Lone Rangers and Old Fuddy Duddies

Redesign Hate Crime?

November 30, 1998

I just read Jesse Costello-Good’s trashing of the Web page and I just want to let you know there is one Lone Ranger out here that thinks it’s pleasing to the eye with its soft, neutral colors (good on the eyes in the early morning) and good contrasting color of text that makes it easy to read. I simply like it!

Keep it up folks, you’re doin’ great!

Bob Vaught


November 21, 1998

Please don’t shoot the Web designers. I’m an old fuddy duddy who happens to think that simplicity is elegance. I can read your Web site without my screen flitting from one thing to another. It holds my attention precisely because I CAN read it comfortably.

Look at all the Web sites with glorious animation, off-the-chart colors, and bells and whistles. They are neither maneuverable nor are they practical—they are filled with “screen bytes” and links that lead nowhere. Don’t let some dude talk you into something “hot.”

There are so many out there who believe there is no life without glitz. Good writing deserves well-planned space around it and MoJo seems most often to offer that amenity. The “glitz” hides a lot of inadequate thought and reason: ergo all that non-sense out there.

Faith Ladlow

Fresh daily? I don’t think so!

Must Reads

November 29, 1998

Hi there,

I got hooked by the MoJo Wire a while back and really enjoy “Must Reads.” I am disappointed, however, that your headline says “Fresh Daily.” I realize the writers want Thanksgiving Day off like everyone else does and that’s NO problem. All you have to say is “Fresh every day, EXCEPT holidays!” I access it every day, looking for some “fresh” news over the weekend, and none has been there.

OK, I’ve said my piece. Please keep up the good work. It’s a GREAT column!

Bob Vaught

Leave Billy alone!

Microsoft Brief

November 25, 1998

I guess I’ll unsubscribe. I thought I would find objective reporting of the news, but Cate T. Corcoran’s article about Microsoft was just more bashing editorial.

I use Windows 98, and used Win95 before, and I use Internet Explorer for my Web browser. I bought the Netscape Navigator Gold CD and installed it—then uninstalled it and deleted it from my drive. Navigator may be good, but it isn’t better, only different. On the other hand, IE integrated with the desktop is better than Windows without it. It gives me features the OS doesn’t have without it.

Rickey Braddam


November 25, 1998

As an Internet/Web professional, I must correct on technical grounds Cate Corcoran’s ridicule in Mother Jones (November 20, 1998) of Microsoft for their arguing that Internet Explorer and Windows are one and the same. She writes, “I was particularly amused by his finale, in which he asserted that … in fact, the browser is actually the operating system and vice versa” Then, without providing any proof that this statement is untrue, she proclaims that “Windows 95 and Internet Explorer are the same product because Microsoft says so.”

First, as a caveat, I should say that if the Microsoft representative said everything Ms. Corcoran says he said, then he’s really got to get his software versions straight: Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 3.0 cannot be part of this argument—the browser integration he speaks of did not occur until the release of Internet Explorer 4.0. If in fact the Microsoft representative asserted that “Microsoft could have shipped Internet Explorer 3.0 under the name ‘Windows 96,’ ” then she is correct in portraying his logic as Wonderlandian.

Underneath his version confusion, however, there is a crucial truth. The instances in which his argument is correct are with these configurations:

  • Windows 98 (which includes IE4 already installed).
  • Windows 95 and NT with Internet Explorer 4.0 installed.

    Although many techies will argue that Windows 95/98 is not an operating system at all (DOS is the OS and Windows 95 is the Graphic User Interface, or GUI), for all intents and purposes it is. IE4 is not so much a separate program as it is a replacement for part of this GUI. When installed, you browse the Web and your local files using the same program. When you click the “My Computer” or “Windows Explorer” icons in Windows 95/98/NT, the program that is launched is called “explorer.exe” and always has been called that. When you click the IE4 icon, you are launching a program called “iexplore.exe,” which simply launches “explorer.exe,” telling it to look a little bit more like a browser. Essentially the IE4 icon is a fake—there is no such program.

    Microsoft could very well have not included any icons for launching IE4 at all, instead telling users to use their regular Windows-browsing GUI (which they normally use to browse files and folders on their hard drive) to browse pages on the Web, something many IE4 users do today. The only reason MS chose to include an icon for IE4 (and the only reason why there is any distinction at all between the browser and the OS) is purely for user-comfort reasons: People who cannot “get” the concept of browser integration still need to click on a different icon to launch a browser. Since Microsoft is clearly trying to make users not use Netscape (and this is clearly true), they need to present IE4 as an alternative product to Netscape. These conflicting goals (the need to integrate the browser app and the OS and the need to wipe out a competing product) put them in a position where they have to undermine their own argument of browser integration.

    Strangely, if they had implemented the browser integration without the user-friendly fake IE4 icon, there would be no problem. If you simply delete that icon from your desktop, the browser functionality is still there, built into the OS. Microsoft decided that it’s better to keep the icon (and the unwanted perception that the browser-integration argument is hot air) than to remove it and train users in the new paradigm. Personally, I think they chose wrong—they should have campaigned to adjust users to the new paradigm and eventually most users would stop using Netscape out of sheer convenience. IE launches instantly on my PC and it’s integrated into my working environment seamlessly, while Netscape takes almost a minute to launch. For that reason alone, browser integration is the ideal. It’s tragic that a promising start-up company like Netscape had a flagship product whose functionality was so clearly destined to be part of an integrated working environment. C’est la vie.

    Then of course, there’s those Mac users for whom the browser integration will never occur. For them, the product is always separate. But that’s another story.

    Chris Fahey


    November 22, 1998

    Ms. Corcoran admiringly swallows the DOJ-Oracle-IBM-Netscape-Sun-Novell-Hatch (Orrin) case against Microsoft whole and uncritically. Get an intelligent observer out there.

    I have, right now, your page up on Mosaic (free, courtesy of the USA via NCSA at the U. of Illinois), Netscape Commander 4.05 (free, originally a rip-off of Mosaic), and Internet Explorer 5.0 beta 2—also free. None of them came with Win98; any of them can quickly be removed from Win98 via the simple-to-use add/remove icon in the control panel. None of them run when you boot up. Any combination of them can be run at one time. They are good in this order: IE, Netscape, Mosaic. (Mosaic is falling behind in HTML rendering, but what the hell—it’s freeware.)

    None of the members of the above-mentioned cabal except Netscape has ever even pretended to produce a product at the everyman pricing that made Microsoft the giant that it is. (It’s true that Windows is, next to Apple, the hardest common system to program for.)

    I’m not a fan of Microsoft and I didn’t vote for them, but I know a vendetta when I see one.

    Tom Copps