3.981 the ideal workstation

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 30 Jan 90 20:45:42 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 981. Tuesday, 30 Jan 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 29 Jan 90 11:56:35 EST (6 lines)
Subject: Re: 3.964 the perfect workstation (22)

(2) Date: Mon, 29 Jan 90 22:41:24 EDT (80 lines)
Subject: Ideal workstation

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 90 11:56:35 EST
Subject: Re: 3.964 the perfect workstation (22)

Tell me more about Amiga, esp. for wordprocessing. I don't give
a rip about colors or drawing pictures. How about the other stuff?
Can it do things like Mac's hypercard?
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------87----
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 90 22:41:24 EDT
Subject: Ideal workstation

Subject: The Ideal Workstation: Summing Up

After conferring on the subject for most of this past Monday--watching
three hours of demos, listening to several high-powered speakers,
sitting around a table talking--a few things seem to come clear
about the ideal humanist scholar's workstation. First, the gritty problem
of cost. There is no way that what I am describing below will cost
much less than $10,000, so that some of the Administrative money
for capital improvements that Kessler has been talking about must
move over into paying for the active scholar's desk. There could
be a meter or two ticking at that desk, one for usage (no
administrator wants 10K worth of equipment lying anywhere
unused) and another for increased productivity and valuable
output in the form of improved instruction, greater quantity
and quality of scholarship and greater departmental service
(everything from a better department brochure to more effective
communication with job-candidates).

MEMORY (volatile, non-volatile, static): The ideal workstation
should have at least 4Mb RAM, to help with various operating systems
and programs that eat RAM during operation. It should have over
100MB of storage, preferably removable and read/write, and
it should have easy access to static storage media such
as CD-ROM and videodiscs.

SPEED: It should operate at least at maximum present capacity (at the
moment the safest seems to be 33MHz), with software and hardware caches
to help in the rapid swapping of data. Cache size? At least 128K?

with an operating system that allows multitasking, multiple
windowing and hypertext activities easily, so that no software
will have to operate at only one level. Multitasking in this case
should allow access to visual media in color and motion, should
allow the hardware to reproduce sound and music with CD-quality
networks outside of the workstation either in the form of local
or wide-area networks or access to electronic mail systems such as BITNET.

PROGRAMMING: It should allow humanists with limited knowledge of
programming to define and easily manipulate icons so as to modify
existing programs or to create new ones. The interface of the
entire system needs to use icons that are clear enough so that
even "word people" can't misunderstand them.

DESKTOP PUBLISHING: It should allow writers, artists, designers,
typesetters and publishers to combine forces easily to design
and produce newsletters, brochures, pamphlets and even books
(both in print and in electronic forms). Thus the memory and
speed of the hardware, combined with software that can create
subtle variations in type, in spacing of bodies of type and in
the combining of type and image on each "page," should be able
to create attractive and readable published material.

PERIPHERALS: The workstation should be capable of being used either by
scientists who need the highest-resolution of image (for CAD/CAM
three-dimensional images or for mathematical formulas) or editors and
desk-top publishers who also need enough of a high-resolution image
so that two pages (say typewriter-sized) of text and graphics
might be examined side-by-side. It must therefore have a monitor and
video-card that can produce such well-defined images, preferably in
color. It should also be able to print such images by means
of a stand-alone or networked laser printer (for the best-quality
reproduction) and a rapid dot-matrix printer, to produce less-
expensive pages as with letters and memos. It should also be able
to access either networked or standalone sources of static information
such as CD-ROM or videodiscs. Access to other storage media, from
3 1/2" floppy disks holding 1.44MB of information to optical
read/write storage, should be available for back-up. Need I
mention a mouse? And access to OCI hardware and software for
entering text and images?
The only already-assembled combination of hardware and
software that can do all of the above at the moment seems to
be the NeXT--but just saying that should bring all the Mac
and DOS and Sun and Unysys people out for some lively discussion.