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Forbes.com Best of the Web: B2B

  Anvil Issue Twenty Seven

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*Welcome to Anvil, a free weekly newsletter and Web site providing insight into online industry news, issues and trends now in Wint-O-Green.
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TOP INDUSTRY NEWS
*Mass Media Mergers
*Social Insecurity

DESIGN
*Corporate Sites Launched
*Public Betas Released

HOSTING
*AOL Grabs Headlines
*Free Airwaves

MARKETING
*Pushing The Limits
*Mar.Com Awards

TOP WEB PICKS
*Healthy Weight
*Nando News Watcher
*The LBJ Tapes
*The Lost Elvis Diaries
*Wacky.com


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TOP INDUSTRY NEWS
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*Mass Media Mergers
The high-tech industry is moving into the media industry rapidly, as two acquisitions were made in the Web television market. Microsoft recently acquired WebTV Networks for $425 million in cash and stock. The purchase will allow Microsoft to move one step closer to total domination of the communication industry, from PC hardware to software. WebTV will operate under Microsoft as a subsidiary while retaining their staff and offices in Palo Alto. Just hours later, NetChannel announced their acquisition of ViewCall America, developer of WebTV competitor On-TV. While NetChannel can’t rival Microsoft’s deep pockets, they do have impressive partners lined up: Thomson Consumer Electronics, Hitachi, Motorola, and Mitsubishi. The recent efforts will help push broadcasters and manufacturers to further define high definition TV standards. Microsoft’s vision was made clear at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. Microsoft proposed an open industry specification regarding the vertical blanking interval (VBI) which will bring PCs closer to TVs (perhaps eventually replace). With the specification in place, broadcasters would be able to combine TV programming with multimedia and text support via the Internet. Microsoft will also integrate broadcast technology into Windows 95 and NT operating systems.
http://www.merc.com/stories/cgi/story.cgi?id=2295994-064
http://www.mmp.co.uk/mmp/informer/netnews/HTM/47n1d.htm
http://www.netchannel.net/

*Social Insecurity
The Social Security Administration recently took heat for their short-lived Web site. The site was designed to reduce costs and increase accessibility to personal information. Once USA Today broke the story earlier this week, the site was pulled down within days amid growing concerns of misuse of the information. The database offered snoopers the ability look up annual salaries, total income and benefits using just a social security number. The SSA decided to pull the site down indefinitely, until security is deemed sufficient.
http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cta194.htm
http://www.ssa.gov/


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DESIGN
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*Corporate Sites Launched
Verse DDG recently launched two new corporate Web sites: Pixelworks and Western Family Foods. Pixelworks is the North American representative of Plasmavision large format, flat panel plasma display monitors, designed for business communications, entertainment and public information display applications. Western Family Foods, Inc., is in the business of sourcing, procuring and marketing Private Label groceries, general merchandise and health and beauty care items. Verse DDG Corp. is a digital design group specializing in the creation, hosting and marketing of Web-based Internet, intranet and touch-screen kiosk solutions.
http://www.plasmavision.com
http://www.westernfamily.com

*Public Betas Released
After a few delays and some confusion, Microsoft officially posted the platform preview release of Internet Explorer 4.0 earlier this week. The move countered Netscape’s posting of Communicator Preview Release 3 on Monday. The new version of Communicator includes enhanced security, administration and dynamic HTML features for building Crossware applications. The new version of Explorer offers many new enhancements, the most noticeable being desktop integration and a subscription service. The "active desktop" functionality provided by the new browser allows users to drop images, Web pages or Java applets directly onto the desktop, complete with hyperlinks. The subscription service is Microsoft’s first major effort toward browser "push technology." Explorer 4.0 also integrates into Windows Explorer, allowing management of Internet files and bookmarks (also accessible from the Start Menu) all with a browser interface. So far, the new browsers look good, although users should wait for later versions for true stability.
http://www.microsoft.com/ie/default.asp


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HOSTING
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*AOL Grabs Headlines
The online industry is shaking out as market leader AOL proposes to purchase rival CompuServe for an estimated $1.2 billion. Talks over the weekend included Microsoft, which may spur a bidding war between the two giants. In related news, AOL reached an out-of-court settlement with class-action plaintiffs following accessibility and billing complaints. The settlement will grant customers with unlimited access service up to a 50 percent refund (during February and March).
http://www.aol.com/

*Free Airwaves
Attendees of the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, held earlier this week, were shocked to hear the government is literally giving away billions of dollars of "airspace" to broadcasters to explore digital TV. Congress has been unsuccessful in their attempts to force broadcasters to pay for bandwidth belonging to the public. Various members of Congress have proposed a government auction, which could raise as much as $70 billion in revenue, which, if collected, could lower interest rates by two points. Broadcasters argue the new bandwidth is simply a loan. The new digital bandwidth will allow cinema quality pictures and sound in smaller slices. Not only will broadcasters not have to pay for the airwaves, they will also have five "extra" channels to work with due to smaller spectrum requirements. Reasons for the measure to raise revenue from an airwaves auction may be explained by the $9.5 billion in political contributions by broadcasters in the past 10 years.
http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cta205.htm


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MARKETING
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*Pushing The Limits
The marketing and media frenzy behind push technology has created potential problems. According to industry experts, including Dr. John Graham-Cumming, Jesse Berst and Bob Metcalfe, products using push technology are threatening network performance and survivability. According to a study by Graham-Cumming, almost a fifth of network traffic is created by push technology applications. The study, entitled: "Hits and Miss-es: A Year Watching the Web" tracked six Fortune 1000 companies for one year to determine Internet usage. The high amount of traffic is generated by the continuous and automatic updating of information. The study recommends monitoring network traffic to determine if a caching proxy server should be used to help reduce traffic.
http://www.mmp.co.uk/mmp/informer/netnews/HTM/48n1e.htm
http://www.optimal.com/

*Mar.Com Awards
Verse DDG, a Portland, OR-based digital design group, received recognition as finalists in the 6th Annual Mar.Com Awards sponsored by Yahoo! and Ziff-Davis. Verse DDG was a finalist in the Best World Wide Web Ad category for their work on Insync Communications’ Web site. According to judging criteria, Insync’s Web site effectively increases awareness and informs potential clients and employees of company services and benefits. Beyond creating the Web site traditional print collateral for Insync, Verse DDG also provided similar services for Insync’s Silicon Northwest Press Reception at Comdex (also a Mar.Com Award finalist.)
http://www.silicon-nw.com/


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TOP WEB PICKS
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*Healthy Weight
The Healthy Weight World Wide Web Site is your source for news and information on the latest in weight management "hot" topics. Use the Interactive Body Mass Index calculator to help evaluate your health risk. The Weight Management Resource Center provides valuable information for physicians, consumers, and media. Visitors can also surf related links or subscribe to a newsletter.
http://www.healthyweight.com/index.htm

*Nando News Watcher
The Nando News Watcher is a Java applet that uses your web browser to automatically bring you the latest news from around the world. The News Watcher has been programmed to continuously scan Nando’s news pages and post the current headlines to the News Watcher for you to read. The News Watcher also includes special notification features that alert you to new headlines that include keywords that you’ve selected in advance.
http://www.nando.net/nt/newswatcher/

*The LBJ Tapes
Netizens can now hear President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House tapes, recorded shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and first publicly released in November 1993. The tapes document conversations with then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and others about the creation of the Warren Commission to investigate Kennedy’s death. Jerry Goldman, a professor of political science at New York University, created the site to offer RealAudio versions of the tapes.
http://oyez.at.nwu.edu/lbj/warren/

*The Lost Elvis Diaries
An online mystery: Reporter Jeff Parrish is hot on the trail of Elvis Presley’s legendary lost journals. But are they for real, or is it all a don’t-be-cruel hoax? Find out in this tale of blue suede and bullets, greed and grease. The sixteen chapter e-novel includes an epilogue.
http://home.mem.net/~welk/elvisdiaries.html

*Wacky.com
This site includes the Daily WackAttack for a daily dose of fun, the Bill Gates and Me interactive counter, The Amazing Net A Sketch Shockwave program and the Weekly Wacky Web Pick. Visitors looking for more can check out the bookstore or the Tantalis Program, which provides an outlet for today’s frustrated workforce.
http://www.wacky.com/main.html


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CREDITS
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*Kent Lewis, Managing Editor
*Michael Pearo, Graphic Designer
*Monica Simmons, Copy Editor
*Theo Jones, Jeremy Huffman, Programmers

*Send questions, comments and suggestions to
editor@anvil-media.com.

*Visit the Web site at http://www.anvil-media.com

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