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11 May 1999

Life is tough. Three out of three people die, so shut up and deal.
-- Ring Lardner

Apple's big day went pretty well. I got to see the whole keynote speech -- Steve Jobs, Avie Tevanian and Phil Shiller -- thanks to a free satellite simulcast Apple provided on WU's campus, for which I am grateful. (I think they lost money on it; there were only about 6 people there watching. The scene at the conference, however, was bustling. Jobs noted that attendance was up 43% from last year -- quite a nice jump.)

There was a lot of fun news; I finally have the feeling again that Apple is not just playing catchup (though there's still some of that left to do) but is moving ahead again in really cool ways.

The biggest 'catchup' news (to me) was that Dragon Systems will be bringing their continuous-speech software to the Mac this year. That's been a missing capability on the Mac side for years; it's good to see that hole being filled:

Sure, there were other cool previews of exciting software coming later this year, and sure, the new PowerBooks are cool (though out of my range currently), but the really excellent news from the keynote, news that I can use TODAY, was the announcement that NPR is now available as a 24-hour QuickTime Streaming channel.

The video streaming channels (BBC & others) don't come through well enough over a modem to be more than a curiosity, but a simple high-quality, low-bandwidth audio stream like NPR is exactly the kind of thing I want easy access to over the Net. Cool.

A moment of silence:

Doonesbury came off as quite pro-NATO bombing last week, which surprised me (the strips will appear on the official site next week).

There's been some talk lately about demonstrable software bloat in specific Microsoft products, where a program like RegClean is made many times larger than it really needs to be through the inclusion of completely unrelated resources in the program file. While it's true that this is evidence of poor and/or sloppy programming, I think this fellow's point is well taken:

  • Bloatware Debate, comment from Jonathan Goldberg [Risks Digest]
    In part, this is a perfectly rational use of resources. Code compactness, like any other desirable engineering outcome, must be traded off against things such as cost and time to market. As hardware gets cheaper relative to programmer time, it is reasonable to use more hardware and less programming effort. Microsoft's monopoly exacerbates this tendency. As long as they can annoy people into buying their software because there is no viable alternative (taking into account factors such as training costs, interoperability, and the Company approved software list), Microsoft faces the tradeoff of spending their money on compact code or your money on hardware. It's not a hard choice.

See the entries before and after his comment for additional cogent discussion of the findings.

Thanks to Lawrence Lee of Tomalak's Realm for the tip that expired/deleted MSNBC articles can sometimes be found at ZDNN if they were syndicated. The article I was wanting to point to concerned Prodigy's failure to understand the word "unlimited":

  • Prodigy users warned to curb their use [ZDNet/MSNBC]
    "There is no limitation -- absolutely no limitation," said Prodigy spokesperson Mary Matalobos. "We're not talking about unlimited, we're talking about people who have excessively high connections."

I don't have anything to add to what others have already said, I just felt it was worth calling plenty of attention to. Somebody wanna buy Prodigy a dictionary?

Sometimes the Net provokes me into fits of grammar fascism. Though I'm sure it's not one of my best qualities, it does serve me well when dealing with someone else's copy (like I've done for years now on the school's site). I certainly abuse English syntax myself here in my Log, but as programmers, musicians and writers will all tell you, it's OK to break rules as long as you know what rules you're breaking and why.

I don't mind errors so much in logs or on other nonprofessional sites, but on commercial sites or news sites, I expect there to be paid editors watching over what's published, and they should either catch these sorts of things or find some other job.

So, by no one's request, here are the more annoying errors found on 'professional' web sites this week: reign in (rein in) (ZDNet fixed it in the repost of MSNBC's article - hey, editors who actually edit!), greatful (grateful), hearby (hereby), and the perennial favorites "sneak peak" (sneak peek) and rampant apostrophilia - "it's" as a possessive (should be its, just like hers and his), idea's as a plural (ideas) and many more. Grrr.

Camworld is switching gears:
  • More on Weblogs [Camworld]
    I am going to slow down a little and try to write more commentary, more essays, and focus less trying to serve up as many quality links as I could manage.

    It's not about finding the most links the fastest, automated archiving, or searchable personal web sites. It's about educating those who have come to know me about what I feel is important in the increasingly complex world we live in, both online and off.
Right on.
Presented w/o comment:
  • Tech Workers Are in Demand, but Field Has Dark Side [LA Times]
    In a survey of 250 information technology workers done in October by ComputerWorld magazine, the average workweek was more than 50 hours, and about half the respondents reported working an average of six hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Almost two-thirds reported interrupting vacations to check in with work, and 70% missed family or social events because of work.

    The fast-paced change of the technology industry leads to a feeling of "ephemeralization," as Buckminster Fuller called it 30 years ago, meaning a career in high tech can have relatively few benchmarks of tangible accomplishment.

    The mantra and rationale for the new work ethic among high-tech leaders is that it is "creating wealth," and there's no doubt that it is. But many people are starting to ask, "Wealth for what?"

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