Australian Society of Anaesthetists Newsletter Volume 94, Issue 1, April 1994
“And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes boiling in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past… a fragmented mandala of visual information… fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. And somewhere he was laughing, tears of release streaking his face”
From ‘Neuromancer’, by William Gibson.
These words almost capture the euphoria of a true believer entering a computer network. This month I will describe the hardware and software needed to play in the universe of Internet with an IBM compatible computer. I apologise to ‘Mac’ users for my compucentrism. If you want to redress the balance please write an article for these pages.
To get the most out of the information revolution you should have a 386 DX 20 Mhz or above. The operating system should be Windows 3.1. This will keep you in the mainstream with a large range of modems and software to choose from.
Modems connect your computer to the telephone network. It is not possible to read up on modems and come to an informed decision. By the time you understand the state of play they move the electronic goal posts. This week the de facto standards seem to be based on the ITU-TSS standards (formerly known as CCITT). Speeds up to 14.4 kilobits per second are covered by the V.32bis standard. Error correction during transmission is covered by the V.42 standard. (ie. LAP-M with fall back to the an MNP compatible alternative protocol). Data compression can increase throughput by 4 to a speed of 57.6 Kbit/sec (covered by the V.42bis standard.) At these speeds you will need a high speed UART 16550 chip installed in your computer. Have you caught my drift? Find someone you can trust to get local advice and back-up. You should also try before you buy.
While you are at it why not get a modem that talks to fax machines as well? I get a great deal of satisfaction from faxing myself. It is a cheap and convenient way to scan pictures and text into your computer. I photocopied the cover of ‘Neuromancer’ to get a black and white version on paper. I sent that copy through a standard fax machine to the fax-modem attached to my computer. The bit mapped image needed a few minutes cleaning up in Microsoft ‘Paintbrush’. The result was cut and pasted into this article which is composed in Microsoft ‘Word 2.0a’. If you have text on paper that needs retyping you can fax that to yourself. You then use optical character recognition (OCR) to translate the image into text that can be cut and pasted into your word processor. To obtain a fax modem with sufficient grunt you will pay $500 to $1000.
Next you will need some software to drive your modem. Communication packages cost around $250. Best buy in a recent magazine review went to Crosstalk for Windows. This allows drag and drop file sending that I cried out for in my last article. You will probably require the assistance of your local computer nerd to set the program up to get the full advantage of your modem and automate tasks like file sending. Fax packages are much easier to use. WinFax Pro is nice but there are many to choose from at $250.
A good guide to Internet is ‘Zen and the art of Internet’. Unfortunately you have to know how to use Internet to get hold of it! The bible I use, published this year by Osborne, is titled ‘The Internet Complete Reference’. It covers absolutely everything you need to know in a friendly, informal manner. Technical details are treated with the disrespect they deserve. There are many interesting digressions to lighten the load. For example the 4 most common news groups that are subscribed to on the net are:
That says something about Maslow’s heirachy of needs. I will not go into any more detail on the NET… buy the book.
Unless someone relieves me of my literary burden by writing an article on computing/research I will be forced to write about CD-ROM drives next issue.
Finally a word of thanks to Monarch Medical for bringing my old boss professor Erdmann to Australia. He reminded me there is science after graduation, and more to anaesthesia than 4:2 and three clicks on the dial.
PS. I will pay $50-60 for a Nintendo Power Glove to help me further my research into virtual reality. No questions asked.
|EMAIL: david.sainsbury”AT”adelaide.edu.au Last Update:02/05/2005|