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If I could change what's "typical" about typical laptops ...

Displaying poll results.
I'd start with vastly increased storage
  771 votes / 2%
I'd start with a daylight-readable screen
  4684 votes / 16%
I'd start with a denser display resolution
  4805 votes / 16%
I'd start with a better keyboard
  1885 votes / 6%
I'd start with a better pointing device
  2403 votes / 8%
I'd start with better networking options
205 votes / 0%
I'd start with better battery life
  11171 votes / 38%
You've left out the thing I'd improve first.
  2965 votes / 10%
28889 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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If I could change what's "typical" about typical laptops ...

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  • n omore widescreen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:25AM (#43348271)

    WTF is up with everything being "Wide" (meaning vertically challenged) screen?

    • by ODBOL (197239) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:30AM (#43348323) Homepage
      I agree. I want the highest possible screen. Wide screens appear to be catering to movies, games, and the dishonesty of diagonal measurements (a wide screen gets a greater diagonal measurement than a square screen with the same number of pixels). Documents are best viewed with vertical space.
      • by hoboroadie (1726896) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:44AM (#43348503)

        If you want (or need) a fast scan rate, it appears that that is a limitation in desktop monitors as well. It seem as though the market is catering to folks who'd rather watch some Netflix than get back to work.

        • by TWX (665546)
          That's probably because with desktop PCs the average home user could now have three or four computers in the household for the family members, and since big TVs with that aspect ratio and resolution, the control boards may well be identical in big and small units, and the biggest monitors are also often the smallest TVs.

          Compared to a business user, where the average user has one computer at work to use.

          My wife at her work had her second monitor rotated to Portrait mode, and it's great for displaying d
          • My wife at her work had her second monitor rotated to Portrait mode, and it's great for displaying docs, she gets a full page at at time. I had done that to my computer at home, but the video driver did funny things to motion video, so I ended up giving up on that experiment.

            That's what I have for my setup at work. Luckily I have a wall instead of a cubicle, so I could drill through the monitor base and secure it.

            My biggest problem was closing the lid before ejecting the laptop caused problems with screen resolution with no rhyme or reason, sometimes at home, sometimes when I got back to work the next day. Ejecting before closing the lid seems to have solved the problem. But no amount of tinkering with the stupid Windows 7 features would fix it.

            Having to roll my own desktop bac

            • by xaxa (988988)

              I have two monitors at work, one large widescreen (from the model number on the front, it's 23") and a normal 4:3 monitor, rotated to vertical.

              I haven't had any problems with graphic drivers or wallpapers, KDE handles it nicely. The viewing angle could be better, although the screen's stand rotates the screen itself isn't really designed for sideways viewing.

              My wallpaper for the vertical screen is some 16th and 17th century scans from botany and zoology books, which I found on Wikipedia.

        • by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @08:44AM (#43356811)

          RGBG Pentile displays generally suck at low resolutions, but IMHO would probably be a reasonable way to get 2560x1600 16:10 resolution on a 12-14" display. At that point, the pixel density is so high, the display's physical resolution almost ceases to matter, and you can just scale your fonts as you please & treat it as a virtual 1280x800 display with zero artifacts if you like, even with a terrible scaling algorithm.

          IMHO, 13.3" widescreen is the golden size for a laptop... wide enough for a full keyboard, but small enough to be usable on a plane.

          Speaking of the keyboard... put the cursor keys on a T island at the lower right, with delete to the immediate right (but separated by some open space) of Backspace, make 'insert' Fn+Delete (let's be honest... does anyone actually use Insert for anything besides accidental annoyance), then fill the remaining space between Delete and the cursor keys with home, end, pgUp, and pgDn (pgUp and PgDn slightly above the cursor keys, home and end separated from both delete and PgUp/PgDn by open space. Give it two Trackpoint sticks -- one between GHB, one aligned vertically with GHB below the spacebar... both independent (one for mouse movement, one for vertical scrolling and panning). Finally, build the keyboard with low-profile keycaps above Cherry mechanical switches that are sculpted to account for the laptop's rear being angled up by tilt-out feet. I remember a few laptops from the late 80s that had mechanical-switch keyboards, and most of them actually feel better than the crap keyboards that ship with most DESKTOP PCs today.

          Oh, and build a real powered USB hub into the power supply. Not just for 5v power, but a real USB hub. And make an optional second display with the same panel that latches onto the rear of the laptop's own display for storage and transportation. On a plane? latched on & stowed. Anywhere else? Unlatch, fold out the legs, pull out the USB cord, and plug it into a port on the power supply to enjoy a second display. Maybe even make a third super-deluxe model that has a second panel hinged with the main panel, so that if you're on a plane you could unlatch the external (now third) display, put it somewhre safe, then tilt up the second screen so you have a pair of 2560x1600 screens. The third display would protect the second when clamped onto it for travel.

      • My work maintains several high end graphics workstations, a few of which have sets of four monitors linked together as a single screen (on a mounting frame to keep them in place) - the down side to this is that large windows are interrupted by the monitor's edges between screens. For really tall stuff, xrandr can be used to rotate the screen though, so you can work productively on multiple monitors, and use tall (document-shaped!) windows without putting up with the bars in the middle. For quite a while,
      • by Misagon (1135)

        Movies in 16:9 aspect are also best seen on a screen that is 16:10 or higher. You would want the seek-bar to appear below the movie , not on top of the movie, covering it.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @08:29AM (#43356685) Homepage

        I agree. I want the highest possible screen.

        I expect this problem will self-correct in a few years... a lot of people seem to be adopting Apple's new "tallscreen" video standard for home video recording.

    • by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:58AM (#43348651) Journal

      I have no problem with widescreen if there's a decent resolution. It makes putting two pages of document up (or two documents up) easier. I'm pretty satisfied with battery life, speed, and so on, but the screen resolutions seem stuck. I'm hoping that we'll see a good step up from 1920 resolutions this year when the Haswell notebooks arrive.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        I have no problem with widescreen if there's a decent resolution.

        Yes, but there isn't. Monitors have less vertical pixels today than five years ago.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The problem with high resolution displays is that they use a lot of power. The retina MacBooks have 96Wh batteries to get good life and so are very heavy. For comparison similar laptops have around 45Wh batttery packs for a similar run time.

        For now I'd rather have a 1600x900 screen. Less power so the laptop is much lighter, and a higher effective resolution compared to a "retina" display running at 200% zoom. Give it a few years until higher resolution and lower power consumption is available and I'll take

    • by Win Hill (1594463) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @11:08AM (#43348771)
      We need at least 1200 vertical pixels, this was readily available 10 years ago, but now is hard to find. We really should be getting much more, rather than much less, so we can read portrait mode documents, etc.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Both in terms of glare reduction/brightness and decent resolution. As far as I know, a laptop is stuck with the screen it comes with and there are no easy workarounds that are intended to be portable.

      The screen in particular because much of the other stuff on the poll is ridiculously easy to fix or workaround, even on existing hardware. This is because you can get spare batteries (or just use the adapter) and exernalize file storage, and things like half-decent wireless computer mice are ridiculously cheap.

  • by StoneyMahoney (1488261) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:28AM (#43348295)

    ...but certainly NOT mirror-reflective. Matte screen with higher brightness please!

    • Thanks! All of the Mac books are mirror-equipped... and I thought nobody really minds... (or maybe people don't stare at the screen for hours, like us...)
    • by glwtta (532858)
      I still don't get the mirror display thing - are they cheaper or something? I don't believe that anyone would actually decide that "yes! the one where what you see is a) your face and, distant-second, b) whatever you're trying to work on, is the way to go!"

      Am I missing something? The only matte displays I can find anymore are Lenovo T-series and a few specific Dells. It's just weird.
  • Display Resolution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edawstwin (242027) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:30AM (#43348319)
    1366x768 is not usable for any kind of serious work.
    • Agreed. I have an external panel permanently plugged in. Yes, it's a 16:10, but there again it is set vertically so I get 900x1440 (hey, I'm cheap) hence have something I can use for document editing... it was either that or fall back to ol' reliable Fujitsu tablet at 768x1024, but that's only a 500 Celeron with 256MB RAM and Windows ME...

    • by Quakeulf (2650167) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:59AM (#43348661)
      Obligatory reading [google.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anne_Nonymous (313852)

      Turn your laptop sideways and rotate the screen via the video driver controls.

      • ...and learn to touch-type with one hand on a sideways keyboard... OK.

      • by RR (64484)

        Turn your laptop sideways and rotate the screen via the video driver controls.

        Tried that. Doesn't work.

        Most content-based programs are not designed for less than 1024 pixels of horizontal resolution, so you're condemned to do a lot of horizontal scrolling. Or making all your content tiny.

        Even worse, most laptop screens are TFT displays built to be seen from a slightly downward angle. If you look at it any other way, there will be color shifts. In particular, if you look at it sideways, then each eye will see a different color and your visual cortex gets to have fun seeing different t

    • 1366x768 is not usable for any kind of serious work

      I agree. Usually, to code, I reduce the resolution to ~1152x768 to please my eyes...

      • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:25AM (#43358553)

        I agree. Usually, to code, I reduce the resolution to ~1152x768 to please my eyes...

        This is a joke, right? You realize that Windows has had DPI scaling functions for years? (And even if you're using an OS without DPI scaling, you'll get much better results by increasing the font size in your code editor rather than running the panel out of spec.)

    • by chispito (1870390)
      I really must be in the minority on this, but I've never had a problem with lower pixel density. As long as the pixels are small enough to assemble into a legible font at the size I can comfortably read, I'm happy.
  • drivers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:33AM (#43348361)

    Use only hardware with functional open source drivers.

  • by The Phantom Mensch (52436) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:33AM (#43348365)

    After using a Samsung Chromebook for my casual evening browsing habits for a few months I find myself loving the light weight. A 3 pound laptop is something I can keep in my lap all evening comfortably, without wishing I had a desk to throw the thing on to give my legs a break.

  • No Windows OS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:36AM (#43348387)

    The #1 most important thing I consider when purchasing a laptop is that it doesn't come bundled with Windows. Luckily these days there are numerous options to purchase from vendors that bundle Linux, if you aren't interested in a Mac. But when I hear "typical" I think Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. While these vendors sometimes have non-Windows offerings available, it would be nice if this extended to their entire product line. Personally, I would and have paid more for laptops that come without OS.

  • by steveo777 (183629) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:37AM (#43348405) Homepage Journal

    Faster boot times. Sure, with SSD I can boot to the Win7 desktop in about 30 seconds, but now that I'm used to that, it's an eternity (My nexus 10 takes over a minute, though...)

    Instant on without being pre booted.

    Partly facetious, partly serious.

    • by paavo512 (2866903)
      Second that. And why only speed up booting? Why I should wait for (tens of) minutes while compiling my project or running unit tests? Everything should be instant!
      • by idontgno (624372)

        Moe: The deep fryer's here! I got it used from the Army. You can flash-fry a buffalo in 40 seconds.

        Homer: Forty seconds?! But I want it now!

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is funny. On my Air wake up from sleep time is almost more than cold boot time. What I would like is more storage, but of course SSD is still expensive, and die in time.
    • by Khashishi (775369)

      Why reboot at all? Just use the sleep feature in your laptop.

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:39AM (#43348437)

    touch screens! I mean, come on! If I want a touch screen these days I am either stuck with something with 64GB user storage (I mean, that's a TINY portion of my music collection, and fuck all room for other such niceties as being able to stretch my mixing arms!) or I'm paying double the odds on other specifications (500GB hard drive and 6GB RAM is fine for most things, as is a 15" short screen). I can't help but feel just a little bit ripped off.

  • Upgradabilty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AliasMrAlias (1445453) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:41AM (#43348469)

    Not soldering everything together would get my vote. The option to include a discrete graphics card or better processor at some point after purchase would be very welcome. I have a desktop I keep up to date and use a broken down second hand dell for any work that requires mobility (meetings, class etc) because I see no point in investing in a piece of kit I can't improve later on.

    • I maintain a stack of Dell Latitudes and Inspirons for precisely that reason - for the most part, their components are completely interchangeable. The lowest spec machines find homes on my walls as digital picture frames (currently 4 Pentium IIs), the high spec gear (we're only talking 2.0, 1.8, 1.6 and 1.2 P4's) gets various uses from clustering to field work.

  • by peon_a-z,A-Z,0-9$_+! (2743031) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:41AM (#43348479)
    While I may not be 'sweating' through the tough parts of whatever content I'm consuming or creating, my lap sure is.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They 'FIX' the one thing that ALWAYS sucks in a laptop, the slow-ass laptop drives that manufacturers use to save cash.

  • by xyzio (1470567) * on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @11:22AM (#43348977) Homepage
    By far the biggest bottleneck is battery life not just for laptops but for civilization in general. My Lenovo X230 is fast, light, has decent resolution and is perfect for my job. The biggest problem is battery life, I'm good for 4-5 hours but this number drops every time I go through a discharge/recharge cycle and eventually end up with 20 minutes of battery life. Industry is focused on developing lower-power hardware to extend battery life but we really need a revolution in battery power storage and re-usability.
  • by voidstin (51561)

    Most cap at 8 or 16g. Way too little for graphic intensive applications.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Altanar (56809)
      If you're using software in which 16 GB of RAM is way too little, perhaps you should focus more on desktop computers instead. You're trying to use a butter knife to cut a steak.
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Agreed. I've got 12GB of RAM in my laptop, and I've never hit the swapfile, even though I use some very intensive programs.

  • A stylish wearable using 'cloud' functionality for processsing and storage, with haptic and voice input, and visual / voice output with beyond retina image quality that is projected into both eyes in a maskable area while using optical comparison to detect the ability of my eye to see it (avoiding bifocals, etc..) and projecting what Is actually in front of me based on eye position so I don't fall on my butt.

  • I'd make them cheaper

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is really hard for me to find a decent laptop because it is so rare that they come with a GPU worth using. My current laptop is using hybrid crossfire between an AMD A8 with a 6620G a dedicated 6750M. I got it about a year ago and I can't find anything comparable on the market today. HP doesn't make them anymore, nor anything like them. It is even getting harder and harder to find a laptop with an APU or worth while dedicated card.

  • Maybe put a handle or some other ergonomic feature so that it's possible to hold the laptop in one hand while typing with the other.

  • None of the above (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scotts13 (1371443) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @12:32PM (#43349807)

    Maybe not everyone has the same experience, but I like my current laptop (2009 MacBook Pro) just fine. As a computer service manager, the two things I'd LIKE to see are improved resistance to accidental liquid damage, and better service access. Neither is likely to happen; in the last few years I've no improvement in the former and a dramatic decrease in the latter. Current models are essentially unrepairable.

    • I like mine just fine, too, although it is a SchtinkPad W520 . . . 32GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD.

      Of course, the best thing I like about it . . . somebody else paid for it! An ancient Roman was asked:

      "Which wine do your prefer to drink?"

      Answer:

      "Wine, that another has paid for."

      Just replace wine with laptop. Oh, and drink with use.

  • Display resolution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @12:49PM (#43349955)

    This applies everywhere, to desktop monitors as well.

    I'm typing this on a 1920x1080 laptop screen (17") with another 22" monitor of the same resolution plugged in. These are considered "high-end" for a laptop, and "mainstream" for a monitor.

    Sometime this month Samsung is launching a *phone* with that resolution. In a 5" screen. It's commonplace for tablets, enough that the higher-end ones go even higher. And yet laptop manufacturers can't seem to make a 15" screen above 1366x768, judging by most of them.

    I remember having a 1024x768 screen back in 1997. Do you seriously mean to tell me we haven't been able to improve monitors beside making them thinner and adding more pixels to the sides?

    * I am of the opinion that 16:10 is a superior resolution to 16:9. It works fine for editing, both full-screen and two side-by-side apps. It works fine for gaming. It plays 16:9 movies with minimal fuss. And it even works fairly well in portrait mode, though not as well as 3:4. If it weren't for the fact that it's usually 50% more expensive for a 10% increase in size, I'd use them exclusively.

    • Are you concerned about seeing jaggies, or do you want more space for your windows?

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Both.

        I realize with the really high pixel densities, you basically have to double the size of everything, but you get more readable fonts and a generally nicer look (also, less jaggies in games and whatnot). But I also want to be able to fit more stuff onto the screen at one time.

        • Jaggies, bragging rights, and the the magic word "1080p" is why cell phones have been getting more resolution lately
          But given the strange popularity of "full frame" modes in real operating systems, I'm not sure that "real estate" is of concern to OS developers.

  • Stickers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alieneye (86920) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @12:53PM (#43350005)

    I'd start with removing all those dumb Windows and Intel stickers.

  • Volume control (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @01:01PM (#43350083)
    Create some better method to control the volume than by bashing Fn+Fx. Old laptops were so nice to have the analogue volume wheel. Maybe create something similar in digital by putting a "mouse scroll wheel" to the side of the laptop?
  • ....or at least a non-cramped keyboard for someone with larger hands than a child.

  • by who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @01:06PM (#43350123)
    Id like to see a standard motherboard that can be swapped when a new version comes out, upgrade-able CPU's, upgrade-able GPU's, upgrade-able memory, upgrade-able power supplies, upgrade-able batteries and so on. If i can have a PC case that can accommodate all this why cant there be a laptop that can do the same?
    • Laptop OEMs have been fighting this kind of thing for years because it eats into their bottom line. Apple seems to be the worst offender: Their "Retina" MacBook Pros offer locked multipliers, no mini-pcie bays, a proprietary flash storage interface and non-upgradable memory. Unfortunately, it's "in" to be like Apple and other OEMs are starting to follow suit.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @01:17PM (#43350225)
    Make it a desktop with a handle on top and a case for the LCD, lol. Until then, I probably won't be real happy. I hate the battery life, hate the weight, hate the fragility, hate the difficulty to clean it and difficulty to upgrade, hate the lack of SSDs in low end models, hate the screen visiblity outdoors, hate the low quality webcam, hate the mic facing directly into the speakers, hate the keyboards, absolutely hate with a passion the touchpad, hate the half speed DVD drive, hate the slower than desktop chip speed, hate the insufficient cooling on almost all models, and hate the fact that all new ones come with Windows 8.
  • I'd like to be able to use my tablet/phone/e-reader/whatever as external displays. I'd like to be able to whip out a small device like a cell phone, do some browsing, and then decide-- hey, I need a screen and keyboard to continue my work-- and switch terminals. I'd like to be able think of your devices as constituent parts of your my own network, and not as discrete computers.

  • It really depends on your use case. Since the question was what I would change, my answer is nothing at all. I've probably had more than 20 "portables" over the years ranging from a suitcase-sized NEC with a gas plasma display to a Toshiba smaller than modern-day tablets. But the Apple Air (13") I have right now is completely perfect for what I want it for. Weighs almost nothing, has a wonderful display, the 128GB SSD is lots as I store most of my data in the cloud, battery life is pretty much all day l

  • Better cooling!
    This would positively impact overall reliability and lifespan.
    I have had too many laptops die a premature death because of cooling issues. I would really like to see this change.

  • by Yaddoshi (997885) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @03:47PM (#43351705)
    Because aside from RAM and hard drive, there are none. Imagine if you could buy one battery or A/C adapter that was compatible with every laptop manufactured over the past three years? Imagine if you could replace a broken screen with another one for less than $100.00? Imagine if you could upgrade the processor, or swap out the motherboard for one that had a better/faster GPU? To be honest, I'm surprised nobody else has suggested this yet.
  • by misfit815 (875442) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:07PM (#43353977)

    I bought my current laptop because it shipped with Ubuntu. I actually run Lubuntu (which I can't brag about enough), but it virtually guaranteed that I wouldn't have video compatibility issues. My last laptop (from the same manufacturer) had an ATI card that I could never get to perform well (with at least three different distros).

    • IIRC most Intel-based laptops are compatible -- the 4+ laptops I've tried on various distros have all done fine, though KDE 4 reports they're unable to blur the background on transparent windows/decorations. (To be fair, the ATI Radeon HD 4225 netbook I used for a while didn't give me trouble, either.)

      You might also give your system a try under non-Ubuntu distros like SimplyMepis (my favorite), OpenSUSE, or Fedora. I've heard of a lot of people that ran into hardware compatibility issues under Ubuntu-base

  • by realsilly (186931) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:55AM (#43357501)

    I understand the convenience of a Laptop and at it's core it is very functional, but in my vision of the world, a laptop is an extension of the paradigm of tethering people.

    Before you bitch at me for this, read me out. This thought line is from a work perspective. When companies started sending people home with pagers and putting people on-call 24/7, they were being paid extra for going above and beyond. But companies saw a way to sell extra hours to the work force through "convenience".
              Pager: You can just call the number (sometimes work) if you receive a page and help resolve an issue with a quick discussion rather than drive into work and get overtime pay.
              Cell Phone: Can page you and you can be anywhere when you call the number back, or can be called directly, again quick discussion rather than drive into work and get overtime pay.
              Laptops: Once you have a reason to, you can quickly connect with work and fix an issue and not have to drive into work and get overtime pay, and you can conveniently work from home if you need to for an emergency.
              Smart Phones: You can work and talk at the same time and improve the amount feedback, oh and it's small so you can take it with you where ever you go.

    Each of these devices over time have become more and more invasive on the personal / private time away from work. Work has tethered you and you are their lap-dog all in the name of convenience.

    Then when people used the convenience to benefit themselves, companies generally say, oh no, you are abusing the convenience.....

    So I detest the Laptops because I see it as a long line of convenience tools that just tether you more.

    When the end of the work day comes, I put the laptop away secured at work and walk away. My time away from work is my time away from technology and I try to enjoy the rest of the world.

    Yes, I can always turn off the phone, or close the laptop, but there is nothing better than hearing, "we couldn't reach you" for true freedom.

    Based on my above ramblings, I might be in need of a vacation . ;)

  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:10AM (#43357703) Journal
    Current hardware is amazing, but we've become so inured to bad software (chose any definition of "bad" you like, slow, bloated, buggy, insecure, incompatible, leaky...except perhaps "ugly" which we're doing Ok on) that so far no one else has even mentioned it. Until we start addressing that, better hardware will just lower the bar on the next round of software.

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

 



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