3.702 more on NeXT (57)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Sun, 5 Nov 89 17:17:23 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 702. Sunday, 5 Nov 1989.

Date: Sat, 4 Nov 89 13:15 EST
Subject: NeXT

I think some of the points made by James Coombs need to be qualified.

1. The system that Coombs describes as "very slow" sounds like an
optical only system. Yes, these are very slow. This is why NeXT has
now added--at no charge--a 40MB accelerator disk for swapping to improve
performance. The basic configuration is no longer an optical only
system, so some of the complaints about speed are no longer justified.
The system still needs more speed; I'm not trying to say that it doesn't.
But with a hard disk it is quite adequate.

2. I've been using a NeXT fairly intensively for almost two months. I
don't find the mouse "infuriating." In fact, I find no problem with it
at all. I've had no problem with "spurious clicks." As far as the
speed of acceleration, this is adjustable, via the Preferences application.
Here again, I fail to see the problem.

As regards a remark by Peter Graham to the effect that the Shakespeare
database is a "toy" that no academic could take seriously, perhaps I
am in need of some enlighenment. I'm an academic (Ph.D., Univ. of Chicago),
and I fail to see anything ludicrous about an online, indexed version of
the complete works of a great writer. Isn't this one of the clear
desiderata of humanists? In what sense is it a "toy"? Because its
"merely" Shakespeare and not the entire Library of Congress or something?
I think it was meant merely as an example of what the storage capacity
of the OD, coupled with the indexing capacity of the Digital Librarian,
could mean for humanists.

No one is saying that the NeXT is the perfect computer that makes
everything else obsolete. No one is saying that everyone should trash
what they are now using and run out and buy a NeXT. For one thing,
as Willard points out, it simply costs too much. And there is as
yet very little software. These are real problems. But it doens't
change the fact that machine deserves serious attention, and that
NeXT has done a lot of things right.

Rather than lapse into another "my computer is better than yours"
debate (a la "the Mac is better than the PC"), I'd simply like to
know if there are any humanists using NeXTs, and if so, what sorts
of things they are doing.

David Carpenter
St. Joseph's University
Philadelphia, PA 19131