Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, December 20, 2021

My fascination with the bright and the shiny might lead some to believe that I suffer from “technoism” (what a stupid phrase, for reasons I’ve explained before).

But in fact, the opposite is (mostly) true. Fact is, I tend to cling to older technologies, as long as they fit my needs. That’s why I carry an iPod made in 2002 — practically ancient by now. I’m not a fanatic about it; if the shortcomings start to pile up to the point where it no longer makes any sense to live in the past, then I’ll upgrade. But until then, I figure the combination of a learning curve on using new wares, plus the inevitable bugs that come with every new version (hello, Windows) means that it’s prudent to stick with what works.

But, inevitability, some measure of sentimentality creeps in, as absurd as it may seem for circuits and silicon (which accounts for my preference for oldschool Atari-era videogames). Ernest Hooper is feeling those pangs, as the St. Petersburg Times is finally doing away with its antiquated Coyote document creation/editing system

I had always assumed that Coyote was a proprietary program unique to the Times. I had never heard of it when I started at the newspaper in 1994, and it seemed like every new writer and editor that came along had to be introduced to it. Turns out it was, at one point, in somewhat wide use throughout the newspaper industry. I can’t track down much about it right now (don’t feel like digging), but I guess it was developed by Smith Industries/SII back around the mid-1980s.

So, we’re talking about a publishing content management system that predates Windows (at least the usable versions), Microsoft Office, mouses, and even widespread corporate use of GUIs. It was native on those old-style green-screen CRT monitors that displayed nothing but clunky uniform text (formatting was applied through pre-HTML tags). And it was still being used by a 250,000+ circulation newspaper mere weeks ago (on top of a Windows 2000 operating system, but still). Yeah, it was well past time for an overhaul.

But as musty as it was, there were a couple of things I liked about Coyote:

  • A copy-clipboard function that was accumulative. That is, you could copy a chunk of text, move through the document, copy some more chunks of text, and when finished, you could paste everything into one compiled piece. I really wish you could enable this behavior in Word, or even in Windows across-the-board (in browsers, on the desktop, etc.).
  • An instant messenger-like component that, in my mind, was more effective than modern versions (at least for a newsroom environment).
  • Robust search-and-replace macros that seemed easier to craft and execute than anything in Office.

I’m sure these are among the things Hooper is going to miss too. But we press on. Personally, I haven’t used Coyote in years (Trend had long since abandoned it by the time I came aboard). But I’ll always remember it, with a warped sort of fondness.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/20/2005 09:55:20 PM
Category: Publishing, Tech, Florida Livin' | Permalink |

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