OCIPUG Lecture Outline/Essay about the Web

Outline/Essay for presentation to Orange Coast User Group

Upcoming Lecture Schedule


The lecture didn't go exactly as planned. Unfortunately by a sad quirk of fate, someone (not Messr. Gates) from Microsoft was scheduled to speak before me (we each were to have 45 minutes). They started about 8 minutes late, and spoke for over an hour, so when I got up I was a.) rushed and b.) mad. It wasn't my best lecture. (I was asked if I would be willing to come back again and talk to some of the Internet SIG's, so I guess it couldn't have been that bad!)

OCIPUG actually managed to squeeze in more time before the next speaker, shortening the break, and was able to give me the full 45 minutes. They were gracious and a great group and I thank them very much for the opportunity to speak to them.

I couldn't help but laugh at Microsoft's silliness. The guy started with a quote circa 1995 from Bill Gates about how the Internet is the most important thing to happen since the introduction of the IBM-PC in 1981.

Then he demoed some rushed out Web authoring products from Microwsoft, and was telling us we were gonna 'love' this feature, and 'love' that feature, until I for one was about ready to throw up. For example, one feature we were all supposed to love was horizontally scrolling banner text in a web page. WOW! And it wasn't even smooth scrolling like the stuff I've been writing in Multimedia DOS for almost 15 years! It was jerky and it was just silly. If you think that's going to make your web page jump out at people you're right--it'll jump out and scream "I bought a dumb utility from Mycroesoft and I know how to use it!" What it won't scream is "I'm a quality product written by someone who cares".

Another Mighcrosoft claim was that they spend enormous amounts of money on R&D. I didn't mention it at the lecture, but I don't think their numbers were presented fairly. I think they include working on the next version of Windoze as R&D. (Or in other words, bug-fixing the current version.) And anyway, it was presented as a gross dollar figure, when it should have been presented as a percentage of net income if it's something they want boast about and act proud about.

Perhaps most significant was that their Web demo used a 370K Powerpoint thingy (Look--it's less than 400K!) and a 2 Megabyte (!) AVI file (running, surprise surprise, a Mikrosoft ad). Naturally, it didn't actually go out on the Web and get this stuff. And naturally, it was running on one of the fastest machines available today--a 133 Mhz Compaq with 40 megs of RAM and a 1.1 gig H.D..

So by the time I went on, I could barely contain myself! The last 15 minutes of the guy's talk, the Chairpeople at OCIPUG were clearly agitated and furtively looking at their watches. I was modifying my speech.

Microsopht just really ticked me off... I guess I'm easily ticked off by them these days, what with how hard they've made it for honest hard working DOS educational programmers who helped them build their empire during the last decade. I admit it: I'm a bitter old man (40) about this. (See my FTP page for more information on why I'm upset.)

When I finally got to speak, first I looked at my watch (which, by an amazing coincidence, had been given to me at a Microssoft conference a few years ago, where Billy G. said some pretty silly things himself).

The guy from Mycrosoft was packing to go, which was also, if you ask me, pretty rude. That didn't calm me down. I'm sure he heard enough that I won't be invited to tea at his house any time soon, though.

I started out with "I'm supposed to speak for 45 minutes and end at 10:35, but that's just 20 minutes from now, so I guess I've been stepped on by Microsoft. Well that's O.K.: I'm used to it."

Then I mentioned the quote from Mr. Gates that they had started with, and said that I had a sort of similar quote I was going to start with, which I wrote, but which really went quite a bit further. It which went something like: "The Internet represents the greatest opportunity in the history of mankind to increase the overall level of intelligence in the Universe."

Then I said I should start with a Bill Gates quote as well, so here's mine, which he said sometime around 1983 or 1984: "I don't know why anyone would ever need more than 640K". I was loaded for bear. I offered them three minutes at the end to rebut anything I said but they didn't take me up on it (some Microsoft people stayed through, but the speaker packed up and left.)

And it didn't get any better the rest of the lecture. Following are the notes I wrote preceding the lecture and which I sent to the Program Chairperson, but the actual lecture was more about my opinions on encryption, junk email, data streams, background images, censorship, etc.. And my opinion of Microsoft, which just seems to keep getting worse.

One idea which I sugggested, was that everyone's home page (which everyone should have) should include their complete medical history--but in an encrypted form. And only two people should be able to see the data (besides you)--your doctor, and the Census Bureau. Yes, the Census Bureau. Did you know that by law, the data the Census Bureau collects may be given to NO ONE except in statistical form? Not even the IRS can get at it.

By allowing the Census Bureau to have access to everyone's medical records, an enormous amount of information could be gained on which environmental pollutants do the most damage, and how much damage they do, and so on. Also, simple, short questionaires could be tied to the data and the effects of healthy and not-so-healthy lifestyles could be more easily determined. All with complete privacy. In an ideal world...

Proposal for presentation to OCIPUG:

To: Alan Liebschutz,
Program Chairman,
Orange Coast User Group
June 14th, 1996

Dear Sir:

Jerry Man has asked me to fax this outline of my talk scheduled for 8/24/96.

Basically, the talk will focus on the Internet and what it will do to the way America does business, entertains itself, and learns. I guess about half the time will be spent discussing where it's at now, and half, where it might be going. Maybe a few minutes on where it came from and why it exploded now instead of five years ago or five years hence.

In business, the Internet represents a remarkable opportunity for both customer support and sales. OSHA, for example, has placed millions of pages of information online, including their complete Inspector manuals, so that businesses which need to know what the Inspectors will be looking for can find out exactly. Here is San Diego there is a firm that will place restaurant's menus online for free. Shop manuals will more and more go online and this will make support easier and easier for businesses.

In entertainment, many movies now come out with web sites already set up. These become instant "fan clubs" as do musician's home pages. Increasingly, the Internet represents a global communication device and a global community of individuals.

Only six months ago we could regularly read letters about the Internet being good for nothing more than porn and sales literature. Yet now, it is THE PLACE to go for real, solid information on a huge number of things. For example, if I go out of town, the Internet is the best place to look for mountain bike riding areas near where I'm going. In fact, it's about the only way to get that information, unless I want to stop in a bike shop when I get there.

It is really remarkable that this should have happened so quickly and so thoroughly. It's great!

As for learning, the Internet already has hundreds of sites built by museums all over the world, which display digitized views of their collections. Magazines and newspapers are placing not just their entire printed output, but far more on the Internet. Full text of interviews, background information, audio clips and so on. Again, this is a wonderful explosion of information, and it is unprecedented in history.

All these things are happening right now, and will continue to happen at an ever-increasing rate. Currently, the main downside to the Internet is the speed of the connections, which may well get worse. A second downside is the unreliability of much of today's hardware and software-like 'plug and pray'. If software companies do not try harder to write reliable software, this beautiful world may come crashing down like a house of cards on fire. The Internet is still too vulnerable to hackers.

The future promises to be very exciting. As more and more businesses place more and more information online, the need to be hooked in will become overwhelming. We should even expect, and encourage, laws requiring information to be distributed through the net. For example, all automotive companies should be required to place their entire shop manuals online so you don't need to buy them anymore, and so any backwoods mechanic can get the information they need to properly repair any vehicle.

Postal junk mail needs to disappear-it's a waste of trees-but it cannot simply be replaced by junk email. It is mathematically impossible, that's why the online community hates 'spam'. Because a simple calculation says that if you can send junk email to 500,000 people virtually for free and without repercussion, then everyone who wants to announce anything will do so-and we can expect our private email boxes to fill with thousands of junk email pieces every day. This is another area I expect legislation to eventually have to be enacted, much though I hate the idea of legislating the net.

As for freedom of speech issues, first amendment stuff, the Internet represents, in some way or other, everything that is going on in life. So any store that is legal on earth should be legal in Virtual-earth. However, differing standards around the world mean that something that is legal in one place may be totally forbidden-by community standards, not dictators-elsewhere. Yet, to some extent the Internet must allow the most freedom possible, rather than the least freedom possible.

This is because people will not, should not, and never have put up with others imposing their rules.

Internationally, the Internet is the most dangerous weapon ever devised to destroy dictatorships and fascist regimes. It is the most democratic, egalitarian tool that humanity has ever come up with, and it will NOT go away. It will mutate. It will grow. Only a massive collective mental illness could possible destroy it completely. Mankind needs this tool very badly, and it has come along not a moment too soon.

People who reject the Internet as fluff, people who haven't ever tried it, people who don't 'trust' it--it's like not trusting books (any books), or not believing that libraries had value once, or like thinking tomatoes are poisonous or that astrology works.

Sure, there will always be sad cases of misinformed people who think these things, but the vast majority of people will, and a large minority do now, recognize that the Internet is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to mankind, and that this is the most exciting time to be alive in the history of the world, and that this is also the most exciting time to be involved with information technology.

Lastly, I will certainly mention that the great flux that is going on means that there are business opportunities that people haven't even dreamed of, and in the next ten years we should expect an average of one new billion-dollar Internet company every year, if not more frequently.

I look forward to the meeting. Please let me know if this is along the lines of what you are expecting me to talk about. Thank you, again, for your invitation.

Russell Hoffman
Owner and Chief Programmer
The Animated Software Co.

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Mail to: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
Last modified March 27th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman