Starting December 20, 1999
Merry Christmas, Welcome Yahoo! readers: A new page just for you, Attending a basketball game, Yahoo! I'm in Yahoo, The evolving PC, Internet connection problems, Y2K preparation silliness, Personal web sites may become more important than portals, Writing for the radio
Friday, December 24, 1999
Merry Christmas
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! Here's a picture I took last night of one of the houses in my neighborhood that has a "traditional" look (is it Norman Rockwell or Currier & Ives?):

Old yellow house at night with lit tree and wreath on door
Christmas in New England
They planted the little lit up tree on the right about a decade ago in memory of Pat's father. As it grows the light burns brighter.

Thursday, December 23, 1999
Welcome Yahoo! readers: A new page just for you
Yahoo just listed this log on its New Additions page, and I used that as an opportunity to create a "Best of this log" page for new readers. I list some of the pages and images that past readers seemed to like most.

Attending a basketball game
One of my coworkers has season tickets to see the Boston Celtics. He lets anybody else here buy tickets to games he isn't planning to attend. I went last night.

Playing basketball with some players in the air near the basket
The game was fun to watch
This was the last basketball game that will be played on the famed Boston Garden parquet floor. They are replacing it with a new floor in time for the next game. They had a little ceremony, attended by Celtics greats including Bill Russell. Here they are, along with some of the Celtics' sixteen NBA Championship banners:

Five guys sitting on chairs next to Celtics logo on the parquet floor waiting to tell stories  12 of the 16 Celtics NBA Championship banners
The Celtics (especially with those players) were the most dominating sports team in the USA ever. They won eight consecutive world championships (1959-1966), and 11 in 13 years. I remember how dominant IBM was, but isn't now. Will Microsoft be on top as long as the Celtics were? Is the Internet where the expansion teams come from? Who will be Michael Jordan to Bill Gates' Bill Russell?

Even at the game you can't get away from the web. While it isn't 3COM Park (the Fleet Center is named after a bank, not the athletes' abilities), here's the scoreboard with Lycos and PC Connection prominently displayed:

Half of scoreboard showing Lycos and another .com
Dot coms are everywhere
The Celtics won, 98-81.

Wednesday, December 22, 1999
Yahoo! I'm in Yahoo
I wrote Monday (20 Dec 99, below) about the dropping importance of portals to web referrals. I've also mentioned (10 Dec 99) that portal-based searches show up frequently in my server logs with keywords that seem to be for homework, and let me know that they are still a major source here but not overwhelmingly dominant. (Ever since winter vacation started those referrers have dropped off quite a bit supporting my theory that they are homework related -- must be mainly college.)

By far the most frequent portal referrer is Yahoo. With Yahoo, you often have to ask to be included in their listings. My experience is that they list something I submit less than half the time (I then wait a few months and try again, often with better success).

This morning I got an email telling me that Yahoo has accepted my listing for this log. (My main web site is listed at my request and my VisiCalc copy that you can run was listed without a request.)

To celebrate, I'll include the letter here so you can see what it looks like:
The URL you submitted
has been added to Yahoo! It will appear after our next update, which will probably occur within the next 2-4 days. You can find your entry at that time by looking through the "What's New" listings (located at http://www.yahoo.com/new/) or by doing a keyword search.
Please note: you may see your site listed in our directory before it appears in our search engine database.
It has come to our attention that various organizations have been sending unsolicited messages to new sites that appear in our listings. We're sorry if you're inconvenienced by messages of this kind; Yahoo! does not condone these messages in any way, nor do we divulge to anyone contact information for the sites we list.
Thank you for taking the time to add your site. We rely on users like yourself to make Yahoo! complete and comprehensive. In order to keep Yahoo! accurate, please also let us know of any future changes that might affect your listing.
If you haven't already done so, and you'd like to return the favor and put Yahoo! on your own site, please see  http://www.yahoo.com/docs/yahootogo/ for detailed instructions.
Thanks again,
The Yahoo! Team
Even nicer, it had a PS: "An honor Mr. Bricklin!  Happy Holidays, michael." Michael, thank you! When I surf the web I depend on listings like yours to help me find things. Thanks for helping sort the web.

Here is a Yahoo link like they ask for:

Yahoo logo

Tuesday, December 21, 1999
The evolving PC
I wrote an essay stemming from an interview I gave PCWeek which resulted in a story on page 66 of this week's issue (not online yet). It is about the evolving PC. While today's PC's (especially of the Intel/Microsoft persuasion) can still run most programs from even the early days (such as my copy of the original IBM PC VisiCalc that you can download and run under Windows), the hardware has changed quite a bit to meet the peripheral needs of today.

As an illustration of how the PC has evolved, gaining new facilities to serve new requirements and shedding no longer needed ones, I included some pictures with the essay.

You can see here the one connection to the outside electrical world that is common to both an original IBM PC and a new Gateway Profile 2: the power cord socket. The Profile has an integral LCD display and is all USB/10BaseT -- a modern, very useful machine as different from the original PC as we humans are from fish (even though both people and fish metabolize oxygen).

Front showing keyboard and diskette drives of IBM PC  Top view showing thin screen and body of Gateway Profile 2  Photo of LCD screen showing VisiCalc and browser with this web site
IBM PC and Gateway Profile 2 desktop computers; VisiCalc still runs on the Gateway

Back view with connector showing (detail)  Back showing connector (detail)
One connector in common: Power cord socket
Read the essay in the Writings section of my main web site.

Internet connection problems
I've been experiencing frequent intermittent disruptions to my access to the Internet and your access to this web site. My cable modem connection at home keeps having problems getting to large portions of the net. I'll get 700Kbps access to pages in California and 14Kbps (yes, less than 14.4!) or no connections to Atlanta or New York. Every morning the ISP posts yet another notice like "disruptions are now fixed". It seems that routing hardware all over the place is breaking down or something. The Internet can survive a nuclear attack and Y2K but not Christmas-Buying 1999. If you have problems getting to this web site, please be patient and come back a little later. Thanks!

Monday, December 20, 1999
Y2K preparation silliness
The supposed "MIT advisory" to turn off computers a "full day before" Y2K reported in the Boston Globe has inspired some email that I put in a "Y2K Preparation Silliness" page. (Bottom line: MIT is not turning them all off.)

A lot of people I know took the Globe report seriously ("If MIT is doing it, I must turn everything off, too"), so I thought you'd want to know the details. I also include some Y2K humor from my friends Bob and David on the page. Read it here.

Personal web sites may become more important than portals
Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems and a longtime force in the hypertext world writes in his latest HypertextNOW column entitled Beyond the Portal:

A look at [server] Web logs reveals an interesting picture: while search engines and portal sites are important sources of visitors, most visits do not begin at a portal...Yahoo sends more readers to Eastgate than any other site, but only 5% of all visits come from Yahoo. A far greater fraction of visitors come directly from small sites.

As an avid reader of the logs from my servers, I can attest to similar statistics from other types of sites.

Mark goes on to discuss the economics of portals and advertising and then predicts:

...the overwhelming majority of Web page visits will be made to and from smaller sites [including personal web sites like this one].

Mark has been involved in on-line linked page reading for two decades.

Writing for the radio
Jakob Nielsen recently listed a link to an article on the BBC training web site about writing for the radio. Some of the "medium is the message" instructions are applicable to web log writing, too, such as being direct.

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