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issue 08/15/2000

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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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Mondays Are Hell: A (Mostly) True Internet Adventure
[page 5 of 7]

Next morning the client and I headed down to my favorite web host in San Jose. I like the town's gritty edge. You can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard.

We set up a colo 600mhz rack-mounted Pentium with Slackware running on dual CPUs and 9 gig SCSIs, plugged straight into Mae West. It was a nice piece of work, with a black case and brushed aluminium handles. By this time the client had a bandwidth boner the size of the Bay Bridge. I hadn't even told him about hot-swapping yet.

Meanwhile my assistant had been working on snatching the second domain name from the mob. It was the usual deal, ten emails each way with the new kinder, gentler InterNIC. A dirty job, but someone has to do it. With any luck the client would control his second domain name by the time we had the server set up. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work mirroring the site down at San Jose. With the timelines we were working on, it wasn't time to kiss Hazel goodbye yet.

The Hazel search function was so slow I had to cut search back to returning 6 products at a time. So much for their C binaries. The source code probably looked like a five-gallon pot of spaghetti.

Then I dumped the flush-left 600-pixel-wide table tags and made the pages float to browser width. That left one big itch to scratch -- the text was overlaying the product images. There wasn't time to get the text flowing around the images. Too many screwy templates. I just punched the image cells out to 150 pixels and deleted about a hundred extra-wide images.

By this time the client was so excited he'd started reading HTML advice columns. I know where that goes: meta tags. That's jake with me. They want META tags, I give 'em META tags. In fact tags help me out lots of times. When designers bleat about me tearing apart their pages, I just tell them that "META tags only operate in a dynamic resonance with the content." That shuts them up pretty quick. Why not. I don't understand it myself.

META tags or no, this site was going to be getting traffic. With five thousand targeted pages plus national radio spots, the server would need all the air conditioning it could get. His employees were babbling about gigabyte traffic. More like terabytes when I was through. But whatever makes you happy. I had a couple of options out of the deal. I'd do my cheering when they vested ... if the share price didn't auger in....


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