Issue No.3 August 1997

Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3


Spare Parts

Web Marketing

How to contact us

Ok, you virtually grease monkeys, we're on a roll. Start your engines and scroll down the page for more multimedia online news (and opinion). If you're a first time visitor and want to know more about who we define as a digital mechanic we explained the nuts and bolts of it here. If you have suggestions or a press release and news items to share, email us. Iif you'd like to link to us, or include us in your site content, just ask. The more readers we get, the more content goes in.

Fred Harden & Doug Bailey
Head Mechanics

In this issue, Apple Rumours, business gossip, CSS,
a new magazine and lots of other bits.


The Lubritorium

Even in the digital age, vital parts can’t hum along forever without a visit to the Lubritorium. That’s why we’ve kept the lube bay out the back - it neatly corrals all the indulgence sites we keep opening. When the smoko horn blows, besides sticky pink buns and pineapple donuts, cheek by jowl with instant, steaming Java, we finely tune our palates at virtual wine and food tastings.

So as our second newsletter pops it’s cork we welcome you for the first and not the last time, into the Lubritorium, for an occasional taste of the digital dolce vita. Enjoy. DB

Heineken can can ...Heineken refreshes the parts of your browser that other browser refreshes can't .....

In 1996 Heineken held the 'Futurist of the Year' contest, in which young adults were asked to predict future trends. This year the second largest beer brewer in the world is inviting you to 'design a new beer brand'. The contest is organized by the Heineken agency Mathura.Verhart.Van Der Linden and is called imaginatively 'Design contest 1998'. It is an international initiative to involve creative individuals in a real product development process. Creative talent (above legal drinking age) from various disciplines, art schools, marketing degrees and communications studies, and individuals, teams and even schools can enter. The best design will win US$4,500, and will get the chance to be invited by Heineken to participate in a second product development stage. The second prize is US$3,000 and the third prize is US$2,000. Fifty runners up will have their name placed in the nominee gallery and will receive a 'surprise' for their hard work. The contest ends on October 1st 1998. It all takes place via the 'Design contest 1998' website where you'll find some awkwardly translated rules and details.
For more information please contact: or Design contest 98' P.O. Box 1179 1000 BD. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. But see the website first.
The image of the 'little drunk' toy comes from a commercial web site from Spain, The PAYA toy factory has been making tin toys from old designs that date from 1906-1940. Now produced in limited editions of 5000, you can buy them direct.

Spare Parts

Apple Rumour # 346

The coverage of the Microsoft buy in to Apple, the Larry Ellison appointment etc. have made Apple management news a bit ho-hum. But I liked the email that was passed on to Computer Reseller News, that was sent to Pixar Inc. employees by Pixar Chief Executive Steve Jobs who called the "rumors" about his return to Apple as chairman or chief executive "crazy." Jobs went on to say that Apple had offered him both positions but he declined. Jobs said he had agreed to "step up my involvement with Apple for up to 90 days, helping them until they hire a new CEO." But it was the next part I thought was sweet, Jobs stated, "I love my job at Pixar. I cannot imagine a cooler place to be. . .. So don't worry--the crazy rumors are just that. I have no plans to leave Pixar. You're stuck with me." Aaaw!

~ Mac vs. Windows #1,234
If you get the Netscape Inbox direct version of Hotwired's daily Homepage you'll have noticed in the bottom corner the Browser stats for the day. It's a dynamic and pretty accurate look at what the bulk of your audience are viewing your pages on. Given that the Wired reader is more likely to be a 'professional web surfer', the Mac figure is probably higher than some other sites. I've seen it at 12% some days. The last line changes, and it's something they have fun with (eg Newton 0.00% and there was an Amiga figure a few days ago). It all makes a difference when planning your site (we did a rebuild on a site recently where the graphics they had were posterized when displayed in 256 colours on a Windows palette, but looked fine on a 256 Mac. (Web palette? they said, What web palette?) The client was also complaining that the centered text had 'orphan' words on some lines. We resized, changed resolutions and couldn't duplicate the complaint on the Mac. When we checked it on the PC, we asked, and she confirmed, that she was looking at it in IE 3 with her fonts set to the biggest setting. We now do a final 'Angela' run on all our pages with that large size font before putting them up.)

~ Mac vs. Windows #1,235

Macromedia Stock went down with the news of a $1.7million shortfall on expected profit for the last quarter. The revenue from Director 6, Flash 2 etc. hadn't kicked in in the period so it's hardly a figure to worry about (unless you had stock that is), but the release also had the following (shadow) writing on the wall. Macromedia said it is continuing to shift away from the Macintosh platform and revenue from Windows and cross-platform products represented 51 percent of total revenue, compared with 44 percent last year. Mac-related revenue declined to 49 percent of total revenue, compared with 56 percent last year. It will take a long time to drop to the HotWired figure above, especially around the studio's we know, but I wonder at our continual Mac upgrade path sometimes.

~ Cascading Stylesheets
We've been working on a site with CSS, and like all good web developments, finding out how to do it via the Web. (Remember when you used to read books for this stuff?) There's a good primer at Index dot HTML (although the coloured type on black is a strain to read). If you're PC (Mac version is promised soon) the Web Design Group have a CSS help file/tutorial, there's a PC zipped version for download here in our tool kit. The authority is on the W3 pages, which are being updated with links and info. W3 suggests a number of programs that make it easier. We looked at Sheet Stylist (an ActiveX control) for Windows 95, Cascade a Cascading Style Sheets editor for Mac and Astrobyte has announced BeyondPress 3.0 which will convert QuarkXPress documents into HTML and CSS. Yeah!
Now all we have to do is get everyone using Ver 4 browsers (although IE3 handles CSS pretty well), and Netscape and Microsoft to support the CSS standard
in the same way! We'll report back as we become instant experts.

Book me in - Events

If you didn't get to
Siggraph '97, (damn) see what you missed online.

Don't go to the Variety Entertainment Expo in Melbourne in October, it has been called off.

Web Marketing

On their site, AdAge have opened a Directory of Web Developers, a comprehensive listing of US web builders arranged by city. Developers will be listed for the top 10 U.S. markets, with more cities being added each month. Included in the directory are hotlinks to clients, listings of specialties, and contact phone numbers. It's a great place to compare what's happening.

Also on the site is the national Web Price Index. Based on bids every month from 24 Web developers around the country, the Web Price Index gives marketers high, low and median prices for all facets of business Web design.
Sounds like someone should do the same here.

When two heads aren't better than one

Keep your news stand browsing eyes open to see what happens after Oct.1 when IDG combine CIO and Webmaster magazines into a single print publication . The magazine will apparently drop the Webmaster name and be published twice monthly. There's a note on the Australian Webmaster site to say "Wide West Media is in the process of purchasing WebMaster magazine - Australia from IDG Communications. It will appear in a new form with a new web presence in the near future. In the meantime, most of WebMaster's services are available through Online World". And a redirection then takes you there.
I was interested to note down the bottom of the
CIO home page the following web-positive line, "Linking to this site or to the pages referred to in this site is not considered duplication. We invite you to link to this or any of our pages."

Quo MSN?

Why do the closed 'value network' environments such as MSN and AOL seem less and less relevant to me? I once extolled the virtues of CompuServe for years. Maybe it's the audience size? So on reflection, it was no surprise to hear that Microsoft are developing a search engine (a beta version of which will be ready in October, with a full launch expected in January '98). It was also no surprise to hear the news that the search engine is expected to be launched on the Internet, rather than on Microsoft's MSN. I did raise an eyebrow when I considered how much Microsoft was spending on banner ads on other search engines, and wondered how they will cope if they lose Microsoft.
I can't wait to see the ad mix (there will certainly be one) on the new site.

If TV's just Radio with pictures...

I think I've just been fed my first web commercial break. As mentioned above I use Real Player Plus and I've set up one of the default buttons to go to @Computerworld's Real Audio server for Rick Saia's Computerworld Minute audio news. The player showed the file to be one of two, and I waited patiently while the next item loaded even though I could see the author line, figuring I'd hear some other business news. Instead of the static logo in Real Player's video screen, a thirty five second video commercial spot popped up.

For AT&T web hosting services it told the tale of two girls who after sitting on a pair of sunglasses, designed a rubber framed version and when they couldn't interest shops in stocking them, they made a web site that 'now sells to everyone under the sun'.

Good sound , usual smurfy Real Video pictures, but correct ad media placement. Maybe it was the novelty, but I didn't mind the ad at all. FH


Sponsored by Digital Mechanics.
Web site overhauls a specialty