'Bet you're on Blitz' after upgrade launches

by Kathleen McDermott | 3/7/00 6:00am

Students off-campus over spring break will have a new and improved version of WebBlitz to use.

Due for release this week, WebBlitz 3.0 will include a new piece of software called Bet You're on Blitz, referred to by its developers as "BYOB."

The new WebBlitz version was developed by The Basement, an independent student organization at Dartmouth responsible for WebBlitz, the DID, and the Exchange.

Karolyn Abram '00, a member of The Basement team, thought of the idea of BYOB when she used BlitzMail and WebBlitz and wanted to know if her friends were also on blitz. Especially during off terms, students like to know when others are checking blitz, Abram said.

The Basement worked on the idea, and over the Fall-Winter interim Abram wrote the program for BYOB.

BYOB functions much like the America Online Instant Messenger program. However, everyone who signs on to the new WebBlitz will initially be "invisible" and students will need to click on "preferences" to change to "visible." Students can choose to monitor certain friends, and can also block certain people from seeing when they are on blitz. Privacy issues should therefore not be a cause for concern, Abram said.

Many of the new features require much computer space and computing power, but those with older computers or a slower network can easily turn the features off if necessary, Daniel Scholnick '00, coordinator of The Basement said.

This summer, The Basement also plans to release a new bandwidth of WebBlitz with fewer graphics, so that those with slow connections won't have problems, Scholnick said. They hope to eventually rewrite from scratch all of the software to increase its functionality and speed.

WebBlitz 3.0 will also have many of the current version's bugs fixed and come closer to imitating the Macintosh BlitzMail program students are most familiar with.

But for now, students can know that "when they go home for Spring break, they don't have to be totally cut off from the campus," Scholnick said.

WebBlitz had its beginnings in the spring of 1998, when Scholnick and David Latham '01 wrote the program and placed it on the cs.dartmouth.edu server. In September 1999, it moved to its current home. At that time, the site registered over 4,000 hits a day.