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Guest Editorial
Net4TV: A User's Commentary

By Bill Johnson aka Le Fantome
(May 24, 2001)

I first signed on WebTV in January of 1997, and when I think back to the important sites and individuals who are responsible for WebTV being the community and importance it has been to the set top box only a few come into mind.

Among these innovators were Anthony of Star Blvd for giving us the transloader, Dr Dracc of Dracc's gifs-123 for showing us how to secure gifs and html, Paul Erikson who gave us the links and tutorial to what we needed to know, and Net4TV for filling in the space between the consumer of the box and WebTV. The latter being very important between the corporate giant of Microsoft and the box which is the Internet for the rest of us. Net4TV and it's boss Laura Budding (Dudette) gave us Voice which enabled us to go inside the corporate giant and was the consumer watchdog for the users. Voice has given a forum and exposure to many creative people and their writings and webwork. It hasn't always been perfect and it has had it's share of controversy. Maybe we stepped on a few toes. Image Magick was a boom to WebTV where we found we could manipulate gifs and jpgs without the use of a computer. Games which were not silly little kid's games that adults could play. News, features, commentary, and my personal favorite an audio chat with the CEO's of Iacta and Net4TV that offered feedback each Sunday night. We chatted, played trivia, and learned what was new, what was bad to buy, and what we could expect in the future. Net4TV has not been afraid to step on the toes of the mighty Microsoft and for that has paid its price.

Net4TV took on the set top box as a friendly community which was unique to the net. Nice people, caring people, people unafraid to voice their views. Unlike AOL, Compuserve and the other BIG BOYS, WebTV users are unique that they care about their fellow users and their service. Net4TV is a bunch of computers in Downey CA....not a bunch of WebTV boxes. They embraced us and we embraced them. But now they are in trouble and it's our time to share the wealth they gave us. They are in a process of change and don't expect WebTV Corp to bail them out, cause they won't. Unlike Anthony who closed Star Blvd transloader...we have no other voice in the distance or other site or group of people I know of who would take up the role if Net4TV dies. No other groups have been so interested in being a watchdog like Net4TV. WebTV for that matter would not raise a finger to keep them afloat. Point is do we want to be subservient to the corporate giant or do the subscribers want to keep this institution alive and thriving. How to do that we will talk about later... but we as subscribers can help. And by doing that we enhance our own enjoyment of this little toy...of communication, learning and COMMUNITY.

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