1995-07-21 - RE: Netscape the Big Win(dows)

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From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: e39e1290aac9cd075996a4c65ad4b6b1db21c10d0f8811ebe971aa9e9e26b7bf
Message ID: <v02120d00ac34bcc434d6@[]>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1995-07-21 02:54:40 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 20 Jul 95 19:54:40 PDT

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From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 95 19:54:40 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: RE: Netscape the Big Win(dows)
Message-ID: <v02120d00ac34bcc434d6@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain


on Thu, 20 Jul 1995 10:39:49 -0700, tcmay@sensemedia.net (Timothy C. May)

>The News reader in Netscape 1.1N is as good as the main "separate" news
>reader, NewsWatcher, for the Macintosh, and has some added benefits. For
>example, URLs in News postings automatically show up as clickable items,
>which can be jumped to immediately. (Other News programs _could_ do this,
>and maybe some of them do, but not on the Macintosh, at this moment.)

Nit: The standard version of Newswatcher does this. Just hold down the
command key and click on the URL. In addition, using the Internet Config
extension allows you to do this in lots of other standard Mac internet apps,
including the Eudora app you're using to read your mail with right now.
Newswatcher, in it's enhanced "value added" versions, does filtering, and
even will do a one-bounce anonymous remail off the remailer of your choice.

>Big programs tend to grow because they can increase market share by adding
>capabilities, by pulling in more customers.

As someone who's developed and marketed apps for the Mac market, feature
creep  usually happens more to differentiate yourself from your competition
than for any other reason. Don't look back 'cause they might be gaining on
you. Frankly, it's more of a death spiral than anything else. You get design
by focus group and feature list. The classic example of this in the Mac
market is M$ Word, which has now became such a cow that I find myself
reccommending WordPerfect (of all things) to my consulting customers. At
least with Excel, there's still nothing much better, until the next
generation, anyway.

>And I'm not going to use half a dozen small programs, each doing slightly
>different things and having different commands, when one will do nicely.

Only when their feature sets overlap, like in word processors and
spreadsheets.  When they're fully differentiated like what happened on the
Mac TCP/IP internet app market, interface fatigue is not much of a problem.

>(I could list other pluses and minuses, a la my outline FAQ, but here's
>just one more important item: cross-compatibility. Namely, with N smaller
>programs in use, of varying versions, incompatibilities and even crashes
>can result all too often ("We have discovered that MailMuncher 2.12 does
>not work with NewsNabber 1.1."). At lest with something like Netscape, a
>certain amound of cross-operability is likely, for various reasons.)

Not as bad as it sounds. Most Mac internetware types are pretty good about
fixing cross-crashes, that is until they get too big to care, which may
happen with Netscape.  In general, Mac stuff doesn't crash nearly as much as
it used to, and not nearly as much as Window$ still does. You get more
crashes in MacTCP apps because Apple botched their initial TCP
implementation. They're fixing that with Open Transport, which I've seen and
which is pretty bulletproof so far. Finally, we're still in the chewing-gum
and-bailing-wire stage with most internet apps, and the MacTCP based apps
are no exception.

>In any case, while I respect the views Pat is expressing, about
>componentware and "small is better" approaches, the market is voting with
>its feet for apps like Netscape, which are becoming the main programs folks
>will use for communication, News reading, and Web surfing.

Tell us about it in 6 months, Tim, when you've grown out of Netscape. You
sound like someone who's totally enamored with their "-works" app. Most
people end up using more specialized apps when they hit the wall with
something which won't get all those "general purposes" taken care of...

>So go ahead and do it! I've been waiting for many years for such things.

Soon. Very soon, Tim. There's talk on the mcip (Macintosh Crytography
Interface Project) list about version 3.0 of MacPGP which should be
completely modular, and should not require a shell-PGP session to work.
Until then, the applescript hacks seem to be holding up, though Mr. 'corn's
tribulations make a brilliant counterexample.  My signature below was done
with them...

>To state an obvious non-crypto use of such "modules," why do all major word
>processing and page layout apps have their own "dictionaries"? Why do I
>have to train the dictionaries of Word, Nisus, FrameMaker, MORE, etc.? That
>there have not been "dictionary modules," for many and sundry reasons, is

Claris started to do this, but nobody wanted to standardize on their stuff
for obvious reasons (they're owned by Apple)...

>(Before anyone mentions it, one can on the Mac use things like
>"Thunder" instead of the local dictionaries...this is not the same as a
>module usable by all programs, but instead is a user choice to bypass the
>local dictionaries. We could quibble for hours about whether this is in
>fact a universal module or not.

Indeed, though we shouldn't. Because it is.  Anyway, you're talking apples
<heh> and oranges here. A crypto module like we're talking about would
function more as an init, er, sorry, an extension, rather than as a separate
app, though Stuffit makes a good example of something which works pretty
well as both.

Bob Hettinga

Version: 2.6.2


Robert Hettinga (rah@shipwright.com)
Shipwright Development Corporation, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131
USA (617) 323-7923
"Reality is not optional." --Thomas Sowell
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