Access is still in the dark ages.
While the media is currently busy trying to convince the public that the Internet bandwagon is over and bankrupt, the rest of us know there is still much more work to be done. Much of this work needs to happen at the first level–the user’s connection to the Internet.
ISPs, so far, have concentrated on hooking up customers using traditional modems. While modem technology has gotten faster over the years, the basic components of computer apparatus, modem and account have remained. Wireless ISPs, utilizing the new 802.11b wireless spec, have been making noise of late and, while allowing for a greater degree of flexibility, are still of the same mold. Internet access points as ubiquitous as ATMs or payphones have yet to be realized.
Do we really need access points everywhere we go? Yes, we do. The promise of the Internet lies in the dream of instant information. From weather to news, movie listings to the latest restaurant reviews, the problem now lies not with the quantity of information but rather the availability. While you might not want to lug your laptop to these terminals, how about syncing your PDA via the infrared port when you pick up cash? These access points will become as common and user friendly as the corner newspaper rack, while providing information digitally. How soon is the million-dollar question.
British Telecom is already experimenting with this idea, transforming some of its payphones into Internet Terminals. While this story shows that BT has a few bugs to work out, they are on the right track.
Apache configuration made easy
Personally, I enjoy recompiling Apache after a new release. Reading the release notes to see what’s been fixed and what’s been added is about my only chance to keep current with Apache’s development. Occasionally though, when pressed, it would be helpful to have a way to easily pull the various modules together into a coherent binary. Well, look no further, the Apache Toolbox has released version 1.5, making it very easy to compile 52 optional Apache modules, including the popular PHP, mod PERL and mod SSL modules. If you don’t have the latest source code, the Toolbox uses “wget” to find and download whatever you need. Simply brilliant, check it out.
Garth Gillespie is architect and chief technologist for ComputerUser.com.