Older blog entries for jeremyw (starting at number 5)

madhatter: Sun One and .NET are not directly comparable. Sun ONE, as near as I can tell (its technical merits are shielded with nuclear-powered marketing), is a collection of app servers and tools bundled with Solaris, intended to strengthen Sun's ability to sell high-priced hardware. On a side note: industry response has been tepid. One problem is these are reference implementations, offsprings of the J2EE distribution, which is a dog. Witness Tomcat.

Java on the Desktop

Gosling quoted:

Microsoft provided tools that developers have ended up being forced to use to build desktop software, he said.

"And, for lots of desktop developers [Windows] was the only market that actually mattered," Gosling said. "That is, I think, deeply tragic."

The above conceit is an appropriate one, as long as it remains consigned to Sun's public marketing. James, being a smart fellow, understands the distinction between a Java desktop application and a usable desktop application. But there's no admitting that on stage.

It amuses me to read articles citing Microsoft's destruction of Java. No doubt they have it in for Sun (and often support dubious technologies), but the early MS JVM was the singular reason I could deliver professional Java applications (1997-98) given Sun's original, adolescent runtime and libraries.

Since the appearance of .Net, I've been mourning the loss of Java. It's brilliant for server use, I quite like the language -- and the present broad, industrial-strength API set is an unprecedented joy in the history of code. But if it can't move beyond servers, it will fade to competition. And Sun has been responsible for its failure on both browser and desktop, via petty and (ultimately) self-destructive behavior. Further, Sun has assured the bifurcation of a unifying technology, and rejected technical advances, important enough to real projects, to excite (Mono, dotGNU) the open source crowd.

There is one possibility. IBM wrests away control of Java, open sources their JVM (let the porting begin!) and makes a real push for the efficiencies and rounded APIs required of desktop use. In the same way latest Mozilla might have a fighting chance by virtue of solid implementation of standards, huge platform diversity and malleable component use for other development.

It'll never happen.

:: jeremiahcode permalink

Mozilla steers clear of interactivity

Can it be true that Mozilla inherits Netscape's disability regarding dynamic content?

Now, the word dynamic is a red herring. For the NetMoz camp, it's a marketing term. What they mean is programmatic-properties-on-load. They sometimes mean a few mouse-responsive styles. They sometimes mean updating the contents of form elements and image swap. Big deal -- they really mean, "We have no interest in building interactive pages, without the help of Java or Flash."

What a change with MSIE 4. It began to support real, dynamic evaluation of arbitrary sections of code, styles and script. This is killer stuff. It means Webmasters can posit apps normally relegated to the desktop (and "programmers"), using uniform HTML, Javascript and a basic server-side scripting component. (Anders has some examples: 1 2) It's the difference between endless page loads and real-time interaction. That is, native app-like abilities by web page.

The other half of this equation is RPC. Here at least, we have cross-platform support (e.g. Brent Ashley's JSRS library -- although MSIE-specific code is achingly simple.) Further, both camps are starting to support browser-side SOAP and other protos.

But what's the point, if you can't update content? At the beginning of the Web, we gave up interactivity and direct manipulation for simplicity and portability. But it's ten years later. Can't we have both feature sets?

:: jeremiahcode permalink

Hacker wants a diary tag to reference older entries. I assume he means for one's own diary. More interesting would be linking to another person's entry. Advogato is a closed system, so automatic thread trees should be straightforward. (I know, go code it..)

However, it seems the cross-post precedent (set by Raph?) is to link <person>, not a-href an entry. Which makes thread-tracking cumbersome if you don't read the site daily. Any reason for doing this, folks? Surely, not laziness! :)

1 Sep 2002 (updated 1 Sep 2002 at 00:32 UTC) »

Email, blogs & clarity

Raph notes, in the blogging age, we could gain some efficiency in the way our email conveys permissions for public excerpt or attribution. I like this idea, however his solution ("+, "-, "?) bothers me, in that we wish to encode what rather has natural domain in concise, but full language.

I remember an early Negroponte column in Wired complaining about superfluous email traffic ("Thanks!", "Appreciate it.", etc.), and suggesting closing emails with "nrn", i.e. no reply necessary. Of course, he was trying to propagate the opposite concept than Raph, one-way comments guilt-free for the recipient.

Nonetheless, it didn't take, and I think the reason was symbology. Email, like blogs, are centered around language. If a message is worth posting, it likely has simple, persuasive verbiage, even when directed towards propeller heads.

Some years ago, after reading a series of papers by Bertrand Meyer, I asked my mother (a history scholar) to read one discussing some aspect of programming langauges. I was struck by Meyer's clarity, particularly that his use of terminology was essentially limited to that which he constructed from first principles, and even these words never strayed far from common understanding (e.g. routine vs function or method). And Mom got through it with a modest, but broad understanding of the topic. This left an impression on me. Resist jargon.

Raph's expressions would be interesting if the majority of email now used html bodies, and stylized, but idiosyncratic features could be linked to personal glossaries. In that absence, "copyleft permission granted" or "no quoting, please" in one's signature makes for simple and universal communication, rather than devolving into geekcode.

:: jeremiahcode permalink

28 Aug 2002 (updated 28 Aug 2002 at 19:32 UTC) »
Open Source term leakage

During a press conference Monday, Steven Hatfill, an uncharged "person of interest" in the FBI Anthrax investigation, employed our favorite term. In support of his professed innocence, he publicly asked the FBI to release all evidence to the press as open source. This is a fascinating penetration of the phrase into public discourse, limiting its definition to unrestricted distribution (here, with a plea to be so) and broadening its use to arbitrary information. Dictionary.com still defines open source with code-specific semantics. Webster's has bupkus.

:: jeremiahcode permalink

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