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- behind the screen with independent designers, developers and others.

Meryl K. Evans

Meryl is a geek. A very good geek.
She is also a writer of breadth and depth on web work from design to return on investment.

About you

What did you do before the Web?

I was born and bred in the great state of Texas where I had a happy childhood, typical teen years, and now call home after a 6 year hiatus to Washington, DC. After college, I started my career with the FAA where I was introduced to software process reengineering (IDEFO).

After serving in the US government for three years, I dashed (OK, flew) home to Texas in 1995. Since then, I've been with two telecommunications companies as a business analyst and doing software process work - leading the Dilbert life.

How did you find the web?

While still in high school, I discovered a whole new world of BBSing (Bulletin Board Systems) with an Apple ][+ and a 300 bps modem. It was my first opportunity to talk with others via email, forums, and online chat, something I had never been able to do in my life with a telephone because my ears didn't work. Even played SYSOP (System Operator) for one year.

BBSing led to Prodigy where everyone in the family had an account and we regularly communicated without long distance charges. In 1993, somehow I learned about Mosaic. At the time, I had to have the latest, greatest technology, so I bought Internet in a Box to connect to the Internet. I used Pine for email, maneuvered around in Lynx, and picked up UNIX.

A guy I met online was nice enough to show me how to set up a HTML page and off I went with my first Web site, Virtually Texas. It had links to everything Texas.

Why are you here?

You kindly invited me here. Oh, you mean the Internet as a whole? Like BBSing, it has opened a whole new world for me and it's a place where there are few communications barriers. The only ones I encounter are videos with no scripts or captions.

Yes, I admit that I have gotten frustrated with the Internet and the economy a few times. However, I just can't let go because of all the amazing people I've met (and yet to meet), the superb resources for enhancing knowledge, and the love of writing about it and more.

Methods of production

What do you use to create your sites?

PhotoShop 6.0, Dreamweaver 4, NoteTab Light 4.8 (freeware), HTML Tidy (freeware) that is built in with NoteTab, WS_FTP LE, validators at w3.org, Kodak dc3400 digicam, HP ScanJet 4C (oldest thing here - circa 1995), occasional help from a toddler glued to me, and a ton of blood, sweat, and tears.

About the Web

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the web?

Communicating without boundaries - I've met people in Japan, Austria, Israel, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, and too many other locations to name them all. These friends tell me about their cultures and traditions in a way that no book ever could.

A friend of mine moved to Sweden for three years and we communicate through instant messenger. Our parents went on a cruise and we were able to watch their ship's webcam and see the places they saw.

Virtual teaming - I worked with a company with employees in Austria and Japan. We worked well and accomplished our goals. One other team was in Minnesota and another in Indiana and Vermont. To date, we haven't met in person.

What do you see as the greatest dangers?

It's too easy to while away many hours without realizing it and I don't want my kids growing up with memories of me staring at my computer monitor. Speaking of kids, another danger is the ease of accessing XXX and other tacky stuff.

Viruses, security, and the newbies who forward every hoax and bad joke.

What would you say to folks who want to work the web?

Go for it. This doesn't mean quit your day job. Build wisely; learn a little this and a little that. Help non profits or other organizations with their Web needs and gain experience.
All the resources you ever need to get started are... <drum roll> on the Web!

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Meryl K. Evans
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