NASA Embraced Email Standards Early On

nasaIt came as no surprise last June when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided to embrace Internet mail standards as a means to improve communications between nine centers across the country. After all, thanks to a crazy constellation of proprietary E-mail packages, it was not uncommon for NASA messages to vanish into a black hole as employees tried to beam them from one center to another.

What was notable, however, were the mail brands NASA certified to fit its new Internet messaging model. One came squarely from the Internet for ITcamp–Qualcomm Inc.’s Eudora. But the other standard was clearly associated with what some call the proprietary side–Microsoft Corp.’s Exchange groupware/E-mail offering. NASA’s hybrid certification of mail products provides a perfect lesson managers currently befuddled over whether to adopt Internet E-mail, consider remote login systems, or remain true to the more traditional “proprietary” offerings from vendors such as Microsoft, Lotus Development Corp., Novell Inc. and others. Internet mail appears to hold the most promise for companies concerned with interoperability and ubiquitous access. Proprietary solutions, on the other hand, seem to offer more robust capabilities when it comes to directory, storage and backup services as well as security. (more…)

Growing Begonias: Rewarding To Say The Least

gwbgnsLike skirt lengths and heel heights, flowers fall prey to the whims of fashion. A plant that one moment pleases everybody and her mother can scarcely be spotted the next. Take begonias, for instance. Indoors, in the 1960s and ’70s, no college dorm room was complete without at least one rainbow-leaved Rex (Begonia x rex-cultorum) dangling from a macrame hanger. Outdoors, walkways, window boxes, and planters lined with small-leaved wax begonias (B. x semperflorens-cultorum) in vivid reds and pinks stood as living advertisements for the family Begoniaceae.

Then, quite suddenly, these versatile ornamentals entered horticultural obsolescence. Why? Perhaps the begonia’s association with Victorian carpet bedding (now considered by many gardeners to be the apex of bad taste) had something to do with the fall from grace, but unfairly so: The foot-tall hybrids commonly used today for bedding were in fact too large and colorful for the (more…)