Tuesday, June 30, 1998

The Truman Show

Editor's NOTE: This is a moldie oldie that I pulled from a text dump archive. None of the links will work anymore (or 99% won't) - but the names and companies have NOT changed.

I saw the movie "The Truman Show" this weekend... what a COOL movie!

Yep, if you liked the previous "The Crucible" review I did... you're in for another treat. If you hated the previous "The Crucible" review I did - then you can stop reading here.

OK, for those of you still here - the basic idea of the movie is that a human (yep - Truman Burbank played by Jim Carrey) was legally adopted by a large broadcasting company (OmniCam Corporation) for the sole purpose of providing a "real" TV show.

This poor person goes on about his life, without knowing that EVERYTHING in it is being controlled and manipulated by the "mad genius" Christof (played by Ed Harris) the person who conceived and has directed, produced and supervised it through it's entire 30 year run. Christof observes (directs) the entire show from a control room that is disguised as the moon (as in "man-in-the").

Truman lives in a beautiful beach side community called Seahaven. It's a typical picture-perfect little town, compete with beach, picturesque beach cottages, a small downtown including a bank, restaurant, hardware store, etc. However, the entire picture-perfect town of Seahaven is actually a gigantic sound stage. Truman's friends and family - everyone he meets, in fact - are actors - INCLUDING his WIFE, Meryl (played by Laura Linney).

To top it all off he lives every moment under the unblinking gaze of over 5,000 hidden TV cameras. I mean they have these things everywhere from the radio in his car, to behind the two-way bathroom mirror, to the bedroom, kitchen, and thousands of spots all over town. Literally, Truman's every move is caught on tape, and he doesn't know it.

Because it's a live TV show that's on 24 hours a day, seven days a week (including a live international feed) - WITHOUT any commercials. Everything in the show is "for sale." His wife, Meryl (a Carol Brady/Donna Reed/Shirley Jones combo), extolls the virtues of the coffee drinks, the house they live in, the car they drive... holy product placement, Batman!

I know what you're thinking - why the hell doesn't he just get in the car and drive away? Ah ha! It seems that there's only one bridge out of town - and that bridge crosses water. When Truman was a kid, his "father" drown so he's terrified about anything having to do with water, over water, etc.

Fast forward a bit.

He has received clues from some of the "actors" that his life is really a TV show. Of course, he doesn't believe it (I mean come on - would YOU??)... but then he realizes that it's all true. He still has no idea he's actually on a giant sound stage - and when he takes a route out of town, all of a sudden there's an instant traffic jam. He makes a U Turn, goes around the block, comes back to the same intersection and there's not a car on the street.

Good stuff! I won't ruin the ending, but it didn't suck nearly as bad as I thought it would.

So, this is the part of the program where I try to tie this movie into the computer industry... here's goes.

It might as well have been called "The Windows 98 Show." No matter what channel you tune to, or what magazine or newspaper or ezine you read, Windows 98 is the top story. No matter what country you live in.

Although "Christof" is a much cooler name than "Bill Gates" - they are both playing the wizard behind the curtain. Gates, like Christof, is the man behind the conception, production and direction of the entire show. There have been well over 5,000 cameras with "live" coverage of Windows 98, and there will no doubt be more as time goes on.

Like the product placements in Truman's world, everything on the Internet Explorer Desktop (oops, I mean "Windows 98 desktop") is for sale: IF #1 - you're NOT Netscape, #2 - you want to give exclusive content to Microsoft, AND #3 - they don't actually buy your company first.

Gates hasn't yet bought the moon, but he does have a $50 million home on Puget Sound from which he can control the entire show. The picture-perfect setting that Microsoft is trying to portray for Windows 98 users costs about as much as a huge sound stage, but thankfully, we're all free to leave at any time.

Saturday, June 06, 1998

FREE - but at what price?

Editor's NOTE: This is a moldie oldie that I pulled from a text dump archive. None of the links will work anymore (or 99% won't) - but the names and companies have NOT changed.

Ok, Ok, I know. It's been a couple of months since I've been able to update this column (in fact, the entire damn site!)... I deserve 1000 web lashings.

There's been a ton o' changes to the FileMaker Pro landscape (and computing in general) since the last column. Claris has become FileMaker, Inc., Apple Computer has announced an all-in-one mac called the iMac, Rapshody has become Mac OS X (ten), and we've been entertained by Mr. Bill's courthouse antics. At ClickWare, we launched ClickWorld (the definitive FileMaker Pro resource) in January, and so far have almost 10,000 registered users of the site.

But growth comes at a price...

For FileMaker Inc, the loss of ALL other products other than FileMaker Pro also meant the loss of some fantastic people (and some real JERKS) at the restructured company. It was with an extremely heavy heart that I slowly lost touch with some of the people who were with me at the beginning of my FileMaker journey.

For Apple... well, you know the story. If not, you can check it out here.

For ClickWorld... alas, I feel the end is near. We currently have a Macintosh G3 (233 mHz) computer running WebStar and Lasso 2.5 - that powers the ENTIRE site. The performance has been excellent! The problem comes down to dollars and cents. When we launched the site, we launched it in cooperation with an ISP in the Bay Area (Infoasis). They were creating a FileMaker Pro Hosting service, and in exchange for a connection to their T-1, we provided free banners on certain pages forever.

Well, this week, the "other shoe" dropped. It seems Infoasis is now re-thinking their hosting business, and therefore do not need the banner ad. No banner ad = no "free ride" on their network. Translation: either we have to pay $350 per month to co-locate the computer, or ClickWorld goes away. Now, if you've cruised this ClickWare site - or you've surfed on over to ClickWorld, you know that we provide tons of free tips, free software, and resonably priced tools for FileMaker folks. You also may or may not know, our web presence is for YOU. We strive to be a resource, a depository of information, tips and files that are of use... all for free.

The ClickWorld site is free, the discussion area on ClickWorld is free, the international developer on ClickWorld is free, you can quickly locate and purchase the latest FileMaker Pro books (in association with Amazon.com), there are articles (including this one) that are free.... well, you get the idea.

We don't make any money from our web sites. The product sales simply help to cover the costs of the web presence - we make our money by doing custom FMP and Web development. The reality is that since the ClickWorld site has taken a considerable amount of time and money to implement, it's simply not possible to continue dumping money into a "free" resource.

UPDATE 6/13/98: Shawn Hogen from Data-Point Software has arranged for an ISP to co-locate the server. THANKS Shawn!

Whatever the fate of ClickWorld, rest assured that THIS web presence (ClickWare) is NOT going anywhere. We're committed to keeping it up and running as long as ClickWare is in business. We want to update the site according to what YOU want. Tell us what you LIKE and HATE about this site - and I promise that we'll do everything we can to help.

Thank you all!

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