April 1, 1998
By Scott Lewis
I took the first couple of weeks of March as paternity leave to help my wife care for our new son. Mother and child are doing fine. However, this has left me with little time to do a lot of web development. I am hoping to get more into Dynamic HTML in a couple of months.
No More Technology
As regulars of this site are aware, I have been looking to reduce the number of columns on this site. I thought about dropping Car Corner and Game Central. As luck would have it, these two columns are the most read on this site. So I decided to remove Technology. The Feature Article will get technology oriented articles from time to time to make up for the slack. Also, this column already covers the technology I am using, or testing, each month.
I am down to four columns at the moment. This is still too much, but I don't want to disappoint you. I have been giving more thought to web design. I already dropped the column, but have been getting more e-mail about the information I had on the subject. I am thinking about building a web design section to this site. Due to time constraints it will probably replace all my gaming efforts. It will not be a monthly section. I would build a general web design site and all information will be available through out the site. This site will have any information I have on the subject, and would be updated as I come up with new information.
Conversion to 32-Bit
I spent a fair amount of time converting the project files for my client/server application to the 32-bit version of Oracle Express Objects. I discovered a bug they had not, and it will be addressed in the next release, due out at the end of April. This bug is significant enough for us to hold off on releasing a 32-bit client application to our users until the new version is available.
In the mean time, Jeremy, my partner, and I are working on a totally new approach to our client application. Some of this was spurred on by the features in the 32-bit version of the development tool. Some of it has been a result of complaints we have gotten with our application. The application has been written to fairly exacting specifications from our project sponsors, people that have no clue to GUI screen design. However, the end users of the product have not liked the results. Add to this some of the requirements had to be modified due to limitations of the product (Objects), and we have a large, hard to maintain applications that gets a fair share of complaints.
Jeremy and I are going to build an all new application. We are writing the specs ourselves. This gives us two major advantages. 1) We can build the application based on what the tool can and cannot do. A far better approach than coming up will sky-high requirements that cannot be implemented, and get muddied in the attempt. 2) We don't have to be concerned with the time line of our sponsors. They have classically put approval of our work on the back burner. As I write this we are still waiting for approval to move three major enhancements into production. All the enhancements have been waiting for approval for 4 to 6 weeks. We will be moving only 1 in product on Monday (March 23rd). When we have gotten far enough on the new design we intend to show it to the end users that we have become most familiar with. This may help get it approved without our project sponsors throwing in unreasonable requests.
I installed FrontPage 98. I had not decided whether I wanted it, but then a copy arrived with my MSDN subscription. I decided to give it a try. I did all the work on this site with FrontPage 98 for the past month. Previously I was using FrontPage 97. Overall I like it a lot. I think I am dealing with a problem since I opened my web site in FrontPage 98 but created it in FrontPage 97. Other than a coupe of quirks with this possible problem, FrontPage 98 looks pretty good. Especially if you are just trying to create a small to modest site. You can easily build a good site that will have a decidedly professional look to it.
You can read more about it in the Feature Article were I give FrontPage 98 a flogging.
Site of the Month
I had a really tough time picking a site for this month's award. I almost gave it to Microsoft's Home page. This is the home page you get to customize. Our internet access speed has increased a lot here since they removed the proxy server, and it was becoming viable to use this slow loading page for my own start page. Alas, I couldn't do it. Even with our faster speed to the Internet, the page just loaded too slowly for me to let my browser default to it. I will give Microsoft credit for trying, but no award. Sorry.
I was stuck. I had been planning the web design section to this site, and thought about giving CNET's Builder.com section the award. In fact, I came very close. Builder.com has a lot of information for web designers. I find their depth to be a bit lacking, but in most cases it spurs me on to learn more. Builder.com does get the Scott's Site Runner Up Award.
Builder.com had the award until I spent a couple of hours mindlessly surfing the web. I came across a site that doesn't offer much to me, but may be useful to people looking for legal information. That is not why the won the award. They had a really cool joke page. So here it is... Scott's Site Award goes to Nolo's Favorite Lawyer Jokes. I had many laughs, and I think you will too. By the way, Nolo is a publisher of legal books for non-lawyers. A much needed service in its own right.
Book of the Month
This one is still Return of The Straight Dope. Sorry, but I haven't finished it yet. It is very entertaining reading, but I don't have enough time to read it. I am almost done. I am on the last chapter (I think). When I finish, I will look to see if I can get a copy of The Straight Dope Tells All, the latest book in the series. I recommend you get all four books. I have three so far. I am getting the itch to do a little more reading, and may take a lengthy trip to Bookstop or Barnes & Noble in the coming weeks. I'll let you know.
That about does it. Not much to tell this month. Objects and FrontPage 98 are the biggies. I plan to due a lot more with FrontPage 98 over the next few months. I will get started on build a web design site with it. Wait and see.
I received the latest beta of Windows 98 (beta 3) with my MSDN subscription. I don't expect to find anything I didn't find in beta 2, but I will let you know. I was able to get it loaded with only three tries. More on that next month.