+quot;But soon, soon, soon. the world will be a better place, with meadows and bunnies and

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"But soon, soon, soon... the world will be a better place, with meadows and bunnies and fiber optics in every home..." -- Tom Dowdy, Apple Computer ====================================================================== BBB III TTT SSS BBB Y Y TTT EEE SSS ONLINE EDITION: B B I T S B B Y Y T E S =THE ELECTRONIC BBB I T SSS AND BBB YYY T EEE SSS =NEWSLETTER FOR B B I T S B B Y T E S =HIGH-TECH BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS =DUMPSTER DIVERS ====================================================================== Volume 1, Number 11 (October 1, 1993) ====================================================================== CONTENTS: = Statement of Purpose ----|---- Corporate Wisdom = High-Tech in the Courtroom ----|---- Fatal Distraction = Paranoia on the Internet ----|---- Voyeur's Delight = NT SQL Server Ships ----|---- Holodeck Update = Newton PDA Reviews Are In ----|---- The Virtual Office = Telecommuting and the Law ----|---- Simplicity Vs. Complexity = ====================================================================== Statement of Purpose I was surprised when the Internet Business Journal included me in a listing of business resources, furthermore implying that B&B "reviews developments in the computer industry." Wait a minute! I said, but then I reread everything and realized I was doing that to some degree. But it's not the only thing, and it's not the *main* thing. Certainly it's important, since government and commerce and industry are major factors the modern landscape. But I felt an explanation of what the "purpose" of B&B was in order to clear up any misconceptions that might arise when I venture into more, er... abstract topics. When I was putting together the first Bits and Bytes Online Edition I wrote a brief statement of purpose I emailed out as a prospectus. I have revised and expanded it, as much for your information as mine. BITS AND BYTES ONLINE EDITION explores the interaction between emerging technologies and the people and cultures that use them. The tone is informal, the emphasis is on the future, and the goal is to raise awareness of the effects of technology on our lives. If it seems like B&B is a trendy publication, covering as it does computers and multimedia and interactivity, it just so happens that right now these interactive multimedia technologies have caught the media's (and hence the public's) fancy, and we're at a point, techologically speaking, where glimmerings of some of the cooler things the future has in store for us can be seen. The money machine is in full motion, and the spin doctors are whirling dervishly: Time- Warner, AT&T, Microsoft, and a host of other companies are preparing to rake in huge profits from an emerging industry that is more promise than reality right now. One article I read likens it to the early pioneer days of the American West -- the colonization of a new world. And that's exactly what's going on. There is a certain amount of gold fever here, especially since the technology has yet to catch up the vision (for the most part). The Holodeck is still a few light years off. :-( We won't be plugging our brains directly into computer networks or downloading our consciousness into robotic constructs anytime soon. But think of the possibilities -- both for good and for evil. Our track record with new technologies is not entirely reassuring. We have managed to stink up our planet pretty well since we discovered fossil fuels and mass production. Most of our new technologies (including AI and VR) emerge from the bowels of the war machine. Is it just a coincidence that as the influence of mass media grows our SAT scores and common sense seem to be going down the tubes? In the words of the esteemed Mr. T, "I hate coincidences." So I do worry about where all this is leading us. But once you let the genie out of the bottle, it's pretty hard to get it back in there. What is needed is some degree of planning and public debate that has been seriously lacking when new technologies start to leave the lab and hit the streets. What effects will these new technologies have on the fabric of society, on the way we live our lives? It can be argued, for instance that the automobile is responsible for many of the problems currently afflicting American society: the collapse of our inner cities and the end (for the most part) of the sense of community that people used to have when they lived in neighborhoods. Perhaps the new communities now forming in cyberspace will replace some of these lost values. But (for the foreseeable future) we will be in a physical body, and that body has to live somewhere. You should know where that place is, and know your neighbors, and make sure that place is a safe and agreeable place to live. Suburbs, as they currently configured, are not conducive to these purposes: you get home exhausted after battling rush hour traffic and collapse in front of your TV set. It all started with the automobile. But when cars first started rolling off the assembly lines, no one envisioned the changes they would bring to our landscape. We've had a little more practice now at rolling out new technologies; we are living with the consequences of not examining several of them closely enough. Hopefully this time things will be different, although I'm not sure why I should think so. Hope springs eternal I guess. I concentrate on digital technologies because our communicative and tool making abilities are the ones that separate us from the other species, and today the computer is our main toolmaking and communicating device. Plus I'm in the computer profession myself (I'm a programmer). Plus I think computers are cool - heh heh heh. (Beavis and Butthead/ Bits and Bytes - coincidence?) So I am not a technophobe -- if used properly, there are more than enough resources to solve the world's problems. All we need to do is think things through a little bit better than we have to date. So that's one of my purposes here: to promote just a little bit of thinking about where we are going with all these newfangled gadgets. Also, I hope Bits and Bytes Online entertains you just a tiny bit -- it certainly amuses me to produce it. The last point I'd like to make is that B&B is an experiment in process. The content and format are not set in stone. Anything is possible here in the future, which is already in progress. Thank you all for being my unsuspecting guinea pigs. ;-) I'd also like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to participate actively in this ongoing experiment. There's only me on this end, and a lot of things fall through the cracks. I need feedback to know if I am providing a useful service, and if you know of any- thing I should be looking at please point it out to me. I am seeking ways to make B&B a tad more 'interactive', to start some sort of online community of our own here (there?) in cyberspace. ====================================================================== Corporate Wisdom A novice asked the master: "In the east there is a great tree- structure that men call 'Corporate Headquarters'. It is bloated out of shape with vice presidents and accountants. It issues a multitude of memos, each saying 'Go Hence!' or 'Go Hither!' and nobody knows what is meant. Every year new names are put onto the branches, but all to no avail. How can such an unnatural entity continue to exist?" The master replied: "You perceive this immense structure and are disturbed that it has no rational purpose. Can you not take amusement from its endless gyrations? Do you not enjoy the untroubled ease of programming beneath its sheltering branches? Why then are you bothered by its uselessness?" (from The Tao of Programming by Geoffrey James [Info Books, 1987. $9.95. (tel) 310-394-4102) ====================================================================== Newton Feels Gravity's Pull Newton, Apple's $700 personal digital assistant Newton was touted as the next big thing, but it's prospects are sinking fast. The PDA, the first of many such devices to be introduced (Sharp's ExpertPad, Tandy/ Casio's Zoomer, and AT&T's EO Personal Communicator are already on the market) suffers from many bugs and offers few benefits to corporate users. The biggest problem facing the Newton is its inability to translate handwriting into text. (A popular Newton trick is taking it to parties and offering fellow partygoers a chance to try out Newton's handwriting recognition capabilities for themselves: Newton's guesses are... creative, to say the least.) Apple engineers claim that much of the problem had to do with faulty power supplies in early versions, but these have been fixed and the problems persist. Also lacking are true "wireless" communications capabilities and must-have applications for the devices. Both these problems are being addressed for future versions. AT&T's 2 EO models on the other hand, come with 14.4 Kbps cellular modems and 9.6 Kbps fax capability, connections for voice communications, and a FREE subscription to AT&T Mail. Both EO's are much larger and heavier (3 pounds) than the other PDA's, and prices start at about $2800, putting them in another category altogether, the category of things I can't afford anytime soon. All this being said, the devices hold great promise as forerunners of a new breed of handheld computing devices. (SOURCES: Getting To Know Newton, Rory J. O'Connor. San Jose Mercury News, August 30, p. lC, BYTE Magazine, October '93, p.66-94) ====================================================================== Fatal Distractions A recent Information Week survey concludes that computer games are commonplace in the offices of corporate America. 90% of the fax poll respondents had access to games in the office, and 60% report that the games are played at least several times a week. Half the respondents agree that computer games are hindering productivity. SBT Corp., a California software maker, estimates that office PC's are used for non-work-related purposes an average of 5 hours a week, costing U.S. businesses about $100 billion a year in lost productivity. That's about 2% of the gross national product. Most of the games are either bundled with the operating system or brought in from home or other offices. ====================================================================== This Modern World: The Virtual Office Check to see if your local "alternative" newspaper carries the comic strip "This Modern World" by Tom Tomorrow. Tom's strip offers keen insights into the political news of the day, and his observations are often right on the mark. A book of his strips is available at bookstores. I will describe and reprint the text of the fourth (and last) panel of a recent strip about the almost inevitable (I believe) and permanent loss of jobs (already under way) due to technological advances. The panel shows three people wearing 'virtual reality' headgear: TEXT: "Basically, there may just not be enough jobs to around anymore... but we feel confident that technology will provide some kind of solution... PERSON #1: "Hey -- this is GREAT! I'm sitting at a desk in an OFFICE!" PERSON #2: "I'm chatting with my co-workers by the WATER COOLER!" PERSON #3: "I'm opening my VIRTUAL PAYCHECK!" How many of us will be opening our virtual paychecks in years to come? ====================================================================== Voyeur's Delight One early impression of the Internet is that it's the promised land for amateur anthropologists. Never has there been a way to observe people and groups so accurately and unobtrusively. As a place to eavesdrop, cyberspace is without peer in all of human history. (Robert Wright, "Voice Of America," The New Republic, Sept.13, p. 20, quoted in Information Week, 9/13/93) ====================================================================== #!%*& You For Stopping At McDonald's A disgruntled employee at a Scottsdale, Arizona McDonald's apparently reprogrammed the store's cash register to print out receipts offering obscene suggestions rather than the usual "Thank You." Wait, it gets better. A customer receiving one of the obscene receipts attempted to extort $1000 out of the store owner, threatening to tell the press about the receipt if he was not paid. The owner contacted the police, and the man was arrested, tried, and found guilty. (SOURCE: Newsbytes 9/30/93) ====================================================================== Paranoia On The Internet The Wall Street Journal (9/16/93) reports that longtime Internet users are more than a little nervous about all the attention being paid to it by the media and the business community. Increasing commercializa- tion of the Internet is viewed by net "dwellers" as the beginning of the end of an era for the internet, akin to the settling of the American West by families after the scouts and explorers paved the way by mapping the outlines of the new territories. Old hands view these "newbies" as unskilled in the art of using the net effectively, and fear that increasing commercialization will turn the Internet into a "giant electronic shopping mall." No doubt parts of the net become exactly that, but that doesn't mean you have to go there. It's a big web we're weaving here; there will be more than enough room for all persuasions to coexist (or at least stay out of each other's way with a modicum of grace). Certainly, new users (and some old hands too, I imagine) will need to be educated in matters of netiquette. Every effort should be made to make to make the basic texts and scriptures readily available, and no one can deny that a touch of 'user- friendliness' would not be unwelcome on front-ends to some common I-net tools (as long as access to more complex features for the technically inclined 'power users' was not compromised). ====================================================================== In Brief... +HOME PC SALES UP. An article in Business Week (9/6/93, p. 80) reports that in 1992 27% of all PC's sold were for home use, and that by 1996 that figure could be as high as 42% +SMART CHIPS TO OUTWIT SPEEDERS? A computer chip installed in every automobile, along with periodic sensors on the highways, could put an end to radar detectors and speed traps. Each car's chip would register as it passed each sensor, allowing a computer to calculate speed and record vehicle I.D. If a transgression were noted, the vehicle owner would receive a citation in the mail. A similar system is already operational during peak traffic periods in Hong Kong. (SOURCE: Telecommunications Policy Review 9/26/93 p.7, EDUPAGE) +FCC THREATENS TO TOUGHEN CABLE RULES. The FCC has vowed to strengthen cable rate regulation in the wake of recent price hikes as cable companies respond to Congress's new cable law. The law was intended to lower consumer's bills by an average of 10 percent, but many viewers have been hit with price increases instead. (SOURCE: Wall Street Journal 9/29/93 A13, EDUPAGE) +INTERNET FEES TO RISE. The average university can expect to see its network fees rise by $1,000 a year over the next four years as the government reduces its involvement in the Internet, according to NSF Division Director Stephen Wolff. (Chronicle of Higher Education 9/1/93, EDUPAGE) +BOUTIQUE NETWORKS ON THE RISE. The number of small on-line service companies is increasing, as networkers try to corner a specific market niche. Telescan Inc. of Houston is building a publishing house of on-line networks, providing information on everything from sports stats to building codes. This is one area of the growing online world where there is money to be made, providing and pulling together infor- mation from various sources to interested users. (Investor's Business Daily 9/10/93 p.3, EDUPAGE) ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: +NT SHIPS SQL SERVER. NT's star seems to be on the rise. Microsoft recently shipped SQL (Structured Query Language) Server for Windows NT, not even two months after NT's mid-August release date. NT users say the software is stable and performs well when run on a dedicated NT server. Four out of Five Analysts agree that shipping a major piece of relational database software so quickly and having it work so well bodes well for NT's robustness and suitability as a cross-platform standard. Bill Gates will not be running low on lunch money anytime soon. Microsoft has plans for releasing versions of both the Windows NT operating system and SQL Server on various platforms starting with DEC's Alpha AXP chip set, and is in discussion with Sun Microsystems, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola (who will be porting NT to their poular PowerPC line). (SOURCE: Infoworld 9/20/93, p.1, p.3) +AT&T COURTS CABLE. AT&T wants to link all cable customers in the US into one big happy interactive multimedia network. It has presented the nation's largest cable companies with plans for tying cable systems into a national network of common switching and transmission functions. This setup would allow customers throughout the US to phone each other, send e-mail or play games together from remote locations, all through their cable TV lines. This effectively closes the door on lucrative new markets for the local telephone companies, the so- called Baby Bells. (Wall Street Journal 8/27/93 A3, EDUPAGE) +AMERICA ONLINE PLANS TO EXPAND INTERNET ACCESS. AOL currently has a mail gateway to the Internet, but will soon extend subscriber access to include Internet services like Usenet news groups, Gopher and WAIS. AOL's rate is $9.95 per month for up to 5 hours of access. (ACCESS: AOL 800-627-6364) +GOVT INFO ON THE INTERNET. The experimental "Electronic Government Information Service" run by Syracuse University features electronic copies of government reports. It's accessible through Gopher at eryx.syr.edu or via telnet at hafnhaf.micro.umn.edu. Once in Gopher, the information is filed under Other Gopher and Information Services/ North America/USA/ General/EGIS. (Source: EDUPAGE) +JUST CLOWNING AROUND. Juggle-Pro software, created by a college student in Gainesville, Fla., uses mathematical models to generate juggling combinations and lets jugglers know if a trick is feasible. (Wall Street Journal 9/9/93 B1, EDUPAPAGE 9/14/93) ====================================================================== Telecommuting and the Law Thanks to new technologies and workplace innovations, telecommuting is becoming more popular than ever. Surveys show that 24.3 million self- employed people now work out of their homes, while another 7.6 million "telecommute" for outside employers. But as in so many other cases, local ordinances have yet to catch up. In fact, many cities and towns still have laws on the books that restrict or prohibit home businesses. (David Elsner, "Towns Trying To Cope With Home-Business Boom," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 7, p. 1, quoted in Information Week 9/13/93) ====================================================================== Lawyers Use High-Tech In The Courtroom Lawyers are finding that computer-supported presentations are not only eye-catching in the courtroom -- the real strength is the computer's information management capability in cases with thousands of documents to keep track of. "All an attorney has to do is come into the courtroom ready for trial with a CD-ROM," says Litigation Sciences' division director. Using courtroom technology will become cheaper in the near future, too, as new courtrooms are being prewired to accommodate television monitors and computers. (SOURCES: Wall Street Journal 8/20/93 B1, EDUPAGE) Perhaps in the future such document repositories, combined with rule-based expert systems will be a sort of legal assistant during the trial. 3-D animations are another tool being used increasingly in trials. As the cost of such technologies drop, these techniques will become increasingly common. Accidents can be (and have been) 'recreated' from eyewitness reports. In complicated trials, a number of experts can be called on to testify on small technical details; it is often difficult for members of the jury to visualize all these facts and put them together in any meaningful way. A well produced animation can make facts clear to everyone, perhaps by showing the same scene from several different perspectives and at various playback speeds. On the downside of all this, perhaps the side with the slickest presentation and the best lawyers will win the case regardless of the facts. Not that that would be anything new. (SOURCE: INFO WORLD 9/13/93, p. 1) ====================================================================== Architectures of Simplicity There's a world of difference between viewing computers as a medium to create simplicity and viewing them as the best way to soak up more complexity. Keeping things simple poses a radically different design challenge than trying to manage complexity. Simplicity architectures just don't look like complexity architectures. Think of it as the difference between designing RISC and CISC processors. This design trade-off between simplicity/complexity is at the core of the systems challenge facing technology professionals today. Does "working smarter" in the 1990s mean making tasks inherently simpler and easier? Or does it mean giving individuals and enterprises the computational tools to better manage increased complexity? There's an awful lot of hoopla today about "re-engineering" corporations and their systems. That would be encouraging if removing excess complexity were part of what's driving the movement. It isn't, though. Re-engineering is all about cutting costs. We're just so conditioned to the idea that value comes from additional functionality, that most organizations honestly believe they can't afford to stay simple in an increasingly complex world. The sad truth is that most CIOs have gotten into the fixes they're in by promising to tame complexity. Perhaps they'd be better off if they ... used technology as a bridge to The New Simplicity. (Michael Schrage, "No Frills, Fewer Tangles," Computerworld, 9/27/93, p. 37) ====================================================================== Holodeck Update Back in B&Bv1#3, I reported on Edison Brothers Entertainment's plans to develop "fully immersive virtual reality games" based on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I have some more detail now on what this will consist of. EBE's Horizon Entertainment division has joined forces with Paramount Pictures and Spectrum HoloByte to create facilities that will be much more than simple games: Portions of the Starship Enterprise will be recreated, including the bridge, transporter room, shuttlecraft and more. Players will take place in interactive group adventures set in the Star Trek universe; they will man stations on the bridge, fly the shuttlecraft, and beam down as part of an "away team." Paramount (the maker of ST:TNG) will be instrumental in developing plot scenarios. Head mounted displays and state of the art VR technology will be used to complete the illusion, as well as Hollywood-style special effects. Also planned is a gift shop that will sell Romulan ale and Klingon delicacies. Heavy resources are being channeled towards the completion of this project, but the date and location of the first facility has not yet been announced. Beam me up, Scotty! (SOURCE: Pix-Elation, v2 #3, p. e-5) ====================================================================== On The Newsstand Another informative BYTE for October: this one features in-depth looks at various PDA's, with shorter pieces on related topics, like the PDA's CPU (Central Processing Units, the 'brain' of the computer) and the wireless factor. Also featured is a section on pen and voice input, a piece on optical computing, and a piece on how fractal image compression works. Most libraries subscribe to BYTE. The October PC Computing has a special section on Multimedia PC's, explaining what they are and what to look for when you buy one. Complete systems, CD ROM drives, sound cards, speakers, and one-stop upgrade kits are evaluated, and specific recommendations are made. The best CD ROM titles and Fax modems are also reviewed. The October issue of Online Access is guest edited by Michael Strangelove, editor of the Internet Business Journal, and it is a great resource for people interested in getting on the information highway, or people who are already out there and don't quite know their way around yet (I count myself in this group, having been on the net for about 2 years now). The National Research and Education Network Program (NREN) is explained, BIX's BIXnav graphical front end for Internet services is previewed, and access information for essential net guides, manuals, information files, list servers and Internet-related organizations is given. A useful feature for those seeking access is a listing of over 60 access providers. Recommended. ====================================================================== Hobbes: Don't you worry that all this [TV] violence is desensitizing? Calvin: Naah. I'd like to shoot the idiots who think this stuff affects me. (The last panel of the "Calvin and Hobbes" Sunday cartoon, 8/29/93. Calvin is a little kid, and Hobbes is his stuffed tiger and imaginary playmate.) ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### IN THE FUTURE...Please note the new release schedule. The next issue is due out 10/10/93. Upcoming focuses may or may not include Internet basics, the commercialization of the Internet, Democracy Online, convergence technologies, and the BBS scene. Comments, requests and contributions are always welcome. A print version of B&B is in the works. Keep watching the skies! EDUPAGE AND ME. Astute readers will notice a lot of material from EDUPAGE this issue. Let me explain. EP is a major source of news for me, but I usually go to the library and flesh out their brief reports. Lately I have been putting in long hours at work trying to make some deadlines, so this issue I have been forced to rely more directly on their news feed. This is also why there is no analysis of the NII Agenda paper I had promised for this issue. EDUPAGE is a twice-a-week summary of recent news items on information technology. It is provided as a service by EDUCOM -- a consortium of leading colleges and universities seeking to transform education through the use of information technology. To subscribe to Edupage, send e-mail to listserv@bitnic.educom.edu containing the text: SUB EDUPAGE firstname lastname. To unsubscribe, send e-mail containing the text: UNSUB EDUPAGE. To send comments about Edupage, send mail to comments@educom.edu. Back issues of Edupage are available by WAIS, Gopher, and anonymous ftp from educom.edu. 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. Could be here for all I know.. 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 If anyone else is archiving B&B, I would appreciate knowing about it. Include specifics and I will add you to this list. If B&B is being distributed via mailing lists, I would appreciate being informed about it so I can estimate how many people are reading B&B. Thanks! ====================================================================== 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 = (Copyright 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 = The editor is solely responsible for the = ======================== editorial content, but makes no claims or = =========DO NOT========= assurances implicit or otherwhise as to = ==== REMOVE THIS TAG==== the validity or approriateness of opinions = ==UNDER PENALTY OF LAW== expressed herein. Your individual rights = ======5=8=2=2=7=Y=0===== may vary from state to state. = =============== End of Bits and Bytes Online V1, #11 =================


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