A Message From Ex-President Pat Hughes
This time I am writing while sitting in a bar in Toronto listening to an old friend of mine playing some good tunes while I enjoy a pint of Guinness. Actually, his partner teaches English at a language school and when the students come in it is almost like being back there with three young ladies from Japan and Korea at the table and a mixture of people from other countries all around.
I should have written this on the airplane and tried to get the article in on time for the new deadline (15th of the month) but the movies were better than expected and I just wasn't too inspired after the bus, ferry, bus ride from Dublin to London. Another excuse is that I had hoped to type not 'write' but in the bar I ended up using pen and paper. It is a bit strange - I really miss the backspace key as well as cut'n paste! But I have yet to buy a notebook so...
No notebook means using friend's computers when possible or internet cafes when it isn't. I didn't see the prices in Denmark but after paying ¥500 in Japan (T-Zone in Akihabara) for one hour I was surprised to see it was more expensive in Ireland (¥900 to ¥1000) and even more in Toronto (¥1,400). Admittedly I only found one place so far in Canada but was rescued by the local library. The access there is limited to 30 minutes at a time for a maximum of 60 minutes per day - even when the computer is not in use!
The most interesting combination I've seen yet was Australia where the library didn't limit you're time but charged ¥500 per hour. In the meantime Japan wonders how it can catch up with the world in the technology race but has no computers available in its libraries (not in my old local ones anyway).
No notebook also means that every time I look at the newsgroups on the the TPC site (www.tokyopc.org for those who forgot) I get all the messages available instead of having the ones I've read filtered out. A minor distraction but... another point is that I don't get the clubbiz newsgroup without making changes to the machine I use so I usually skip it. I will have to go back to using the mailing list (once I get my account cleaned up a bit).
Another drawback to using a public computer is when you find one that has been set up with security in mind: no DOS Shell; no access to the HD through Explorer and; no "Run..." in the Start menu. Very well done I must admit except that I wanted to use some of these alternatives! Oh well, better than having someone come in and wiping out their computer.
I did get into some of the newsgroups on the TPC site and I was impressed to see how the site itself is undergoing some changes - good job guys! Congratulations to Ken and the new VP Mike. Hope that Mike will do as VP as Ken did though that will be a tall order and I wish him luck!!
Other topics caught my attention but I can't access them now to refresh my memory. I was unable to add my comments to what I read because the e-mail facility that should have let me send answers was not set up properly. But I will try to get on there more often and make comments once I get a notebook or...
IBM's New Portable coming out in 1999!
If you haven't heard or seen pictures (on the web or in the Japan Times a month or more ago) the computer fits into your pocket and the screen is like half a pair of see-through wrap-around glasses. Interesting look and I think the input is via voice though there may have been other alternatives available. Of course none of this will hit the market until next year and I do not want to wait that long but for those crowded train rides when you want to catch up reading e-mail this could be good. How many people would have predicted people walking around wearing earphones and even headphones for their walkmans?
If the eye-piece/screen does not look too strange it would also be useful for when I am travelling. Somteimes I have felt strange pulling out my Zaurus so the idea of using a notebook that is worth more than all my other gear (including passport) might give the wrong person an idea about financing their own travels. <g>
Mailstart vs Hotmail's Popmail
I mentioned before how useful www.mailstart.com was for accessing your ordinary account (at GOL for me for example) without having to make major changes to the computer you are temporarily working on. I am beginning to get tired of the slowness of the program and the fact that you can only delete one message at a time from the list and then wait for the page to be regenerated.
I had noticed that Hotmail had a similar Popmail access function and tried it out yesterday when Mailstart wouldn't run on the library's computer. I was very happy to see that Hotmail would list up the messages from my GOL account just like the usual messages. This allowed me to select 20 messages and delete them all at once. (I can't get off a rather interesting but busy mailing list so I try to dump quickly what looks boring - 70% - before the GOL account overloads. What is interesting is that when I unsubscribed I was told I was not on the list therefore they could not unsubscribe me - and this message came along with 15 others!).
Now for the bad news: out of over 400 messages in my GOL account (including a couple saying "your account is getting full" <g>) Hotmail only listed up about 40 of them. Despite having gone through all of those and deleted most it will not list up any more messages. Next time on the computer I will have to sort this out because I am sure there are newer messages awaiting me. In fact today when I got Mailstart working I could check newer messages but I was back to the slowness of this utility so I'll do more at another time. Probably when I get to my brother's place and can stay on for hours at a time for no cost. This is one thing I do appreciate back in Canada local phone calls are included in the monthly fee as opposed to Japan where you pay by the minute.
One interesting thread running on that list that I can't get off is about a fellow who had a chip inserted in his arm: doors open and close as he comes and goes; lights go on and off as he approaches and leaves and; any computer he logs onto recognizes him immediately. (I haven't read the article in a few days so I think that all of that is true but if I exaggerate I apologize.)
This guy may sound like the ultimate computer nerd but in fact he performed this 10 day experiment not only to see how it would work but also to bring awareness to the Big Brother aspect of the idea. While it could be very handy for handicapped people or those who don't want to open doors (or can't remember to turn off lights) it does also bring up the idea of someone tracking your every move.
There was mention in the thread by the way that this was not actually the first time it had been done but the press paid more attention to this fellow so he is more famous. Either way it will be interesting to see how this develops in the very near future.
Revenge via the net
This has to the be the strangest bit of e-junk-mail I've received yet. This fellow asks you to send the particulars of anyone who has really annoyed you and they will get revenge by sending a box of... well, you can guess I think. It's the kind of stuff that in Japan you see people walking around with plastic baggies and scooping up while walking their dogs. Anyway, they will send this to your victim. I have not looked at the site yet but it just shows that there are a lot of very different ideas out there for how to use the 'net!
Enough strange stuff. A few more days in Toronto then I am off to North Bay to visit my brother before I take the Greyhound across Canada. I have allowed between 7 and 37 days to get from Toronto to my folks on Vancouver Island and how long it takes will depend upon how many old friends I dig up. I didn't have much luck finding them via the internet (even though some are in computer field) but I have had some luck with the old fashioned method of using the phonebook and asking their parents. <g>
Until next time from another part of Canada,
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