Talk Show

Setting: A small television studio at a local cable station everyone speeds by when channel surfing. Four men and a woman sit behind a curved desk facing the camera.

Nicotene: Good evening and welcome to Virtual Megahertz Highway On Your Fingertips, the show where we talk about computers with the voices of experts. This is your host, Dick Nicotene, and for tonight I’ve assembled a panel of industry gurus, sages, evangelists, and layabouts to discuss the future of the personal computer.

With us in the studio tonight is self-proclaimed Unix authority and author of the book Unix for Zombies, Carlos Castrati. Good evening, Carlos.

Castrati: Good evening, Dick. Would you mind if I opened up my Sun portable and did a little work while we talk? I’m writing a routine that will allow me to read my email.

Nicotene: Go right ahead, Carlos. I understand the problem–my secretary assures me that I get plenty of email myself.

Next to Carlos is Mack D. Nief, editor of the prestigious Macintosh newsletter, Still Hanging On. Good evening, Mack.

Nief: Dick, I couldn’t help noticing that I’m the only Mac user on the panel. I didn’t realize that Microsoft has approval over the content of this show.

Nicotene: We’re glad you’re here, too. On the other side of me is Winona Booter, whose first book, Windows 97 or Whatever They Will Call It Made Easy, will be published this summer by Silverfish Press. Winona…

Booter: Excuse me, Dick, but the book won’t be coming out until fall. It seems I lost most of it last week when Windows crashed.

Nicotene: I’m sorry; I hope no one was hurt. Finally, we have Moe Kaw, whose company, Sanka Solutions, is now creating Java applications for AT&T, General Electric, the Democratic and Republican parties, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Mafia. Moe, do you think…

Kaw: Absolutely. Java is the only true open-platform standard for going beyond HTML, and is the unquestioned future of all personal computing. Dick, one day you’ll be using a Java-based word processor.

Nicotene: Wow! One day I’ll be using a word processor?

Kaw: Well, maybe I overstated a bit.

Booter: You also left out ActiveX, which is the real future of computing since it’s an open standard created by Microsoft for the entire industry. With Internet Explorer coming close to twenty percent of the market, there’s no way Java can…

Kaw: Of course it can. Look, Netscape’s Java is incompatible with Sun’s Java, which is incompatible with IBM’s Java, which is incompatible with Microsoft’s Java. Now that’s what I call an open standard.

Nicotene: This sounds like a very interesting discussion, but it’s probably beyond our viewers’ attention spans. Mack, what do you think the future holds for Apple?

Nief: There you go again, predicting Apple’s immediate demise! Face the truth, Dick. Apple’s going to be around for a long time. You know, people once doubted the survival of Ashton-Tate, WordPerfect, and Lotus.

Nicotene: Fair enough. What kinds of systems do you see Apple making in the coming years?

Nief: System 8, System 9, and System 10, which may be named System 95 for greater appeal. By that time, the Mac will have full multitasking, which they will do better than everyone else because they were first.

Nicotene: There are a lot of new technologies on the way. What do you people think about VD?

Booter: I beg your pardon?

Nicotene: VD–Vital Disc…or…hey, Charlie! Hold up that cue card. Oh, DVD. Will Digital Volatile Disks have any effect on the industry? Carlos?

Castrati: Hm? What? Did you ask me a question?

Nicotene: I guess not. Winona, what are your thoughts on DVD?

Booter: DVD’s most promising future is in a home entertainment, where it’s sure to replace VHS as soon as consumers accept its limitations. It won’t become a standard in PCs, however, until it becomes transparent to the user, which will require everyone to read my book.

Nicotene: Fascinating. So DVD will allow users to read your book? Mack, what are Apple’s plans for DVD?

Nief: DVD is clearly the killer app that will wipe out the Wintel cartel and leave the Macintosh as the only standard left.

Kaw: The real issue with DVDs isn’t Apple vs. Microsoft, but Java support. Once Sanka’s technology for controlling DVDs through Java becomes the standard, there won’t be any Apple or Microsoft. The sky will be the limit, allowing people to put movies, encyclopedias, even games on DVDs.

Nicotene: Let’s turn for the moment to client/server and the Intranet. Can these two…

Castrati: Wait a minute! I’ve got it! I can read my email!

Nicotene: Well, Carlos, we’re all very happy for you, but I was asking…

Castrati: Oh, wow. There’s a message from my secretary. I’m supposed to be at a television taping right now! Sorry, folks. I got to go.

Nicotene: And so do we. This is Dick Nicotene reminding you that if computers were as easy to use as cars, there’d be thousands of fatalities every year on the information superhighway. Good connection and good night.

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