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Hack the Planet Archives: February 1999

Sunday, February 28, 1999

Yee-ha! Now I have a Texas-style Weblog. I'm going to be messing with the design for a few days; bear with me.

Zat's Spin is a new Java authoring tool. Like other tools, it doesn't require programming, but unlike other tools it can do servlets.

I was surprised to see Northern Exposure's Darren Burrows as a scruffy bank robber on tonight's X-Files.

Saturday, February 27, 1999

The ArsDigita Prize is for kids only.

On February 3rd I pointed to an eMediaWeekly article that says "MetaCreations' Rice said the company will publish the specification this month, allowing other developers to write to the MetaStream format." There's only one day left; I think they blew it. Show us the specs!

MP3.com interviews the authors of Icecast: "Using binaries for everything sort of makes the use of linux pointless in my opinion though." It's a good thing not everyone shares that opinion.

They also have a story on what it takes to run a legal Net radio station. The answer? Nobody knows.

Yum, QuickTime for Linux.

Friday, February 26, 1999

Sony is on the form-factor offensive with their new Slimtop and C1 machines. They both have their flaws (the Slimtop uses a notebook graphics chip and the C1 is lacking in expansion ports), but overall these products show that Apple isn't the only company willing to "Think Different".

If you have a copy of AppleDesign, compare the Slimtop to the images on pages 102, 122, 134.

This week on netscape.public.mozilla.mail-news, David McCusker is fed up with newbies and James Cape responds. It's a regular soap opera!

While working for Be, on the other hand, is like being trapped in a computer game. :-)

What should be done about Microsoft seems to be a popular theme in the media today. Despite the usefulness of Open Source, I don't see how forcing Microsoft to offer the Windows source code to developers would end their stranglehold on PC makers. My problem with Microsoft is that they forced me to buy their products; how do we end that? I'd prefer that Microsoft offer Windows at the same price to everyone with terms that don't exclude PC makers from installing any piece of software.

Apple has finally released some technical information on how MacOS X Server's NetBoot works.

There's a new release of Sun's Java Project X. X as in XML.

Thursday, February 25, 1999

Lawrence Lee pointed out to me that the W3C has changed the name of their HTML-in-XML proposal to XHTML, as I suggested in January. Does the W3C read this site? (Although I'm sure other people have made the same suggestion.) I also noticed that XHTML is a trademark; I'm curious about the motives behind that...

The W3C also has a new draft called User Agent Authentication Form Elements that combines the best features of HTTP and form-based authentication while leaving out the problems.

Slashdot is running a story saying tha Java 2 license has changed, but I can't find any evidence of it. Meanwhile, Blackdown has a status page with lots of words but no information about their Java 2 port to Linux.

Between installing BeOS and a power outage, I've had more downtime than usual this week. Hopefully I'll be able to move Hack the Planet to its new server soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

DaveNet: When you bet on Microsoft and Microsoft loses, you lose. First J++, now MSIE.

I finally understand why Metricom hasn't been expanding their Ricochet wireless network: they're building the Autobahn instead.

HotsOS is an alternative X Window Manager/File Manager/Program Manager, all rolled into one package, being developed as Open Source. Looks like MacOS...

On Thursday my mom FedExed me a king cake "overnight". I got it today.

"If a vacuum cleaner doesn't suck, does it suck?" -- Dan Kaminsky

Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Sun has a new Java Community Process site where you can give input on future Java specifications.

MacKiDo's David Every takes on reentrancy and why MacOS doesn't have it. He also has an even better essay on why there are no free features.

One thing that I missed when looking at iCab is its support for structural navigation.

Monday, February 22, 1999

Chuck Shotton describes why people need full-time Net connections with static IP addresses. I've been saying that, but it's nice to know that Chuck's doing something about it.

Someone at mozilla.org decided to add my contribution to their CVS repository. It's nice to be appreciated.

Sunday, February 21, 1999

My poor Quadra; I've forgotten what it's like to have such a slow disk...

At least I can run Apache without swapping, though: http://felter.org/

RScheme is a Scheme interpreter with an orthogonally persistent object store.

The mayor of Austin is DJing on 101X tonight; he's playing U2 and the Sex Pistols. :-)

Over the holidays Allison subjected me to a somewhat curious film, Dangerous Liasons, and now they've remade it as Cruel Intentions.

Browsing through IMDb, I was pretty surprised to find so many movie stars who are younger than I am. There are plenty of movie stars who are younger than my brother, who hasn't finished high school yet!

Saturday, February 20, 1999

I'm back (finally!). I think my Ethernet hub is bad; when you turn it upside-down the packets flow, but if it's right-side-up they don't. :-(

Jean-Louis Gassee takes on Microsoft's climate of fear: "I will challenge PC manufacturers to install Linux and Be operating systems for free to see how many will do it." Go Be!

Andromeda Labs is getting ready to offer a complete Java development environment for BeOS. (drool, drool...) Maybe I won't have to port Electrical Fire after all.

Meanwhile, Windows developers are getting screwed by the effects of the Java lawsuit.

At least some Java developers are getting work done: There is now a Tinderbox page for Grendel.

I finally put my old Quadra 610 back into use by installing OpenBSD on it. This should be an interesting adventure...

Friday, February 19, 1999

A three-day Net outage, and no one's even accountable for it... (It's almost as bad as Toscana.)

Cameron Crotty: The real Internet is always on. (from Scripting News)

Simson Garfinkel has a great article about the failings of the copyright system. (thanks Tomalak)

People are still getting it wrong: Digital watermarking doesn't prevent copying any more than an SCMS "don't copy" bit does. It's equivalent to putting a "don't steal me" sign on your car, while leaving the windows rolled down.

Since I haven't had much Net access at home and I had two projects to do, I spent a few nights using the Suns in the CS lab. Their keyboards have the control key in the old-school position next to the A. But now that I'm home, my keyboard has control in the corner and caps lock next to the A, and I can't find the control key any more! It's amazing how fast your brain can re-wire itself....

Maybe I should just give up keyboards and get a Qubit.

Thursday, February 18, 1999

My Internet connection is still down. Since my ISP doesn't provide tech support, there's no telling when it will be working again.

Jamie Zawinski: "[Community source] is set up to keep Sun at the top of the food chain, and frankly I don't think Java will survive under that model."

Wednesday, February 17, 1999

My net connection has been down today.

Tuesday, February 16, 1999

I have a new favorite browser: iCab. It's slow and has a few rough spots, but the automatic HTML 4.0 validation converted me in a second. It also uses Google as its default search site.

invisible.net may have a god idea with their /rfcland 1.0 site, but I can't quite tell what's going on under all that flashing.

It looks like IBM will be supporting Linux, but not with code: "Writing drivers for proprietary IBM hardware raises intellectual property issues, though. IBM will sidestep such issues by providing Linux developers with tips on the IBM hardware but leaving the actual programming work to the outside community." That sounds like a we-do-the-work, you-get-the-benefit deal.

Sun has released the source code to the JDK, but there seem to be a lot of restrictions on what you can do with it. PCWeek also has some coverage.

Monday, February 15, 1999

Herman Miller has some more far-out office furniture called Levity. Just don't tell me how much it costs; I don't even want to know.

Ars Technica has a hands-on look at MacOS X Server. Summary: Some good, some bad. Here's my reply.

You would know that I tried to go to the grocery store during the 8 hours they're closed for remodeling. :-(

Sunday, February 14, 1999

It made my day when they played Ben Folds Five's "Song For The Dumped" on the radio today. :-)

WebDAV is now RFC 2518 and a Proposed Standard. In addition, a new draft of the WebDAV versioning model is available.

I figured it wouldn't take long; here's a BFS driver for Linux. Now all those Linux users can see what a real filesystem looks like. :-)

Saturday, February 13, 1999

FEED interviews Miguel de Icaza: "No doubt that future is going to be damn interesting."

InfoWorld: Microsoft jilts Java tool. "Creating a pseudo-C++ or alternatively easy object-oriented language would be a disaster." (from Scripting News)

Louisiana rep Billy Tauzin is trying to shoot down an FCC proposal to open up the airwaves. Hey, I want my own radio station! If the media-conglomerates have them, why can't I? :-)

CycloVision looks like an easier way to make QuickTime VR panoramas, if you're willing to pay $995 for it.

I've been saying for a while that we'll never get free multicast, because that would allow users to melt down their ISP's backbone without even leaving home. Imagine my surprise when reading a story about how broadcast.com plans to do just that. The kicker? Ads. (thanks Tomalak)

I'm not sure I like the direction things are going. You used to have to pay for media, but at least you could somewhat control the ads. Now that production costs are rising and some people are expecting everything to be free, you can't trip without landing on an advertisement.

If I could clone my cat for $400, I could probably make a profit!

Friday, February 12, 1999

Jakob Nielsen: "Once a new version of Windows comes out with ClearType, ...CRTs should only be used by people whose time is worthless." We'll see about that; personally I think a usability and ROI study is in order...

jwz: "Linux is only free if your time has no value." There seems to be a lot of advice out there for people whose time has no value.

Recently I've seen two ports of Jikes to new platforms that didn't include the source, and one was even shareware. I can understand not wanting to release the source code to an actual feature, but it seems silly to spend a few hours to port Jikes and then not release your changes.

Thursday, February 11, 1999

VMware lets you run different OSes in a virtual machine on top of a regular OS, finally bringing the capabilities of IBM mainframes, Apple's blue box, and SheepShaver to x86 users. Cool!

The Mac-on-Linux project is working on an Open Source™ PowerPC equivalent to VMware.

Jean-Louis Gassee has more browser integration bedtime stories.

Wednesday, February 10, 1999

I really like the new wm.themes.org look.

Richard Hess is looking to port GTK+ and the GIMP to BeOS. Unfortunately, I don't want to run Linux apps on BeOS; I want to run real BeOS apps on BeOS.

You knew it was only a matter of time... Diiva is a new newsreader optimized for finding porn, er, images.

Slashdot caught up with the killer PPC motherboard thread today. Yawn.

Tuesday, February 09, 1999

Kragen Sitaker: "If general-purpose computers are to survive the onslaught of tiny, cheap special-purpose boxes, they must become as easy to use, reliable, and easy to install software on as those special-purpose boxes. This requires a totally different operating environment than anything we're using on the desktop today; not surprisingly, GNU/Linux is closer than anything else I've used. ...But GNU/Linux is an incredibly long way away. This will require different hardware as well as different software."

Slow as I am, I'm just reading up on the digital TV that has started to be broadcast in the US. I think Don Norman says it well: "Interlacing is a technology whose time has long since past. Interlace is a technology of the 1930s. ...But times have changed. We don't need interlacing anymore." and "Non-square pixels are an accident. They don't do anyone any good, but they certainly make life difficult for the computer graphics processing."

The new DV format simply continues this interlaced, non-square-pixel problem...

Free Expression is yet another Open Source™ streaming project.

Wow, RealNetworks has a GPLed RTSP/RTP client and server! Why can't I ever find anything on their site?

(RTSP/RTP is the same set of protocols used by the RealSystem and QuickTime Streaming BTW...)

Monday, February 08, 1999

Finally someone started the linux-future mailing list to talk about big-picture stuff like ACLs and registries. And it's probably the only place you'll hear about the ways NT is better than Linux. (Not to mention some harsh words about RMS and the Hurd.)

I fear that Digital Fountain's hype may hit soon. Basically they have software implementing some new forward error correction (FEC) algorithms along with a bunch of really bad (but trademarked) puns. It looks like a good system, but it can't increase the amount of data that can be transmitted through any particular pipe. I wouldn't advise adopting such a proprietary system that is likely to be only marginally more efficient than a standard Web server. On the other hand, MagiCast (which is based on the same algorithms) looks more useful (if you have multicast). In general I am against any one-way Internet system; the Internet should be optimized for one-to-one and one-to-few dataflows to prevent the accumulation of power in a mass media.

"I'm gonna name my kid 'dot com'." --Fletch, 101X DJ

Sunday, February 07, 1999

Wow! I hooked up my TV today and it actually works! The last time I watched TV in my apartment was, oh, June.

I wish there was any information on the Web about Meg Hentges's new album called Brompton's Cocktail. If you can, give "This Kind of Love" a listen.

Over the last few days my apartment has been invaded by various alien food smells. But tonight it's smoke! Ugh.

Saturday, February 06, 1999

History repeats itself only because some people didn't learn the first time.

Forget the dual Celerons; just gimme one of these dual PowerPC monsters running Linux.

Friday, February 05, 1999

Slow day today. I feel like I spent all day fighting that stupid printer in the CS lab.

Connectix PerkVM. Yet Another Java VM.

It's only the 5th and I'm already sick of hearing about Valentine's Day. Why not concentrate on the important holidays like Mardi Gras?

Thursday, February 04, 1999

I saw a MacWEEK banner ad that said "We know where the bodies are buried." Yeah, but where is MacWEEK going to be buried?

The Standard: "I stand there wishing I had a real job where I didn't have to play repo man to prima donna freelancers." I wish I was a prima donna freelancer.

Hack The (Red) Planet: SimMars.

Have you ever realized that Jon Watte has the same signature as an HFS+ volume?

Wednesday, February 03, 1999

Dan Lyke: Human interaction on-line. Typing obviously sucks; we have enough bandwidth for voice. But that only solves the technical problem.

eMediaWeekly: "MetaCreations' Rice said the company will publish the specification this month, allowing other developers to write to the MetaStream format." Watch out; we're going to hold you to that.

In the it's-only-a-matter-of-time department, the cheat codes for SimCity 3000 have arrived. It even has the mob! (And hurry up on that BeOS version!)

For a good laugh, give Catatonia's "I Am the Mob" a listen.

This Suck take on the Pope is so funny I almost choked.

A new universe of joy and entertainment has been released for all free software enthusiasts. They're masochists; it's the only possible explanation.

Tuesday, February 02, 1999

Ah, the girl's guide to geek guys resurfaces on Scripting News. I don't watch Star Trek (think X-Files), but I can fix things.

XUL (pronounced zool) used to be a ravening demon intent upon taking over the Earth (see the movie Ghostbusters for details). In recent years, XUL dropped the Z from its name and replaced it with an X, and upon doing so, transformed into something far worse than a demon. It became a markup language. It's nothing but monsters and demons at mozilla.org!

It looks to me like Python has a metaobject protocol; can anybody point me to the docs on that?

Monday, February 01, 1999

Last night I went to the grocery store and they were in the midst of totally rearranging it. Even worse, they were really low on cold medicine!

Dan Lyke: "In a world where human interactions are defined by the standards set by popular media, people are essentially boring."

InfoWorld: Intel's new Pentium III "could spur the development of richer I-commerce applications such as 3-D malls." Yeah, right. Repeat after me: I do not want 3D e-commerce. Meanwhile "most mainstream desktop applications will not benefit from added Pentium III performance." The article goes on to mention that computer makers do not have your best interests in mind. Traditional economic theory says that companies that give customers what they want will win over those that don't; this ignores the case where there are no companies that give customers what they want.

This week's Helen strips are hilarious.


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