Friday, February 14, 1997 by Dave Winer.
My first company, Living Videotext, was a company of many slogans, shouted in the hallway, as a method of greeting people.
One of the slogans was "Boca or Bucha!" We were ambitious young people with our sights on Boca Raton, Florida; the capital of IBM's personal computer operation in the early-mid eighties. We had to fly to Boca Raton a lot in those days, for meetings with stiff-shirted IBMers, who knew nothing about what we were doing, older people who seemed much dumber than people could *possibly* be.
They were our filters. We felt that in order to be successful they had to understand what we were doing. It couldn't happen, so we were frustrated. We were going to kill IBM or lose everything trying. Boca or Bucha! I don't think it was fair for us to hate IBM, but we needed someone to be the villain. It was a long time ago. I was much younger!
Bucha is short for Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, a small brutal country in eastern Europe. It was before the revolution, while Ceausescu was still running the country. Either we were going to do business in Boca or we were going to be taking the red-eye to Bucharest. It was all or nothing!
Well, as luck would have it, both are history now. Boca Raton is a ghost town and Nicolae Ceausescu is dead. We beat both of them! Ye-ha.
We used to have fun.
We still do!
The people who run the industry I work in are my age or younger.
I find that people respect me more as I get older. They listen more carefully when I talk. I like that! It's something that younger people can look forward to, but it's still very frustrating for them. I remember what it was like.
I look at the world and it makes more sense now. At 41, my generation is in power. We're the incumbents. We run the show. Let's see if we have something interesting to say!
And this will change for sure, as the people running the world get younger and younger, I believe it will look wrong to me again.
For many years we've talked about information appliances, making computers as easy to use as toasters.
Toasters are nice things to have, but they are trivial. I like to make toast. It's nice, even fun sometimes. But I write at my computer. I do a lot of my thinking and creating here. I spend a lot more time at my computer than I do at my toaster!
Simplicity implies that everyone has the same needs. In toast, that's more or less true. In computers it's not true. Computers are used for lots of things. You can create special-purpose computers by limiting options and making them less general. Maybe, if you do that very well, they are as useful as toasters.
It's interesting that Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, is the latest proponent of the toaster theory of computer design. His point of view will be important because (I think) Ellison will own Apple soon. Get used to the idea, I say.
Steve Jobs will be Apple's CEO. In his opening speech, probably at the WWDC in May, Jobs will talk about the idea of computers as toasters, a vision he had in 1984, and unfortunately (so he'll say) it was too early then. It turns out, he'll say, that we needed lots of memory and disk space and a great net connection to really make a computer toaster work.
Bring your hands together in front of your mouth. Let the tips of your fingers touch. Briefly close your eyes, take a deep breath, nod slightly and smile.
Many people will like what Jobs says and how he says it. Larry Ellison will say that this is what he meant by a Network Computer. Someone from Sun will say Java Java Java. Many small developers will buy in.
If I had to make a bet, I think Jobs will probably go with some kind of Java OS and ask for new software for his machine. It would be a risky bet, like selling Lisa in 1983 or the Next cube in 1988 or Newton in 1994. Java isn't ready to support a software market yet. Maybe in a few years.
Steve is a man of discontinuities. It worked twice for him with the Apple II and the Mac, but the world is different now. Compaq moves quickly, so does Cisco, Intel and Microsoft, as does the web development community. Steve has to negotiate with the world, to conserve power, to be respectful of others, in order to win this time around.
A new Apple could be more crafty in putting together the next move into ToasterLand. Jobs is much more mature now too, so let's hold space for a newly directed Apple being smart and bold at the same time.
I like to do software for geeks, it's true, but I also like to do software for poets and planners. Been there done that, can do it again. So I wish Steve a lot of luck this time around. It might be time.
On the other hand, maybe Jobs's vision won't be inclusive. And maybe it will only offer a Rhapsody path to high-end users.
If we're going to switch operating systems, so be it. Since we're going to move I want to go to a more stable world, not a less stable one. I think of myself as being part of a cross-platform developer community. But the contradiction is catching up with me. Is the other platform Rhapsody? We'll see.
In the meantime, we know that Windows is growing, and our software is missing in that world, so the port continues. More digging going on for quite some time.
Yesterday a wild rumor was spreading in the Macintosh net developer world. It couldn't be true! The rumor was about Open Transport, an adventure in TCP programming that Apple launched a couple of years ago. It's been a long long road for us in OpenTransportLand, but now it finally works, and it's delivering the benefits that were promised to us a few years back.
The rumor said that the Open Transport team was going to be laid off in the upcoming reorg at Apple. The new OS folks at Apple (Next) are going to take over networking software and APIs. The OT group would be disbanded, future versions would be tabled in favor of the TCP interfaces in NextStep.
I know a lot of Next people read DaveNet, so I wanted to send a gentle message about chucking Open Transport -- don't do it! We have a lot invested here. The user and developer community don't want another upheaval. Things are finally stabilizing. We won't thank you for throwing all the cards in the air, again, just as they're settling from the last card-toss.
In the meantime, there appears to be another release of OT on the shelf at Apple. Please go ahead and release it. Put it on an FTP server at apple.com. I'd happily serve it from ftp.scripting.com. Let's check it out.
It's February 14, a great holiday. It's about kissing and caring and making love. Exciting stuff!
It's about connecting with people you care about in a positive way. If you're lucky enough to have a wife or a girlfriend, a husband or boyfriend, a son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother, niece or nephew, a best friend of any gender, today is a very good day to tell them that you love them.
It's important to actually say the words, in a personal way. Don't assume they already know. Symbols are important too. They don't have to be expensive symbols, they just have to show thought and care and most important, be an expression of love.
This is the best holiday, right up there with Thanksgiving. It's not a religious thing, it's a celebration of our best, what we do best as human beings -- loving and caring for each other.
And there's no shame in being a valentine for yourself on Valentine's Day. Put a smile on your face, buy some flowers and candy, sing a song, let it go, and have fun!
So have a happy Valentine's Day, all you lovers out there in InternetLand!
PS: Romania has a website: http://www.cccis.ro/.
PPS: So does Boca Raton: http://bocaraton.com/.
PPPS: Be makes a great toaster OS. Is that what Windows CE is?
PPPPS: Great quote from Ted Turner: "Average sex is better than being a billionaire." I didn't know that!