Transcript of AOL, Center Stage
"Internet Souvenirs"

OnlineHost: Copyright 1996 Simon & Schuster; licensed to America Online, Inc.

OnlineHost: Your host is Norma II (AOLiveMC 13)!

OnlineHost: Chris Sells has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota and is finishing up his MS at the Oregon Graduate Institute. Chris now teaches short courses in C++ and Windows 95 development for a small company in California that lets him work from his home in Oregon. Chris will discuss how to access an abundance of treasure on the Internet and commercial online services.

AOLiveMC4: Good afternoon and welcome to America Online, Chris Sells!

Nacron999: Thanks very much, Norma.

Nacron999: Hi folks and sorry for the lame screen name,

AOLiveMC4: Here is our first audience question:

Question: Is Microsoft likely to take over the Internet?

Nacron999: Everything that looked like my own name was taken. "Is MS likely to take over the Internet?" Hmmm...That'd take a lot of money, And I don't think even Bill has that much.

Question: Mr. Sells , What is your favorite book?

Nacron999: Just so you folks know, Chris Sells' screen name is Nacron999. Sorry. My favorite book? I really like Mary Stewart's Merlin treatment, I'm re-reading that right now. It starts with the Crystal Cave. My favorite Internet book? I don't really have one, I started doing Internet stuff in college before Internet books were so popular. Check out the Appendix at the end of the Downloader's Companion for Windows 95 for my recommendations for Internet books. My favorite was the free one available on the Net itself, Zen and the Internet or some such...

Question: Is the Internet going to be a full VR based or is it just a rumor?

Nacron999: Oh. That's a good question. Definitely, the Internet will be full VR, video and realtime audio... eventually. When I was working at Intel, I was working on realtime, 3D interactive chatting via the Internet. It won't be that long and some of the companies I was working with will have that kind of technology available. I've seen some pretty amazing stuff in the labs, I can tell you. Stuff that blows this kind of chatting away! If you'd like to know at VR browsers, Netscape 2.0 and beyond have built in support for a plug-in called WebFX that handles VRML. VRML stands for Virtual Reality Modeling Language. Microsoft is also getting into that space with their own version of that standard called ActiveVRML. This ActiveVRML is going to be built into Internet Explorer 3.0 and beyond.

Question: How do we know the good web sights and how to find them?

Nacron999: That's a great question. Most web sites, like most anything, is just drek. What I do is hang out on the news groups, subscribe to mailing lists, and try to keep my eyes open. When I find a good site, I put it into my favorites list. If you want, both Microsoft and Netscape have their best of the web sites on their home pages. I'll tell you the truth, though, I don't spend a lot of time "browsing" on the web. Instead, when I need information, I go to one of the search pages and type in a few keywords. That leads to some good pages and it's almost guaranteed to lead to some pages with information that I need.

Question: Why does my little hour-glass stay on when I try to go to a web site?

Nacron999: Well, in general, the hour glass means that your computer is doing some work for you. When the hour glass goes away, that means it's done and can accept more input.

Question: Can I download entire movies?

Nacron999: In this case, the computer is downloading something for you. Well, movies are difficult proposition. You can download small video "clips." I just wanted to say that Movies on Demand (as it's called) is a big deal to those folks that do cable. However, people like Blockbuster don't want it to happen. They make half their money on late fees. Of course, if you can download a real movie, there will be no late fees and that takes half of BB's revenue away. Don't look for Movies on Demand anytime soon.

Question: Is it possible to download the audio from a concert on AOL?

Nacron999: Just as a reminder, Nacron999 == Chris Sells. Boy, Norma, I don't know. Is it possible to download the audio from a concert on AOL? There's no technical reason why not, but the file would be a big one. I hang out on the Internet a lot and there is something called RealAudio. With RealAudio, you can start a connection and get realtime audio. For example, there are Internet "radio" stations that broadcast via the Internet instead of via radio waves. You could certainly listen to a concert that way.

Question: Is there any good Software on the Net? And where can I get a demo of the Software's that handle VRML?

Nacron999: Software on the net follows that same 80/20 rule that everything does.. 20% of the software is "good" and 80% is "not so good." Check out my new favorite software spot on the web, for a slightly more favorable percentage. If you want to handle VRML on your web browser, go to (I think) for Netscape plug-ins (WebFX specifically) and to (thinking again) for their ActiveVRML add-on.

Question: Does your book explain how to unzip files?

Nacron999: Aha! My book! I was hoping we'd get to a question that we covered in the book! Yep, you betcha. Dealing with the funny formats that you download from the net, like .zip, .wav, .au, .jpg, etc, are exactly what the book is about. Highly recommended! Of course, I'm biased...

Question: Why do you, in all seriousness, spend so much time on the computer?

Nacron999: Follow up question: How much time do you think I spend on the computer? Still, assuming you're right and I do spend a lot of time on the computer, the question is a valid one (and it's asked by my wife all the time). I spend about 60+ hours a week on the computer. I've heard it said that to a woman, a computer is a tool. To a man, a computer is a toy. I know that I enjoy spending time on the computer. I enjoy bending the environment to my will.

Nacron999: I left the Mac because I had customized it to a point that I couldn't do any more w/ it. When I went to Windows, there was plenty of room for improvement. Now I'm a happy Windows instructor teaching mostly men how to bend the computer to their will. Still, with a wife and two kids, you can be sure I don't spend near as much time on the computer as I used to...

Question: Mr. Sells: Can you explain the difference between direct Internet providers and providers like AOL, Cserve. Etc.?

Nacron999: Well, their are a couple of differences. The first major difference is price: I pay $250/year for unlimited access to Teleport, my Internet service provider. However, I pay almost $100/month for access to CompuServe. The other major difference is applications you can run. For some providers, there is software built in, e.g. web browser. I believe AOL is like this. I can't use AOL to set up direct access to the Internet. Instead, I have to log in using the proprietary AOL software and run web browser that's built in. However, with an Internet service provider, I can set up an Internet connection and run all kinds of software, freeware, shareware or commercial software or even software that I write myself. AOL doesn't let me and anyone else provide software that runs over their, however.

Nacron999: In general, I prefer a direct Internet connection for these reasons, but.. online services like AOL (especially AOL) provide one big advantage over the Internet. Ease of use. Using the "raw" Internet is much harder than clicking on icons using AOL software. That's why the web was invented in the first place. To provide an easy to use interface on the Internet.

Nacron999: When I first started using the Internet, everything was a command line operation -- just like DOS (gag!). Now, the web is more like Windows. It's easier to use but not as good as the Macintosh. AOL is like the Mac. Not quite so powerful or flexible, but much easier to use.

Question: Chris, does your book explain how to do all that you have stated?

Nacron999: The book is very focused. It assumes a Windows 95 user who already has a connection to some service that allows software to be downloaded to their computer. We do talk a little about the process of downloading software itself, but really assume that the use knows where to get the software. The book tries to help people actually _use_ the software once they've gotten it.

Question: What type of development are you into (i.e., games, productivity, edutainment, etc.)?

Nacron999: Well, I used to be into Telephony software full-time. Now, I dabble in all kinds of things. I like utilities that bend the environment to my will. I write Win95 programs, e.g. a caps lock indicator in the task bar 'cuz my son plays with my keyboard but it doesn't have a caps lock light on it. I also wrote a Win95 shell extension that converts Unix and Mac text files to DOS format. I play with Internet programs, too. I wrote my own finger client that I can use to watch for someone to log in and I wrote my own time synchronizer that keeps my computer w/in a second accuracy. Mostly man over machine stuff, but I have dabbled in games, too. Once I pitched a game idea to id Software (makers of Doom). That was fun!

Question: What are your long-term goals?

Nacron999: Long-term in the computer industry doesn't have much meaning. I'm pretty fickle, actually. I've never had a job for more than three years. After three years, any job gets boring and I'm on to something new. That's handy 'cuz I get to learn lots of things and spend lots of time on my computer. : ) Long term, I'd like to be an independent contractor. No time for boredom in that job.

Question: What do you mean, bending to your will?

Nacron999: Well, you know how sometimes your computer doesn't quite work like you'd like? Well, that happens a lot for me and I keep a list. When I've got some free time, I go to the list of ways that the computer isn't living up to my expectations and I fix it. I mean I write a program that makes my computer do what I want, how I want it to. You know, "bend it to my will."

Question: How did you get the VRML demo from Microsoft Web page?

Nacron999: Hang on, I'll look up the URL.. Sorry, spoke too soon. When I got kicked off of AOL, I dropped the TCP/IP connection and did a direct connection. Now I don't have access to my favorite search pages! Arghhh! Send me email via and I'll look up the URL for you, OK?

Question: Do you have any good WWW browsers?

Nacron999: I used to use Netscape pretty heavily, but I use Internet Explorer more and more. It seems to fit in with Win95 so much better. Plus, Microsoft gives it away while Netscape pretends you're supposed to pay. So, to answer your question, "Yes, I do have two good web browsers and so can you."

Question: What's the difference between freeware and shareware?

Nacron999: Freeware means that the author maintains copyrights, but doesn't expect you to pay. Shareware means that the author expects you to pay if you use the software more than once. Please, register your shareware. Thanks.

Question: How do I get souvenirs from the Net?

Nacron999: The same way I do. Download a lot of stuff that might be good and toss most of it. Some of it will be worth keeping. Most will be drek. It helps to have a lot of disk space, too.

Question: How do I download a picture file and be able to view it?

Nacron999: That's another good question. Downloading is mostly a matter of finding a file you like and telling whatever software you're using you'd like it on your computer now, thanks. Viewing is another matter altogether. Pictures have different formats. They vary based on what program was used to draw them. Each picture format requires a program that understands it. On our book, Downloader's Companion for Windows 95, we discuss lots of the most popular formats and give you programs and step-by-step instructions on how to view them.

Question: What do I do with these souvenirs after I dl them?

Nacron999: What do you do w/ programs after you buy them? Use them! Treasure them! Keep them close to your heart! Let them free...If they come back, they're yours. If they don't, they were never meant to be...Well, Norma, if there are no more questions...Norma?

AOLiveMC4: Well we have this last one:

Nacron999: Well, folks, it's been a pleasure being here today. OK, Norma, shoot.

Question: Do you have your class on video that we can purchase?

Nacron999: Aha! My day job! Well, we don't do videos of our class. That's mostly 'cuz our classes are "instructor lead." That means that the instructor depends heavily on feedback from the students. If you're doing video, however, there's not quite as much feedback. It just wouldn't be fun for the instructor. Remember, Nacron999 == Chris Sells. Well, folks, enjoy the book. It should be in any decent book store. Bye, now.

AOLiveMC4: Chris, what a pleasure having you answer our questions, thanks for being with us today!

Nacron999: It was my pleasure, Norma.

OnlineHost: Thanks to our audience for your questions. For a transcript of this event, Go To Keyword: Center Stage within the next 24 hours.

OnlineHost: Copyright 1996 Simon & Schuster; licensed to America Online, Inc.