News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus picture Mail Starting 3/22/97

From: bfrankel@ix.netcom.com (Barry Frankel);
Sent at 3/24/97; 8:05:14 AM;
Push & Pull In The Year 2001

Sunday TV was dull and it was too cold here in Princeton to do much outside so I let my mind wander out to the year 2001 and think about Push and Pull.

The problem with TV is that the news has to fit into 3 minute segments. This is fine for news that isn't interesting to me, but when it is interesting it doesn't satisfy me.

The same is true about Push.

Pull has a different problem, if I don't know about a story, I will never read it.

So what do I end up doing? I listen to TV and if a story is interesting I go to the Web and get more information.

Ok, now let's jump to the year 2001. Intel's MMX chips are every where and someone has finally built software to use the speech processing functions of the chip.

My kitchen computer is pushing the news at me as audio while I make dinner. A boring story comes on, I simply say, "NEXT" and the system jumps to the next news item.

This one catches my attention, and I want more information; I ask and the system delivers.

What we have here is a system with either streaming audio and video and/or text to speech delivering PUSH programming. And for command processing we have speech recognition.

Channel surfers will love it and so will Andy Grove and Steve Jobs, because it will create a got-a-have reason to throw out all those NC and 486s and buy new computers.

If someone has the funding I know where to find the people who can do the text to speech and the robust speech recognition.

From: pss@bigfoot.com (Paul Schwartz);
Sent at 3/23/97; 8:29:31 PM;
Empowerment and stuff...

I've been following DaveNet for quite a while now, and I must say that Empowerment and Trust really hit home on a number of levels, so here's a longish rant that's not entirely off-subject.

"Empowerment" is my standard answer when someone asks me (which is a lot -- I sold both Macs and PCs for three years, and I'm now a Mac geek for Reader's Digest Canada) why I like my Mac better than my PC, and which one they should buy. Can you do good work on a PC? Sure. But it's more fun on a Mac, and don't ever underestimate the fun factor when it comes to "working" on a computer.

Some people like watching TV or playing Duke Nukem. I like playing around with the latest graphics, networking, text tools, and other such software, (as well as the odd game of Marathon ;-). It's not what the software can do, it's what I can do with the software, and it's what makes the Mac, both as a computer and as a culture great. It's why I hope Apple survives and prospers.

A relevant example? AppleScript. I've been writing AppleScripts for about a year now, and hardly a day goes by at work that this technology hasn't empowered me to simply get the job done quickly and efficiently. Take a peek at www.readersdigest.ca. AppleScript allowed me to take data from PC, Unix, and Mainframe systems and bring it together, and keep it together on this site. The online joke database with almost 2000 jokes? They were ready to hire a temp for a week to copy and paste the relevant jokes from our Lotus Notes database, but I wrote a script (along with some Prefab Player magic, as the Notes client isn't scriptable) that extracted them and built the database in four hours. The online product database of over 500 products? The text was batch extracted from hundreds of QuarkXpress files using a script of mine. The images? Photoshop and a script (along with more Prefab Player magic). The web server is a Unix box full of Perl scripts, but the content is all from Macs, and the back-end database work on our end is FileMaker and AppleScripts on Mac. The transfer of the online order files from the Unix web box to our mainframe in New York? It was going to have to be done by hand every day, resulting in a one-day order processing delay. My AppleScripts now retrieve the orders every evening via Eudora Light, generate backup order files, and then upload the order file into the mainframe via mainframe client software. The online inventory checking? Again, AppleScripts from the mainframe to the Unix box.

Now that I think of it, there are now thousands of lines of AppleScript floating around almost every department in our office, and they all help us do our work in a more enjoyable and efficient manner. They help us keep ahead of the competition. They help us make money and feed our families. Now _that's_ empowerment. Apple, are you listening? I love AppleScript. So do many of my geeky friends, who like myself are too busy writing scripts to write you and let you know (would you like to hear from us?)

The Internet embodies empowerment. The spirit that makes that Mac great lives on in the Internet, and it's why I love the Internet almost as much as the platform I use to connect to and share in it. The Net makes heroes of anyone willing to give it a try. You're a Net Hero. DaveNet and Frontier assure you of this title. Would sponsorship dull the shine? Of course not. We all have to pay the bills. I wish more people would keep that in mind when they rant against Net advertising. I would gladly trade all of MSN for a single DaveNet or FAQ on just about any subject. The Net is a wonderful two-way mirror on our world, and I'm proud to say I spend a lot of time every week participating. Nothing annoys me more than someone who says "get a life" when they ask how much Net surfing I do. I have tons of hobbies, I'm an information junky, and I've made many friends all over the world in the past few years. How much time do these critics spend alone in front of the television every week? Makes them think.

Dustin Cushman, http://mason.gmu.edu/~rcushman/saturn/saturn.html, is a Net Hero. This student brings together and shares so much great Sega information that it makes you wonder what the guys at Andersen Consulting were thinking when they made the first official Sega of America site. This kid still makes the corporate site look like a joke. No wonder corporate America is still scrambling to fit the Internet into their business plan. Is there a fit to be made? Sure, see below.

Amazon.com is a Net Hero. They give us books (remember, those things that the Internet was supposed to make obsolete by now?) in a content-rich environment in the way we want to browse and buy. Do you hate the book they're hawking? They encourage you to write your own scathing review, and it's posted _immediately_. No editing. No fear. That's cool. And then you have their notification service. How many times has your local bookstore called you and said "hey, I remembered that you bought a book on Bonsai last month, and a new one just came out that you might want to take a look at, and let me fax you a review and the e-mail address of someone who just bought it." This kind of service has made them one of the best places to shop. That's Net commerce at it's best -- no, actually, that's commerce at it's best. Period. Retailers, are you listening?

Well, that's enough for now. I've been meaning to write these things down for a while now anyway, and your essay gave me a good reason to. Thanks.


From: dwiner@well.com (Dave Winer);
Sent at ;
Re:Empowerment and Trust

The people who are selling stocks and bonds on the net are rebelling against the big stodgy firms with all those retail offices that the Internet makes obsolete.

How much money have you made with your non-rebellious investments? I predict you'll only make money by selling them out, most of them will never return any shareholder value on their own. Can't pussyfoot around here and head-trips don't work.

Some of your investments are good, imho, like Christine's company. And who are they undermining? All the consultants and production houses that think print is the right way to do coupons.

Check out the newspaper business -- they're in total leap of faith mode on this stuff. Their cart is very much upset by the Net.

Read the NY Times Magazine today, the column by John Glieck. He gets it. The net isn't here for you to make money. It's here to be what it is.


From: Gary_Rieschel@zd.com (Gary Rieschel);
Sent at 3/23/97; 3:29:50 PM;
Re:Empowerment and Trust

Dave, do you really find the Internet a rebellion? i think of it as no more or less than a new marketplace, a new media. those who choose to rebel may find the Internet their perfect platform, just as those who choose to sell stocks, bonds, products, services may use it for those purposes as well. was the same for radio, tv, etc., no different here.

i think we need to begin separating the community of the Internet from the Internet itself. otherwise we risk having the Internet community lost in the mass of dollars that are beginning to shift online. i think the distinction is important.

no issue with your empowerment and trust comment - in a completely distributed world (or in moving toward one) that is all that matters.

From: wesf@mail.utexas.edu (Wesley Felter);
Sent at 3/22/97; 1:40:30 PM;
Pointcast 1.0b1 update

I just installed PointCast 1.0b1 on my Mac after trashing the old version a while back. It's too early for me to tell whether it'll get to stay this time, but it's better. You can finially remove channels entirely (I don't want the financial channel - I don't own any stock! No sports channel for me, either.) The big plus is the non-boring content, like Wired News. They run stories that actually interest me, and now I can read them without frames, without waiting for them to load. If I could have a DaveNet channel, and maybe a Frontier channel, I'd be really happy.

You said PointCast was like CNN on your desktop. I'm subscribed to the CNN channel, but I don't get any video. Maybe PointCast should partner with Iterated to distribute video in non-real time in the background (i.e. it takes an hour to download 15 minutes worth of clips using half of your bandwidth).

From: philippe@philippe.com (Philippe Kahn);
Sent at 3/22/97; 10:44:37 AM;
Re:Empowerment and Trust

in your latest piece, you talk about the early days of DOS in the 80s. Let me bring in a detail or two that you may have forgotten ,it's been a long time. Borland's third product, after Turbo Pascal (first ever integrated development tool), Sidekick (First ever PIM, was launched in late 1984 and was called "SuperKey". SuperKey was the first real "integrating scripting/macro language" and was design to allow the popular applications of the time (such as 123, WordStar and dBASE) to work together. SuperKey had branching, looping, variables and a Pascal like syntax.

As you well know, back in 1984, it wasn't that easy technically to implement such a system with DOS 2.0. Contrary to popular belief it was Lotus who tried to "do it all alone" when released Symphony. As you know Symphony was a complete failure. In fact if you look at Borland's advertising at the time the headlines were all about: "Superkey works hand-in-hand with your favorite application and makes them all dance together".

From: steve@woz.org (Steve Wozniak);
Sent at 3/22/97; 5:28:50 AM;
Re:Empowerment and Trust

Felt to me like the best DaveNet yet. Prior topics but cleanly presented. Your DaveNets are like pop songs -- the modern day poetry where we look for clues as to what to believe in, what values to express, how to live, how to treat others, how to enjoy our short stay. Thank you very much for that. I hope that you find a good place in your thinking for we AppleScript users too!

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