After several months of trying to force interoperability between its own MSN Messenger chat software and AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft has finally backed down. Now the companies will have to come to a business agreement (and how likely is that?) before users of the two chat clients will be able to talk to one another.
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE THE FUTURE: 41% of American Internet users are buying things online — a third more than last year. 75% of those surveyed say the Internet has improved their lives. 52% are rearranging furniture to make room for their computers. But the most significant finding from a recent AOL/Roper Starch survey is that 63% of people age 9 to 17 would rather use the Internet than watch TV.
Any sign that American kids are watching less TV bodes well for the future, in my opinion. But don’t look for zooming test scores just yet: Another study, by the Fortino Group, predicts that those age 10-17 will be 34% more reserved, will participate in 22% fewer sports and outdoor activities, and will score worse in spelling and grammar than their Generation X elders. On the other hand, the youngsters’ understanding of global markets will be greater, the study says.
My question: How do you measure a 34% increase in shyness?
“Want to bet on the Net? Consider investing in radio stations,” this story suggests — pointing out that radio conglomerate Infinity Broadcasting is winning a big piece of the Internet action: ten percent of its revenues this quarter will come from dot com advertisers.
A U.S. Internet tax commission, which was charged by Congress with investigating the issue of taxing Internet access and e-commerce, is moving towards a verdict, according to the Industry Standard. It looks like the commissioners opposed to Net taxes have a strong lead.
Creative Good’s Mark Hurst is publishing a Weblog at goodexperience.com, where he highlights current Web site usability and customer-experience stories. You can also download a copy of Creative Good’s useful and timely white paper here, the Holiday ’99 E-Commerce report, which critiques some prominent e-commerce sites and contains many practical tips on improving site usability.
Fleeting fame: “The Tweeny Report” is the first of six featured sites on “Six Pack To Go,” today only. I’m not sure who does this site, but hey, at least they spelled my URL right, if not my name.
Microsoft is discovering that, in addition to the annoyance of Justice department anti-trust lawsuits, there’s yet another downside to tightly integrating their browser and mail client into the Windows operating system: Email viruses. A new email-borne virus, nicknamed “Bubbleboy,” has been found — and it can infect Microsoft Outlook users even if they don’t open the virus-bearing email message’s attachment.
New Computer Virus ‘Bubbleboy’ Found
(Reuters, November 10, 1999)
Egregious opt-out-only marketing from AOL: This message from AOL was forwarded to me by Chris Sandlund. Apparently, you can refuse pop-up advertisements — but you need to keep repeating your refusal if you want it to stick. Chris writes that he’s been an AOL user since 1992, but he’s losing patience: “I’ve put up with a lot of
crap to make sure that I didn’t have to change e-mail addresses, but this is pure B.S.”
Date sent: Tue, 9 Nov 1999 13:54:35 EST
Subject: Your AOL Marketing Preferences
America Online, Inc. offers valuable products and services to you by using
pop-up messages that appear on the AOL service. Our relationships with other
companies often allow us to offer unique products and services to you at
Previously, you indicated to AOL that you preferred not to receive these
valuable offers through pop-ups. Your preference is due to expire December
1st, 1999. If you would like to begin receiving these special offers, simply
do nothing now. If you want to renew your current preferences so you will
not receive these offers, please go to the AOL Marketing Preferences area now
[Keyword: Marketing Preferences or Keyword: Choice].
Should you wish to change your preferences at any time in the future, you may
do so by going to the AOL Marketing Preferences area. Please note that this
screen name can not accept e-mail replies.
RealNetworks announced this week that it’s really, really sorry about its recent invasions of customers’ privacy — and that it’s working with privacy guarantor TRUSTe to implement a five-point privacy plan. The plan includes a third-party audit, appointing a “privacy officer” to RealNetworks’ staff, and making all customer information sharing strictly opt-in.
RealNetworks drafts new privacy plan
ZDNet News, November 8, 1999
From body parts to boyfriends, it seems there’s nothing you can’t find for sale on a Web auction these days. The latest odd lot is a collection of brightly-colored fiberglass cows, erstwhile decorations on the streets of Chicago, and now up on the auction block at Metromix.com. But you better hurry — the auction ends Nov. 9, and some of these cows are already going for as much as $14,000.
Colorful Cows Latest to Hit Internet Auction Block
AOL is being sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act by nine blind people who charge that the online service, as a public accommodation, is not sufficiently accessible to the blind. The AOL client software, they charge, doesn’t work well with the screen-reader programs used by many blind people. If the suit is successful, it means the ADA will also likely apply to other online services — and to Web pages.
Web page designers, listen up: If you’re still relying on massive image maps without text links and no ALT tags, it’s time to start thinking about accessible Web site design. Do it now, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it may soon be the law.
AOL sued by blind Net users
(Boston Globe, 11/5)
Blind Federation Demands Equal Access to AOL
InternetNews, November 5, 1999