ISPCON, the biggest show to date!

ISPCON, Bulletin Boards that grew up!

ISPCON is the
largest Internet Service Provider Convention on the planet.

I remember when this show launched. Not long ago this entire show
was being held in a series of hotel room suites. It was created by a
small bulletin board magazine.

You remember bulletin boards? Bulletin boards were those small and
often spare computer systems that people dialed into and connected to
send e-mail. A 286 Intel processor was a big deal back then. This was
considered to be a big powerful bulletin board. Bulletin boards
established the need for e-mail. The systems were clumsy. It could take
days to move your e-mail from one bulletin board to another until it
reached its final destination. In many cases a user on one bulletin
board network could not move e-mail to people on another bulletin board
network because most bulletin boards were not directly connected to each

America Online (AOL) became the biggest of bulletin boards. If you
were a member of AOL you were limited to sending e-mail to other AOL
members. Then the Internet came along. There were and still are more
users of the Internet than on AOL.

There were other limits on e-mail in those days as well. When you
connected to a bulletin board you would open up a screen and type in
your message to another e-mail user; you had to stay connected while you
typed the message on the screen. Today, of course, most e-mail is
created off-line and then sent from your computer when you click “send.”

Things changed with the Internet. The Net helped establish a robust
means of moving e-mail from one bulletin board network to another as
long as the bulletin board was connected to the Internet. Usually,
bulletin boards made deals with universities and connected there. These
bulletin board networks that connected to the Internet became the first
Internet Service Providers.

Today ISPCON, which is taking place as I write this, is the largest
tradeshow specifically targeted to ISPs that I have ever seen, filling
the entire San Jose Convention Center.

The show is an interesting blur of technology hardware manufacturers,
software vendors and phone companies. Amazingly, most are customers of
each other’s products or services.

The ticket to the exhibits alone is $100 dollars. This helps to keep
attendance down to just the serious and, of course, the press. I can
tell you, that’s a good thing since the tradeshow booth space is very
high priced — it’s important to know that the majority of people
walking in the aisles can say yes or no to a business deal. My company is presenting three
new companies this year. Landing booth space was difficult. It had been
pre-booked for over a year.

So what does all this tell us? A big tradeshow, big deal. High
priced $100 entrance fee for just the exhibits alone! Well, what it
means that there is absolutely no slowdown from the investment world
into the Internet industry.

In fact, I have seen some statistics that state there has been more
money flowing into the Internet industry in just the last quarter than
there has been in the last year. Reliable sources that companies pay a
pretty penny to read.

Without the reports, you can read it from the aisles. More ideas,
more newly invented services and more hardware to run it all. Money
helped these companies develop those products and afford that booth

Will the Internet bubble burst anytime soon? The answer is a clear
and continuous echo sounding, “NO!” This won’t happen until you have
fiber running to your home and you can call your kids from your cell
phone to see that facial expression when you ask them if they have been
good. Yes, most of us will still have to physically go to work. The
bosses like it that way.

On another note: I was having dinner last night downtown. I came to
the realization that I eat, drink and sleep Internet a little more than
I should. There I was walking out of the restaurant when I saw a sign
that read, “Now interviewing Servers and Hosts.” I kept walking until
it suddenly dawned on me: “Hey, they don’t mean computer servers and web
hosting software. Man I need a vacation.”

I would like to hear what you think about the Internet bubble
bursting. Is it fact or fiction, when and why? E-mail me [email protected].

Last week’s article generated a lot of comments about search
engines. Thank you to all those who e-mailed in. I would like to pass
on to you these enlightening tips from several of the readers.

The first one is from a member of the expanding population of Linux
desktop users.

[email protected]: “I use Linux, and so your software recommendations
don’t help. searches about 10 search
engines at once.”

[email protected]: “The most flexible and thorough meta search engine I
have encountered is, a development of the University of
Kansas CS department that is finally gone ‘public.’ If you check it out,
look at the customize options.”

[email protected]: “Another trick is to turn off the graphics of the
page. I got a small freeware program from MS that goes into the IE
browser and puts a small button on the menu bar. Toggling this turns the
graphics on or off. This can also speed things up.”

[email protected] (that’s in Iceland) was the first but definitely not
the only one to write in about this engine: “Have you tried Google? It’s currently my favorite
search engine.

[email protected]: I have used Also, read about and AskJeeves

[email protected]: “Thanks for the tip on Quest 98. You asked for
other Net utilities; here’s one I like: Naviscope. I’ve been using it
for about two months now (with Opera — a real speed demon and a joy in
its own right). Naviscope blocks ads, prefetches during searches, and
gets you the numeric address for sites you really want to be able to
access, even with weird problems happening on the Net. It does other
useful things, also. It’s unobtrusive, works well on my system, and it’s
freeware. Naviscope.

[email protected]: “I would encourage you to take a close look at
Copernic’99. This is a Canadian search engine client (much like
WebFerret) which concurrently searches multiple databases and aggregates
the results of same. It has some very impressive if not indispensable
and timesaving features. This tool (there’s a freeware version
available) was recently featured on
DigitalDesk with Mark Schneider, who
provides computer news on Canada’s 24 hour CTV news channel.”

[email protected] has a tip for Mac users: “Thank you for your most
informative expose of the hidden tricks of search engines. I immediately
visited the updated Inforian Quest99 website to learn more and to
download the application but to my dismay discovered that it was not
available in Mac format.” John then points to Sherlock/Sherlock2
as another option.

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