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Publication Number:      Date:  Sept/Oct 1998
Issue No: Vol. 62 No. 2
Date: Sept/Oct 1998


Internet Watch

by Kristin Iden

TFHRC.GOV - The Sequel!

It was bound to happen. Just when you thought there was one fixed constant in the universe-the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center Web site- good old reliable tfhrc.gov goes wild! New gadgets, new bells, new whistles, and a new look!

Did we go crazy? Were we affected by the summer heat? No, just the opposite. We knew there were some areas on which we could improve, and we knew that to keep the Web site fresh and interesting, we needed to stir the pot. So we did. The result will be apparent starting Sept. 1, and the changes will continue over the next few months.

What changed? For starters, the entry to the page is new. In Web-speak, it's called an "entry tunnel." It's a way to introduce the user to the site and give the user a sample of what follows. Our entry tunnel uses a Web plug-in (a specialty program that functions inside of your browser) called Shockwave®. Shockwave allows the browser to show animation, motion, sound, and video in a streaming (steady) display. If you don't have Shockwave on your computer, don't worry. Shockwave is free to download and to install. There will be a link on our home page to take you directly to the Shockwave download area for installation, or you can go there yourself (http://www.macromedia.com) and look for the download section. Once there, you can download the latest version of Shockwave and follow the installation instructions.

I would recommend that you view the entry tunnel at least once! It's a very cool piece of technology - a different kind of technology transfer. People often forget how powerful images can be, but this Shockwave piece will remind you! However, there are times when speed is of the essence, so we've also made it possible for you to get to the heart of the information through a central navigation feature - the "Road Map."

The TFHRC "Road Map" allows the user to choose from a variety of direct and indirect access points. Because the research subjects covered here at TFHRC are so expansive, we've had to design a variety of ways for you to be able to find the information for which you are looking.

Are you looking for information on materials technology? You'll find a direct link here! Information on safety issues? It's there too! Perhaps you're looking for news on the Advanced Research Team. Well, shazam - it's there as well!

Along with these broad subject categories, you will also find two new indices to aid your search. We now feature a subject index and an author index. Both are constantly growing creatures that will be updated whenever something new is added to the page.

Another new feature to the site is the use of frames. The "frames" technology is a way to divide your viewable browser display and use separate "windows" within the same picture frame. You will notice a constant navigation frame at the bottom of the page. This allows you to instantly access one of our broad categories or to go to the road map - no matter where you are on the page.

To be able to see a "framed" page, you need to be sure you are using a 3.0-version browser. Check under the "Help" drop-down menu in your browser. If you select the "about" choice, it will show you which version of the browser you are using. To update your browser, either contact your technical support people or local area network manager, or go directly to the browser's home page and download an updated version for free. Follow the installation instructions, and you'll be on your way!

If that's not enough "new-ness" for you, check out the new graphics. They are way-cool images developed in-house by our graphic designer. (She's really, really good!) If you look closely, you might recognize some of the people here at TFHRC, and you'll see a lot of our technology at work. We think you'll like the changes. While you are looking around the new site, take a moment and drop us a line. (The feedback section is new, too!) Watch for more innovation and information in the months to come. And watch this column for more news and information on transportation cyber-sites!

Kristin Iden is the Web master and electronic publishing specialist for the Federal Highway Administration's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. She has a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in library and information science. She is currently working on a second master's in technology management from the University of Maryland. She is employed by Avalon Integrated Services Corp. of Arlington, Va.



Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101