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NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Much ado was made of the Sussex County Council web site being the first county site in the state to offer tax maps for its citizens at the Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1999 council meeting.
We like the idea of putting those tax maps online, but unfortunately, due to the system used, roughly 40 to 50 percent of Internet users will not be able to view the maps online.
After using the system ourselves, we also feel that a significant percentage of those who do have the proper system requirements will find learning how to use the system more cumbersome than driving to the county administration building to pick up print copies of the maps.
To view the maps, you must download a CAD viewing software system from AutoDesk called Volo View. Volo View makes it easier to look at large, cumbersome documents like tax maps.
However, Volo View also requires Windoze NT, 95 or 98 and the Internet Explorer 4.01 or higher browser. Based on our log files, those requirements will make the maps unavailable to 15 percent of local Internet users who do not use Windoze and 40 percent of local Internet users who do not use Explorer 4.01 or higher.
Combine those figures and as many as 50 percent of the county's Internet users might not be able to access the maps online.
We've e-mailed AutoDesk to determine if they plan to develop a Volo View version compatible with Macs and Netscape, but haven't heard anything yet. We'll let you know when we do.
While we prefer Macs and Netscape, we're fortunate that we also own a Windoze machine to proof our web pages with. Download and installation of Volo View took approximately 30 minutes and after looking at the instructions, fiddling and experimenting, we were able to get a good look at various tax maps in about an hour's time.
As in print, the online tax maps provide an overview of a tax district. You can then use Volo View's ActiveX controls to zoom in on areas within a district right on down to an individual lot. You will, however, need to become intimately familiar with the right click button on your mouse if you aren't already.
The program is useful, but we would disagree with the assessment of Dennis Norwood, who presented the site to council Tuesday and declared, "It is very accessible and easy to download."
If you need to see tax maps on a regular basis or can't make it to Georgetown during the county's regular business hours, Volo View is worth learning how to use.
Otherwise, you're better off going to the county administration building and getting copies made of the parcels you need.
If you're really bugged about Y2K concerns, you can get an update on Sussex County's Y2K preparedness at a Y2K Awareness meeting tonight, Nov. 17, 1999, at 7:30 p.m. at Delaware Tech in Georgetown.
Joe Wessels, spokesman for the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, said on WGMD radio this morning that there were just a couple of minor Y2K issues to be dealt with in Sussex County.
You can voice your opinion on Sussex County issues in the Sussex County Online Forum or cast your vote on various Sussex County issues on our online poll. Just follow the links below to make your voice heard and your vote count:
If you're looking for medical information on the Internet, a good place for basic information about medical topics is Drkoop.com, a site led by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. In addition to reference material on more than 60 conditions, the site also provides breaking medical news and a dozen medical forums broken down by topic. You can search the site by symptom or by illness or disease.
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