/introduction/newsletter_archive/goodiestogo/article.php/3474511/March-1-1999-----Newsletter-17.htm March 1, 1999 -- Newsletter #17

March 1, 1999 -- Newsletter #17

By Joe Burns

G O O D I E S T O G O ! (tm)
March 1, 1999 -- Newsletter #17
Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warrior...

When I wrote newsletter 17, it was a very good year...

I was sitting in my living room watching some prime time show, when a commercial for the Macintosh iMac came on. You know the one: It's shot like the six different color iMacs are dancing around in an old MGM musical.

As the heavy string music played, my wife turned to me and asked, "If you were going to buy an iMac, what color would you buy?"

"Purple," I said. Then, internally, I screamed.

You're buying a computer because of its color? Don't you care what processor is inside? Do the Megs of RAM not bug you? What about monitor resolution? The cache? The BIOS? The motherboard? Has it come to this? Are we buying computers because they go with the curtains? That's like buying an exercise cycle because you need a place to hang your dirty clothes!

Now I'm starting to see commercials for the Pentium III where Norsemen ram a door with a log to try and open it. Intel is starting to yell about this new PC-in-the-car they've developed. And Compaq actually got in a story about their new Palm PC with a color monitor. A color monitor is worthy of a major news source posting the story?

But maybe it's not so crazy.

When I was 16, the coolest thing a person could have was a great stereo system. Back then, Technique was the big name and the way to buy a stereo was in parts. The techie term was to buy in "components." But not just any components, big, black, metal components with lots and lots of red glowing buttons. That way you could spin your Earth, Wind, and Fire disc and turn the lights way down low. The LED readouts would throw shadows and the graphic equalizer would show 36 little red dots, 18 per channel. Of course, the graphic equalizer wasn't set to make the sound any better; you set it so that the little red lights on the front of all 36 sliding buttons made a neat pattern, which, of course, did nothing to amplify the bass.

Sound familiar?

The sound was less important than the look. Computer salespeople are starting to sell the same way. The computer has become a household status symbol. You have to have one. Nowadays, if you run into a person who doesn't own a computer, you feel compelled to ask if they have running water in their home.

I own a Pentium133 laptop. It's a great computer. It does everything I want it to. It has never given me trouble and always boots.

So why does it seem I need that new Pentium III?

Because it's got 500MHz clock speeds, 70 new instructions, 100MHz system bus, 512K level two cache, Intel. 440BX chipset, mag wheels, fuel injection, overhead cams, ABS brakes, and a ton of little red lights! Yeah!!

I don't even know what some of that stuff means, but when I read about it I am overcome with the need to watch the movie "Rocky." I feel like I have to have it. It's my muscle car, my designer jeans.

It's my status symbol, my place within this little group of people I hang out with. We don't brag about our battle scars, we talk about who has the fastest processor, like we're going to do processing for pink slips.

So, is my wife's question about what color I would like any different than my wanting all that power? No. We do have different ideas about what is worthy of status, though. She considered "purple" for a second; shook her head.

She likes the green one.


And that's that. Thanks for listening to me rant.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: It wasn't until 1978 that a human had been born on all seven continents -- Emilio Marco Palma was born that year in an Argentine military base in Antarctica.

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