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|Vol. 15 No. 6||Supporting PC Platforms||Newsletter:..Nov-Dec 1999|
|Microsoft IS a Monopoly!
By Bob Wallace
Some 20 months ago we posed the question of whether Microsoft was or
wasn't a monopoly shortly after the U.S. District Court took on the government's
case against the software maker located in Redmond,
How are the legal questions being tackled by Judge Jackson? The law states that any company with more than 70 percent of a market is generally regarded as having monopoly power. A finding of Microsoft having a monopoly does not mean it violated antitrust laws necessarily. The company could have gotten to this position with nothing more than good business judgements and some degree of luck. It's how their position as a monopoly power is being used against potential competitors that has the U.S. Justice Department looking into their activities, along with Attorneys General of 19 states.
Judge Jackson ruled that "Microsoft enjoys so much power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems that if it wished to exercise this power solely in terms of price, it could charge a price for Windows substantially above that which could be charged in a competitive market." In fact, the government's argument against them is that Microsoft has a "durable monopoly" in the market for personal computer operating systems as "more than 90 percent of new Intel-based PC's are shipped with a version of Windows pre-installed."
(By way of reminder, recall that the test used by government antitrust lawyers was to measure only Intel-based computers running a version of Windows on it, and only in home-based computers, not including systems used in offices around the nation. This left out competing processors such as the Motorola, AMD and Cyrix chips, and MacOS, FreeBSD, BeOS, Linux and OS/2 operating systems. Also as a reminder, at least one news story noted over last weekend suggested that including Apple Computer in the mix of computers would still give Microsoft an 80 percent number in terms of numbers of computers running its Window OS, which is not to suggest that Apple computers run Microsoft's Windows OS.)
Attempted collusion is another test of monopoly power. Proving attempted collusion can require evidence that is "uniquely unequivocal," according to a 1984 federal appeals court ruling. In that case, the government had a tape recording of one executive trying to persuade an executive of another company to set prices in the airline industry. The government's lawyers argue that at a meeting on June 21, 1995, Microsoft met with Netscape to make an illegal offer to divide the market for Internet browsing software. While Microsoft alleges that the meeting was a routine gathering in the software industry that has been totally misrepresented by the government, Judge Jackson ruled that "Although the discussions ended before Microsoft was compelled to demarcate precisely where the boundary between its platform and Netscape's applications would lie, it is unclear whether Netscape's acceptance of Microsoft's proposal would have left the firm with even the ability to survive as an independent business.
On the linking of two distinct products, the legal precedents are mixed. Courts have ruled that a good that is produced, marketed and bought on its own should be considered a separate product. But in June 1998, in a case related to the larger antitrust case again Microsoft, a federal appeals court ruled that Microsoft should be free to blend its browser into Windows as long as it can make a "plausible claim" of business efficiency or consumer benefit from doing so. Government lawyers made the claim that Microsoft bundled a separate product - its Internet browser - to its monopoly product, the Windows operating system, to try to stifle competition. Microsoft, on the other hand, decided that browsing software was not a separate product, but should be a feature of its operating system. Over the years, Microsoft has continually added new features to the Windows operating system, a business strategy that has helped consumers by making computers easier to use.
Judge Jackson's findings of fact go against Microsoft. "The preferences of consumers and the responsive behavior of software firms demonstrate that Web browsers and operating systems are separate products." (Three cheers for this ruling, as it would seem to preclude Microsoft and others from trying any application to its operating system as a means of pushing others out of the market.)
Exclusionary contracts? The precedents provide somewhat mixed signals. Some decisions suggest that contracts that exclude rivals from 30 or 40 percent of a market are illegal. But in the Aspen Skiing case in 1985, the Supreme Court endorsed a stricter standard if a company has a powerful monopoly position, ruling that a contract is illegal if it "unnecessarily excludes or handicaps competitors." Antitrust lawyers aruged that Microsoft illegally used its market power to prod personal computer makers like Compaq and Internet service providers like America Online into exclusionary agreements that prohibited them from distributing or promoting Netscape's browser.
Microsoft's reponse here was that none of their agreements prevented Netscape from distributing millions of copies of the Netscape browser using several avenues of distribution, including direct downloading by consumers over the Internet. Judge Jackson saw this quite differently, too, ruling that "The company's dealings with Compaq in 1996 and 1997 demonstrate that Microsoft was willing to exchange valuable consideration for an OEM's commitment to curtail its distribution and promotion of [Netscape's] Navigator."
In essence, Judge Jackson accepted the government case while rejecting those arguments against submitted by Microsoft. Reading through front page stories in several newspapers on Saturday, November 6, the general consensus seems to be that Judge Jackson is pushing both parties in the direction of coming up with their own resolution of this case, bring that back to his court for review or rejection, with the judge then making his own determination of how best to resolve the conflict between the two parties. Among his options, financial penalties of some magnitude, or separating the applications side of Microsoft from the operating system department. Judge Jackson can follow his own path here, or accept some part of arguments from one or both sides in subsequent sessions in court.
Needless to say, this case will be watched with what may approach irrational exuberance by many computer industry members and those of us using their products at home or in the office. For the moment, California Attorney General William Lockyer has suggested that Silicon Valley is "cautiously cheering" the findings released last Friday evening. California is one of 19 states joining the federal case against Microsoft.
[Some of the details provided here come from one or another newspaper read on Saturday, November 6: San Francisco newspapers, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times.
To view Judge Jackson's "Findings of Fact" in its entirety, log on to your local Internet Service Provider (ISP) and go to the usvms.gpo.gov web site. -Ed.]
By Marsha Brandsdorfer
Reading "How the Web Was Won" by Paul Andrews was an informative
When I was living in Los Angeles several years ago, I remember at a computer show in Glendale, dealers were talking about the excitement of the soon-to-be-released Windows 95 from Microsoft. What was to be exciting about this operating system was that one of the features would enable and encourage people to get on the Internet very easily by using Microsoft's companion browser, Internet Explorer.
"How the Web Was Won" tells the story of Microsoft's discovery of how the Internet could be profitable and the development of Windows 95 and Internet Explorer. Andrews tells this Microsoft story in chronological order, and it is interesting and detailed.
Today Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world because of his profitable business decisions, but in hindsight, we know that foreseeing the future is something that is not easy nor predictable. Andrews uses the analogy of the Wild West. He writes: "No one knew, looking at a map of the Wild West way back when, that there was gold in the hills. The pioneers went out on faith that they could build something that would take care of them all." (page 114). Therefore, it was originally quite difficult to foresee how the Internet could profit Microsoft economically.
Years ago, Bill Gates was extremely skeptical of the Internet. Now that he's written two books praising the Internet: "The Road Ahead" and "Business @ The Speed of Thought," it's hard to imagine that Gates was ever a skeptic. In fact, it was the idealistic employees that he had hired that showed him how important it was for his company to be involved with the Internet. In his book, Andrews names these employees, "Dramatis Personae," with descriptions, as he should have done for the technical terms as well.
"Somehow, ... Chicago had to take advantage of the Internet. Chicago was the code name for the next version of Windows (95), the upgrade that promised to revolutionize the way people used personal computers. Chicago would be easier to use, more intuitive, more user friendly. Yet it would also be more powerful, enabling users to operate several programs and perform several functions at the same time....Could Chicago make it easier to connect to the Net?...In 1993, a question easily unanswered." (page 4)
But, Gates knew that the Internet (Net) was still difficult for the average computer user, and he did not see how his software company could make money in this venue. "Nobody then, even those on the Internet, knew how powerful the network would become." (page 17) How could Gates get Windows to be compatible to the Internet? Why was it so important to be involved in this new feature? He was afraid, however, that "unless he and his company could make the leap to the next paradigm,...Microsoft would be tomorrow's WordStar. When the IBM PC had come out, WordStar was the No. 1 word processor...And where was WordStar today?" (pages 12 & 13) "Gates liked to tell people that the biggest secret of his success was running scared...He had to be constantly thinking of the next opportunity, the next paradigm shift, the next killer app. If he didn't, some kid out of college would." (page 26)
J. Allard was "Microsoft's first Internet idealist. Allard drove much of the 'plumbing' for merging Windows with the Internet and then led Microsoft's Web server efforts." (Dramatis Persona list) When Allard started working at Microsoft, the Internet was just about to be released to the computer community. Prior to that, the Internet [ARPANET] was limited mostly for the military, government agencies, and scientists. It was mostly text and most personal computers could not display any graphical images the Internet may have offered at that time.
"The first graphical browser (called 'viewer' back then) was still nearly two years away from creation." (page 35). Marc Andreeseen and Eric Bina would be the two young inventors that would develop a software program called Mosaic, which would become the first Internet viewer. "(When finally the) National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana released its graphical Web browser, Mosaic, for UNIX, Macintosh, and Windows platforms...it not only confirmed Allard's expectations of where the Internet was headed, it provided a far clearer and easier way to demonstrate the potential he saw for (Microsoft) and its operating system...Simply put, WinMosaic's breakthrough was to make the Internet as easy to use as Windows or the Macintosh. Instead of having to type long, arcane commands like 'telnet 220.127.116.11' to get to a certain site, you could enter a more friendly URL like www.microsoft.com....The file was displayed in front of you. Best of all, there were pictures and page layouts with Mosaic, using different fonts and styles in the manner of a magazine layout." (pages 74 and 75)
Andrews mentions that Allard realized that even though Microsoft could not take credit for the concept of a viewer/browser, that it did represent the potential "for putting the Internet into the hands of the masses." (page 75) This is because it "integrated the separate elements of the Net into a friendlier user environment." (page 80) Gates realized that the Net still had its limitations. He did think the Internet provided great communications tools, such as e-mail, chat, news. However, he still needed to know how he could make the Net a commercial medium and get the general public involved and interested. "The issue of how (Microsoft could make) money still overlaid Gates's thinking on the Internet...And Microsoft needed to ensure that it got credit and recognition for its contributions as a player on the Net...(and) economic opportunities would emerge." (page 110)
Gates felt one important feature was that the HTML language (HyperText
Ben Slivka, another "dramatis personae," built Microsoft's Internet Explorer (working title, O'Hare), which would become Microsoft's initial browser. It had many features that would make using the Internet easy for the average users. He developed "what would become a popular Internet Explorer feature: the ability to define and drag a URL to the desktop in order to create a shortcut to the chosen page. From then on a user could simply click on the screen icon and the page would display -- in fact, as it turned out, IE (Internet Explorer) would automatically log onto the Internet for the user, simplifying the process immeasurably." (page 176)
Internet Explorer had other features such as "bookmarks" which would keep track of visited sites. Internet Explorer's competition at the time of its development was NetScape, still a product of Mosaic Communications Corporation. At that time NetScape was not yet its own company and its browser was not yet the leading choice for Internet users. It had some good features and some that weren't that good, but it was better than the original Mosaic viewer. Internet Explorer became the choice Windows 95 browser.
Microsoft has since put on other versions of Internet Explorer that have improved and are faster, with better, more advanced features. With more people wanting to get on the Internet, also more PCs were purchased. Also, more PCs purchased meant more people purchasing Windows 95, since Windows 95 was installed on the new computers. More Windows 95 meant more computers having access to Internet Explorer. "Microsoft surpassed NetScape in the Web server arena, and then some." (page 326) A few years later, a lawsuit with the Justice Department was commenced over antitrust concerns. The concern was that by Microsoft "having its own icon (for its browser Internet Explorer) on the Windows 95 desktop, (it) was competing unfairly. No other online company could match the distribution might of Windows 95." (page 268)
Andrews writes that the "the lawsuit was confirmation of Microsoft's immense and unstoppable impact on the Internet." (Foreword) The lawsuit was pending at the time his book was published, so there is no conclusive information about it. Andrews infers instead, that despite the Justice Department's lawsuit which accused Microsoft of being a monopoly, the lawsuit shows us that Microsoft has accomplished its business goal of accommodating successfully the needs of the Internet community.
In conclusion, "How the Web Was Won" was mostly about the "browser war." Once Gates realized the importance of the future of the Internet, he successfully got involved. With the development of browsers, his employees improved upon it, developed their new browser, called it Internet Explorer, and it became part of Windows 95, which had been installed in almost every new IBM and IBM-compatible PC an individual or business was able to buy. If a new machine had access to Internet Explorer and it just took just some simple steps to use it, then the consumer will access it. It does not necessarily mean that Internet Explorer is better, but it's available, and easy to use. If you are interested in reading more details, you can purchase this hardcover book discounted on line, as I did, at barnesandnoble.com or at amazon.com or purchase a copy at your local bookstore.
by Bob Wallace
Getting out of the San Francisco Bay area several times each year usually means leaving one's computer at home. Such is no longer the case for us, as now we can take a portable laptop or notebook computer with us. Such has been the case since this past summer when we visited the Midwest for ten days, or a trip later in the year by my wife to Japan for a week. What we're talking about here is the Compaq LTE 5100 computer we found at Used Laptops (www.usedlaptops.com) following a search on ASK.COM (www.ask.com, also known as Ask Jeeves) using "used laptop computers" as the phrase to search for on the Internet. At the time of our query this past summer, we had a choice of a Toshiba portable or the Compaq. Given a slightly larger display on the Compaq, we opted for it over the Toshiba.
This is a portable computer in every sense of the word, despite its battery adding a substantial amount of weight to the system, as you might expect from a system needing its own power supply when on the road. The battery on its own is several pounds in its Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) makeup. The battery which came with the used system had no guarantee, and has been replaced with a newer battery just in time to help us work through the power outage scheduled by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) over this past Saturday for about 12 hours.
When first turning on the computer, one has the opportunity to use the F10 key to get into the Setup options. These include Initialization, Power-related options, Security (password, etc.), and basic system configuration with diskette drive or CD-ROM drive, serial port (via PCMCIA card), even an external monitor when using home power to get a larger display for ease of reading what you're doing. Perhaps the most critical setting for laptop or notebook computers is the power saver function, sometimes known as "sleep" mode when the user is away from the system for a pre-specified period of time. Shutting down parts of the system that use power in a relatively large dose helps save the battery for useful work, particularly when away from an electrical outlet. The power option shuts down the hard drive and monitor based on inactivity for several minutes, the time being different depending on whether the setting chosen is "High" or "Medium," or whether the computer is running on battery only, or is tied to the wall outlet.
Shortly after turning on this machine, whether going into the Setup or not, the computer beeps and starts into its Power On Self Test, or POST. Once through that step, it starts loading the operating system to make it useful for the user. In our case, this Compaq LTE 5100 came with a bare-bones installation of Windows 95, meaning the use of either NotePad or WordPad as a "word processor," loosely defined. Neither has a spell checker to utilize on any document you might create. Prior to my wife's trip to Japan this past August, she reminded me that she wanted to take the computer with her, but wanted a word processor and spelling checker to work with, which meant putting IBM's OS/2 Warp version 3 on this system, which includes IBMWorks as part of its Bonus Pak add-on. Once OS/2 Warp 3 was installed, we found it useful enough to not go back to Windows 95 when she returned from that one week trip.
Having a computer handy is one thing. Making it useful as a tool is quite another. This very compact system has its own internal 3.5-inch diskette drive, and a bay on the right side for two PCMCIA cards. One is the serial port with 33.6 modem included, the second could be the slot for adding on an external CD-ROM drive when electric power is close at hand. On the rear of the case, additional plug-ins are available, including one for the printer everyone ought to have one of, and for an external "docking" support similar to what was used by the Kaypro 2000 system a dozen years ago, with a large cable plug to connect the two devices with. The pointing device is built in on the keyboard, and can be gotten used to easily. The buttons usually placed atop the mouse are just below the keyboard and are equally easy to use.
One of the things we learned about this specific system came while on our way to the Midwest for ten days of vacation. On the flight from SFO to Chicago, we heard that the power cord and converter that keep the system up and running without the battery tend to go bad with virtually no warning. One good reason for having been on the Internet already to locate a supplier for that specific item. While on that site, a further check was made to see if they also had the external CD-ROM device available for this specific computer. They did, and likely still do, which means yet another purchase to get this system supplied with what it may need to continue being a useful machine for us.
One of the advantages to having IBM's OS/2 Warp version 3 running this system is that we can run some number of OS/2 programs, and still have theability to use some of the DOS programs that are still quite good. For the moment, one could also use Windows 3.x programs under OS/2 Warp 3 or 4, as each has the capability to run DOS or Windows 3.x programs under OS/2 Warp. It's the Windows 9x programs that will not run under OS/2 Warp without some serious tinkering to get them working correctly. Among other things, one needs a file named something like WIN32S.DLL to "translate" calls being made by Windows 95 programs so that they're understood by OS/2 Warp 3 or 4.
Among other things, OS/2 Warp provides for choosing which operating system one wants to start up with. Making the choice when booting or re-booting the system will work, so long as the second or third OS options will work with OS/2 Warp's system. Setting up the hard drive into more than one partition will help here, as was noted after installing the Western Digital 8.4 Gigabyte hard drive on the desktop computer recently, with OS/2 Warp's High Performance File System (HPFS) being installed on the first partition, the DOS File Allocation Table (FAT) being placed on the other three partitions. Having one partition available for almost any other operating system utilizing the FAT system for storing data should work for most users using more than one OS to run the computer with.
Bottom line? Now that we have a laptop/notebook computer, we'll
not be without one, ever! This past weekend already proved its
usefulness, in being able to do something while PG&E had our power
turned off for maintenance activities in our neighborhood. One improvement
would be to have a second battery always charged up so that more than
about two hours of work might be taken care of at one time. For whatever
reasons, this is one area where laptop/notebook systems could be improved
substantially. Getting only two hours or so of useful work from the battery
may be reasonable at the moment, but has to be improved in future systems.
By Judy Oliphant
You got questions? Hank Skawinski from DataWise has the answers. You thinking of upgrading? Should I upgrade to Win 98 or wait until Win 2000 comes out? Should I get that new program I found out about?
Sitting on the BART train going into San Francisco the other day I heard these two gentlemen talk about MP3 and MP4. I pretended to be reading my magazine but my ears were listening to them explain to each other about MP3 and MP4. Ah yes, I was ear dropping. Hey, wouldn't you?
Made the trip into San Francisco much more enjoyable, if only I could have gotten the man that was sleeping and snoring to move or at least roll the other way. Hard to hear the tech talk across the seats on BART when you're sitting by a man that snores so loud it sounded like a fog horn. To the man to the right of me, stop surfing the net so much and go to bed and get some real sleep. I wanted to really listen in some more. The two gentlemen were tech talking about music compression and MIDI files, and WAVE files, and what cool URL's they all found. I was the one with the questions, and they had the answers.
Thought about waiting until the BART train stopped at the Balboa Station to climb across the sleeping, snoring person to my right and say, excuse me, I have a question for you. Can you explain to me what you were talking about earlier? Sounds interesting. By the time I made it out to the Colma BART Station with the two techno men that they knew a lot about surfing the net, and midi files, and wave files and what was in what was out. I hope by having Hank Skawinski from DataWise that the next time I am on a BART Station and I see these two techno Men I can share some of my own techno savvy with them. After all, I too read PC Magazine and Microtimes.
Our November meeting will be Hank Skawinski, a club favorite, talking about everything you wanted to know about PC's and then some. Are you Y2K ready?? Can one safely delete the Internet temp file? And the question I have for Hank: why is it that MS Win95 gives me this "You have done an illegal operation" error when all I am in is Corel WordPerfect 9 and I am not surfing the net, have nothing else running at the time but WordPerfect 9. What is this!?
May I take this opportunity to wish all of you the best of the Holiday
Season. And a Happy Year 2000 to all! Looking forward to a brand new
year as a member of the SFPCC user group. May all your PC dreams come
true this Holiday Season. However you celebrate this Holiday Season,
I hope it brings you kindness and warmth, and lots of good memories. My
Holiday Wish is that I will not get that illegal operation error ever
Turning treasures into cash
By Judy Oliphant
eBay is the world's largest personal online trading community. eBay created a new market: effect one-to-one trading in an auction format on the World Wide Web.
Individuals like you and me use eBay to buy and sell items in more than 1,600 categories including collectibles, antiques, sports memorabilia, computers, toys. Hard to find Beanie Babies, dolls.
As a user to eBay can find unique and interesting items.. As the leading person to person trading site, buyers are compelled to trade online, shop online, due to the large variety of items that are up for sale.
Similarly, sellers attracted to eBay to conduct business where there are the most buyers. eBay provides over two million new auctions and 250,000 new items every day from which users may choose. eBay's mission is to help people trade practically anything and everything on earth.
eBay was founded with the belief that people are honest and trustworthy. We believe that each of their customers, whether a buy or a seller is an individual who deserves to be treated with respect.
The founder's wife is a collector of Pez dispensers and the site was launched on Labor day weekend in September of 1995.
Our December 9th meeting we will be proud to welcome eBay to our club to give us a talk on eBay. How it was founded, how to trade and sell on line, how to buy on line. How eBay makes their money by offering to all of us their services.
In closing I would like to say logon to www.ebay.com and take a look
at all the things that people have posted on their site to sell. You
might just find what you are looking for. Get a early jump on your Christmas
shopping.. Our very own Bob Wallace purchased himself a copy of
OS/2 Warp 4 from the eBay site. And I am sure Bob can clue all of us
in how he was able to do this. eBay's Keven Pursglove would like
the SFPCC members to send him and his staff a list of questions before
the December 9th meeting, so please forward all your questions over to
me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org before the December meeting and I will
be sure that Kevin and his staff at eBay gets them
New Member welcome to SFPCC
By Judy Oliphant
Please let me welcome the newest member to our SFPCC Club. You probably won't be seeing her and her husband at our club meetings anytime soon. But hopefully I can talk her into writing a few footnotes for me in any up and coming SFPCC newsletters.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Carlene Rasmussen and her husband Dean to our club. Carlene and her husband Dean live in South Dakota, which is a long way from San Carlos, California. Which is why I say they won't be joining us anytime soon for meetings. I'm working on her and Dean coming out sometime in January for a visit and a tour of San Francisco. If not, it will be summertime hopefully before I get to meet my PC pal from South Dakota.
You see, Carlene and I share a common interest in 3D graphics and real time chat, and 3D building. That's how we met. And Carlene logged onto the club's web site one night and sent off a message to me quickly in real time. Wow, this is neat! How much to join this PC club? Where do I sign up? She really liked the web site and she wishes so much that she could receive the newsletter just for the information. Carlene contiues to chat with me in real time, and we share stories. Hoping someday soon we will meet. Our paths have met in our 3D virtual worlds, called Active World. A friendship grew, and knowledge shared, laughter sprang up from chat logs kept on either side. On my part, I'm thankful and happy that we've become such close friends. And she enjoys our web sites as much as I do.
If you haven't logged onto our web site lately, folks, do so. The URL is www.sfpcc.org from anywhere on the Internet.
From the www.sfpcc.org web site
History and Origins of the SFPCC
In late 1982, a number of computer interested people who lived in the mid- San Francisco Peninsula area looked for computer help. During that period, computer stores, schools or colleges had no classes available as there are today. As with educational school evolution, people interested in computers met together, schooling and educating themselves, known as Computer User Groups. So came about the beginning of the San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club, also known today as the SFPCC.
The first official meeting of SFPCC was held in March of 1984. This was long before Microsoft Windows was invented, or DOS had become a personal computer standard. At the time, what most club members had in common was the CP/M operating system, a standard at that time. The club's original name was KAYFUN. "KAY" came from the Kaypro CP/M computers, manufactured by a company then named Nonlinear Systems who was also providing the U.S. Government with computers, and similar to another popular computer called Osborne. The FUN came from the point that members would attempt to have FUN making their CP/M computers a more productive tool.
From 1986 to 1987 it was evident that IBM wanted to create an XT computer standard and join hands with the then little company called Microsoft, who was providing an operating system called DOS. KayFun Computer Club recognized it was time to change its focus with the times and computer industry. XT computers not only were cheaper, but there was a standard, so that every program would run on everyone's personal computer, or PC.
Although Kaypro changed its focus from CP/M to DOS, as did others, it too financially failed as off-shore clone computers became less and less expensive. So as the computer community interest had changed to DOS and then Windows, it was time to change the club's name to San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club or SFPCC for short.
Over the years, SFPCC members focused on computers providing their life productivity. In addition, as club members share, each member knows where to get successful help. In the past and present, the typical club year consists of meetings that are 1/3 presentations from computer vendors who focus on selling their product. The next 1/3 of our meetings come from either club members or person/s who demonstrate software or a computer product that has made his life more productive. The final 1/3 are Open Forum meetings in which club members and visitors exhibit or present problems or issues to which someone else in the room may have a solution. In the past, SFPCC has had presentations from companies as large as INTEL, Microsoft, Logitech, US Robotics and as small as local computer store proprietors.
Since its beginning in March 1984, San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club (SFPCC) has met on the 2nd Thursday of the month, at 7:30 PM, in the city of San Carlos, a few blocks north of Holly Street (exit off of Freeway 101) and one block west of El Camino Real, at 222 Laurel Street in the condo's Social Room. Over the years, the club membership has varied from 50 to 100 members, with about 20 to 25 people coming to a typical meeting. From time to time SFPCC also has Saturday workshops, where hands-on Windows applications are used, including programs also related to Internet use.
In that telecommunication is so much a part of computers, on March 15, 1985, SFPCC (Kayfun) had their first Bulletin Board System (BBS) on-line for members and local computer community users. In 1995, with the growth of the Internet, the SFPCC Executive Board met at a local Internet Service Provider. Months later SFPCC had their first Internet Web site, initially by the graciousness of a club member and then later through sponsorship of SLIP.NET, a San Francisco Internet Service Provider.
As we come upon 1999, SFPCC is commencing its 15th year of existence. Fifteen years, though young in some club circles, is a long time as it relates to the computer industry or a computer club. Actually, SFPCC is one of the oldest computer clubs in the country, still meeting at the same location and time. As a club, all past and present members are proud of the leadership provided to attain this stable longevity. Yet, most of all, everyone is proud of SFPCC helping to provide each visitor and member ideas for making computers more useful and productive in their daily lives through attending SFPCC meetings.
* A computer club that serves computer users within the local communties.
* A computer club that changes with the computer industry as needed.
* A computer club that never becomes so large that a visitor
is missed being
* A computer club where each member shares experiences so that the club
* A computer club where we have fun doing all the above.
by Bob Wallace
Our thanks to Marsha Brandsdorfer and Judy Oliphant for supplying articles for this November/December SFPCC Newsletter, and to Judy for putting our monthly meeting schedule in order.
Getting a start on any newsletter can be challenging enough without being made aware that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has plans to turn off the electricity on the same weekend as the newsletter is due to be put together. Such is the case with this issue, getting a start on the day after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson releases his "findings of fact" in the case named U.S. vs Microsoft, and available on the Internet at usvms.gpo.gov, for those interested in seeing all the gory details. And, for the record, our electric power was off from 6:25 a.m. until 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, November 6. Yet another good reason to have a portable computer (laptop or notebook) available with its own power supply, even if it's good for only a few hours.
This issue will clearly be the last to show up with a "19" in the date, as the January/February newsletter will be dated in the year 2000, or shortly after the so-called Y2K problem has finally arrived. For those interested in details of what is behind the scenes for this issue, note that the lack of electricity in the house means that this issue is being started on our Compaq LTE 5100 notebook computer, a used laptop/notebook (take your pick) computer your editor and his wife decided to purchase from Used Laptops (www.usedlaptops.com) in the South Bay prior to our vacation of this past summer. At the time, Used Laptops had been in business for only a few weeks, but had their web site up and running when your editor went on to another web site, www.ask.com, and typed in "used laptop computers" as the question. Used Laptops was one of several names that came back from that search, and the rest, as they say, is history. More about our Compaq LTE 5100 can be found in the article elsewhere in this issue.
As has been the case for quite some time, editing of this issue is being done using the Perfect Writer word processor that originally came (in its CP/M version) with the Kaypro II "luggable" computer purchased way back in 1983, one year before our computer club began. (For those who recall, the "other" bundled word processor in CP/M days was named WordStar.) As some readers may recall, the DOS version of Perfect Writer came along shortly after purchasing the Kaypro 2000 MS-DOS- based laptop several years later, and has been in regular use ever since, all other word processors notwithstanding. Once the several articles for this issue have been edited, and PG&E energizes the power lines again, each text file will be imported into the WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows news page on Lois's Windows 95-based computer, run off on the HP DeskJet 693C printer, then off to Kinko's for copying, collating and stapling before having their mailing labels and stamps applied.
(For the record, this 1984 word processor does everything to be found in the latest versions of MS Word, WordPerfect, and several other word processing applications, and saves files in Plain Text, DOS Text, ASCII DOS Text, whatever format you care to name, and does it by default, leaving out any formatting commands included by MS Word, WordPerfect, and some number of other word processing programs within the documents saved by each. Perfect Writer also includes its own spell checker, allowing for the addition of words not found in its release version. Any WordStar users still around??)
Mailing labels are generated for each issue using dBASE IV on my computer
running now with IBM's OS/2 Warp 4, won at auction only a few months
ago on eBay's site and running on an AMD K5 (486-compatible) processor
with 16 Megs of RAM, and a Western Digital 8.4 Gigabyte hard drive. Within
the next few weeks, plans are in the works to upgrade this system's motherboard
to an AMD K6 400 with 64 Megabytes of RAM, and add a CD-ROM device to
the system as well. When the upgrade is finished, we hope to have
a Local Area Network (LAN) set up between the OS/2 Warp 4 and Windows
95 computers. Additional plans also call for upgrading Lois's system
to a Pentium 400 or faster, and update from Windows 95 to Windows 98
and some or all of the Microsoft 2000 programs to make her home computer
compatible with what is available for her use at College of San Mateo
where she teaches Retail Floristry classes.
November 11: Hank Skawinski, proprietor of DataWise in San Jose.
December 9: eBay, the WWW auction site located in Emeryville.
January 13: Y2K - after the crash?
February 10: AT&T@Home
As is our usual method, every effort is made to keep to evening presentors as best we can. There are times, despite our best efforts, when a scheduled presentor is unable to make their evening for any number of reasons. On such occasions we typically revert to one of our "Open Forum" nights where anyone in the room can, and usually will, ask questions that one or another of us present may be able to answer satisfactorily.
More on the Microsoft ruling
By Bob Wallace
Among other responses coming from those interviewed on radio last Friday evening after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson released his "Findings of Fact" in the U.S. vs Microsoft lawsuit, Larry Magid on both the CBS Radio Network and locally on KCBS Newsradio, suggesting that this means that computer users should find more software coming along, whether it challenges Microsoft or not, and that maybe, at long last, Microsoft will figure out how to fix their operating system so that it doesn't crash quite as frequently as it does currently.
As was suggested in the article from 20 months ago ("Microsoft is/isn't a monopoly," March/April 1998), some venture capitalist businesses in Silicon Valley or close proximity to it tend to avoid any business plan likely to challenge Microsoft's dominance in the OS or applications fields. This should change for the better, providing both the venture capital needed by smaller businesses to put their ideas into useful software for computer users, and to provide more competition, not less, for computer industry and user.
By way of reminder, it's been well noted by some writers that Microsoft has the habit not of innovating in software applications, but copying what they find computer users choosing to run on their computers. Their habit in this respect dates back to MS-DOS days when the next version of MS-DOS typically took ideas from Digital Research's DR-DOS. Then it was to go after Apple's graphical user interface, now known widely as Windows. It should have been no surprise when Microsoft chose to invest in Apple not too long ago, in part a possible effort to insure that newer ideas would come along from Steve Jobs and company that Microsoft might be able to emulate in yet another new version of Windows.
Microsoft's ideas on incorporating their browser software into the operating
system struck me at the time as a bogus argument, in large part given
that their Internet Explorer had already been available to computer users
as a totally separate piece of software. Had the argument been allowed
to stand that IE was a part of the OS, it would not have taken long before
virtually every piece of software from Microsoft would have been added
to the OS, with the claim that it was their intention to make it more
efficient for themselves and their computer users. Three cheers to Judge
Thomas Penfield Jackson for ruling the other way in this case, thereby
saving us from the necessity of going to court one more time to get it
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