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From the Editor 
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from the summit 


Everything is Vaporware that's Not Fully Available Today 

We also had dreams of the day when it would all finally level off, when these people would stop all that terrible Research & Development, close those awful labs, so we could all catch our breath for a while. 




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Really, now - who could accurately plan farther than five years out in these times?  

How can we imagine what form the computing world will be in by then, with yet more quantum leaps in processing and other new powers just around the corner? 



The idea of our computer news digest was nixed before it ever mailed, by the managers of the backer's chain of computer stores. Turns out they really didn't want the people to hear about everything that was available, or what some stuck-up reviewer thought was the best product for the money - unless they happened to carry it. This could mean a lot of one-off's, with all the paperwork and contacts for a single order at a small profit.  

They wanted the customer focused on the stuff already on their shelves. 

In a more narrowly defined way, they were thinking the same way he was - focus on what's available.  

So, be an educated consumer, and put your main forces squarely behind what's proven and working today. 


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With DIGITAL, you can rely on just one company for service and support of your multivendor systems, with the expertise, partners, and resources to keep it all working together.  

Scouting the Techno-Frontier,  
Chopping Wood back at the Camp 

Back in the booming technology days of the 80's, so very long ago, we worked on a project that was to be a kind of Reader's Digest for computerists. The brainchild of the owner of a string of computer stores in Florida, the idea was to print a bi-weekly summary of all the articles and reviews related to personal computers. 

We summarized the flood by reading through every single article in every one of the major PC-related monthlies and weeklies, Datamation, PC Magazine, PC Week, PC World, InfoWorld, ComputerWorld, Macworld,* and more. It was a mad, mad world for a while, there, with nights of dreams with column inches endlessly unrolling, loudly demanding to be read.  

The entrepreneur behind this, a fellow named Dick Evans, had one telling insight in particular on how to pare down what was, even then, an overwhelming flood of information. This was to only report on shipping products - no announcements. You might recall that the term "vaporware" was coined during this era. 

That term referred to products that may or may not ever actually become available (although they still all managed to claim that they "revolutionized the industry!"). But even a product that will be delivered as promised, with most of the bells and whistles, and more or less debugged - in six months (a few months after the announced ship date), can't process any orders or communications for you today.  

Put another way - for all practical purposes, everything is vaporware that's not fully available today.
The word 'fully' is key here - it stands for shipping in volume, fully debugged (as much as complex software and systems can ever really be), fully supported by installation, training, repair, networking standards, and so on.  

Fully supported by general industry recognition and acceptance, too, while we're at it; which leads to wide availability of the support described above. Field proven - only those products that catch on and build a base of supporters for themselves will still be around a few years down the road, and thus worth all the effort. 

And, while we're at it - backed up by a company that will still be fully in business, cranking out reliable solutions, during those few years down the road.  

It goes without saying ( - well, it almost did - ) that a company needs to put some resources into staying current with developments likely to become significant in the next six months, year, two years, and five. It's just an investment you've got to make if you want to play in the professional leagues. 

Those nasty old 'paradigm shifts' keep coming, dictating new standards, like the way computer superstores soon inclined that small-store owner to move into corporate sales and close retail storefronts. Long range investments always require peering far ahead, which always involves a lot of educated guesses. Still, there's no way around the need to get that education - so you learn how to guess convincingly.  

Your 'new technology' people should be like a guerilla outfit, a small advance scouting squad that sends reports back to the camp. But almost everybody else has to be back at the camp, cooking the food and chopping the wood that'll keep them warm for the night.  
The Line-up  
Having said all that, Speaking Internet is about a technology just being released for public testing, DIGITAL's Millicent system for micro-commerce, as we discussed here last week. 

Solution Works, meanwhile, tells the story of a Web graphic and design shop, out in the cornfields of southern Indiana, U.S.A. Animation House does computer graphic sequences for Hollywood, and contributes to our Web site. The President said they were in business doing, making do; "then we got Alpha workstations, and we started making money." (Fast machines are not about prestige.) 

NeWWWs has the story of the new filtering capability of AltaVista Search, with Net Shepherd, Inc., allowing parents to limit what their kids can fetch out of the deep, dark pools of the Internet. 

As always, the Visionary Club is going deep with free trials and great offers, and the Digital News Network keeps you up-to-date in a networked world.  

(And keep an eye out for some fun and informative new features, coming soon to this screen.)
Keep Connected, 
Bill Ross 

E-mail the Editor 
As we go on, we'll be publishing a selection of the letters we receive.  

(* - No, they don't capitalize their middle initial; must be the only ones in the world) 

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