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Imagineering

August 1996

by Mark S. Ramsey, P.E.

World Wide Gutenberg

With this issue of The Brief, the Drilling Intranet Website, dubbed the “Amoco Drilling Technology Network,” is officially up and running. We sincerely hope that this insert will prove to be of some help, to both make everyone aware of your website and help you to quickly become skilled in the art, sport, and possibly science of websurfing. While most all of you have at least heard of the Internet or World Wide Web, and I would guess many or most have at least “cruised the net” a time or two, you may not be aware of the the growth, the explosive growth that is taking place both on Amoco’s Intranet and in a larger sense, the planet’s World Wide Web. For example, in January of 1994, there were only about 300 web sites worldwide that ended in .com (pronounced “dot com”). By January 1995 the number had grown to 2000 or so. July 1995 saw the number reach 20,000 or more, and by January of 1996 the number was nearly 100,000 sites! And this does not include the .org (not for profit organizations), .gov (government sites), .edu (educational sites, mostly universities), .mil (military sites), or others!

Terminology


Internet - the International Network of communications established originally to allow military types to communicate in the event of an all out nuclear exchange. It’s not just “bullet-proof,” it is actually designed to be “nuke-proof”. From those not-so-humble beginnings, coupled with some enterprising and creative help from some individuals at the Swiss CERN institute, it migrated to other government groups and academia, and eventually to us all. In using “the net”, your personal computer can be tied to virtually all other computers in the world in one form or fashion. Your computer likely connects via Local Area Networks (LANs) or phone lines to more powerful server computers, who in turn are connected by faster and faster communication links to bigger and better computers until you reach “the backbone”, a massive system of government funded computer sites that speak to each other sending messages, stock quotes, graphics, files, weather information, communications information, phone traffic, video conferencing, and who knows what else. These backbone sites (we have one here in Houston at Rice University), speed the information around the world to get it close to its intended destination, and then the collection process is reversed to get it back to someone else’s individual PC screen or hard disk. When the system is not bogged down by exceptionally heavy usage due to some unusual event, (like a stock market crash or a new release of Netscape), it is amazingly fast. I recently downloaded a 9,000,000 byte file from MicroSoft (in Redmond, Washington) to my PC’s hard disk at Amoco Houston Westlake in about 3 minutes or so! I have no doubt that the internet will eventually be the way we “load” new software onto our machines. Why bother with such quaint things such as floppy disks or CD ROMS when we can get an up-to-the-second revision directly from the manufacturer in less time than it would take to open the box up using “the old way”? Note that this speed is available only on sites such as we have here at Amoco that are communicating via “T-1” high speed communication lines. Other connections, such as “ISDN” or ordinary phone modem hookups are considerably slower.

Intranet - Whereas the Internet is worldwide-open-to-anyone with a PC and a phone line, an intranet is a limited access system. Functionally it is nearly identical to the internet, but external internet surfers cannot enter the intranet. Similarly, without external authorization, someone in Amoco’s intranet is trapped inside and cannot sample the planet’s bounty. Other than these boundaries limiting the effective access and hence scope of information, an intranet can be loosely thought of as a miniature (yet still world wide as in Amoco’s case) internet.

Pages / Home Pages - If you have heard of the internet or cruised the world wide web, (WWW), you have likely heard of a “web page” or a “home page” or maybe simply a “page”. This is our metaphor for what is nothing more than a single computer file in a particular language, just as we also have Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (.xls) or Word documents (.doc). In the case of web pages, they use yet another language called HyperText Markup Language or simply HTML. Since DOS machines only support three letters on the file type extension, it is truncated to .htm. Unix servers will usually use the full .html. Compared to Excel or Word or WordPerfect or virtually other format for storing files, HTML is relatively spartan in formatting options (though it is still better than word processors we used just a decade or so ago). However, it is very good at letting one cruise the net, which of course is what it was designed to do. Additionally, it is simple enough, and importantly, is public, so that virtually any software supplier can, and many now do, offer HTML conversion software to get from their proprietary format to the net.

So, a web page is nothing more than a computer file. When different pages are linked together, this simply means that different files are linked together. A “home page” is simply the primary file people see when they normally enter a particular web site. It may not be named “home.htm”, but is more often named “index.htm”.

Browsers - In order to efficiently use the vast resources of the internet (or an internal intranet), one must use a “browser”. Think of the browser as just another form of file reader much like a word processor, except that one does not modify or create the files themselves with the browsers (yet!). The browser has built in the functionality to read the weird looking codes in the HTML file (which is in ascii text, by the way), and display it on your screen by using those HTML codes to embed graphics, to link to other files, to bold and color text, and so forth. There is generally some limited filing capability in the browser, that lets you save the file you are viewing, print it, look at the native HTML code (if you care to), capture images and text either to a file or to the windows clipboard, set “Bookmarks” (see below), and other items. By far the most commonly used browser on the planet is “Netscape”. Most Amoco locations have version 1.1 installed, and will move soon to 2.01 and 3.0. Another popular (but brand new) browser is Microsoft’s (surprise!) Internet Explorer. It can be had for free by visiting www.microsoft.com in Redmond.

URL - This is a TLA (Three Letter Acronym) for “Uniform Resource Locator”. Netscape calls this the “location”. This is the alpha and sometimes numeric alias for the actual digital address of a particular file on the worldwide system of computers we call the internet. Yes, every file that is accessible on the internet must have a unique-to-the-planet identification. The way this is accomplished is that every site and user has a unique address, and the assumption is that each file on that user or site’s machine is unique to that machine. Incidentally, the keeper of the addresses is a Congressionally approved group on the East Coast (of course) called InterNIC. They get $50 bucks per year for each domain name registration (like “www.amoco.com” - it still works 3-27-2000!). Why them? I don’t know.

Bookmarks - Just as a real bookmark in a book lets us quickly find a particular page, a web browser “bookmark” lets us quickly find a particular web site. This is needed since the unique to the planet addresses can be cumbersome and difficult for us mere mortals to easily remember. For example, PC MAGAZINE maintains a site of the top 100 web sites in the world. It can be found at the URL: http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/special/web100/top100f.htm (obsolete 7-28-98)...no kidding. Once a particular site is found, the browser will let you set a bookmark, which will let you pull down a list of named (and rename-able) sites, permitting a simple click of the mouse to let you find that site again. In my case, I pull down my book mark list, find PC Magazine Top 100 Web Sites, click on it, and voila, I’m on my way.

Internet Service Provider - Before you can take advantage of all this, you must have a gateway into the communications infrastructure. At Amoco this is taken care of by our computer groups. Outside of the Amoco (or other company) system, you must contract with a company to give you access to the internet. Compuserve and America Online (AOL) both provide access, though it can be somewhat slow at times. Other companies, dedicated to internet access only, do not provide the “content” that Compuserve and AOL provide, but are said to be faster.

Search Engines - To find things on the internet, which is growing at a spectacular rate, search engines are used. Within the Drilling web system (at URL: http://houeosw2.amoco.com/drilling/nondrlg.htm#cat3) several of these search engines are listed. Going to one of these sites lets you input a search term or terms, and typically after 10 seconds or so you will find that the search engine has found several thousand pages with the information you have requested. Obviously, some degree of savvy in narrowing you search from there is something to strive for. These sites that the search engine has found are then examined by clicking on the blue (or purple) text in the description.

Firewalls - The computer police, both for our corporate protection and to maximize productive time (by minimizing non-productive), typically will have one or more firewalls that must be breached to go from an intranet to the internet, or vice versa. These are security barriers that electronically prevent you from roaming the world wide internet from inside the intranet unless you have authorization. Conversely, they keep the roving eyes of competitors out of our proprietary intranet. If you try to access Compaq (at www.compaq.com), you will likely get a pop-up box that will say something about “proxy authentication...” and ask for your username and password. NOTE that this username is your Z-ID but the password is NOT your ordinary login or CCMAIL password, but is an external internet authorization password. If you have not arranged to get this you probably don’t have one. To get one, follow the directions, fill out a form, have your supervisor electronically approve it, and forward it on as decribed in the html file located at: http://columbo.amoco.com/Internet/Internet_access.html on the internal intranet.

Hot Links - Perhaps the most powerful feature of HTML is its ability to provide hot links, or “HyperText”. This hyper text allows branching to another file, portion of a file, website, or continent by merely clicking the pointer on a hot linked word or letter or image or whatever in the file you are viewing. Generally speaking, with the latest browsers the hot links will be shown initially in Blue text. After you have visited a site, the hyperlinked text will change color to purple. Non linked text will be black. Note that some sites change or override the default colors to something else, but the unusually colored text will take you to somewhere else...just with a click. And remember, if you find some place useful or fun that you want to find again, set your bookmark.

Navigational Tips - For most of you, at least in the Amoco domain, you will automatically enter the intranet at an internal intranet home page, http://houeosw1.amoco.com/html/Amoco/home.html. This page is layed out as a clickable address book to get to various pages throughout the Amoco world. Its content changes slightly as sites are added, the general look and feel has been fairly stable in recent months. Top Middle of the page just under the stock quote is a group of sites under the main heading of “Exploration & Production”, (http://houeosw1.amoco.com/html/EandP/EandP.html). Don’t click on that (unless of course you want to!), but just under that you will find “Drilling”, (http://houeosw2.amoco.com/drilling/). Clicking on “Drilling” will take you to the Drilling page, a reasonable facsimile of which is on the front of this handout. Before going further, please set your bookmark. You may also make this your default starting page if you wish. From there, scroll down the whole page to see just what is there. Some items will have a “New” graphic nearby, indicating they are reasonably recent. Note that most sites, yours included, will have a “What’s New” file, (http://houeosw2.amoco.com/TNT/whatsnew.htm), that will let you quickly scan new items crossing several different subject categories. As you are scrolling, feel free to click on highlighted text to see what the details are. You can always go back by clicking the “back” button in Netscape (clever, huh?). Internal sites should all be readily and quickly accessible. External sites require additional authorization, as mentioned above.

Sometimes you may find sites that will have files available for transfer from the host site to your PC. An example is in the What’s New page. For example, triggered by a request from China, Garry Hanni supplied some operations procedures from the Carrington well. The listing on the What’s New page is:

“ 7/23 Carrington Well Zipped Files: Word Doc Files - PPT Files - XLS Files ”.

The “ Word Doc Files - PPT Files - XLS Files ” part of that line is highlighted. Clicking on one of the three file types will cause a box to appear and ask how you wish to handle this “unknown file type”. This is not an error. Click on the “Save to Disk” button and you will then be able to stuff the files where you want on your hard disk, a floppy, or your local network.
Speed - There is no substitute for speed. Fortunately, the Amoco domain is very, very fast. Nonetheless, you may initially find that your drilling web does not contain a huge number of graphic images. This is intentional, since graphics tend to slow the system down because they contain much much much more data than text files do. If, however, you wish to see more graphics, let us know.

Conversely, if you find that even the limited graphics we have are loading too slow, or you find that external site graphics are slow and generally not worth the wait, you can tell Netscape and other browsers to not load the graphics. The choice is yours.

Coming Soon - Though not “ready for prime time” at “press time”, plans are to have “The Brief” online soon. Similarly, interactive dialogue pages will soon be implemented. The intent will be to trigger and maintain a global dialogue among Amoco, and later worldwide-all-company drillers!

The Ultimate Change Culture - Much has been written in recent years about flexible, changing, empowering corporate cultures being the most efficient ones, especially as compared to the “Command and Control” cultures of yesteryear. The internet is the ultimate change culture. Things change by the second. Thousands of completely new sites appear daily. Well maintained sites change regularly as feedback is obtained from clients and content is added or modified or discarded. The look and feel of the sites changes from time to time as better ways of tranferring information are developed.

Importantly, the internet is about freedom. Freedom of expression. Free transmission of ideas. Freedom of where you want to go...on the internet, on our planet, if not in your life. It is decidedly NOT a culture of rules and regulations or status quo.
For us to maximize the benefit of it, you and I must use it. We must provide feedback on all aspects of it. Do you like the “Look and Feel”. Do you have content - perhaps a story of a “train wreck”, perhaps a successful drilling procedure - to contribute?

Conclusion - We used to say “good, fast, cheap...pick any two.” We often settled for only one. With the internet, we may finally be able to get all three! It is a spectacular development, on the order of Johannes Gutenberg's first printing press in 1450 or Guglielmo Marconi's radio in 1895. (link to Marconi site changed 3-27-2000).  It is self-governed. It must, therefore, be self-disciplined. Use it.

Very truly yours,

Mark S. Ramsey

Texas Drilling Associates Web Site

Texas Drilling Associates - 6130 Inway Drive, Spring, Texas 77389 U.S.A.
+01-281-320-2999, +01-281-754-4898 fax,  sales@tdaweb.com

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