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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor

July  1995
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[Letters to the editor]

Letters to the editor

This is our first issue, so we don't have any Letters to the Editor yet. (Send 'em in!) What we do have is feedback from our beta testers, all readers of the late Advanced Systems magazine, whose input was invaluable to us in refining the current design (and to them we extend our sincerest appreciation). Here are excerpts from the more than 700 commentaries we received.

They Like It

Fancy graphics are OK, but keep them useful. Same for backgrounds. While I do not print out much, long articles, sample scripts and such could make me change my behavior. I do like long articles, if given an overview.
--Dr. C.W. Research Assistant

One advantage of the online format is that the text of articles and programming examples is available for later use on the computer locally. Articles can be e-mailed and circulated to peers fairly easily (as opposed to making and distributing photocopies!) Advanced Systems is (was?) a great magazine -- (one of) the only ones I bother investing my very limited reading time with!
--F.L. Quality Assurance Engineer

I think SunWorld Online is the best online publication I have seen to date, and I hope you keep it this way.
-- GG Business Development Director

Good job! I liked the menus bars at the beginning and end of each article. I also liked the listing of the number of words in each article in the table of contents.
-- Dr. PM Member of Tech. Staff

One advantage to the on-line version is that I can download text files and e-mail interesting articles to friends who do not have access to a browser.
-- JS System Designer

The idea of having a short synopsis of an article of more than one page I like. This gives me the opportunity to decide if an article is worth it.
-- BB Systems Analyst

If this is the first cut, I don't see how you could improve it! Great start! I would usually skip any articles that are too long, but if the ability is there to download, I'll do that for an article I'm interested in so I can read it later.
-- DP Computer Specialist

One of the big advantages of online publishing is the opportunity to reduce or eliminate the production delays inherent in print and physical mail.
-- MF Senior Systems Engineer

I liked the amount of graphics in this first issue. It looked good but still downloaded quickly. I prefer thumbnails of graphics in an article with a hot link to the full size picture like you did for the New Products section. I liked how the table of contents listed the word count for the articles. Good luck. I'd like to see this succeed.
-- TL Senior Technical Consultant

I currently receive six free paper publications, most of which find their way to the trash after I browse them. I believe on-line publishing is a great way for me to keep up-to-date on technology without wasting so much paper.
-- BW Systems Analyst

I've always cut out really good articles like Brian Wong's and kept them in a folder. I can never find anything that way. Now I can save articles and find stuff with my favorite database manager ... grep.

It is unfortunate that one of the better magazines was discontinued. I have not found a suitable replacement. Some of the PC oriented mags are no better than The National Enquirer when it comes to accurate and fair reporting. Sun ... thanks for saving the day!
-- GK Systems Project Manager

Online publishing is a good idea, especially in the area of trade journals. I look forward to future issues of SunWorld Online. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to review an article only to realize that I didn't have the magazine at hand.
-- JJ Network administrator

I have been a vocal advocate of online publishing for documentation for years, and I believe that HTML, together with WWW servers/browsers, is the "One True Way." I applaud the editors and staff of SunWorld, and the Powers-That-Be at Sun Microsystems, for putting up this trial balloon.
-- JH System/Network Manager

Well, in general, I like the idea. I can save files that I would like to refer back to later, it's perfect for presenting code fragments and example scripts, and I don't have to wade through the advertisements. On the other hand, it's tough to throw it in my briefcase so I can read it on the plane...
-- JH Senior Engineer


I liked having a real magazine in my hands.
-- JM Senior Member of Tech Staff

This is a BIG mistake! I have to digest a lot of info and fast. Doing it this way is to slow and too inconvenient. Impossible to view this at home or in the commute.
-- HA Sr Staff Systems Architect

The reason I didn't spend that long examining SunWorld Online is a really slow link (you wouldn't believe it ...). Since turning into Advanced Systems it's been by far the most serious magazine of its type and the one most likely to have useful information in it from my point of view.
-- PO Professor (Brazil)

The problem with online journals is that when they are on the other side of the transatlantic link, by mid-morning European time download times can be so long that they can be a pain to read. It needs to be available from fast sites worldwide.
-- DM Head, Personal Systems

It may be, eventually. We're part of the IDG worldwide publishing empire, and Sun is a worldwide company. Stay tuned. -- Editors

Bright ideas from beta testers

The benefit of the printed magazine is that it stares at me from the desktop where the Webmag will require that I remember to seek it out. One monthly reminder via e-mail would be nice. Good luck and count me in as a viewer!
-- GH Computer Lab Director

E-Mail notification is a must for me. We get so busy in the day to day business. Thanks for Advanced Systems, and now this.
-- JS Operations Analyst

It is still very difficult to read large on-line docs. Not everyone has a 21-inch monitor and high-res graphics.
-- PW Senior Systems Engineer

Can't take laptop with net connection into the bathroom very easily.
-- AF Net Admin

In general, I like things to be online. On the other hand, I usually go to the park on my lunch hour and read. Mosaic doesn't travel very well.
-- MD SW Engineer II

Try printing the articles you want to read. Then you can not only read them when you like, you can recycle them afterwards -- and still find them later online. -- Editors

If I wish to save some article for later reading, or printing, it is annoying to discover that the linked pieces, e.g., sidebars, are not part of the saved file.
-- PH Sr Staff Advisor

OK, we fixed that. -- Editors

Another benefit of online, I can save the copy in a file for later reference (grep for something), or e-mail a copy to a colleague.
-- DO Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

I grabbed copies of the Hal Stern's and Chuck Musciano's columns by e- mailing them to myself for adding to our local web page. Point is: printing off for later reading isn't the only option. I e-mail and stash in either mail folders or actually put into our web hierarchy for sharing.
-- ML Project Manager

Would be good if the issues are archived on a site that we can retrieved/ftp later.
-- SH System Engineer

Everything will be archived; in addition, Catalyst is archiving the publication and has archives for the past year's worth of Advanced Systems already. InfoSeek is also offering searchable archiving service to both Advanced Systems and SunWorld Online. -- Editors

A few more articles on system administration would be nice, since I do like the SysAdmin column.
-- CO Computer Scientist

I enjoyed reading on-line but several times found myself wishing for more hyperlinks. One thing that I would like to see is a link to a description sheet for each company mentioned. Data might include e-mail, address, tel, fax, & a contact.
-- WC Sr. Member Tech. Staff

Articles should be short, with lots of links - to more detailed info, to e-mail the author, to vendors mentioned, to persons quoted, etc. Take advantage of the media! What I saw today was just a magazine on-line, not a "new media publication."
-- CL Systems Analyst

More technically oriented articles, including example code, would look good to me. This in addition to, not as a replacement for, your current format.
-- BR Operations Technical Specialist Analyst

I may not need a DAT stacker today when I read about one coming out, but three months from now, when I need one now, I will remember that it exists. What I need is an online search capability to find past articles that reference my present need.
-- RF Astronomer

I am a developer and would like to see more information about development issues. Maybe you can have another mag for developers. Have Sun provide some tricks-of-the-trade. Special sections for kernel debugging, application building, etc.
-- MM Senior Project Engineer

Cover the Java development. Give full coverage to OpenStep, Object Oriented Development.
-- NS College Director Comp. Svce

I appreciated your longer-than-normal articles. Make the SunWorld Online icon smaller and more subtle. You are not a hot rod magazine. NO huge graphics. It is just gloss and kills transmission rates -- if you must have large graphics then bury them deep.
-- PB Manager, IS

Make sure the articles have an abstract as well as the in-depth part. Hate to download a long article and then find it isn't what I thought it was based on title.
-- RR Chief, Automation Technology Div

We took your suggestion -- see this issue. -- Editors.

I'm a newbie to the Sun system. I would also like to see either an "Ask the pros" column or a "help" index of common newbie problems and possible solutions. Thanks.
-- SS Plant Engineer

Great work! Make sure that you provide a lot of articles to keep the technical folks happy. How about a tips & tricks column for sys admins?
-- AA Advanced Systems Engineer

Post articles as soon as they are ready. Create a "Next issue in progress" area where timely articles can be posted before the official issue is published.
-- ET System Engineer

Definitely have to incorporate HotJava applets to spice up SunWorld Online. I think you'll be a class by yourself and easily shine among the other online publications!
-- RT Senior Systems Engineer

Stay independent

It sounds as though you're subsidized by Sun and likely to be biased. If I want a rah-rah rag I can read Sun Expert or (worse yet) an SGI pub.
-- MM Scientist

My concern is that since Sun is hosting you, you'll end up not being able to be straightforward in your reviews and articles. Also that this will become a marketing/propaganda tool for Sun.
-- JA System Administrator

I am worried that it will degenerate into a narrow trade magazine instead of broadly Unix. I've appreciated the balance in the printed version. However, since we are just about to purchase a SPARCstation for my work, everything Sun-specific will now be welcomed (as long as it doesn't read like a sales pitch).
-- GC Professor of Computer Science

Editor-in-Chief Michael McCarthy replies: Don't panic yet. SunWorld Online is an independent magazine supporting Sun users, and Sun has agreed not to dictate the content even though they have been kind enough to host us on their popular Web site. People at Sun have been fans of Advanced Systems since it was SunWorld Magazine, and they tell us they value the credibility that SunWorld Online's visible independence will give it.

Now having said that, there are two impacts that our name and location will necessarily have on us. Because of our name and location, our readership is predominantly Sun-centric, so our editorial perspective is that of the Sun user specifically, rather than the Unix user generically, and that's whose information needs we plan to focus on.

And because we're sitting on Sun's server, we can't credibly publish things like reviews of Sun products and critical profiles of its rivals -- so we won't. We're not worried -- we've got tons of articles coming that you'll find valuable, informative, timely, and interesting.

But don't take my word for it -- read this, our first issue, and you tell me what you think. The proof is in the pudding. Whether you've got Sun systems or not, I think you'll find lots to read this month, and every month from now on. We've got five years' experience meeting the information needs of Unix professionals, and you can see from some of the letters above that we've won a lot of reader loyalty with the quality of our stuff, which is due in no small part to an obsession with interacting with our readers.

But like I say, you tell me. Have we got a magazine here you want to read? I look forward to hearing from you.--Michael McCarthy


I'd like to see vendor advertising that includes demos of vendor software. Good luck in your on-line venture.
-- TL Systems Analyst

There are no adverts ... that was part of the value of the paper magazine.
-- DT Systems Engineer

What about the ads for WordPerfect Unix, workstation rentals, memory, PV~Wave, and all the other ads for useless crap that we as sys admins have to deal with and use each day?
-- KH CAE Systems Specialist

AS mag was invaluable source of ads for special-purpose stuff -- hope this continues but I don't want to see more than like 2 square inches of an ad unless I ask for it. A 'classifieds' subsection would be nice.
-- LH Vice President, Trading Technology

Ads are important sources of info. Need more of them. To make them full text searchable would be even better.
-- RP Physical Scientist

Your questions hit two of my three big concerns: Notification of new issues (that's why SnailMail succeeds), and graphics and choices of graphics. My third is ADZ! I really DO read mags to find the ads of products I am unfamiliar with. Find a way to include some.
-- DM Staff Engineer

It's a good idea. I like it also for the ads, and I use advertisers' indexes often in doing product searches, etc., so putting some ads in is fine by me.
-- A Sales and Marketing

Where are the ads? That is one important reason for spending time with the "rags"! It allows one to (1) find products to purchase, and (2) find out who is "real," who is not, how they are doing.
-- BL VP Development

(Our publisher is going into endorphin overload.) Yes, we will sell advertising, and we have some ideas for making the ads useful to readers and advertisers alike -- stay tuned! -- Editors

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Last updated: 1 July 1995.

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