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Newsletter Section 8

From the Net

Escape from E-mail Hell

Prominent computer scientist and developer of TEX, Donald Knuth, professes himself to be a “happy man” since dropping his use of an e-mail address in 1990. “I'd used e-mail since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of e-mail is plenty for one lifetime.” Knuth goes on (in his Stanford University web page):

E-mail is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.

Knuth also cites a remark by Umberto Eco in the New Yorker:

I don't even have an e-mail address. I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.

Given the rate at which spam is increasing on the Net, the rest of us may soon be voicing the same sentiments.

Top Ten Product Placements in Upcoming Summer Blockbusters

The selling of computer technology has gone far beyond ads in “Byte” and the occasional taxicab placard at Comdex. This year, computer companies are getting more aggressive with their marketing dollars. The proof? These planned product placements in the upcoming summer blockbuster movies:

.     “Batman and Robin”: Bat Signal replaced by Internet Explorer logo;
.     “Speed 2: Cruise Control”: Diba's belly-button Internet appliance worn by Sandra Bullock;
.     “The Lost World”: Microsoft pays to have Jeff Goldblum eaten by T.Rex while waiting for PowerBook to boot;
.     Netscape pays Bruce Willis to discover “The Fifth Element”: JavaScript;
.     “Titanic”: IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer predicts path of icebergs; ship changes course; and they all live happily ever after;
.     “Men in Black”: Will Smith replaces CPU in alien mothership with flawed Pentium II; ship misses Earth, crashes into Venus instead;
.     Apple puts all its summer marketing money into product placement in the guaranteed mega-smash, “Free Willy III” (targeting the wealthy 8-10-year-old, computer-buying demographic);
.     “Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation”: free AOL CD-ROMs used as deadly throwing stars;
.     “Air Force One”: Harrison Ford launches thermonuclear attack on Seattle with brand-new Oracle Network Computer; Larry Ellison in cameo as Secretary of Defense.

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