On the level of these discussions...

Mauro Jose Cavalcanti maurobio at PUB3.LNCC.BR
Mon Jun 26 14:31:46 CDT 1995

On Tue, 20 Jun 1995, Joe Kirkbride wrote:

>Last year I visited Brasil for two months.  Every herbarium that I was in
>had at least one good PC, i.e., a 386 or 486 with adequate storage
>space.  I installed and used the DELTA system, including the beta version
>of INTKEY for Windows, without difficulty.  The principal question was
>where to obtain DELTA databases with all the tropical families and
>genera.  They biggest complaint was that all the data is not available in
>DELTA format!!!  Oh, they also expect to get it all with images
>attached.  Assuming that most or many scientists do not have PCs is
>tropical countries is a serious mistake.  Also, in Latin AMerica Apple is
>nonexistent.  I saw one in two months of traveling; it cost four times as
>much as a more powerful PC.  In Latin American botany, if you are doing
>major work, it should be available in DELTA format.

Joe is quite right! All the botanists I know here think exactly
this way about DELTA. And every semester I have to spend some
time to tell my students that INTKEY *does* not come with a lot
of beautifully illustrated, ready-to-use, databases on every
possible plant or animal group - indeed, it is up to them
creating so!

And really Apple Macs are almost nonexistent, at least here in
Brasil. Joe was indeed fortunate in seeing one Mac "in two months
of travelling" - I work with microcomputers since 1983 and up to
now have found only two biological researchers here in Brasil who
have Macs (and they have brought their machines from Europe and
Canada, when doing graduate work in that countries). But now
nearly *everyone* has a powerful 486 PC - be they a professional
researcher, a graduate or an undergraduate student. I have
already pointed this out to some potential DIANA users from USA -
but some of them seemed to find this unbelievable... There are
even some quite "good" reasons for this in the recent economic
history of Brasil, guys, and someday I can tell you the story, if
you are interested!

It is interesting to note how a discussion about the opinions of
"Mike D." (!) concerning the merits of conventional
identification keys has became another opportunity for Macophiles
to ressurrect this old and sterile question of "Macs vs. PC's".
Regarding Mike's position, I would like to fully endorse the
opinions already advanced by Robin Wilson, especially that

>I and many others have developed plenty of DELTA applications without
>the support of a local "Mike D" and without "huge storage capacity".
>Mike was only saying the obvious, that an interactive key with multiple
>entry points and linked figures is far more useful than a single written
>key in which the choices have all been made by the author.  Sure, it
>will take a little longer at first, but not years.  And I agree that
>many people cannot or will not learn a new skill, but that is
>something to regret, not to rejoice.

Regarding the relative merits of this or that brand of computing
machine, why not advocate the replacement of all Macs and PC's by
RISC workstations? :-)).

>way except his way because his are so much better!  This patently self-
>serving statement is absolute bullshit.

What I really feel disgusting is a statement like the above one
being placed on an conference used as a valuable information
resource by well-educated scientists from all parts of the world.
I know of several local BBS where the posting of such words would
result in the immediate cancelling of a user's subscription...

Just my opinion (obviously a biased one).

   + - - - - - - - - - - - Prof. Mauro J. Cavalcanti - - - - - - - - - - - +
   | Departamento de Biologia Geral              Universidade Santa Ursula |
   | Rua Fernando Ferrari, 75, Botafogo      22231-040, Rio de Janeiro, RJ |
   | Phone: +55 (021) 551-5542 ext 151                              BRASIL |
   |                     Internet: maurobio at omega.lncc.br                  |
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