Travel Sites And Web Programming
By Judith A Rogow
Aug 1, 2003 - 9:46:00 AM

Photo by Richard Hormaza

July's article brought email suggestin
g WebPages that have helped our readers. One,
, gathers the best prices from over a dozen sites. Searches are by several variables, prices are shown as spreadsheets. You download their free software and join, again free, to use the service. They do expect you to book through them. Intrigued by the format and completeness of Travelaxe, I requested a telephone interview with company founder, Carl Samos.

According to Samos, the idea grew from his need when on the road. After searching for the best hotel prices he decided to use his technical background to create a program to do the job. It worked so well he gave it to friends who were traveling to Las Vegas. In October of 2001, he met with a publisher who loved the program and realized this could become a business. Forming a company the following month, he fine-tuned the program until May of 2002, when the web site launched. Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe were first; over 600 more locations were quickly added.

The company has "relationships" with travel professionals in over 40 countries for destinations not currently offered.

Since its inception, the self-funded site revenues are derived from bookings - "has been growing organically". A marketing plan is being evaluated, although the majority of bookings come from user referrals. In August 2003, there were over 75,000 registered users. While that's tiny compared with the industry giants, in this case smaller is better as the service offers a wide variety of options, including support staff that replies in timely fashion. Since there is no cost to the end user, Travelaxe may be utilized by businesses as a cost-free booking agency.

I frequently receive books to review, but am not always the best person for the job. Since I am impressed with ”The Web Programming CD Bookshelf”, I've asked Joe D'Alessandro to write the review. Joe is General Manager of the highly trafficked NewsGuy.Com portal, and has forgotten more about programming than I could learn in a millennium.

“The Web Programming CD Bookshelf” Version 1.0 OReilly.

“The Web Programming CD Bookshelf” is OReilly's newest product line. Each CD combines searchable and cross-referenced digital libraries of five to seven OReilly titles. A print version of one title, typically the one that provides a subject overview, is included. In this instance, Webmaster In a Nutshell is provided, the CD contains:

—Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference 2nd Edition

—JavaScript: The Definitive Guide 4th Edition

Programming PHP

—Web Database Application with PHP&MySQL

—PHP Cookbook

—Webmaster in a Nutshell

O'Reilly publications are well organized, with knowledgeable authors, timely material and excellent references. Unlike many other books published these days, there's no 100-page preface—these titles focus on useful information.

Having this material in a CD means utilization of information in many settings; airplanes, hotel rooms, client locations, trade shows, etc. The down side of a CD is that programmers will no longer be able to gesture to overflowing bookcases as an indication of their vast and secret knowledge.

The package's integrated search function makes it easy to locate topic-related content within individual or across all included titles. There is also a Master Index structured in Symbols & Numbers and alpha order, to facilitate the building of lists that contain terms such as "zend_parse_parameters" by simply clicking "Z".

I checked the product out by using it to add a shopping cart function to a web site. Entering "shopping cart" as search criteria, mouse clicking search all, gathered results from shopping cart architecture to a progressive case study. The listings tracked through "Web Database Application with PHP&MySQL", "PHP Cookbook" and "Programming PHP", while omitting obscure references. I quickly got the shopping cart up and running, with a professional result.

Since the titles include Dynamic HTML and JavaScript, it was easier to work around, and/or integrate, site modules without problems. It would have been worth this exercise, just to improve my interaction with programmers who get frustrated trying to communicate with non-technical project members. However, the “Web Programming CD Bookshelf” is also a reference tool for experienced programmers. My copy disappeared from my desk during a lunch break and was discovered by following the group "ooh's" emanating from the engineering lab; you'd think they just discovered fire. In fact, The “Web Programming CD Bookshelf” has been swiped from my desk at least 2.8 times more than the other leading product.

If there is a weak spot, it would be the QuestAgent Pro search-engine's use of a Java applet for a query interface. Its rough edges, and potential problem of not running correctly with some versions of Mozilla and Netscape under Windows and Mac, and some versions of Linux, is out of place in a quality product. I encountered no difficulties when using current versions of Netscape and IExplorer running on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Perhaps OReilly is being overly cautious in its release notes. Probably of greater consequence is a very limited search criteria that is more suitable for simple searches.

The “Web Programming CD Bookshelf” has an MSRP of $129.95 US. The print versions of all books, without the ability to search and index cost $264.70 if purchased separately.

JR Notes: On a personal note, a friend of mine, Grace Cassleman, has written a young adult book “A Hole in the Hedge” that should be required reading for step-children and their parents, indeed for any youngsters and their parents. Without preaching, it sends the message that growing up doesn't have to be miserable. The paperback volume is perfect for slipping into a pocket or backpack, ISBN 0929141997. She is also author of the book “Knocked Off My Knees: Coping When Chronic Illness Hits Hard” which chronicles her struggles with Lupus.

© Copyright 2007 by