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PC World, July 1999

 

I’ve always thought of PC World as the junior, unattractive cousin to PC Magazine. In fact, when I read them, I often have a hard time telling them apart.

Not so for the July 1999 issue of PC World. I actually enjoyed reading through it. That’s something that almost never happens with PC Magazine—with the exception of Dvorak—which, like the critique thrown at Brill’s Content-- always feels like homework.

Why, there was so much good, readable stuff at PC World that I feel that I’ve got to pull out the bullets.

>First, there’s a great feature editorial on the potential downsides of the AT&T/Microsoft merger. Editor Cathryn Baskin bluntly tells us that this is a customer service disaster in the making. Anyone who has ever called Microsoft for technical support knows the true meaning of the "Valley of Death". One of the mini headlines of the piece is "The Worst of Both Worlds"

> Second, the computer magazine that lives and dies with computer advertising, tells readers that they should hold off from buying Intel’s PIII550. They argue that the performance difference between the new PIII550 and the PIII450 and 500 are almost negligible. Instead, the magazine thinks that readers should wait for Intel’s new chipset Camino (with its 133 mhz bus speed) and AMD’s new K7 chip (with its 200 mhz bus speed) if you really want to see real differences in performance.

>There was also a good article about the help wanted agencies on the internet. I found out that two of them are free and I intend to use them for the company that I work for.

Other highlights include some negative views of some of these new ultracheap PCs that are coming out, their annual best of, worst of awards—they give no class awards to both Al Gore and Bill Gates—and they also announce that IBM plans to make 100gb drives available to the public by 2001.

 

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Red Herring, July 1999

 

I don’t know what to make of this month’s lead story on Critical Path, a company that I’ve never heard of.

But it’s not dull.

Path founder David Hayden is on the cover. He looks to be certifiably insane. He’s a white guy with a cartoon fro’ that only Don King and deranged circus clowns could love.

Our story premise seems to be about net companies that have established large net valuations but don’t seem to have a clue about how to make a buck. So why, if I’m David Hayden, cartoon fro’ and all, would I allow you to make my company the centerpiece of your story? Do I really want it known in an analytical sense that my company’s valuation is overblown and that my chances for profit are remote? Is all publicity really good publicity? That must be their thinking.

By the way the cover headline title is "Diary of an Internet IPO: Take the Money and Run." Ouch. That has to reinsure your jittery investors.

Yet another tidbit that I found interesting is their profile of a company called Third Voice. It’s been getting a lot of hype on the net these days. I was convinced by this particular article’s hype however. So much so that I decided to place Third Voice on my other site, www.majic12.com and this one.

The theory behind Third Voice is that anyone, or anyone who has downloaded the Third Voice browser enabler,  can leave notes on any webpage that they visit. I guess I have mixed feelings about this. I assume people will leave literate thoughtful messages and I assume that there will be idiots who leave behind, well, drivel or scatological insult or worse. And I wouldn’t have any control over it.

On the other hand, my own marketing has been a complete disaster. I could use some readers, even rude, slightly inebriated ones. In fact, I should appear on the next cover of Red Herring, with a really bad haircut. The title should be something like "How not to market your website: This is the Phil Shropshire story. And check out this guy’s nutty hair!!!"