FTLComm - Tisdale - June 21, 2000
About a month ago at the time of Ensign's second anniversary Stu Innes suggested that we have a regular column on computer developments. It is a good idea and this morning is a good time to follow up on Stu's suggestion and point out some of the things that perhaps pointing the way to the sort of thing that we can expect as this means of doing, informing and entertaining progresses.
But before we take a look at the positive side of this I want to direct your attention away from some notable shortcomings of the system we are coming to rely on so heavily. The kind of things we do and can do with our Internet connection is completely dependent upon the reliability of the network and the speed at which data is transferred. Last week the system our server is connected to in Winnipeg was experiencing a number of security problems and in order to sort out the hacker problem they undertook some serious modifications that crippled Ensign for almost three days as we could upload but the system was preventing downloads, which meant that information was not flowing form the server. On Monday of this week SaskTel's authentication server caved in just after eight in the morning and it was mid afternoon before most people in Saskatchewan could use the Internet.

The remarkable British ANOVA project is perhaps the biggest let down because it needs some speed and I found that there were two formidable problems with the project. The first and most frustrating problem was "Real Audio" this streaming technology has been around for a long time and is constantly improving, the CBC and other broadcast outlets use this technology as does ANOVA but it is a massive pain in the neck to sort out the web site to download and just as miserable to install and see it work properly. I simply do not recommend it at this time especially if you have a slow connection. If you want to experience that sort of frustration there are far more productive things to do with your time, like go fishing.

I thought it important to let you know about my reservation first because before we start considering further embracing of this technology it is only fair to understand the limitations.

There is the serious problem of dial up speed. If you live only a mile or so away from the nearest SaskTel switch gear you already know that your connection speed is more then likely never better then 28K which means that a vast amount of the images, sound and animation's simply are beyond wait endurance. SaskTel is the only show available to us at this time in Rural Saskatchewan and there are rumors of it and Bell cooperating to provide wireless high speed connections but SaskTel's inscrutable system of secrecy makes this all sound suspicious. IMAGE TV on the hand is quite open about its plans to expand its high speed connections from Yorkton to much of the province using its towers but these are limited to a thirty mile distance from the towers themselves. Don't hold your breath!
New Uses for the Web

A Novel

This morning I received e-mail from an author Nero Fresco, who has just written a Western Canadian novel Higashi West (East Nishi) and instead of going to the conventional publishing world he has put the book on line.


This is by no means the first time a writer has done this but it is a growing trend and radically alters the world of literature. This novel can be read on line or you can follow Mr. Fresco's instructions on the site and print it off to read on paper.

Search Agent

Stu Innes brought this to my attention and I was delighted to discover that it works on both Macintosh and PC machines equally well. Those people using Mac OS 8.5 and higher have been enjoying the delights of Sherlock for some time but for everyone else this does much the same thing. Copernic searches the search engines and keeps much of the structure of the search right on your own machine. Like Stu, I really like it and think that no PC or Mac should be without it unless the Mac is equipped with Sherlock.

To install Copernic click on one of the images here on this page and that will take you to the Copernic site where you can download the application to your machine. This is a big application so it takes a while but the efficiency you will experience by having a search engine that works so well is definitely worth it and relieves so many of the problems associated with using a specific search engine.

Many people rely on "Yahoo", this is not a good idea, "Yahoo" because of its size is the most difficult search engine to get a listing on and for that reason so many great sites will never ever be found using Yahoo.


Book Keeping

Mario deSantis brought this amazing site to my attention yesterday and I have to admit that I was stunned by the idea. This web site allows you to do your book keeping with this online software and you can ever export your Quicken or QuickBooks accounts to it. The basic part of the project is free to the user and the more advanced operations are billed at a very modest fee that would be far less then we would spend for owned software.

This trend of placing applications on line has been hinted at for some time and many developers have been shifting their work from applications made for desktop computers to applications made to work over the web. Andrew and I did our first one of these four years ago and abandoned the concept because the public just wasn't ready for it at that time. But the time has come and you can expect to see a vast array of popular software appearing on line in the very near future. All of these concepts rely upon the idea that most users will have a continuos online connection.

Telephone On the Web

This is not a new concept but this one works. This is a Windows application only recommended by Stu Innes and for those of you folks who use Macintoshes you will have to look around for other software because this one will not work on a Mac.

The idea with this software is to use the Internet to make telephone calls around the world without the cost of long distance charges. A cool concept and if you are a PC user well worth checking out.


Using computer technology to transform and handle music and sound is basic to the industry as we had sound on Apple //e systems, Amiga, and Macintosh more then fifteen years ago. But the process is continually becoming more prolific and GoldWave is one of those things that will let PC Windows users join in the fun. Stu passed this one on to me and there is no Mac version however there are many outstanding music processors for the Mac and if you need one just go to Version Tracker and pick one out.

In the mean time we should discuss the ethics of music and what is being done with it on the web. You have no doubt heard of MP3 sound formats that permit you to grab almost any music you want freely off the web. The recording companies are howling over this but you will notice that music performers are not. Many entertainers like Allanis Morrisette have been publishing their music on the web for more then a year and doing just fine. Here is why entertainers are not upset?

When you buy a CD from a music store it is doubtful if any money from that sale will ever reach the guy or gal who made the music or wrote it. The only entertainers that get money for the sale of records are the superstars the rest get paid for the work by the recording company and only if the product is a stupendous hit will there ever be any sales royalties. The $15 for the CD will see about $7 go to the store, it costs about $1.50 for the making of the product and the remaining $6.50 goes to the record company.

The only thing stolen when you obtain music off the web is money from the retailer and recording company. For the artist your interest in them and listening to their music will encourage you to perhaps go to one of their concerts and then they will make a dollar or two from you but otherwise being heard is the artist's reward.

Its a Jungle Out There
The world wide web is still a jungle with so many folks thinking that they will make a killing with "e-commerce" and perhaps some will, but there is also a growing positive load of valuable content developing on the web with libraries, writers and information providers of all kinds making their material available. Ensign is an example of the kind of direction that is happening more increasingly on the web as news gathering operations shift toward the web and you can benefit from this availability.

The use of the Internet as a purveyor of pornography is not likely to change but over the years I have noticed that this realm continues to be something people go into and just as quickly go broke at. Certainly as a parent you must be concerned about it, but in general, it seems to be no more or no less a part of the web then that section of the magazine rack is at the 7-11, everything seems to hit its level and the Web is representative of the population.

Yesterday we upgraded out old web site which began its life at Christmas in 1993 and has undergone a number of changes since then. I have taken and set out some of the services provided by FTLComm on the site so if you get a minute go check it out.

Timothy W. Shire