[svlug] Ranting -> SAY WHAT???

Javilk javilk at meg.mall-net.com
Wed Dec 31 21:06:02 PST 1997

> >    See http://www.mall-net.com/tt/
> The background on your web page is painfully UNreadable.
> Your demo is for dos/windows.

    Yes, the product was released in 1984 - 1986 time frame. We went bust. 
I own the patent for the underlying technology.  It's a technology demo,
not a product demo.  The sites talks about adding the technology to
existing products. Like a Linux shell.  Someone added it to a word
processor in about eight hours of work once.  

     Once added, Linux would have a Very Easy shell that any secretary,
housewife, or six year old could use productively.  If we, as a club, want
to sell or even Linux away via supermarkets, trade shows, whatever; this
is probably a good choice for a shell.  And no complex X-Windows required. 

> And I can't even figure out what the system is supposed to do.  Probably
> because the text is unreadable and overly thick.  Nowadays, screenshots are
> the demo de jour or the Linux world.

     You are seeing your browser's default fonts and colors, because the
body tags on those pages do not specify colors or fonts. I hate to say
this, but as a professional webmaster, if the text is unreadable, then
your browser (probably Arena, or maybe Red baron,) is just set up wrong -
as one of them is right out of the box.

     Try Lynx or Netscape. Comes up fine in those.

    It was the first browser.  A mouseless browser that used a tab key,
instead of the mouse, and let you type on the screen like a word
processor. If you typed on the screen, it saved the screen for you. No
HTML, no confusing anything. Simple enough for a secretary to use.

     As to the technology, it is (unfortunately) almost too simple to
understand unless you try to use it,  as I found out while demonstrating
it.  I mean, it is like trying to describe a carrot to someone who has
never eaten one. Crunchy?  You mean like an apple?  Colored orange like an
orance, but how can an orange be crunchy?  Grows in the ground? Must be
incredibly dirty too!  Listen, this carrot vegetable thingy will never
sell!  No grocery store in their right mind will ever carry carrots! 

     Hypertext?  To create, or link to a file, just type the name anywhere
you wanted on the screen, then hit enter.  If that file is (not yet)
there, you get a new screen.  Since you had just typed on the previous
screen, it was saved for you with that link on it.  Tap Escape, and you
are back on the previous screen, with the link there for you to use to get
to the new page again. (If you hadn't typed on the new page, it wasn't
saved because it was empty.)  Everything becomes hyperlinked very quickly
in the way YOU want to use it.

     Since mice were not common, you used the TAB key to tab between
commands you had typed on the screen. Hit enter to execute the command. 
Hence the name TabTalk.  Nearly everyone said that was a stupid name till
they used it for a few minutes, then they all said that was Exactly what
it was, and no other name would mean anything.  They all said that you
talked to your computer with the tab and enter keys, and you, not the
computer, owned the screen. 
     But... hypertext was not common then.  Computer professionals tried
to explain this could not be done!  Period.  End of statement.  This, as
their own fingers were demonstrating the very things their mouths were
adamantly explaining Just Could Never Be Done!  Whereupon they would
suddenly realize they WERE demonstrating that it was happening, turn red
and stomp away. Though several pronounced this to be super advanced
artificial intelligence.  (By classical definition, there was an AI engine
inside -- A Very, Very Simple one! I just didn't think of it as artificial
intelligence till I did some AI work for IBM years later.  It was just
applied common sense!)

     When we demo'd it to larger store managers, once he grasped it, he
would be frothing at the mouth about his training revenues.  The best
success we had, was typewriter stores carrying the new Sanyo PC.  They
didn't know how to train people, so they wanted it to make the PC simple
enough for a secretary to use instead of a typewriter.  Well, that's whom
we designed it for.  While developing it, I watched secretaries try to use
it, and the next revision would do what they expected. It was a glass page
you could type a letter for the boss on, or some commands, and tab (point) 
and re-use them whenever you wanted. And it was all hyperlinked so you
never lost anything.

     Anyway, of those who bought and installed it, 10% raved it was the
greatest thing since sliced bread and cursed _other_ products for not
employing our three key control system.  They called us asking how they
could get other products to use the technology.  (We didn't know how to do
popups then, and we were in Connecticut, where computer geniuses just
could not be found.) 

     I am NOT a marketer!  As I rather well demonstrated!  I made a very
expensive fool of myself trying to market it; and our marketing "team"
then saw some large dollar signs elsewhere and ran off with one of our
clients, SCM, in New York City.  (That was about a year before SCM sold
half of itself off and liquidated the rest.)

     About then, I came down with a nearly fatal fungal infection,
spending nearly two years completely housebound on a respirator till we
found a doctor out here ten years ago, who put me back together again.

> > Only when I hit the net, did I hear others tell me that I have a gift for
> > writing.  I am not sure I believe that...  but I seem to do ok when I have
> > something to say.
> You tend to rant.

    This thread, as you may recall, started as a joke, and changed to
something else -- how we might create a simplified Linux that we, as a
club, could market via supermarkets.

> Ranting isn't necessarily bad, but if you rant then do it carefully and
> consciously.  Not out of habit.  The best rants are still brief.

    Sometimes you can present things in a clear and short way, and
sometimes that just gets things dismissed quickly without bothering to
understand what is being said.

     Anyone interested in such a project?

- javilk at mall-net.com --------------------------------------------------- 
Our nations second greatest asset (behind our minds,) is the idle time of
our computers.  Let us find a use for it that puts Linux on the map.  
(It will also show  MS Slothware as our Nation's Greatest Folly!) 

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