Cabdrivers' Guide to the Universe
Failure to communicate?
Messenger, once the best choice for instant messenging, is suffering
from some disregard of the users by the programmers on both
FREEDOM OF ESPRESSO
pages to do clever and entertaining tricks for the surfer. But when
are used not merely for self-expression, commercial or otherwise, but
actually take control of the web-browser itself, this crosses the line
and invades the freedom of others
LINUX IS COMING
Actually, Linux is here; what's coming is its acceptance by a
of users, not just
the computing elite who enjoy crawling under the system and getting
their mental fingers
greasy. Unlike MS DOS and Windows, Linux and Unix hide nothing from
the user who wants
or needs to look within. Its developers (who can be anyone, not just
a company employee), can
concentrate on real improvement rather than clever ways to ensure
But many users judge the machine by the paint job, and prefer never
to open the hood,
even to check the oil. The transition of Linux to such a slick and
shiny package has made great progress.
PDF DISEASEIn the beginning there was ASCII, and it was the Words, and the Words could be read by all.
But there were those who believed that wasn't enough; the Words must have Format.
There's nothing inherently wrong with Format. Your favorite Word
The most useless and irritating format I have ever seen is PDF, evidently invented by the ADOBE company, readable ONLY with their Acrobat Reader, which they will allow you to download "free". Version 3 takes up about 6 mb on my hard drive. An older version will not read something written on a newer version, so eventually I'll have to download Version 4, which is even bigger. All this just to translate a "document" that was only available for download in PDF format!
For example, a parts list for my Compaq laptop was a 41 kb PDF
It contained 3 kb of text,
That is a 30 kb waste of space, download time and bandwidth, in
to the huge reader
Adobe profits from this useless format, I suppose, but I appeal to all other webmasters to please ABANDON PDF formatting. It serves no purpose, and denies information to many who do not have the drive space to waste
the free isp storyThough their time seems to have passed, I think it is important to remember the glorious experiment in free internet service that several companies offered. They played a major role in the expansion and sociological development of the internet. The following articles describe the isps as I experienced them.
The advent of free internet service is a significant and positive development. It will allow millions of people access who cannot afford or could not justify spending an extra $15 to $20 a month. As the web becomes an increasingly integral part of the social, political, and educational environment, it is more important that it is availible equally to all economic classes.
What is needed here is for the advertising windows to be run at the server, so that the user can access the service with any browser and any OS. Currently Mac, Linux, Unix, and Win 3.1 are not supported. To really broaden the internet user base, these should be included.
UPDATE:For a time, Freewwweb's free isp was excellent it had NO ad-bar. They only required the user to set Snap.com as the homepage. It did not require ie 4/5 to run, so presumably any o/s and browser that could set a homepage would work It had pop3 mail, too. Unfortunately, the company flopped financially and sold out to Juno.
Suddenly users were told they had to download Juno's interface to
The download was huge, and the software looked and acted like Juno's
free e-mail, only much worse. It would log on and promptly collapse
under its own weight.
But now, 1nol has appeared--ONE NATION ONLINE...(with liberty
and justice for all?)
It's free and has no adbar, provides pop3 mail, and it's software
company is called
However, I can't help wondering if they're up to something. If
make a profit without an adbar, how does 1nol plan to make theirs?
And why is the download for the isp setup over 7 megs? Altavista's
is only about 600 K,
and they have an adbar to support. Could the friendly folks at 1nol
be searching my hard
drive for bits of info useful to advertisers? Could it be a snoop
device for the FBI,
or perhaps another secret organization, domestic or foreign?
Perhaps my paranoia is for nought, and 1nol is none of those
or at most an attempt at social engineering by a benevolent team of
camped in Silicon Valley.
I hope so.
The adbar free isp's have improved since the beginning. Altavista,
downloads its upgrades, has become more stable and dependable.
Whatever flavor you pick for a free provider, their very existence is
a major step forward
for the internet. For social and political reasons, all economic
levels should be online.
Of course, the free isp's economic basis is that increased access to
results in more online sales. If their customers were only those of
this might not work. They depend on an added group who could afford
to pay an isp
but are smart enough not to if they don't have to.
UPDATE II: It was a good idea, but....There are still a couple of free isp's, but they've deteriorated a bit. Bluelight now allows only 12 hours per month, less than 1/10th of what most of us need, unless you buy something from them. They will also give you more time for $9.95 a month. They don't promise to eliminate the adbar for paid users, though.
NETZERO allows 40 hours per month, not bad for the light user, but its adbar, periodic click-me popups, and screen-filling opening page can be annoying. They offer adbar-free service for $9.95 as well.
I finally gave up on the free ones, and after comparing several isp's,
decided on acer-access, $12.50 for unlimited service. They give a
dependable connection with no software overhead, as well as pop3 mail
BIGGER CAN; MORE GARBAGE
THE LOST ART OF EFFICIENT PROGRAMMINGIn the physical world, if you get a bigger desk, it will soon be just as cluttered as the old one. Usually that's just the desk-owner's fault. But if you bought a bigger desk, and suddenly you had to buy 11x14 notepads instead of 8.5x11, you might suspect an outside conspiracy.
Many do not remember the computers that had 64 k ram or less, and ran word-processors, spreadsheets, databases, graphics programs, and games, using 5.25" floppies. Sure, today's computers have more memory, more storage, and faster processors, but so much of that is wasted by sloppy programming that actual performance gains are much less than might be expected. A 66 mhz processor is 33 times faster than a 2 mhz. 64 megs RAM is 1000 times 64 k. We process 4 times 8 bits at a time. Does that make it 132,000 times faster? Not even close.
Although you can probably use Linux without ever leaving its GUI, the command console can be a useful and efficient interface as well. I am not an expert on Linux, but I can pass along a few bytes of info that I have picked up in the process of installing and experimenting, some of which were so obvious to the experts that they went unmentioned, and were therefore not easy to look up. Linux is worth the trouble of learning.
 It's case-sensitive. 'Pam_nude.jpg' is not the same as 'pam_nude.jpg'. But you can use long filenames like 'pam_with_no_clothes.jpg
[1.] To make sense of the file system, use a file manager shell like Midnight Commander. That's mc for short. It's very much like Stereoshell for dos, (which was the best dos file manager ever found, though it quit working when hard drives got bigger) with some added features. Such a shell makes exploring the hundreds of files and commands much easier and more educational.>/p>
[2.] Use aliases. No, don't change your name; an alias is a shortcut for a frequently used or inconveniently long command line, similar to a doskey macro. For example the 'ls' command to list files is more useful when you add the -a switch to include filenames starting with a dot, which are otherwise hidden , and the -f switch to add file type identifiers (/=directories, *=executable). So, 'alias ls="ls -af" ' customizes the command. Entering 'alias mountc="mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/dos" ' shortens the command to make your dos partition accessible. Aliases can be entered on the command line to use immediately, and entered in your /etc/profile file to have them availible at your next login.
[3.] The '/etc/profile' file is like an autoexec.bat file--it is read each time you log in. If you've changed it and want to test it, just type 'login' and log in again. You don't have to reboot.
[4.] Customize your prompt. You can have it include the current directory, the current terminal, and your login name, so you don't have to type 'pwd' 'tty' or 'whoami' to check where and who you are. You can also add color, time and date, and other things, but you don't want it too long.
[5.] Use the virtual consoles. If you're reading a man page and you want to edit a config file based on what you've read, press alt-f2, login the new console, and do your edit. You can instantly switch back and forth without closing either. Who needs windows? This is real multitasking. If something crashes, switch consoles.
[6.] Multi-using: If two or more people want to use the computer at once, you don't have to buy a new one. Just hook up and old 8088, 286, or a terminal unit, any of which you can get free or cheap. You can add as many as you have serial ports, and everyone has their own console.