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Top Ten Internet Fads

By Frozen North in Culture
Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 05:09:15 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

At the risk of sounding much older than I really am, I've been on the Internet since 1987. In that time, I've seen a number of Internet fads come and go. Some were excesses of the bubble years, but others weren't.

A fad, for purposes of this article, is an idea or technology which is briefly popular, but can't outlast its own novelty value. Once people get over the newness of it all, there isn't really anything special left. Here are the ten which stand out most in my mind.

10. Live Customer Service
At one point, when companies were selling anything online (see #2), someone realized that customer service was going to be an important part of the online retail experience. Of course, simply posting an E-mail address and a toll-free phone number wouldn't do! E-mail doesn't satisfy the need for live service, and a toll-free phone number was, well, so 80's.

Several companies jumped in to serve the need for a true Internet solution for live service. Some provided text chat technology, others went so far as to do Voice-over-IP (see #8) to the customer's web browser (you were SOL if you didn't happen to have a microphone connected to your computer). There were even a couple which did video. All of these were accessed though big "Click Here For Live Assistance" buttons.

Aside from the fact that many of these technologies simply didn't work very well, it seems that nobody bothered to ask customers what sort of live service they actually wanted. What most customers really wanted to do was pick up the phone and dial a toll-free phone number, or else send an E-mail.

9. Flash Mobs
Find a bunch of people who don't know each other, have them all gather at some specified time and place, do something off-the-wall, and then go away. That's pretty much the summary of a Flash Mob, the Big Thing of the First Half of 2003. The Internet is key because that's how you organize the Flash Mob, and post the photos afterwards.

Okay, this was cool the first couple of times. We have now proven that the Internet allows you to organize people to do stuff in the real world, and not just online. Somehow, it just doesn't seem to have much more staying power.

8. VoIP (Rounds 1 and 2)
Using the Internet for phone calls is becoming a hot topic again, which makes it easy to forget that this is actually the third time this particular technology has made an appearance.

I wasn't sure if I should call VoIP a "fad" or not, since there is some technology here which actually is useful, and many major phone companies are actually using the underlying technology for their internal networks. On the other hand, both of the previous appearances in consumer form were clearly premature, so those at least are fads.

The first time, it was strictly for the determined. Imagine using your PC as a really bad CB radio, and you get the basic idea. Most conversations were along the lines of "Can you hear me? Isn't this cool! We're using the Internet for a phone call!" The listener typically heard, "-an y-----ear--e? ------ool! We're u--ng the -nter------all!"

My own first exposure to VoIP technology was in graduate school in 1994 or 1995. Two of the postdocs in my research group were testing VoIP as a way to save money on our conference calls with a team we collaborated with overseas. They had set up two SGI workstations in adjacent offices, and attempted to set up a VoIP call. They closed the two office doors, and this is what I heard from my cubicle:

Postdoc #1: "Hello? Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Hello? CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

[office door opens, Postdoc #2 walks out into Postdoc #1's office]

Postdoc #2: "I think the whole floor can hear you."

7. Thin Clients
Hey, we've got a web browser now. What do we need Windows (or MacOS) for anymore? We can access everything through a browser!

This, in a nutshell, was the argument for the Thin Client. Conceived as a way to break the Microsoft monopoly on the desktop, a Thin Client would be nothing more than a web browser on a screen. Thus (the theory went) it would be cheaper to build than a desktop PC, and all the applications would run on the server with the Thin Client running the interface.

This idea was so wrong, I don't even know where to begin. For starters, this is nothing more than a reversion to the old mainframe computing days, with a prettier face. So instead of a dumb terminal, we now have a GUI-based browser, but there was a reason the world shifted away from mainframes and dumb terminals. At least I think there was.

Next, it turns out that in order to do a lot of the fancier stuff a browser is expected to do, you need to have things like a sound card, a pretty good (for 1996) graphics processor, and a hard drive to cache data. Oh, and it had to run Java, too. Guess what! Suddenly we've got a whole operating system again. And why exactly can't we use Windows for this?

By the time someone actually built a Thin Client (I think it was Sun, but my memory is imperfect here), it turned out to be significantly more expensive than the sub-$1,000 personal computers which were making an appearance by then, and much less capable.

6. Digital Personae
Like the digital flotsam of a thousand shipwrecked business plans, you can still see the occasional Digital Persona wash up on a web site somewhere. The typical encounter is something like this: you go to a corporate web site somewhere, and start reading the web page. Suddenly, the web page starts talking to you! You notice an animation of someone talking in the corner of the window (typically an attractive young woman), giving a sales pitch with bad lip-sync. Sometimes, there's a box to type in questions and get synthesized responses, but more often, you get the pitch and she shuts up.

Believe it or not, at one time companies spent real money developing these things for their web sites, on the theory that it would make the web experience more "personal." More like interacting with a real person. There were even companies whose entire technology was built around improving these Digital Personae. I remember one in particular which had groundbreaking technology for improving the lip-sync, and they even got venture capital to do it. I think they were called RealLips or something like that.

The problem is that (a) if the customer wanted to interact with a real person, he or she would have picked up the phone or driven to a real store, and (b) once the novelty value wears off, the digital persona is absolutely nothing like a real person. Why do we want to interact with real people? Because we want to have social relationships. You can't have a social relationship with a piece of software.

File this one under "Microsoft Bob."

5. The .sig Virus
Back in the days when everyone on the Internet was running UNIX from a command line, the way you would attach a "signature" to your E-mail was by creating a little text file called ".sig". Whatever was in that file would be appended to outgoing E-mail.

Sometime after the Morris Worm, the first major "virus" (technically a worm) on the Internet, this (and similar) text started appearing at the bottom of people's E-mails:

Hi, I'm a .sig virus! Copy me to your .sig file and help me propagate!

Of course, this was so cute and silly that lots of people really did copy it into their .sig files, allowing the .sig virus to propagate.

After a while, the novelty wore off, leaving the philosophy majors to argue that it really was, technically, a virus, since it contained instructions allowing it to self-replicate. It just happened that those instructions were carried out by a human rather than a computer. The computer science majors said, no, it's just a meme, not a virus. The rest of us went on with our lives.

4. WAP
WAP is the sound a clunky Internet-enabled cellphone makes when you throw it at a brick wall in frustration.

It also sounds for Wireless Access Protocol, and was an early attempt to squeeze big web pages into a teeny-tiny little screen. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that billions (with a "B") of dollars were spent on this idea, despite several subtle problems:

  1. Viewing even a small web page on a screen with 12 lines of text is almost completely useless.
  2. The per-kilobyte charges some cellphone companies were imposing were the equivalent of something like $100/hour for dialup Internet access.
  3. Very few people actually wanted to surf the web from their cellphones in the first place.

In the last year, we've come full circle: the cellphone companies are once again selling gigantic Internet-enabled cellphones and expensive data plans with the hope of getting us to surf the web by the minute. Of course, everything is different now. Now we have better displays (in color even), and instead of WAP, we've got something called 3G.

3G is approximately the acceleration required to crush a clunky Internet-enabled cellphone in frustration.

3. Digital Acronyms (B2C, B2B, B2G, G2C, P2P, etc.)
The sociologists will tell you that one sign of "in group" behavior is the use of special language, words and phrases only understood by members of the crowd who "get it."


All I know is that these stupid acronyms with the number 2 standing for the word "to" drive me up the wall.

There was a time, around 1998 or 1999, when every VC PowerPoint contained at least one of these acronyms on every slide. Sometimes several. Anyone who invented a new one was a true visionary.

No wonder so many venture-backed startups failed.

Thankfully, I'm seeing these less and less often.

By the way, the acronyms I listed stand for (respectively): Business to Consumer, Business to Business, Business to Government, Government to Consumer (or Citizen), and Peer to Peer. Or maybe it was Bob to Charlie, Bob to Bill, Bill to George, George to Charlie, and Peter to Paul. I can never remember.

2. Anything Sold Online
Some things, like books and music, make a lot of sense to sell online. They're cheap to ship, and there's so much selection that it s hard for a retail store to stock everything.

Other things, like pet food, make no sense whatsoever to sell online.

A lot of supposedly very intelligent venture capitalists couldn't understand the difference.

I'm thinking of writing a self-help book about this called "Smart Money, Dumb Investments."

1. PointCast
For those who weren't on the Internet in 1997, let me describe what PointCast was.

PointCast was a screen saver. No ordinary screen saver, though. PointCast was a screen saver which was going to revolutionize computing and change the world.

PointCast wouldn't just show fish, or geometric patterns. PointCast (make sure you're sitting down for this) would display news headlines and stock quotes! Yes! And that wasn't all. PointCast was so unique, so radical, that a whole new category of business was created: push. Push meant that information would be "pushed" to people, rather than waiting for people to visit a web site and "pull" the data to them.

This whole concept was so cool that there were people (sadly, I was one of them) who would wait for their computer's screen savers to activate, just to watch the PointCast news headlines and stock tickers. It was mesmerizing. Bump the mouse, and you'd have to start all over again.

Push was so revolutionary, that there were other companies founded just to build technology to manage the flood of network traffic which PointCast was going to generate.

There were a few people who stood up in this madness (proudly, I was one of them) who pointed out that E-mail was a form of push, and one which was far more technologically advanced, more efficient, more flexible, more usable, friendlier, cheaper, and already being used for real business applications. None of this mattered, though, since E-mail didn't display news headlines and stock quotes on a screen saver.

(Oh, and as a geeky aside, PointCast wasn't really push anyway, since it simply used an internal web browser to get new headlines and quotes from PointCast's web site every few minutes. Technically, PointCast was more like a web browser set to auto-refresh. Classic, and boring, pull.)

At least Wired magazine came to its senses after a few years and published a thoughtful obituary.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o Microsoft Bob
o Morris Worm
o thoughtful obituary
o Also by Frozen North

Display: Sort:
Top Ten Internet Fads | 274 comments (248 topical, 26 editorial, 2 hidden)
Fad (1.21 / 23) (#3)
by My Trole on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 06:07:40 PM EST

Your definition of fad is much too broad. According to you, every single technological invention ever known to man has been a fad. The automobile is a fad? Separating the .sig virus from the electronic mail medium is not possible in a summary that intends to refute that which is irrefutable. The Mobile-T was the first automobile invented in the U.S. Years later it would be upgraded as the F-150. Sebastian Ford was the grandson of the Original Ford who oversaw its' design. So you have stated that a fad is a house with no foundation. The Mobile-T was a fad! Your definition should become clear to you. It is flawed. Do I drive an ancient vehicle, produced in 1897? Modern vehicles are fad-like if you consider them a part of the industrial revolution. They are now populated with advanced electronics. Moving parts are now a fad, says you. I could very easily disagree with your descending numbered order as not a fad. Entitlement to a k5 submission would not be my reward. I can do that anyway without having to debunk your notions of who's right and who's wrong. You never used Napster? P2P! You have no regard for the misapplied technology behind these descriptions, words, phrases, acronyms. That's why you are not entitled to this article. I suggest you disown it, and pass it off to kpaul.

First Automobile (2.00 / 4) (#97)
by yooden on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 06:23:06 AM EST

The Mobile-T was the first automobile invented in the U.S.

I thought that would be the VodaFord.

[ Parent ]
One 90's thing you forgot (none / 1) (#254)
by berteeee on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 04:20:25 PM EST

The dancing baby for fucks sake!

[ Parent ]
Flash Mobs (1.50 / 20) (#5)
by thelizman on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 06:29:03 PM EST

I love how flash mobs have already been corrupted by political activists. Nothing can be just for fun anymore, thanks to assholes like that.

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
activists are the natural users (2.88 / 9) (#21)
by martingale on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 01:15:32 AM EST

Flash mobs are simply an application of the web as an organizational tool. They're fun, in kind of the same way throwing paper planes is fun. The real purpose of paper is to write things down on it.

Activists have simply realized that the web is a huge bulletin board system. But so have companies and other organizations.

[ Parent ]

Whatever (1.25 / 12) (#27)
by thelizman on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:16:18 AM EST

I don't see McDonalds having flash mobs show up and buy big macs.

If you go to a flash mob political protest or flash mob rally, you are a tool.

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
nike (2.85 / 7) (#50)
by martingale on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 05:03:43 PM EST

IIRC, hasn't Nike already used flash mobs for advertizing? Some sort of spontaneous urban football game or something. I won't be surprised if McDonald's tries a spontaneous Flash McTime ad at some point, too.

I wasn't suggesting activists are the sole beneficiaries, just that the web is ideal for activism, so it's not a surprizing that they have figured this out.

[ Parent ]

Actually (2.00 / 9) (#61)
by holdfast on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:30:07 PM EST

If you go to a flash mob political protest or flash mob rally, you are a tool.

And if you don't protest, you are a tool as well. The difference is that a non-protesting tool is a tool of the rich & powerful.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
protest monkey. (2.45 / 11) (#68)
by bunnytricks on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 08:46:58 PM EST

Protest accomplishes nothing outside of reinforcing group identity among the protesters. The powers-that-be could give two shits about your patchouli reeking ass.

The activist idiots who smugly take the fun out of everything are still corporate tools, using corporate produced transport vehicles to get to their rallys and afterwards going back home to their capitalist built apartments where they'll snack on food from a GE refrigerator. That makes protesters not only tools, but hypocritical double tools times infinity. Humorless hypocritical double tools times infinity at that.

[ Parent ]

Really? (2.00 / 5) (#114)
by Emissary on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 03:23:24 PM EST

Do you know the details of the home life of every activist? Are you so familiar with the ideals of every one of them that you can say with assurance that they're all hypocrites, and with their personalities that you know for a fact none of them have a sense of humor? Perhaps you're overgeneralizing. How many rallies have you attended?

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
not true (none / 2) (#119)
by CodeWright on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:20:52 PM EST

well organized protesters can quickly overrun city defenses.

a sufficiently well organized mob is indistinguishable from an army.

modern protesters seem to have completely missed this point, but the cops haven't.

"Jumpin Jesus H. Christ riding a segway with a little fruity 1 pint bucket of Ben and Jerry's rainbow fairy-berry crunch in his hand." --
[ Parent ]
Hypocrites? (none / 2) (#142)
by freestylefiend on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:56:33 AM EST

Protest accomplishes nothing outside of reinforcing group identity among the protesters.

You might be right about real world protests. Ideally, protests ought to encourage critical thinking, provide a realistic chance of success and be inviting to those not already taking part. Most protests that I am aware of fail on all three counts.

The activist idiots who smugly take the fun out of everything...

How do they take the fun out of anything?

...are still corporate tools, using corporate produced transport vehicles to get to their rallys and afterwards going back home to their capitalist built apartments where they'll snack on food from a GE refrigerator. That makes protesters not only tools, but hypocritical...

I don't see how that would make activists hypocrites. Some activists are motivated to join some movements precisely because they feel that they have little choice but to participate in the capitalist system.

[ Parent ]

That's not the point really. (none / 2) (#147)
by Ranieri on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:55:50 AM EST

Even the most die-hard activists I know will readily acknowledge that market economy is a useful tool, and that given proper governmental boundary conditions (e.g. on environmental issues and worker's rights) they represent an efficient way to produce goods and provide services. To pretend they are all 1920-style soviet communists is an admission of total ignorance of the subject matter at hand.
You might want to have a chat with some of those "activist idiots who smugly take the fun out of everything" with their "patchouli reeking ass". By far not all of them are as stupid as you would like them to be.

But then again, burning strawmen is easier than actually trying to understand the point of those you disagree with. We might even get somewhere, imagine that.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Type Casting (1.50 / 2) (#178)
by holdfast on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 04:17:35 PM EST

Ok then
I bet you are one of those ignorant types who use the word "liberal" as a term of disparagement. You probably are not even aware that it means moderate. have you ever met a protestor? Have you ever seen one?

Well known protestors of history...

Nelson Mandela
Martin Luther King
Adolf Hitler
and many more. You may not agree with all of them, but they sure as heck made a difference!

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Protests = publicity. (none / 2) (#211)
by joshsisk on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 11:35:40 AM EST

This can cause change. Doesn't always.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Interesting (1.05 / 19) (#41)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 11:47:55 AM EST

So you think flash mobs are cool?  Let me tell you something, flash mobs are about as cool as two dudes making out with each other.

And I know your already thinking of your outraged reply telling me how much you enjoy making out with dudes.  But forget it.  I really don't want to hear about it.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]

Corrupted by? (2.25 / 4) (#101)
by Gully Foyle on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 08:20:03 AM EST

I think the first flash mobs were political activists. I would class the 'free Dmitry' protests that appeared within a week of his arrest in 2001 as flash mobs.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Customer service as a fad? (2.58 / 17) (#6)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 07:36:52 PM EST


I used the live customer support from LL Bean last night (I kid you not) and it was excellent. They didn't even crap out because I was using a subversive operating system and browser.

Which way do I go, to get to your America?

Some Thin Clients Work Well (2.44 / 9) (#9)
by frankwork on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 08:15:57 PM EST

To wit, NCD X terminals, or old PC hardware running a remotely-hosted KDE/GNOME session.

And what about Internet Appliances? Those should be included in your example. It's the same idea, where if a piece of hardware is going to do less than a PC, it sure as hell better cost less than a PC.

that 90's biz thing (1.63 / 11) (#13)
by khallow on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 10:52:57 PM EST

Which was a bigger fad? A high "burnrate" or the "exit strategy"?

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Poor choices for a few of them (2.63 / 11) (#14)
by snowmoon on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 11:24:50 PM EST

8 VoIP

Vonage has been providing dialtone over broadband for over a year now and the service is excellent.  Assuming you have a decent internet connection it works as advertised.  Vonage is not the last name in VoIP either their is an ever growing list of providers.  And yes, I do use them and they have saved me lots of cash.

7 Thin Clients

Your definition of thin clinets is way off.  Thin clinets, as others have noted, can cover almost anything that is less than a full PC.  X-Terms are thin clients, WinCE, NCD and many other.  One high profile shop that uses thin client is Key Largo, FL where there are over 100 desktops running linux thin clients off of 2 servers.

Browers have also come a long ways ( hell Netscape v 4.0 should have been on the list ).  With the plethora of Java/Flash/ActiveX/Other plugins, you really can do quite a bit with a simple web browser with or without a full operating system below it.  Remeber it's not the operating system that counts in thin clients, it's the hardware simplicity ( ie no desktop support besides swaping the box ).

2 Online selling

Just because some people can't tell a good plan from a bad one does not mean that they are all bad.  Pet food could easly be sold online through partnering with national and or regional stores that already have a presence in the area.

1 Pointcast

No objections there.  I think I burned my pointcast book.

VoIP (3.00 / 8) (#18)
by bugmaster on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 12:13:51 AM EST

Agreed; VoIP was a failure not because it was intrinsically bad, but because broadband Internet access didin't yet exist. Now, it's 2003, and broadband Internet access... uh... still doesn't exist, because of all the artificial upload capping that the telcos are doing. Hm. I guess we'll have to wait until 2040...
[ Parent ]
Not really (2.75 / 4) (#62)
by fluxrad on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:42:31 PM EST

I work for a conferencing company that does VOIP, it's stable and solid. Case in point: a number of companies (you'd be surprised who) already use VOIP transparently with their existing PSTN networks, and many more have got VOIP dev boxen ready to go at a moments notice.

VOIP isn't a fad, it's just not quite ready for primetime. But it will be soon ;-)

"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
VOIP is partially a fad (2.75 / 4) (#87)
by Trepalium on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 01:28:04 AM EST

The idea that VOIP will destroy the PSTN is pretty much a fad. Saving money by strategically deploying VOIP is not. There are two scenarios that I've seen/heard of VOIP being deployed. One is as a PBX system instead of using proprietary phones. The other as a branch connection to a main PBX system. For companies that have a fast link with either a VPN or frame relay, the savings in long distance alone can be significant.

[ Parent ]
Er... (2.25 / 4) (#90)
by fluxrad on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 01:54:06 AM EST

The idea that VOIP will destroy the PSTN is pretty much a fad.

That's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when." - I'd be more than willing to bet we're on a VOIP based system by 2020.

"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
I buy petfood online (2.83 / 6) (#36)
by speek on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:38:45 AM EST

In fact, I have a regular delivery of dog food that occurs every month without me having to do anything. It's very convenient.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Oh, so you're the one. [nt] (none / 1) (#105)
by felixrayman on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 10:02:09 AM EST

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Yeah, pet food's not bad... (none / 2) (#113)
by dipierro on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 02:54:36 PM EST

Of course, it requires you to be organized about things, which a lot of us aren't. The fad itself is still relevant, though. I mean, groceries!?

[ Parent ]
Logical extension of phone/mail orders. (none / 2) (#148)
by Ranieri on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:10:14 AM EST

You can order pizza online. Big whoop. You have been doing that by phone for years. On the positive side, you do get cool drop-down menus for all the toppings and stuff, but aside from a bit of novelty and some added convenience it's basically the same thing. In fact, there's a particula pizza place over here that routinely phones you up a few minutes after you hit the submit button to check the phone number and the order. While this may understandably cut down on fake orders, you are back to old-fashioned telephone pizza delivery.

One of the major supermarket chains has been operating a delivery service for years. You call them up and for a small fee they deliver the groceries at your doorstep at the pre-arranged time. Very convenient. Now you can do this over the net. Again nifty form-based ordering etc, but basically the same service.

All the mail order companies have big internet sites where you can order stuff. Effectively it's just an online version of their famous catalogues with built-in order forms. Very convenient since I usually manage to misplace the catalogues and i'm too lazy to walk out in the rain and mail the order forms, but it's essentially the same old thing.

"Buying XXX over the net" will be with us for a long time, but now that the shine has worn off we see it for what it truly is: a new kind of interactive mail order.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Phone orders (none / 2) (#152)
by straif on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:09:44 AM EST

But, but, if you have to pick up a phone, then you actually have to talk to someone.

[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 1) (#163)
by dipierro on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 12:41:13 PM EST

"Buying XXX over the net" will be with us for a long time, but now that the shine has worn off we see it for what it truly is: a new kind of interactive mail order.

Also a new kind of classified ads service. I've sold hundreds of DVDs over the internet, something I could never have done though traditional sales methods. I guess the same thing could be said by many mail-order companies. The fad has died, but many ideas from it still remain.

[ Parent ]
Actually.... (none / 2) (#168)
by unDees on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 01:56:59 PM EST

Ordering a pizza online lets you see what's on sale, how much adding that fifth topping to just half of the pizza is going to cost you, without all that tedious mucking about with conversations like this: "Well, how much for a medium with -- yes, I'll hold... -- okay, as I was saying, a medium with pepperoni and -- yes, I'll hold...."

Of course, there are also advantages for the pizza shop: if you're a lousy tipper, they can add some custom text to the site when you're logged in: "Click here to add $5 to your total and thereby prevent us from hocking a loogie on your order."

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

it works for some people... (2.00 / 4) (#177)
by Hakamadare on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 04:17:19 PM EST

I mean, groceries!?

actually, a couple years ago a number of my friends were sharing a large apartment, and they ordered almost all their groceries from Hannaford's HomeRuns (now defunct) or Peapod.  this was largely because, despite being a household of four people, they had no access to a car; thus, when they wanted to buy groceries, they either all had to go at once (so that they could carry all the groceries back home in one trip) or borrow a car.

then there's my legally blind friend who uses Peapod because he has predefined groceries templates saved on the website, and so instead of taking him two hours to shop for groceries, it takes him fifteen minutes.

while i agree that these services don't have universal appeal, i still am glad they exist.

Schopenhauer is not featuring heavily on the "Review Hidden Comments" page at the moment. - Herring
[ Parent ]

simple? (2.12 / 8) (#39)
by dufke on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 11:12:59 AM EST

With the plethora of Java/Flash/ActiveX/Other plugins, you really can do quite a bit with a simple web browser with or without a full operating system below it.
(emphasis added)

A browser implementing all those, plus all kinds of CSS and HTML is likely no longer very simple. ;-)
I am a Lurker. If you are reading this, I surfaced momentarily.
[ Parent ]

why oh why? (2.25 / 4) (#56)
by mlc on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:55:33 PM EST

Pet food could easly be sold online through partnering with national and or regional stores that already have a presence in the area.

If I have to go to the store to get the pet food anyway, why do I want to go online first?

So the Berne Convention is the ultimate arbiter of truth and morality. Is this like Catholicism? -- Eight Star
[ Parent ]

YahooBB (none / 2) (#133)
by tedoneill on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 12:58:59 AM EST

Here in Japan, broadband and VoIP are taking off big time:
In other countries, VoIP is provided only in long-haul via local exchange, but in Japan the E2E (End-to-End) type VoIP that does not pass through local exchange is increasing rapidly in number, and already covers over 3 million households. Since the "BB phone" manufactured by Softbank BB sets a uniform charge across the entire country (free between BB phones, and a rate of 7.5 yen for 3 minutes for calls made to non-BB phones) it is only a matter of time before NTT's local telephone business collapses.
Anyone who places a lot of International calls loves this. As soon as I can get out from under my current ISP, I'm off to YahooBB to get cheap calls back to the States. This should save me 50USD a month, or more. even for domestic calls, VoIP is extremely attractive. NTT has really shot themselves in the foot by keeping rates so high. Soon, IP phones will be pretty commonplace here. They are already in plenty of McDonald's restaurants. Yahoo lets you place a 3 minute call for free just to try it out. Not too shabby. And, not a fad.


"Always be wary of any helpful item which weighs less than its operating manual." -- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Thin Clients (2.72 / 11) (#16)
by damiam on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 11:54:30 PM EST

A thin client is not a web browser (running a web-browser-only PC generally requires just as many resources as a standard PC, so that would be pointless). It is an X terminal or one of the Windows/Mac equivilents. Any PC made in the last ten years will work just fine as a thin client. Over a local network, there's no noticable speed difference in daily use.

The main reason thin clients failed is that people want to have their own PC, with control over their own files and the freedom to do whatever they want with their computer. You can't play games or watch porn on a thin client.

Games on thin clients (none / 2) (#125)
by mayo on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 07:12:41 PM EST

Actually at the university I went to there were always wangs playing X-Blast on the X terminals. It was fucking annoying when they would do this even around the time assignments were due and terminals were at a premium.

[ Parent ]
Sure you can (none / 0) (#272)
by Rizzen on Fri Dec 05, 2003 at 05:42:02 PM EST

It all depends on the game, and whether you are in a pure-thin-client or a hybrid setup.  A hybrid setup is the best way to do things:  the client has a powerful enough CPU and enough RAM to download the app and run it locally.  If the hybrid client doesn't have enough RAM or CPU to run a certain program, than just that program is run on the server with the display shot back across the network.

A pure-thin-client setup will be bottlenecked by the network and the framerate of the app.  Put too many clients onto the network, and everybody slows down (have watched 100Mbit switched networks die with 10 clients running Tux Racer).

A hybrid-client setup will run much better.  Some apps are run locally, some are run remotely.  You can have a lot more clients running off each server this way, too.

We use a hybrid-client setup here in the local school district.  Servers a dual-proc P-!!! or Athlon with 3 or 4 GB RAM.  Clients range from Pentium 166 w/32 MB RAM up to Pentium-II 400 w/128 MB RAM.  Local harddrives are used for swap and nothing else.  Works like a charm with 40 clients per server (these are elementary schools, they only have 1 computer lab and a few classroom computers).
----- The years of peak mental activity are undoubtedly those between the ages of 4 and 18. At age four, we know all the questions; at eighteen, we have all
[ Parent ]

Commentary (1.92 / 14) (#17)
by Kasreyn on Fri Nov 14, 2003 at 11:59:22 PM EST

Flash mobs turned out to be utterly useless for almost anything except protests (/riots?). But they're keeno for putting those together.

The .sig virus thing makes me smile. Mostly because after the outlook email worms started becoming big news, I started seeing the ".sig virus" rewritten: "I'm a Linux email worm! Manually copy me into your .sig so I can spread!", which I thought was a delicious little stab. ^_^

Re: WAP/3G, agreed 100%, and you cracked me up on both of them. Who in their right mind would want to surf the web on a cellphone? I can understand email and MAYBE remote login, but web browsing?! Oy gevalt.

As to abbreviations, I think they're pretty pathetic also. Here's a partial list of the ones I studied in only 2 months of networking classes I took:

ISA, PCI, AGP, CAT-5, RJ-45, NIC, PCMCIA, MAC, IEEE (that is SO fucking hard to say. Trust an engineer not to think whether the acronym will be unpronounceable), ARP, ROM, ISO, OSI, LAN, WAN, MAN, SAN, PAN, DARPA, P2P, PDU, TCP/IP, FTP, TFTP, HTTP, SMTP, DNS, UDP, VPN, POP, SMP, FDDI, DSL, STP, UTP, TIA/EIA, NEXT, PSNEXT, ELFEXT, PSELFEXT, ISDN, BRI, AUI, DTE, DCE, CIDR, NAT, MTU, TTL, CRC, CAM, STP (another one!), ASIC, STA CST, BPDU, PPP, RIP. These are just a sampling from my old notebook. Why do engineers not just come up with a simpler way to say it in English - instead of near-sightedly insisting on maximum precision (even if they have to get octosyllabic at times) and then condensing it into an acronym?! I must have 300 or 400 of them clanging around in my head, and every day I have to learn a new one. AAAARGH!!!!


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
pronounciation (2.50 / 4) (#22)
by martingale on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 01:23:30 AM EST

How do you pronounce IEEE? I pronounce it "aitriple-e", which is not exacly hard. Am I missing something?

[ Parent ]
No. (3.00 / 4) (#54)
by dn on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:39:17 PM EST

That's how this EE (say double e) pronounces IEEE. So does everybody I know.

I have to disagree with Kaseyrn's take on abbreviations. They are essential for writing good technical documentation. You may complain that something like "MAC" is meaningless, but try reading a technical doc that spells out "media access controller" 500 times. You'll want to strangle the author after a few pages.

At least we engineers have some freaking dignity when it comes to naming things. Biologists name genes things like sonic hedgehog and cheap date. (No, I didn't make those up.) Chemists have 50 different names for the same compound, one of which they pick at random for a given paper. (Thank the gods for CAS numbers.)

    I ♥

[ Parent ]

aye-eeeeeeeeeeeee!! [nt] (2.20 / 5) (#66)
by damiam on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 08:18:25 PM EST

[ Parent ]
and fron the bruce lee school (1.75 / 4) (#70)
by martingale on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:24:38 PM EST

...of kung fu sights and sounds, we bring you

The Kungfu-Mixer


[ Parent ]

Phone browser + pron (1.75 / 4) (#24)
by Hatamoto on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 02:52:41 AM EST

For net? Pretty useless... but I find it extremely handy for getting phone numbers and addresses.

Oh yeah, and ditto on the "Aye-Triple-E" pronounciation.

"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]

Abbreviation differences. (2.80 / 5) (#67)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 08:35:20 PM EST

Why do engineers not just come up with a simpler way to say it in English?

Because not every single concept can be dumbed down enough for the average human being. For instance, did you even notice any difference between your abbreviations and the authors?

His were all marketing/management buzzwords.

Yours are all very specific technical terms. Think about this a moment, Mr. Brainiac, but if ISDN were dumbed down enough for you, the only term that would make sense would be "really fast network connection", or RFNC for short. Now, when we start doing BRI/PRI, or AUI, or even the LAN/WAN/MAN... hmm, looks like you have FDDI and DSL in there too, they'd also be RFNC! That's right, dumbed down enough for people like yourself, there can be no distinctions at all between some very radically different technologies.

Only your IEEE comment has any merit at all, and even then, is "I Tripoli" so hard to pronouce, or recognized when pronounced?

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

IEEE is hard to say? (2.66 / 6) (#112)
by el_guapo on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 02:28:02 PM EST

"eye triple e" <- that's hard?
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
IIRC, (none / 1) (#193)
by hershmire on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:51:09 PM EST

the use of acronyms stemmed from the US Governments love of acronyms, seeing as DARPA pretty much created the predecessor to the current internet. Of course, IANAGM (G-Man).
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
Internet on phones (none / 2) (#205)
by kvan on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 09:04:07 AM EST

Who in their right mind would want to surf the web on a cellphone?

Never been involved in a discussion where you knew the answer could be had from Google or IMDB in ten seconds, but a computer wasn't handy? I'd love to have a resonably fast browser in my phone for those instances.

"Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, most do." - Bertrand Russell

[ Parent ]
I use it to (none / 1) (#230)
by rkz10 on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:18:16 AM EST

cheat in pub quizes and win drinks vouchers.

How to get a Date
[ Parent ]
Next? (none / 2) (#238)
by pin0cchio on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:45:37 PM EST


NeXT (as in the company bought by Apple) wasn't an acronym; it was just a strange capitalization of the word "next".

Sony's next game console after PS2 is called PS3. The future console with "next" in its name is Microsoft's Xbox Next.

STP (another one!)

Stone Temple Pilots? It appears you forgot RHCP, another band name's initials that could be mistaken for the initials of an Internet protocol.

[ Parent ]
the future of WAP (2.37 / 8) (#25)
by ljj on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 04:58:58 AM EST

I agree with you that WAP on a phone has extremely limited potential. However, a WAP enabled, GPRS connected phone can - through a bluetooth connection, enable my Powerbook to go online at more than reasonable connection rates. It's always on and I only pay for the data transferred, so perhaps WAP still has a future.


WAP != GPRS (3.00 / 4) (#32)
by aziegler on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:15:26 AM EST

WAP is the browsing technology on the phone. It sends pages as "decks" of "cards" where each card is optimised for a 12-or-less line (mostly) text screen. If you want to display images, you have to do so as a separate card -- and hope that your recipient's phone manages them.

It is not the same as GPRS, which is merely the transport mechanism (that can act like TCP/IP for both the phone to retrieve WAP or -- if you have a better phone -- richer content and anything connected to the phone through an appropriate local connection technology (bluetooth, cable, IRDA).

WAP deserves to die a painful death. It's not as easy as HTML and is generally a silly idea. There are other solutions (iMode HTML, I think, from DoCoMo) that work better and are less painful. Ultimately, though, it will be rendered irrelevant because the computing power of handheld devices is increasing and those phones which can be used for data connection will support the richer world of HTML and XHTML and all that jazz.

Now if we could only get Mozilla on such a diet as to let it fit on one of those phones... :)


[ Parent ]

Mainframe -> PC -> ??? (2.66 / 6) (#26)
by swr on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:35:30 AM EST

So instead of a dumb terminal, we now have a GUI-based browser, but there was a reason the world shifted away from mainframes and dumb terminals. At least I think there was.

Most people couldn't get a reasonable connection to a mainframe. Unless you consider spending hundreds of dollars for a modem and connecting at 300 bps "reasonable". At least, that's my guess. I can't imagine that people actually wanted to spend a wad of cash on a bunch of less powerful systems if they had access a real computer.

Times have changed, but we're still stuck in the '80s desktop PC paradigm, where "The Internet" is just another program that you run.

Well (2.75 / 4) (#34)
by Kal on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:01:52 AM EST

I can't imagine that people actually wanted to spend a wad of cash on a bunch of less powerful systems if they had access a real computer.

There was a very good reason why companies would shell out a "wad of cash" for desktop machines instead of a mainframe. Mainly that the "wad of cash" was many times less than the cost of the mainframe.

[ Parent ]
Computing as a service (none / 3) (#48)
by swr on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 01:56:35 PM EST

Mainly that the "wad of cash" was many times less than the cost of the mainframe.

You're thinking in desktop terms, where you own the computer. If connectivity had been better it would've been entirely feasable to rent time on a mainframe, probably for less money than it costed to buy and maintain a comparable PC, due to economies of scale (one big computer, at the time, would've been cheaper than an equivalent number of little ones). It also would've been way better - logging in to a Unix or VMS system would've been a dream compared to "working" with DOS.

But connectivity was lacking, so people bought their own little computers, and now PCs are cheaper (again, mostly due to economies of scale).

[ Parent ]
Hmm (2.75 / 4) (#52)
by Kal on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:13:34 PM EST

one big computer, at the time, would've been cheaper than an equivalent number of little ones

But it really wasn't. There's a reason people bought $10-20,000 computers then $50-100,000 servers in order to connect them together. It was cheaper.

It also would've been way better - logging in to a Unix or VMS system would've been a dream compared to "working" with DOS.

Now you're the one thinking in desktop as in Windows terms. I'm thinking in terms of unix workstations.

I'm not certain that the speed of connectivity was ever really an issue, 300 buad is plenty of all you're doing is text. I think it was more that mainframes were designed for a fairly specific range of functions and desktop machines had more flexibility, even though they may not have had anywhere near the power.

There was an interesting article on here a while ago, I think, that went into the differences a bit. I'm not sure that it ever made it out of voting though.

[ Parent ]
Rise of PC's (2.83 / 6) (#57)
by Frozen North on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:58:24 PM EST

One of the big reasons PC's became common is that, for the first decade or so, you didn't have to go through the central IT (then called MIS) process to get one to do what you needed.

So, someone invents a useful tool for the computer--say, a spreadsheet, or a word processor--you could just shell out a couple grand and get one for your department. You didn't have to cost-justify installing it on a mainframe, go through a procurement process, etc., etc. It was, in a very real sense, subversive. Then one day, the MIS people woke up and discovered that they had thousands of these machines, and nobody was managing them.

The LAN caught on in much the same way, and PDA's would have, except that they seem destined not to be as ubiquitous as desktops or LANs.

Frozen North
[ Parent ]
'Baud' as in BPS or 'baud' as in QAM? (none / 0) (#237)
by pin0cchio on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:38:54 PM EST

I'm not certain that the speed of connectivity was ever really an issue, 300 buad is plenty of all you're doing is text.

Remember that video terminals typically have a 80x24 grid of character cells, and common protocols of the time took 10 bits to fill one character cell. Thus 300 bits per second equaled 30 characters per second equaled one refresh per 64 seconds. Most people don't want to wait a whole minute after logging on to draw the menu. That is, unless you mean "baud" in its strict sense of signal events per second where each event may carry more than one bit, as it does in everything since e.g. the popular 2400 bps standard, which ran at 600 baud and carried four bits in each event through quadrature amplitude modulation.

[ Parent ]
Some ideas I didn't use (2.58 / 12) (#29)
by Frozen North on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:54:21 AM EST

Some other fad ideas I didn't use:

Pamela Anderson
Uber-babe and fellow Minnesotan Pamela Anderson Lee would likely have been forgotten years ago, had it not been for her unfortunate home video, which demonstrated not only the power of distributing content over the Internet, but the importance of a good home security system.

Ms. Anderson didn't make the cut, however, since she has managed to somehow carve more than her deserved 15 minutes of fame out of what would otherwise have been a complete diaster for her.

While I do believe that the current crop of Social Networking Software startups is just another fad (and the article I wrote about that was the inspiration for this piece), the descent into obscurity for Friendster and its ilk is only just beginning. Wait another year or two.

Frozen North
Friendster/Huminity (3.00 / 5) (#31)
by aziegler on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:08:21 AM EST

...are really no different than the reasonably-well-executed 6degrees.com a few years ago. Maybe the execution is a bit better/diffferent, but 6degrees failed because it was viewed as a privacy invasion.

These will fail for exactly the same reason. The concept (being able to track links between your friends) is cool, but the interfaces will always be unwieldy because they require that your friends fill out a lot of information.

Give me an address book that allows me to keep those links myself (like the ill-fated Corel information manager that was über cool but just too difficult to manage, even for a data maven like myself).


[ Parent ]

pointcast (2.00 / 11) (#30)
by zephc on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 08:35:32 AM EST

in mid '97 I worked for a teeny tiny content company (which will remain nameless) that was but a few miles from PointCast corporate HQ.  We drove there, got a small tour, and were told why we should deliver our content for it; we didn't end up doing anything with it.

3 words. (2.29 / 17) (#38)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:43:42 AM EST

"All Your Base"
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
11. Top Ten lists (2.33 / 21) (#45)
by pinkcress on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 01:50:18 PM EST

damnit all these 'facts' getting in the way of my writing - turmeric
12. David Letterman's Top Ten lists (2.00 / 5) (#81)
by Netsnipe on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:39:35 PM EST

Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]
Does anyone remember (1.57 / 14) (#46)
by Tatarigami on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 01:50:28 PM EST

  • All your base/ Zero Wing
  • Domo-kun/ the 'every time you masturbate' picture
  • The 'I kiss you' guy
  • The WTC tourist
  • The sulfnblk.exe virus
  • The Star Wars kid
Now those were fads you could be proud not to be a part of.

Sure. Everybody who goes to fark.com does. (1.75 / 4) (#51)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 05:14:35 PM EST

Which way do I go, to get to your America?

[ Parent ]
What is, "Fondle their sheep," Alex? (2.00 / 4) (#58)
by STFUYHBT on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:06:57 PM EST

"Of all the myriad forms of life here, the 'troll-diagnostic' is surely the lowest, yes?" -medham
[ Parent ]
Oh, sure. you had to say it. (2.25 / 4) (#60)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:26:25 PM EST

And there goes another kitten.

Which way do I go, to get to your America?

[ Parent ]
Not Domo-kun! (1.75 / 4) (#55)
by dn on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:46:34 PM EST

All bow to the living incarnation of the ancient Japanese god of television!

    I ♥

[ Parent ]

Do you remember? (none / 0) (#250)
by royal on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 02:05:41 AM EST

Yeah... if you've been using the internet for two years, you'll remember them. Ok.. Mahir was maybe 3 years ago. Lynx.. never a fad, but something you'd be proud not to be a part of. ;)

[ Parent ]
Couple comments... (2.60 / 10) (#47)
by skim123 on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 01:50:34 PM EST

At one point, when companies were selling anything online (see #2), someone realized that customer service was going to be an important part of the online retail experience. ... and a toll-free phone number was, well, so 80's.
Keep in mind that an online shopper might very well be using their phone line to browse the Web site. Hence, an 800 number is, indeed, not acceptable as the person would have to end their Internet session to talk to customer service.

Regarding thin clients, while the clients might not become thin, I predict there will be a rise in software as a service over the coming years. Look at the technology Microsoft is building. MS is putting their money into technology that can offer software as a service. Whether or not this succeeds won't be known for at least five years or so, but still it's a push back to delivering software from a central server.

The digital persona stuff was both funny and annoying, I'm glad this was a fad that died a quick death. Those that would funnel funds into the "investment" of building such a system clearly don't realize that the message you deliver should be tailored to the medium. Radio content is different than television content, which is different than movie content, which is different than Web page content, which is different from content one would receive in a face-to-face setting. Trying to make one medium more like some other medium is bound to result in an annoying user experience and lost time and revenue, IMO. (Repeat comments for WAP fad, too...)

Regarding push technology, while some ventures into this have been silly, I think it's a valid area (not necessarily for investment, but for delivering information). For example, news syndicators, like Dare's RssBandit or FeedDemon offer a push model for folks to get the latest information.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

Thin client/push (2.50 / 4) (#49)
by aziegler on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 02:44:47 PM EST

Software-as-service is a bit of an overrated fad, too. Certain things can be distributed services (e.g., things which are services now -- such as Expedia or stock tickers), but word processors & such will almost always be better off run locally. The ASP "craze" sort of proved that.

Also, RSSBandit isn't push. It's cached pull.


[ Parent ]

Software as a service... (3.00 / 4) (#64)
by skim123 on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:58:40 PM EST

Yes, I agree a Word processor will always be "best" when installed on a client, but I define best as the end user experience. I'm afraid software companies define best as most profitable, and charging a recurring fee for software is far more profitable than a single sale. Too, from a consumer's point of view, software as a service does make for an easier time in updating the software with patches, fixing bugs, etc. Plus, IT folks at any decent-sized company would find software as a service much easier to administer.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
MSs idea of software as a service will be (2.25 / 4) (#74)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:44:03 PM EST

to divided up a site license fees into 3, add 10%, then every 3 years have one of their staff coordinate with your company to push down the new software image to your computers over night.

MS gets a steady rate of income, and keeps software out of your hands, and you get up to date software every 3 years.

this is how I think the software as a service will come about.

[ Parent ]

In the short term, maybe (2.25 / 4) (#88)
by skim123 on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 01:45:02 AM EST

But if you look at Longhorn and the technologies delivered at the PDC this year - Avalon, XAML, Indigo, etc. - you can see MS is making message-based technologies that produce content in a two-pass scheme, much like ASP.NET works today. Essentially, it allows for one server to host an application and have multiple, disparate clients connect to it. The responding UI can be taylored based on the client requesting the service. (Again, this vision, I believe, is at least five years away, and is my expectation of Bill's dream. Dreams often don't become reality, so there may be some compromises here and there, but if asked, "Where does Microsoft want you to go today?", I would say, here's where they want you in five years.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
I think what MS will do at that point (none / 2) (#108)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 11:18:22 AM EST

is to have some new Microsoft Enterprise application server OS that will then serve up those applications using the technologies you just listed to user desktops. this will allow businesses to deploy high speed ethernets and serve an application (from their own servers) to all the people who need it with out having to install it on the desktops, making desktop administration much easier.

tie that in with Passport technology, and you have a single sign on that will give you access to all applications that you have permissions to use with nothing more than a user file that defines what can be served to your desktop...much easier than having separate build images or having to install the special software on the desktops after the image has been written.

[ Parent ]

Sun already (none / 1) (#141)
by rusko on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:45:32 AM EST

... has this. i believe it is called 'java one' or something similar.


[ Parent ]

yeah, but you don't have this for MS Software (none / 1) (#169)
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 01:58:54 PM EST

I am not claiming innovation here, I am saying that MS will do this.

[ Parent ]
And... (none / 1) (#229)
by skim123 on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:46:49 AM EST

It will run better. Java's performance will always falter compared to .NET's because Java is designed to work on a variety of platforms while .NET code can be highly tweaked to offer stellar performance on Windows systems. In fact, as MS found out, if you try to tweak Java to make it run better on a particular system, Sun will sue you.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Management Fads in IT (2.71 / 14) (#53)
by holdfast on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 06:37:24 PM EST

You pay a bunch of strangers to run your systems for you. You find that the people they send haven't a clue what you do. They then charge you "extra" for anything they can. In the end you end up paying more for a poorer service.

Example... You buy a new financial accounting system. Your Chief accountant goes on the required courses and training. He comes back all trained up and gets his juniors to use the system since he is too busy going to meetings.

Buzz words
Complain that IT is too full of buzz words like - monitor, word processor, SAP, Autocad and so on. Then pretend that your own ones are clear and simple.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
heh (none / 2) (#196)
by rankor on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 10:13:28 PM EST

Your outsourcing comment reminded me of this:


[ Parent ]

Fads (2.62 / 8) (#59)
by dn on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 07:15:40 PM EST

I partly disagree about thin clients. A tricked out multiprocessor machine can run email, word processors, and data entry for a lot of people, which covers the needs of most office workers. Since the cost is amortized over many users, you can afford top-notch redundant and error correcting hardware. Administration is easier. Enforced backups are easier. Flexible workspaces are easier. Fixing a broken desktop machine is easy and lightning fast, and reduces staffing requirements for highly-trained personnel.

It can even make sense for engineering/scientific users, who need maximum peak performance on large workloads to keep from breaking their concentration but tend to have low average utilization.

I also disagree about flash mobs. If they haven't already, militant politicians (i.e., activists, but let's call a spade a spade) will use them to spectacular and appalling effect.

I do agree completely on WAP. I remember telling my boss at the time that it was one of the technically-dumbest ideas I'd ever heard of, which coming from me is saying something.

You missed "peer to peer" as a fad. If you look back in the computer industry magazines of the early '90s, you'll find all sorts of stuff about how peer-to-peer networking is going to revolutionize the use of computers. No longer would there be independent PCs, occassionally running as slaves to mainframes. Instead they'd all be on the same network and could talk directly to one another. Hence the "peer to peer" terminology, and the frequent references to revolutions and paradigm shifts in the magazines of the time. I am deeply amused by the music pirates who think they've just discovered it and started a special new revolution. Makes me want to write an NTP server hard-coded to 23:59:59, 30 SEP 1993 ("the September that never ended").

    I ♥

WAP (2.75 / 4) (#69)
by ronnya on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:17:21 PM EST

It's actually making a comeback (at least here in Norway), since it can be used for downloading games (and other stuff) to your mobile phone. Of course, this may still sound like a fab to you, but I guess so did sms back in the early 90s. Another thing to mention is that WAP hasn't really been available on cheap phones used by youths until recently.

As for VoIP, real (huge) companies expect to save real money by switching to VoIP for their internal phone networks (see here for a recent example).


[ Parent ]

WAP is a good tech for some stuff (2.00 / 4) (#73)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:38:07 PM EST

like downloading new chimes and games to your phone...stuff that takes little interaction from you and gives out no more information about you than just making a phone call, but as far as interactive web browsing goes, HECK NO.

[ Parent ]
flash mobs (none / 1) (#180)
by sfenders on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:26:00 PM EST

If they haven't already, militant politicians (i.e., activists, but let's call a spade a spade) will use them to spectacular and appalling effect.

Activist-organized political protests are nothing new just because they're organized on the net.  Neither are large, quickly planned gatherings of people (ie. the "party".)

To judge from the descriptions of "flash mobs" that I've seen, their only innovation is that once everyone gets there, they don't do anything.  Add music, you'd have a rave; add signs, leaflets, marxists and riot cops, you'd have a protest; add some football and a billion-dollar advertising budget, you'd have the superbowl.

[ Parent ]

Irritating Article (2.61 / 13) (#65)
by teece on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 08:13:37 PM EST

For some reason, I find this story very annoying. Not trying to insult the author, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

Firstly, it comes off as somewhat holier-than-thou. I shall descend from the cloistered computer center and decree those things which are fads!

Secondly, several of the the things you have mentioned aren't fads. You are simply confusing lame late-90s startup hype with reality. A truly revolutionarly technology may take awhile to catch on. Take the WAP idea, for instance. Trying to deply web browsing to cell phone with a 1", black and white, text-only screen was really stupid. But I will go out on a limb, and say that was just a product of the really stupid late 90s. The idea of wireless connectivity, anywhere, to a small, portable computer absolutely will catch on. It will just take a while for the computer to get there.

Thirdly, flash mobs are what, a year old? And they are already a fad? Come on, Moore's Law is for computer chips. There is no need to try and accelerate society to the same pace.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...

agreed (2.75 / 4) (#106)
by Wah on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 10:32:32 AM EST

and the fact that I'm reading this on my phone with a flat data access fee kinda flies in the face of this stuff.

Much of this was a late '99 rant, and the author hasn't followed the tech since.  Like people on /. who still complain about Windows always having to reboot or not having multiple desktops.

Also, many of the things mentioned were stepping stones on the way to something great.  Remember yourself during puberty?  Right, sometimes things are really ugly before they figure out what they want to be.

It's the hype he didn't like, not the product. The hype is the culprit.  Too bad the baby got tossed with the bathwater in this particular iteration.
[ Parent ]

the WAP fad (2.50 / 4) (#117)
by khallow on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:15:34 PM EST

Secondly, several of the the things you have mentioned aren't fads. You are simply confusing lame late-90s startup hype with reality. A truly revolutionarly technology may take awhile to catch on. Take the WAP idea, for instance. Trying to deply web browsing to cell phone with a 1", black and white, text-only screen was really stupid. But I will go out on a limb, and say that was just a product of the really stupid late 90s. The idea of wireless connectivity, anywhere, to a small, portable computer absolutely will catch on. It will just take a while for the computer to get there.

Actually, I think the WAP-enabled phone is one of the few late-nineties technologies that truly belong on that list. Come on, they're buying European spectrum for tens of billions of dollars, hyping that idiotic one inch screen, and then you find out that some of the devices can't even handle HTML select forms or other basic functionality? It's stupid hype all right, but someone bought it hook, line, and sinker. That's enough to be a fad in my book.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

WAP (none / 2) (#155)
by Betcour on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:54:25 AM EST

WAP 2.0 is actually a subset of XHTML, which is actually pretty much the same as iMode, which is having a huge success in Japan and is starting to take of pretty well in Europe as well.

True, WAP 1.1 on tiny B&W sucked, but with modern phones, colors, etc. it gets pretty interesting.

[ Parent ]

Very nice (2.00 / 6) (#71)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:35:42 PM EST

I was ROTFLMAO, but AFA the acronyms go, I think you are way out of the ball park on that one.

maybe you just mean the business acronyms?

IANAS, but:

I think the acronyms used in community sites are nice because it makes it easier to type a feeling or idea, and the experienced users will understand it and the noobs will just sit there and ponder it unto themselves and not ask what it means for fear of seeming like a moron(we've all been there)


Re: noobs (2.80 / 5) (#124)
by Eventide on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 06:45:53 PM EST

...the noobs will just sit there and ponder it unto themselves and not ask what it means for fear of seeming like a moron ...

Man I whish inexperienced users still had fear of seeming like a moron. At least at places where I frequent, no one reads FAQs, no one reads manuals, everyone topposts, no one can spell, no one "previews" their posts, they don't know what "threaded discussion" means, and they have no desire to learn any internet customs before diving in a being a moron (read: being annoying to me). Sigh

[ Parent ]
Personal Web Pages (2.78 / 14) (#72)
by MorePower on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:36:53 PM EST

My favorite fad was the personal web page. You can still find these around if you look hard. Back in the early days, the World Wide Web consisted of little else but pages about individuals. They followed the same format:

Hi my name is [name], here's a picture of me, [pic] and a picture of my girlfiend [pic of girl], you can visit her web site at [URL]. Here as a picture of my dog [pic of dog], you can visit his website at [URL]. Some of my hobbies include [list of hobbies with links]. Here are some links to my friends websites [more links]. If you like my website send me an email at [actual working email address right out in the open].

And yet dispite the fact the the entire web was made up of nothing else, the World Wide Web actually caught on somehow.

you forgot the most important (2.75 / 8) (#75)
by martingale on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 09:49:46 PM EST

"This page is still under contruction" - Every web page had one.

[ Parent ]
ooo you're right! (2.25 / 4) (#76)
by MorePower on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:03:35 PM EST

I did forget about that! Usually with one of the little animated GIF "under-contruction signs". Then of course the sarcastic people all started putting "This page is permanently under construction" and it all died out after that.

[ Parent ]
Obligatory roadworks icon (2.66 / 6) (#78)
by MSBob on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:12:03 PM EST

Every "under construction" page had to have an obligatory gif (often animated) showing a roadworks lookalike sign like this or this.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
But that fad didn't die out .. (2.75 / 8) (#79)
by kobayashi on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:16:26 PM EST

.. it evolved, into blogs.

[ Parent ]
Sadly. (2.00 / 4) (#127)
by Gentle Troll on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 08:23:55 PM EST

Am I the only one who really really wants this blog fad to die a quick and painful death? The last thing I need to see when I google is someone's narcissistic ramblings. And when they turn from narcissistic they go to politics-based ramblings....grrrr

[ Parent ]
and then it became something else. (2.50 / 4) (#107)
by WWWWolf on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 11:07:57 AM EST

While my web page actually had some "actual content" initially in circa 1997, and it grew and grew and grew, I'd like to mention that these days, it's a very ghastly example of what these kinds of sites can become over time.

It has become stuff of horror. Horror. =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

[ Parent ]
Question... (none / 1) (#120)
by CodeWright on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:31:41 PM EST

...do furries long for the transhuman condition?

"Jumpin Jesus H. Christ riding a segway with a little fruity 1 pint bucket of Ben and Jerry's rainbow fairy-berry crunch in his hand." --
[ Parent ]
Re: Question... (none / 0) (#208)
by WWWWolf on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:35:58 AM EST

...do furries long for the transhuman condition?
Most don't. A few do.

Personally, it's more like "wouldn't it be neat, if..." kind of thing, but nothing more complicated than that. =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

[ Parent ]
Huh. I'm surprised. (none / 0) (#209)
by CodeWright on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:57:10 AM EST

I would have thought they all did.

Thanks for the answer!

"Jumpin Jesus H. Christ riding a segway with a little fruity 1 pint bucket of Ben and Jerry's rainbow fairy-berry crunch in his hand." --
[ Parent ]
I've got one of those (2.00 / 4) (#129)
by danny on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 08:38:51 PM EST

Hey, I built one of those in 1995, and it's still online!

[900 book reviews and other stuff]
[ Parent ]

Thin Clients (2.88 / 9) (#77)
by Brandybuck on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:04:35 PM EST

You've got the thin client fad all wrong. In some incarnations it was supposed to be a web browser, but in most cases it wasn't.

Thin clients installations are numerous, and they work well. There's only three reasons they never took off in a big way. First, there never was a Windows solution for thin clients. It doesn't matter how great the solution is, or how many problems it solves. Without something that runs on Windows, no one will buy into it. Second, PCs got too cheap. When a decent workstation used to cost $7500, it made sense to replace them with cheap thin clients. But now decent workstations are running $1000, so there's no point in cost savings.

But here's the biggest reason they "failed": their advocates took them to the absurd extreme. They were envisioning the next generation of serial terminals, updated with X11 and TCP/IP. But in actually, moderately "thin" client installations were very common. In any real world client/server installation, the clients are going to be thinner than the servers. An installation of one thousand Sparc 5 workstations connection to large Sun servers in the backroom, was in fact a "thin client" installation.

Here's what is today's thin client office: some powerful servers in the back room, with cheap PCs on the desktops running Linux or BSD. Even some Windows installations going this way, except absent a client/server GUI like X11, they have to do it via the web browser.

Since these new thin clients will also be "smart", a whole world of possibilities opens up. Like taking the load off the servers by distributing application execution among the clients. Many installations already do this for builds.

In summary, thin clients weren't a fad, but rather a successful idea that was merely overhyped.

The point in not just hardware costs (2.75 / 4) (#139)
by l3nz on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:09:49 AM EST

The point is the TCO of the whole investment. You know, Windows clients easily break, people mess it up, and so. I have seen many people switch whole LANS to Citrix terminal servers and such stuff, just to avoid the cos of administering them all.

Popk ToDo lists - yet another web-based ToDo list manager. 100% AJAX free :-)
[ Parent ]

Uh... (none / 1) (#216)
by djp928 on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 01:30:10 PM EST

First, there never was a Windows solution for thin clients.

So, the old Citrix Winframe, Windows NT 4 Terminal Services Edition, and the current Windows 2000 and 2003 incarnations of Terminal Services don't exist? Funny, we're running an entire company off of Windows thin clients here, and it works great. Saves tons of money on desktop support (because there is no actual "desktop" to support--you put a thin client on a desk, get a DHCP lease, RDP to the terminal server and there's your desktop) and cuts way down on the number of machines you have to patch, maintain, and configure.

-- Dave

[ Parent ]

A few of my own: (2.84 / 13) (#80)
by MSBob on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 10:20:25 PM EST

  • Blink tags - the most annoying of w3c approved tags. At one point used by every adult site on the web
  • scrolling text - ditto
  • frames - These really took off at one point and every website that wanted to look modern had to have them. Preferably with a selection of content on the left hand side, the site title in the top frame and the content to the right of the menu. I swear that at one point EVERY website on the web used this particular layout.
  • e-postcards - One of the most cunning ways for spammers to extract people's email addresses
  • Spam - unfortunately this one is alive and well
I'm sure there were many more I don't remember off hand.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Blink tags weren't standard... (2.87 / 8) (#84)
by spectecjr on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 12:21:25 AM EST

Blink tags - the most annoying of w3c approved tags. At one point used by every adult site on the web The W3C never did approve blink tags - they were something that Netscape came up with on their own.

[ Parent ]
They sorta are..... (2.50 / 4) (#111)
by greytoque on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 01:47:23 PM EST

#blink {
text-decoration: blink;

That CSS code ( css script?, css markup?) will make the text blink in Netscape, Microsoft chose not to support this feature.

This is a link to the section on blink in the CSS Level 2 Specification. While there is no <blink> tag in the HTML 4.01 Specification, there may have been in earlier revisions, and there is a blink CSS element in the latest CSS revision. So Blinking Text itself is officially supported.


[ Parent ]
What's the problem with frames? (2.75 / 4) (#136)
by irrevenant on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 04:29:41 AM EST

Why is everyone so down on frames?

I found frames functionality a welcome addition - you didn't have to keep scrolling up and down the screen to get at the menu (like you do with Kuro5hin).  Imagine what people would think of a word processor where you had to scroll to the top of the document to access your menus!

[ Parent ]

Problem with frames (none / 3) (#143)
by job on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:14:53 AM EST

The problem with frames is that it brakes the idea that you look at a web page -- with frames you look at several pages at once. This creates all sorts of incosistencies, let me just take a two examples.

The back button. It should let you view the last page you viewed. What does that mean when you view several pages? Last frameset or last frame? It is further complicated by the fact that clicking in a frame can load new pages in another frame.

The print button. Which of the five pages you view do you want to print? How large should each of the frames become, since state of the art was to specify these in pixels and different systems have different dpi.

Please understand that none of these problems are bad because they are hard to solve! They mirror that the underlying idea of frames isn't consistent with the much simpler idea of the web page. Which in turn will be a problem because browsers will behave differently (with the market leader of course having bad design descisions) and newbies will have loads of problems choosing the right print button (and they did, I promise).

The very small layout idea with fixing menus to the background is much more easily accomplished with the 'fixed' CSS-attribute. Frames died when CSS became widespread. And what a relief.

[ Parent ]

The usual problem mentioned ... (3.00 / 4) (#149)
by Ranieri on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:28:45 AM EST

... is that they "break the back button", which is one of the dealdy sins of w3 design apparently. I just think they look dumb in a 1990's dorky sort of way.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
Also... (none / 2) (#200)
by Sapien on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 06:58:58 AM EST

Following on from job and Ranieri's comments, frames can't be bookmarked properly. Once a new page is loaded into any of the frames, there isn't a single URL to describe the current state of the frameset. Furthermore, the address bar does not change in this instance, as it only refers to the address of the frameset.

I have seen this trip up many a web user, even people that have been using it for some time.

[ Parent ]

Frame Follies (none / 0) (#244)
by ziner on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 11:02:19 AM EST

Frames were really one of the first forms of web site automation, but they became technologically obsolete as early as 1996-97 when dynamic HTML and layering technologies began appearing in design shops.

Layering -- analagous to laying one tranparency over another to create the completed page -- provides all of the purported benefits of frames with none of the kludgy design limitations.

Frames will always remind me of the "browser wars" of the mid-90's. Most of us who started early in design began with Mosaic as our browser, moved on to Netscape, and then began designing for multiple platforms once IE began arriving in force. Early versions of IE didn't support frames, and a lot of Netscape diehards delighted in adding this message to their code: "This site uses frames, and your browser doesn't support them. Get Netscape!"

While this may have seemed clever at the time, it eventually became tiresome and obnoxious, especially as the web was overrun with cookie-cutter framed sites.

A funamental principle of good graphic design is that it should enhance communication, not get in the way. Frames chewed up enormous amounts of screen real estate, typically relegating content to the aforementioned lower right-hand box. Plus, any photos or graphics larger than a postage stamp often required the still-dreaded horizontal scrolling. The rest of the site sat there useless while you tried to get to the actual content.

Finally, search engines and their spiders don't fully index framed sites due to the previously mentioned URL problem. If you have something worth communicating on the web, why hide it?

Frames were an interesting step in the development of web design, but today they look hopelessly outdated and amatuerish. Ironically, the last company pushing them onto the web is now Microsoft, through its canned-design program MS FrontPage. Check the source code on a framed site today, and the odds are that it was generated by FrontPage.

[ Parent ]

posted by someone called "MSBob" (none / 2) (#222)
by circletimessquare on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 03:26:41 PM EST

a fad writing about fads... sorry, the irony makes me smile ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Web kitsch (2.62 / 8) (#82)
by kitten on Sat Nov 15, 2003 at 11:22:31 PM EST

Read all about it.

Mostly a look at the horrid, yet plentiful and popular mistakes or fads done with personal sites.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Good one (none / 2) (#86)
by tirenours on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 12:29:41 AM EST

I really liked the "Never trust a monkey" thing!

best if viewed in ie 5.5 or higher // 1024x768 rez
If you're using Mozilla/Netscape, get a real fucking browser

Yup, so true. Again, thanks for this link!

[ Parent ]

Memes (1.50 / 6) (#85)
by doormat on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 12:22:09 AM EST

Or do they not count since they still exist?
  • "All your base..."
  • The Kiss Me guy

There are no such thing as memes (none / 0) (#184)
by MattGWU on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:47:28 PM EST

.....be sure to tell your friends.

[ Parent ]
Regarding Pointcast (2.91 / 12) (#91)
by shinshin on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 02:27:32 AM EST

Back in 1996, Jamie Zawinski wrote a startlingly funny rant about PointCast. Even then, some people knew that it was crap.

An excerpt:

    And the best part of it is that it displays all this great data... when you're not there! It is truly one of the stupidest ideas since the car doors that opened out with the hinge at the back.

We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
car doors that opened out with hinge at the back (none / 1) (#138)
by Gyles on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:04:37 AM EST

this is now back in fashion...


[ Parent ]

suicide doors (2.75 / 4) (#171)
by anagram on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 02:47:14 PM EST

Now called "rear access doors" in newer vehicles.

They were called suicide doors because if the latch were to come open while the vehicle was in motion, the airflow would cause the door to be ripped open.  If the passenger were leaning against the door, they'd fall out.  Seat belts weren't common in the 30s, when these doors were popular.

They are designed better these days.  The front door overlaps with the rear access door, so it's impossible to open the rear door on its own.  This coupled with automatic power door locks and seat belts make these doors just as safe as anything else.

I think these doors rock, and I'm glad they're back.   It really is a better design to get things in and out of the rear of a car.

[ Parent ]

MIssing vertical support.. (none / 0) (#179)
by molo on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 04:55:37 PM EST

I'd be curious to see how rollover ratings are on these cars compared to ones with normal doors.  The door-overlap thing means that there is no vertical support for the center of the roof.  All the load must be distributed across the diagonal supports for the roof corners in cars, or a futher-back vertical support in SUVs.

I would rather not be crushed in a rollover, thank you.


Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn
[ Parent ]

Thank you (none / 0) (#189)
by wcooley on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:11:37 PM EST

I've been halfway meaning to try to find out why suicide doors were such a problem in the past and what's different now, expecting to hear something like what you just posted.

secure email servers
[ Parent ]
-1; seen a Saturn coupe lately? (none / 0) (#204)
by aphasia on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 08:58:28 AM EST

"You have *huge* brass balls. Tex would be jealous." --ti dave
[ Parent ]

I knew it was too good to last, but. . . (3.00 / 29) (#92)
by Fantastic Lad on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 04:36:03 AM EST

I really enjoyed the first couple of years of Corporate insanity, before all the greed got its ass kicked.

Remember the days of endless free server space and mountains of bandwidth?

Remember when you keyed a search term into Altavista, (Yeah, before Google took over the universe), you'd hit enter and MOST of the websites which came back were private efforts by individuals who didn't have to pay a cent for their sites? Sites which wanted to part you from your cash were actually rare! Wow! This was before freekin' Paypal existed. Man, there was a lot of cool stuff out there and it wasn't about money. --Or rather it was, but we didn't have to worry about it because a bunch of greedy investors and idiot corporations with dollar sign eyes and stupid-huge IPO cash to blow were footing the bill for everybody else.

I remember when hackers were in-your-face bold and actually had tons of the latest software available for download right off their own web pages. I remember when everybody was learning HTML and re-learning the art of written communication. --Massive email circulars. I remember that, "Top 50 Things I Wouldn't Do If I Were An Evil Overlord" list which ended up in my inbox once every couple of months, and which I actually read each time to see what new entries had been added.

I remember when Slashdot was new. When Everything2 was new. --When half of the hottie goth chicks I knew had their own anime fan pages. (Well, actually, that's still the case, but as we all know, Anime doesn't exactly subscribe to the same laws of physics the rest of the world must obey.)

And remember? Nobody worried about Carnivore and CIA spooks tracking data? Almost nobody knew about Eschelon. Those were days of ignorant bliss. The wild-west. A golden period of what, 3 years or so? Remember when only the cool geeks knew what MP3's were? Remember doing command line CD ripping on one of three models of CD player which worked and hoping no errors would come up? Remember when pop-up ads were new and you got your first proxy-server running to cut them out? Ahh. That was fun.

But then everything grew up in a big damned hurry. Things are expensive now, nearly all of the free space dried up. Yahoo! claims copyright on anything you post on their 'free' space. And, heck, most people no longer care about running their own websites anymore. --Though, while many inroads have been made, I don't think the Corporate assholes will be able to shut down sane communication. Blogs exist now. Indy news is cheep. I can send $20 to support websites which only need a few hundred to run per year. No, they haven't shut us down. Not yet, anyway. That'll only happen when a few more bills are signed into law and it'll be legal to haul people away for raw thought crimes. --They're warming us up to the idea by attacking 12 year-old media 'pirates'. Turning up the temperature on that frog-water!

But it's not here yet, so until then, Cheers and happy surfing!


You're making me cry :( (2.20 / 5) (#115)
by Emissary on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 03:36:27 PM EST

I probably ought to lay off the booze.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
Damn... (none / 1) (#236)
by silent on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:18:28 PM EST

Those times were l33t d00d. I don't think you're allowed to be nostalgic about an era that just ended a just little over 3 years ago.
--- silence is poetry
[ Parent ]
Oh God, the nostalgia! (none / 1) (#264)
by mdm42 on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 09:28:17 AM EST

I, too, remember, when I could read the whole Usenet newsfeed every morning when I got in to work.  Including alt.sex.stories.  And it took around 20 minutes.

[ Parent ]
This morning's Spam (none / 1) (#267)
by error 404 on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 09:55:49 AM EST

I got a green card lottery spam today. Haven't seen one since Canter & Seigel.

Remember when a 6000 copy spam was bad?
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

FishCam (2.50 / 8) (#93)
by tonedevil05 on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 04:43:22 AM EST

The original and still the best www fad, when the browser became more than GOPHER with pictures.

and the first frog blender and fish bowl (none / 2) (#95)
by martingale on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:03:58 AM EST

Sadly, I just googled for them and it seems they now come with their own viruse :-(

[ Parent ]
Oh yeah. . . Forgot to add. . . (2.57 / 7) (#94)
by Fantastic Lad on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 04:51:58 AM EST

To my last post. . .


Remember when, because search engines were limited, that you were actually forced to hunt for data through the links between personal web-pages? When you probably wouldn't find what you were looking for and instead found something unexpected and more exciting?

Did I mention that Google creeps me out? Any all-powerful corporate entity which looks and feels like a Fischer Price toy scares the hell out of me. Especially when it centralizes power. I miss the days when the intricate web-work of privately promoted synapses threatened to make the intenet a very powerful thing indeed!


and archie, veronica [n/t] (none / 2) (#96)
by martingale on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:05:17 AM EST

[ Parent ]
VoIP a fad? (2.55 / 9) (#98)
by The Geriatrix Revultions on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 07:08:17 AM EST

I don't think VoIP can be accurately described to be  a fad. Even if it fails commercially, the technology will still be there, and will still be useful (the same can't be said of most of the other things on this list).

I've been using VoIP for a year or so now to call my parents who are on the other side of the planet. Saves me a fortune in long-distance charges, cost nothing more than a couple of cheap headsets.

I can't see the premature death of the VoIP industry stopping me from doing that.

Commercial failure? (2.75 / 4) (#99)
by tkatchev on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 07:15:44 AM EST

What do you think those cheap international calling cards use?

In fact, for long distance calling, I'm betting that VoIP is already surpassing traditional land lines.

(On the other hand, this is the sort of technology that was never meant to be used in desktop computers...)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I just learned something neat-o (none / 1) (#103)
by Battle Troll on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 08:44:29 AM EST

I was wondering how it is that I can call Romania for 10c/min.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Yeah. (none / 1) (#118)
by tkatchev on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:18:19 PM EST

But they have dedicated servers and probably some sort of dedicated network to handle all of it.

The flaky nature of the Internet is also why you sometimes get bad service using those cards.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

You bet (none / 1) (#146)
by Goggs on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:34:23 AM EST

Occasionally, I get calls from a rival phone company trying to get me to change to their services, and their main selling point is long distance calls;

"Sir, could you tell me how much you pay for long distance calls?"
"Yea, nothing, apart from monthly internet costs"
"Uhh... Ok... and what time of the day can you do that?"
"Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I have ADSL"
"Um....... Thanks for your time"
"No probs"

Seriously though, I can see how the author sees it as being a fad, as I have to agree, it does have an initial 'very cool factor'. However, I use a program called TeamSpeak (www.teamspeak.org), and although primaraly aimed at gamers, it's freeware, cross-platform (win&lin&others), and has /really/ good codecs, including the GSM codec (which is about midrange in comparison to the other codecs it supports).
VoIP isn't a revolutionary feature, but it's something many people are missing out on. VoIP is good for slow typers (read: family), or maintaining a coversation with someone while yr 'hands are tied', eg gaming, whoring forums, coding, etc etc.

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

Actually, that wasn't my point. (none / 1) (#150)
by tkatchev on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:38:21 AM EST

My point was that VoIP is used extremely extensively in the "back room", usually without the user even realising it.

Whether or not the technology needs to be ported to the desktop computer is a whole other question, though.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

The thing you don't know is that (none / 0) (#174)
by HardwareLust on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 03:50:41 PM EST

at least one cell phone company (that I'm going to be working for soon, so I can't mention any names) is slowly crawling towards using VOIP for everything.  VOIP is going nowhere, that's for sure.

If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

[ Parent ]
Everything? (none / 0) (#197)
by Goggs on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 02:08:48 AM EST

Hah I can just imagine that- An evening of busy overseas calls, and everyone starts getting lag :)

Seriously though, the biggest difference is using computers to make calls instead of simple phone circuits.
Heck, I can see everything running via tcp/ip6 in the future, but that's another subject.

Cheers for now

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

a fad... (none / 2) (#126)
by Work on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 07:32:47 PM EST

doesnt have to die to still be a fad. There are still sweatband manufacturers out there, but that doesnt mean it wasnt a 'fad' in the 80s to wear

[ Parent ]
Idea behind Thin Clients (2.62 / 8) (#102)
by shurdeek on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 08:22:22 AM EST

You have the idea about thin clients all wrong. The point isn't to sink one-time hardware costs for the client, but the TCO of the whole solution, mainly:
  • Low hardware maintenance costs. No movable parts and very quiet. If it breaks down, you just replace it without any (re)installation.
  • Low software maintenance costs. Instead of maintaining hundreds of machines, you just maintain a couple of servers.
  • Consistency. A user can use ANY of the machines just like his own.
  • Centralisation. Well, this is the main point from which all of the above can be derived. You can also centralize backups, internet connectivity, application testing, etc.
Why aren't the thin clients used more you ask? This was answered in one of the previous posts: Windows thin client solutions suck and the server costs are horribly expensive. And people want Windows.

If you strip the Microsoft requirement, there shouldn't be any problem. In fact I am writing this post from my own thin client, which I have been using for almost a year. I bought the thingy (Igel-J thin client) on Ebay for like 220, and run Red Hat Linux 9 on the terminal server (which cost under 700 and is in a climatized server room). Add a high quality TFT monitor and you get an el-cheapo el-coolo solution. The only thing that I can't do on it is to watch movies, but I have a separate specialized machine for that.

Instead of thin clients, I would like to propose a different fad: a Windows solution that actually works.

MfG shurdeek

tottaly unrelated but (none / 1) (#165)
by Lion on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 01:04:47 PM EST

Funny, el-coolo sounds just "the ass" in spanish. So "el-cheapo el-coolo solution" would translate basically to "cheap-ass solution". Seriously though, the whole thin client business is a great idea. I would much rather administer 1 server than 50 workstations.

[ Parent ]
Ridicolous .. these aren't fads (2.66 / 6) (#104)
by job on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 09:39:51 AM EST

Thin Clients and terminal solutions are not a fad. Ever head of Citrix? Or Igel? They save companies lots of money every day. Plus the boxes are small, silent and can be replaced by a janitor if they break and you're up running again in no time.

As for VoIP, you should ask Vonage or any of the other companies that will probably make a small fortune of it in the long run.

Pointcast was one of your few examples that may be correct, but the technology lives on as RSS. Just because it is a "news aggregator" today and not "push" doesn't mean it's dead -- far from it.

I could go on but you get the picture. This wasn't a very well thought out article.

News aggregators are "pull" (2.80 / 5) (#110)
by Julian Morrison on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 12:44:11 PM EST

...which is precisely why their users favor them over, say, signing up to ten squintillion mailing lists.

[ Parent ]
Yes and no! (none / 1) (#144)
by job on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:18:38 AM EST

I know they are, but bear in mind that the 'push'-technology was "pull" as well. It's hard to be a tech guy when the ad guys keeps twisting our vocabulary.

And do note that current RSS2 standard actually has a "push" mode where you register to get updates for a couple of hours a time. I haven't seen it in practical use though.

[ Parent ]
Ever head of Citrix? Or Igel? (1.85 / 7) (#122)
by Amesha Spentas on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 06:09:39 PM EST

Nope. I do remember Citrix, I even owned a Pentium processor clone of theirs back in the day. However, they had entirely dropped off the radar for me to the point that this is perhaps the first time I have hear of them in years.
I have absolutely no idea who Igel is. I do know what a Thin Client and terminal server is so I do have an admittedly cursory familiarity with the tech and it's proponent's claims.

As for VoIP, you should ask Vonage or any of the other companies that will probably make a small fortune of it in the long run.

Strangely, I work for a large telecom company that is investing in "Converged" products. "I.E. VoIP trunking over traditional PBX's" all the way to "IP phones to a rack mount box out across IP trunks."

This looks like it may really become a true established tech however for it to become so, it will require the connectionless, redundant nature of the Internet to be re-invented. If this really becomes established, I think you will see more backbone elements evolve into connection oriented hi-speed data systems. More in the line of FDDI or ATM, which were designed to carry voice and data traffic and are therefore more reliable and more expensive.
After all, all voice communication is just packetised data anyway. It's just that the voice systems have been around longer and are designed around redundancy and reliability, because if you drop packets in a voice call you come across "S-un-i-g a l-t lik- th-s" and waiting for a return receipt to retransmit means that the caller is going to have to repeat themselves a lot. The advantage of TCP/IP was that the data was not order critical or latency / timing critical. The data could be retransmitted automatically and if this happened a lot it just meant that your bandwidth and/or latency would suffer.

This reminds me of an old saying, "If the network's go down people go to lunch, if the phones go down people panic." Now if you work in an office, just ask yourself, how many times has the network dropped? How many times have your phones dropped? Would you want your phone to drop every time your network dropped, and take as long as it takes for the network to come back up for you to make a phone call?

Reminds me of another saying "If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed... oh wait, never mind."

As for VoIP, you should ask Vonage or any of the other companies that will probably make a small fortune of it in the long run.

Remember, the dot coms showed us that just because someone can spend a small fortune on something does not make it a smart investment, and just because someone can make a small fortune on a new product does not mean it is a good or necessary technology.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

Cyrix / Citrix (3.00 / 7) (#123)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 06:45:39 PM EST

You're thinking of Cyrix, the chip manufacturer. They didn't die, they got bought by VIA.

Citrix, not Cyrix, makes terminal server software. They got into the market before Microsoft and they enjoy a large base of existing clients.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Ahh, Thank You (none / 2) (#161)
by Amesha Spentas on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 12:09:30 PM EST

You're thinking of Cyrix, the chip manufacturer.

You are right, I was thinking of Cyrix.

I guess this just go's to show that I truly haven't "Ever head of Citrix? Or Igel?" Considering that I do try to keep up with what is happening in the client/server field, the fact that these companies and their products have managed to stay completely off of my radar does not bode well for their products or their marketing. However I did admit that "I do have an admittedly cursory familiarity with the tech and it's proponent's claims.

I would say that job's assertion that a lot of people have heard of these companies and their products is false, since I for one have not. That is what I was objecting to in the first half of my rant.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

Citrix (none / 1) (#188)
by wcooley on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:03:38 PM EST

I cannot imagine how you could have not heard of Citrix if you really keep up with the client/server field (or the IT field in general). Given what I've seen of Citrix in the scant industry rags I follow, I have to question your assertion that you keep up with the IT industry at all, or perhaps by client/server you mean something different than most of us.

secure email servers
[ Parent ]
by all means (1.25 / 4) (#145)
by job on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:22:09 AM EST

It might be a good idea to save your time typing so much and google instead.

Feel free to base your business descisions on VoIP being a fad, just don't expect me to hire you.

[ Parent ]
"Ever head of Citrix?" (none / 3) (#170)
by Amesha Spentas on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 02:08:51 PM EST

It might be a good idea to save your time typing so much and google instead.

And it may be to your credit to understand what you are asking for when you ask if I had "Ever heard of Citrix? Or Igel?" The answer was no. I had never heard of those two companies because neither they nor their products have impacted me, my job or anyone I know.
Due to the fact that I do work in the tech sector and still so do many of my friends, this would indicate that Citrix and Igel have either not done a lot of marketing of their products or that there is simply a lack of industry interest, or both.

Your less then witty response of "save your time typing so much and google instead." is working on a completely different premise. You asked if people had heard of Citrix or Igel and I indicated that I had not.
You did not say "Can you find info on Citrix? Or Igel?" or "Can you educate yourself on Citrix? Or Igel?"

So yes I can use google instead. Now here is a question for you. Can you look up how to create a coherent logical argument from grammatically correct sentences?

Feel free to base your business descisions on VoIP being a fad, just don't expect me to hire you.

Well thank you but I already have a job in telecom and I already deal with VoIP. So I don't expect that I will ever need you to offer me a job.
Apparently you have had difficulty reading more than a few sentences owing to your remark that "It might be a good idea to save your time typing" I might advise you to use your time to develop your reading and comprehension skills because what I said in the rest of my post was,
"This looks like it may really become a true established tech however for it to become so, it will require the connectionless, redundant nature of the Internet to be re-invented. If this really becomes established, I think you will see more backbone elements evolve into connection oriented hi-speed data systems. More in the line of FDDI or ATM, which were designed to carry voice and data traffic and are therefore more reliable and more expensive."

Now since you are apparently comprehensively challenged I will explain for you in simple words what these three sentences mean.
1) I do believe that there is a very good chance that VoIP will become an "established tech."
2) However, in order to accommodate VoIP, the networks and hardware will have to become more redundant, and connection oriented like ATM or FDDI. T1 and T3, OC1 and OC3 are already robust enough to support voice traffic because they were designed for voice traffic. So IP trunking should not really be an issue. What is an issue and frequently a problem is the LAN networks in the offices that want to use VoIP. To get their LAN ready to support VoIP usually either a lot of hardware needs to be replaced (Like Routers, Gateways, switches and the actual cabling.) and if you want PBX functionality (Like the ability to conference calls, caller ID, automatically route calls, etc...) you will need to purchase in essence a PBX that supports VoIP.
3) So what all of this means is that the third phase of VoIP, The third group targeted by this tech is now business and in order to use this tech they will need to make massive investments in hardware to get it to work for essentially the promise of cheaper phone calls. You would have to make an awful lot of phone calls for this system in its current incarnation to be cost effective.
4) The cost effective issue should be paramount to most companies thinking of investing in VoIP. Too many people were not asking this question during the dot com boom and when the decision makers finally woke up and started asking this question the bubble burst. If companies do not decide to invest in VoIP then it will again become a fad. If it is embraced by business, then it will fundamentally change the nature of the Internet and TCP/IP to create more reliable network segments and the Internet will loose it's defacto robustness. Also the cost of using/connecting to the Internet will go up if backbone carriers are required to integrate redundancy in the backbone itself.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

-1; epitomizes 'pearls before swine' (none / 0) (#202)
by aphasia on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 08:51:20 AM EST

"You have *huge* brass balls. Tex would be jealous." --ti dave
[ Parent ]

sorry (none / 1) (#226)
by job on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 06:29:53 PM EST

Hey, sorry, I didn't mean it that bad. Just confused by having to read your overly long reply several times before I understood you were talking about CPUs, so I made the perhaps hasted conclusion you had no idea what I was talking about. My apologies, so put down your flame thrower.

(And by the way, voice over IP over ATM is a tremendously lousy idea in my book, but we'll save that rant for a some other article.)

[ Parent ]
It's ok (NT) (none / 0) (#258)
by Amesha Spentas on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 05:32:13 PM EST

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

WAP (2.50 / 4) (#121)
by pmbatidi on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 05:52:38 PM EST

WAP has certainly been overrated - undoubtedly, as a way to make a bigger market than can be sustained by practical applications - but, nonetheless, it has its value - e.g. I find it a satisfying way to follow a baseball game, when I can't be at the stadium, get near a radio, get to the Internet or, even peek at a TV.

WAP (none / 1) (#137)
by l3nz on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:01:39 AM EST

I guess that if WAP was given away for free instead of at the high proces they tried to charge, it would have been a winner. Telcos always try to squueze as much money as they can from early adopters, and so they kill the baby before it's born.

Popk ToDo lists - yet another web-based ToDo list manager. 100% AJAX free :-)
[ Parent ]

Thin Clients . . . (2.75 / 4) (#128)
by spazebar on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 08:35:16 PM EST

I'm not sure if they're fads or not but I know Wall*Mart spends a fortune on them. They are perfect for inter-company e-mail, typing up schedules, and other database work. I think maybe as a consumer product they are a fad but on the large corprate scene they have a niche

not just retail (none / 1) (#158)
by SteelRat on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 10:27:57 AM EST

not to mention banks and other simple data entry terminals. since sun's javastation was too costly, people are now starting to implement linux to run java apps because now it is microsoft that is becoming (has become) cost prohibitive.

[ Parent ]
thin clients? (none / 1) (#159)
by thryllkill on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 10:36:29 AM EST

I think this is the wrong definition of thin clients. Correct me if I am wrong, but a thin client is a small computer that connects to a server for most of it's software. (Like an x11 client and NFS). Again I could be wrong, but by his description I think he means a internet applience.

[ Parent ]
Wow (2.00 / 9) (#130)
by PsychoFurryEwok on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 09:47:56 PM EST

Some of these things aren't fads, some are still widely used. Fads are supposed to 'fade away'.

heh (none / 2) (#157)
by SteelRat on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 10:25:53 AM EST

does anyone else find it amusing that someone that says that these things are not fads has a website called ebizsolutions.com?

[ Parent ]
A fad doesn't have to go away to be a fad... (none / 1) (#192)
by sukiari on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:45:28 PM EST

Hoola Hoops, hot pants, tamagotchi, Epilady, and the Thighmaster are all still available. I would also define each one as a definate fad. I think things attain fad status by having an incredible saturation for a short while, after which nobody really gives a shit. This doesn't mean that the product (or whatever) isn't still there, it's just not sought after by the unwashed millions like it was before.

[ Parent ]
More About Pointcast (2.75 / 8) (#131)
by n8f8 on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 10:30:50 PM EST

Pointcast was much more than a screensaver. Back in the days when even coporations had to share narrow bandwidth inside their intranets, Pointcast saved a lot of bandwidth by Pushing the most frequenly accessed information tothe client machines. Administrators could control how often the pointcast servers pinged the internet for refreshes. Think of it as a big web-cache.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Caches considered useful (2.75 / 4) (#135)
by abulafia on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 02:32:32 AM EST

Pointcast saved a lot of bandwidth by Pushing the most frequenly accessed information tothe client machines.

However, people quickly figured out that caching data that people were actually accessing was a much better method of conserving bandwidth than attempting to guess what people might like to access. Thus, tools such as squid were quickly adopted, and tools like Pointcash, which mindlessly shoved things at you that you might be interested in, died.

[ Parent ]

PointCrap ? (none / 0) (#266)
by nicovl on Sun Nov 30, 2003 at 04:58:22 PM EST

As far as I can remember proxy servers were being used long before pointcast. So, pointcast was simply a load of crap. I laughed the first time I read about it.

[ Parent ]
VoIP... (2.37 / 8) (#132)
by Gentle Troll on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 10:38:34 PM EST

I can't afford a regular phone line plus a cell phone so I thought I'd give internet phone a try.  There are quite a few providers today.  The one I went with was iconnecthere.com.  For something like $6 I could get  400 minutes a month.  If I went over it would only be $0.04 or so per minute.  This is a _huge_ difference from what my cellular provider (cingular.. bleh) charged per minute (something like $0.50 last I checked).

The quality is just as good as a regular phone line, and much better than a cell phone (on my roadrunner, at least).

I used to think it was just hype, but it actually is very useful if you talk a lot and don't want to pay out the ass for a higher cell phone plan.  Unfortunately the software is only for Windows, but there are devices which should work with other OSes.  I can imagine someone wiring their home with cat5 and getting a service like this and the ethernet-based phones (or perhaps using wireless somehow).

Check out Vonage (none / 2) (#134)
by RadiantMatrix on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 01:50:21 AM EST

I can imagine someone wiring their home with cat5 and getting a service like this and the ethernet-based phones (or perhaps using wireless somehow).

Actually, there's a company called Vonage that charges a flat fee ($35/mo, IIRC) for a phone number (!) and all local and long distance in the US and Canada.  International calls are pretty cheap, too.

The big point is, there's no software involved: they include a device that plugs into your network and offers a standard RJ-11 phone jack.  Just plug in a regular (or cordless) phone.  Pretty neat trick - I wonder if it will catch on.

I don't like spam - Parent ]

Vonage is great, fuck ma bell and her crotchlings! (none / 1) (#191)
by sukiari on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:41:29 PM EST

I love Vonage. With the regular phone line, I was paying about $40 per month, and I didn't want to pay an additional $15 per month just to access the long distance network, and the actual long distance rate on top of that. So I used calling cards, which are a pain in the ass. I switched to Vonage, and with their $25 / month plan I have unlimited local calling, and 500 free long distance minutes per month (which I don't even use a fraction of). The default quality setting (96kb / sec) is a little bandwidth-heavy, so I used their nifty web site to downrate my VOIP bandwidth to 32kb / sec. The high-quality setting is better than any analog land-line I have used, and the 32k setting sounds like a normal phone. It looks like there are other providers, but most use some proprietary (i.e. Windows only) software that probably blows. I am free to plug my cordless into the Cisco ATA 186 VOIP router that Vonage gave me, and maybe someday they'll allow me to use the 2nd jack as a 2nd line! I also have a virtual phone number in my Mom's area code so she can call me for free. That's only 5 bucks per month extra.

[ Parent ]
I don't think WAP was wrong 'per se' (2.33 / 6) (#140)
by l3nz on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:18:06 AM EST

Sure it was not apt to surf the web, but there was quite a lot of possible applications for it. There were millions of WAP phones out in Europe by 2000, and that *could* have been a revolution. It would have been a perfect media for shared lightweight groupware, chats, simple games, news. It was simply overpriced - it should have been free or almost free, a way to keep a telco's customers; instead in Europe they decided to price it at a premium rate. Just - say - browsing your horoscope would cost something like 0.50 - 1 euro of telecom charges. It was ridiculous. Nobody used or uses it, even when I think everybody's cellphone has Wap and is Gprs enabled. Most Gprs plans I have seen place a ludicrous quota of included Wap traffic - something like 200k per month! I can't even read a RSS newsfeed twice a day with that. This way it will go simply wasted, and I think it's a pity.

Popk ToDo lists - yet another web-based ToDo list manager. 100% AJAX free :-)

maaauuww!!! (2.60 / 5) (#151)
by snitch on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:48:48 AM EST

Other things, like pet food, make no sense whatsoever to sell online.

of course it does. try finding a petshop selling the good stuff (royal canin is like crack to my little fluffballs - that's my CATS, mind). i order it in bags of 8kg: the postie breaks his back, it's cheaper, and...well, i'm a lazy son'bitch

actually, groceries, pizza's & other convenience stuff, soft- & hardware, books, flowers... i can think of few things which i wouldn't rather order online than leave my house for - that's SO not done any more :). even one of my ex-girlfriends was, ultimately, "ordered" online (in fact, you CAN really order these online, no?)

voIP, p2p, thin clients... all stuff i know is in daily use by many.

"Against his heart was a thesaurus bound in PVC. He smiled at the entrance guard." - Steve Aylett

Proof of Point (none / 1) (#156)
by virg on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 09:50:00 AM EST

> > Other things, like pet food, make no sense whatsoever to sell online.
> of course it does. try finding a petshop selling the good stuff (royal canin is like crack to my little fluffballs - that's my CATS, mind). i order it in bags of 8kg: the postie breaks his back, it's cheaper, and...well, i'm a lazy son'bitch

I think you just proved his point. See, here's the thing: the reason why finding "the good stuff" is so hard is that there's not much demand for it, your fluffballs notwithstanding. Trying to extend the Royal Canin model to Purina Dog Chow will drive you out of business (and, not surprisingly, it did drive several companies out of business).

Carry on.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
turn it around (none / 1) (#186)
by snitch on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:24:38 PM EST

i'd say it's vice versa: demand for the product dwindles due to lack of outlets. and if royal canin would offer the stuff directly to consumers, they would clean house. so i didn't proof the guy's point. i say he has no point here at all. specialist products need specialized sales.

"Against his heart was a thesaurus bound in PVC. He smiled at the entrance guard." - Steve Aylett
[ Parent ]

Further Proof (none / 1) (#207)
by virg on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:29:01 AM EST

> i'd say it's vice versa: demand for the product dwindles due to lack of outlets. and if royal canin would offer the stuff directly to consumers, they would clean house.

If Royal Canin offers their food for sale online for direct shipping, they already do offer it directly to consumers. To get it into pet stores and grocery stores, they need to offer it to distributors, which is very costly for specialty stuff.

> so i didn't proof the guy's point. i say he has no point here at all. specialist products need specialized sales.

You really did, by comparing the distribution of specialty products to mainstream products. The simple fact is that on average people buy more "regular" cat food than specialty cat food by orders of magnitude. For something in a niche, like gourmet cat food, online distribution makes sense. For mainstream stuff, distribution channels make much more sense economically, because shipping and storage can be handled more centrally (it costs a lot more to deliver ten bags of cat food to houses than on a single pallet to the local food market). So, to sell a bag of cat food online, the online seller needs to mark down the bag enough so that the cost of the food plus the shipping doesn't outstrip the cost of the bag at the store (at least not by much). Since shipping single units is vastly more expensive than shipping in bulk, that cuts the profit margins too far to maintain profitability.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
"Drunk yields to k5 wiseman, film at 11" (none / 0) (#225)
by snitch on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 05:59:52 PM EST

ehm, i'm gonna say "you're right", if only 'cause your story is swaggering before my drunken senses. cheers!

"Against his heart was a thesaurus bound in PVC. He smiled at the entrance guard." - Steve Aylett
[ Parent ]

I only ever buy cat food online (none / 0) (#164)
by fritz the cat on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 12:41:39 PM EST

Buying cat food online is great - I usually order 3 to 500 tins in one go, put them on the cellar, and have enough supplies for a year. No more running to the shops on a runny sunday morning 'coz the cat is hungry.

[ Parent ]

What was stupid wasn't selling pet food online (3.00 / 4) (#166)
by jbuck on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 01:41:30 PM EST

The stupid part wasn't the idea of selling pet food on line. The stupid part was thinking that the expertise required to do this was the ability to design a cute web site. To successfully do retail sales on the net, one needs to be a retail sales expert who hires a web lackey, not a web geek who knows nothing about the business, plans to lose money on each sale but make it up in volume.

So, sure, buying your groceries over the net can be a viable business -- if it's run by Safeway or some other supermarket that knows how to run a grocery store. And that's what's happening today.

Amazon appears to be the only company that beat the odds on this one.

[ Parent ]

What about XML? (2.28 / 7) (#153)
by n8f8 on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:14:38 AM EST

I think XML counts as another "Internet Fad". There are a lot of people who still think of XML as some sort of web Ronco Vegamatic.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
It hasn't died yet (none / 1) (#240)
by shadarr on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:25:19 PM EST

XML may be a fad, but it hasn't died yet. I think it's gone from being a meaningless buzzword like B2B to something kinda nebulous, but still very helpful. A company with a giant IBM backend server and a custom-written workflow app can get them talking to each other by using XML as a middle-man. Even though they could've done it before by defining a common language syntax, they didn't and they are now. That's valuable, if kinda stupid. It's going to get to the point where XML isn't something you put on your powerpoint slide, it's something the customer expects you to support. Like MIDI on electronic music equipment. Who would buy a keyboard that can't talk to their sequencer?

[ Parent ]
Amusingly Enough (none / 0) (#242)
by n8f8 on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 08:10:10 AM EST

I'm developing XML schemas for a living for the government.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
XML the usefull tech VS XML The Next HTML (none / 0) (#247)
by error 404 on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 06:42:31 PM EST

XML as the replacement for HTML, the thing is as much better than the Web as the Web is better than no Internet at all. That XML was a fad. That XML is dead.

The XML that is a pretty good core around which to build technologies to solve certain problems, that XML is thriving.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

domain reselling scam (3.00 / 6) (#154)
by muyuubyou on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:22:50 AM EST

Ranks pretty high to me.

Who's paying stupid amounts of money for a domain anymore? You can go with another name, or if you can demonstrate they're just hijacking your business name illegitimately you can sue.

Forgot (2.90 / 11) (#160)
by Yabl0 on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 11:43:49 AM EST


Wow, I remember VRML! (none / 2) (#215)
by squidface on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 01:25:41 PM EST

When I was but a lad I learned a little VRML and spent a week putting up an all VRML site. It was just like a house and the pictures hanging on the walls were web pages you could click on to be taken elsewhere. But it took too long to load, was too awkward and slow to navigate, and I wasted way too much time coding it. In retrospect, the Virtual Reality Markup Language was pretty damned stupid. I want my life back!

[ Parent ]
X3D (none / 2) (#228)
by trejkaz on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 12:04:12 AM EST

Yeah, X3D is much better.

[ Parent ]
At K5, the angry people are dominant. (2.33 / 6) (#162)
by Futurepower on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 12:22:05 PM EST

I liked the article. The big picture, it seemed to me, is that Internet technology is subject to fads, particularly propagated by the enthusiasm of people who don't really understand the technology. If you work in the field every day as I do, it is good to be reminded of that.

Many of the comments on this article are not really comments, but an attempt by people with anger problems to use kuro5hin as an outlet for their anger.

At any time, there are processes in social groups which cause them to grow, and other processes which cause them to die. Unfortunately, the angry people seem to have taken hold of kuro5hin, so that they are the dominant group. That causes kuro5hin to be much less attractive to those who have something interesting to share.

trolls are as old as usenet (none / 2) (#221)
by circletimessquare on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 03:22:17 PM EST

and in relation to this internet fads article, note that trolls are unfortunately not a fad, but are instead permanent fixtures of usenet and usenet-like websites like kuro5hin and slashdot

the anonymous nature of the internet allows people to behave in ways we cannot in normal everyday social interaction

as you can see, a lot of us carry around a substantial amount of anger

in person, these same people would seem quiet, meek, quite agreeable

but on the anonymous internet, they are allowed to be their inner selves without fear of reprisal

fear those who are placid on the exterior, and cauldrons of venom on the interior: everyone is always remarking on how serial killers seemed like such quiet nice fellows

it's a phenomenon of sociology that this behavior is so common here, and so rare in real life

i myself though think this about trolls: i would rather a million screaming trolls vent their anger here harmlessly than have one of them smack a woman or child in reality

let them vent here, it is a harmless alternative for ways they would vent in real life

every time you see an angry troll post, or a flamewar rage, think about the workplace shooting that was avoided, the domestic beating that was shortcircuited, the road rage incident that was circumvented

in that frame of mind, all of their asocial negative behavior becomes quite welcome ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

When anger works that way (none / 0) (#234)
by error 404 on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 10:01:03 AM EST

Lots of anger goes away when vented, and when impolite words prevent bad actions, I completely agree.

But I've also seen situations where anger becomes a habit, or where anger feeds on itself, and only gets worse. Or where conflict carries over from one arena to another. I've seen people get in screaming matches with their physical peers and then strike the first less strong person who crosses their path.

The quiet guy who ends up being a serial killer happens, but lots more people die at the hands of someone who's have been an obvious ball of rage for a long time.

People are complicated. Emotions are complicated, even apparently simple ones like anger.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

this is the same argument for/ against... (none / 0) (#235)
by circletimessquare on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 11:28:34 AM EST

porn and violent videogames

does watching porn cause a sexually violent man to release his energies harmlessly rather than on real women he might meet? or does porn turn regular men into sexual predators?

does playing violent videogames cause a violent person to shoot up electronic bad guys rather than real innocent people? or does violent videogames turn regular people into thinking in the real world like they are in a first person shooter?

i buy the argument that sexual/ violent entertainment is a release for those who are prone to real world criminal behavior, and therefore porn and violent videogames should not only be condoned, but encouraged

however, i do see the possibility of the opposite: that entertainment can trun a "normal" person into a criminal

however, i believe that those so-called "normal" people were prompted into criminality by entertainment were already psychologically primed for such behavior, and if the entertainment wasn't a trigger for their criminality, something else would have been the trigger

the whole "the devil made me do it" argument against porn/ violent videogames is flawed additionally because the concept of entertainment being the source of bad behavior undermines the concept of personal accountability

if you rape a woman/ shoot an innocent, i don't care if you had been playing violent videogames/ watching porn for 3 months straight beforehand, the behavior came from you, therefore you should suffer the consequences

99% of people can play violent video games/ watch pron without saying that doing so turned them into criminals

blaming bad behavior on entertainment is just an excuse offered up by those who were already bad apples to begin with, and their excuse is believed by the most earnestly gullible amongst us that all bad behavior in the world can be solved if we all watched sesame street all day long instead


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Complete agreement (none / 0) (#246)
by error 404 on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 05:21:46 PM EST

Anybody who can be induced to violence by porn and videogames is already over the edge. It's no excuse. And people like that find their inspiration in odd places anyway. The Beatles White Album (Charles Manson claims it inspired his crimes) is not particularly violent.

You can't make an entire civilization the quiet room of a psych ward. Hell, you can't even make an entire psych ward the quiet room.

Personally, I think the correlation is mostly that people who want to do something tend to enjoy media related to that. I like woodcarving, it isn't surprising that I'm into woodcarving magazines - not only do I read them often, I'm the webmaster for one. If you catch me hacking at a chunk of wood, chances are I've been looking at some nice glossy pictures of wood and knives in the recent past.

Doesn't work the other way around, though: I enjoy war movies, I have no desire to participate in wars in any way. I enjoy quite a few videogames that depict activities I don't care to do in real life. I don't play the violent ones much. Nothing against them, they just don't amuse me much.

Actually, I used to play The Sims violently, and it did reflect a piece of violence I would have liked to perform in real life. My daughter's boyfriend used to play Sims on my computer, and had a Sim named after himself that was surprisingly accurate, down to the low personal hygene score. He raped my daughter. Repeatedly. The Sim died an amazing number of different slow, painfull deaths. The trick is to exit without saving. Hard disk crash put him down for good.

There was a horror series on TV a few years ago. I don't remember the name. Anyway, it was on once a week, and it was pretty good. So there's this serial killer here in Milwaukee. Not a famous one like Jeff Dahmer or Ed Gein, just some teenage loser who likes killing younger boys. Wisconsin seems to have more that it's share. And he was in the process of torturing a kid to death when the show came on. Stuffs the kid in a closet and goes to the other room where the TV is. Kid manages to escape the closet and drag himself outside (can't have been easy with both legs broken) and get help, ending the sk's career before he attains a national press body count.

The local station stopped carrying the show for a few months because of that.

Excuse me - that show didn't make the guy a killer, it stopped him.

Oh, well.

Anyway, my point wasn't that we should ban trollery lest the anger carry over, it was that I prefer not to celebrate it as cathartic. I'm sure it's cathartic for some people and for others it builds anger. For some of us, it's just plain tedious.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

I can't believe (1.00 / 7) (#167)
by LilDebbie on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 01:41:49 PM EST

no one has mentioned goatse.cx yet, or is he considered a fundamental part of the Intarweb now?

Wait, you're talking about techonology? Who gives a shit about that?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Thin Clients (2.80 / 5) (#172)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 03:01:36 PM EST

I think that thin clients as you describe them never reached the critical mass to become a hugely competitive business. It exists in pockets but not in the mainstream.

Still, the motivation is there to wean ourselves away from expensive machines that quickly go obsolete. Consider computing power as something like electric power. Right now, whenever a person wants it, we put a generator on their desk in the form of a computer. As a result, there is wasted processing power rampant in the system. We have horrible inefficiency in our IT infrastructures and we all know that inefficiency wastes money. If Mary needs to run a report that locks up her machines for hours, she'd love to harnass the power of John or Peter's machines for the process since they're only playing solitaire. As a result, we are on the verge of implementing the next possible fad: Grid Computing.

I drank what?

Thin Clients today (none / 1) (#175)
by I8TheWorm on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 03:54:28 PM EST

I think it depends on the person's definition of "thin client." Many companies use Citrix server, which is usually regarded as a thin client.

The benefit of using Citrix is the idea of not having to deploy apps to many boxes. More importantly, to guarantee that all users are on the same version of the app.

Thin client in the sense of being likened to a dumb terminal, however, was a huge flop. When a company can give their employees computers that can do so much more for under $1000 per (bear in mind, that's a small fraction of salary for even low paid employees), there wasn't any reason to get something that only handled one type of app.

[ Parent ]
Missed the point on thin clients... (2.75 / 4) (#173)
by hansel on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 03:48:15 PM EST

The Web is already a terrifically successful thin-client system, without Flash/Java/Midi/shit.  Think of the vast bulk of content and social interaction that goes on on the Web with nothing but HTML and CGI.

The point of a thin-client isn't that it can do everything a thick-client can.  The point is that it can't, and so pares the user experience down to the essentials.  The size and scope of the Web are succesful, it's been argued, just because it's a perfect thin-client.  The addition of CGI to rudimentary text formatting is all that's required.  

Think: when was the last time you used Flash/Java/sound/animation in a way that was essential to your Web experience?  What proportion of your web experience is dependent upon plugins?  For me, zero.  I can't even think of any Javascript that I would consider essential, whose removal would significantly detract from the Web.

Thin Clients - Fad? (none / 0) (#218)
by thomasdt12 on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 01:45:29 PM EST

I really disagree here. Having worked with Citrix since their IPO, the number of thin-clients available has grown substantially. This company runs ~90% of it's desktops as WYSE/Maxspeed terminals: www.abm.com You can get a base Windows terminal for around $300, with options for XP Embedded base units (like I am typing on now) go up from there. The whole point in terminals is not the up-front cost but the on-going cost. Since the idea behind Terminal Services is to run most things from centralized, high-powered server farms the administration of the end-user desktop is negligible. Most Thin-Clients do not have fans, or any moving parts - and a very long MTBF. For any organization looking to lower on-going IT expenses, and implement systems that are far easier to provide services in the event of a disaster currently Citrix is the way to go. -Sean "Opteron is the schizz-mizzle!"

[ Parent ]
Gotta disagree on a few points. (2.40 / 5) (#176)
by mindstrm on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 04:01:30 PM EST

Firstly, VoIP is far, far, far from a "Fad". It's more popular than ever, and truly about to explode.

Second, Live customer support is alive and kicking, for those companies who have a clue how to implement it. It's far from dead.

Third, acronyms are not on the way out.

Fourth, thin clients never were a fad..and they are around now as much as they ever were. What do you think your web browser is? Know how many businesses us web-based applications that solely work via a brwoser, with no plugins?  That's thin-client at it's best.

Feh (none / 1) (#181)
by Hymen Restoration Surgery on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 05:41:41 PM EST

You're right about VoIP, it's definitely about to explode.

You're wrong about thin clients. The Web browser is not a thin client. It's not even a client at all, really. It's a user agent.

Thin clients weren't a fad, but Web browsers don't really prove that. Thin clients were about weight-balance, and as such not really very interesting anyway.

[ Parent ]
Fads, VoIP, etc (2.71 / 7) (#182)
by jd on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:04:49 PM EST

VoIP needs UDP and decent compression algorithms. Most systems sent "bursts" of traffic, which is why you got chunks dropped, rather than merely having continuous sound that was slightly degraded. What's worse, some tried using TCP.

If you're going to transmit to groups (eg: Internet Radio, conference calls, etc) you need multicasting. Sorry, but only an idiot tries to transmit point-to-point to many destinations. And only complete imbeciles try to do that with video.

(CU-SeeMe only worked well if you had a stack of interlinked reflectors, and each reflector could only cope with 8 low-grade signals, before maxing out the computer or the network.)

Probably the best "traditional" early VoIP program was Internet Phone. The signal quality was decent, and none of the other ptp VoIP packages had remotely as good handling of packet loss.

Of the "non-traditional" software, the best system was RAT (Robust Audio Tool) which was designed for multicast, but would work with unicast. It had excellent compression, and the ability to do conferencing made it exceptional.

RAT and the video tool VIC were used by Russian surgeons to perform a "remote" medical procedure, by directing American surgeons who had the theatre wired for sound and video. By multicasting the entire operation, it was possible for anyone to watch. Indeed, several medical schools were hooked into the MBone to watch events. Live demonstrations of this kind are not common.

VIC was very unusual for it's day, being able to transmit up to PAL resolution (625 lines) in 24-bit color. Naturally, on the Internet you don't get much of a frame-rate at that resolution. (5 fps is about it, and that puts a serious load on the network,)

But until you've used the MBone tools, and have experienced the true splendour of what these tools can achieve, don't write them off completely.

You can't reach the MBone? Your provider won't provide it? Oh, now that's a different kettle of fish. Providers, despite getting free access to the MBone (all they have to do is enable the option on the router), generally won't provide it to customers. Technical issues? No, greed issues. Multicasting makes wide distribution much easier and takes much less bandwidth to do so. If it were used for all Internet Radio, webcasts and video conferencing, you'd free up a huge amount of bandwidth.

So why aren't ISPs providing it, then? Because they don't know how to charge for it. It gives the consumer vastly superior performance, and ISPs want to be paid extra for it. But because of the way it works, they don't know how to do that.

Some points (none / 0) (#268)
by mbateman on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 01:34:32 PM EST

VoIP needs UDP and decent compression algorithms.

VoIP requires timeliness; sub 200ms delay and less than 40ms jitter. Neither UDP or TCP provide this (no QoS built into IP). There is an argument for TCP if ECN is used since packet loss is almost 0 and it is packet loss that have a large effect on the perceptional quality of audio, regenerated audio can sound crappy. You need enough bandwidth for the bitrate you are using and highly compressed streams are affected more by packet loss than low compression since you effectively lose more information with the packet losses.

Most systems sent "bursts" of traffic, which is why you got chunks dropped, rather than merely having continuous sound that was slightly degraded.

It is not the systems sending bursts of traffic it is because packet loss happens in chunks rather than in nice regular intervals. A 5 percent packet loss doesn't mean after 19 packets one is lost it is much more likely that 5 consecutive packets will be lost and 95 with get through okay.

What's worse, some tried using TCP.

See my first point re ECN. The people using TCP are really after the AIMD aspects of TCP the packet retransmission is pretty much useless since it delays the playout (past the 200ms in some cases). This makes the application a better network citizen only using its' fair share of the available network bandwidth, which can help avoid packet loss.

If you're going to transmit to groups (eg: Internet Radio, conference calls, etc) you need multicasting.

The BBC do fine without multicast they just have loads of bandwidth. You can also create overlay network which can act like multicast for just an application. The MBone is a generic overlay network as it is.

[ Parent ]

An afterthought (2.75 / 4) (#183)
by jd on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:15:20 PM EST

I've been using packet-based wide-area networks since 1985, starting with IPSS (International Packet Switch Stream), which was an X.25-based network that covered much of Europe and parts of the US.

I also frequented bulletin boards, and still think "The Bread Board System" was better than any other BBS of its day. Nothing else came close. (Wildcat was trashy, but cheap.)

I forget when I moved onto the Internet, but I'm sure it was to howls of protest. I can tell you that I ran the official first IPv6 node in the UK (I believe a company in Aberdeen registered their node one day later). It was also one of the best-connected, sporting 8 tunnels at one point.

In all of that time, I can't say I've seen "real" fads. Most of the technology, or the concepts, have stayed around in one form or another. Push technology (where the server proactively sends data) is essentially the model CORBA and RPC use. That's why Microsoft had to lock-up all the RPC code on Windows, as you could push viruses onto a system,

Huge fad: Overclocking! (2.71 / 7) (#185)
by skintigh on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 06:57:13 PM EST

That subject line probably caused screams around the world, but it's true, and this is coming from an overclocker who is also modding his case.  Allow me to make my case.

There was a time when overclocking was HUGE.  Maybe not outside of the Internet folk, but it was HUGE.  You could overclock a 486DX2 66MHz to 80MHz: a 21% improvement in ALL APPS, and a difference of hundreds of dollars.  This was such a HUGE deal that ethical (!) debates were sparked (is it unethical to get more than you paid for?) and there were scams and usenet was on fire.

I later overclocked Pentium Pros at work to speed up SETI and Blood.  

Even recently I overclocked my poor 1400 to the mid 1500s, overclocked my PC133 ram to about 142MHz, and overclocked my geforce 2 from 200/225 to 240/255, all to get CnC Generals work.  Except for the video overclocking, it barely made a difference.

Nowadays you can eek maybe 10% more out of your CPU (without expensive cooling solutions), which makes almost no difference in games since videocards are the bottleneck.

Of course, people like me overclock those too, but with the exception of turning the early radeon 9500 into a 9700 Pro, there is nary a word about it.

So, is it really a fad?  Some might say it's still common, so it's not.  Well, it's still around, but so are yo-yos and hoola hoops.

Bzzzzt... wrong! Please play again... (none / 2) (#206)
by MeowChow on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:02:23 AM EST

At the risk of momentarily turning K5 into yet another ochardwaresite.com, there are plenty of Intel 2.4B and 2.4C owners getting 3.4Ghz + on air. A non-insignificant number can do 50% overclocks. Just about anyone with a clue can do 25% overclocks on current generation P4's. I don't know what sites you've been reading or what hardware you've been buying, but you really need to get your facts straight.

If anything, the overclocking/modding community has grown exponentially within the last decade. To say otherwise is complete nonsense.

[ Parent ]

I rated you down because (none / 2) (#214)
by kubalaa on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 01:01:09 PM EST

you used the phrase "Bzzzt wrong".

[ Parent ]
UNDERCLOCKING newest fad.... (none / 1) (#252)
by dlairman on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 01:35:53 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Melinda Gates (2.50 / 4) (#187)
by xs euriah on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:35:21 PM EST

Note that Bill Gates' wife was then project manager of Microsoft Bob.

WAP (2.62 / 8) (#190)
by coryking on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 08:41:24 PM EST

The biggest reason WAP has failed is there has been no killer app for it yet. There are a TON of things that a WAP like device could be used for:
  • What bus will come next? Should I catch the 21 or wait for the 54 express?
  • When is costco open till?
  • What is the phone number for Joe Blow?
  • How do I get from here to joe's house?
lets not forget PDA like stuff:
  • What appointments do I have today
  • What new email do I have?
  • Dont forget IM'ish applications
The reason WAP sucks is because the marketers assume we want lots of content - news, stocks, etc. What we really want is highly situation specific information. An ideal device would be able to answer "I'm here, what is around me?". Those are the kinds of things that will make wap take off.

The other reason WAP sucks is because nobody has come up with a decent interface for the phone. If it takes 4 screens to get to showtimes (mMode), it's too much.

The idea of wap - which is accessing web like content from a moble device is far from dead. You will see this stuff take off very, very soon once somebody "gets it"

It's the 'WAP devices' thing that changes (none / 2) (#198)
by Goggs on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 02:30:08 AM EST

When WAP was introduced, mobile phones were rather primitive, and had text-only screens. PDA's also had a while to go, when many of them had <20MHz processors and reasonably small screens. Skip ahead a few years. People started making WAP-capable websites, but in the mean time, these 'basic WAP devices' also progressed. No longer are they small-screened, simple-OS, slow processor devices- They're fully capable of rendering real websites, with CSS, frames, even Javascript. People no longer wanted 'little WAP pages'- They wanted sites that PC's can view. For instance, in a few years, consumer PDA's have gone from 160x160 monochrome, 2-4mb, 16MHz devices, to 320x320+ 24bit colour, 128mb+, 400MHZ+. Same deal with phones.

Seriously though, WAP-capable devices might just come back in another cycle, where they 're-invent the wheel' all over again.

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

Indeed... (2.50 / 4) (#201)
by cowbutt on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 07:14:14 AM EST

My mobile telco has a "Where's my nearest..." function available from their WAP homepage. They should really make more noise about it as I use it regularly to find cashpoints, restaurants, tyre repair shops, shops etc. (you can search by type or name, and it uses your current cell to determine the postcode for a "Yellow Pages" search).

Additionally, I regularly use wap.google.com to check pricing and Linux hardware compatibility. It would probably also be useful if I did pub quizzes more often. ;-)

[ Parent ]

But You're Not an American... (none / 0) (#257)
by weave on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 08:23:01 AM EST

I visited UK a "fortnight" ago and noticed that they use SMS messaging and WAP a lot more than the U.S. does. I saw loads of adverts to "text" to get more info, "text" someone to tell them you had a great meeting, wap to such-and-such address to get more info, etc.

But basically, if it's not a hot thing in the U.S. it's nothing.

Get it? :-(

p.s. I didn't know wap.google.com existed. Thanks.

p.p.s. wap would be more proficient if there were more tools to create wap sites better -- or maybe because the U.S. culture is so shielded about it I don't know. I manage a statewide transit site, always thought about making stuff available via wap. Mbe I should look around again.

[ Parent ]

Another reason why WAP failed (none / 1) (#251)
by Anonymous Hiro on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 10:17:42 AM EST

All the people doing WAP want to do it in the style of Compuserve, AOL, etc. e.g. users are limited to the Network Provider's network and approved content, and paying through their noses for it.

That's the first thing I noticed when it was hyped. By that time the Internet had already snowballed, so I was going "Doh. What are these people thinking".

[ Parent ]

Fad #11. (none / 1) (#263)
by mdm42 on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 09:15:12 AM EST

Aaah, the original article really missed out on probably the biggest fad of them all:

The notion of the killer app.

It worked all of once in history (anybody actually remember VisiCalc?) and has never actually been seen in the wild since.  Yet "we" persist in trying to pin down these things called the "killer app".

All that this crap phrase is really good for is raising venture money!

[ Parent ]

Better-late-than-never gram: (1.50 / 6) (#194)
by acceleriter on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 09:08:01 PM EST


Active Desktop? (2.50 / 6) (#195)
by strlen on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 09:46:14 PM EST

Anyone remember that piece of Mickeysoft crap that was hailed by everyone as the next great feature of desktop integration, yet I still haven't met anyone who uses (I don't spend much time in windows, except for games of BattleField 1942).

And, I also nominate "blogs" and "blogosphere" as being part of a similar article of future years. It used to be that some people kept peridiocally updating a site, or keeping a log in either their .plan (accessible via finger) file or somewhere on the net. Yet, nowadays, somehow this practice has become a "world changing" phenomen or a "new method" of communication, or a "revolution". Hint: it's nothing special.

And on the topic of WAP, while the idea of WML may have been only a fad, but the idea that websites should be displyable on text-only devices isn't. What bothers me is why invent a separate language for that, why not just not use flash, frames and use the alt description on the img tag?

As for the myriad of comments of about thin client, rather then just blee the "mee-to", I'd like to say that

a) calling WYSE or VT-series terminal "dumb" is a misnomer (dumb implies no control over cursor position (at least no 2-d control over cursor position)), if you want a seriously dumb terminal try an ASR-33

b) text-only video terminals still have plenty of use: point of sale system, library systems, and the terminal -> server model of computing still lives on with today's ssh and telnet (which is very widely used). In fact, I can't remember a time I sat in front of a computer, where I havent at one point used an application which emulated what you called "dumb" terminals -- whether sshing to a workgroup server at work, checking mail from school, or using an ATM or a library search feature (and putty is probably the single Windows application I use the most).

c) you mentioned the expensive Sunray thin clients, yet unlike your average pee-cee  running Lunix 2.4.22233902810291132 Redhate  or Microsoft Windows Type-R (my prediction for a next naming scheme, once "X""XP" gets old ("2k""mellinium" already is)) it can last more than 3 years (average lifetime for a pee-cee, believe it or not) and doesn't need to be constantly upgraded (only the central server -- such as say a E480R or an E280R (try putting one of those on every worker's desk!) needs to be upgraded).  

The dot-bomb era thin clients had the failure of trying to essentially be a computer, but naming it something else (various I-openers, and other sorts of web-browser oriented thin clients), but diskless workstations and X11/Citrix/whatever terminals are still useful, just as video terminals and most importantly terminal-emulation.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

Too Early to Bury Blogs (2.50 / 4) (#199)
by OldCoder on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 04:39:28 AM EST

I ain't no blogger. But the techonology puts a new-to-the-world-of-publishing kind of publishing in the hands of writers. It ain't the "New" technology, as such. A newspaper is also a daily log. Ongoing digital logs have been around internally to lots of projects — for a short time per project. It's that the technology package puts daily publishing into the hands of some extremely talented mostly non-technical people.

It also puts the technology into the hands of many cretins, too.

Blogging is also a format for periodic columnists, even if they are publishing in a legacy online Newpaper. A gossip column gone digital, it's useful.

By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

Push (none / 0) (#245)
by B'Trey on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 11:11:40 AM EST

As the article indirectly points out, the difference in push and pull is a bit hazy. However, RSS could arguably be called the latest push technology.

[ Parent ]
Point-of-sale. (none / 0) (#210)
by tkatchev on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 11:10:18 AM EST

Modern point-of-sale terminals usually include 16 inch flat-screen TFT monitors running an intranet page with a giant full-color corporate logo.

Well, at least in the part of the world where I come from.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

huhuhuh (none / 2) (#212)
by Battle Troll on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 12:06:40 PM EST

Hey Beavith, he mutht be from America!

Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Some of that happens here as well (none / 0) (#213)
by strlen on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 12:08:30 PM EST

But, what I've seen predominately are still monochrome text-only displays. Even modern solutions like IBM SurePOS function in this way.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
POS (none / 0) (#261)
by Tweaker Joe on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 08:21:03 PM EST

Even still, they are dumb terminals. The big color display like at Safeway is usually a Java applet that is pushed to the terminal.

[ Parent ]
Thin Clients come from primal desires (2.50 / 4) (#203)
by rdenny on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 08:57:20 AM EST

The thin client is a kissin' cousin of the "diskless workstation' and a distant cousin of the mainframe terminal. It is a primal human instinct to subjugate others. The computer flavors of this ancient tradition began with mainframe priests, and is still alive in the form of thin clients hooked to, er, a mainframe. Just a fancier terminal. The author's observations are right on, and are repeated every few years by a new attempt at subjugation. Thank heavens they've all failed. Investors beware!

CueCat (2.75 / 4) (#217)
by revscat on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 01:43:29 PM EST

By far the biggest waste of time, hype, and capital. Definitely worthy of the list. "Look! It's a scanner so you can go straight to an advertisement! Wheee, I bet simply EVERYONE will want one!"

What a joke.

- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
i still have one of those in a drawer (none / 1) (#220)
by circletimessquare on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 03:11:38 PM EST

i'm planning on selling it on eBay in the year 2038 for $5,000.00 to an electronics nostalgia hipster

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
good luck they made about 10 million (none / 1) (#239)
by thatto on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 03:30:38 PM EST

seriously. Only half were distributed to vendors. the other half are in a warehouse somewhere. That was part of D.C.'s downfall.

[ Parent ]
ROFL (none / 0) (#259)
by mintee on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 08:41:31 PM EST

I still have one too... Radio Shack wuz giving them away.... I seen websites that mentioned turning them into a cig` lighter, a tv remote and all kinds of impractual bullshit!
-The Lazy Writer
[ Parent ]
It was a waste that didn't have to happen. (none / 0) (#270)
by Myself248 on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 06:24:20 PM EST

The cords are really handy for projects that need 5 volts. They've got a passthrough plug for the keyboard, and they bring out all the signal lines in case you want to do keyboard interfacing too.

Seriously though, what pissed me off most wasn't the concept, it was the name. Who the hell wants to :wear :out :their :colon :key typing things like :CueCat and :Digital:Convergence? Those folks were obsessed with BiCapitalization.

The cuecat goes down in history with things like the iOpener: Technology that would've been cool and useful, had the makers only sold it at a fair price and encouraged hacking, rather than giving it away and being surprised when people didn't gravitate towards "step n: profit" of their business plan. If DC hadn't gone lawyer-crazy when people got creative with their product, their name might not be mud.

[ Parent ]

one word: teledildonics (none / 2) (#219)
by circletimessquare on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 03:09:41 PM EST

i've spent upwards of $20,000.00 on my virtual jennifer 2.0 set up so far, and i've found that actually talking to a living breathing woman is more stimulating... who knew?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

You did? Ohmygod... (nt) (none / 0) (#273)
by Kuranes on Sun Dec 07, 2003 at 07:08:18 AM EST

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Linguistics! (none / 2) (#224)
by TheMealwormFarm on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 03:45:17 PM EST

U 4got 2 mention da loss of gramma an speling in da online chats.

My sister, who happens to be an English teacher, spends her weekends complaining about online shorthand.
wh@t @n @ge we live in.

^^The above statement was written by TheMealworm "I am God" Farm,

"Where did you get that statement?"

"Your mother!"
Your sister should've been around... (none / 1) (#227)
by John Miles on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 07:13:10 PM EST

.... 100 years ago, at the dawn of the radiotelegraphic age.


I mean, really. Today's kids, always re-reinventing the language. You've gotta love 'em.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Har har har. (none / 0) (#231)
by bakuretsu on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:36:35 AM EST

Because each byte you send over the internet costs you $0.05. So, of course, it makes sense to destroy the language to save money.

But seriously, though, I think in the radiotelegraphic age, the idea was speed and economy. Nowadays, I'm afraid the idea is laziness and ignorance.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]

Quite so. (none / 1) (#232)
by bakuretsu on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:38:20 AM EST

Does it surprise you, then, that my AIM buddy list is separated into two major groups: Literate People and Illiterate People? Guess who I talk to more often?

That's right, people who understand and respect the comma and the apostrophe. Very important fixtures in our form of expression. So call me a linguistic elitist, at least I'm upholding a norm that can be helpful to them.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]

Not a fad (none / 1) (#233)
by OneEyedApe on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 10:00:09 AM EST

The article appears to discuss Internet fads that have come and gone. A distinct lack of grammer, punctuation, spelling, and good sense seems to be a feature of the Internet that is here to stay.

[ Parent ]
Lest we forget... (none / 1) (#241)
by TaoJones on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 02:12:11 AM EST

Joel Furr and the whole Lemur thing. According to Craig Shergold if you do you make little baby Kibo cry...

Reasonable article... (none / 1) (#243)
by Aimaz on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 09:34:14 AM EST

... I'll just assume you've never actually used thin clients.

Live customer service (none / 1) (#248)
by salsaman on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 06:57:57 PM EST

I actually found it useful once. I went to IBM's site, and was trying without much success to find a price for a bit of kit for a client of mine. Anyway there was a box that said: type here to Instant Message a sales rep. Well, I did, and it actually worked. Somebody responded and I explained what I was looking for. The guy on the other end directed me to exactly the item I needed.

Good experience here too (none / 0) (#253)
by Ming D. Merciless on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 03:52:05 PM EST

I've used the live help chat box at Crucial memory many times and have found the people at the other end to be enormously helpful. Like a lot of technologies, it all depends on how it is used. If you call a support line and talk to an idiot who is only empowered to follow a script, how is that any different than live help chat?

[ Parent ]
Digital Acronyms (none / 1) (#249)
by royal on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 02:01:58 AM EST

You're way off on digital acronyms. Business to business, business to consumer, adviser to client and so on... they're still being used and they were being used pre-dotcom.

Hello, friendly b3ta users! (none / 2) (#255)
by fae on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 10:47:17 PM EST


-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
niftae (none / 2) (#256)
by Shakata Ga Nai on Sat Nov 22, 2003 at 02:46:55 AM EST

so many stories about net trends though
'Jesus might be lord, but I am GOD.'
Yea, I am bored, I'll come up with something creative latter.
What about the Web "recorders"? (none / 1) (#260)
by kosmos on Wed Nov 26, 2003 at 07:19:48 AM EST

Back in the days there were some companies pushing to make these "web recorders" which supposely given a website records everything for you. I think there are still some around but without really revolutionary features it seems to have been less than exciting.

VoIP (none / 1) (#262)
by mdm42 on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 09:05:58 AM EST

8. VoIP (Rounds 1 and 2) ... listener typically heard, "-an y-----ear--e? ------ool! We're u--ng the -nter------all!"

Not at all like cellular phones, then...

WAP does have one use I know of - (none / 1) (#265)
by jago25 on Sat Nov 29, 2003 at 03:43:10 PM EST

Aeronautical wether reports: can be quicker than sms and more dynamic yet is portable. Still the best until Cell phones properly online are better

Pointlesscast and foolish mobs... (none / 1) (#269)
by Myself248 on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 06:06:03 PM EST

I never quite understood the point of flash mobs. In years past, the power to summon throngs of people was mostly reserved for media personalities. Now we have technology that allows any schmuck to organize quite a large gang of likeminded individuals. What's it used for? NOTHING! Organized nothing!

"Yes dear, I remember when I met your father. I don't suppose you've ever heard of flash mobs, but they were quite the craze for a few days there in 2003. Everyone converged in the center of the park, and it was there that I saw him, walking the pavement joints like a tightrope. I knew immediately that he really stood for nothing. It was mediocrity at first sight!"

Why can't these losers organize a flash mob like "everyone show up at the beach with a trash bag and some gloves" or something useful? Because nobody would show up. People these days are serious about their apathy.

As for Pointcast: Neat idea, if you dedicated a machine for pointcast and left it in the storefront window. On the desktop, it was utterly useless. The idea of pushing updated content to local caching servers is good, but it's better implemented by things like Squid and Akamai.

"Push" isn't nearly as fun as "sniff". Want a really entertaining screensaver? Write a script that follows HTTP sessions and displays the pages that other people on the network are retrieving. (A friend of mine did this on his college dorm network. He always had a copy of the most recent pages on the big news sites, and a large archive of fresh porn. All without generating any network traffic of his own!)

Live customer support is pretty cool. Customers abuse email support with FAQ's, so email support counterabuses customers with autoresponders. In many of the live chat systems I've seen, the users in the "waiting room" can usually help the newbies with a few dumb questions by the time an actual tech is available. Sort of a "zeroth-tier" of support, but it works well.

The phone is honestly inferior at certain tasks. The support rep's ability to type things exactly, rather than spell them over the phone to a customer who can't tell slash from backslash, is important. So is the ability to send links and files. I've yet to see a support-chat with file transfer capability, though.

Here's my pessimistic prediction: The web as a useful thing is already turning out to have been a fad. Email, arguably the most useful function of the internet, has been made useless by spammers. Usenet and chat are now simply vehicles for advertising.

The web itself grows less useful with each passing day, but it's much more than just advertising. Flash and its ilk threaten to "redefine what the web can be", to borrow macromedia's own slogan. The web used to be searchable, indexable, and printable. Now it's none of those things. It used to be useful. Frames are hopelessly abused, image tags are everywhere and none of them have alternate text. Content is hidden behind forms where search engines fear to tread. Servers track "sessions" for each visitor, instead of statelessly serving pages as HTTP dictates.

The average drooling-monkey web author is so anxious to try out the latest can-IE-do-this-without-crashing trick, that they're perfectly willing to exclude any user who doesn't have an enormous screen, the latest mickeysoft bugware, perfect eyesight, and hours to waste while gimmicks install themselves.

The reason WAP flopped is that it's about a decade late. When HTML was sensible and pages were logical, browsing the web on a tiny display worked fine. (after hacking Lynx to support a 32-column by 8-line terminal, of course.)

Of course, the WAP gateway at your phone provider's office that allows you to browse the web on your phone is an example of thin client behavior. If the content didn't suck, it would work fine. So-called "thin clients", be they VT100s or Xterms or smart displays or whatever, have been around since the dawn of computing and will continue to have their niche. I'm carrying one in my pocket, waiting for it to be useful.

Sooner or later, people who write content will realize that accessibility trumps glitz and sparkle. It will be too late.

That's a pretty narrow definition of Flashmobs (none / 1) (#271)
by thewookie on Thu Dec 04, 2003 at 06:06:40 AM EST

Flashmobs as a term might be a fad, but this form of mobilisation is I think likely to stick around in one form or another. It's just a trendy name coined for a specific use of a broader communication/organisational trend - see smartmobs for an interesting overview - made fad-like by the initially amusing antics of some of it's early proponents.

As an example of a less surreal use than the recent headline grabbers, Jane's Addiction have been organising Flashmob gigs on their recent tour, fans could sign up and would receive notification by text message of when and where they would be playing a free gig. I understand they performed a brief open air set at Covent Garden market in London in this way. Now the cynical would say that this is just appropriating a trendy term and using it to sell paid for advertising via mobile phones (there was a 1 fee), but that doesn't negate the effectiveness of the technique (and I doubt it covered the cost of mounting the gig).

Also, aren't the semi-clandestine open air raves of the early 90's nascent Flashmobs? (jn the UK at least, don't know about elsewhere) They may not have used the internet, but the way in which the venue information was distributed at the last minute by mobile phones to avoid police detection is very similar.

WAP..Billions (none / 0) (#274)
by mrrabbit on Sun Feb 29, 2004 at 05:20:46 AM EST

i spent 12 long hours in 1998 developing a WAP Pack before deciding it was rubbish...and never visiting the technology again...the futures bright...the futures WAP-Free...GPRS is the new(ish) WAP...you get charged by the Mb...3G is merely a bad acronym for 'sound picture and video' the SPV phone got the acronym right...but then again it was developed in association with Microsoft®

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