CS73N Meeting 06 Notes: Project reviews

Started by Gio Wiederhold, 26 Jan 2000, updated 25 Feb 2002, 21 Feb 2004, 13,14 May 2005.

Topics Covered briefly.


We have now project for everyone, but not yet many samples of plans or webpages.

What I expect for the final submission is a pointer to a working URL.  Check that it works externally by having a friend or family log-in remotely. If background is needed that can be on a linked web page, but in general the page(s) should be self explanatory


It is most important to define the audience and then what benefits your project provides to them. That avoids wasting the reader's time. (I am likely not in the intended audience you address, but my job is to read your work anyhow).


Note that in this course programming is not the end objective, but understanding is.


Reading or using your web page provides value to the reader that is generated by your intellectual input. It is secondary how you can profit from the exchange: collect money directly, help a business that might pay you for your work, get others – as advertisers – to chip in because your page is so popular to some interesting segment of the population, or just become famous. Once you famous other benefits are sure to follow.


We talked about protecting the material you present on your web page –i.e., your intellectual property. You may wish to protect it, but enforcement is hard – lawyers are expensive. 


Copyright is automatic (too automatic?), but you can strengthen your legal position

1. by inserting © your name, year

            Manually the copyright symbol can be inserted in HTML as  &#169 or &copy

2. depositing a copy with the library of congress's copyright center

            For code you only have to deposit enough to assure its uniqueness, that reduces

            the risk of being actually copied


You may decide to follow open source conventions, and just keep things public, with a request that copiers acknowledge you.  There is a tradeoff between money and fame from your work.


If a website is kept up-to-date, that lowers the benefits to the copier, since then keeping the copies up-to-date, while diverting the benefits is then much harder.



For innovative work, i.e., research projects in general there are some rules that I have collected, that I will copy now. Decide if and to what extent they apply to you:

Heilmeyer's Catechism:

1 What is the problem, why is it hard?

2 How is it solved today?

3 What is the new technical idea; why can we succeed now?

4 What is the impact if successful?

5 How will the program be organized?

6 How will intermediate results be generated?

7 How will you measure progress?

8 What will it cost?

[George Heilmeyer, ex ARPA director, then TI, GE Aero, then at Bellcore, retired?]

What are you doing for whom [Heilmeyer's Litany]

Don't issue rifles to the band in an effort to be relevant [D.E.Liddle, Interval Res. Corp.]

What does the last statement mean?

Selling over the Internet to consumers

Presentations should be attractive, include details regarding quality and benefits obtainable from the end-users point-of-view

Consider fungible versus unique goods

Consider return policies and problems when you sell things.

Will you have to collect money from customers

with the attendant costs and trust issues.

Would PayPal work for you – see Business Week, 23 My 2005, p.105.

                        (yes: 9 days from the date of this message)

            Can your webpage be sponsored? 

·         By a trade or scientific organization

·         By a government agency

·         By a commercial company for goodwill?


Making  good textual  web pages

                   for the CS73N class projects.

1. Think of the reader - this is main admonition from which everything else derives.

The reader is by default a person like you, but you should identify the intended audience specifically.  In that case so say politely (for this section)

 "This article is intended for readers that have not had substantial experience in writing for an on-line audience".

1.      The reader wants to get as much actionable information as possible in a small amount of time.

2.      The reader will get annoyed if misled by poor title, introduction, obsolete time.

3.      Since a display screen shows fewer lines than a paper page, be more careful with the amount presented and with white space. 

4.      When material consists of lists, consider the magical number 7 ± 2, which is related to short term memory.

2. Effective organization

Have a meaningful title, include the date --- web information lives forever ---  and your name and location.  Copyright it explicitly if you wish to claim ownership.

Motivating introduction -- not so sales-ish that person will be misled into reading irrelevant stuff

Have an overview on the initial page, with links to details.

Good navigation to top, to next item, back, to overview, citations, etc. on all pages.

In-depth material reached by hyperlinks. Create easy returns to the page and section where the reader came from, and to the top.

External references reached by hyperlinks with the attribute new page: Target="blank_">.

3. Useful content

Identification: what's it's about, who wrote it, what's the author's authority, why it was written, and when.

Self-sustaining paragraphs: since people can and will browse. First sentence should make clear what any paragraph is about. 

Don’t  refer to other material by position: i.e., do not use:

·         `the problem discussed above', say, when discussing shortage of capital, instead use `the problem of  capital  <with a clickable pointer for those that haven't read the earlier material > '.

·         `currently'  since you don't know when stuff is going to be read, say `in 2005'

·         the 'second point made above'

·         `the latter condition'

·         minimize 'this' 'that', 'he', 'she' so that no mental movement is needed among contexts.

Provide value: always include in an article some intellectual contribution of your own, typically what you think is the reason for success or failure of what you have found, and how those factors will affect what the future will bring.

4. Graphics

Pictures and symbols can make web pages more attractive, but don't overdo it.

Any pictures, graphics, background should help and be relevant, not distract.

If an object or concept appears in more than one graphic, say `the customer', use an identical icon or image.

Use color and fonts consistently, I (Gio) use, for instance, always green for databases, blue for customers, red for innovation, and yellow for research topics. That convention is used on all other slides in the presentation.  If you use a sans-serif font (as here), then use sans-serif font when referring to the items in the text.

Make the flow in a diagram follow a simple line, typically Left top to Right bottom, a very natural direction for readers. But  . . .

If you want to project optimism, make the flow go from Left bottom to Right top, but reinforce the flow through placing of content along that axis, or placing a light, yellow left-bottom to right-top arrow below the contents.


 5. Links

If you provide a link to another site, keep your page available.  Use an option as `New page' when you create blink or manually insert

    target="blank_"  after the URL link, before the closing > bracket.

If the link does interrupt the flow, indicate clearly that case, so people will not expect to go easily back. 

If leaving the current page will cause a loss, maybe because you have collected an interaction, then bring up a pop-up window with some warning, as `Are you sure you want to loose the collected information?"

6. Reread

Since during your writing you were involved with yourself, that writing will reflect your viewpoint. When done, take a break and reread what you have written a day later, from a clean point-of-view, or have someone else read it.

Test all your links, to make sure they don't create the dreaded "Error 404 page not found" message.



Role of Standards

Standards are a tool in competition. They can be set by a

When starting a business, one has to make decision on what standards to adopt.

Often need multiple standards, say DTD for suppliers of material, DTD for selling products.

If unsure which standard will win in the market (not always the best one), make provisions for several competing standards for same task.

Risks of being early with a new standard -- few customers, or late with an existing standard -- indequate for customer product selection.

Making new standards costs time, people that can understand details and broad objectives, travel, hence very costly

Standards require much detail, large documents, easy to miss a detail in anew standard, especially if there are no conforming products yet.

Standards should be on-line, some are not because many standards organizations earn their income from the sale of Standard documents.

Top level standard organization is ISO (International Standard OrganizatioN0

accredits as Standard supplying organizations in most countries, several in U.S (IEEE, ASTM, NEMA, . . . )



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