|Home About this site Contact
A collection of notes on subjects I've researched over the last 30 years including technology, science, politics, religion, history, travel, home maintenance, ...
In some places is a cursory summary of a newspaper or journal article and in others it may be the most comprehensive page on the Web.
Alexa smart speakers use donsnotes.
As of June 2020 there were over 2,000 pages.
When it was hosted at geocities (2000 - 2009) (www.geocities.com/dtmcbride) the 2,500+ pages here were getting 60,000 hits per month.
The current site is at donsnotes.com, donsnotes.info and donsnotes.org.
When more people started posting them on dial-up services like CompuServe, The Source and AOL.
In 1993 I started writing html using NCSA Mosaic, while at Bellcore and Telcordia.
I got a lot of hits during the pandemic, because I got tired of the news media reporting absolute number rather than rates. 1,000 new deaths in California is nothing, in Nevada it's significant. I wanted to know the probability of encountering someone with COVID in Berkeley vs Oakland.
In 1983 Xerox invited us out to their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to play with a new computer (Alto) that had a icon based graphical user interface controlled by a device called a mouse. It was pretty clear to me this would be the future of personal computing.
In 1985, after the breakup of AT&T, I created a consulting company called DIMEX (Digital Information Management and Exchange).
Some friends and I worked on a project to develop the next killer application to follow Lotus 1-2-3 (A spread sheet on the new IBM PC under DOS). I was impressed with Ted Nelson's work on hypertext in 1965 and was convinced that it was the future of electronic documents. We used a hypertext application called FileVision on the new graphical user interface computing platform from Apple called Macintosh, which used much of the interface developed at Xerox PARC. We created a set of interactive maps with links to restaurants, ATMs (you had to search to find them in 1985), gas stations, tourist attractions, etc. called Mac Travel Guide, which was written up in several of the Mac magazines. This was 12 or more years before Travelocity and Google maps.
I was also a fan of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog first published in 1968, which had an eclectic mix of tools, products, people, science, philosophy, how to, ...
Many of the maps and graphics here are still hand drawn in Mac Paint a 2-bit (black and white) graphics program designed to fit on the 512x342 pixel screen of the 512K Mac Plus introduced in 1985. Scanners and good mapping software was too expensive then.
It was later ported to HyperCard a HyperText application developed by Apple in 1991 based on the smalltalk object oriented programming language. I continued to add topics of interest, including a popular telephone area-code guide searchable by zip code.
FileVision and HyperCard both had features which still do not exist in the HTML format used by Web browsers.
At the same time I developed an Internet portal for Bellcore/Telcorida, the software and R&D arm of the Regional Bell Operating Telephone companies, with indexes to developments in the area of data and voice communications as well as internal project and corporate travel information. It initially used FTP services such as Gopher and Archie and eventually the web in 1994 as the Hypertext markup language (HTML) browser, Mosaic, was developed by Marc Andreessen under NCSA at the U. of Ill.
In 2000 some of the data from this web portal was combined with the original database which had expanded to provide historical information along with information on digital products and services which were exploding at the time and it was moved to Netscape's free web hosting site and then to another free hosting service, geocities.
My dream was to create something like wikipedia, but thought it would have to be more tightly managed. Having managed collaborative system design projects and technical reports I found it very hard to get creative people to follow standard, consistent formats, although in the 90's we did not have all the technical tools to enforce consistency. Kudos to Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger and their team for pulling it off.
A 30 year journey to get here, with a lot of fun along the way as technology continued to expanded functionality to make it possible. However, there were features in the 1984 Filevision and 1991 Hypercard which do not exist in 2010 vintage web browsers and many of the problems in todays web (e.g. broken links) would not exist if Ted Nelson's 40 year old model for hypertext had been used.
Why not allow adverting:
I was getting 40,000 unique hits per month in 2005.
I was getting requests to put advertising on my page, but there were some issues and I was involved too many other things to work on resolving them.
Around 2015 google started downgrading my rankings because I was not mobile-friendly.
1. I don't like intrusive adds. There are many web pundits, including Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web, who are very upset with the way developers are getting greedy with all the tricks they are using to forcing you into viewing more adds which degrades the user experience.1. I have copyrighted material for which I didn't get permission. In 20 years I've only got 1 request to take a copyrighted image down.
2. Google is downgrading me (I used to get 40,000 unique hits/month) because I'm not optimized for mobile devices. Problem is I have over 3,000 pages and there is not a good global search and replace algorithm to make them all mobile device compatible. I have lots of tables which require a larger display. I did change them to work on a tablet in landscape mode, but they want them to work on a phone. 3. I have copyrighted material for which I didn't get permission. In 20 years I've only got 1 request to take a copyrighted image down.
Return to Main