OS/2 eZine - http://www.os2ezine.com
16 August 2001
Robert Basler is the president of Aurora Systems, Inc. and a dedicated OS/2 user since he tired of rebooting Windows 3.1 twenty times a day.

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Southern California OS/2 User Group - http://www.scoug.com

From The Editor

Smart Tags - Blast them!

While Microsoft's Smart Tags seem to have been shelved for Windows XP after a flurry of negative media attention, that hasn't stopped other companies from taking advantage of them to modify websites for commercial gain. Apparently even IBM has advertised with these nasty yellow links.

Smart Tags add extra links to websites, in a different color from standard web links, that provide a popup menu that will take you to sponsors' websites for more information on whatever the highlighted word is. So for example, if you were a building supply wholesaler and had the word "windows" on your online store website, Internet Explorer may display that word as a Smart Tag offering links to more information about windows or even another store to buy windows.

Like SPAM, I'm strongly opposed to this. If I'm designing a website for a specific purpose, and am paying the bills to serve those webpages to surfers who want to view them, I don't see why commercial companies, maybe even competitors, should be able to redirect web surfers to their own sites. Why should website creators have to support other companies' advertising on their own pages without any compensation?

Smart Tags are also subject to serious legal concerns. What happens if I have a website for children that includes the word "sex" when explaining babies to children, and the Smart Link for "sex" offers the child links to a wide variety of pornography sites? Who is liable for the probable ensuing lawsuits from parents or the damages when the bad press sinks the company that has spent a fortune to develop the childrens' website?

There are also security issues involved. Often, company internal networks do not allow any outside links on company webpages. This helps prevent unsuspecting employees from inadvertently bringing the latest trojan horse and worm programs in from the outside world or passing confidential information out. With Smart Tags, this simple yet effective security measure is bypassed.

While I think this should be an opt-in program, rather than an opt-out one, it is fairly obvious why the program's developers wouldn't want it to be opt-in. To opt-out, just add a special meta tag to your pages which disables these Smart Tags. If you look at the HTML source for this issue's pages, you will see it near the top, it is

<meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

If you run your own website, I strongly recommend adding this to your own pages to make a stand against these profiteers. You can read more about Smart Tags at Microsoft's website.

Interesting Link of the Month

I found this link at Microsoft's website interesting, who says there is no such thing as planned obsolescence.

This Issue

We got a lot of positive feedback for the hardware reviews last issue, so this issue we look at the IBM Thinkpad A22e. We're happy to see a couple of new authors this issue, Andrei Porodko talks about the 3rd Eye digital camera software and Bill Armstrong looks for accounting solutions. Isaac Leung is back with a bunch of mini reviews, Rob Basler uses Virtual Pascal to make a handy little utility, Doug Clark continues his series on ODBC on OS/2 and Simon Gronlund cranks out another Into Java column.

Please Support the OS/2 eZine

Thanks to our sponsor Sundial Systems last month, I got a copy of DBExpert and Doug Clark got a copy of ZxMail Mail Server from Zeryx. Please support the eZine by clicking through and examining our sponsors products. It really does help, and you never know, you might find something you really need.

Looking for More OS/2 eZine Content?

How about writing it? The OS/2 eZine has to be a community effort, the more writers we have to spread the work around, the better the issues will be and the easier it is for everyone. If you're working on a cool OS/2 project that you think the readership of the OS/2 eZine would find interesting, we're looking for one-off articles as well as short series and monthly columns to fill the pages of the OS/2 eZine. Trying some cool new software? How about writing a short review? It doesn't take much time and you can win some great prizes!

Please visit the OS/2 eZine Pressroom for submission guidelines and article ideas. If you have any questions, let me know at editor@aurora-systems.com.

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