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From: To: "Bits N Bytes Distribution List" Subject: Bits and Bytes Online v1 #16 Date: Mon, 24 Jan 1994 19:40:19 -0500 (EST) NOTE: There are one or two obscenities in the following material. I didn't say it, I didn't say it. Apologies in advance to the easily offended. Feel free to edit cusswords in your local press run of B&B. ====================================================================== " ...Will there be roadkill on the information highway? Will there be littering laws? And when we pull over to the information gas station, will the restrooms be clean and sanitary?" - Tom Tomorrow ====================================================================== 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 16 Frank Zappa Dec. 21, 1940 - Dec. 6, 1993 ====================================================================== Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe -- a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we, with our modest powers, must feel humble. - Albert Einstein ====================================================================== FZ-1: Food Gathering in Post Industrial America "One of the hallmarks of contemporary life is what I perceive to be a conspiracy against conscious thought. Every aspect of government at every level has conspired to minimize education and to punish any individual or group that chooses to experience the full benefits of the First Amendment. The contemporary message -- the subtext of contemporary life -- is keep your fucking mouth shut and be a drone. And government is set up in such a way now with its complete disregard for the value of education that they're going to perpetuate a type of stupidity that makes it possible to have an entire nation of people watching late-night infomercials on TV with their phone-in credit card. How else could such things exist, if it weren't for the disastrous state of education in America?" (Frank Zappa, interviewed in 1992) ====================================================================== Remote Control (Andrew Hultkrans) >From the Oval Office on down, they've been pitching the Info Superhypeway, but nobody has bothered to unpack the press kit. The interactive incarnation of TV has been mitosing in the dark for almost a decade, at the bottom-feeder level of technology -- you know, those infomercials, those home shopping channels? The higher-tech version will simply pump up the volume. The lure of interactivity is that you can create your own programming. And as you make your choices, you reveal yourself utterly. The AI expert systems are playing gotcha! with your soul. As they hone their analysis of your view-purchase patterns, they will feed you back what they determine you want, pre-determining your desires, as you become ever more narrowly what your psychographic profile says you are. The spiral narrows relentlessly down to the center... You are what you watch. (Andrew Hultkrans, "Remote Control: The Interactivity Myth." Mondo 2000 #11, p. 22) ====================================================================== A Superhighway Through The Wasteland?(*) (Jay Machado) If the electronic information superhighway is properly constructed and regulated, it will be open to anyone wishing to speak, publish, and communicate.(*) One of the most exciting things about the Internet is making contact with people with whom you share values, interests and attitudes. With increased bandwidth via fiber optic the possibilities for entertaining and educating ourselves grow exponentially. Computer entertainments will be emailed over the net - multimedia desktop productions, high-tech home movies - all that stuff will be wired back and forth by just plain folks for the amusement of their net.friends. America's Most Uploaded Home Videos. The TV networks have already been losing their lustre to the cable upstarts. "They" want to keep people tuned-in so they can sell "them" our attentive gazes. "They" don't know what to do with all the new marketting possibilities just yet but you can bet that "they'll" be taking the low road to the foamy yellow nozzle of nocturnal mass desire just as soon as some wormboy advertising exec sells "them" a map of the territory. The entertainment and communications giants, who have been cutting a bewildering array of deals and forging new alliances in the past year are ready to rock and roll. They're ready to jump in and start building franchises off whatever rights they happen to have acquired. Barney TV. The Elvis Channel. The Computer Network. The scent of money is in the air, and the perception that the window of opportunity is small -- that whoever gets in there NOW with a killer app all America will flock to will control their hearts and wallets for the foreseeable future. Mr. and Mrs. John X. Public will want to deal with only one device to get their brave new entertainments piped in, and it had better be easier to use than a VCR. The cable companies and the phone companies both want you to use their plumbing to access the net, and both are developing prototypes for the front-end "boxes" (which will include some sort of computer inside) for their systems. To add to the confusion some cable companies are planning to offer connections to the internet and to long distance phone service, and phone companies want to offer pay-per-view movies and events over the phone lines. The local bells now want to begin offering new services in order to remain competitive in the new marketplace. Federal law needs to be changed to allow this to happen, and there is activity in Washington to do just that. One worry expressed there is that all involved will be tempted to pass the bill for the needed infrastructure improvements on to existing customers, who may only be interested in basic phone and/or cable services. Sound confusing? Call the 800 at the end of this magazine and we'll explain it to you in easy monthly payments. Operators are standing by. Often there is no long-range plan, no sense of where the industry is going. They are basically throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks. Some companies have acquired properties in the telco/ cable realm just so they won't be locked out when the technology matures and the "killer application" jumpstarts the interactivity revolution. They want large numbers of viewers, so you can bet they'll be aspiring to the lowest common denominator -- so you'll get the SEGA channel starring Sonic the Hedgehog and psychic home shopping on the Elvis Network. Seeking to minimize concerns about their proposed mergers, the megamedia companies promise us that in addition to entertaining us they will connect students with learning resources, provide forums for political discussion, and increase economic competitiveness. Hallelujah! But the motives of all concerned must be centrally scrutinized in the light of what's at stake here. Both broadcast and cable TV debuted to similar fanfare -- and what do we have so far? We've got MTV, Baywatch, Jim 'n' Tammy, World Wrestling on pay-per-view and infomercials -- it's "the slime oozing out from your TV set." (Zappa) Good golly! I'm not above a little cheezy TV from every now and then, but there's GOT to be more! The inherent possibilities of the new types of connections now being constructed go far beyond any of the aforementioned -- high-speed links between people at home and other individuals and online services mediated by and thru video culture are going to bring about some strange cultural anomalies. You think people have a hard time telling where to draw the line between fact and fiction now? Wait till people start "interacting" with and getting advice from their favorite movie stars. "I've got this pain in my chest Dr. Welby." And how about those kids lying down in the middle of busy roads because they saw it in a movie? Humans (as any subgenii can tell you) sure are good at pulling the wool over their own eyes. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. And of course the televangelistas and new age flim flam men will have whole new audiences to bedazzle with high-tech warm fuzzies. The saddest part is that many will be lured in and thus fall from the path of Kuthumi, who is gentle and wise. The Firesign Theater said "There's a seeker born every minute," and Frank reminded us that "there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -- as some former choirboys can tell you. But I regress. Public debate on the issues involved is crucial. Keeping in mind what happened with TV, we need to try t/o make sure we don't end up with *another* multi-cultural wasteland on our hands. One fact that goes unmentioned in these debates is the fact that we, the American public, *own* these valuable broadcast frequencies -- that the broadcast spectrum is in fact LEASED to the networks and telcos by the FCC. They are contractually beholden to US as owners to make sure they are providing a public benefit. And they're not opposed to concepts like public-access -- they just don't want to *pay* for them, despite the fact that one way or another they'll be raking in billions of dollars. The potential is there for interactive multimedia to be both enlightening and entertaining, sometimes both at the same time. However, none of the interactive services will be possible if we have an eight-lane data superhighway going into every home and only a narrow footpath coming back out.(*) This is the setup the telcos, cable companies and Hollywood Inc. want to build in to the system, so they can keep a firm grip on our time and attention, the new and true currency of the age of information. They must not be enamored by the concept of the masses (TH-th-that's US folks) entertaining ourselves, cutting out the middleman. America's Funniest Home Video is an attempt to keep control of the market (our attention) but I for one could do w/o the host's pathological banter between clips. The truly revolutionary aspects of these technologies emerge when private individuals become originators, broadcasters, and intelligent filterers of information and entertainment. B&B O/L is something along those lines, albeit in a strictly text-based implementation. There are some multimedia zines and such available for download on the net. My sense of the word net includes more than the internet. The thriving world of local online BBS systems will remain important and convenient points of internet access for many people. This is already occurring. The right front-end will go a long towards making forays into the dataverse safer and more enjoyable for all involved. The development of common "formats" for information, the development of things like Uniform Resource Locators (URL) amongst the library community on the internet, will make it easier for soon to be released intelligent agent technologies like General Magic Inc's Telescript programming language to navigate the dataverse performing their appointed rounds. Easy Access -- that's the real "magic app" everyone is waiting for. There's a wealth of information (sports scores, news, weather, TV schedules, UFO sighting reports, personal and business email, stock information, real estate info, etc.) out there, and right now it's too hard to get at unless you are willing to learn how to navigate the internet -- not everyone's cup of tea, although everyone could benefit from some subset of the information available. The authors(*) contend that we need a superhighway that encourages the production and distribution of a broader variety of programming, one that would be required to offer "open platform services." This type of network would bypass the bottleneck caused by today's systems, which make producers negotiate for channel space with cable companies around the country. In an open-platform network, everyone would have access to the entire superhighway, so programmers could distribute information directly to consumers. This would lead to diversity in the electronic media, just as low production and distribution costs enable a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. New laws are needed to prevent abuses by the media giants that will control the highway. For example, controlling companies should be required to carry other programmers' content, much like phone companies, which must provide service to anyone who is willing to pay for it. (* Mitch Kapor and Jerry Berman, "A Superhighway Through The Wasteland?" NYT 11/24/93, p. A25) ====================================================================== In Brief... => NBC PLANS TV "BUG". NBC plans to introduce a new "bug' that will flash on-screen to alert viewers at the beginning of an interactive TV show that they can play along. You must belong to a service that has the interactive option as part of their service. (NYT 11/19/93, p. D4) => CHINA TO GET U.S. SUPERCOMPUTER. President Clinton has decided to sell China a sophisticated $8 million Cray supercomputer as a goodwill gesture. Meanwhile, human rights abuses continue there, and the Chinese military view us as an enemy. What's the deal somebody? (SOURCES: NYT 11/16/93, p. A16, 11/19/93, p. A1) => IRS: MORE ELECTRONIC RETURNS FOUND FRAUDULENT. In the first 8 months of 1993, the IRS identified more than 23,000 fraudulent electronic returns -- double that of last year even though the total number of returns filed electronically increased by only 14%. The Government Accounting Office also reported a significant decline in the number of returns filed for 1992, 3.7 million less than the IRS was expecting. Some people just don't want to pay their "fair" share! (SOURCE: WSJ 11/10/93, p. A6) => MOTHER OF ALL DISCLAIMERS. This disclaimer is from Haventree Software's EasyFlow program: "If EasyFlow doesn't work: tough. If you lose millions because EasyFlow messes up, it's you that's out the millions, not us. If you don't like this disclaimer: tough. We reserve the right to do the absolute minimum provided by law, up to and including nothing. This is basically the same disclaimer that comes with all software packages, but ours is in plain english and theirs is in legalese. We didn't want to include any disclaimer at all, but our laywers insisted." (SOURCE: WIRED 2.01, January 1994, p.35) => A VIRUS AS A SALES AID. In Hempstead, L.I. a computer contractor was found guilty of using a virus to attempt to collect an unpaid bill from a customer. He infected the client's system with the virus, threatening loss of data if they did not pay for services rendered. They claim his work was substandard and were withholding payment. (SOURCE: NYT 11/23/93, p. A1) ====================================================================== THE ONLINE WORLD => MICROSOFT ONLINE? That's the rumor anyway. MS is pondering starting an online service along the lines of America Online or Compuserve. Online shopping and such, of course. Online upgrades. Kindly Uncle Bill. Rumor has it that the graphic front end will be installed on all machines as part of Windows 4.0, due out next year. Apple is contemplating a similar start-up, eWorld. I want my (SOURCE: Boardwatch, November 1993) ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: => THE ACE CARD. Best Data is set to release an incredible add-on card for IBM PCs. Developed by IBM, the ACE (Advanced Communications Enhancement) system uses DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology to create a single card that is a 14.4 V.32bis modem with 9600 Fax send and receive, a 16-bit CD quality stereo sound card, an answering machine, a voice mail system, a fax server, and a full duplex speaker phone. It will eventually do OCR and then read your faxes to you. The card has microphone input, audio in/out, and telephone line jacks. It supports speech recognition, text to speech, and speech synthesis. In the future they have pans for the card to support colorfax, full motion video, JPEG/MPEG, voice over data, voice recognition, it slices, it dices. You get the picture. Is it a wonderful life, or what? Suggested retail is $259, street price $200. (ACCESS: Best Data Products 818/773-9600) (SOURCE: Boardwatch, November 1993, p. 34) => WINDOWS 4. Chicago (as Microsoft calls it) is slated for release in mid-1994. Indications are that it will trade performance for features, that it will be reasonably compact (4 MEG) and will be backward- compatible (duh). In addition to implementing the Windows 32 bit API (which will help insure compatibility across Windows 3., NT and Cairo also) Windows 4 will also have a new user interface, plug and play hardware, a configuration manager, and support for many devices like VCRs, laserdisks, mobile computing, pen computing, and automatic file synchronization. Probably work your home appliances if you're so inclined. (SOURCE: PC WEEK 12/13/93, p. 2) ====================================================================== FZ-2: Say Cheese . . . It has been suggested that the Gross National Product is perhaps not the best indicator of how well we are doing as a society since it tells us nothing about the Quality of our Lives . . . but, is this worth dwelling upon as we grovel our way along in the general direction of the 21st Century? When future historians write about us, if they base their conclusions on whatever material goods survive from Present-Day America, we will undoubtedly stand alone among nations and be known forevermore as "THOSE WHO CHOSE CHEESE." As you will recall, folks, nobody ever had as much going for them in the beginning as we did. Let's face it . . . we were fantastic. Today, unfortuantely, we are merely WEIRD. This is a shocking thing to say, since no Red-Blooded American likes to think of his or herself as being WEIRD, but when there are other options and a whole nation CHOOSES CHEESE, that is WEIRD. Our mental health has been in a semi-wretched condition for quite some time now. One of the reasons for this distress, aside from CHOOSING CHEESE as a way of life, is the fact that we have (against some incredibly stiff competition) emerged victorious as the biggest bunch of liars on the face of the planet. No society has managed to invest more time and energy in the perpetuation of the fiction that it is moral, sane and wholesome than our current crop of Modern Americans. This same delusion is the Mysterious Force behind our national desire to avoid behaving in any way that might be construed as INTELLIGENT. Modern Americans behave as if intelligence were some sort of hideous deformity. To cosmeticize it, many otherwise normal citizens attempt a peculiar type of self-inflicted homemade mental nose-job (designed to lower the recipient's socio-intellectual profile to the point where the ability to communicate on the most mongolian level provides the necessary certification to become ONE OF THE GUYS). Let's face it... nobody wants to hang out with somebody who is smarter than they are. This is not FUN. Americans have always valued the idea of FUN. We have a National Craving for FUN. We don't get very much of it anymore, so we do two things: first, we rummage around for anything that might be FUN, then (since it really wasn't FUN stuff in the first place) we pretend to enjoy it (whatever it was). The net result: STRESSED CHEESE. But where does all this CHEESE really come from? It wouldn't be fair to blame it all on TV, although some credit must be given to whoever it is at each of the networks that GIVES US WHAT WE WANT. (You don't ask-you don't get.) Folks, we now have GOT IT . . . Iots of it . . . and, in our Infinite American Wisdom, we have constructed elaborate systems to insure that future generations will have an even more abundant supply of that fragrant substance upon which we presently thrive. If we can't blame it on the TV, then where does it come from? Obviously, we are weird if we have to ask such a question. Surely we must realize by now (except for the fact that we lie to ourselves so much that we get confused sometimes) that as Contemporary Americans we have an almost magical ability to turn anything we touch into a festering mound of self-destructing poot. How can we do this with such incredible precision? Well, one good way is to form a Committee. Committees composed of all kinds of desperate American Types have been known to convert the combined unfulfilled emotional needs and repressed biological urges of their memberships into complex masses of cheese-like organisms at the rap of a gavel. Committee Cheese is usually sliced very thin, then bound into volumes for eventual dispersal in courts of law, legislative chambers, and public facilities where you are invited to eat all you want. * * * The Quality of Our Lives (if we think of this matter in terms of "How much of what we individually consider to be Beautiful are we able to experience every day?") seems an irrelevant matter, now that all decisions regarding the creation and distribution of Works of Art must first pass under the limbo bar (a/k a "The Bottom Line"), along with things like Taste and The Public Interest, all tied like a tin can to the wagging tale of the sacred Prime Rate Poodle. The aforementioned festering poot is coming your way at a theatre or drive-in near you. It wakes you up every morning as it droozles out of your digital clock radio. An ARTS COUNCIL somewhere is getting a special batch ready with little tuxedos on it so you can think it's precious. Yes Virginia . . . there is a FREE LUNCH. We are eating it now. Can I get you a napkin? (c) Frank Zappa, April 1, 1981 ====================================================================== Virtual Satisfaction The will to virtuality gets an economic boost from a depressed economy. Virtual satisfactions are cheaper. Movies do well in depressions. There's a TV in every hospital room. Can we doubt that it won't be long before every hospital room comes equipped with a virtual reality helmet? A cyber-punk "fantasy": You check into the hospital. As soon as you hit the bed the helmet goes on and it doesn't come off until you're released except for when it's time for you to go under anaesthesia. Virtual satisfactions are cheaper. This is how the hatred of existence works: A nihilistic will projected against future generations motivates indebtedness. Under the sign of possessive individualism possessed individuals work the economic destruction of the future in the name of just deserts, security, and self-fulfillment. "Who cares? I'll be dead before the shit hits the fan." "Are we having fun yet?" Smile buttons. Smile signs on canisters of pesticide in the chemical fields of the great midwest. (Arthur Kroker and Michael A. Weinstein, "The Political Economy of Virtual Reality (1): Pan-Capitalism". CTHEORY) ====================================================================== Television is the first truly democratic culture -- the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what the people do want. - Clive Barnes ====================================================================== All the World's a Stage... (Neil Postman) Television does not extend or amplify literate culture. It attacks it. . . .If television is a continuation of anything, it is of a tradition begun by the telegraph and photograph in the mid-nineteenth century, not by the printing press in the fifteenth. . . . Our television set keeps us in constant communion with the world, but it does so with a face whose smiling countenance is unalterable. The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining, which is another issue altogether. . . . To say it still another way: Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television. No matter what is depicted or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure. That is why even on news shows which provide us daily with fragments of tragedy and barbarism, we are urged by the newscasters to "join them tomorrow." What for? One would think that several minutes of murder and mayhem would suffice as material for a month of sleepless nights. We accept the newscasters' invitation because we know that the "news" is not to be taken seriously, that it is all in fun, so to say. Everything about a news show tells us this - - the good looks and amiability of the cast, their pleasant banter, the exciting music that opens and closes the show, the vivid film footage, the attractive commercials -- all these and more suggest that what we have just seen is no cause for weeping. A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis. And we must not judge too harshly those who have framed it in this way. They are not assembling the news to be read, or broadcasting it to be heard. They are televising the news to be seen. They must follow where their medium leads. There is no conspiracy here, no lack of intelligence, only a straightforward recognition that "good television" has little to do with what is "good" about exposition or other forms of verbal communication but everything to do with what the pictorial images look like. . . . Television is our culture's principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore -- and this is the critical point -- how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged. It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse. It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails. As typography once dictated the style of conducting politics, religion, business, education, law and other important social matters, television now takes command. In courtrooms, classrooms, operating rooms, board rooms, churches and even airplanes, Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas; they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials. For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Excerpted from "Amusing Ourselves To Death" by Neil Postman [Penguin Books, 1985]) ====================================================================== TV Factoids From the Deep The average child has watched more than 200,000 commercials by the time he graduates from high school. He or she will have spent more time watching television than sitting in a classroom. Each year, the average viewer sees 18,000 commercials. In one year, 250,000 Americans wrote to Marcus Welby, M.D. asking for medical advice. A Detroit newspaper offered $500 dollars to 120 families to turn off their TV sets for one month. 93 of the families turned the offer down. By age 14, devoted viewers will have witnessed 11,000 television murders. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that pre-school children show "unwarranted aggressive behavior" after heavy television viewing. When asked to choose between their fathers and their TV sets, more than half the young people in a survey chose television. We'll be back after these words from our sponsor... (SOURCE: The Society for the Eradication of Television's Fact Sheet, reprinted in Apocalypse Culture [Feral House, 1990]) ====================================================================== FZ-3: Break Out the Baseball Bats "I was asked, 'Don't you think you should be more subtle in your approach?'" he [Frank Zappa] said in a 1988 interview. "With reading and listening comprehension where they are in the United States today, it is time to get out the baseball bat." ====================================================================== THE KULTCHUR KORNER => BLIPVERTS. The shortest commercial in history was aired on TV in the Pacific Northwest. The ad, for a popular chocolate candy named Frangos, is four frames long and lasts 1/14th of a second. Cost per frame: $395. (SOURCE: NYT 11/23/93, p. D4) => HIGH-TECH HATRED. Some leaders of the extreme right are making the technological leap to satellite television. On October 9, the La Porte Church of Christ launched "Truth for Our Times," shown twice weekly on the Keystone Inspiration Network. Pete Peters, church founder is the host. On the first show he attacked homosexuals, saying "There is going to be a death penalty for homosexuals...". Also attacked was gun control and Federal child immunization. The Jews are behind it all, of course. Ah ha! It's going to be a strange twisted ride towards the millenium. (NYT 11/16/93, p. A27) => GOODBYE HOMEWORK! Homework, once a childhood fact of life, may be headed for extinction, reports the Wall Street Journal. Work-weary parents are partially to blame, as are parents who place too much emphasis on extracuricular activities. Additionally, some parents can't help with homework because they never learned the basic concepts when *they* were in school. One teacher said parents call in and complain if the homework is too hard. This was a third grade teacher! "I'm fighting against Nintendo!" said one teacher, who said that 17 years ago, 80% to 90% of all students turned in their homework. Now that figure is less than 50%. Some teachers water down the assignments and some allocate time during class for assignments, which leaves less time for instruction. Students who don't do homework are not only lacking in basic skills like spelling and grammar, but they are not learning how to turn facts into ideas by writing essays and research papers. They are not learning how to reason, which renders them unfit for many jobs outside the political and entertainment industries. (SOURCE: WSJ 10/11/93, p. B1) ====================================================================== A Different Take on Newton (Jaron Lanier) There is a very narrow range of human behavior which, if properly exercised, will make the Newton appear to be an intelligent product. The problem here is that people change when they believe they are interacting with artificial intelligences. People make themselves stupid in order to make the machines appear smart. Imagine that, in an alternate universe, the Newton had been advertised as a portable display of data that would allow you to do a little bit of data entry on the go, instead of as an intelligent assistant. I think that advertised as such, it would be rather successful. I pretend that's what it is - rather than an intelligent assistant - and I find that I'm about the only person I know who likes the thing. Not much has been said about the Newton's interface, but it is about the best I've seen. I showed the Newton to a 4-year-old, and after a brief demo she was using it with tremendous grace and fluency. I believe that the craft of interface design is one of the most important frontiers of culture. The Newton's user interface is a rea] triumph, but its positioning as an artificially intelligent personal assistant is all wrong. (Excerpted from "Newton: Great Interface; AI in Your Face," by Jaron Lanier, Wired 1.6 (Dec. '93), p. 111) ====================================================================== If one wishes to be the master of an art, technical knowledge is not enough. One has to transcend transcend technique so that the art becomes an "artless art" growing out of the Unconscious. - D.T. Suzuki ====================================================================== Phooey on GUIs! (Jef Raskin) Bluntly: Graphical User Interfaces (GUls) are not human-compatible. As long as we hang on to interfaces as we now know them, computers will remain inherently frustrating, upsetting, and stressful. An operating system, even the saccharine Mac or Windows desktop, is the program you have to hassle with before you get to hassle with the application. It does nothing for you, wastes your time, is unnecessary. Some will ask, "How can you run a computer without an operating system?" But newcomers to computers know the answer. When they first see a desktop they ask a much more intelligent question: "What is all this crap? Why can't I just get about my business?" Another big mistake is the concept of an application. Applications are programs that prevent you from using most of the power of your computer. They are walled cities. When I am using my CAD package, I am prevented from using the spelling checker in my word processor. When I am using my word processor, I am prevented from adjusting the gray scale of the lettering as I can in my image processor. When I am using my image processing program, I am prevented from solving equations, and so on. Make up your own list. Some operating systems build tunnels between applications that we can crawl through (Microsoft's OLE, Apple's Publish and Subscribe features, HP's New Wave, for example), but we want to run aboveground. There's a fix for this problem. Vendors should supply not applications, but command sets, interoperable with all other command sets that you purchase. Mix and match. You like the way MacWrite does spell checking but the way Word does footnotes? Install the spell checker from one and the footnote from the other. Is this technologically feasible? Of course. It's simpler than what we have now and a lot easier to use. Only decrepit technowonks think this is impossible or problematical. Entrenched marketers and managers, when they understand the implications, are discomforted by the idea of a cold restart with a product that threatens their livelihood. (Excerpted from "Down With GUIs!" by Jef Raskin, Wired 1.6 (Dec. '93), p. 122) ====================================================================== * * * ADVERTORIALS * * * Computists' Communique Ken Laws is the editor of the Computists' Communique, an AI/IS/CS weekly news service of Computists International. Send him email saying where you saw this announcement and request a sample issue and subscription information. CC has job ads, journal calls, NSF announcements, grant and research news, online resources, career and business tips, and commentary. The Communique is about 32KB (8 pages) per week, with a high signal-to-noise ratio -- eclectic, but with special focus on AI research, information technology, software applications, and entrepreneurship. "I try to capture 'old boy' knowledge in a way that's time-saving, timely, and useful." The CC is a useful addition to the B&B datastream. Write for a sample issue now, or for membership details and testimonials. (Full membership is $135/year, but discounts may apply. Unemployed computer scientists may join free.) Sample issues are available on request. Dr. Kenneth I. Laws \ Feel free to forward this message Computists International \ to other lists, with or without (415) 493-7390, Palo Alto \ your own comments. Internet \ Remember to say where you saw the \ offer. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ HOTT -- Hot Off The Tree -- is a free monthly electronic newsletter featuring the latest advances in computer, communications, and electronics technologies. Each issue provides article summaries on new and emerging technologies, including virtual reality, neural networks, personal digital assistants, graphical user interfaces, intelligent agents, ubiquitous computing, genetic and evolutionary programming, wireless networks, smart cards, video phones, set-top boxes, nanotechnology, and massively parallel processing. Summaries are provided from general media (eg, Wall Street Journal, Time, Business Week, Forbes), trade magazines (eg, InfoWorld, Byte, Datamation), research journals (eg, publications of the IEEE), technical journals, and over 100 Internet mailing lists and USENET discussion groups. HOTT also will include listings of forthcoming and recently published technical books, listings of forthcoming trade shows and technical conferences, and company advertorials, including CEO perspectives, tips and techniques, and new product announcements. The next issue of the reinvented HOTT e-newsletter is scheduled for transmission in late January/early February, and will have an interview with Mark Weiser, head of Xerox PARC's Computer Science Lab. The editor hopes to cover over 200 trade magazines and sources, including 30 from Britain, plus syndicated columns, newspaper article reprints, and transcripts of news broadcasts. Archives will be described in the first issue. A bit.listserv.hott gateway to Usenet is planned for Summer, and may be the easiest way to browse the news stream. A WWW/Postscript version may be available by Fall. Corporate sponsors are needed, and 100K+ subscriptions would help. This sounds *very* interesting indeed. HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: Send an e-mail message to Leave the "Subject" line blank and include the following one-line message: subscribe HOTT-LIST Note: do *not* include first or last names. If you have problems or require human intervention contact For more information about HOTT contact: David Scott Lewis Editor-in-Chief and Book and Video Review Editor IEEE Engineering Management Review PO Box 18438 Irvine CA 92713-8438 USA Tel: +1 714 662 7037 e-mail: (SOURCE: net-happenings and fringeware mailing lists, Computists Communique) ====================================================================== Work like hell, tell everyone everything you know, close a deal with a handshake, and have fun. - Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton, 1990 ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### THIS ISSUE was originally sent out on December 21, 1993. The mailer software choked on it or something. The conspiracy strikes again. I've re-written and re-editted it some, and am sending it out in lieu of new material. Bits and Bytes is s-l-o-w-l-y gearing up for 1994. The next edition will be out in late January. Really. THANKS. Thanks to everyone who's written in with material and suggestions. Thanks to Richard Turnock for pointing out interesting news articles, and thanks again to Paul Snow for maintaining the list. Next issue I will include information on access to back issues. LETTERS. We welcome submissions and commentary. All mail sent to the editor or to B&B will be treated as a "letter to the editor" and considered printable, unless noted otherwise. IN THE FUTURE... That's it for this year folks. Between problems at my (real) job and the Christmas horrordays there just aren't enough hours in a day. I'll be back in 1994 with the high-tech lowdown live from the stone ages of the digital (r)evolution. Join us, won't we? SUBSCRIBING AND UNSUBSCRIBING: Subscribe to B&B by sending email to text: SUBSCRIBE bits-n-bytes A confirmation will be mailed to you. To unsubscribe send a message to text: UNSUBSCRIBE bits-n-bytes ONLINE ACCESS. B&B is available for downloading on America Online in their telecom files area, and in Compuserve's telecom forum library, and on various fine BBS systems all across this wunnerful wunnerful world of ours. INTERNET ANONYMOUS FTP SITES: in /periodic directory INTERNET GOPHER ACCESS. - in the Discussions and Listserv archives/ Teknoids directory - in the Electronic Journals directory ====================================================================== Yes, there is a nirvana; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem. - Kahlil Gibran (Sand and Foam) ====================================================================== Jay Machado = (Copyright 1993, 1994 Jay Machado) = 1529 Dogwood Drive = *Unaltered* ELECTRONIC distribution of = Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 = this file for non-profit purposes is = ph (eve) 609/795-0998 = encouraged. If you've read this far you've = ======================== got a little too much time on your hands. = ========PIPCO=========== Get a life. I hear they're fun. = =============================== End of Bits and Bytes Online V1, #16 = ======================================================================


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