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

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

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 9 B B I T S B B Y T E S 9/6/93 BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS Labor Day 1993 ====================================================================== "It is unworthy of excellent [people] to lose hours like slaves in the labor of calculation" - Baron Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz(1646-1716) ====================================================================== Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Richard Feynman writes about his antics while studying at MIT. The following excerpt is from his autobiography "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": I often liked to play tricks on people when I was at MlT. One time, in mechanical drawing class, some joker picked up a French curve (a piece of plastic for drawing smooth curves - a curly, funny-looking thing) and said, "I wonder if the curves on this thing have some special formula?" I thought for a moment and said, "Sure they do. The curves are very special curves. Lemme show ya," and I picked up my French curve and began to turn it slowly. "The French curve is made so that at the lowest point on each curve, no matter how you turn it, the tangent is horizontal." All the guys in the class were holding their French curve up at different angles, holding their pencil up to it at the lowest point and laying it along, and discovering that, sure enough, the tangent is horizontal. They were all excited by this "discovery" even though they had already gone through a certain amount of calculus and had already "learned" that the derivative (tangent) of the minimum (lowest point) of any curve is zero (horizontal). They didn't put two and two together. They didn't even know what they "knew." I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding, they learn by some other way-by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile. ("Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of A Curious Character [Bantam Books 1986]) ====================================================================== "Skilled work, of no matter what kind, is only done well by those who take a certain pleasure in it, quite apart from its utility, either to themselves in earning a living, or to the world through its outcome." - Bertrand Russell ====================================================================== National Online Media Association Formed at ONEBBSCON "A new trade association, the National Online Media Association (NOMA), was formed at ONE BBSCON '93 in Colorado Springs on August 27th, 1993. NOMA comprises BBS operators, Internet service providers, and other online media and services." "NOMA's mission is to act for the BBS and online service industry on matters of national importance by creating an industry presence in Washington, D.C. and other means; assist its members at the state and local levels; educate the public on the unique social, business and legal roles of BBS's and other online services; establish appropriate industry standards and guidelines; promote business development in the industry; and maintain and provide access to resources and industry information for use by the public and the industry." An 11 person Organizing Committee composed of BBS sysops and people from AOL, Delphi, and other online service industries, will be issuing a proposal detailing NOMA's charter, bylaws, membership requirements, structure, and form of leadership will be distributed within the BBS and online services industry by November 30th, 1993. "Discussion areas are being set up immediately for those interested in participating in NOMA's early development. An Internet mailing list is available to all those interested at natbbs@echonyc.com (subscribe to natbbs-request@echonyc.com). A conference area is also being made available on the Delphi national information service." (ONEBBSCON is the largest gathering of BBS operators and industry leaders in the world. It was held in late August at Colorado Springs, Colorado. All quoted material is from NOMA's press release. If you need more information, please contact: Phil Liggett (LIGGETT@delphi.com), (203)233-3163 Lance Rose, Esq. (elrose@echonyc.com), (201)509-1700 ====================================================================== "I considered preaching, but preachers don't make a lot and have to work hard." - Willie Nelson ====================================================================== Rupert Murdoch Buys Delphi Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has bought General Videotex, which runs the Delphi and Bix services. The company will be renamed Delphi Internet Services when the deal closes in about a month, which gives you some idea where the controversial media empire's interests lie. Delphi will become a part of News Corp.'s news technology group, and with Murdoch's backing hopes to become a much bigger player in the interactive services future. Delphi does not yet have a graphic interface, although one is in the works. Tentative discussions have been had regarding online versions of the TV Guide, Boston Herald, NY Post and other Murdoch newspapers. Delphi hopes to develop templates for the newspapers of the future, which will take time, though some changes will come much sooner, like online appearances by authors, and the establishment of virtual communities for different subjects of information, perhaps in conjunction with Harper Collins, Murdoch's book publishing arm. Murdoch has bold plans for forming alliances with many other kinds of communication companies and Delphi could become a major player in the US online market. One thing Delphi will *not* change is "the community feel people really cherish on Delphi," explained Rusty Williams, vice president and general manager of Delphi. Smart move, since these are the things that keep people online. I can personally recommend Delphi's service. If you are looking for an inexpensive point of entry to the internet, their 20/20 gives you 20 hours of access for $23 monthly, including email, gopher and FTP. They have a well-stocked file library of basic guides to the internet, and their internet forum is full of budding infonauts eager to help beginners out. (CONTACT: Delphi 800/111-1111) (SOURCE: Newsbytes 9/2/93) ====================================================================== "Bozo" Filters Revisited In B&Bv1#7, I reported of a biologist from Ohio's program that automatically wipes out anonymous messages on the internet. It seems I misunderstood exactly what the program did. A reader writes: > Could you check the original story again? The way I heard it, the > guy was in fact ARMMing the anonymous messages, using a demon that > automatically sent out unauthorized "cancel" messages for the > messages he didn't like. A cancel message causes the original > message to be deleted from every machine that the cancel message > reaches. This, I think you'll agree, is much more serious than > simply having a kill file. In other words, his program was actively seeking and destroying messages he found personally offensive as opposed to merely filtering them out from his view. When I understood that fact, a small chill went up my spine and I began to see how tricky things can get in a digital universe, where all information and communications are subject to manipulation. Issues of privacy and genuine freedom of speech, of secure lines of communication and information exchange, take on new and added urgency as more and more people come online and begin to transact business and exchange confidences there. On the one hand, I subscribe to the concept of owning one's words, of standing behind them. This can be problematic in the real world, as evidenced by the disclaimers on many postings that opinions expressed do not necessarily blah blah blah... my employer's opinions. Gregory Steshenko, an employee of Microsoft, was allegedly fired from his job because his usenet postings (posted through the company email system) were deemed politically offensive. Microsoft says he was dismissed for performance reasons. I myself have not read the postings and so am in no position to defend or denounce them. I do however, defend his right to express himself to anyone who cares to listen. Perhaps people should use their own facilities to send postings that may be deemed offensive; even so the possibility exists of someone reading your posting, disagreeing or being offended by it, and taking some kind of action: Sending a complaint to your employer (as happened in the Steshenko case), or perhaps sending a program out on the net to delete your postings wherever it finds them. What if everyone decided to send out programs to delete postings they found offensive or politically incorrect? Dangerous precedents are being set: in a medium where the free flow of information is critical, any stanching of that flow will only slow the growth of that medium and stunt it in unforeseen ways. Freedom of expression must be maintained on the net if it is to be an accurate mirror of our society. ====================================================================== "We had pleased ourselves with the delectable visions of the spiritualization of labor....Each stroke of the hoe was to uncover some aromatic root of wisdom....But...the clods of earth, which we constantly belabored and turned over and over, were never etherealized into thought. Our thoughts, on the contrary, were fast becoming cloddish. Our labor symbolized nothing and left us mentally sluggish in the dusk of the evening." - Nathaniel Hawthorne, as quoted in "In the Age of The Smart Machine" by Shoshana Zuboff(Basic Books 1988) ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: +ADVENTURES IN TELEPHONY I: LET'S PLAY PHONE TAG! Here in the stone ages of information age we must often make do with the tools we are provided with until something better comes along. Anyone who has ever had to play phone mail tag or deal with an automated answering system from hell know how frustrating some "labor-saving" gizmos can be. For those of us who have to use voice mail to communicate, a FREE 12 page booklet, "Making The Most Of Voice Mail" provides some good tips and techniques for making vmail work for you and not vice-versa. The booklet was prepared for the Voice Messaging Educational Committee, a consortium of voice messaging manufacturers and service providers, by Vanguard Communications Corp., facilitators for the committee. Some tips are common sense, like changing your greeting if you know you'll be out of the office or on vacation, but some advice is not so obvious. The elements of a good voice mail greeting, how do deal with an unknown voice mail system, and design of voice mail menus ("press 7 to speak to Kuthumi...") are among topics touched on. The info provided will help users of conventional v-mail systems make the best of it until next generation PDAs, smart phones, and other computer- driven technologies simplify the task of staying plugged-in in an increasingly networked world. (ACCESS:) Copies of this useful booklet may be obtained from Vanguard at 210/605-8000, or from AT&T (800/325-7466 x93000, Digital Sound Corporation (800/366-0700 x2130), or VMX Inc.(800/444-4VMX). +HYBRID NETWORKS INC.'S "NEW INTERNET" SERVICE. Hybrid Networks Inc., announced the Hybrid Access System (HAS) Service, which delivers information at 10 Mbps (Ethernet-speed) using common personal computers, modems, telephone and cable lines, and Hybrid's Remote Link Adapter. The HAS provides wideband remote access to the Internet and corporate networks in selected metropolitan areas. With one of Hybrid's systems, home and business users can connect to the Internet at speeds previously available only to users at large corporations or universities. Hybrid announced two services that work off of the HAS: The Hybrid Telecommuter Service and The New Internet. The Telecommuter Service provides access to corporate information without the expense of dedicated lines, and the New Internet service provides access to Mosaic, a user-friendly Internet search-and-retrieval tool from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Hybrid President and CEO Howard Strachman, claims that his company has constructed the on and off ramps to the data highway. Sounds good to me. Not surprisingly, the PCs used will need lots of RAM and processing power to handle the images users want to display. The system will require *at least* a 9600-baud modem. (CONTACT: Hybrid Networks, 408-725-3250) (SOURCE: Newsbytes, 8/11/93) ====================================================================== INTEROP CONVENTION 1993 An estimated 75,000 people attended this year's Interop convention in San Francisco, where the techno-people go to see what's coming next in interoperable systems - new gizmos that perform more and more functions, perhaps operating in conjunction with other networked devices to deliver seamless service to a waiting public - at least that's the phantasy. The TV people were there, and the cable operators and telco reps too. They see these technologies (and rightly so) as the key to their continued well-being, and have all invested major amounts of money and effort in positioning themselves in these emerging markets through a truly mind-boggling array of mergers and alliances. A major problem all are faced with is that of the interface: If these new services are to gain mass acceptance, interfaces must be easier to use than current ones. A million blinking VCR clocks just won't cut it this time. The stakes are too high. There is a wealth of useful (and just plain neat) information out on the internet, but it's usually not easy to find or to get to. Well this just won't sell to a populace that will want at least the same push-button ease of use they get from their TVs and microwave ovens. Now I don't mind diving into the internet for some data, but it sure would be nice if certain standard ways of accessing and retrieving information were available so I could save my energy for the much more difficult task of analyzing that information for possible relevance or usefulness (or entertainment value, for that matter). Here are summaries of two convention reports, gleaned from the net: I. Laws of The Telecosm The keynote speaker George Gilder, delivered an address entitled "Laws of Telecosm" that forecasts the death of TV, the telephone, and computers as we now know them. The fatal blow will be delivered by advances in cellular telephony coupled with wireless computer networks. Gilder stressed that the standalone PC is an inadequate tool. "A computer without a network is like a car in the jungle... The magic of a car comes in conjunction with asphalt. The real benefits of computers arise from the links among them." said Mr. Gilder, a former Kissinger staffer and author of "Life After Television (1991)". Between 1989 and 1993, the percentage of computers connected to networks rose from less than 10 percent to more than 60 percent. "Networks are the driving force of economic growth today," Gilder said. Those of us who have played with our computers for (too?) long know that there's only so much you can do with one that can be considered meaningful before you need to connect with the outside world - the journalist checks his sources :, the scientist publishes his findings and exchanges data with colleagues. The computer has played a major role in bringing on the so-called information explosion. Gilder describes three technologies emerging to rule the new telecosm: sand (silicon chips), glass (fiber-optics), and air (the electro- magnetic spectrum). He says that there will be more than enough bandwidth to go around for emerging technologies. "Today, we're on the verge of the largest opportunity in the history of technology," he said, adding that by the turn of the century the power of 16 Cray supercomputers would be available for less than 100 bucks. Network architectures based on the assumption of scarce bandwidth are obsolete. On the contrary, Gilder envisions 25,000 gigahertz system capacity , which is the equivalent to " the number of phone calls in America during the peak moment on Mother's day" (WIRED 1.4). Imagine that much data coming at you on a thread of glass the width of a human hair. "The most common PC of the next decade will be a ... as personal as your wallet." To what uses will we dedicate these amazing bandwidths and processing abilities? What exactly will we paying attention to with our brave new senses? II. Internet 101 In this tutorial presented by Sue Estrada (formerly of CERFNet and now of Aldea Communications), Ms. Estrada gave a basically negative assessment of accessibility on the Internet. "She presented most of the new Internet "tools" in her tutorial, but was frank and often funny in her description of her own difficulties in getting these "tools" -- mail ftp telnet, Usenet, gopher, WWW, WAIS, Archie -- to work right. It's not a perfect world on the Internet yet, Sue told us, and it's far better that we admit this and admit it to our users than that we pretend that we can do the impossible on what nevertheless still is the most exciting new information resource since the printed book." (From a conference report by Jack Kessler to the Public-Access Computer Systems Forum , transmitted from the convention floor on a "wireless" radio modem- equipped Powerbook laptop, via a little "cigarette-girl" front-pack display rack, carried by a guy named Chris who is walking around the Convention Center selling the RadioMail Service ($89/mo) to Interop Conference attendees) * * * (SOURCES: Newsbytes, WIRED 1.4, Public-Access Computer Systems Forum) ====================================================================== (Not So) Stupid E-Mail Tricks Interested in getting some data from the internet but only have access to internet e-mail services? Or perhaps you don't want to master the intricacies of ftp to get something to read? Well hang on, help is on the way! Try this one out: (from WIRED 1.3) Send a message addressed to: "info.new.technology@ieee.org" (leave the quotes out). Doesn't matter what the message is, it probably won't be read by hu-man eyes, but what you will get back in email is a voice mail type menu explaining how to request a variety of technical reports on emerging technologies. The process was likened to an "internet vending machine," and the requested document could be in your mailbox in minutes, depending on traffic. It's elven magic, I tell you! The idea is also known as ftpmail (anonymous ftp, or file transfer protocol, is one of the commonest tools for getting files on the internet), and I will be posting other mail-server addresses in upcoming issues of B&B. ====================================================================== AT THE NEWSSTAND: I would be remiss if I did not inform you that WIRED 1.4 (Sept/Oct) has hit the racks, and by gummy it is another fine issue, jam packed with thought-provoking reading in a visually stimulating package. The centerpiece is William Gibson's first major piece of non-fiction, a report from Singapore, that most determinedly high-tech of the pacific rim nations. From the sound of it, a strange and twisted place to find oneself. Other articles include an interview with George Gilder about "dark fiber", a look at successful commercial BBS systems, a fascinating article by Michael Critchon (The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park) on where the mass media is headed (hint: the way of the dinosaur), the state of the telephone industry in Russia, cyberpunk R.I.P., and a tour of Industrial Light and Magic's special effects facilities by Rudy Rucker. A new column, Net.Surf, is a two page grab-bag of internet goodies, addresses and stories, and makes an excellent addition to their other ongoing columns. Amazing Stuff! ====================================================================== "Blessed is he who has found his work. Let him ask no other blessedness." - Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### IN THE FUTURE...Please note the new release schedule. The next issue is due out 10/20/93. THANKS! I'd like to thank the academy, and my pet dog sparky, and all 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: ftp.dana.edu in /periodic directory INTERNET GOPHER ACCESS. - gopher.law.cornell.edu in the Discussions and Listserv archives/ Teknoids directory - gopher.dana.edu in the Electronic Journals directory ====================================================================== BITS AND BYTES ONLINE, an electronic newsletter for text-based life- forms, is published three dozen times a year, on the 1st, 10th, and 20th of each month. E-mail Subscriptions are available at no cost from slakmaster@aol.com. Put "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject header and your email address in the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send a message with "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the subject header and your email address in the body. Send correspondence to jmachado@pacs.pha.pa.us. *This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons* ====================================================================== 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 = Opinions expressed in B&B are subject to = ======================== change without advance notification. = ======================== Consult your local newspaper for daily = ======================== show times. = =============== end of Bits and Bytes Online V1, #9.==================

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank