic cop all in one... (November 1, 1996)

Random Topics

Framing the solution?

When Netscape redesigned its home page recently, the most noticeable change for non-designers was the addition of "frames" (as an option, not as the default) on its home page... (April 15, 1996)

What's all this, then?

The Web is an apparent mystery to many of its millions of users; it's got odd combinations of letters, obscure error messages, weird explanations. Is it all an ex-Soviet plot? Or, at least, are the Masons involved?... (April 1, 1996)

Java jumpiness

Everything you've read about Java makes you think it is an instrument of light and verity. Well, it is; I believe it. The examples you can see are fairly incredible, and stretch your concept of what's going to be possible in the immediate future, both from the standpoint of user interactivity with this weird new medium and from the standpoint of the ways information can be presented... (April 1, 1996)

Image mapping

One of the things that mystifies newcomers to the Web is how to set up an image so that when you click on something in it, you're taken to a specific location on the Web. The answer: image mapping... (May 1, 1996)

Form and function

The simplest -- and really the only -- method to get information from a visitor to a Web site is via an HTML form. Form tags appeared early in the HTML spec, and closely mirror or exactly duplicate familiar graphical user interface ele-ments like radio buttons... (June 1, 1996)

Sometimes, the government gets it right

In an era of government bashing, it's nice to see two agencies generally thought of only in negative terms get it absolutely right. The US Postal Service and IRS web sites are examples of how to get information people need directly and simply to them... (April 1, 1996)