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ISSUE 515: New economy- Sept 7 1999


The high tech office

ALAN ZISMAN

Finance and new outdo sex on the Net

Big Internet companies release figures boasting tens of millions of users. For instance, in June Web portal Yahoo! claimed 65 million registered users while competitors Excite@Home claimed 38 million, Lycos 27 million and the Go Network chimed in with 14 million users, adding up to 144 million users. On the other hand, research firm International Data estimated that by the end of 1998, there were only 142 million Net users worldwide, including 63 million U.S. users.

Both sets of figures may be correct. The portal users can easily include many millions of users who are registered on more than one service. Many users, especially younger users, have a collection of multiple log-on names often with the same service. While the portals may be able to accurate-
ly number registrations,
it's not clear how many unique sets of eyeballs they can actually deliver to advertisers.

Similarly, Web page "hit" counters are notoriously inaccurate. Users that move back and forth between pages may be counted multiple times, while readers who jump directly to a page inside a site may miss the hit counter entirely.

Other stats suggest how connected employees are actually using their work-based Internet access.
An admittedly unscientific survey of 100 companies by Web-filtering software company Surfwatch Software claims that about one-third of online time spent at work is recreational. That figure is double last year's total.

The good news is that visits to sexually explicit sites have dropped and is no longer the No. 1 work time-waster. Instead, workers are more likely to visit investment sites and general news sites.

Sex, travel and entertainment sites follow in the No. 3 through No. 5 spots. Other popular office surf categories include chat groups and astrology sites.

It's suggested that an increase in business appropriate-use policies have helped steer employees away from sexually explicit sites, though obviously this has had less effect
on other nonbusiness-related Internet use.

One response to both of these trends has been a move by businesses to better control Internet use. This is represented by a move by business users away from general purpose portals such as Yahoo! to what some have called vertical industry portals or vortals.

The Gartner Group suggests that there are currently more than 300 Internet industry-specific marketplaces. The group goes on to suggest this number will rise to more than 10,000 in the next few years.

Vortals offer resources for news and research, and help unite buyers and sellers within a single industry. Verticalnet (www.verticalnet.com), for example, hosts 40 communities ranging from the adhesive and sealant industry to fibreoptics and more. *

While we're looking at numbers, here are three sets of statistics from the International Computer Security Association (ICSA):

21: The number of virus infections for every 1,000 computers during the month of February 1997.

32: The number of virus infections for every 1,000 computers during the month of February 1998.

88: The number of virus infections for every 1,000 computers during the month of February 1999. *

Now some Canadian-only stats: In a survey last Spring of 293 Canadian business leaders conducted by Andersen Consulting, 84 per cent expected that their companies would become increasingly reliant on e-commerce, but only 20 per cent could be classified as e-commerce leaders. A further 41 per cent were identified as "dabblers," while 39 per cent were so-called sideline ob-
servers. Only 29 per cent of those surveyed identified developing e-commerce as a top priority. *

Finally, a Web site you may not have known about.

If you have an unstable Windows system, you've probably seen the so-called Blue Screen of Death, visible when your computer crashes, dropping you down to a blue-screen error message and you have no recourse but to shut off the power.

If you are sick and tired
of the BSOD, go to: www.
planetx.com/linebackn/news/
bsod.html
.

Unfortunately, it won't make your system more stable, but it will enable you to change the fatal blue screen to the colour of your choice.

Perhaps this is the way that PCs will compete with Apple's colourful product lineup? *



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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan