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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 easier. (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. (Source: Newsweek) ====================================================================== 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 than end-users. (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) ====================================================================== ADMINISTRIVIA 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 brought it all home to me in no uncertain manner. In my ignorance of my mailbox software's capabilities, however, I made a mistake: I am getting requests to the pacs address without the requestor's mailing address attached. From now on when subscribing or unsubscribing, please include the email address you wish B&B sent to. I have modified the instructions below to reflect this. If you sent in a request and are not receiving B&B, please resend your request. SORRY! If you are on America Online you can now download B&B from their files section. On the Internet, B&B will be available from various servers and mailing lists. Details next issue. Please unsubscribe if you do start getting B&B from another source. Feedback is always welcome - I am still trying to find the right balance of material. See you next week! ====================================================================== Bits and Bytes Online is a weekly electronic newsletter. Email Subscriptions are available at no cost from slakmaster@aol.com or jmachado@pacs.pha.pa.us. Put "SUBSCRIBE in the subject header and your email address in the body of the message. If you work for "the rail" send a similar message to my emailbox. To unsubscribe, send a message with "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the subject header and your email address in the body. Questions and comments are welcome at any address. If you come across anything you think should be included here, please pass it on! Send long postings to the pacs address. If you need to reach me on paper, my snailmail address follows: =============================================== = (Copyleft 1993 Jay Machado) *UNALTERED* = Jay Machado = electronic distribution of this file for = 1529 Dogwood Drive = non-profit porpoises is encouraged. = Cherry Hill, NJ, 08003 = The opinions expressed herein do not = ph (eve) 609/795-0998 = do not necesarily represent anyone's = = actual opinion. = =============== end of Bits and Bytes Online V1, #3.==================

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