From the September 26, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1539)
By Jim Trageser
Commercial Internet Service Providers List
Citizen Kane's San Diego Internet Providers Ratings Page
Reviewing two sites at once may seem a bit odd at first, but in this case it makes good sense: William Kronert's site lists all known Internet Service Providers with access points in San Diego County, while the Citizen Kane site provides a forum for customers of the various ISPs to share their impressions of the companies. And the two sites refer visitors to one another when looking for info on local ISPs.
That said, the combined pages provide a pretty good resource for folks looking for an Internet Service Provider. Kronert's page provides links to the various ISPs' Web sites, where you can find pricing and technical information. Those ISPs that have automated e-mail responses also have mail links on Kronert's page.
But what you'll get from Kronert's list which now includes Cox and Southwestern Cable's Internet services among its four dozen listings -- is only the companies' point of view, which is obviously going to be a rather rosy picture of their firms.
So after you visit likely candidates for your business, making a list of services and prices, you can hop over to Citizen Kane's and get the lowdown on who really has fast connections and who has a lot of service outages and who has good customer support and all the other little things that make an ISP bearable.
The Citizen Kane page (and despite some rather dogged snooping around, I wasn't able to figure out who runs it someone with a faculty account at SDSU was all I could determine) reviews sites and also invites customer input.
The reviews ask a series of questions that anyone should ask before signing up: How often is the service down or unreachable due to busy phone lines? How much for monthly service and is there a monthly time limit? Are homepages offered? How much storage space do you get? Can you use image maps? (I assume here s/he means server-side, since client-side are completely html>-based and require no additional programs.) How is customer service when there is a problem? How many newsgroups does the server carry? (I'd think any worthwhile ISP would carry a full USENET feed, myself.) Are there dial-in lines throughout the county? What speed are the modems?
There aren't as many people participating in the comments area as you'd like; there are many ISPs about which no one has commented, leaving you in the dark. Also, the comments are mailed to the Webmaster, who then posts them this is not a bulletin board area, which might provide more spontaneity (along with increased libel concerns, I'm sure).
If more folks participate, sharing their ISP experiences with others, this could become one of the most useful Web pages in San Diego.
Here's another site to help you comparison shop this time for computers and other hardware.
The heart of this site is a 200k alphabetized list of computer stores in the county. You can also search it by geography or specialty (notebooks, memory, etc.). Those stores/companies that have Web pages are linked; otherwise, there is the tried and true phone number/street address listing (although North County's new 760 Area Code was not yet added).
It's a handy list, with one major drawback: The table used to arrange the data is far too wide for any monitor. I have my display set at 1024X768 with small fonts, and I couldn't see much more than half the table. Plus, Netscape only allowed me to scroll about 95 percent of the way over, leaving half the last category off my monitor. Frustrating. (And, no, I don't have a better solution on how to organize so much information, unless you put each store into its own table cell with all the relevant data together: name, address, Web site, phone, hours, specialty, etc.).
Definitely worth bookmarking; definitely worth a visit before your next major purchase.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
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