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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 8 B B I T S B B Y T E S 8/30/93 BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS ====================================================================== "There has been an alarming increase in the number of things you know absolutely nothing about." -Anon. ====================================================================== Falling Through The Cracks "This is a perfect example of how some things can fall through the cracks during a conversion." - Arthur Gillis, bank consultant and president of Computer Based Solutions, Inc. of New Orleans - commenting on an error in the conversion of Manufacturer's Hanover Trust's ATM machines to Chemical Bank's ATM system (MHT merged with Chemical). This error allowed customers withdrawing money from Chemical's ATM machines in May to withdraw a total of $357,000 without any money being debited from accounts. (SOURCE: Information Week, 8/23/93 pg. 14) ====================================================================== Big Business and Virtual Reality - Not Ready For Prime Time? [from an interview with Rich Gold, a researcher at Xerox Parc, in Information Week, 7/26/93, p. 46] Q: Why aren't they [big business] interested in virtual reality? A: The feeling at Parc is that tomorrow's secretary is not going to be wearing some sort of head-mounted display to type a letter. Q: You've been involved in virtual reality for a few years now. How would you characterize the state of the industry? A: Virtual reality is in about the same place today that artificial intelligence was, say, in the early 1970s. There was an initial burst of enthusiasm now it's becoming clear just how complex the whole area is, how complex our brains are. The world is so complex - a virtual cup, for example, is nothing like a real cup. People thought the challenge would be to render objects graphically, to make them look real, but it's not. The real challenge is to get them to act real. Q: Technological limitations aside, will people feel comfortable in a virtual world? A: It will happen over time, although it is a challenge. I've been at major companies involved in virtual reality and seen the engineers take off the goggles to look at the computer monitor in 2-D. That's partly because the virtual world isn't rich enough yet, partly due to a need to get one's bearings. Q: What separates virtual reality and ubiquitous computing? A: In a sense they're opposites. The core of ubiquitous computing is that you don't have to leave your normal world to compute. You build very small computers into many things - your desk, your phone, the devices you carry. You're still entering a computer world when you use them, but it's very transparent. The concept of ubiquitous computing is very hot here. One thing we're working on here is called the Tab, a very small pen-based computer that would replace Post-It notes. You could carry it and jot things on it, and it could use wireless technology to communicate with other devices. Q: Speaking of large corporations, when can we expect virtual reality to play a large role in that market? A: Corporations are where the money is, and if virtual reality can find a killer application, it will take off. But I don't see it happening soon. Molecular modeling, wind-flow simulations - these won't find a huge audience. But there are a lot of people working in this area, so who knows what will happen five years from now? ====================================================================== The Free Form Law of Information Information can exist in multiple forms (voice, video, text, images, etc.). Everyone assimilates information differently. End systems need to be able to adapt to every individual in order to maximize the information retained. (Frank J. Ricotta Jr., "The Six Immutable Laws of Information," Information Week, 7/19/93, p. 63) ====================================================================== Are You A Target? The revolution in telecommunications and computer database technology has dramatically improved the ability of business to access and sell personal information, but the move toward "audience targeting" has spurred a debate about how much consumer data should be available to direct mail companies. The direct mail industry favors the status quo, privacy advocates are pressing for restrictions, and the government is moving on the issue. (Lambeth Hochwald," The Privacy Keepers," Folio, 7/1/93, p. 62.) ====================================================================== Market Predictions Sales of new computer products will expand from $800 million this year to about $3.5 billion by 1998, according to a study by International Data Corp. The report predicted that 10 million organizers, personal digital assistants and electronic notepads would be sold over the next five years. (source: Tampa Tribune 7/25/93 B&F10, Newsbytes) According to a report from Market Vision, a market research group, less than 1% of the total market for multimedia has been tapped. They project that by 1997 multimedia will generate $9 billion in revenue for the computer industry and $15 billion in consumer-related products. The top applications will be video games, movies on demand, interactive movies, electronic photo albums, home shopping, personal data management and e-mail. Quality consumer titles will be priced below $50, making them attractive entertainment values. (SOURCE: Newsbytes 8/13/93) A study called "Online Services: 1993 Review, Trends & Forecast," says that although business and professional on-line services still represent 95 percent of the business (worth $4.5 billion), consumer services like Compuserve, Delphi, and America Online are showing the fastest growth, and are on there way to becoming billion dollar industries. North American is where the online action is, accounting for 56% of the world's total sales volume. (SOURCE: Newsbytes 8/11/93) ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: +LOW COST LASER PRINTER. The Okidata OL400e laser printer, expected to have a street price of $499, represents a new low price point for laser printers. The 300 dot-per-inch, 4 page-per-minute output, is upgradeable via memory add-ons and a built-in PCMCIA peripheral slot. (CONTACT: Okidata: 609/235-2600, fax 609/778-4184) +PC MODEMS: 28,800 BPS, ANYONE? Practical Peripherals announced it would begin shipping 28,800 bps modems under the emerging V. Fax standard in the fourth quarter of 1993. The V. Fax standard is not due to be ratified until mid-1994. In the meantime, prices continue to drop on 9600 and 14.4K modems, with Hayes and Boca Raton announcing price cuts. (SOURCE: Newsbytes 8/25/93) +THE UNCOPIER. Ricoh Co. has developed a technique for erasing photo- copied documents by lifting the toner off. The process reverses what happens when an image is photocopied -- it applies a chemical "peel- off" solution to the paper, then melts the toner and peels it off the page with a heated roller. The resulting page can then be used again to make more copies. Production should begin within two years. (SOURCE: Wall Street Journal 8/20/93 p. B2, Edupage) ====================================================================== Y.A.H.D.S.D. Yet another high density storage device was announced by a consortium of 8 Japanese firms and researchers at Tohuku University. The prototype, capable of storing 100X more data than conventional disks, uses clean room technology and a layerered pure cobalt-nickel-chrome hard disk to increase magnetic retention ability by 60%. The device will cost less than conventional drives to mass produce. According to Newsbytes, the private firms that participated in this project include "Nikko-Kyoseki, Nichiden-Anelba, Asahi Glass, Alps Electric, Kobe Seikosho, Hitachi Kinzoku, Fuji Electric, General Research Institute and HOYA." Just wanted to get those cool Japanese names in. (SOURCE: Newsbytes, 8/23/93) ====================================================================== DIGital Media "The use of desktop videoconferencing is going to be a one-on-one kind of thing - just one or two people at [different] sites working together on a document." (Nick Odowick, videoconferencing specialist, Northrup Corp., quoted in BYTE, September 1993, p. 80) = = = = = = = = = = = = = Fox News is using digital technology to rescue 55 million feet of decaying newsreel film archives, the equivalent of 5,000 feature- length movies. A lens scans the film and converts it to digital form for storage on recorders from Kodak and Sony. (SOURCE: New York Times 8/25/93 C2, Edupage) ====================================================================== Media Wars I Round and round it goes... and who gets to deliver the multimedia- flavored snack food to a waiting populace, nobody seems to know. Hi-tech bread and circuses, fun for the entire post-nuclear family. Here are some of the latest doings as a variety of of business interests jockey for position: Bell Atlantic got the judicial go-ahead to try and tap into a multi- million dollar market providing interactive services such as video games, home shopping and movies-on-demand. The court found unconstitutional a law barring telephone companies (telcos) from providing content, as opposed to merely acting as the plumbing the information comes through. Telephone companies say this provides them with the financial incentive to upgrade their systems to full fiber optic connectivity, while opponents say this will stifle innovation and slow the development of the third-party content providers on which the success of this new medium depends. * Continental Cablevision Inc., the third-largest cable TV company in the US, will offer Internet access via a PC/Modem hookup directly into their cable lines, bypassing local phone hookups while providing download speeds of up to 10 million bits per second. That'll do - for starters. Other multimedia services are planned, including TV quality video and hi-fi digital music feed. Internet hookup will be courtesy of Performance Systems International Inc. (PSI). Continental's networks are being expanded to supported LAN standards like Ethernet and emerging standards like FDDI (fiber distributed data interface). A special modem will be required for access, marketed by both PSI and local cable operators. Part of the agreement provides several cable channels dedicated to PSI's Internet customers in areas served by Continental. Upgrades to emerging standards are planned, and PSI hopes to sign on at least 50 other cable operators during 1994. The system will debut later this year in the Boston area. * The telcos have the upper hand financially, having easy access to vast pools of investment-grade money, while cable companies need to invest $20 billion to $40 billion on infrastructure upgrades for planned hi-tech offerings like telepresence and virtual dry cleaning. * Following in AMD's footsteps, IBM plans to create their own clone of Intel's microprocessor chips in an effort to regain their dominance of the personal-computer business. IBM is currently one of Intel's best customers. An added twist is that IBM's new product will be in direct competition with the PowerPC chip, a collaborative effort between IBM, Motorola and Apple. * IBM and Blockbuster Video Would like to sell you made while you wait CDs. Using satellites and computer technology, your selections would be downloaded from a database, and put on a CD for you. Color artwork and credits would be mailed to you separately. Every store would theoretically have access to the entire record catalog. You could be buying a movie, a music or audio video, or some computer software, the delivery method would be the same. * Of course the big financial news in this area is the recent $12.6 billion merger of AT&T and McCaw Cellular Communications. The nation's biggest long-distance network and biggest cellular carrier will soon be as one, in a strong position to provide seamless service to the mobile computing and wireless communications markets. This is a major shakeup for the telecom industry. The deal will take about a year to consummate and to receive regulatory approval. PDAs are expected to play a major part in this new entity's bid for success. AT&T owns controlling interest in the EO line of Personal Communicators. * Round and round it goes... and where it stops let's have a word from our sponsor. (SOURCES: Edupage, Newsbytes, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Atlanta Constitution, and my own feverish imagination) ====================================================================== V/R Superstar "The technological battlefield of the future will be adding layers between the user and the raw machine to make the interface as invisible as possible," said Pierluigi Zappacosta, president and founder of mouse pioneer Logitech, Inc. In Japan, he said, research under way aims at enabling computers to distinguish between "yes" and "no" from human brainwaves. ... "It's not so strange to think computers will allow us to make our next evolutionary step by expanding our brain power - we will become part of it and it part of us." A number of developers, Logitech included, remain convinced that virtual reality represents the next evolutionary step for the interface. While also limited to entertainment use so far, virtual reality is causing a great deal of enthusiasm as an interface, Zappacostas said. "Virtual reality has raised the interface to the level of superstar." (Stephen P. Klett, Jr., "Innovative input," ComputerWorld 8/23/93, p.28) ====================================================================== Social Computing A recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, Inc. predicts a new computing architecture, called "social computing," which will emerge as new interactive technologies such as hand held computers, intelligent telephones and interactive TVs begin to collide with unmet needs in American society. This will bring about new relationships between producers and consumers as they are brought into direct contact each other electronically. The report states that this alone "reshuffles the competitive deck," and that suppliers failing to embrace the new architecture will be abandoned by "cable-ready" customers increasingly impatient with the frustrations of modern life, with counterintuitive interfaces and clumsy controllers. Consumers just want the goods delivered in a timely and entertaining manner - the time being NOW of course - and at a reasonable cost. The report acknowledges that activity in the marketplace resembled a "frenzied mating dance," but also foresees that some trends will emerge from the chaos: Within five years a new generation of TVs, telephones and hand held electronic devices, derivatives of PC hardware, will support two way communication. A variety of PDAs and specialized information devices will be manufactured for specific tasks (such as notetaking for classes, research work, reading, or letter writing). One device may perform a variety of functions previously done by several others. Wireless and traditional networks will offer "anywhere, anytime" communications. Commercial Information services and BBS systems will explode in number and move towards mainstream use as user friendly interfaces are developed. "The Market is driven by, 'Make my job easier, make me smarter faster and make me have more fun in the limited time that I have,'" said Carl Lehmann, director consumer media and electronics at BIS Strategic Decisions in Norwell, Mass. Lehman also said that a true mass market - defined as being in use in over 30% of US homes - is at least a decade away. (SOURCE: Gary H. Anthea, "New devices to propel technology into social fabric," ComputerWorld 8/23/93, p. 78) ====================================================================== Bits and Bytes Bookshelf Virtual Light by William Gibson [Bantam Spectra, 1993. 325 pp. $21.95 - William Gibson is kind of the guy who defined the cyberpunk genre with his award winning novel Neuromancer (1984). In that novel and the two that followed, Gibson created the Sprawl - an urban battlefield where "the street finds it's own use for things." A world of corporate intrigue and Japanese Biotech, a world where virtual reality, the worldnet and more are givens, a film noir world that Raymond Chandler would've felt at home in, yet strangely familiar. Since this was Gibson's first work (not counting his 1992 collaborative effort with Bruce Sterling called The Difference Engine) to be set outside the world he had so painstakingly imagineered, I wondered how he would escape the shadow of his well known 'trilogy'. I needn't have worried - Bill Gibson is a master craftsman, and Virtual Light is his best written novel yet. If this issue seems like it was thrown together at the last minute - it was, and you can thank William Gibson for that! I spent a good portion of my free time immersed in his book this week. Now I'm a fast reader, but some texts are designed to be savored. Mr. Gibson is a poet in cyberpunk's clothing. In a style that can be described as future-gothic, he spins a tale, hard-boiled and luminous, and it cuts closer to the bone than previous efforts since the future described is *almost* familiar - too close for comfort in some cases, which makes it harder to just laugh it off as "mere" science fiction. Set in the year 2005, life goes on pretty much like it does now, except that earthquakes have leveled Tokyo and San Francisco, and California is divided into two states. The coming world depression occurs more or less on schedule, and virtual reality and teleprescence are givens. The proliferation of cable TV has made possible a surge in strange new religious cults using televison as their pulpit, and offering hope in strange and twisted times. It's hard to describe in a few paragraphs what this book is a about. There is a plot here, about stolen virtual-reality glasses, and plenty of action, but Gibson's prose is the driving force here, immersing you in a universe at once familiar and disorienting, making you think about the present in new ways. This novel has some points to make, a moral agenda and quite a tale to tell. It looks as if William Gibson has found a new world to explore. Mobile Robots: Inspiration to Implementation by Anita Flynn and Joseph Jones [A.K. Peters, 1993. 349 pp. $39.95] - Based on research from the Mobot Lab at MIT, this appears to be a very good beginner's manual for the aspiring robot maker. It covers the design and construction of mobile robots, sensors, power supplies and intelligence systems. Construction techniques for two simple robots, TubeBot and Rug Warrior, are shown, and techniques are outlined for building more sophisticated devices. Appendixes contain schematics and interface electronics, a program of behaviors, and lists of parts suppliers, magazines, journals and BBSs devoted to robotics. ====================================================================== On The Newsstand BYTE magazine is always a good read for us techno-weenies, but the September issue is especially useful. The cover story on video computing showcases new machines from Apple and Silicon Graphics with extensive multimedia capabilities. The Silicon Graphics Indy has a direct-to-digital camera with microphone built in on top of the monitor! (Sony has something similar in the works) Other articles include a test drive of three of the new personal digital assistants (PDAs) now hitting the market, several articles on electronic publishing, and a roundup of the best buys in high-speed drives. Byte's coverage is always comprehensive without being exhaustive; their new layout and contents page make it easy to take in as much or as little as you need on a given subject. Look for George Jetson on the cover. ====================================================================== Ren and Stimpy on the Information Explosion REN: Stimpy, your wealth of ignorance astounds me! STIMPY: They don't call me stupid for nothing! (Ren and Stimpy can be seen on Nickleodeon Cable Channel Sundays at 11 AM. Not for the weak-hearted) ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### IN THE FUTURE...Watch this space for some announcements. REQUEST FOR CONTRIBUTIONS. This one too. In the meantime, feel free. THANKS! Thanks to all of you who have unsubscribed, and are now receiving B&B through the elven magic of the Internet. "They say the world is getting smaller every day, but I'd hate to have to paint it." (Steven Wright) Thanks to Elizabeth Lane Lawley(via alt.quotations), for the anonymous quote that heads up the issue. Thanks to someone (whose name I misplaced) for sending in the section titled Falling Through the Cracks. ACCESS. B&B is available for downloading on America Online in their telecom files area, and in Compuserve's telecom forum library. Delphi access is forthright and forthcoming. INTERNET ANONYMOUS FTP SITES: in /journals INTERNET GOPHER ACCESS. - in the Discussions and Listserv archives/ Teknoids directory - in the Electronic Journals directory ====================================================================== BITS AND BYTES ONLINE, is the weekly electronic newsletter for high- tech dumpster divers. E-mail 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" send a similar message to my internal emailbox. To unsubscribe, send a message with "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the subject header and your email address in the body. See you next week. ====================================================================== Jay Machado = (Copyleft 1993 Jay Machado) *unaltered* = 1529 Dogwood Drive = ELECTRONIC distribution of this file for = Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 = non-profit purposes is encouraged. = ph (eve) 609/795-0998 = In fact, I dare you *not* to. The editor = ======================== is solely responsible for the contents, = = but makes no claims or assurances implicit = Calm down. It's only = or otherwise regarding the validity of = ones and zeroes. = opinions expressed herein. Changes in the = = texture of the fabric are the result of = - Sam Kass = natural processes and should not be seen = = as defects in the pattern. = =============== end of Bits and Bytes Online V1, #8.==================


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