Reflections on WAP & DVD

Sometimes I feel as though I must be out of step with everyone else just because I’m profoundly uninterested in accessing the Internet from my cellphone.

Everywhere you look there are articles predicting a revolution in Internet usage through the magic of the Wireless Application Protocol, or WAP, as it is more commonly known. 

The hype would have it that people who’ve currently never even heard of the Internet will soon be using their WAP-enabled cellphones to order flowers, check their e-mail and keep up to date with the latest news. 

There is nothing at all wrong with the idea of WAP but on cellphones in South Africa at the current high price of cellular calls; puhleeeeze! You’d need devices with larger screens and calls costing next to nothing to make the whole thing really compelling. 

Experience has shown that I’m not infallible, however, and it wouldn’t be that surprising if this was another case when I’ve got it wrong. I still think, however, that it’ll mostly be the gadgeteers who take it up for the time being. 

And talking of being fallible, I still cringe inwardly when I remember being shown the Internet and the Worldwide Web for the first time and being completely unimpressed by the whole thing.  That was during a visit to the computer department at the University of Natal, in about 1992, and I never dreamed for one moment that it would ever be more than an academic curiosity. 

From that point it literally only took a year or two for the Internet to hit the mainstream and for me to start making a good portion of my living from it. My only consolation is that I did see the error of my ways a good bit before Bill Gates did. 

I’ve been reading in overseas publications about the rise of DVD RAM drives and now I see that they’ve arrived on our shores. Ordinary DVD players, which can play DVD movies as well as CD-ROMs and audio CDs, have been around for some time. 

DVD RAM drives, which can record on DVD discs, are far newer and, at around R5000, still pretty expensive but they do let you record 5,2Gb of data on a double-sided disc the size of a normal CD. 

Which means that, on one disc, you can store 230 minutes of compressed video, more than 8 hours of CD-quality sound, or 5,200 1Mb picture files which would be more than enough even for my bikini collection. 

The price of the drives isn’t too bad being only about R1500 more expensive than the better CD-ROM recorders which can only store 650Mb per disc. The price of the DVD RAM discs I’ve seen is R500 but they are reusable and also bound to come down in price. 

I was thinking vaguely of trading in my slowish CD-ROM recorder for a newer faster model but now I think I’ll hang on for a bit

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