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The Ultimate Fairytale : A short history of Greece, Rome, Israel, England, France, and Germany.

Originally, computers involved the interaction between users and programmers. For, a computer started up into a line-interactive programming language. Programming is the process of putting bugs into computer programmes: for offices are distracting environments at times. And in a programming team one must adapt to the team leader's system, which makes it considerably more difficult to know that what one is doing is going to work, as one is no longer relying on one's own experience. These things a person needs to know before they ask what a programming language is, if they believes in fixing their own mistakes, because that is a question that only programmers ask: that is the question that defines a programmer.

But this isn't about philosophy; this is about Bob the Builder. Bob decided to open an Internet Cafe; he wasn't happy with the fact that people had become less interested in quality construction.

Freshly ground coffee is great, and isn't it wonderful that we need no mortar-and-pestle to grind it? I would get myself a cappuccino machine, but that I would be at the risk of being told that I had no right to mention even the lightest irritation that might occur to a living man: married to motors and gears.

When MS-Windows 95 was made available, the computer (with it) no longer booted up to a programming language. Thus the micro-computer was no longer something one bought to satisfy one's curiosity; to find out what it can do and what you can do with it: it was now a product. This was ideal for Bob. Some people are born thinkers, and some doers. Bob went amongst his friends and acquaintaces to find someone who could run things for him, and found Tyrone.

Computers are not child's play, but some started that way. It was the microcomputer revolution. It came about that the programmers were expected to be able to do everything on a computer.

Microsoft brought in a protocol which was easy, peasy, pudding and pie, called NetBEUI. All one had to do was pick a name for each computer on the network. Sort of like naming your children. Tyrone had had his mind puzzled by mythological names, and to these he reverted for his network. At least, the network he was custodian of.

The server was naturally the Supreme Being; which brings us to a rather strange phenomenon called MS-Windows NT. While Windows for Workgroups had been successfully marketed as a peer-to-peer system, without a central point, every tree has a root, even if it doesn't exist in the hardware.

And so, while it was natural to expect that Bob had enough natural savvy to do a job on a single computer, to have expected him to be capable of running a network with the technology that was around at the time was not possible. It must be, therefore, that Microsoft knew that Bob would call on Tyrone. But bear in mind that MS-Windows NT was something one bought off the shelf at a computer shop.

We then started to see that curious product called MS-Windows NT Workstation. Competing with '95 (and then '98 followed by ME), it included a permissions system. Initially it was totally unsuitable for VR gaming, and only used where the improved reliability of the NT kernel was worth the expense. Is it assuming too much, to say that ME was a final push by Microsoft away from the platform they had ever planned to terminate when the time was right?

We need permissions--connecting MSW95 to the Internet was a disaster waiting to happen--but then we need to look at the network as a whole. Tyrone was either too proud to resort to management tools, or it was entirely up to him to choose and motivate for one; so he just held the whole shebang in his head.

Somewhere in all this, Microsoft brought in their certifications. Here's a point-and-click Workstation; here's a point and click Server. And therefore a point-and-click Network. And here's a Certificate for those who come to us for instruction in how to point-and-click: in how to do the thing which we sold to the public as obviating the necessity of instruction.

We all knew that that was just marketing; that one did need knowledge and experience to run a network. But it seemed to some that Microsoft was craftily maintaining a shiny image to users. Their certification courses were for non-programmers: for people who needed an income, and were quite happy for Microsoft to tell them what a computer is; and what a network is; and what a tree is; and what a relational database is.

With all this in place, Microsoft could fearlessly extend what could be done on the command-line: inside the 'DOS-box'.

It has been said that programmers love their command line. This is not true: we see point-and-click interfaces as tending to be rat-traps. In fact, there are two: the mouse and the pointer.

The goal of every gui app is user friendliness; yet we find this goal frustratingly evasive. For, people want computer literacy as a skill under their belt; whereas we design a gui app hoping that it can be used by anyone who is but literate.

There is such a thing as computer literacy, apart from one's skills in using apps: one needs to understand what a filesystem is; what permissions are for; the subtle difference between code and data.

With that in mind, you might be ready not to shut a programmer down in conversation, with:

"It works like magic."

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