Hack the Planet Archives: March 1999

Wednesday, March 31, 1999

My brain is worn out from writing threaded Java code, recursive Haskell code, designing an encrypted reliable multicast protocol, and reading Stephenson's essay from last night. Maybe I'll have some more updates later.

Intel has announced a new StrongARM, although their site doesn't have many details (clock speed?). Also, I don't understand why Intel would ship another SA-1-based CPU in Q3 when the SA-2 core was supposed to be released in the same timeframe. Maybe SA-2 is late...

Tuesday, March 30, 1999

I got some spam today from Network Solutions today notifying me that they have rearranged their Web sites. Today.

Neal Stephenson: In the beginning was the command line.

Apparently Stephenson has a new book coming, Cryptonomicon. Somehow encrypted data havens seem less exciting than virtual reality lingua-viruses or nanotech, but I'll have to give it a shot anyway.

JavaWorld: Sun keeps its foot in Java's door. "Fragmentation of Java also could come from the only entity without a commercial interest in the language -- the open source community itself. Gartner Group predicts that hackers will attempt to produce a freeware version of Java by 2002 that is not based on Sun's implementation, under the GNU General Public License." 2002? Try 1998.

I added link tags that iCab can use.

Carnegie is a GNOME class-scheduling utility. Now someone just needs to port it to UT...

Distributed.net's V3 distributed framework has been renamed Cosm. Interesting idea, ugly Web site.

Monday, March 29, 1999

I watched Futurama last night. It officially kicks ass.

Eric S. Raymond: Take My Job, Please!

Of course, Bruce Perens had to respond, and AbiSource's Eric W. Sink says that replacing ESR is the wrong goal.

Metrowerks announced CodeWarrior for Linux today. I'm disappointed that the professional edition won't be included in Pro 5 and won't support PowerPC Linux.

Metacontent! is a new Weblog.

NY Times: Internet Companies Reinvent Math. Is there any honest way to make money on the Internet?

Sunday, March 28, 1999

Gordon Henriksen has written a summary of GUI options for Darwin.

Linux Weekly News looks at BitKeeper: "When a lot of 'free enough' software is no longer 'Open Source,' what becomes of the certification mark? Will people care about it any more?"

Visto looks like an interesting Webtop service. Unfortunately, I can't use it because I can't run the software on my own computer. (If they think I'm going to upload all my personal information onto their servers, they can keep dreaming.)

I think Visto aptly represents some of the problems with the move from software to services. We used to pay for software, which we could then use, for as long as necessary, in relative privacy. Now thanks to the Internet we have free services that can do the same jobs. However, do you trust a company who you aren't paying to act in your best interests? And if they start acting in ways that you don't like, what is your recourse?

Similarly, Bob Metcalfe's latest column worries me. Companies like Intel and Wave are trying to build "trusted PCs", but trusted by whom? If some part of my PC is not under my control, I don't trust it. I don't care whether anyone else trusts my PC; its first purpose is to serve me, not Internet content providers.

The XUL Tool is your source for Mozilla themes.

Yuck, the first portal to cash in on the "open" buzzword.

Saturday, March 27, 1999

InfoWorld catches on to the cheap way to do broadband: wireless. Now if only I could afford the equipment...

I was talking to Faisal today, and he pointed me to his quote file. Check it out, but remember to take a break every few hours.

Friday, March 26, 1999

Phil Greenspun: "How has technology improved as the world moved from MUD to the Web? By and large users have been stripped of their ability to perform server-side programming. In its place, they've gotten Java-enriched banner advertisements that crash their browsers. And that, apparently, is progress." (seen on Robot Wisdom)

Dan Lyke points to an article about students suing because a class was too hard. Lawsuits aside, why is SMU teaching classes about MS products?

I have definitely seen the pressure on universities to make classes easier. I suspect that the percentage of CS students at UT who aren't interested in CS has gone up a lot in recent years; in order to keep grade distributions the same, classes must be made easier. The result is that two years of CS at UT can end up being equivalent to one semester at MIT or Berkeley. I keep asking them to make the classes harder, but they don't listen...

Thursday, March 25, 1999

The latest Be newsletter has an interesting article about USB, but JLG's column falls apart: He starts out talking about voice-over-IP and ends up comparing speech recognition software. Maybe I'm just missing the relationship there.

Greg Bolsinga: "In the upcoming [CodeWarrior] Pro5, the CW IDE is going to be able import/export the IDE project file & pref panel data as XML files. This way, an IDE project can be exported as XML, then some script can run to iterate thru a directory, all the while properly adding file references (and target references) to the XML file. Then the XML file can be imported back into the IDE project file, and the files are added."

DropMain looks like a useful way to launch Java apps on MacOS.

MacInTouch: "Linux 2.2.4 synchronizes PowerPC and Solaris versions with the Intel version of the operating system." Ouch! There isn't a Solaris version of Linux.

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

I have some Comments about the AT&T Source Code License.

The Apple mailing lists are a veritable goldmine of soundbites today. Unfortunately their software won't let me link to individual messages.

Creed Erickson: "Well, the first 98% of the project takes the first 98% of the time. The other 2% of the project takes the other 98% of the time."

Fletcher Sandbeck: "As an end user of free and open software for many years, I must say that the community has not solved the problem of 'vaporware'. Every time a computer science student graduates, another free software project goes into 'maintenance mode'."

Something to think about: We have software with user interfaces that have evolved to be very efficient at reading email (or at least we've learned to use them). Why don't Web mail archives look anything like email clients?

Sun's Java WorkShop 3.0 development environment is now free; the source will be released this summer.

Those wacky MIT kids... "Your practice project for this assignment will be a content management system to supports [sic] the publication of a Web-based magazine."

MOSR breaks the laws of physics again: "...dual G4 machines will be as much as 2.2 times faster than a single-processor version..." When will they learn?

The new Frontier 6 Web site looks good.

Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Kevin S. Van Horn: Why ideas should not be property.

AT&T has released most of the source code to their DjVu wavelet compression library. The license is quite interesting, especially section 3.3 which regulates your right to link to their Web site.

Zope does WebDAV.

Slashdot has started experimenting with wide-scale moderation.

I have read several stories lately suggesting that cable TV companies should be required to open up their networks, allowing other companies (especially ISPs) to rent their wires and use them for their own services. Why should a company that has invested billions in infrastructure be required to rent that infrastructure to competitiors? Some say that cable companies have monopolies, but I want to know why they have monoplies. Were these cable monopolies created and protected by government or did they evolve naturally? I can understand breaking up a goverment-protected monopoly (like the phone companies), but forcing such regulations on a company that is subject to competition is punishing it for its success.

Continuing the BeOS-Apple thread from a few days ago, Michael Alderete answers the age-old question, "What about PIOS?"

Intel spews more FUD about 1394.

MacOS Rumors has a report on the much-talked-about but little-understood "nanokernel" in MacOS 8.6. Unfortunately, they're making almost the same claims that were made about Copland, claims that turned out to be either technically impossible or wildly unrealistic... (This link will probably break in a few days. Morons.)

Monday, March 22, 1999

Better late than never, I wrote up My Analysis of MacOS X Server.

There's a great Alertbox today: URL as UI. Why do so many large sites get this wrong?

Mozilla.org has updated their RDF documentation, including some interesting tidbits about persistent client stores.

galapagos and glyph X are two candidate names for a project to develop a comprehensive set of interface elements and resources with all the richness and responsiveness of the Mac OS interface, but composed of free, opensource designs and covered under the GNU General Public License.

LinuxWorld interviews Linus for the 42nd time, but this one actually has some pretty interesting stuff IMO.

Sunday, March 21, 1999

Last night I got the Casbah IDE talking to its backend application server (Cairo) for the first time. Check out the Windows and Metal screenshots.

I forgot to mention that Dave's NewsSearch site started up last week, and it indexes this site. Thanks!

Be's Michael Alderete explains how Darwin and OpenFirmware don't affect Be's position of not supporting recent Mac hardware.

Does the WSP hate Microsoft? "It's not personal, it's business."

Cobalt appears to be taking on Network Appliance with their new file and cache server appliances. Since they don't need to run user-installed applications, these server appliances can use cheaper non-Intel processors running faster non-Microsoft operating systems. As the price/performance of the Wintel platform levels off, these kinds of solutions will be harder to ignore.

FreeHive designs Web sites for the Net community; they're working on one for The Public DNS service that does a great job of hosting my DNS.

I heard that Beth Orton's show at SXSW was packed; I think I'll have to pick up her new album.

InfoWorld's test center looks at GNOME and KDE.

MozillaZine is running an interesting poll today...

Saturday, March 20, 1999

I'm back. Now to catch up on this week's news...

The biggest news this week was the release of MacOS X Server and Darwin. Interestingly, the site no longer requires registration. I'm working on an analysis that I'll post later today or tomorrow.

The Darwin mailing lists are running now.

I'm looking to buy a new hard drive to put MacOS X Server on, and I'm not finding any narrow SCSI drives. Any ideas?

I just installed MSIE 5.0, but according to the Web Standards Project, it sucks.

Scott Furman: "The best way to achieve Sun's goal [of complete compatibility] is to make sure that there's only one implementation of the Java runtime libraries for each platform. But, for this strategy to succeed, the quality of the JDK libraries must be so high and the licensing terms so agreeable that there is no incentive for anyone to replicate them. The existence of projects like Classpath, Kaffe, and ElectricalFire are indications that Sun has failed in this regard."

More Gecko and XML demos.

snapfs is a new filesystem type for Linux. It offers two cool new features: access to previous versions of edited, replaced, or deleted files; and recovery from crashes with no need to fsck.

Forbes: The FedEx Play. If FedEx can't deliver packages to my apartment, what good is "overnight" service?

MacWeek returns to print, kinda.

Saturday, March 13, 1999

I'm on spring break; Hack The Planet will not be updated this week.

I just realized why it wouldn't benefit BeOS to be Open Source, and the answer is on page 5 of Ousterhout's slide show that I pointed to a few days ago.

NEWS.COM: PowerPC hits fork in the road.

Digital deals, Texas style.

Warning: If you couldn't stomach There's Something About Mary, you probably shouldn't read this absolutely hilarious piece from Zeldman.

Friday, March 12, 1999

It seems kind of odd that just as everyone's coming to Austin for SXSW, I'm about to leave for spring break...

Cam points to an interesting-looking lecture on future wireless technologies. If you're in a hurry, watch the time-compressed version!

Ahh, the Bruce Sterling FAQ cracks me up. Those poor superfamous cyberpunk writers...

Zero Knowldege Systems has cracked the Pentium III serial number. Some people say that rebooting the computer will be a telltale sign of suspicious activity, but maybe they don't use Windows. Pretty much any substantial Windows app requires rebooting.

Thursday, March 11, 1999

Robot Wisdom points to some blurry yet revealing shots from Eyes Wide Shut.

Per-user IP accounting for Linux looks useful. Modern operating systems account for plentiful resources like CPU time, but often not for scarce ones like disk and network I/O; I'm glad to see that changing.

ApacheWeek has a new look.

Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Curious about MacOS X Server? Why not read the documentation? (Unsurprisingly, it appears to be down now.)

Red Hat backlash? Come on, even Linus uses Red Hat now. You know what they say, no one ever got fired for buying Red Hat...

Paraform sells digital humans. They might be useful for the Metaverse. Can I get some cool clothes with that avatar? There's nothing worse than running around in a naked avatar.

Another article on the Long Now.

In Formation magazine: "We're not with the program." (via jjg.net)

Ahhh, Freedom. (from Robot Wisdom)

Tuesday, March 09, 1999

BeZilla makes progress...

Money-grab successfully averted: the CD Index project.

Extensible Kernels are Leading OS Research Astray.

While I'm at it, here's an interesting talk from John Ousterhout on why threads are a bad idea. In an ideal world I might be inclined to agree with him, but most programmers don't have a choice between threads and events when using current operating systems that have such poor support for event-based programming. (apologies for the PostScript; when will these academics learn?)

Monday, March 08, 1999

Today's online music money-grab: CDDB.

Junkbusters on the Microsoft threat to consumer privacy: "People familiar with [Linux] already know that it is offered under a license that will keep it free in the sense of being available anonymously for perpetual use, with no threat of compulsory registration."

Although sometimes Microsoft isn't so clever, like when they invest in snake-oil copy protection from Reciprocal.

Yet another reason why RealNetworks annoys me: "Soon, the company is expected to introduce a new version of its RealPlayer G2, a player that supports America Online's Instant Messenger technology and allows online buddies to send links to streaming content to each other using the real-time messaging technology." Can't I just watch streaming video in peace? Apparently John C. Dvorak agrees.

Intel stomps Windows, live on the CodyCam.

Robert Morgan's columns usually annoy me, but now that he has calmed down a bit I'm willing to point to this latest one about Sony and convergence. Of course, such information should be no surprise to astute readers of this site. As if that wasn't enough, Flutterby! points to a new Sony mall in San Francisco.

Oh no, now Dave's discussion board has limericks about Open Source...

Sunday, March 07, 1999

Legendary director Stanley Kubrick dead at 70.

More Sony news: Tuning in the Fight of the (next) Century.

I don't know why that reminds me of Silverchair's new "Anthem for the Year 2000" (RA, WAV)...

From Robot Wisdom, The New Age of the Book.

I was getting into that Next Big Thing mood and thinking about yet-to-be-released albums when I discovered that UBL has some clips from upcoming releases by Ben Lee, Gus Gus, The Mod Squad soundtrack, and Snakefarm.

Ok. Maybe there is a small consipracy.

osOpinion: Write an essay, get free ad space. That's an interesting business model...

Saturday, March 06, 1999

Deva is a multi-user, multi-application, multi-environment 'VR Operating System' based on the MAVERIK engine. See the cityscape, VRAD, and crowd control demos. Looks like the Metaverse to me!

InfoWorld: "Another company, Cosmos Engineering, has developed a single-CD installation procedure for Linux." I think I'll stick with the zero-CD installation method.

Robot Wisdom points to an article on some of Sony's new products, including a $99 WebTV. I think Memory Stick becomes a worse idea all the time. It was never really necessary IMO, because CompactFlash is already the de facto industry standard and can hold up to 96MB. A Memory Stick can only hold 8MB, and copy protection features make the format's future even more dubious. This may be a case where Sony's proprietary-everything strategy doesn't work.

In case you've ever wondered exactly how close of a relationship Be and Intel have, there is no conspiracy...

I wish I could go to the mozilla dot party two point oh...

Friday, March 05, 1999

There's lots of interesting and bizarre discussion over at Scripting News today. Dave says, "Open source has produced operating systems, this is cheap software to create, you can use computer science grad students to write operating systems." Ouch! But I think he's right.

Richard Stallman, Linux's Forgotten Man.

Why I don't like RealNetworks. (seen on the Realm)

For a change from the usual routine, let's look at some KDE apps: KDevelop, KGLChess, KOrganizer, and of course KOffice. It looks like they've gotten screenshot religion since I last looked at the site, but I still can't find much information on OpenParts, the new kfm, or themes. The worst problem that I've found with KDE's site is that I don't understand the UI on their mailing list archives at all. I like to read the archives of some lists without having to subscribe, but if the archives aren't easy to use I can't keep up with them.

Look, another Open Source XML parser. <yawn/>

Thursday, March 04, 1999

"We want to take over the world, but we don't have to do it by tomorrow. It's OK to do it by next week or even in a few months." -- Linus Torvalds, LinuxWorld keynote

The GlobeCaster seems to be a popular topic, popping up first on Scripting News and then on Robot Wisdom. As Jello Biafra said, "Don't hate the media; become the media."

The transcript from CityJava's panel discussion on Open Source is now available. I had trouble with their server, so I put up a mirror. (Warning: This is a Word document. Apparently the author isn't into write-once, read-anywhere document formats.)

NetBeans DeveloperX2 2.1 is the first Java IDE that I've seen that supports Java 1.2.

Lucent is burning up the Net with their new InfernoSpaces distributed-networking stuff that seems to be positioned opposite Jini.

MediaFlex combines on-demand printing with e-commerce.

Wednesday night I went to a talk by Edsger Dijkstra; I never realized he's so funny!

I got about a third of GNOME 1.0 to compile; for some reason all the binaries in gnome-libs segfault immediately. Oh well; maybe I can track down UTCS's sysadmins and harass them to install it.

"The astonishing baroqueness of X is the greatest threat to the general sucess of UNIX to have come along since System V hit the streets. If you try to give an X system to a real human being, not a computer hacker masquerading as a normal person, they will croak. If X doesn't instantly burn out their eyes and brain, causing them to throw their UNIX box out the nearest high window, it will drive them straight into the arms of the Macintosh II." -- Mike O'Dell, 1988

Wednesday, March 03, 1999

My NT system inexplicably ran out of disk space today. When I looked into where all the space was going, I made some interesting discoveries: Outlook Express was using 178MB for who knows what, I had 55MB worth of MSIE disk cache, and I found a 125MB file called javalog.txt! By deleting and compressing stuff, I managed to free up over 400MB.

Wired News: The music industry still thinks you're a criminal. "One cannot eliminate CD copying overnight, but we're hoping that over a period of time, consumers will migrate to DVD, and we will flood the world with compliant recorders.... We're keeping honest people honest."

GNOME 1.0.

Today I discovered a lab full of dual Xeon Linux systems on campus. Talk about tearing through compiles...

Tuesday, March 02, 1999

Java HotSpot is coming. Sun also has a new site about JavaOS for Business, but it doesn't answer my question: What does the GUI look like?

What? Open processor designs? What could be next?

Phil Karn strikes again: "This package contains a patch to the Linux 2.2.2 kernel that disables the CPU serial number misfeature in the new Intel Pentium III processor at boot time."

There's a new Java linker update for CodeWarrior. Does anybody know when Pro 5 is due? I hope the Java-to-native compilers are coming back...

Monday, March 01, 1999

Slashdot is running a story about the Linux Standard Base today. What's amazing is that there are actually some sane comments...

In other Linux news, I completely agree that "Linux running Windows applications using Wine is slow, naive and just plain daft."

Cringeley has a great article on how Intel has obsoleted itself. I think Intel could come back if they were willing to give up x86 compatibility; StrongARM is great for a market where CPUs are measured in MIPS/$ and MIPS/W instead of in raw performance.

The Mac-on-Linux project is making progress.

Yuck, Microsoft is starting to hype their Millennium project. I like to be in control of my computers, thank you very much.

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