This month I introduce the new Encoder look-and-feel, plus introduce the new ROBOTS column and also have a recent thread of discussion from the SRS listserver. Of course, we have a strong selection of articles written by SRS members.

Now that I am editing the Encoder (again, years ago I was the editor of the paper version of the Encoder for a few years), there is a question of how often to puiblish. The last Encoder was about 3 (well, maybe 4) months ago. I plan to have new Encoders out quarterly, but it really depends on you. Yes, you. I write some of the information, but without great articles from the Encoder readers there is not much to publish. If I get a flood of articles I will publish Encoders every 2 months, or even every month. Writing an article for the Encoder is quite easy. I'll format it into a web-page for you, so you can e-mail me text, an MS-Word file, or just about anything. Of course, pictures make a good article even better.

What to write about? Anything robot related. If you're interested in it, others will be too. I'm sure there are readers that know more than you do, and readers that know less. If you share what you know, it will help many others. Besides learning and sharing information, Encoder articles can be very inspirational. If you share a few pictures of a robot you're working on, others will see it and be inspired to build their own. I know this is true since I am constantly getting inspired reading about robots and projects people have done. I also know that others get this inspiration too; I receive a few e-mails a day from people who have read one of my articles and make comments, have questions, or want to share their work with me.

Look-and-feel details

The new Encoder look-and-feel is more internal to the HTML, and should not look to different to the Encoder readers. I have been working on the files that comprise the SRS Encoder, and have been updating them for a consistent look-and-feel, streamlining the HTML, and correcting information. This is a long and tedious process, which I will continue to work on for the next few months. My goal is to work through all of the past Encoder issues and implement: To assist in the common look-and-feel, I have implemented a common Javascript file that defines a set of functions that are used to produce common sections of the Encoders, such as the Google search, Table hearings, and footer information. This Javascript defines these details, and if changed, will affect the entire Encoder web-site.

A following benefit to this effort will be a completely self-contained web-site for the SRS Encoder. This will allow the site to be burned on a CD for easy of access; which many SRS members have expressed an interest in getting. I want to complete these changes and updates before releasing the SRS Encoder informatiion on CD; stay tuned for my progress.

The only changes I've uploaded to the SRS Encoder web-site thus far is for this current issue. I want to be sure things work well before uploading the changes for the reset of the web-site. Since there are changes to the Encoder pages, please let me know of any problems you encounter. I have tried the Javascript scheme on a variety of browsers, and have strived to be completely browser-neutral, but something may have slipped by. If you encounter problems with these new pages, let me know which page and what browser and browser version you are using.