The new Nexus

First of all, I'm home and I still haven't caught up with all my e-mail. If you wrote me this week, and I haven't responded, please give me a day or two to catch up! I hope to have a laptop by the time I travel again, so hopefully I will be able to keep up with my mail. Also, Thursday's WinInfo went out a little late because of my travel schedule. I hope no one was sitting up last night waiting for it! :) Sorry about that...

Ok, onto the real story here:

Sometime next week, I will finally upload the new Internet Nexus Web site. As you probably know, the Nexus is the home of WinInfo on the Web and it will be undergoing some pretty dramatic changes:

  • Dynamically generated content - I have placed the last 2 1/2 months worth of WinInfo articles into a database that will automatically display the latest news stories when you view the main page. This database is fully searchable and is an awesome reference tool if you're looking for specific information. Though this probably won't make next week's release, I do have a working version of the site that tailors news stories to _your_ preferences using Cookies. The first time you enter the site, it asks you what topics interest you (Microsoft, Windows 95, Apple, etc. -- there are about 20 topics). Then, every time you go to the site you will automatically view the latest news stories that interest _you_. This is very exciting, and I think it will go over big. For those who are not interested in the personalization feature, there is a default choice to just view all news items normally.
  • User reviews and ratings: the Nexus is going to begin offering its users the ability to review computer books, software, and even hardware. Some of these materials are just beginning to roll in, so it may be a few weeks before an official announcement. Keep an eye out for it: I will be offering WinInfo subscribers first crack at the reviews. It is likely that the book review section will come up first since I have already received several books from publishing companies.
  • Online discussion and chat. This will allow WinInfo subscribers and Nexus users to interact live or through threaded discussion groups. I'm interested in setting up a NetMeeting server on our Web server, and if anyone has any recommendations and/or ideas about interactive discussions, please pass them along. In general, these discussion areas should be a good place to disagree with me, if you'd like, and get your opinions out there. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
  • The Nexus Web site will be split logically into two main sections that link from the front page: WinInfo, for Windows news and information, and Web Design and Development, which will be geared toward Windows Web publishers. The chat, discussion groups, and reviews, will all cascade off of these sections. The WinInfo site will feature the WinInfo article database, naturally, monthly editorials, the Future of Windows pages, and general news, information, and tips and tricks about Microsoft Windows. The will be a point of Windows advocacy on the Web. The Web Design and Development section reflects the growing exodus of designers and Web developers who are leaving the Macintosh and using Windows 95 and NT as their primary content development tool. I, myself, have been pulled along in a change that will probably be familiar to many of you: the switch from applications development to Web development. The books I am currently writing reflect the rapid change in my perspective, and I am now working on three Web-based titles: Visual Basic Script, Cascading Style Sheets, and Visual InterDev. Also, I started as Webmaster of Big Tent late last summer, an obvious indication of career change. In any event, I would like the Web Design and Development section to become a focal point for the relevant issues, with an emphasis on compatibility across browsers and other platforms.
  • Other changes, that work behind the scenes, include the use of server- side Includes for page re-use, ad rotations to please the advertisers, a couple of Front Page 97 Web-bots, server-side ActiveX controls and ADO for database access, and more. We are using tools like IIS 3.0, Active Server Pages, Access 8.0, Visual InterDev, Front Page 97, and SQL Server 6.5 to make this work. There's probably something I'm missing, but it's been a long week.

The new Nexus will be up sometime next week, so keep an eye out for it. Some of you probably noticed that the site hadn't been updated a lot in the past month, but that was a direct result of the amount of time I've been spending on the new site. I'll still probably end up working all weekend to get it going, but I think when you see it, you will agree that the results are worth it. Only a few short months ago, I would have thought that this sort of dynamic content was impossible. Others at Big Tent are already clamoring for similar--and far more complex--types of dynamic content and we're all really excited about the possibilities. I guess it never ends.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend,


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