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June 27, 2001

VA Linux to Exit Hardware Business

In another humbling setback for the Linux community, News.com is reporting that VA Linux plans to leave the server hardware business, layoff 35 percent of its staff, and take a $10 million cash charge. If what analysts say is true, the burn rate that has resulted from being in the hardware business is substantial, relative to VA's revenue. But, their business will now be known to the general public almost entirely for the OSDN Network Web Sites, like Slashdot.

They hope to make money through consulting and system integration with their enterprise software products, such as SourceForge OnSite. But, this will be hard to sell against things like ClearCase. VA Linux management looks pretty dumb for not cutting the hardware business in the last restructuring they did, which took place last quarter. We shall see if this change really does reduce the bleeding.

Dave Aiello wrote, "When VA acquired Andover.net, I was surprised that either side saw it in their interest. Clearly, the leadership of Andover saw it as a way to lock in the valuation of their company at that point. How such a transaction was supposed to benefit VA was anyone's guess."

"Even before the acquisition, people were warning of the fact that VA could not make it as a Linux server manufacturer if the product became commoditized. CTDATA bought one VA FullOn 2x2 (now known as a 2140 AFAIK), and its a good machine. But, six months later, we could just as easily have bought servers from Dell."

"From my perspective, this will exacerbate the flight to quality in the Linux market, which is to say it will strengthen Red Hat's hand. It's hard to imagine, in light of recent events, how any business would feel comfortable dealing with anyone else in the 'pure Linux' market."

Article on Slashdot Provides Insight Into OSDN Outage

This is a follow up on our piece about the weekend outage of Slashdot and several other OSDN sites. Robin Miller of OSDN wrote an article on Slashdot explaining the entire series of events leading up to the resolution of the outage. This is really impressive, because he showed that OSDN is willing to explain their situation to the technical community.

Many people are more than willing to accept an explanation like this, as long as it isn't obviously BS. It seems that OSDN over-delivered this time, providing lots of insight into their equipment inventory, their relationship with Exodus, the situation that their support staff faced, and the excellent support that OSDN received from Cisco.

We are glad to see some similarities between OSDN's support procedures and our own, although our network infrastructure is much smaller in scale than theirs. As one of the industry's smaller firms, we often wonder if our efforts to keep our infrastructure running are less professional than those of a larger firm. This article proves that our practices are similar to those of other companies in the industry. We thought so, but it is nonetheless reassuring.

June 25, 2001

Outage at Slashdot and Other OSDN Sites Gets Little Media Coverage

Apparently, Slashdot and a number of related sites have been down for much of the weekend due to a series of router-related problems. The most interesting aspect of the story is the lack of coverage it's gotten. The best article on the subject is on NewsForge, although it is dated Sunday and says that Slashdot is back on-line.

The article contradicts the current situation. Slashdot is currently displaying a notice that says it is down. Update: Slashdot says that it has been up all the time since Sunday and the problem is other people's DNS caching.

Truck Accident in Denville Causes Huge Fire, Closes Highway for Days

Dave Aiello wrote, "Friday morning at about 5:45am, there was a three tractor trailer accident on the Westbound side Route 80, close to Downtown Denville. This was the closest thing I ever saw in my hometown to one of the disaster episodes on the old TV show Emergency."

"In order to avoid certain delays, I left a few minutes later to go to a client's office in New York. I got a really good view of 35,000 gallons of gasoline burning due to the rupture of a half loaded tanker truck that was part of the accident. That's one of those moments where I wish I had my digital camera handy in the car."

"It appears that the Westbound viaduct over Den Brook will have to be replaced, due to the extreme fire damage. Read on for some links to stories about the incident...."

  • Saturday Newspaper Coverage
    • 3-truck crash, intense fire close section of highway, Bergen Record

      This article has the best arial photo of the accident scene (although it is small), and a diagram of the accident site.

    • Route 80 Inferno, Morristown Daily Record

      Good quotes from Denville Police and other people who were nearby. Also a good description of the early bridge damage assesment effort.

  • Sunday Newspaper Coverage
  • Monday Newspaper Coverage

June 22, 2001

Microsoft License for Mobile Internet Toolkit Prohibits Interoperation with Open Source Products

CNET News.com joins the parade of news sites reporting on Microsoft's attempt to prohibit use of Open Source Software in connection with the latest beta version of its Mobile Internet Toolkit.

In the agreement, they refer to software licensed under the GPL, the Artistic Licenses, and several other license types as "viral" software (as opposed to merely "open"). This is an amazing development because it shows the extent to which Microsoft will attempt to impose its world view on independent developers and their own customers. This sort of tactic sounds like the kind of thing that would have been tried by IBM or Digital Equipment prior to the widespread adoption of the PC-- sort of a "let's try to suffocate the baby in the cradle" approach.

Does Microsoft really think that it can act with impugnity, now that the Clinton administration has left office?

National Review Points Out Prejudices of European Elites

Yesterday, George Kuykendall pointed out the Impromptus column on National Review Online. In it, Jay Nordlinger takes the French media to task for calling George W. Bush a "Three-B Man", standing for "the Bible, baseball, and barbecue." Sometimes it's really hard not to get upset when confronted with such blatant examples of prejudiced thinking. But, when these types of things are unapologetically printed in European magazines, you can see how much more tolerant of differing personal ideologies this country is than are many European countries.

June 20, 2001

Lawrence Lee to Join Userland Software and Continue Tomalak's Realm

Dave Aiello wrote, "A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article here documenting the fact that Lawrence Lee was planning to stop producing the Tomalak's Realm Web Site. This was met with surprise by his readers. A Yahoo! Groups mailing list was started in an effort to come up with creative ways to make that Weblog worth continuing to Lawrence. Over the weekend, Lawrence announced that he had accepted a job offer from UserLand Software (Dave Winer's company), and that he would continue Tomalak's Realm indefinitely."

"Whether this was his plan from the outset or not, Lawrence's should be saluted for getting people excited about his skills and his work. We should all be so aggressive in looking for employment and personal satisfaction. I am also glad to hear that the useful Web resource that Lawrence produces will continue to be available."

SBC Trying to Eliminate Competition in California DSL Market

Martin O'Donnell sent an interesting article from The San Francisco Business Times which discusses contractual changes that SBC Communications has proposed to its DSL resellers in California. Anyone who reads this article would logically conclude that SBC is trying to remove any semblance of competition from the DSL market.

This is amazing because Northern California ought to be big enough for Pacific Bell and for alternative ISPs to all make money delivering services via DSL. Is it really in anyone's interest for companies to become greedy?

Why Did All the Fixed Wireless CLECs Fail?

Doug Mohney has written an article about the bankruptcy of the Fixed Wireless CLECs that is currently appearing on ISPworld.com. These companies, like Teligent and Winstar originally intended to by-pass the local telephone companies infrastructures and provide voice and high speed networking services using wireless technologies.

From the perspective of one who has not followed this aspect of the industry too closely, it appeared that most of carriers failed because they each tried to build a wireless infrastructure simultaneously in all major cities throughout the country. However, the article appears to be saying that this is not the case. For example:

WinStar was... {originally} focused on being a wireless CLEC.... {But, then} the company shifted priorities on a regular basis, putting its fingers into buying and operating ISPs, buying and operating the Office.Com e-commerce storefront and running a multimedia development center.

So, is it really possible that all of these well-capitalized startups failed due to lack of focus on the key aspects of their respective business plans?

Noticeable Perfomance Improvement at Seattle Co-location Site

Updating the problem report we posted yesterday, response time on our Seattle-based servers has improved noticeably. We have asked Martin O'Donnell to contact the ISP and to ask how they resolved the problem. If we receive any interesting information, we will update this story.

June 19, 2001

CTDATA Co-location Provider Experiences Network Problems

Martin O'Donnell, our associate in Seattle who does most of the work that requires physical access to CTDATA's servers, reported last night that the Internet Service Provider where CTDATA co-locates its servers is experiencing some sort of denial of service attack. This appears to be the root cause of a degradation of performance that began on Saturday evening.

CTDATA and its servers are affected because our network traffic must flow through the ISP's routers in both directions. At least one of these routers is currently being bombarded.

We understand that the ISP is working to resolve this problem, but has no idea when the problem will stop being noticeable. Until the problem is resolved, we expect access to resources on CTDATA.com, RCNJ.org, AAHArefs.org, GCF-inc.com, and smaller CTDATA customer sites sites to be degraded. Feel free to check back for updated information.

Update: Network performance has improved steadily since 7:00pm Eastern Time on June 19. Further information about the performance improvement will be posted here, as it becomes availabl

June 18, 2001

Could WiFi Make 3G Deployment Moot?

Technology Review, a magazine produced by MIT, is running an article on its Web Site about public access deployments of 802.11b Wireless Ethernet Services. These so-called WiFi networks include those created by installing Apple AirPort and Agere Orinoco Wireless Access Points.

We really like this technology and hope it succeeds. We are going to attempt to deploy a private WiFi network at our new office in Central New Jersey within the next month. It will be very interesting to see how carriers deploy WiFi in public, despite the fact that it was not designed to be a component of public networks.

MSNBC Modifying Syndicated Stories from the Wall Street Journal

The Register, a British Web Site about Information Technology, is reporting that MSNBC has been modifying stories it receives from the Wall Street Journal under a long-standing syndication agreement. Although we do not think that it is unusual for recipients of syndicated stories in the print world to make slight changes for space or context reasons, the article cites one example where references to Sun Microsystems were deleted that changes the meaning of the article.

Update: Many of us who carried this story yesterday are a little red-faced to learn that the MSNBC has a rational explanation for the wording differences between the version of the story that they posted and the one that appeared in the final print version of the Wall Street Journal. Despite The Register's protestations to the contrary, we're willing to cut Microsoft some slack on this. Then again, they certainly know that the grassy knoll crowd is paying close attention now.

June 14, 2001

British Consultant Makes Case Against Enterprise Content Management Solutions

A British Information Technology consultant named Alan Pelz-Sharpe has been interviewed on the Web Site called Lighthouse on the Web. The interview takes the form of a series of refutations of orthodox views within the Content Management software and consulting communities.

His comments reinforce the position of people like us who believe that the enterprise-level content management systems, such as Vignette, Interwoven, and Macromedia Spectra do not represent a complete solution to content management needs. No matter what solution is chosen, a great deal of system integration and workflow design is likely to be needed.

CTDATA actually thinks that all of these products are useful, so long as clients understand what they are buying. Rather than look at these products as ready-made systems throughwhich content flows on day 1, they should be viewed as construction kits that need to be assembled with care. No company can order a series of industrial automation components, place them haphazardly inside a building, plug them in, and call it an assembly line. Similarly, no company can take Vignette out of the box and create a sophisticated Web presence in short order.

Kudos to Lawrence Lee of Tomalak's Realm for continuing to operate his site. His is the first Weblog we found that pointed to this article.

Excellent Piece on FAQ Design in IBM DeveloperWorks

Tomalak's Realm pointed to this excellent article on IBM Developer Works which provides some best practice advice on how to design a Web Site's FAQ section. Web designers generally don't pay enough attention to this issue.

Among other things, the article provides 16 tips for successful FAQ development. Number 7 is, "Spell out FAQ on each FAQ page". In other words, the article suggests closely associating the acronym with its true meaning, Frequently Asked Questions. CTDATA does not do this. To make matters worse, the header of our page templates says "faq" (in other words, the letters are in lower case). This might be enough to throw off the people who really need to see the the information contained in our FAQs. So, we'll be looking at the issues discussed in this article, ourselves, shortly.

Intuit Founder Says Biggest Paradigm Shifts Are Not Technologically-Based

Dave Aiello wrote, "I stumbled across an article on News.com that I find really interesting. It is the summary of a speech that Intuit founder Scott Cook gave at the Harvard Business School Global Alumni Conference. In his talk, Cook referred to eBay as one of the biggest business innovations in history. However, he argued that its success was not based on new technology, but on the new market paradigm that it created. Cook said:"

There was no inventory, no guarantee that merchandise was authentic, and no easy way to pay for or receive goods; it might take a customer one week to buy a $10 item and another two to three weeks to receive it. Needless to say, retailers and venture capitalists ignored {eBay founder Pierre Omidyar}, thinking he was either irrelevant or crazy.

Dave Aiello continued, "There are a number of other interesting aspects to this article that I'd like to share with you. Read on for more...."

Aiello said:

Evolution of Quickbooks Slowed by Intuit's Lack of Customer Knowledge

Cook then took the opportunity to criticize his own company, and their unwillingness to deviate from their belief that the audience for Quickbooks, their small business accounting software, was individuals operating proprietorships, not small corporations. The article points out that over 98 percent of U.S. Businesses have 50 or fewer employees.

The conclusion that Intuit made after interviewing its early Quickbooks customers was that the product needed to provide functionality that it originally thought businesses were getting by working with their CPA. True success came for that product when it offered that functionality to the owner or office manager of the small business, because people in those roles really keep the books.

For the record, CTDATA is a Quickbooks customer, and these features are precisely the reason that we chose to run our checkbooks, investment accounts, and payroll using this software. The one thing we think is missing from Quickbooks is an integrated portfolio management tool, for businesses like us that keep our reserves in a brokerage account at a discount broker like Charles Schwab.

Comments on Harvard Business School's Web Presence

You have to hand it to Harvard Business School because they excel at cementing distribution for their many knowledge-oriented products. Until I read this article, I had never heard of the HBS Working Knowledge Web Site, but in my first glance at it, I have to say I am impressed.

I am amazed that Harvard Business School has a syndication relationship with CNET. As an RPI alumnus, I dream of the day that the publishing process at our school evolves to the point where RPI can get such positive placement in other publications as this. The benefits clearly extend beyond public relations.

June 13, 2001

Wireless Phone Industry Scraps WAP

If the events in the Web business over the last few months weren't shocking enough, the mobile phone industry delivered this bombshell earlier today: they are abandoning WAP. A new protocol called The Mobile Services Initiative (or M-Services) will take its place.

According to the Reuters article, "M-Services... aims to introduce an open software and hardware standard within mobile Internet in a bid to avoid the fiasco which surrounded the first attempt at mobile Internet... WAP...."

It's hard to know whether to praise this development or condemn it. On one hand, the industry ought to be praised for taking WAP outside and shooting it. No Web developer who evaluated the protocol objectively liked it. On the other hand, where does this leave the consumers who upgraded to WAP-enabled phones who did not end up using that function? Also, the providers and businesses who invested in WAP-specific resources or projects are probably going to end up high and dry.

State Farm Says It Will Quit NJ Auto Insurance Business

The New York Times is reporting that State Farm plans to quit the auto insurance business in New Jersey. No major insurer has taken this action since before Christie Whitman was elected Governor, nearly eight years ago.

It is possible that this announcement has been timed in order to extract the greatest possible concessions from the current Republican administration. Media reports have indicated that the Republican party is expected to lose both the Governor's race and possibly control of both chambers of the Assembly in elections this Fall. So, they may wish to take action to stablize the market, which has operated for a long time under rules largely defined by Republicans.

There are many obvious problems with the auto insurance market in New Jersey. It would be easy to call for dramatic reform, but that would be like calling for good weather as one goes on vacation: we all do it every year, and we get what's coming to us anyway.

Whither Goest Suck?

Julie Aiello sent a link to the Washington Post story documenting the demise of Suck.com. We seem to be receiving links to several stories like this, since almost all of the readers of this site seem to know that Dave Aiello knows Joey Anuff, one of the founders of Suck. Here are a few general comments:

  1. This article takes a while to get going, but it's worth reading. At first, it sounded like the other trite grave dancing that the dead trees media has been churning out-- a variation on the "see, I told you so" theme, that has been popular for the last year. However, about midway through the article, the reporter throws in some really insightful commentary from industry people who wish they'd thought of Suck, but didn't. That stuff is worth reading.

  2. We're trying to run a Weblog here. Note to readers of CTDATA.com: If you see something that looks like it fits our site, don't click "Mail this story to a friend", type Dave Aiello's email address, and click "Submit". Use our Submit Story page and save us some work.

  3. Not writing a Suck piece may be the greatest missed opportunity of the Dot Com Era. Dave Aiello stated it well when he said, "I will always feel like a wannabe in the Dot Com Era because I never wrote that one great piece for Suck that I had in me." Now, the question: is the opportunity gone forever?

In the meantime, we are left with the cynically self-referential FAQ that Suck posted on June 8. Let's hope it's not really the end.

June 12, 2001

Interactive Week Column Illustrates Problems with Smart Tags

Last week, we mentioned the issues associated with Microsoft's possible implementation of Smart Tags within the next release of Internet Explorer. Yesterday, Connie Guglielmo of Interactive Week editorialized on the subject. Her illustration of what Smart Tags might add to a web page critical of Microsoft is enlightening. As Dave Winer said in response, "There's hardly anything to add. It perfectly illustrates what free journalism would
be like when annotated by a big company with the power to insert its point of
view into every conversation."

June 11, 2001

Lotus is Selling Knowledge Management into a Storm

Tomalak's Realm (which still appears to be operating), pointed out an interesting article on DigitalMass.com, a Web Site produced by The Boston Globe. Scott Kirsner writes about Lotus's latest product, a knowledge management tool called the Knowledge Discovery System.

Kirsner points to a major problem in Lotus faces in marketing this new software product at this stage in the economic cycle: the discretionary nature of the purchase decision. He says that Knowledge Management is "... just not a problem that companies feel must be get solved right now, not when they’re focused on cutting costs by any means necessary. That makes it an inauspicious moment for the debut of Lotus’ $395-per-user Knowledge Discovery System."

Automatic Media Winds Down

Unfortunately, Salon.com is reporting that our friends at Automatic Media have laid off the bulk of their staff and are suspending operation of their flagship web sites, Feed and Suck. The most recently-launched site in their portfolio, Plastic, will continue operation with some of the staff members working as volunteers. Joey Anuff posted a story on Plastic explaining the situation.

Dave Aiello wrote, "The shutdown of Automatic Media is a blow to the entire culture of the Internet. I hope that Steven Johnson and Stephanie Syman are able to find a home for these web sites within a large media company. Regarding Plastic, its loss would be very bad for the Slashcode community, even if some members of the community don't realize it."

"Another article on Salon, written by Scott Rosenberg, asks the kind of question that can only be asked near the bottom of a market in panic:"

The Slashdot/Plastic model makes eminent sense as a use of the Web, though not
necessarily as a business (advertisers have always been reluctant to hand over their dollars
to community sites). But in the present climate of epidemic site-shutterings, it does lead
skeptics to ask: What will they do when there's no one left to link to?

McVeigh Deserved Death

Dave Aiello wrote, "The New York Times got the lead right in their story about the execution of Timothy McVeigh:"

Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled Army veteran who went on to declare war on the United States government by blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, was executed by lethal injection this morning at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Dave Aiello continued, "By our laws, McVeigh deserved death. His final judgement can only come from God."

June 7, 2001

NY Times Reveals Startling Truth: Women Can Program Computers

Dave Aiello wrote, "An article published in the New York Times today reveals that women are developing algorithms and writing computer programs. This is obviously one of those articles that appears in the mainstream media from time to time, attempting to demonstrate the fact that:"

  1. the software development community is largely populated by men, but
  2. women are making inroads.

"I have several problems with this article. First, it states the obvious: women have been writing code for decades. I'm surprised J.D. Biersforfer didn't mention Grace Hopper or Ada the Countess of Lovelace. The article goes on to say that women stand out in the software development community for the mere fact that they are not men. No one I know in this business wants to be known primarily for their physical attributes-- they want to be known for the quality of their work."

"Imagine if an article like this appeared in the sports section, saying that white men are making a contribution to NBA teams, in spite of their unique status. People from all walks of life would be outraged."

Mossberg Warns of Insidious New Feature in IE Version to Ship with Windows XP

Walter S. Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal does not like the Smart Tags feature of the new version of Microsoft Internet Explorer that is expected to ship with Windows XP in October. In his Personal Technology Column published today, he rebukes Microsoft for what amounts to editing other people's Web Sites without permission:

Microsoft's Internet Explorer Smart Tags are something new and dangerous.
They mean that the company that controls the Web browser is using that
power to actually alter others' Web sites to its own advantage. Microsoft
has a perfect right to sell services. But by using its dominant software to do
so, it will be tilting the playing field and threatening editorial integrity.

CTDATA opposes this technology, as Mossberg has described it. We recommend that everyone in the Web Publishing industry read this column and decide for themselves if this is an additional threat to the independence and economic viability of Web Sites that are not affilated with Microsoft.

FCC Chairman Powell Makes Enlightened Comments at Supercomm

ISPworld.com is carrying an article summarizing FCC Chairman Michael Powell's comments at Supercomm, an industry trade show. Chairman Powell's remarks point to a keen understanding of the issues facing the industry, both from the RBOC and the ILEC perspective.

It's fairly obvious to us that a more transparent regulatory process would be a good first step toward solving the Internet industry's problems. We need bandwidth all the way to the home and the small business everywhere in America. The best way to achieve that, in our view, is to reduce the bureaucratic impediments to full utilization of facilities that have already been installed. Chairman Powell's comments imply that he is looking at the situation in a similar way.

June 6, 2001

Will the De-Peering of PSInet Create Chaos?

A new wrinkle in the on-going PSInet bankruptcy saga has been developing over the past week. Cable and Wireless, a major player in the so-called backbone of the Internet, decided to de-peer PSInet. This means that C&W was no longer willing to pick up traffic coming off of PSInet and deliver it through via the C&W network at no charge to PSInet. Since both companies have very large customer bases, this created noticeable outages and routing problems almost immediately.

Today, CNET News.com is running an article that attempts to explain the possible implications of this action. It contains a good summary of the dispute, an explanation of why the de-peering was reversed yesterday, and some analysts' comments on the potential risks to the health of the backbone in the event that Cable and Wireless later decides to follow through on the de-peering.

June 5, 2001

WSJ Documents the Debacle of 3G Mobile Phone Technology

Any self-respecting Weblog should be pointing to this Wall Street Journal article today. Reporter Almar Latour tells the story of the European and Hong Kong-based wireless carriers who overbid for 3G licenses. In the process, they ruined their balance sheets, squandered their technological advantage over their American competitors, and created a major crisis for the entire telecom gear industry. Many European national governments share blame for this, because they set the auction system up with the specific intent of creating a bidding frenzy.

From the first glimpse of technologies like CDPD and WAP, we believed that Internet content delivery on mobile phones (as we know them today) was fatally flawed. Usability experts like Jakob Nielsen have also provided ample evidence confirming our view.

We still believe that the most usable wearable Internet access tool is a Blackberry pager from Research in Motion. Now that BT Cellnet has rolled out Blackberries on it GPRS service, these devices are expanding outside North America and jumping into the "2.5G" market at the same time.

June 4, 2001

Lawrence Lee to Stop Writing Tomalak's Realm

Tomalak's Realm is one of the sites that CTDATA has linked to from its home page since we implemented our Slashcode-based site about a year ago. Tomalak's Realm is generally considered one of the best-edited Weblogs about content management and web design. So, we were surprised to learn that the author of the site, Lawrence Lee, has announced that he will retire it on June 8.

We have no idea whether this is the right decision for Lawrence to make either personally or from a business perspective. But, we do know that his Weblog will be missed. We wish him the best in his future endeavors and hope that he will find another outlet for his insights.

New Editions of C.S. Lewis Books May Drop References to Christianity

Dave Aiello wrote, "A couple of people in my family really treasure the Narnia series of books by C.S. Lewis. So, it troubles me to read an article in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, that says a new edition of the series may attempt to eliminate allusions to Christanity."

"This is yet another attempt to tell only the most politically correct part of a story. If we hang around long enough, I'm sure someone will remake It's a Wonderful Life without any references to Christmas or Clarence the Angel."

"The National Post article suggests that the HarperCollins is motivated by the possibility of dramatically increasing sales of this series in the wake of the success of J.R. Rowling's Harry Potter series. But, Harry Potter wasn't reformulated in this fashion. There's a good possibility that the entertaining qualities of the stories will be diminished in the editing process. But, even if they weren't, efforts like these will have a negative impact on children's ability to understand and appreciate the spiritual side of our culture."

June 1, 2001

Article Neatly Debunks Gee-Wiz Technical Innovations

Alan Cooper of Cooper Interaction Design published an article that neatly demonstrates the difference between useful and useless technical innovation. The article is entitled Goal-Directed Innovation, a term that his company has trademarked.

Cooper cites a television ad where a young man attempts to pick up an attractive woman at a party by sending her a flirty message to her mobile phone via the Short Message Service. He points out the implausibility of the entire scene, and characterizes it as an indication of counterproductive use of technology.

To contrast this, he points to the kind of customer-centric services that Amazon.com offers. He concludes that the individual technical services used to communicate with the customer are not nearly as significant as the overall effect that their customer-service orientation achieves in the mind of a regular Amazon customer.

Cooper makes another valuable point when he says, "I've heard experts say that to make your Web site successful, it should look and act like Amazon's Web site. That is far from the truth. To be successful, your company should behave like Amazon behaves, giving value to your customer at every step of the relationship, and using whatever tools are appropriate...."