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Edition 2.1, February 2000

The more things change, do they stay the same ?

The year 2k is now well under way - and despite the billions $pent, the average PC didn't meltdown, networks still work, and the Internet didn't go supernova. So what does this new millennium hold for the IT world? This edition of PCB's electronic newsletter TechnoBeat take the opportunity to reflect, project and even opinionate.

In this edition:

+ The MilkyWay's 5th birthday

+ PCB Staff Update

+ Passing the gigahertz mark

+ w2k Coming

+ Do penguins byte ?

+ Post y2k news

 

+++ the MilkyWay's 5th birthday report

On the 15th December 1999, Africa's first Internet Café, the MilkyWay, turned 5. The event was celebrated in grand PCB style with free Internet access for the general public all day long. The afternoon saw a well attended gathering, with the councillor for Yeoville, Carol Kgomo, paying tribute to the MilkyWay for the positive contribution it has made to the local community. PCB Director and GM Paul Boulle spoke about the inception and growth of the MilkyWay and, in true cyberspace style, MilkyWay founder Bruce Gillespie delivered a speech across the Internet all the way from London. The evening saw a road block SpinOut party, with 5 DJ's doing the honours. Big thanks to Vanessa, Anusha, Glenn, Ronel, Shinaz, Lulu and Pam and every one else for all the hard work.

The MilkyWay web site is at http://www.milkyway.co.za

 

+++ PCB Staff News

Sad news is that Florence Mabece suddenly passed away on Sunday the 29th January. Florence was not only one of our long standing and committed employees, but a dear and loved friend to all as well. We will all miss her deeply.

Jaky Nicol is with PCB now as a Support Assistant. She is working closely with Vanessa Davies in the growing Support Department, and will be helping with the first line of support work as well as customer liaison.

John Mc Keen joined the Support Team on the 24th of January as a Senior Support Technician.

Support Technician Quentin Qu has moved on from PCB to further his studies, and has started studying full time. We wish him as the best in furthering his education.

 

+++ passing the gigahertz mark

Intel are now showing off their latest technological feat - a Pentium chip running at one gigahertz - that's 1 000 million CPU cycles per second. Compare that to the 4.77 megahertz of Intel's 8086 chip used in the first IBM PC, and we have to agree that it's phenomenal. Volume production is promised soon.

What does this mean for the average Windows users ? Besides bringing on cases Ineedanupgrade-itis, not so much for most of us. The biggest reason for the hour glass blues is the limited speed that hard disk drives operate at. With Windows only ever getting bigger and bigger, most of it is stored (or overlaid) on to your hard disk, and as you use your system, it spends a lot of time accessing the hard disk. That's not going to get much better with a gigahertz turbo charge.

For gamers and graphics intensive applications, yes, things will speed up. And if you are a scientist running a complex simulation program, you might even get closer to real time (however if you are a real rocket scientist, you probably won't be using Windows anyway:)

More details on the Wired News site at http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,34100,00.html?tw=wn20000207

 

+++ w2k coming

"Business customers today are demanding greater reliability from their applications and operating systems'. That's how Simon Davies, an 'Architectural Engineer' for Microsoft starts off in an advertising feature for Windows 2000 in the latest edition of QBS Software news. What ? PCB's customers have been demanding this since the infant days of the personal computer! And that's way back in the 20th century.

And there is more. Windows 2000 allegedly offers a 'vast array of new features', a 'rich platform', even 'richer management capabilities', 'improved reliability', it 'reduces the cost of ownership', and 'reduces service downtime'. All sounds familiar doesn't it?

With Microsoft poised to spend the largest ever on promotions for the launch of Windows 2000 on February the 17th, no doubt there will be takers. But before you upgrade, consider this. It has been reported that many legacy Windows applications will neither install nor run on w2k. What that means is that the programs you are now using will not necessarily run after an upgrade to Windows 2000. And you know what that means ...yes, you might have to 'upgrade' your applications as well....once again.

 

+++ do penguins byte ?

The Linux (pronounced leenus) movement is growing - fast. It's always been around as a server (ask any Internet Service Provider), but now on the desktop as an alternative to Windows, it's starting to roll. One of the vital difference between Linux and Windows is the Open Source movement. This means that program bugs get fixed quickly, and more importantly, everyone and anyone can innovate improvements, and with the Internet, share them quickly. After all, this is how the Internet happened. And the goods news doesn't end there - it's also free !

PCB has been evaluating Corel's release of Linux, and whilst installation has been vastly simplified over previous releases, it's still a bit tricky. However, once it's installed properly, the consensus is it works well. Its still early days, but news in from the Computer Science Department at Wits University say that they have moved the PC's in the General Student lab over from Windows to Linux. And that's about 150 PC's. They will be used by students for e-mail and Internet access, as well as running mathematics and stats programs which have Linux equivalents.

One of the factors holding back the advance of Linux (known is historical terms as a 'reverse salient') has been the availability (or lack thereof) of every-day compatible applications such as word processors and e-mail clients. But it's starting to look good:

- Bynari's TradeMail project. This is a Linux Exchange client, meaning that you will be able to access an Exchange server on a LAN for e-mail and workgroup features.

'TradeMail is a result of listening to the requests of many companies who have expressed the need to use functionality similar to world class messaging systems by Lotus and Microsoft in the stability of the Unix environment.'

More details at http://cobra.bynari.net/

- StarOffice 5.1 - this is becoming more and more popular. It's a free download. There is also a Windows 9x version.

'Besides the free version for the personal non-commercial private use, further variants are available at a competitive price. StarOffice is a fully integrated, Microsoft Office compatible office suite which provides you the proper tools for nearly all tasks. No matter if you write letters or articles with the word processor (StarWriter), create lists with the spreadsheet program (StarCalc) or with the new graphic program (StarDraw) fantastic 3D images -StarOffice is complete and provides you all proper functions. Additionally, a database - powerful and, at the same time, simple to use (StarBase), a presentation program (StarImpress) and an event planer (StarSchedule) belong to the standard equipment. Users can open Microsoft Office files in order to convert spreadsheets, presentations and texts.'

Visit http://www.stardivision.com for further information

- Corel WordPerfect 8 is available as a free download from Corel.

'Corel WordPerfect 8 for Linux is an ideal office solution that delivers the same exceptional word-processing capabilities as the Windows® version, plus many features available only for Linux.'

http://linux.corel.com/products/linuxproducts_wp8.htm

Final word on Linux is from Wired News:

'Already the darling of programmers and investors, the Windows-alternative OS is slowly winning over IT professionals and hardware vendors. Theta Pavis reports from LinuxWorld in New York'

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,33911,00.html?tw=wn20000201

 

+++ post y2k news

January 1st 2000 has come and gone, and so far there has been little impact relating to the much-touted Y2K bug and related rollover problems. A few new viruses have been identified, although they have been classified as low risk, and further than that we continue to watch with baited breath to see where the first spearheads of the attack will come from.

But don't breathe too deeply yet - month ends and year ends still has to prove applications 21st century functionality. We will keep you posted!

 

Have you got any questions you'd like answered? Or maybe you'd like to share a funky utility with the TechnoBeat readers - submissions are welcomed. E-Mail us at TechnoBeat@pcb.co.za

 

+++
TechnoBeat is the monthly newsletter of PCB Technologies (Pty) Ltd and its divisions, including WiseNet Internet Services and The MilkyWay Internet Cafe. Opinions expressed by authors and contributors do not necessarily reflect PCB company policy.
It's edited by Bruce Gillespie, assisted by Vanessa Davies.

 

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