Friday, 5 January 2007

Newsletter Issue 125, January 2007



Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 125, January 2007
Hi guys,
Isn't it amazing how fast things on the www change? Check out A Blast from the Past below.
Ever wondered about the origins of "Boxing Day"? If you have, then read on. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

A Blast from the Past

Twelve years ago, some enterprising souls wrote up their internet predictions for 1995, and their best and worst net happenings for 1994. In 1994, there was the universal adoption of hypertext as the web's lingua-franca, David Filo and Jerry Yang from Stanford started Yahoo!, and there were only 10,022 websites online.
What you would think was lost to the world is actually still posted online at http://www.neonshop.com/bio/iw/bwv6n1.htm. Ahh, what a walk down memory [DOS web] lane! I had almost forgotten the old black DOS screen had even existed before encountering this page, and reading through the rather entertaining list of predictions, delights and annoyances.
There were some very interesting predictions. Some are laughable with hindsight (such as Susan Calcari saying one of her 'Worst of 1994' was "The organisation of the World-Wide Web: I love the Web, but finding something specific on it is a nightmare. And because the Web is growing by leaps and bounds, I just don't see things getting easier anytime soon."). Finding new pages before Google was a nightmare, wasn't it?!
Others were on the money. Here are ten that I thought were pretty good:
  1. Kenny Greenberg 'There will be a concerted effort by the U.S. Congress to regulate content on the Internet.' Luckily, they are still trying - and failing. Only China is managing to control contect by owning the ISPs that their citizens access the net through. A vast number of websites simply do not exist for the Chinese.
  2. Andrew Kantor of Meckler Media 'A World-Wide Web add-on, whereby category and file size can be assessed prior to file transfer, will be proposed'. Correct. These days, whenever downloading, your download software automatically tells you how large the file is.
  3. Andrew Kantor 'Software that handles virtually all network functions via one seamless interface will emerge and begin to dominate the commercial internet marketplace'. Correct again. Thanks to US nationalised protocols, url, http, htm, html and xml we can all mostly see the same thing... and thanks to Mr Gates too, of course!
  4. Andrew Kantor 'Internet access via ISDN will see a massive growth spurt'. And correct again. ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) was/is a set of digital transmission standards using copper phone wire and an ISDN adapter. Used mostly in urban USA & Europe instead of a modem, it was capable of receiving Web pages at up to 128 Kbps (twice that of modems). Now however, DSL & cable have the edge.
  5. Kevin Savetz 'Two new standards; the first for dial-in users, the second for commerce. Whether it's a SLIP or PPP process that all access providers will adopt, we'll see easy access in easy-to-use products. A standard also will emerge for secure monetary transactions, using some form of encryption, that will make people comfortable sending credit-card information over the wire.' Right on tighter protocols and encryption for ecommerce.
  6. Kevin Savetz 'Smart searches. The first intelligent agent software packages will emerge, allowing Net users to ask for a specific piece of information like "What is the population of Fiji?" or "How far is Saturn from the Sun?" An agent will go out on the Net , find the information, and return it without the user knowing the source.' Right on the money - Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista, Lycos and now Google it, baby!
  7. Joel Snyder 'Within the next three years, everyone from AT&T to Sony to your cable company will offer on-line dating, electronic gambling, video on demand, and role-playing games via a set-top box. That's the Information Superhighway everyone wants!' Right - except for that bit about the 'set-top box'. Do you remember those boxes? The internet access that was also the Sky decoder? Died almost before it got underway.
  8. Dave Taylor 'The critical-mass factor. The number of people now reachable via e-mail on the Internet has grown so large that anyone who isn't connected knows they're missing a good thing. Before, I had to argue with people about whether or not to join a public e-mail system. Now people take an Internet e-mail address for granted. This was the year that just about everyone finally realized they had to get wired to stay competitive. The Internet isn't just for nerds anymore.' Ooo baby, was he right. Even your granny has email these days.
  9. Aaron Weiss 'Conflicts between local and global Internet jurisdictions will become more pronounced, especially over censorship issues. How will prosecutors in Tennessee go after posters from Denmark?'  It has been tricky - but working throught this issue is also promoting more international co-operation.
  10. Eric Berlin 'UFOs will make contact with the Internet.' I suggest we keep a watching brief on this one!
By 1998, those 10,022 websites online had grown to over a million and a half. Additionally, the World Wide Web went completely private as the US National Science Foundation stopped backbone funding of the internet, and ecommerce kicked off with eBay and Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com. RealAudio let surfers listen in real-time via audio streaming technology.
In 2005 there were 70,392,567 websites online - adding up to over 11.5 billion pages. And today? It's getting a bit hard to count, let alone predict!


The Origins of "Boxing Day"

I was asked recently about the origins of "Boxing Day". I had always been told that the day had been named Boxing Day for that was the day you got your Christmas box, or presents. The Collins English Dictionary & the OED state that it is a 19th Century term referring to the giving of Christmas boxes to staff, servants and tradesmen.
According to WorldWideWords, the website of the notable lexicologist Michael Quinion at http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-box1.htm, Boxing Day is the "day after Christmas Day, 26 December, a public holiday that is more correctly called St Stephen’s Day (strictly, the public holiday is the first working day after Christmas Day, but the name Boxing Day is always reserved for the 26th)."
Michael reports that Boxing Day's origins arise in the early seventeenth century, when an earthenware piggy bank, called a Christmas box, was taken around customers and suppliers by apprentices at Christmas, collecting money, which was later broken open and the monies were distributed among the firm. By the eighteenth century, "Christmas box" had become a figurative term for any seasonal gratuity, coerced from suppliers and customers, although with some scorn by those not 'in trade'. Boxing was a name, but had no set Day as yet.
At some point in the early nineteenth century, a day on which such gratuities were often requested and on which the original Christmas box was taken round formalised into the day after Christmas day. 1833 has the first recorded use of Boxing Day on the 26th December, and by 1883 the custom was rife throughout Britain to the point of driving members of the gentry to write quite acerbically about the custom.
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day suggests that because "the staff had to work on such an important day as Christmas by serving the master of the house and their family, they were given the following day off. As servants were kept away from their own families to work on a traditional religious holiday and were not able to celebrate Christmas Dinner, the customary benefit was to "box" up the leftover food from Christmas Day and send it away with the servants and their families (similarly, as the servants had the 26th off, the owners of the manor may have had to serve themselves pre-prepared, boxed food for that one day)."
Whatever the origins of Boxing Day, it is still customary to tip those who deliver personal service to you at Christmas time - even here in the colonies; but now the 'box' is usually given before December 25th.


Concatenating in Excel

For those of you who haven't heard of the 'concatenate' formula in Excel, it is used to combine numbers, text or symbols from several cells into one cell. To find the concatenate function, click the 'insert function' button on the toolbar (that's the "fx" one) and select "CONCATENATE" from the list (it's under Text, or you can select the All list).
For example, perhaps you have three Address cells, and want to have one address string. You can concatenate the cells in G5 with the formula "=CONCATENATE(D5,", ",E5,", ",F5)" and G5 will show "PO Box 7090, Nelson 7042, New Zealand".
Note the insertion of the 'comma space' between each cell, to format the address properly.
You can do lots with concatenate - have a separate column for first name & surname, then combine the two with a space in between; list all email addresses in one cell with a semi colon space between, then use that one concatenated cell to create a mailing list, etc etc.
Have fun!

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you:
  • EIM, Enterprise Identity Mapping. Open IBM architecture for helping companies manage multiple-user registries and identities, enabling users to access multiple applications with a single log-on.
  • VAR, Value Added Reseller. Similar to OEM (original equipment manufacturer), applied to the repackaging of software, sold under the re-packager's brand, not the manufacturer's.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at all you can do with Alt, Shift, Ctrl and : (colon):
  • Access "Insert the current time" Ctrl & : (Colon)
  • Excel "Enter the current time, including hour, minute and AM or PM, into active cell" Ctrl & Shift & : (Colon)

Hot Linx
Check out Design 344's Stephan G Bucher's 'Daily Monster' cartoon creation online at http://344design.typepad.com/344_loves_you/2006/12/daily_monster_3_9.html
If you want to create an anagram from a phrase or word (ie 'Deaf Aid' becomes 'I faded'), then this site is the place for you at http://wordsmith.org/anagram/
Need a number from Directory while you are out? The number can be texted to your cellphone - and see what else you can get at http://www.call018.co.nz/
Check out "Want It Now" on Ebay where you can register your wants for 60 days (renewable) in the hope that someone out there will be selling at http://pages.ebay.com/wantitnow/

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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