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Please read the administrivia section at the end for information on receiving B&B, also a cry for help from ye editor. Thanks! 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 5 B B I T S B B Y T E S 9/9/93 BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS ====================================================================== "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." Pablo Picasso ===================================================================== Libraries As Museums of Human Thought If computers aid our searching minds, we must not abandon the books during our leisure time. The serendipitous search through books is necessary for knowledge and learning. Browsing often evokes daydreams and unsuspected connections; analogies and pertinent finds happen among the stacks of physically accessible pages. Although not as efficient as the Boolean search, library browsing enriches us in unpredictable ways. Looking for something in a book library frequently leads to discoveries that overturn the questions we originally came to ask. ... Today libraries are becoming information centers rather than places for musing. The Los Angeles County Public Library, the world's largest circulating library, receives more requests for information than requests for books. In 1989, one university in California opened the first library without books, a building for searching electronic texts. Books still remain a primary source, but they are rapidly becoming mere sources of information. A large volume of book sales doesn't necessarily prove that the book, with its special psychic framework, endures as such. Many books today gain attention as nonbooks linked to cinema, television, or audio recordings. Searching through books was always more romance than business, more rumination than information. Information is by nature timebound. Supported by technological systems, information depends on revision and updating. When books become mere sources of information, they lose the atmosphere of contemplative leisure and timeless enjoyment. Old books then seem irrelevant, as they no longer pertain to current needs. One of the new breed of information publishers epitomizes this attitude in a pithy warning: "Any book more than two years old is of questionable value. Books more than four or five years old are a menace. OUT OF DATE = DANGEROUS." As book libraries turn into museums of alphabetic life, we should reclaim their original meaning. Museums are places for play, for playing with the muses that attract us, for dreams, intuitions, and enthusiasms. Information plugs us into the world of computerized productivity, but the open space of books balances our computer logic with the graces of intuition. ( Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality, p. 26-27. [1993, Oxford University Press. $21.00] ) ====================================================================== Peter Drucker II: The Future of Intellectual Property We have to rethink the whole concept of intellectual property, which was focused on the printed word. Perhaps within a few decades, the distinction between electronic transmissions and the printed word will have disappeared. The only solution may be a universal licensing system. Where you basically become a subscriber, and where it is taken for granted that everything that is published is reproduced. In other words, if you don't want everybody to know, don't talk about it. I think we are getting there very fast. [B&B agrees with this model] ... I have worked with musician Peter Gabriel on several projects. At a workshop we were holding for AT&T he was asked, "How do you deal with the piracy of your albums?" Gabriel said, "Oh, I treat it as free advertising. I follow it with a rock concert. When they steal my albums in Indonesia, I go there and perform." (SOURCE: "Post-Capitalist," Peter Drucker interviewed by Peter Schwartz, WIRED Magazine 1.3, July/August 1993, p. 80) ====================================================================== The Content Law of Information Not all information results in knowledge; we are constantly deluged with noise. One of the most perplexing problems is how to filter it. Ultimately, it's the responsibility of each individual. Make a conscious effort to examine your information needs and information flow. Separate the relevant from the irrelevant. What information do you have that someone else could use? What information does someone else have that you need? (Frank J. Ricotta Jr., "The Six Immutable Laws of Information," Information Week, 7/19/93, p. 63) ===================================================================== Down and Dirty Programming There are probably some situations where structured methods are the best way to approach software development. I just haven't seen any lately. ... Everywhere I go these days, development groups are churning out multiple iterations of application designs, spurning anything that smacks of a structured framework. Structured methods just don't work, according to one manager. "None of that bears any relation to the way things are done today." The way things are done today is fast, cheap and with the maximum amount of reality-checking along the way. (Joanne Kelleher, "Quick Isn't Dirty," Computerworld, 7/19/93, p. 32) ====================================================================== The Thinking Man's Computer In Japan, researchers have developed a computer-assisted robot hand that mimics the motions of a human hand by analyzing the tiny nerve pulses sent from the brain to the finger muscles. The goal here is to create brain-controlled artificial limbs that would be controllable by the wearer's brain rather than the current mechanically controlled models. (SOURCE: Tampa Tribune 7/27/93 N/W4, E-D-U-P-A-G-E) ====================================================================== Retooling Government Practices For The Information Age Al Gore's information technology team has delivered the draft of their plan for improving the use of computers and communications technologies by the federal government to the VP. The report will be made public after it is presented to President Clinton sometime after Labor Day. Sources say it will recommend a number of "best practices" - high-speed networks, electronic benefits transfer, geographic information systems (GIS) and public access to on-line data - culled from federal, state and local governments and industry. ere are some recommendations from the report: + Bring government services to places such as shopping malls via multimedia interactive kiosks. + Make much greater use of the Internet to provide public access to government databases and services. + Expand electronic distribution of food stamps and other benefits, such as welfare. + Continue the development of the National Information Infrastructure, built around the "data superhighway" long championed by Gore. This highway will form the backbone of the information economy in the US, and will be used to provide better medical care, educational services and on-the-job training to all corners of the U.S. Very few of the teams' recommendations will require legislation, and most can be initiated between government agencies on a handshake basis. "This report represents things that really can get done," said team manager Laraine Rodgers, director of MIS for the city of Phoenix and a veteran banking industry IS manager. "We will have some fantasy and science fiction stuff, but we'll say, get to that in a few years. Here's what to do now." (SOURCE: Gary H. Anthes, "White House gets tech advice," Computerworld 8/2/93, p. 4) ====================================================================== The Count To Three Principle Paradoxically, one way to master the power of a tool is to probe its weaknesses. Thus we offer the Count-to-Three Principle: IF YOU CANNOT THINK OF AT LEAST THREE WAYS OF ABUSING A TOOL, YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE IT. (Gerard M. Weinberg, An Introduction To General Systems Thinking [John Wiley and Sons, 1975] ====================================================================== Information Technology: Friend Or Foe? While there are signs that the national economy is slowly growing, unemployment stays flat or even keeps rising. Opinion as to the role of IT in this process is divided. Some blame technology for automating once-manual tasks, putting thousands out of work. (I've read that McDonalds is testing robot burger flippers!) Others say that increases in productivity will generate new wealth, putting thousands to work at new jobs, and enhancing consumer demand. (SOURCE: Joel Havemann and Norman Kempster, "The Case of the Disappearing Worker: What's Gone Wrong?" Los Angeles Times, July 6, p. H1) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Elsewhere, IEEE Spectrum for August reports that improvements in efficiency due in part to IT and automation advances have contributed to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs from major multinational companies. from December 1991 to December 1992 there was a US job loss of 5.8- percent in the computer industry, 1.6-percent in semiconductor companies, and 10.6-percent in the defense/commercial guidance system industry. The only sector showing a job gain was the prepackaged software market which expanded employment by 1.5-percent. ====================================================================== The World On a Chip I Your hair could grow across a two-micron gap in less than 10 seconds, but that's still too large a space for scientists pushing nanotechnology. Timothy Gardner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wants to place a single molecule, no bigger than 5 nanometers, between two electrodes to see if the molecule's signals can be read. It's the first step in developing a new science that could lead to microprocessors on a molecular scale, condensing all the computer power of the world on a single chip. (Hapgood, Fred. "The Really Little Engines That Might." Technology Review Feb./March 1993: p. 30) ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: AMD 486 Chips Set To Ship Advanced Micro Devices Inc. expects to ship their newly developed 486SX chips in September. Forbidden to use Intel's 486 microcode, AMD developed their own 486 logic. The chips will cost about the same as the Intel version, but will give users a little more horsepower, offering a 21% faster 40-MHz for the same price as Intel's 33-MHz chip. (SOURCE: INFOWORLD, 7/12/93, p. 87) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= AT&T, Sierra On-Line To Build Cyberspace Theme Parks AT&T and Sierra On-Line have entered into a partnership with the intention of creating theme parks in cyberspace. The Sierra Network, a graphical game playing bulletin board, will change its name to the Imagination Network. One of the more interesting features of the Sierra Network BBS is that you get to choose how you will appear to other players online. Choices are made from a toolbox of eyes, noses, etc. Your new character is then free to roam to the various area of the BBS and to interact with other human players. Area online include the Clubhouse, where players can play backgammon, bridge, chess; Sierraland amusement park which features a Red Baron dogfight simulation and a Paintball battlefield; and Medievaland where players can engage in a fantasy role-playing game called "The Shadow of Yserbius" that includes monsters, wizards, dungeons, and magic spells. In addition, third party content providers will be encouraged to create new interactive areas such as "virtual shopping malls" to browse and purchase products, or "communities of interest," where like- minded people can discuss and learn about various topics. (I see a need for a Star Trek Online Universe for game-players. The Imagination Network will also be accessible (for an additional fee) from Prodigy. TSN has received a lot of attention for their efforts in creating online communities, and this alliance with AT&T should give them the resources to become a major player. Presently, TSN costs as little as $12.95 per month, and they have a 3 hour FREE trial. (CONTACT: The Sierra Network: 800/SIERRA1) (SOURCES: Newsbytes 7/29/93, Edupage 7/29/93) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Cyberdesk Information Manager for Online Services This one sounds like a great idea. Those of you who deal with more than one online service know many of them have their own front-end software. Now along comes Cyberdesk, which claims to work with most major text-based on-line systems, including the cc:Mail package used on LANs, CompuServe, and MCI Mail. The program works under Microsoft Windows and automates many functions like dialing into the services, downloading mail, and uploading new messages. You read and respond to mail offline, which saves you money since most services charge by the minute. Cyberdesk is a lot like the off-line mailing programs which are popular in the BBS world. (SOURCE: Newsbytes 8/4/94) (CONTACT: CyberCorp, 404/424-6240, fax 404/424-8995) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Matsushita Unveils Flat Screen TV Matsushita Electric is coming out with a 14-inch color television set containing a picture tube just four inches thick (compared to a standard 13 inch thick tube). The new streamlined models will be available for sale overseas late next year. Matsushita plans to develop a larger, wall-hanging type of Flat Vision display in the near future which will support HDTV (high definition TV). (SOURCES: EDUPAGE 8/3/93, Newsbytes 8/3/93) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Windows NT To Ship Within 2 Weeks Microsoft Corporation said today that Windows NT and the Windows NT advanced server software has been released to manufacturing, putting the long-awaited software one step closer to shipping. Windows NT is one of the largest software projects ever undertaken, occupying developers for more than four years to produce the first truly new personal computer operating system to appear since IBM's OS/2. Microsoft Windows is not an operating system, but rather a link between the user and the underlying DOS (disk operating system) that has been the heart of millions of PCs. Users who install Windows NT will no longer have to have DOS installed, and NT will run Windows software. NT is said to be unix-like, offering true multiprocessing and system security features. On the down side, you need a lot of memory to run it. Lets see how this turns out for the gang at Redmond. Next year should see the release of Windows version 4, and DOS version 7.0, which is said to be a major upgrade of DOS. (SOURCE: Newsbytes News Service 7/27/93) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Microsoft Gets With the "Green" PC Agenda Microsoft has joined the US Environmental Protection Agency's Ally program, reemphasizing its commitment to providing consumers with software that supports energy efficiency. Microsoft ships Advanced Power Management 1.0 drivers in each MS-DOS 6.0, Windows, and Windows for Workgroups box. APM allows firmware built into a personal computer to determine when the software is not in use and when the system can conserve power. Microsoft also says it is making a concerted effort to educate employees about powering down idle computers and turning off their PCs during weekends and evenings. The EPA estimates that 30 to 40 percent of all PC equipment is left running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This consumes enough energy to keep at 12 power plants running year-round. (SOURCE: PC World August 1993 p.33) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= FREE Credit Report Bits and Bytes *loves* FREE stuff. We will try to point out interesting and useful FREE stuff to our readers. If you can tell me where to get any interesting FREE stuff, or if you have any FREE stuff you would like to send me, please feel FREE to do so. :-) This week's FREEbie is a FREE credit report. It seems that once a year you may request a copy of your credit report from TRW, one of the largest national credit reporting firms. Call 214/235-1200 and follow the instructions. This is a toll call, so this is not exactly FREE. :-( ====================================================================== FREE Advice: Tips For Speaking To A Crowd The six signals all audiences want to hear: 1) I will *not* waste your time. 2) I know who *you* are. 3) I am well *organized*. 4) I *know* my subject. 5) Here is my most *important* point. 6) I am *finished*. ====================================================================== Bits and Bytes Bookshelf: The Outer Limits Here are some books that will give you a preview of things to come, the further frontiers that Bits and Bytes only hints at. All are well written, aimed at the layman, and recommended: Artificial Life: The Quest For A New Creation by Stephen Levy [Vintage Books, 1992. $13.00] - The story of a new scientific discipline: the science of artificial life. Computer viruses are an early (and mostly destructive) form of a-life, but the next generation may actually be useful. You may send a knowbot out on the networks to look for a piece of data. It will be programmed to come return to you when it accomplishes it's mission. Virtual ants and other creatures that react to their surroundings, eat and even have sex are discussed. Software that uses the forces of evolution to solve complex problems (genetic algorithms) and insectlike robots that may be used by NASA to pave a landing area for a manned Mars mission. "Frankenstein, move over" as Clifford Stoll puts it on the back cover. The book also discusses the possible dangers of a-life. Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold [Summit Books,1991. $12.00] - "Though this world is very new indeed, Howard Rheingold has written an authoritative geography of Cyberspace. All the landmarks are here." (John Perry Barlow, The Electronic Freedom Foundation) Mind Children: The Future of Robots and Human Intelligence by Hans Moravec [1988, Harvard University Press. $8.95] - Dr. Moravec "argues that we are approaching a watershed in the history of life - a time when the boundaries between biological and postbiological intelligence will begin to dissolve. Withinn forty years, Moravec believes, we will acheive human equivalence in our machines, not only in their capacity to reason but also in their ability to perceive, interact with, and change their complex environment." (from the dust jacket) Easily the most 'far out' of the books listed here, Dr. Moravec, who is Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University, discusses the possibility of uploading the human mind into a robot brain, granting what amounts to immortality to the human race. It is a little too 'far out' even for me, but it makes for thought provoking reading. Dr. Moravec, to his credit, also discusses the possible downside of the possibilities he outlines. ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### REQUEST FOR CONTRIBUTIONS. Put the word out! Bits and Bytes is looking for short quotations like the one that appears at the top of each issue. Also any interesting information you think belongs in B&B. Contributors will be gratefully acknowledged. Speaking of which... THANKS! I would like to thank the person who contributed the quote that heads up this issue, except I lost hir* name. Please get in touch for a B&B apology and credit in the next issue. Also thanks to Dr. Kenneth Laws (, publisher of The Computists' Communique, for giving me some good advice. Write to Ken for information about his valuable electronic newsletter and service. (* hir is a concatenation of his and her which I will be using to avoid being sexist and to show the world what a sensitive new age guy I am. I figure this will help me "score" with "the babes".) Bits and Bytes Online, a weekly electronic newsletter, is the unofficial voice of Kuthumi in this sector of the universe. We come in peace. Please put down your weapons. Email Subscriptions are available at no cost from: or Put "SUBSCRIBE in the subject header and your EMAIL address in the body of the message. If you work for "the rail" (and you know who you are) 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. 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