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The New NetBITS

Now that you’ve seen the first issue, I want to tell you more about NetBITS, our new publication. TidBITS began as a newsletter focusing primarily on Macintosh issues, and over the years, we began covering more Internet topics. Even though our Internet coverage has generally been Macintosh-related, such as Tonya’s extensive reviews of HTML authoring tools, we’ve had internal debates over the ideal ratio of Macintosh to Internet information. At times we considered separating the Macintosh and Internet content, but were always dissuaded by the amount of work it takes to put out one weekly publication, much less two.

Enter Glenn Fleishman <[email protected]>. Glenn’s an old friend of ours, and was an early contributor to TidBITS, before he relocated to Seattle and moved beyond being an email acquaintance. Glenn’s experience is far-ranging, starting with the Kodak Center for Creative Imaging, after which he worked as the managing editor for Open House, a book-packaging firm in Seattle that has created numerous books for Peachpit Press. Back in 1994, Glenn left Open House to found Point of Presence Company (POPCO), one of the first Web hosting companies. When we were without a dedicated Internet connection for nine months (thanks to US West’s incompetence), Glenn volunteered to host TidBITS’s Web and mailing list servers on POPCO’s T1 connection. During that time, Glenn also started and moderated the popular Internet Marketing Discussion List. Then, in late 1996, Glenn sold POPCO and spent six months as Catalog Manager for Internet bookseller Eventually, the pace of the fastest-growing startup of all-time (after Microsoft) got to him, and he left to pursue slightly less frenetic activity.

After taking time to smell the roses in his back yard, Glenn proposed the idea of NetBITS, a TidBITS-like publication that treats the Internet like a platform. Since we’d wanted to do something like this for a long time, we jumped at the chance. Over the years, Glenn has written for a wide range of publications about Internet issues, and he has Unix system administration experience that the rest of us lack. Glenn’s idea was that he would act as editor in chief for NetBITS and we’d take advantage of the technological and editorial infrastructure we’ve built up with TidBITS.

We’ve spent the last month scaling what we do to another publication and talking about what works in TidBITS and what we’d like to change. NetBITS will strongly resemble TidBITS in style, look, tone, and professionalism, but gradually evolve its own identity. For instance, NetBITS has a Q&A section and an explicit area for letters to the editor. Sometimes we receive great letters that we can’t figure out how to weave into an issue of TidBITS; we hope the letters section in NetBITS will alleviate that problem and help disseminate useful information from readers.

Overall, our goal with NetBITS is to cover issues of interest to people who spend a reasonable part of their waking hours online at work or at home and want to know how to do what they do more easily, more efficiently – or how to do it at all. We’re going to cover the conceptual part of the Net (how things work) as well as the practical (how to use it better). Although NetBITS will have some Macintosh-specific content, it will also include Internet information for those using Unix, Windows 95, and other operating systems. Like TidBITS, NetBITS will be financially supported primarily by corporate sponsors, but we also hope to experiment with some alternative financing methods that could prove interesting. For instance, we offer low-priced classified ads for those looking to reach an audience but not able to be a marquee sponsor.

Some of the articles we have planned for our first few issues include an examination of how the legal system interacts with the Internet, an overview of ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, a new high-speed way to access the Internet); a tips and tricks article about Eudora covering both the Mac and Windows versions; and a review of the @Home Internet cable network.

To answer the inevitable question, no, we have no plans to cease publication of TidBITS. In fact, TidBITS may contain even more Macintosh news as some of our Internet articles move to NetBITS. On occasion we may run an article in both publications if we consider it sufficiently important. Simply put, NetBITS is not a replacement for TidBITS; as long as the Macintosh industry remains strong and TidBITS can support itself financially, we’ll keep writing about our preferred computer platform.

Our current plans call for NetBITS to be published every Thursday night, which means issues should arrive in your mailbox Friday. We are sending the first two issues of NetBITS to the full TidBITS mailing list to introduce it; after that you’ll need to subscribe by sending email to <[email protected]> (for the setext version, like TidBITS is now) or <[email protected]> (for the HTML version; make sure your email program can interpret HTML mail, as can Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Netscape Communicator 4.0, though Eudora’s HTML support isn’t currently up to snuff). You can also subscribe or read issues on the NetBITS Web site at:


If you use the Internet heavily and want to make better use of it, if you’re fascinated by the technological and sociological implications of the Internet, or if you simply want to figure out what all the fuss is about, subscribe to NetBITS and tell your friends. It’s free, it’s easy, and we hope to make it the most useful Internet publication you’ll find online.

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