April 30, 2001-- Newsletter #128

By Joe Burns

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Goodies to Go (tm)
April 30, 2001--Newsletter #128

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

A student gave me a Ziggy cartoon yesterday I know was probably more true than the author wanted us to believe. It showed Ziggy reading his mail from ziggyzone.com. It was just one flame after another. The punch line was Ziggy saying, My Website doesn't get many hits, but it does get bashed. I'll bet the texts of the flame emails were verbatim. If some of the email I get is any indication, that text was real. I guess what bothers me most is what kind of person do you have to be to flame Ziggy?

Did you hear

Aim high! Hack the Air Force. A 15-year-old from Connecticut is charged with breaking into the Air Force system that tracks planes worldwide. If you think it's amazing that a 15-year-old could perform the hack, dig this. The hack occurred on March 28, 2000 when the kid was only 13. Gosh.

In the ever-increasing fight to be the best domain name service on the Web, VeriSign has announced that it has added support for an additional 180 languages bringing the total number of languages it supports to 350. You can get into it a bit more at the VeriSign site itself. http://www.verisign-grs.com/multilingual/genfaq.html

Have you ever been watching CNN, seen a story, and wondered how to get a copy of the videotape? If all goes well, you'll be able to get the video right off of your computer. CNN has announced that it will undertake the job of putting almost 120,000 hours of videotape online. The project is estimated to cost 20 million U.S. dollars. Turning the tape into digital will make categorizing easier in addition to making CNN's entire video library available to just about anyone who wants it. How about that?

Now onto today's topic

The end of my school year is coming up and I just found out that I received a grant worth tens of thousands of dollars. I'm going to take the money and purchase four digital audio suites with all the bells and whistles. The four systems are built around four Yamaha 16-channel boards. The system is digital and self-contained. There's even a CD burner built right into the Yamaha board. Students can finish their project, burn it, and walk away.

Sigh.

There's no tape. Making an edit is as easy as clicking a button. In my day we would have to have to cut tape to make an edit. I mean cut it, with a razor blade. If you made a mistake there was no real way to undo it. Yes, you could tape up the audiotape but it would never be the same. In my day, we learned to hear drumbeats in slow time as well as backwards while we rocked the tape back and forth on the reel to reel machine so we would know where to make the edit.

While getting the specs for the digital machine, I told a student of my days in the radio studios when I use to carry my own splicing block and razor blades in a little leather case. She laughed as if I was talking about the middle ages.

It was the mid 1980s!

Technology is moving so fast that people are becoming over the hill in terms of experience very quickly. My audio stories sound ancient when they're only 15 years old.

The other day I started corresponding with a gentleman living in Japan. He asked me if I was ready for the next wave of technology.

I didn't have an answer. I know it's coming. Wireless will the way of the world soon. New languages will come into the fold. In three years, the world of technology will barely resemble today.

At 36 years old, I found myself longing for a simpler time when people coded HTML using Notepad and the latest trick was well within the grasp of the weekend silicon warrior.

I spoke to a group of people about Web page creation the other day. They were students and programmers. I told them that I still enjoy coding in Notepad. They laughed. They laughed much the same way the other student laughed when I told her about using a razor blade to cut audiotape.

This morning I put two and two together. I'm the old guy.

I'm the old-guy audio teacher and I'm the old-guy Web professor.

I'm the old guy.

When did I become the old guy? I don't want to be the old guy!

This is not to say that I cannot make the new digital audio processors sign and dance. I can. I can edit digitally like the wind. I just don't like it as much. I remember when my first radio station went from 45-RPM records to all CD. I hated it. I could slow the 45s down or speed them up to match beats. I could slip cue. I seemed more in control. The CDs just didn't seem right to me. The process became sterile. I couldn't touch the discs. The technology had too much control.

It's the same with the new Web media. I like coding in Notepad because I am in control. I don't have FrontPage placing code and altering elements without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball and me.

No, I don't dislike the new stuff that's coming out. I dig it. It fascinates me. It's just that I seem to like the old stuff better. I grew up with it. I learned on it. I somehow feel that I am a better person because I had to go through it.

They say the first step is admitting it. OKI am the old guy. In only seven years, I became the old guy.

Now, if you too are the old guy (or old gal) what do we do?

Do we abandon our old guy ways for the new? Could we even do it if we tried or, as I think is more correct, do we embrace our old guy ways and act as that lightening rod that keeps the old ways around just to help others understand how we got to here and how we did it in such a short amount of time.

I'm afraid I'm going to embrace my old guy ways.

I'll be teaching HTML and Web page design every semester until I retire. I don't see me changing my methods of teaching any time soon. If you take Web design with me, you'll code in Notepad. Yes, I know there are assistants out there that will allow you to make Web pages so fast my head would swim. Do it in my class and you'll lose all the points for the assignment. There will be no argument.

That's the old guy in me and I think it's the best way. When my class is over, use any HTML assistant you want, but until that time, Notepad is the way. Take your time. Place every flag. Build the page from whole cloth like it was a Lego set.

I've had students come to me with every form of argument. They say, We could build pages faster if we used [insert program name here]. I always ask, Will the pages be better or just faster? The student usually states they will be better. I then disagree and send him or her back to their computer to open Notepad and get started.

Do the students like it? Not always. Do they thank me for it? Long after the class when they can fix the code the HTML assistant messed up they do. Am I laughed at for sticking to the older ways when there are always bigger, more powerful ways?

Yep.

But you know what? Each and every student in my audio class next semester will take a razor blade in hand and correctly cut a piece of tape long before they get their paws on that digital equipment. I simply think it'll help them to understand what in the heck that digital system is copying.

It is far better to know exactly how the new stuff worksnot just that it works. The only way you can know how it works is to understand the machine's history and maybe even live a little of it. Now, everyone take up your razor blade, sharp side down.

The old guy has spoken.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That's That. Thanks for reading.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And remember: A drawing room received its name not because it was a place to sketch but rather because it was a place to relax. The word drawing is actually a shortened version of the word withdrawing. Thus, the drawing room is a place where persons would withdraw.

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