Thursday, August 21, 1997

The Alley to Valley Rally - St. Louis Post Dispatch for @NY Chat

* August 21 -- Today Dave Brown (the CDnow honcho and my traveling partner in TeamNow) and I went back to the St. Louis Post Dispatch headquarters to run my @NY chat. Despite my uneasiness, the Web crew was very generous and let me come back and conduct my chat from their offices. Fortunately the tech gods were looking down kindly on me and I connected using Greg Elin's 14.4 cellular modem, but the Java gods were not so generous. Error message: "Applet can't start:exception:Java.lang.NullPointerException" This is not the kind of message a tense traveler with deadlines and points of destination, tech problems, and the will to ENJOY herself needs to encounter five minutes after a chat has started. Sure, sit back and chortle that we didn't prepare enough. But none of us--excepting AVR founder Greg Elin--has ever done this before. Naive? Maybe, but I'm an optimist, and think my fellow Ralliers are as well. We believe in the technology and are struggling to make it work.

After my chat, Dave and I got some pictures of the St. Louis Post Dispatch website crew. They use Lotus notes in a publishing program that allows for reporters to click and code their pages without ever having to learn a tag. Editor Virgil Tipton explained that it's the largest newspaper with an extensive restaurant database. They also created a unique navigation system of expandable folders when clicked on, similar to clicking on a Windows or Mac folder. Virgil created this program, and I was really impressed with how robust and complete it is. has a "navigator" that uses the same technology.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)