BBB III TTT SSS BBB Y Y TTT EEE SSS
B B I T S B B Y Y T E S ONLINE EDITION
BBB I T SSS AND BBB YYY T EEE SSS VOL 1, NUMBER 3
B B I T S B B Y T E S 7/26/93
BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS
Scientists believe that the universe is made of hydrogen because they
claim it's the most plentiful ingredient. I claim the most plentiful
ingredient is stupidity. - Frank Zappa, 1993
What's On The Tube Tonight, HAL?
Imagine if while you were at work today, your TV set was busy working
for you. First, it checks a list of your viewing preferences, then it
sifts through thousands of shows and records several programs it
thinks you might like to watch tonight. Sound like science fiction?
Well, think again - this new technology is coming to a TV set near you
this fall. One of B&B's primary focuses is the growing interaction
between computers, phones, cable TV and just about any other gizmo you
can think of. This "electronic TV Guide" is an early indicator of
things to come. With it, a viewer can push a button and order their TV
to find, preview and record any show. "Truly, this is the first
interactive TV," says Brian Klosterman, a senior vice president at
StarSight Inc., which will offer the electronic guide this fall. If
successful, these guides portend big changes in how you use your TV -
and how your TV uses you. ... "Channels become irrelevant in a world
where viewers shop only for those shows that interest them," says T.
Gary Trimm, president of Scientific-Atlanta's broadband communications
group, which makes the cable boxes that use the new technology. And as
viewers shop for programming, big brother will be watching, and taking
careful note. Two-way TV opens up the potential for the ultimate in
direct marketing, with advertisers able to reach, say, every Hispanic
woman between the ages of 18 and 24 (something B&B has also been
trying to do :-). "It's another step toward losing our ability to live
anonymously," warns Les Brown, a media scholar at the New York-based
Center for Media Studies. ... The StarSight system is intelligent
enough to keep track of what you like to watch. Using your
preferences, it can scan through all 7,000-12,000 shows on any given
week and flag or record programming for you. However, this powerful
feature will be kept turned off in its first products, since some
consumers in test marketing complained that they felt like their TVs
were 'spying on them'. Other features: While watching one show, you
can bring up a list of what's playing elsewhere. You can preview any
show without changing channels. Shows can also be grouped by type,
listing all the sci-fi movies, baseball games, or swimsuit specials on
today, this week or this month. And best of all, you can program your
television to record a show without setting your VCR. Joy!
(Source: Charles Haddad, Cox News Service)
Megatrends or Megamistakes II
There is also serious concern that media infoglut is having a damaging
effect on society - in particular the younger generation. As
Chesebro and Bonsall (1989) show, the television set is on in the
average American household for 7 hours and 7 minutes a day. In
addition, recorded video tapes are watched for a further 5 hours 8
minutes a week on average (1987 figures). Young Americans can also
tune in to any of 9,300 radio stations in the US, on one of the 5.3
radios in the average American household. In these and other ways,
the typical American encounters no less than 1,600 advertisements
each day. By the age of 17, the average American child would have seen
over one-third of a million ads. It is little wonder that US academics
are talking about America "amusing itself to death," its collective
mind numbed by video-pulp, 10-second sound bites and 30-second video
clips. A recent report by the Times Mirror group concluded that the
current under-30s generation in the US - despite the benefits of a
higher standard of living, better education, information technology,
etc. - "knows less, cares less and reads newspapers less than any
generation in the past five decades."
(Tom Forrester, Opening Address to International Conference on the
Information Society, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute / Green Meadow
Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland, 11/18/91)
The Tao of DOS
A master was explaining the nature of Tao to one of his novices.
"The Tao is embodied in all software - regardless of how
insignificant," said the master.
"Is the Tao in a hand-held calculator?" asked the novice.
"It is," came the reply.
"Is the Tao in a video game?" continued the novice.
"It is even in a video game," said the master.
"And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?"
The master coughed and shifted his position slightly.
"The lesson is over for today," he said.
(from "The Tao of Programming" by Geoffrey James (Info Books, 1987)
IS and Business Units, Living Together In Perfect Harmony:
What A Beautiful World It Could Be
IS managers and the heads of their organizations' business units are
in the same speedboat, says Patrick Fortune, CIO of Bristol-Myers
Squibb. And they'd better learn to help each other steer as they
careen wildly through a future of perpetual change. ... Without
cooperation between IS and the business units, neither side can expect
to make progress. His suggestions? First, break down traditional
barriers between IS and the business units. Then, concentrate on
creating an "information-literate" organization so that business execs
understand what IT can do for them. Finally, create a comprehensive IT
toolkit that can provide the standards, techniques, and procedures
business units need to forge into the murky mist.
(Source: John P. McPartlin, "IS And Business Units: Happy Together?"
Information Week, 7/5/93, p. 62)
NEW PRODUCTS, SERVICES, AND INDUSTRY NEWS:
PictureTel Turns your PC Into A Videophone
PictureTel Corp. has introduced equipment that turns your PC into a
video teleconferencing system. The $6,000 setup will allow users to
view the person they're talking to in a corner of the computer screen
while running other applications. Users will also be able to view the
work on each other's computer screens. The system includes a
speakerphone and a video camera that can also be used to display
printed documents. Also included will be a screen sharing application
that will allow users to share and view the same file. This technology
will make it easier for people to work from home but not miss out on
meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other 'human contact' elements,
the lack of which are one of the big stumbling blocks to effective
telecommuting. The main drawback at present is lack of support for
LANs, mainly due to insufficient bandwidth for the video signal. But
this is a problem that will soon be resolved.(PictureTel 508/762-5000)
(Sources: Wall Street Journal 7/16/93, p. B8, Communication Week
7/19/93, p. 5)
RAM Prices Skyrocket
Prices of computer memory chips have more than doubled in the past
week, in response to a factory fire in Japan where an important chip
ingredient is manufactured. Small companies have experienced the
largest sticker shock. It is estimated that the surge in prices could
raise the cost of building a PC by $120.
(Source: New York Times 7/21/93, p. D5)
Midrange To Go
A new mobile computing concept should emerge soon from the somewhat
unlikely environs of IBM's Rochester, Minn., labs - home of the
AS/400. IBM has a luggable single user AS/400 in the works that would
be aimed mainly at software vendors and resellers looking to do on-
site customer demonstrations and AS/400 programmers who want to take
their work home or on the road with them. Pricing is expeeted to start
in the $5,000 to S6,000 range for the machine, which would contain the
OS/400 operating system in full. (Source: Computerworld, 7/5/93, p. 90)
Adobe's Acrobat: Electronic Paper
Simply put, Adobe's revolutionary new Acrobat software allows users to
share their documents electronically regardless of hardware platform,
operating system, or what application created the document. The
receiving system doesn't even need to have the right fonts installed.
Like I said above, electronic paper - I create a document on my IBM PC
using Pagemaker, I send it to my friend, who has a MAC and never even
heard of Pagemaker, and no problemo, there is my document in all it's
glory. There are 3 versions of the software: a $50 read only version,
a $195 version that allows you to create, view, annotate and print the
documents, and for power users, the $695 version, which can convert
Postscript files to Adobe's PDF format and is available in a network
version. Sharing information just got several orders of magnitude
(Sources: PC Computing, INFOWORLD)
Free ADA Compiler!
Ada is a programming language developed by the US Department of
Defense and others. There is an ANSI standard for Ada (which is named
after the first programmer, Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace),
and it is mandatory for all new DoD software. Apparently, Ada is a
nice programming language, offering readable, structured language (all
you non-programmers can skip a few lines), strong typing, separately
compiled interfaces, data abstraction, built-in multitasking,
reusability and more. Ada's strengths, according to INFOWORLD
Publisher Bob Metcalfe, are for projects that must be written by many
people, that must be readable, portable across different platforms,
maintainable, reusable, and oh yeah, highly reliable. "Everthing else
can be written in C," says Metcalfe, who says that C++ is old
technology and best left behind. A *free* copy of the Gnu Ada compiler
can be obtained by calling the BBS at 800/232-9925.
Smithsonian Institute Starts Software Collection
The Smithsonian Institute, which often refers to itself as "the
nation's attic," has started The National Software Collection at the
National Museum of American History. This collection will eventually
include much of the Institute's vast mainframe and minicomputer
software collection. Microsoft Word will be the first program
officially inducted into the collection. In addition to the software
itself, the company is also donating archives containing materials
relating to the creation and subsequent development of Microsoft Word.
(Source: Newsbytes News Service, 7/16/93)
The Ross Perot Law Of Information
Information doesn't care about organizational politics or
institutional boundaries. The fastest way to flatten an organization
is to give employees the means to send and receive information on an
ad hoc basis to anyone in the company, including the CEO. Start by
identifying E-mail as a mission-critical application, then stand back
and watch what happens. Informal work groups will begin to form;
introverts will share their ideas more freely. Mid-level bureaucrats
will go into cardiac arrest when control of information leaves their
fiefdom. (Source: Fank J. Ricotta Jr., "The Six Immutable Laws of
Information," Information Week, 7/19/93, p. 63)
Documentation From Hell: Place Your Votes Now
The Communications Circle, a group of fed-up professional writers, is
holding a contest for the worst manual of the year. Send your nightmare
documentation example to:
Worst Manual of The Year c/o The Communications Circle,
918 La Senda, N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87107. Entries must be received by
Halloween. There is bound to be a crowded field for this coveted
award and I'm sure we all have our favorites. B&B wil report on the
winner(s) as soon as they are announced.
(Source: Computerworld, 7/12/93, p. 134)
There's A Seeker Born Every Minute
In Crestone, Colorado, followers of Kuthumi, a spirit entity said to
communicate via computer, say that Kuthumi has instructed them to
build a 45 story pink granite pyramid near the town. Why, you ask? To
draw a signal from space that that will keep the earth safely on its
axis, of course! Bits and Bytes will stay on top of this momentous
story, and will attempt to contact Kuthumi on the astral plane for an
exclusive B&B interview. In the meantime, donations to the Pink
Pyramid Construction fund can be sent in care of the editor.
The Beauty of Client/Server
The beauty of client/server computing is the potential to fulfill end
user's desire for more control of data manipulation, and to allow
network managers and IS professionals the ability to maintain back-end
network and data integrity. I like this model because makes sense. End
users tend to think more strategically about data manipulation than IS
and network managers. On the other hand, IS and network managers know
more about networked systems, security and maintaining data integrity
(David Buerger, "End Users Are About To Gain Front-End Control,"
Communications Week, 7/5/93, p 38)
Bits and Bytes Bookshelf
Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age of Show
Business by Neil Postman [Penguin Books, 1985. $8.95]
- (from the back cover) "Television has conditioned us to tolerate
visually entertaining material measured out in spoonfuls of time, to
the detriment of public affairs. ... Before we hand over politics,
education, religion, and journalism to the show-business demands of
the television age, we must recognize the ways in which the media
shape our lives and the eay we can, in turn, shape them to serve our
highest goals." An important, thought provoking, and entertaining
book. Soon to be a major motion picture - NOT! Highly recommended.
THe Metaphysics Of Virtual Reality by Michael Heim [Oxford University
Press, 1993. $21.00]
- (from the forward by Myron Krueger) "In this book, Heim puts his
finger on why virtual reality has excited us as a culture." Heim
explores the philosophical implications of emerging computer techno-
logies with an eye for the dark as well as the bright side.
Hypertext, multimedia, RSI (repetitive stress injury), and the
effects of word processing on the English language are a few of the
topics discussed. I just statred reading this one, and am finding it
very interesting. If these issues interest you, recommended.
AT THE NEWSTAND...
"Domesticating Cyberspace" (Scientific American August 1993, pg.100)
This article provides a good summary and analysis of the history and
current status of networking developments.
The July 1993 issue of PC Magazine features a search for the "perfect"
PC, with lots of advice and recommendations.
Last and definitely NOT least: if you enjoy B&B, there is a good
chance you will enjoy WIRED magazine. With only 3 issues under their
belt, WIRED is already *the* single best source for news from the
frontlines of the digital revoltion. Issue 3 (July/August '93)
contains a major new article on the digital highway by Mitchell Kapor,
designer of Lotus 1-2-3 and co-founder of the Electronic Freedom
Foundation, and interviews with science fiction author Arthur C.
Clarke and Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. Also
reports on interactive rock and roll (products coming soon from David
Bowie, Peter Gabriel, U2 and others), online role playing games, IBM's
big buck attempt to go Hollywood, the new Radio Shack stores, Internet
books, cool electronic gizmos, and so much more that your head may
explode. Highly recommended.
Meet Me On The Holodeck
Admit it: Arcade games have hit a wall. That clutch-the-joy-stick-and-
stand-at-the-video-terminal interface is getting real old. It's time
to move to the Next Generation. Edison Brothers Entertainment agrees.
By late 1993 it plans to introduce fully immersive virtual reality
games based on the hit series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." To be
anchored in our country's most revered cultural centers - malls -
these centers will be a dramatic departure from the typical quarter-
slogging video game haunts of yesteryear (many of which, by the way,
St. Louis-based Edison Brothers owns and operates). Edison won't tell
us how much a trip into the "Star Trek" world will cost, but it will
use actual footage from Paramount Pictures ("Star Trek's" producer)
and claims the ride will be fully interactive.
(Source: Wired Magazine 1.1, )
Sending Email To The White House: How Not To Do It
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:
THERE ARE TOO MANY STATES NOWADAYS. PLEASE ELIMINATE THREE.
I AM NOT A CRACKPOT.
(Grandpa Simpson, The Simpsons, Fox TV, Thursday nights at 8 PM)
Reaction to Bits and Bytes Online has been overwhelming. Subscription
requests have been pouring in from all over this crazy old world. I
thought I was hip to the age of information and the information
explosion and all that, but my exponentially growing mailbox has
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= (Copyleft 1993 Jay Machado) *UNALTERED* =
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