TV/Web convergence can't happen soon enough for me!

This week convergence buffs got a big boost with the intended announcement of Microsoft buying WebTV. At last we will have somewhere to hang our video monitors. But before you start popping the champagne, I have a simple and personal question: where do you folks watch TV? Is it the same room of your house where your computer (assuming you have one) is?

Until we can feel comfortable placing both devices either next to each other in the same room (or using the same device), convergence ain't gonna happen. I offer my own sad example for your inspection:

For the past year, we have been in renovation mode here at Chez Strom. And with the last room of our abode finally seeing some new paint and refinishing, we are now faced with the ugly reality of convergence. So where do we put all of our audio/video/computing gear? Previously, we had our TV in our living room, and computer in our front room. Both rooms have phone lines, and we don't have a cable connection.

Now I don't know what to do. I floated a trial balloon of moving the computer into our living room: that went over with The Boss like another high-concept Internet IPO. My daughter is lobbying heavily for moving the TV into the front room, which (she says) she will fill with her own toys that have been strategically placed in every room of our home.

Ironically, the PC we now have came with a video tuner card that can play video programming right here on my VGA monitor. The first night I had the machine home, my daughter watched one of her tapes this way - although the picture quality was so bad that she hasn't asked to do it again.

Meanwhile, I'd like to buy into DVDs but am pissed at Hollywood for missing the opportunity to have a truly convergent, recordable digital media. For those of you that are still having trouble with technology: computer DVD drives can record but not onto PC-based CD-R formats. Audio/Video DVDs can only playback, although can play ordinary CD audio as well. Neither works with the coming HDTV format. And don't get me started about dealing with surround sound. This has turned into a real mess.

The big movie moguls were scared that DVD would spell their digital demise, and as a result blew a convergence opportunity. Meantime, the real convergence is the consolidation happening in the board rooms: look at the proposed mega-mergers announced in the past week (Ascend/Cascade, Rational/Pure Atria, etc.).

So here is one frustrated consumer, trying to cope with his product configuration. I am sure I am not alone in this frustration.

In other news: PointCast is really a bandwidth pig

The real depressing news this week was how much of Internet bandwidth has been taken over by PointCast. In a paper given at this week's W3C conference at Stanford, "Hits and Miss-es: A Year Watching the Web," Dr. John Graham-Cumming ( of Optimal Networks tracked web users at both 1996 US Interop shows and on the actual Internet that he could see from his own office connection. His results are sobering: the PointCast Network is in use by only 12% of users (measured by IP address) but ended up generating almost 18% of all web traffic (measured in actual bytes transferred). Aborted downloads of Netscape's home page took another big bite out of bandwidth. (Haven't people figured out how to turn off their default start page yet?) What is really depressing is that the period of study was last fall, well before many of the push players even got started. Site-keeping and self-promotions dep't

Site-keeping and self-promotions dep't

My first article for Internet World magazine is now on the stands. Entitled Fast Company, I tested seven different ISDN routers for small office and home use. None of the routers could be installed without help from the manufacturers, a sad state of affairs. The link wasn't yet posted on when I last checked, however.

And I also wrote a review of Hilgraeve's latest HyperAccess terminal emulation program for Windows. It appeared in Infoworld last week.

The week after next I'll be in Reno, giving the opening keynote speech at the Enterprise Network Association, which used to be called the Banyan Users Group. You can check out the speech, entitled, "Is it time to take the NT plunge" (never one to avoid controversy) here. You'll need to download the Freelance player to view it.

David Strom
+1 (516) 944-3407
back issues
entire contents copyright 1997 by David Strom, Inc.