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David Strom is a networking and communications consultant based in Port Washington, NY. Along with Marshall Rose, he co-authored
Internet Messaging: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Prentice Hall).

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As a result of an essay I wrote on eGroups, I made a guest appearance on the ZDTV show Screen Savers last week, showing how to setup your own mailing list. It was a lot of fun!

My most recent review for Computerworld is on lightweight LCD projectors. They cost under $10,000 and are brighter than some of the older and heavier models.

Those of you that are near NY City are invited to join me in a panel discussion on how the Internet is changing nature of church and state for the Magazine Publishers' Association this Wednesday. Send me email for more information on the seminar.

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Web Informant #158, 14 June 1999

      This may be the year that many of us start using the Internet in a new way: to run our applications and store our data. Enter

      This isn't to say that thin clients have finally arrived: I still want lots of software to run on my local hard drive. (Would it be too much to ask for a reliable operating system?) But what has happened is this: I can now easily offload more and more of my PC computing tasks, like backup and paying my taxes to the web. And I can run applications off the web using a browser and a reasonably fast connection.

      No longer just a communications medium or an information repository, the Internet is becoming more like a public utility.

      The key technology that got me there was continuous access: I now have a cable modem at home and Covad DSL service at the office. Because the Internet is always on, it it's easier to access web-based services and resources. And since I store my files on the net, I haven't needed to carry a laptop in years. When I want to work on the road, I almost always have Internet access nearby. (You can even connect to the web from Burger King, not to mention the local library, Kinko's, cybercafes and even some hotels and airports.)

      Here are some of the ways I have begun using the Internet to run my own applications:

  1. Contact management. Tracking contacts was actually my first Internet application. I created a simple database using Lotus Approach that I have maintained for years. I upload the files to my web site and can access my contacts via a simple web form or via my CDPD cell phone. Not only do I get the benefits of having access to phone numbers and addresses when I travel, but I have an offsite copy of this critical information. To find out how you can do this, see WI #92
  2. File backup. I used to backup files to tape or even burn my own CD-ROMs. Not today: I just copy files to a secure web server that I set up. For those of you who want a more packaged product, there are now plenty of service bureaus who perform Internet-based backups -- although I have found most of them lacking. Companies like Connected, @Backup, and others are fairly limited and not as reliable as I'd like to see.
  3. Internet faxes. Once upon a time, I used to send faxes from my PC's fax modem, or even directly from a fax machine. But with the advent of numerous Internet-based faxing services, I can send faxes from my email client or by filling out a simple web form. ( is one service, although your faxes will contain ads. is another.) Once you try these services, you'll be hooked on the convenience.
  4. Internet taxes. Years ago I did my taxes on a PC or a Mac. Every December, I went to the computer store to find the software for both the federal and state forms, and then had to get the updated programs in the early spring before I filed. Then of course I had to store the programs and data so I had a record of everything. This year, I did my taxes over the web at Intuit's web site. I also filed my forms electronically and got my refund checks deposited directly to my bank account. No massive copying of forms, no hassles with running outdated tax software versions. Everything was done with just a web browser and Adobe Acrobat (which I used to print out the few forms I did have to file the old fashioned way). It was incredibly easy and efficient. And it was cheaper than purchasing the physical disks.

      What else do all of these applications have in common? None are from Microsoft. The ultimate irony, as Windows 2000, or should I say Office 2000, becomes more Internet-capable is that there will be more and more of these browser-based applications that have nothing to do with Windows. All of this points towards using the web as more of a utility. The days of buying pre-packaged applications is quickly coming to an end.

      I'm not alone here in thinking that the web is changing how people interact with their applications. Dan Gillmor wrote a terrific piece on the topic in his last week's San Jose Mercury column

      This is just the beginning on I'd love to hear innovative ways you are using the Internet to run your own applications.

 Copyright © 1999, 2000

      Web Informant copyright 1999 by David Strom, Inc., reprinted by permission
Web Informant is ® registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
ISSN #1524-6353 registered with U.S. Library of Congress.

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