Nobody questions Novell’s influence in the networking world. The company has been around since the beginning and continues to be a leader in offering excellent networking products. NetWare, for example, has had a huge impact on the way companies communicate. Nonetheless, the complexity of networking requires a substantial investment in support and technical advice. So, like most companies today, Novell offers a Web site designed to provide administrators with answers and solutions.

According to Novell, its goal is to present a site that offers “informative feature articles; time-saving tips from developers, testers, even users like you; world-famous Q&A; nifty downloadables; and links to other cool sites.” Unfortunately, my overall reaction to the material located at NetWare Cool Solutions was, well, on the cool side. For all its good intentions, Novell just plain got it wrong.

Sorta tepid, in fact
NetWare Cool Solutions is just one small part of the huge Novell Internet presence. This Web site is supposed to be a place where network administrators and managers can come to get innovative solutions to make Novell network products work better. While the site has some good information in general, the material presented is hardly innovative and fails to live up to the cool moniker.

Before discussing the material available at the site, a side note about HTML and Java coding is in order. I use a screen resolution of 1280×1024 with large fonts. It is the way I like to work. With most Web sites, this is not a problem, because they rely on the browser to determine how the page is displayed. However, the NetWare Cool Solutions site has disabled this feature, which forces users like me to view their site in microscopic font sizes. To me, this is an expression of their desire to control the look and feel of the site at the expense of my right to view Web pages as I prefer. I think this is a failure on Novell’s part to accommodate the needs and preferences of its audience.
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To exacerbate the display problem, the Cool Solutions site then proceeds to offer me a minimal amount of material for all of my squinting efforts. There are several long lists of links to Novell documentation, which may help if you have misplaced your original. There are lists of links to the various Novell NetWare Usenet forums. There are lists of links to patches and Novell free tools. There are also lists of links to several series of questions and answers concerning Novell networking products. In other words, the site is full of lists. For Novell network administrators, none of the lists leads anywhere new or especially cool. And if you’re not an administrator, you may find the site confusing and difficult to navigate, since it is geared toward those with NetWare experience.

The NetWare Cool Solutions site is one of the most disappointing large corporate Web sites I have visited. Granted, this is only one small part of a big Internet presence, but it is a poor reflection on an established, otherwise well respected company. The Cool Solution site is in desperate need of a revamp. The information provided can be found in numerous other places on the Internet, and most of those other places can be read without a magnifying glass.

A business consultant, Mark Kaelin also writes for TechRepublic and Louisville Computer News. For diversion, he spends time on the softball field or the golf course and listens to rock ‘n’ roll.

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