PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 1 No. 3

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

November 2, 1998

Happy Election Day!

I have a day job, so I need to make it clear to anyone who comes here that the opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer, my family, or your great-aunt Mathilda. Offer not valid in Wisconsin. You must enter to win.

All right. For the cute and finicky, this is a Table of Contents (see Letters)

Computer Industry News

Web Site of the Week

  • Gamepower

General News

  • John Glenn's ride, Bill Clinton's ride, Firesign Theater



  • John Taylor, Malcolm Maclachlan, Harrison Klein, Joe Brancatelli

Hello and welcome back. Things got a little long last week, what with all the news and the heady experience of making two personally imposed deadlines in a row. I promise to remember this week that brevity is the sole of wit. If I find myself getting long, I'll put it in a digression. That's the wonder of Hypertext. 

Speaking of digressions, because of the importance I attach to them and their proper display, I spent several hours last week and several more hours this week playing around with HTML and JavaScript. The goal: to insure that digressions (as well as referrals to other web pages) 'appear in a separate window on top of this window. I know this JavaScript works with Netscape 3.0 and Internet Explorer 4.0. If it doesn't work with your browser, let me know. Digress Here.

Computer Industry News

Microsoft Antitrust: How many times do I have to say this?

First, this aphorism, from a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous: "If Microsoft were competing fairly, surely its software wouldn't be this bad." Amen.

Early in the week, while he was still conducting his amazingly drawn out cross-examination of Netscape's James Barksdale, Microsoft lead litigator John Worden said he believed the government was applying a double standard on the subject of dividing markets, with one standard applied to Microsoft and one to Netscape.

Duh! I don't know how many times I have to repeat myself here, but that is exactly the point. Microsoft is a monopolist with market power. Actions which are perfectly legal for a non-monopoly (say, Netscape), are illegal when you have a monopoly.

What saddens me is that John is a well educated attorney who knows this fact, but chooses to twist it around in the black is white/white is black world of trial advocacy. I just hope that, having proven black is white, Worden is not run over the next time he's in a crosswalk (apologies to Douglas Adams).

Mac vs. PC: The struggle continues

Dr. Bob Kaplan, a band buddy of mine, sent me a copy of a column by author Douglas Rushkoff. Two years ago, he wrote a column about leaving the Mac for a Windows PC. Last month, he came back to the Mac and wrote another column about that transition. nettiquette requires me to point you to his column, but here are some excerpts. I am sure the Mac people will be handing this one around for a long time. He posted a couple of different versions around the net, but here's some quotes to give you a flavor of the piece:

Now, two years and three Windows operating systems later, I am finally admitting defeat...
In short, my two years in Windows has fundamentally altered my experience of the computer and of the Internet...
Microsoft is more concerned with fighting wars against its competitors than providing a workable system for its own constituency...

Why I've Gone Back to Mac, Douglas Rushkoff, Electronic Mail and Guardian

For the curious, here's the column he wrote when he left the Macintosh platform

Turning My Back on Mac, Douglas Rushkoff, NY Times Syndicate

Web Site of the Week


If you're the least bit interested in gaming, this is a terrific site. The two motivating powers behind it, Paul Hyman and Eddie Frager, are terrific people with a lot of vision. Paul was employee no. 1 at CMP Media, which runs GamePower. Eddie is a close personal friend of the game guru, a terrific reviewer, and a human being with attitude to spare. Plus, he actually plays games. I used to appear on this site myself, now and then. I don't anymore, and yet it is still a good site! How strange...

General News

I'm plumb out of passion this week, but I think I'd like to say just a few words on a few subjects?

  • What is it about John Glenn's John Glenn's flight on the shuttle that is putting a burr into some people's britches? Of course it is all about publicity. The American people won't support NASA unless they are cajoled into it. Kennedy succeeded with the Man on the Moon challenge. Reagan failed with the International Space Station Challenge. Clinton, merely an observer, may luck out once again if this burst of well-earned publicity gets the space station and Mars mission back on track. We need to be in space. It is a scandal that we last went to the moon in 1972 and haven't been back. What if the Spaniards had only visited California a half-dozen times, then never returned?
  • I hate to be an I-Told-You-So, but notice that Bill Clinton's impeachment dropped out of site as soon as the house finished its disgraceful vote to railroad the president in a kangaroo court--I'm sorry, I mean investigate him in the judiciary committee. You heard it here last: Tuesday's election is a referendum on bill Clinton's
  • Last time, I just knew the FiresignTheater had a new CD. I have since obtained my copy of it. Admittedly, it wasn't handed to me by a member of the troupe, which is how Reid Ashe got his copy. Mine just came by UPS from CDNOW. Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death is hysterical. I hope it marks the comeback for the boys that the didn't get with their funny Three Faces of Al. They're all in great form, the writing is top notch (I nearly wet my pants during the Onan Winkydink sketch--anyone seen a copy of the international best-selling self-help book Sex with My Hat?) the performances are excellent, and we even get to hear Ralph Spoilsport again. Run, don't walk, to your website or record store and get this CD! 


I get loads of Internet humor every week. I've decided to share the best of it with you.

Here's a bunch of one-line aphorisms (along the lines of why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway).

You may remember last week in the Web Site of the Week, I picked the Top 5 List, mentioned that I was a contributor, and mentioned that the second-best thing to making the hall of fame was pulling a hat trick, when all three of your contributions are accepted. Imagine my joy and surprise; I got a hat trick shortly after writing that.

Another fine old Internet tradition is cute executable files. This one is for adult males only. It is 320kb, so if you're on a slow speed link, consider not downloading it. Save it to your hard disk, run it, and don't complain to me.


 Many of you may remember getting this note from me:

I don't know if sending this makes it better or worse, but I am hearing that everyone got two copies of my promotional note this morning. I am sorry. I am taking steps to see it doesn't happen again!


My friend John Taylor of Taylor Electric Co. in Wisconsin wrote back. His letter began:

I I don't don't know know what what you you are are referring referring to.

You can see how far John went with this here. He also reminded me that TOC can mean Technical Operations Center as well as Table of Contents. That John. I must mention here he is one of the funniest people I know. Great sense of humor. He is living proof that you can be a brilliant mathematician and programmer and still have a sense of humor.

My friend and colleague Malcolm Maclachlan wrote to suggest:

Suggestion for a title for your column
Schindler's Twist
(as in twist on things)

Thanks for the suggestion Malcolm, but the name of this column is historic! It goes back to 1970 (well before you were born, I believe). So, barring a copyright tiff...

Thanks to Harrison Klein, who wrote again this week, pointing out one of the many delightful side effects of using Microsoft Word as your web authoring tool, the regular blasting of URLs by the editing tool!

I won't complain about the two copies (what caused them, exactly?), but I will point out that your picture in the upper left corner of the page is hyperlinked to

file:///C:/Program Files/Microsoft Office/Templates/Web Pages/Web Page Wizard.wiz

which I suspect is not what you want. Better than an actual link to a porno site, I guess!

To answer Harrison's question, the dual notifications of the column last week resulted from misbehvior of yet another Microsoft product (a theme this week!), I was sending the notice when I noted an error in the distribution list. I hit cancel. Microsoft's Outlook Express software told me the message hadn't gone. The software lied (can software lie?) Wouldn't the software be better if Microsoft wasn't a monopoly?

Joe Brancatelli writes to tell me that Cold Spring isn't in upstate New York (OK, it's in the Hudson Valley, but it sure seemed upstate to me. Isn't everything north of the Bronx upstate?). He also wrote to tell me I don't get the last word on impeachment, and that he had a few things to say about the Microsoft case as well. You can see his letter here.

He's right. I won't take the last-word privilege for now. But I reserve the remainder of my time.

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