Friday, August 22, 2008

In Praise of Technology

I often suffer from back pain, and it could become debilitating in the days before I got a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS Units). With that, and adhesive electrodes to apply to (or around) the areas where the pain is distinct, I'm able to manage the pain, and avoid complete debilitation. At least I have been able to so far (knock on wood). And it wasn't that long ago that no such solution was available, especially to the end user, for easy purchase on the Internet.

I may have mentioned my love of my old TRS-80 Color Computer before. All right, I know I have. My first word processor, Telewriter, was basically a big modal window you could type in, with the innovation of allowing the use of lowercase (something not available as a standard on the Color Computer until the CoCo3, I believe). It was awkward, and there was no real formatting, but I liked it well enough and used it until I acquired VIP Office (or something like that), my first suite of "office" applications that included my favorite modem terminal package (VIP Term) and Word Processor (VIP Write) and a not-quite-a-spreadsheet math program (VIP Calc) and some sort of disk editing application--that was back in the days when people who used word processors and power users who would directly edit blocks on their 5.25" floppy disks were one in the same.

Amazingly, I was able to find a review of TRS-80 Color Computer word processors from 1983, that was unfortunately pre-VIP Write, but still interesting to a nostalgic Color Computer nerd such as myself.

VIP Write was vastly superior to Telewriter which, in itself, I still found superior to a plain old typewriter. Even so, it didn't allow any formatting within the application; you had to insert control character strings to specify bold, underlining, or italic, and the nature of that string would be different for any given dot matrix or daisy wheel printer.

Not today! With the advent of laser printers in in-line formatting for word processors, things got considerably easier. Microsoft Office's Microsoft Word allows you to format text any which way, with columns and tables and insert graphics and colors and special characters and foreign languages and on and on and on.

The robustness of the Windows Business Server products dwarfs the mainframes that I used to play Original Adventure on, via an acoustic coupler modem and VideoText, a ROM Cartridge-based, completely featureless, modem program for my original 4k TRS-80 Color Computer. Not to mention, the quality of games has gone up somewhat from the days of breathlessly playing plodding text-based adventures to the modern days of the Xbox (and operating systems like Windows Vista Home Premium that can share media files with the Xbox 360 via your home network. My, how things have changed.

Of course, back in the days of having most of my programs on a cartridge that I stuck into my computer, we didn't worry about computer viruses or malware. Now, such things are all over the place. Fortunately, technology has responded, with dozens of anti-virus products like Norton Antvirus and Kaspersky Internet Security.

When I first got my floppy drive for the my Color Computer, I was amazed by the 250k of data it could hold. I was fascinated to learn that you could carefully cheat with single sided disks, and punch out the hole that told the drive that it could use a particular side of the disc, and double the storage! Wow. Of course, we didn't even had CDs when I first got my computer, and even though I got my first CD player in 1985, I didn't see a CD-ROM drive until 1988. These days, we can burn on our own CDs and DVDs painlessly, and pretty much every computer comes with at least a CD-R built in, if not a DVD-R. And Blu-Ray drives in most computers are coming.

Then, it was amazing to get 64k out of my bulky machine. Now, laptops and notebook computers have gigabytes of ram and can hold hundreds of gigabytes of data on their hard drives. You can keep the books for your business and do your taxes on your computer, and even file electronically. That's pretty darn cool.

And on and on it goes. While I do wax nostalgic for the old days (and often), it is amazing how far technology has progressed. Sometimes, I think we're a little spoiled, complaining about bugs in the latest 3G iPhone or Windows Vista. Compared to what, not having it all? I love technology. Yes, I loved my old Color Computer. But would I trade my modern-day Macintosh for it? No. I'm a bit nostalgic for my old rotary dial phones. But Would I trade my iPhone? Uh, I don't think so.

Technology rocks. We are spoiled. Which is good. That is all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Miss My TRS-80 Color Computer

I miss my first real computer. I miss reading my thick, bound Rainbow Magazines. Or Hot CoCo Magazine.

If I ever get too nostalgic, thanks to modern technology, I can go work on a Color Computer right now, by going to the JavaCoco Emulator, a TRS-80 Color Computer emulator that runs in Java. I can program it in Microsoft BASIC (the great-great-grandpappy of Microsoft's Visual Studio 6.0), just like I used to in the old days, and it works the same way. There were a number of editing functions that were related to the editing BASIC programs using the CTRL key, and they all seem to work with the Java Applet. Pretty cool. No way to really open or save programs, but there are plenty of real software emulators and CoCo ROMs out on the internets.

If you happen to go there (to the Java Applet), you'll happen to notice the "UNDER LICENSE FROM MICROSOFT" that happens to accompany the emulator. I looked at the screen almost every day for years, and if I had--during that time--invested, say, $500 in Microsoft, I wouldn't be worried about money right now. Because that Microsoft stock would be worth a million bucks, or nearly, depending on exactly when the investment happened. Which wouldn't be too shabby.

And, doomsayer predictions to the contrary, and Microsoft's stagnant stock price to the contrary, Microsoft ain't going anywhere. Could global business run without Microsoft Software. Critics aside, Windows Vista is not only a much better product that it is given credit for being, but it's selling well, and Microsoft is raking in the money. Also, it might be nice to point out that Microsoft's market cap is about 250 billion, which is about 100 billion higher than Google or Apple's, to name two.

Microsoft's Window Server products dominate the server landscape, and will continue to for the forseeable future. Microsoft SQL is becoming the dominant commercial SQL database, as Oracle treads water. Microsoft Office dominates the productivity software landscape, and does anybody think that Star Office is going to displace Microsoft Office software any time in the near future? No? I didn't think so.

Certain markets are weaker for Microsoft, sure. Windows Mobile is big in the mobile device market, but competing against the Apple iPhone and RIM's Crackberry--I mean, Blackberry and Google's upcoming Android platform, Microsoft isn't going to be to mobile what Microsoft has become to the enterprise. But that's okay. Sure, Microsoft has the Zune, but they also have the X-Box. Apple may be making inroads, but Microsoft still owns the enterprise. And Microsoft owns most of the global desktop and laptop operating system market. So, when it's all said and done, I still wish I have invested a few pennies in Microsoft, back in the day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Full Line of Computer Hardware and Parts

If you've been to the site, you know we sell some hardware.

But we're actually selling a lot more hardware products than you think.

Somewhat hidden (at least for now, as we focus on software and get some of the hardware and parts selection organized) is a special part of our website where you can get great prices on, and a wide variety of, dekstops, laptops, hard drives, DVD drives, and various other computer hardware and parts.

And there will be more (and more and better images and descriptions) as time goes on.

CRT monitors?

Mobile and portable hard drives?

Power Supplies?

Printers, Scanners and Faxes? All-in-ones?

Oh, we got 'em, and more. Come on by and check 'em out.

Yes, it needs a little more organizing. We certainly need to get more images up. We're working on that. In the meantime, here's your secret link. Don't forget it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Corel WordPerfect Office X3 Standard Edition OEM

I think I've mentioned this before, but, since it's the Deal of the Week this week, why not mention it again?

We've got Corel WordPerfect Office X3 Standard Edition, Full Version, in OEM (that means no boxes, just the media, manual, license and registration info). This thing can created and edit PDF files. Microsoft Office files? Fully compatible. That means Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel--open 'em all up and save 'em again, in WordPerfect Office X3. Or open up, and save 'em out, in any of 150 other formats WordPerfect Office X3 happens to support.

Customize your workspace using Office X3s groovy Workspace Manager. Save any and all documents without metadata, if you so choose, for maximum security. Comes with a full featured email application (WordPerfect MAIL) that includes calendar and contact management and RSS capabilities, all rapidly searchable.

The best news? It's only $12.42 at the time of this posting. Only $10.95 each, if you want to buy 100 or more, or $12.00 if you want to buy 20 or more. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Find this and more great deals in Software Supply Group's Miscellaneous Software Section. Get 'em while they're hot (and still in stock!).