Hack the Planet
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Note: Entries after Nov 2009 are at Hack the Planet in Exile. The 2000-2009 archives are currently offline.
Saturday, January 22, 2000

I am such a slacker. It's almost 6 o'clock and I haven't done anything today. Update: I ordered some RAM, so maybe that counts as doing something. I was glad to see that RAM prices are no longer totally obnoxious.

Maybe Miguel really does get it: "[L]ets not think about the little percentage of people who have chosen an operating system so far. Lets think about the rest of the population that has never used a computer: we need to make GNOME accessible to them, and make it their desktop of choice. ...Currently GNOME lacks a bit of polishing when it comes to the end desktop because we do not ship a good set of presets for it. [that's an understatement! --wmf] Shipping good presets and revamping the user interface ... is a really important task."

Uber-typographer Jonathan Hoefler has started his own type foundry where you can again get the amazing old GX font Hoefler Text.

The OpenSLP project is finally bringing Srvloc to Linux.

I wish the members of the JPEG 2000 committee would give up on the doublespeak. Michael Gormish says: "In order for the standard to be sucessfull there must be freely available software including source which may be distributed in products." But go ask all the people who are developing implementations and you'll hear something more like "This software may be used for academic, demonstration, and research purposes only. It may not be sold for profit or incorporated into any commercial programs and/or services without first obtaining a commercial useage license... We may make the source code for an unoptimized version of the codec available in the future, but this is uncertain."

Dave is excited that Flash does anti-aliasing, but I feel like this feature really belongs in the OS/browser. (In fact, MSIE on Windows and NetPositive already antialias text where appropriate. OTOH, Flash is just a file format; there's no guarantee that a particular player actually does the antialiasing.)

"Unix gives you enough rope to shoot yourself in the foot." -- H. Peter Anvin


Friday, January 21, 2000

Psst! I hear that Streambox (you know, the guys who are being sued by RealNetworks) is working on an Open Source streaming server code-named "Columbia".

Universites are being driven to block students' access to Napster because it was consuming so much bandwidth; I wonder what they'll think about StaticPS, which does for streaming video what Napster did for MP3s and Hotline did for warez.

Sun has finally seen the error of its ways and decided to create a replacement for the java.io package that supports async I/O, mmap, BeOS/MacOS/NFSv4 attributes, and pluggable filesystems. Of course, Java developers won't get to see the spec until it is finished and will have no influence on how it is developed unless they are chosen as "experts" for the working group.

My favorite opinionated Java developer, Elliotte Rusty Harold, always has great comments about new Java APIs.

Mike Kuniavsky: It's the User, Stupid. "Until the user's perspective is an integral part of the Open Source development process, those Open Source products that rely on end-user interfaces ... will continue to offer substandard interfaces..."

A few days ago I was thinking about emailing the top GNOME, KDE, Corel, Caldera, and Yellow Dog people to ask them what usability processes they have in place; maybe I should do it...

Microsoft: The End of DLL Hell. Thanks to petilon on comp.lang.java.advocacy for this gem; now how long will it be until we're in JAR Hell?

More @Home evilness in the NY Times. How can you tell if you're an "abuser" if it isn't determined by objective criteria?

MOSR has more details about MSIE 5/Mac. Perhaps the most surprising is that MS seems to consider 96 dpi the W3C standard. Also surprising is MOSR's statement that about 35% of their users use iCab. (And if you want to try MSIE 5 for yourself, you didn't get this from me.)

Paul Snively points out a distributed programming system called Mozart.


Thursday, January 20, 2000

Wow, somehow I missed the introduction of the new SPEC CPU2000 benchmark which replaced the good old SPECint95 and SPECfp95.

Even though it's been out for a while, I just found out about Goliath, a whizzy GPL'ed WebDAV client for MacOS.

Linux 2.3 has finally included IEEE 1394 support; maybe more people will start working on it now. I think 1394 offers a definite price/performance improvement over non-switched fast Ethernet, but it's useless without the software.

I find it funny that the guys at Ars Technica can re-write the stuff on Transmeta's Web site and people consider the article "new"...

Not being able to get through to my own Web site is really not a good feeling.


Wednesday, January 19, 2000

It's too hot today; I need to get some shorts. I got some non-losing group members for distributed systems, so at least today wasn't a total waste.

Dru Jay has an interesting essay about Enabling Goodwill on the Internet: Rethinking micropayments.

"And if the desktop market does go away, I hope they Open-Source it, so I can have it." -- Joe Trent on Be's strategy

InfoWorld: Transmeta goes public with Crusoe chip. 400 and 700 MHz at 1W!

TechWeb has more details, and of course Transmeta's site has the official info.

Here's a new Open Source streaming MPEG system. I wonder when people are going to realize that RTSP/RTP is the One True Way and stop building nonstandard, throwaway systems. (At least this one is better than Shoutcast/Icecast because it uses UDP.)

Hey Kendall, I will get you back...


Tuesday, January 18, 2000

School started today; surfing from the lab is so much easier...

Today Be announced that they will be re-focusing on the internet appliance market (e.g. WebTV-like devices) instead of desktop content-creation. They will also release a free edition of BeOS 5 (aka R5 (and what happened to R4.6?)) before March 31.

Be's new focus disappoints me, because I really want to see a new, modern desktop OS to challenge Windows. I'd like to read what Be developers think, but I can't find a Web archive of BeDevTalk that has been updated since May.

Here's something I just thought of: Now we will actually be able to test whether people use Linux because it's Open Source or because it's cheap. BeOS will be just as cheap as Linux and probably more suited to nontechnical desktop users. Which one will people choose?

Thanks to the new US crypto (de-)regulations, Mozilla will be including SSL and S/MIME source code sometime soon. The crypto FAQ makes a big deal out of the fact that RSA's BSAFE won't be included, but you can get equivalent code from the OpenSSL project (as former Electronic Munitions Specialist Jeff Weinstein points out).

Zope/Mozilla integration is also proceeding.

TerraSoft has posted an update on their Yellow Dog Linux "Gone Home" distribution. Making a distribution that is truly easy to use (as opposed to simply having KDE or GNOME) is a lot harder than it looks.

CDW has the discontinued IBM Workpad z50 WinCE subnotebook for $299. Apparently it runs Linux.

"The idea of things being free to move around the net, rather than captive to a single web site, is exciting to me, and I hope Advogato will be at the forefront of this movement." -- Raph Levien (a little late to be at the forefront perhaps, but it's nice to have you on board at least)


Monday, January 17, 2000

AskTog has an interesting article on MacOS X's Aqua UI.

Isn't working at a startup fun?


Sunday, January 16, 2000

FatBrain has a reputation for telling it straight with none of the typical techno-hype, and their eMatter security system is no exception: "We estimate that our security is foolproof to 98% of users. ...Are you part of the 'other 2%'? Brilliant! We want to hear from you. We are continually updating and improving our file security. So if you’re a hacker, a wizard, a code cracking Ninja, tell us where we can improve. ...Send your hacks and solutions to security@fatbrain.com." However, this ignores the fact that a crack developed by one person can easily spread to the other 98%.

Need a name for your Weblog? No problem!

Some monkey over at Slashdot changed the default comment mode to flat, so I finally broke down and got an account. If Rob Malda turns out to be an Illuminati agent, I'm gonna be pissed.


Hack the Planet Archives: January 1999
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