[SOUNDSTAGE!] Marc Mickelson is the Editor-in-Chief of SoundStage!
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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
February 1999


There I was, talking again to the phone company -- purgatory if there ever was one. I had arranged for the installation of a second phone line (guess what for?), and nobody showed up from 8 to 5 on the scheduled day. "I see the problem," the voice on the phone said, "a computer error." Seems that the person I locked in my plans with mistakenly put the date for installation down as a month later, and although I didn’t point out to the person I was talking to that this was not a computer error, I was in for a preemptive strike. "Computers," she said wearily. "Nothing but problems."

"I know what you mean," I said trying to empathize for a little favorable treatment. "I work on two of them all day, every day. They can be frustrating."

"Then why do we have them?" she asked. "I remember when we scheduled work with note cards on a bulletin board, and we never had these kind of problems."

"Because," I said, "they make our live easier." We both laughed.

But I wasn’t kidding. Computers do make our lives easier -- and more complex too. For example, instead of using a pad and pen to record important events throughout the day, we use personal-planning software that has powers far beyond the simple pen-and-paper method and unfortunately a commensurate learning curve. The software landscape is littered with other tit-for-tat markers -- and, to be fair, some bona fide landmarks too.

If you’re an audiophile on the Internet, however, you’re in for a no-pain, all-gain experience. In fact, the Internet may have more for you than any other group of hobbyists, and it’s all free. There are a number of useful sites, and two in particular that I want to tell you about.

Audio Cafe (www.audiocafe.com )  is a cornucopia of audio- and video-related information run by our pals Andrew Keen and Michael Mikesell. My favorite area is the News Desk, where news stories are posted daily on topics ranging from new music releases to new audio and video products. Of course, this sort of information overlaps some with that on SoundStage!’s own News Online, but Audio Cafe covers a sector of the audio world that we haven’t -- the Internet’s lurching attempts at offering and selling music. In turn, we do things that Audio Cafe doesn't -- like reviews and monthly columns. Her-fi is a fun read -- I want to meet these women! -- and there’s always an interesting interview or two. The writing is good -- informative, intelligent, bouncy. Give Audio Cafe a visit.

Another new information spot is one you’ve heard us announce on SoundStage! -- it’s the product of SoundStage!’s parent company, Schneider Publishing. AV Gateway (www.avgateway.com) is the Internet’s first portal site solely for home-entertainment information and links. You can search the newsgroups via a Dejanews search engine or Audio Advisor’s online catalog to find the price on an interconnect or bottle of cleaning fluid -- even order it too. There are quick jumps to a number of audio, video and music newsgroups, and a listing of websites for audio clubs around the world. You’ll also find a link to Audio Cafe as well as other interesting audio-related sites. And the best thing about it? It’s growing and always will be. Doug Schneider is committed to making AV Gateway the on-ramp for audio and video information on the web, so watch for its further expansion in the coming months.

Is the Internet all good? Dumb question. Months ago I had tried to get a problem with my long-distance company solved over the phone, but when that broke down because of too many evasions, I went to the company’s website to find out, at the very least, if there was someone else’s shoulder I could curse at, this time in writing. The site was filled with helpful hints like "If you have a problem, call the customer-service department at..." and even an e-mail address -- service@theverybigcompany.com . I sent my message, and I’m still waiting for my reply. Must be a computer error.

...Marc Mickelson

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