Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!
Q: I read and enjoy your articles detailing lots of WWW sites - including all the local links. But what about meeting real people who use the Internet? Where do I look to communicate with local Internet users?
A: I'm sure there are many Internet users such as yourself. One of the best ways to meet others is to take a class about the Internet. Many local schools and businesses offer Internet workshops or classes. Check with your favorite computer store to see what they offer.
If you read USENET news check for local information at any of the newsgroups which start with wny. Here you'll find information pertinent to Western New York such as classified ads (wny.wanted, wny.forsale) or events (wny.events) and other items of interest. In fact, the Internet Social Club meets every Saturday at 7PM at Denny's on Delaware and Linden (news:wny.events). The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library is holding the next Downtown Free-Net User Group Meeting on October 29th at noon (bfn.org/business/tech.tuesday.html).
The Buffalo Free-Net (bfn.org) is also a great spot to look for local Internet resources and users.
If you're looking for someone's email address you might try using the People in WNY search on the WNY Web site (wnyweb.com).
Q: Why aren't more local organizations on the WWW?
A: First, a great percentage of the population isn't "connected" yet, and probably won't be for time to come. Second, there are expenses involved in creating and maintaining a web site: programming, storage space, communication line charges, etc. Many non-profit organizations or clubs just don't have the knowledge, money or capability to put up web sites.
However, we strongly advocate any non-profit organization or club to put up a web site. We believe that the Internet is a great place to find information in a logical manner as opposed to calling information or looking up phone numbers in the phone book. The Internet allows you to search for a specific keyword(s) and find the items that interest you.
For example, Jim is interested in joining a club for some simple recreation. One idea is biking. He found the Western New York Mountain Bike Association (184.108.40.206/public/wnymba/wnymba.html) on-line and was able to contact them. In contrast, Mark is interested in finding a running club or partner to help him train for a marathon. To our chagrin we haven't found a local club on the net.
If your local club or organization is on the 'net, let us know and we'll try to include you in a future article. If you don't have a Web site, check out the Buffalo Free-Net for information on how you can get your non-profit organization's information included in their directory.
Q: How come when I perform a search I don't find all the local businesses listed?
A: In fact this very occurrence happened when we were writing an Internet Guys column (www.afterfive.com/click/) about cars. When we searched for local automotive dealerships we only found one local site. After the article was published our readers let us know that there were indeed more local auto dealers on the net. Unfortunately, our searches on the major search engines didn't find these dealerships.
Why? Well, because when we chose keywords for my search we picked what we thought were general enough to return the sites we wanted. For example: cars and Buffalo; automotive and Western New York. Unfortunately, many of these dealers were not listed as Buffalo dealerships. If we would have done a search of just car dealerships, these would have shown up. But there are over 1,000 car dealerships on the Internet. In an effort to narrow my focus we chose a limiting keyword search such as Buffalo and Western New York.
That's why we want to stress to local WWW designers that when they seed their sites with the major search engines they use keywords such as Buffalo or Western New York. Also, be sure to list your site in the WNY Web site search database. It would make it easier for users (potential customers) to find you.
Q: Which browser should I use?
A: This is by far the most frequently asked question we get. The two most popular browsers are Netscape Navigator (home.netscape.com) and Microsoft's Internet Explorer (www.microsoft.com). Like a discussion about politics or religion we find this argument tough to win - whichever side you're on.
Our recommendation is to try them both and decide which you like better. Your mileage will vary depending on many things including the type and configuration of your personal computer and the type of connection you are using.
The best part of this competition is that both Navigator and Explorer are continually upgrading their product with the latest and greatest features which can only make surfing the web easier and more fun for us.
Q: What's the coolest thing you've seen on the 'net lately?
A: Besides all the cool audio and video things that are developing, one service particularly caught are attention: The Pointcast Network (www.pointcast.com). This free service broadcasts personalized, up to the minute news and information direct to your desktop via the Internet. You can select stock quotes, sports, weather or other information to be 'sent' to you. It will even display as a screensaver. We especially liked getting the Olympic results before they were shown on TV!
If you have any information on what's happening locally on the Internet let us know. You can email us at email@example.com or fax us (716) 853-1350 with any Western New York related Internet activities.