Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

Port of Call has moved to a new corner of the cyber universe!

Port of Call's new URL is www.hevanet.com/kort

The old neighborhood where POC's website was located since going on-line in December 1995 changed when the new landlords took over. In the tradition of fleeing the inner city urban blight for the friendlier environment of the suburbs, POC has abandoned its troublesome former home on the increasingly Microsoft-centric Compuserve for a much more agreeable home on Hevanet, a local Portland ISP running real UNIX servers.

Your fearless editor has maintained a Compuserve access account for many years in order to make use of the professional and business services. In particular, Compuserve used to be the primary tech support forum for my computer programming language of choice (PDC Prolog). My Compuserve account also provided a long term stable email address that I expected to continue well into the future - which is an important consideration in the business world.

However, all that changed when Compuserve was sold to its primary competitor. Now that it's owned by AOL, Compuserve has enthusiastically embraced the well established traditions of its new parent company by eliminating the core business services I was using and making it increasingly difficult to access their system.

By eliminating the business and professional services I was using, Compuserve also managed to eliminate the justification for deducting their access fees as a pretax business expense. Now that I can no longer justify the service as a business expense, it is even less attractive since as a personal expense the few "consumer" services I've used would in effect cost over 40% more by having to be paid out of post-tax personal funds.

Sprynet is a subsidiary of Compuserve, and I closed down my Sprynet Internet account earlier this year when they changed their server software so that it could only be accessed by customers using Microsoft or Apple operating systems on their personal machines. Now Compuserve has become a Microsoft only service - except in my experience they've reached the pinnacle of manipulative discrimination in that their proprietary software no longer works even works with Windows!

The new Compuserve access software allegedly requires Windows 95 and is being heavily advertised as having many trick new features, but I wouldn't know since its primary function seems to be to lock up my Win95 machine. I can't even get the Compuserve access software that came on the Microsoft Windows 95 installation disk to run on the operating system with which it was bundled. And of course, Microsoft built Windows 95 to make the software I was previously using - including the Compuserve software required to maintain POC's website - unusable.

It took me a month to figure a way around the various obstacles, but I eventually regained access to POC's website. By then the decision to abandon the frustrations of dealing with Compuserve had become obvious, so I only used Compuserve's new web publishing software one time to upload over 250 redirect files (one for each webpage on the site) to guide visitors to POC's new home on Hevanet.

It's hard to imagine what sort of business philosophy Compuserve could be following, but they've convinced me that I have no further use for a "value added" service whose primary product has become frustrating their customers and wasting their time struggling with junk access software.

POC's new website is already up and running, and gives every indication of being in a far more user friendly cyber neighborhood. The pages load faster, and there shouldn't be any more of the spurious 404 (webpage doesn't exist) error messages that were a recurrent problem with Compuserve's unstable web servers. I hope you will all be pleased with the change.

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