danbricklin.com/log

Starting December 13, 1999
More about cell towers, CD writers are another hot item, Ordering Frontier, Cell trees, Digital photography article, Trellix Web contest winners, Visiting my parents
13-17Dec99
1999_12_13.htm
Friday, December 17, 1999
More about cell towers
I've gotten a reasonable amount of mail about my "Cell Towers" page. It seems that palm trees are a common disguise in other parts of the country like California and I missed another pine tree tower in eastern Massachusetts on I-495 near the town of Harvard.

I received this letter from Steven C. Den Beste, a software engineer in the cellular phone industry:

But the case which takes the cake is in Virginia. There was one particularly good hill there which was situated such that a cell tower there would cover a large hole in coverage of the local cell company.

Only problem was that the hill was in the middle of George Washington's estate, a national monument.

But they got permission to put the tower in, under the requirement that they disguise it. So it actually looks like a pine tree (and much better done than the ones you show pictures of).

NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] is a pain. Everyone wants coverage but no-one wants towers.

He includes a link to an article that mentions the Mount Vernon tower while discussing cell towers.

I also had a conversation with the spouse of a fellow Trellix employee at our holiday party Wednesday right after I posted my pictures. It turns out that he negotiates with properties for the rights to place cell towers (what a coincidence). He reminded me that the fees being paid to various historical places, such as old churches, are a significant factor in letting those places continue to exist and be maintained.

CD writers are another hot item
While (as I wrote last Friday) digital cameras are in great demand among older folks, especially those with children, among teens the big thing is a CD writer so you can make your own mixes of songs (often from MP3 downloads...). At $200-300 for the unit, and with blank CD-R discs at around $1.25 each (on which you can create music CDs that work on almost any player), this is even cheaper than digital photography. And the writers can double as backup storage creators (650MB per disc) for all those pictures if you do have a camera or scanner.

Pictures and music: Sharing emotionally laden media is what PCs are for, not just balancing checkbooks and paying bills.

Thursday, December 16, 1999
Ordering Frontier
I've known Dave Winer for over 20 years and seen him often at conferences. For the last several years our "relationship" (from my end) has mainly been me reading what he has to say, originally just as email from a mailing list and later on the web as DaveNet and Scripting News. I've been letting him find interesting links and entertain/inform me for years. For free. Kind of like public radio.

After playing with Manila, a server-based create your own web site system from his UserLand Software company, I decided that it was worth getting a copy of his main product, Frontier, to evaluate for use within my company.

When I actually placed the order (online, in private, with no one to share the moment with), it felt like I was pledging to public radio. A good feeling of paying back for what I've been getting. This was not a feeling of charity (I want to try the product), but it wasn't like a normal arm's length purchase either.

The web lets you establish a relationship with a customer, just as a storefront does. Those relationships are valuable and can be part of the selling process.

Wednesday, December 15, 1999
Cell trees
During the drive back and forth to Philadelphia this weekend I saw some cellular telephone antenna towers disguised as trees. I've been wanting to do an essay on the topic of cell towers, so I got out some pictures taken on my last trip to Philly earlier this year and scanned them in. (The driver did not take the pictures, but the car was moving.) This "tree", complete with fake leaves, is on the Garden State Parkway at mile 135:

Cell tower looking like an evergreen tree
Cell tower "tree"
To learn more and to see detailed pictures read my "Cell Towers" essay.

Digital photography article
Dan Gillmor devoted his column yesterday in the San Jose Mercury News to digital photography. After talking about cameras and the wonders of digital darkrooms (image manipulation software), he talks about how the Internet fits in:
The Internet is the other half of my digital photography equation -- and maybe the most important part...The Web as a display medium strikes me as the most important piece...If you want people to see your pictures, it's by far the quickest method, not to mention the most convenient in many cases.

If you have any questions about the value and inevitability of digital photography and its use of the web, make sure you read the article. If you believe in it and are in a company devoted to it as I am, it's gratifying to see a mainstream journalist say such things after personal experience. Too often, a journalist's story of using new technology tells you why it won't catch on or how other "unusual" people make use of it.

Tuesday, December 14, 1999
Trellix Web Contest winners
I was one of the judges for the Trellix/Tripod web site contest. We just announced the grand winners after several weeks of weekly winners. I thought I'd highlight a couple of them and give a few of my thoughts (not necessarily "official" or of the other judges). Web sites had to be created with Trellix Web and hosted on Tripod. The prizes ranged from a car to a computer to a digital camera.

Neon Peach: Karen Byrum, an aspiring child-story author, won the top prize for her collection of rhyming stories, pictures, and more. The things I liked about her site: Depth (lots of pages with lots of detailed content), Content (her Disclaimer is a great caricature of legalisms, her stories have morals, etc., and she tells you enough about herself to get a real feeling about who she might be inside), and Joi de Web as I call it (love and delight of using the web to express herself). This web site is "personal expression" executed in many ways: material created (stories and games), personal feelings and history, and portal (links outside, navigation). It uses Trellix Web well in that she was able to turn out an amazing amount of very custom content. And the authoring tool and hosting were free.

Bait in the shape of a purple frog
SnoozersBaits: I like this web site for a company that makes "custom hand poured super soft scented baits" for fishing because it is so down to earth and shows how the web has come to everything. Analysts I show this to always smile when they see the site, especially the styles page that shows the 20+ different shapes (worms, frogs, lizards) and the Flecks and Scents page that tells you about the garlic scent you can add if that works best in your area. This is eCommerce at its most basic. (Remember, if you look at a web page and then call in an order, almost all companies call that an "Internet sale". As long as the Internet helped the sale, it's eCommerce.)

There are other winners. You may want to check them out on the Trellix Web Winners page.

Monday, December 13, 1999
Visiting my parents
I just got back from visiting my parents in Philadelphia. My mother was being honored by the school she works for.

I helped set up a new scanner that my Dad will be using for a project. Here's the setup on the kitchen table:

Stuff on a table with chair showing
My parents' setup
You can see the scanner in the foreground, a laptop (with a napkin holder behind it), and a laser printer on the counter in the back. I took advantage of the setup to scan some pictures I found around the house, ones I'd love to have copies of. I wish I had time to capture more. Here are pictures of some of my male ancestors and me:

My father's father's father  My father's father  My mother's father  My father  Me, the only one really smiling
My Dad's Dad's Dad, my Dad's Dad, my Mom's Dad, my Dad, me
I'm glad I have copies. You can see how the ears went from generation to generation. I'm wondering if I want to try something like Brad Templeton (an Internet pioneer) did: He has a collage that shows his whole family with everybody at the same age. Quite spooky and makes you think differently about older generations when we're all on equal footing. Brad did this as a Christmas present to his family. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

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