Houston to Austin
Monday, November 10, 1997 by Dave Winer.
After writing Rastas! last week I got a bunch of mail from people who were angry with me for (they thought) believing that all rastamen were hustlers.
It was a literary device. I think it would be great if software leaders were more like the sweet rastas, and less like the hustling rastas.
See Money Money Money, 10/10/97, if you doubt me.
And if you doubt it, listen to these lyrics from Toots and the Maytalls:
I'm a lovely man. I'm a kind man! I'm a faithful man. I'm a righteous man. Megus megus, Jesus Christmas, rastaman, is the man.
It's been pretty quiet on my home page for a week or so. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, there's not that much that interests me happening on other websites. I get my stimulation, much of the time, from outside. On TV, Saddam Hussein is grabbing the cursor, again, and I tune out when that happens. Let me know if anything important happens there.
It's raining in California, but it does that every year. I put in a new office roof this summer, a radical departure from past roofs. This one is peaked. It's a rational design. The old roof was flat, the gutters would get clogged, and the roof would leak, all over my servers! This morning, it's raining cats and dogs outside, but we're dry! I like it.
The second reason for the quiet is that I'm deep in the Frontier 5 cleanup. We have a new piece of software, the Windows version, and I'm totally delighted and intrigued. It's a new thing. It's fast! It seems like CISC had some advantages over RISC. Our scripts run as fast as C code ran just a couple of years ago. Scripts that used to do 1000 loops in a second, now do 10,000 loops. Page rendering happens virtually instantaneously.
The scripts run fast, but my brain has to slow down because new neural pathways are forming. So instead of gliding at a super high level, I'm seeing more of the work, and less of the picture. Luckily this hiatus is coming at a time when the industry is a little slower.
It's part of the digging process. We're building a big jet (this is how I visualize it) that can fly 500 people from New York to London. But first we have to fly from Houston to Austin with a small crew. One step at a time, diggin all the way. At the end of the trip we fly a little higher, maybe much higher.
My old flat roof had a skylight. Now I have a skylight into my attic. A friend laughed, probably thought it was stupid, until I told him how it came to be.
My old software, Frontier 4, has skylights too! How did they come to be? It doesn't matter because we're editing them out. I'm not in the house business, but I take software seriously.
So we're taking the time to get many braincell burners out before we release the Windows software publicly.
A peeve about Windows. I wish there was an menu command to close all windows belonging to an app without bringing each one to the front and clicking on the close box.
A random thought, there are advantages to the much-maligned "MDI" interface style on Windows. It's the way apps like Word, Excel and Eudora manage their windows, inside one big window. MDI makes it possible to easily move all the windows of a single app out of the way.
And if all apps were MDI, the task bar at the bottom of the screen would actually work. As it stands now, the non-MDI apps clutter the task bar at the bottom of the screen. Nine out of ten items in the list are windows that I wished I could get rid of! Ooops. The UI doesn't work.
(The two biggest offenders on my system are the file system Explorer and the Internet Explorer, both from Microsoft.)
Another big complaint of this Windows newbie is Where is the Apps menu? No, the task manager isn't what I want. I want an icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Pull it down, see a list of each of the apps. Choose the app and all its windows come to the front.
Like a mature person who just lost a limb, I still reach out for the Apps menu, even though on Windows it's not there.
If Mac System 8 hadn't used the Control key for popup menus, which many people seem to like, I would have suggested mapping the Control right on to the Cmd key.
That way the keystrokes for managing the clipboard and windows would be identical on both platforms, and people could be cross-platform more easily.
For example, I find myself typing Control-V on my Mac to paste.
It would have delighted me if it worked.
We're thinking of starting a new mailing list called Windows-Newbies. It would be for Mac users who are learning to use Windows.
Is there enough interest to support such a mailing list?
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would subscribe and/or contribute. Brent Simmons, our webmaster, will read this mail.
I'm attending today's Apple event at Flint Center in Cupertino and will be at the press lunch.
There are lots of rumors, I believe some and wonder about others. Apple is definitely starting a new process for selling hardware. Look at their home page today for a great teaser.
Will they be merging with Oracle? Honestly, I believe that eventually they will. If not today, next time or the time after that.
I'll keep my eyes and ears open today, maybe ask a couple of questions, and let you know what was interesting about the announcements.
PS: And what does the key, between Alt and Control, with the Windows logo on it, for? Why? What about the menu key on the other side of the spacebar?