Almanac: 19 October 2000

By: J.D. Hildebrand

Abstract: Justifying a Delphi decision. Closing the digital divide. Congressional panel says no to Web filters. Internet salary survey. Dvorak tries on high-tech glasses.

Almanac: 19 October 2000

By J.D. Hildebrand


Today is the 292nd day of 2000; 73 days remain in the year. Today we celebrate the 219th anniversary of Lord Cornwallis's surrender to American general George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown and the 173rd anniversary of Napoleon's defeat in Russia. Novelist John LeCarre turns 69 today, and it is the 33rd birthday of Amy Carter, daughter of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

Thirty-one years ago, millions of Americans -- including 50 members of Congress -- participated in Vietnam Moratorium observances with candlelight vigils and calls for peace. But not everyone observed the holiday. In Washington, U.S. vice-president Spiro Agnew referred to the participants as "an effete corps of impudent snobs." at Borland Developer Community HQ, we'll call this Impudent Snob Day and observe the occasion with all due pomp and ceremony. Let the impudence begin!

JUSTIFYING A DELPHI DECISION. Community member Bob McCabe reminds me that developers who choose Delphi sometimes face opposition from managers, customers, and clients who assume another language would be a better choice. "As a consultant," McCabe writes, "I'm frequently asked to justify my preference for Delphi."

Thanks for the nudge, Bob. Presto-google-o, here's a set of links to every Delphi vs. Visual Basic comparison I can find on the Internet. Many of these comparisons are several years old, so I wouldn't count on them to be 100 percent accurate regarding the features of either product. What I find most striking is that Delphi has overwhelmingly won the comparisons year after year.

CLOSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE. Some of today's biggest stories are coming from the World Resources Institute's Creating Digital Dividends conference, which is taking place this week in Seattle. Co-sponsored by BusinessWeek, 3Com, Compaq, Ericsson, HP, iGeneration, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, RealNetworks, Weyerhaeuser, and WorldCom, the conference is concerned with expansion of the Internet, computers, and telecommunications into the third world.

MSNBC's Alan Boyle has filed stories (1, 2) that outline the issues being covered at the conference. The presentations seem weighted toward speakers who see the world's unwired masses as potential markets to be tapped. A typical presentation was the one Mark Anderson described in Wired: A member of the MIT Media Lab e-Development group drew a distinction between mere Internet access and "enriched access" that gives individuals and communities in the undeveloped world the information they need to solve problems.

Microsoft's Bill Gates injected the most realistic note into the proceedings. According to Manny Frishberg's Wired report, Gates was the only speaker who dared suggest that technology wasn't a panacea for the world's poor:

Eighty percent of the global population lives on less than one dollar a day, and most -- according to the World Resources Institute, which organized the conference -- have never made a telephone call, let alone used the Internet.
"The percent of growth that an IT firm like Hewlett-Packard will get from people who make less than a dollar a day is minimal," Gates said. "Do people have any concept of what it means to live on less than a dollar a day? There's no electricity. Do they have PCs that don't use electricity?"
In his address, the Microsoft chairman talked about the need to tackle problems of disease and literacy as essential first steps to lifting the bottom tier of society. He said an estimated 8 million children die each year from easily treated or preventable diseases because they do not have access to vaccinations and medical care.

Judging from the news coverage, Gates's address brought a much-needed dose of reality to the proceedings.

CONGRESSIONAL PANEL SAYS NO TO FILTERS. A commission charged with protecting children while they are online is delivering a surprise recommendation to the Congress that empanelled it. The 18-member panel, set up under the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, is expected to advise against the use of Web filters in schools and libraries when it submits its report to Congress tomorrow.

A recent survey shows that 92 percent of Americans believe filters should block porn sites on school computers, but the commission disagreed. According to commission chairman Donald Telage, "not even the most conservative members of the commission felt that was the road to go down."

Congress is nonetheless debating legislation that would require the use of such filters.

This article summarizes the latest happenings.

INTERNET SALARY SURVEY AVAILABLE. Are you making what you're worth? Inter@ctive Week has completed its annual survey of salaries in Internet and high-tech careers...get a copy here and check it out.

DVORAK GLIMPSES THE FUTURE THROUGH HIGH-TECH GLASSES. Finally, check out this article by John Dvorak, who recently tried on a pair of glasses with built-in computer-monitor circuitry. Dvorak finds the technology promising and looks forward to having a set of lenses to work with his PDA. Cool!

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