News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 6/11/97
While web advertising may not "pay" from a large web site provider's point of view, for us, as a software developer, it's quick and cheap way to get the news out about our product. Remember that most magazines have lead times of 2 months or more ... hard to make last minute decisions in that context.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kenneth Trueman);
Sent at 6/12/97; 4:42:49 PM;
The web sites that can't seem to get by are the big ones assocaited with huge efforts like C/NET, etc. The ones who can get by just fine are the smaller web sites, run by fanatics, visited by fanatics.
We deal with websites like MacCentral, Macintouch, and macResource Page, run by Mac fanaics. These sites do one thing and do it well. And their CPMs are low enough that we can afford to advertise, they make money, and we get a very targetted audience.
Big sites like C/NET et al are fairly labour intensive. They were not necessarily started by folks with the experience to run operations with daily demands for new content (like TV and Radio) and consequently, might not be running their resources at an optimal pace. And their audience is failry diverse (just like Time, Newsweek, etc.)
"PS: Heh'h Hahe Huh -- Hoh!"
From: email@example.com (Jeff Logullo);
Sent at 6/12/97; 10:44:48 AM;
Re:Style and Technology
"Let's have fun -- now!"
Did I get it? Lemme know what I won...
"You can make great goosebumps with just a 14.4K line."
Sent at 6/12/97; 12:32:13 PM;
Re:Style and Technology
Beautiful line! And many others in that piece as well.
Also, your piece in Wired was awesome...whoever edited your stuff did a great job of tightening all the loose screws, giving the piece focus and punch. You always have rhythm, edited or not. (Did you use to be a drummer?)
I'm annointing you the Bob Dylan of the Web, Dave Winer. Poet of bits and bytes. Prophet of the pipeline.
Dave, I've listened to you describe your vision of the web, people connecting to people, for several years now and I think your dead on. The VC may not like it (less opportunity for money and greed via FUD) but they'll come around as they begin to realize that it is what people really want. I mean as content consumers (as well as producers) we have some say in the matter. Let's stop letting the tail wag the dog. Keep it up the good work.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Micah Alpern);
Sent at 6/12/97; 12:06:28 PM;
Re:New Cave Needs Curtain
Of the redesigns that have flashed by, I like Ken Dow's rendition best for a couple of reasons.
From: email@example.com (Eric Soroos);
Sent at 6/11/97; 5:26:40 PM;
Scripting.com Web Page Redesign & Ayn Rand.
#1, The text doesn't flow off the side of the page. This is essential (IMHO) for a site that focuses on textual content.
#2, It loads quickly.
#3, It looks good in lynx, mainly because there aren't a page of links to go through before getting to the content.
Thinking about the push world that's coming upon us, I was wondering if you were pondering doing a low tech version of push for changes to the scripting.com main page? Perhaps a 1-2x per day email subscription to the main page, not just the davenet piece.
Your Ayn Rand davenets have gotten me thinking. This past weekend I read a book that is billed as a rebuttal to Atlas Shrugged. It's Matt Ruff's new book, Sewer, Gas and Electric, the Public Utility Triliogy. I'm not really sure how to describe it, other than surreal. It's a trip through the next 25 years of history in and around New York City, chronicling the parallel rise of a very visible entrepreneur and a hidden self aware computer, with a good amount of creative mayhem in the mix as well.
You can read my mind. A little Dave mirror site inside my head... Why else have there been two great Davenet's in a fortnight that together synthesize what we, at Lari Software, are up to?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Beverly McRae);
Sent at 6/11/97; 6:14:00 PM;
Tripping the multimedia fantastic
Most recently the Flash piece. I want to let you know that next month, Lari Software is releasing Electrifier Studio--wicked fast multimedia for the web--that does the things that you love about Flash, but takes them further, much further!
MTV-style photo-montages fading in and out to the rhythm of a MIDI soundtrack--with *much* lower overhead than a comparable GIF animation. Largescale vector graphics zipping around a screen in perspective, that download without any wait--thanks to a file size under 1K. A headline bursting into flames or one graphic rippling into another. We're talking ballsy special effects here! All played over the Net and delivered via QuickTime.
The Jesse Berst piece also hit home since we're fanning the flame of dynamic web pages. Our collaboration on this with Apple resulted in the Apple Electrifier Player plug-in. It enables on-the-fly creation of multimedia-rich web pages and elements. By separating design from content we allow No-Bandwidth multimedia publishing.
Well, it has become *even* cooler! We are in the process of allowing the dynamic multimedia publishing features to be delivered via QuickTime. This way, MIDI sound, VR, video, vector graphics and animation, and dynamic multimedia publishing, can all be accessed via one plug-in instead of needing separate ones for each media. We have a preview of what No-Bandwidth multimedia publishing is all about at http://www.electrifier.com/. Please check it out (for now, you'll need the Electrifier Player).
Yes, Flash has gotten there first. But soon Flash will be trying to catch up as we go beyond vector graphics and animation, and reduce bandwidth for the whole spectrum of multimedia.
It's important to remember that when you're paying for bandwidth, it's usually by the byte, so whether it takes 5 minutes or 3 hours, downloading Communicator costs the same. Unless the phone company is charging your ISP a per-minute access fee, which encourages ISPs to provide as much bandwidth as possible to users so they don't have to stay on as long.
From: email@example.com (Wesley Felter);
Sent at 6/11/97; 2:50:17 PM;
Re:"Netscape's Great Internet Tune Up - Doubles Traffic on the Net"
I'd actually rather that everyone was paying for their bandwidth, though, because it would encourage more efficient use of the Internet. How many people probably downloaded Communicator through Netcom? What a waste! If they had a proxy server, they would only have to download it once, and you would get it at the full bandwidth of your modem from a fast server at Netcom. Sure it costs the ISP a little more for a server, but $10K isn't a large expense when you've got multiple T3s.
An even better way to distribute popular information is to broadcast it. Probably over a hundred million people watch the nightly news every night; instead of sending a separate copy to each person's TV, the networks just broadcast it. An even better example is something like Headline News; they have the same news over and over every hour. It doesn't really matter when you tune in, because after an hour you've seen the whole thing. Netscape should just multicast Communicator over and over; your computer could tune in, wait until it's got the whole thing, and then tune out.
So this is how it's turning out.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Fred Heutte);
Sent at 6/11/97; 1:29:24 PM;
Re:Style and Technology
There *is* something wrong with this picture. Once you actually *get* to the words all these gimmicks are supposed to draw you into, they seem flat and dull. Welcome to Vegas World. Underneath the flashing lights and lasers are the same old cinderblocks and corporate cafeteria lines.
In Dave's World (and in mine, too, I think), words lead to pictures. I get email with the latest musings, they point to a Web site, I load the address in my browser (Opera, thank you very much, a nice, fast, compact, elegant tool which doesn't Do Java) and there we go. Now *that's* cooool.
I love design excellence on the Web, whether it's for artistic or business purposes. But if the Web is an expression of our interests taken as a whole, given the very low hurdle rate for participation by us average type folks, something rather interesting is happening. The idea of the Online Mall or Push World seems to be fading, fast. We like having Las Vegas, but one will be enough, thanks. The Web finds its own uses on the street.
I'm ever more amazed by IBM. They pulled the plug on their virtual mall, quite ahead of the curve. The Web is just starting to be *crucial* for business purposes, but just as movies tried and failed to reinvent the stage before discovering what big screens are good for, and us
just as television reinvented the movies before figuring out what little screens are good for, those seeking corporate fortune on the Web are starting to realize that it's not interactive TV. As a result, the people who believe that there ought to be room for words-leading- to-pictures have some elbow room.
IBM, and Apple. How times have changed. How did Gerstner and Amelio end up where they are, and what does it tell us about the often surprising nature of the seemingly predictable corporate world?
I felt I had to reply and fervently agree with some of your points from Style and Technology on June 11..
From: email@example.com (Steve Johnson);
Sent at 6/11/97; 3:45:07 PM;
Re:Style and Technology
As web sites get bloated with graphics that made marketing happy, I'm reminded of the original Macintosh. They could get the MacWrite on a 400K floppy along with the operating system! Let's see, in 1997, my DOS & Windows directories are how many Meg? And MS Office is over 100M. Who would ever dream that I'd need a 2G hard drive on a laptop? I think that developers should use the same equipment that their users do; for instance, not many of us have high-speed Internet connections. In fact, at 28.8 I think I have a faster connection from home than I do at work (I guess our T1 is clogged with too many users!) We need to think about this when we're developing those ugly 65K GIF files that take forever to load. (Even Playboy's menu takes too long to load and it should be in my cache by now). I think the "Other people" (not the "content people") are spending too much time trying to force the killer app to be one that kills Microsoft. Instead maybe they should focus on how to address real customer problems. Using "Live Update" from Symantec to keep my virus files current is an excellent use of the internet; in fact, I think that customer support is probably the killer app. Hmmm, not very 'sexy" is it?
When Bill Atkinson developed WildCard (which became HyperCard), the artistic style that came through to the end user mattered a lot to him. When I worked with Bill on HyperCard as a developer, he stressed to me how the product had to have a sense of flair, a sense of style. We worried about the icons used, and the graphic design of the stacks. Content and technology were truly merged.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Daniel K. Allen (Visual C++));
Sent at 6/11/97; 10:57:05 AM;
Re:Style and Technology
We really wanted the product to be fluid. I still do not know of a set of paint tools that worked as well as do HyperCard's, obviously an evolution from MacPaint's tools.
Many complained that HyperCard went out of style because it lacked color and more "modern" influences. We desparately wanted to do a true color HyperCard. But we did not have the memory. This is very interesting in light of what has happened with browsers...
Bill argued that if we did a color HyperCard (HC), he wanted full color editing, color transitions, etc., complete with undo. The problem was that to do HC, we needed lots of screen buffers to composite the card's graphics, fields, text, and buttons, from both the background layer and the card layer. This could require up to 9 buffers if you were using the paint tools and were supporting undo. Back in those days we used 512x342 bit buffers (the size of the Mac screen-can you believe we used such small screens?) but we could still use up to several hundred KB for all of those buffers. That's why HC always needed around a MB of memory to run in.
8-bit color on 640x480 would have upped our RAM requirements by many MB! With thousands or millions of colors on larger monitors, the RAM requirements were astronomical. Machines of the late 80s had 4-8 MB of RAM if you were really lucky. Hence, no true color HyperCard. (The color HCs of today are XCMD hacks.)
Anyway, I tell this story because now we have browsers that do only half of what HC did (no good built-in editing and no transitions, dissolves, etc.), and we see that they routinely use 8-20 MB, just as HyperCard would have if a color version were done!
The ploy for turning browsers into our desktop was also tried with HyperCard: remember the apps and docs cards of the home stack? Single clicks to access anything on your machine? That's what HyperCard had years ago, and what IE 4.0 is promising... and we'll all either love it or hate it. My vote isn't cast yet, but I don't think I'm going to like it. (To be fair, HyperCard's view of apps and files was static and did not automatically reflect the actual disk's contents, so perhaps that's why HC's grab for the desktop never materialized...)
Remember all those rumors about HyperCard or the Finder going into ROM on Macs? Those ideas were never seriously entertained at Apple for even a moment, but it is interesting that on Windows many of the key pieces of IE and Explorer (HC & Finder) have been packaged up into APIs and COM objects and ActiveX (nee OLE) Controls that allow everyone to use them. Apple really screwed up in not putting HyperCard's object manager into ROM, for example. It is very similar in its functionality to OLE's Compound Document format, even to the details that both HC stacks and OLE "storages" need to be compacted.
Technology == Programs == HC runtime (VM?), XCMDs, HyperTalk Content == Data == text, graphics, sounds
HyperCard was neat because you could distribute both the code and the data simultaneously in one file: the stack. It contained everything. The Web's granularity is finer and thus seems a lot messier.
Now we have:
Technology == JScript, VBScript, ActiveX Controls Content == HTML, GIF, JPEG, WAV,...
Well Netscape rolled out its new Communicator and just to make sure that people migrated, they sent out emails. I got one at 10:am EDT and decided to upgrade.
From: email@example.com (Barry Frankel);
Sent at 6/11/97; 1:24:29 PM;
Netscape's Great Internet Tune Up - Doubles Traffic on the Net
Well the 14mb download for the professional version of Communicator took 3 hours and 20 minutes. Initially my 28.8 modem initially was getting 3.3K/sec from the Netscape server but it has slowed to 1.3K/sec. And this is the response from the server resrved for people who purchased a Netscape subscription.
After seeing this slow response I activated a very clever tool, Net.Medic, you can get a trial copy at http://www.vitalsigns.com/, that shows the performance of the server, the Net, your ISP and your modem.
>From Net.Medic, it appears that Netscape's update has doubled the traffic on the Internet. I wonder what it would cost Netscape if they were charged per kilobyte sent or what the users would pay if they were charged by their local phone companies for each minute of connect time.
My guess is if the phone companies had their way and made the charges close to that for a 3 hour phone call from Princeton to San Jose, it would probably be cheaper to go back to sending floppies through the mail.
At last, a redesign that improves upon the simplicity and clarity of yours. And it loads fast too. This is the best one yet because it addressed your request, improve the graphics and keep the content prominent. Got my vote...
From: firstname.lastname@example.org> (by way of Brent Simmons (David A. Bayly);
Sent at 6/11/97; 10:33:47 AM;
Scripting News redesign: Cameron Barrett.
Friggin' Right On!
From: email@example.com (bobby);
Sent at 6/11/97; 12:33:54 PM;
Re:Style and Technology
I liked this piece. It is pretty easy to see myopia set in in corporate-land. No style? Bleah. The word 'content' ignores style altogether. The Bible is content. The Torah is content. Spam e-mail is content. Is there a difference?
From: adul@cmg.FCNBD.COM (Albert Dul);
Sent at 6/11/97; 11:08:53 AM;
Re:Style and Technology
This made me think of one of Stephen Jay Gould's essays in which he talks about an annular solar eclipse he experienced in New York City. You'd enjoy it. It's either the first or second chapter of "Dinosaur in a Haystack."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Poole);
Sent at 6/11/97; 9:00:41 AM;
Re:Style and Technology