Update on the perceived need for computer literacy
A survey of Americans carried out in September, 1996, by Knight-Ridder newspapers asked how they would change their lives if they could start them over. Options included choosing a new career, living somewhere else, or getting more involved in religion. To the surprise of everyone, the second most wanted change was learning more about computers (two out of three respondents, 67 per cent), behind only saving more money (79 per cent). It even led getting more education, the third most popular choice mentioned by 63 per cent of those surveyed. All demographic groups -- of both sexes, all races, all ages, and all political groups -- agreed in almost the same percentages about the need to know more about computers. Some speculate that the growth of and incredible publicity about the Internet and the World Wide Web accounts for such high and very striking figures. Estimates indicate that between 25 and 50 million Americans are already using the Web. This data suggests that the need for students at all levels to study computer literacy is more widely held by the general public than anyone earlier thought.
Source: Boyd, Robert S. 1996. "In Computers, Survey Finds a Focus for Both Fears and Opportunities." Columbia, SC, State, 6 October: D5.
Update on the seriousness of the year 2000 problem in computer dating schemes
The Web site http://www.year2000.com provides a clearinghouse of information about the problems to be expected with correcting computer software to handle the date problems in the year 2000, appropriately abbreviated as Y2K in computer terminology. According to an article posted there by Jeff Jinnett, one information technology research company estimates that the worldwide costs for software correction will be between $300 billion and $600 billion dollars. For instance, Prudential Insurance Company expects to pay about $150 million to fix over 125,000 lines of old computer code. Yet another survey suggests that about one in six American corporate bosses is not aware of the problem, and probably only half of these companies can get it solved in time. Doomsday predictions are that many of these companies will have to shut down their computing operations as the new century rolls around.
This Web site views the situation as a worldwide crisis and is trying to spread the word and offer assistance. When one logs onto the site, one of the first things that comes up on the screen is a posting of the number of days and hours until the year 2000, intended as a reminder that time is running down. The site includes online discussion groups, vendors who offer software assistance with the date problem, global interest groups working regionally to share information, and employment opportunities for people who need or can offer help in meeting this challenge. Anyone interested in this technological problem needs to keep this Web address handy.
Source: Jinnett, Jeff. 1996. "Legal Issues Concerning the Year 2000 'Millennium Bug.'" on the WWW site for the Year 2000 listed above.
Update on the continuing Web browser wars
In August, 1996, Netscape Communications accused Microsoft of breaking its consent decree with the Justice Department about its sales practices with PC manufacturers. Netscape contends that Microsoft was offering incentives to PC makers not to pre-install Netscape Navigator in favor of offering Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The charge made headlines throughout the country and clearly signaled an all-out browser war. Microsoft responded that Netscape was just reacting to the fact that the newest version of the Internet Explorer was now technically as good as Netscape. In September, the Justice Department again announced that it was again investigating Microsoft for possible antitrust violations. Much like claims against Microsoft from Apple Computer earlier in the decade, companies complain that Microsoft absorbs features from their innovative software and then attempts to lock them out of the market. Now the battleground is the Internet, and Microsoft again finds itself having to answer charges with the Justice Department. This legal development bears watching in the coming months.
Source: Ramstead, Evan. 1996. "Investigation Highlights Computer Changes." Columbia, SC, State, 21 September: B6, B10.