Netting The Future

Lucent Technologies says that by 2010 there will be enough digital capacity on Planet E to give every man, woman and child an Internet connection running at 100 megabits per second.
Which means, amongst other things, that the whole international system will be, in effect, one big LAN. Optical of course: the optical, photonic Internet is on its way.
The fact that even that is only milestone on the way to bigger-faster-better will surely boggle into silence the most rampant e-mind. But it is morsel to factor into your forward thinking (backward thinking being logically impossible – although that does not stop people trying it constantly).
Does Lucent, however, mean that 100Mbps is just 2010’s global bandwidth divided by its global population, or that that is what each of us will have at the plug? Bushmen of the Kalahari included?

Bugs in the programmers
Programming the entry of names and addresses is the most basic task in programming. So why is it that so many programmers, even in big, money-binned organisations, are fouling it up. I have an address that contains hyphen (-) and an apostrophe (?), as do many others, either in their names or addresses or both, and I was astounded at the problems that changing my address gave to significant proportion of computer networks. Many could not handle those two simple characters: they spat them out. The poor humans paid to press the keys had to resort to slash instead of hyphen, which means something very different and thus created non-existent address, and blank instead of an apostrophe, which insults vast numbers of nationalities that have apostrophes in their names (my street happens to have been named after someone from the land of the O’Bogs and the little people).
Programs that cannot accommodate all possible variations on human names and addresses have not been written for human beings or this planet – the real world. The true real world, that is, not the other real world implied by that well-known oxymoron, ?commercial reality’.
I know, I know, programmers will argue that they have to make sure, for the sake of database-searching algorithms or some such, that names are standardised so they can be found. Bunkum! What they are really saying is that people, the world of human beings, must be fitted to the machine.
No! Machines are there to serve us; we are not there to serve them. If we are to preserve our precious humanity we must always fit them to us. One computer company used to call that the Rigour Theory: the programmer must work to bend the machine; the programmer, not the user, must endure the rigorous path.
Names, too, often have more than 20 characters. So why are there still so many slavish vestiges of the ancient habit of allocating only that much? Disk-space is no longer an issue, so there is no excuse for insulting people by amputating their monnikers. Those who hire, manage and guide programmers should never forget that little things tell customers whether your company cares about their existence – ie, that they are human, that they live and breathe and have human needs and feelings. company that rides machine-shod over my name and address looks like one that will trample on my humanity at every turn. So when you treat my name and address with hardware insensitivity, you also repel my custom.
Code-cutters need to go and talk to human being sometimes. real one, not the IT manager. Judging by the inhuman stuff some of them serve up to us, they would find it real eye-opener. It might also prise their hearts open smidgen.

Nobilangelo Ceramalus: Writer, commentator, journalist, desktop publisher, graphics-designer, illustrator, webmaster, photographer.

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