3.326 MIPSy workstations, cont. (238)

Sat, 5 Aug 89 15:23:05 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 326. Saturday, 5 Aug 1989.

(1) Date: Fri, 04 Aug 89 07:42:39 EDT (16 lines)
From: David Megginson <MEGGIN@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 3.321 MIPSy multitasking workstations, cont. (140)

(2) Date: Fri, 4 Aug 89 09:30 CST (16 lines)
From: CHURCHDM@vuctrvax
Subject: MIPS

(3) Date: Fri, 04 Aug 89 13:24:15 EDT (72 lines)
From: Andrew Gilmartin <ANDREW@BROWNVM>
Subject: MIPS and Humanist computing

(4) Date: Fri, 4 Aug 89 15:15 CDT (30 lines)
From: "John K. Baima" <D024JKB@UTARLG>
Subject: Sun's for Humanists

(5) Date: 08/04/89 15:46:01 EST (71 lines)
Subject: Use for 12.5 MIPS workstations

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 89 07:42:39 EDT
From: David Megginson <MEGGIN@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 3.321 MIPSy multitasking workstations, cont. (140)

For text searching and analysis on the Sun, I would recommend PAT from
the Oxford dictionary project at Waterloo. I have had an opportunity
to try it out, and I have been reading the literature on how it works.
I seems that it actually generates an index smaller than the original
text. It also has enough features to make an IBM program like
WordCruncher seem rather like a toy.

In fact, _any_ Unix program can be recompiled onto the Sun, which
means that thousands of different programs are only an hour or two

David Megginson <MEGGIN@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------20----
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 89 09:30 CST
From: CHURCHDM@vuctrvax
Subject: MIPS

The discussion about high-powered workstations prompts me to share with
those of you who weren't there my favorite quote from the Dynamic Text
Conference (actually from the Advanced Workstation Workshop that
preceded the Conference):
Non-existent software doesn't run any faster at 100 MIPS
than at 10 MIPS.
Obviously, it could be argued that software to take advantage of the
fancy equipment can't be developed without that equipment. But that is
no reason for those who aren't developing software to insist on having
such equipment right now.
Dan M. Church
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------75----
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 89 13:24:15 EDT
From: Andrew Gilmartin <ANDREW@BROWNVM>
Subject: MIPS and Humanist computing

Recently I have also been thinking about the problem of whether
software or hardware should be considered in purchasing a computer. In
the past I would have always answered software now I am not so sure.
Let me explain.

The core of my problem is in what form do I store my data so that it
can be worked with easily and yet safely be moved between machines and
even between environments on the same machine? HUMANISTS frequently
talk about the benefits afforded by document type definitions in SGML
but still the problem exists in what form is the encoding done. ASCII
or, worse yet, a restricted form consisting of the intersection of
ASCII and EBCDIC seems the safest. While it is arguable that this form
is far too restrictive a representation it is the only form that is
universally acceptable. (If Apple Computer's work on MIFF works and is
adopted by others we may soon have another.)

Settling on such a decision Paul Delany's question concerning MIPS is
coincidental. In order to work--browse, edit, and analyze--efficiently
with such a low level representation of such high-level abstractions
(as defined by a DTD) you need a powerful computer that can quickly
change this representation into an efficient (for the computer)
internal form. This constant decoding and encoding requires a very
fast disk and a very fast processor.

Since my choice of representation has decided the kind of hardware--in
Paul's case it might be a SPARCstation--what software do I have?
Tipping my hat into the ring (expecting a bloodied nose) Unix is the
best currently available environment for Humanist work. If you can get
past the obscure command mnemonics the wealth of software available to
the Humanists is astounding. Unix was designed by programmers to aid
the development and maintenance of software. Humanists are doing
something quite analogous.

What tools are available? A few examples (and maybe others will
contribute more suggestions):

- SCCS or RCS for managing all the documents that compose a

- "Tools for Humanists" a collection of Unix filters (tools that
transform one representation into another) for producing word

- Icon (or SNOBAL4) for delving even deeper into the the content.

- Browser, is not just for HyperCard users. There is also a Unix

- TeX (in conjunction with LaTeX or AMSTeX) is one of the highest
quality text processing system available.

- Emacs, for editing. (Personally I would prefer something more
Macintosh like.)

I have a Macintosh on my desk. I do need it for the type of work I do
but for the Humanist projects I have worked with the Macintosh and IBM
PC are almost useless. By all means buy a Macintosh but make sure that
you can Telnet to a Unix system to do other work. (Alternatively, buy
a NeXT and get both worlds.)

-- Andrew Gilmartin
Computing & Information Services
Brown University
Box 1885
Providence, Rhode Island 02912
andrew@brownvm.brown.edu (internet)
andrew@brownvm (bitnet)
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 89 15:15 CDT
From: "John K. Baima" <D024JKB@UTARLG>
Subject: Sun's for Humanists

There is one good use of true multitasking (as opposed to Multifinder)
that has not been discussed as a use for a Sun workstation: email. If
you are on a campus that has an Internet connection, the Sun could be
used as a bridge to give a Mac/IBM PC net direct access to internet.
The next release of the TOPS email package, InBox will support SMTP
(simple mail transfer protocol, the UNIX mail standard). This would
allow someone to compose and read mail on their Macs and send it
through the Sun. Even without Internet, a Sun can be used to call
other UNIX machines so that mail can get in and out via UUCP. There
are other ways of getting email, but this is one way.

One of the nice programs for Sun workstations is FrameMaker. FM is
both a word processor and a desk top publishing system. It really is a
good program. A major update is due in the fall and they have promised
SGML support by early 1990. FM could thus be one of the earlest and
best word processors to support SGML transparently. SGML without ever
having to type a "<". FM will be available on Mac's, but I think that
it would suffer on the typical Mac screens.

By the way, the original message mentioned a Sun 350. Is that a 3/50?
Although I am using a Sun 3/50 to write this, I would not buy a 3/50
because it cannot be easily upgraded and the base configuration (4 MB
RAM) cannot really run the latest version of the SunOS.

John Baima
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------74----
Date: 08/04/89 15:46:01 EST
Subject: Use for 12.5 MIPS workstations

A few more comments about Paul Delany's possible acquisition of a 12.5
MIPS Sun SPARCstation. Sun workstations can run DOS software (if that
helps), but he should consider the cost of hardware and software
maintenance, which are very high for workstations. More details on
these two subjects follow at the end of this message.

Maintenance costs must be considered. Humanities scholars who are
offered one-time-only cash for setting up a lab should not forget that
the bills keep coming.

It's hard, but try not to get seduced by hot new hardware.
Everyone is at risk to this. The folks from IRIS who gave the
Advanced Function Workstation workship at the recent Toronto
conference spent the first hour hammering home the point that it's the
software environment that makes a workstation ``advanced.'' They then
spent the next two or three hours on a detailed look at specific
chips, storage media, mice (do you want 3 buttons or just 2?), etc
etc. We got a demo of the NeXT environment and Intermedia in the
afternoon, but they left us all frustrated by telling us at end:
``We had other software demos to show you, but we've run out of time!''

Tom Horton
Computer Science, Florida Atlantic University

DOS on Suns

If Paul was interested in using DOS software in the lab, Sun sells a
product called DOS Windows for the Sun SPARCstation ($495 list) which
will allow you to run all your favorite DOS humanist packages (text
retrieval, word processing, CALL, etc). (I have no first-hand
experience with this package.) The newer Suns (SPARCstation, 3/80,
etc) can be bought with a 3.5" disk drive that read DOS diskettes.
Also Sun sells software that would allow you to network DOS PCs to
this workstation, so you could conceivably use the SPARCstation as the
center of a networked DOS PC lab.

Maintenance Costs

Bob Amsler alluded to something that has to be considered in setting
up a software lab: cost of hardware maintenance. I've been involved
in choosing machines for various labs and administering our
departmental workstations, and a room full of Suns, Apollos, HPs, etc
will eat you alive if you keep them on hardware and software support.

For example, the SPARCstation Paul Delany is considering will cost him
between US $96 and $130 each MONTH in hardware maintenance after the
first 90 days. (Price for next-day, on-site service. Cheaper rates
may be available if you can live without your machine for several
weeks. Hardware maintenance for workstations is not normally
discounted for universities unless there are a lot machines on campus.)

This does not even include software maintenance (although this is
usually discounted). Software for workstations is expensive. For
example, FrameMaker, a popular Desktop Publishing Package, is about
$1000 per machine. (And if you want maintenance and updates, it's
$515 a year for the 1st user, $195 each additional user.)

I don't know how these maintenance costs compare to those for PCs.
But maintenance costs are high enough to cause problems for our
fairly-well-funded computer science department, so humanities
departments beware.