Hack the Planet Archives: August 1999

Tuesday, August 31, 1999

Hmm, John Carmack has appeared on the Darwin-Development list. "I am a bit concerned by the aparent complete lack of interest in darwin. Apple did just about the best thing they possibly could, and it doesn't seem like it is making any impact." Are they paying him to say that? I find it odd that he's saying just the opposite of what most people are saying. (FWIW, I don't think Apple is doing enough; the code that Apple is using internally is months ahead of the obsolete public Darwin release.)

"My problem with Open Source software is the fact that the people doing the work (ie, the programmers) aren't generally the people making any money." -- Chris Herborth

"The Open Source movement has nothing to offer me. Why? I don't WANT to do support. And I don't WANT to do custom coding for each customer. I want to make off of the shelf products like, say, Photoshop (in a different market). I have no interest in either of these methods of getting paid. So I will ask you - how can I, as a programmer, get paid for writing open source?" -- Michael Phipps

Wow. The Apple Cinema Display is cool. Of course you can only get it with a Power Mac G4.

MacOS Rumorz had the scoop on all of today's Apple announcements. (This probably isn't what you think it is; it's much funnier.)

The Myst Masterpiece Edition site has been updated with a bunch of new screenshots and a demonstration of the new hint guide. Unfortunately the images seem to be in Mac gamma, so I can barely see some of them.

Sunday, August 29, 1999

Teresa Martin installs RealPlayer and lives to tell about it: "I consider my computer my own. After all, I bought it. Companies like Real Networks don't see it this way. ...we are little but eyeballs for sale and potential revenue streams. There is no respect for us, for our value, for our property."

InfoWorld has the first review of Lifestreams Office that I've found.

Be uber-hacker Dominic Giampaolo is selling his medieval seige engine on eBay.

KDE Studio looks, unsurprisingly, a lot like MS Visual Studio.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

Don Hopkins posts some thoughts on Xanadu and ends up including his life story. "What would be much more useful, would be some well written design documents and post-mortems, comparisons with current technologies like DHTML, XML, XLink, XPath, HyTime, XSL, etc, and proposals for extending current technologies and using them to capture the good ideas of Xanadu." You heard it here first, folks (on Tuesday actually).

A while back I saw this 1997 presentation predicting Gigabit Ethernet to the home, but I wrote it off. After all, just about everyone is going with ATM. Imagine my surprise at reading this paper about a Canadian plan to bring gigabit fiber to the home using Ethernet framing.

Friday, August 27, 1999

The Java Media Framework 2.0 beta is now available. I have a lot of ideas about this one...

From the EROS mailing list comes Norm Hardy's list of "Things Unix doesn't do and I don't know how to do except in message systems."

This week's Usenix Security Symposium looks like it had some interesting talks and papers.

Thursday, August 26, 1999

Tonight I took all my accumulated spare change and dumped it into a Coinstar machine at the grocery store, and I got back just over $30! The machine has a great UI, too: it shows a running total of the amount you've poured in, and even warns you if you're feeding the coins in too fast.

Sun now has a MAJC developer site (for what it's worth, considering how little information is available).

There are new snapshots of Mozilla and ICEBrowser available.

GNOME has a new Weblog.

I was so busy when leaving town that I forgot to mention that Hack The Planet is a year old.

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Today is the first day of school; campus is covered with beautiful women...

W3C has issued a new draft of Common Markup for micropayment per-fee-links, but it's inelegant. There's no integration with (or even mention of ) XLink.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

I'm back in Austin. Today's update is expectedly huge.

Ted Nelson's famous Xanadu system has been reborn in Open Source as Udanax. The source is under a very liberal license and isn't patented. As Bill Joy likes to say, they're "going whole hog". Unfortunately documentation is really scarce right now; I think the documentation would be more valuable than the code. At this point, there is little chance that the FeBe protocol will replace HTTP or that Xanadu's document format will replace HTML and XML, so I think the best direction forward is to incorporate the ideas from Xanadu into the Web.

The first beta of JDK 1.3 is available.

Lawrence Lee pointed me to PGP freeware 6.5.1, including PGPnet IPSec support. If you try this out, let me know about your experiences.

MacWEEK: First fruits of IBM PPC spec. "Prophet announced it will deliver a sub-$1,000 desktop system based on the RISC architecture in the first quarter of 2000 and said it plans to offer PCs that use both the current G3 and forthcoming G4 generations of the PowerPC." There is also a mailing list to discuss open PowerPC motherboards.

QNX recently put up some more Neutrino documentation. I'm wondering why there isn't a GNUtrino project yet...

M.E. O'Neill: "People at Apple ... seem to think that Darwin could take off and become a real operating system in its own right (rather than `merely' be the foundation for MacOS X (Server)). At the moment, that strikes me as a laughable proposition. Who would be excited about running a deadend codebase that only provides command-line Unix functionality?" (This rant goes on and on, but unfortunately I can't find any Web archives of the PublicSource list.)

EE Times: Consortium to push compatible wireless Ethernet. "The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) will promote and certify interoperability for transceivers and network access points using the IEEE 802.11 wireless Ethernet standard."

For Johan Lundberg, one processor per person is definitely not enough.

Friday, August 13, 1999

I'm going on vacation for two weeks. If you're looking for something interesting to read while I'm gone, check out Stewart Brand's new book, The Clock of the Long Now.

Tomalak is pointing to a good story on new image formats: PNG, SVG, and JPEG 2000.

Wired News: Starium Promises Phone Privacy.

I've seen a lot of confusion over IBM's new open PowerPC motherboard design, so here's my take: If a PowerPC motherboard has a correct (or correct enough) implementation of Open Firmware 3.0, you should be able to run MacOS >=8.5 and MacOS X on it. Sorry for no links, but I'm about to leave.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

Jef Poskanzer gives an eloquent explanation of why I like to write in Java: "You might think [a Java NNTP server] is a dumb idea, since news servers are a performance-critical application and writing one in Java means it will be way too slow. Actually, on heavily loaded news systems this should outperform the standard C nnrpd by large factors, merely due to being multi-threaded and therefore not wasting megabytes of memory on each reader. Of course, a multi-threaded C server would be even faster, but in ten years of NNTP history no one has written one. Writing this one in Java was literally two days work. "

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

These guys really don't get it. Yes, ISPs should charge for usage, but a packet is a packet, so why charge more for some packets than others?

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

NPR's Talk of the Nation for July 10, 1998: David Gelernter. (I found this after boredom drove me to read through all of Google's results for a search on "lifestreams".)

PureTLS is an Open Source Java TLS/SSL implementation.

I think General Picture is playing "How many usability rules can we break at the same time?" with their latest book, Human Factors Programming with the Document Object Model. "The advantage of [non-standard navigation system] Curl for authors is that page navigation is automatically handled by using sequential numbers as page file names." A content management tool can handle navigation for you, without requiring authors to jump through any hoops. Besides that, the content is pretty good.

New Java Specification Requests: SASL, XML Data Binding, JCE 1.3. Somehow I never knew about JAAS until today; I wonder if it would make it easy to do a Java version of CRISIS.

Monday, August 09, 1999

The Sharp Internet Viewcam is a digital camcorder that records 80kbps MPEG-4 video on flash cards. It would be really cool, but they screwed it up by using lame SmartMedia cards instead of CompactFlash.

Bye bye, Intel. The Athlon is here.

I got the new Guided By Voices album, Do The Collapse, today. "Someone tell me why I do the things that I don't wanna do? When you're around me I'm somebody else."

LinuxWorld is starting, and according to InfoWorld, IBM is trying to create a PowerPC clone market, at least in low-end servers. I'd like it to work, but I've heard the same thing so many times before.

Sunday, August 08, 1999

InfoWorld likes BeOS R4.5.

BeDope looks at possible future BeOS installers. "Now copying BeOS files. Not copying any Linux files."

Saturday, August 07, 1999

The ever-lovable Tom Christiansen brings us a file to translate between geekspeak and user-speak, wrapped in a little Perl script.

I've started noticing a trend on the Mozilla newsgroups; every day there seems to be another post from someone who doesn't like the new cross-platform widgets. I hope the Mozilla team really knows what they're doing, because I wouldn't want this to turn into a full-fledged backlash.

Friday, August 06, 1999

The fast Power3s haven't even come out yet, but IBM is already working on the Power4, which puts two 64-bit PowerPC cores on the same die.

Thursday, August 05, 1999

Wired News completely screwed up this story. BeComputing is not related to Be, Inc! The article has now ben fixed, and they (surprisingly) apologized.

For once I find myself disagreeing with Jakob Nielsen. I think it's time we stopped shoehorning everything into HTML.

IBM: External Annotation of Web Content for Transcoding

Wednesday, August 04, 1999

Wired News: Big Blue Reinvents Internships. That's what I should have done this summer.

Alan Baratz resigns from Sun. "the Java technology ... remains inextricably bound in several thorny issues surrounding licensing and standardization that have lingered for years."

Lou Grinzo: "If a 'corporate Linux' can guarantee better release-to-release compatibility, easier installations, and most of all, better usability, then the mainstream users will choose it over the 'real Linux' by an overwhelming ratio." Where do I send my money?

Does anyone know if the recent Marimba patent is legit?

I added a link in the header so that you can read all my CritLink comments.

Tuesday, August 03, 1999

"I don't want an aggregation service any more than I want bits and pieces of my friends to be delivered to me on demand. I want whole friends, and whole sites." -- Jim Roepcke on Weblogs

I see that Jim mentioned the Neuromancer site. I want this one to work out, but I'm afraid that they'll botch it like they did Johhny Mnemonic (According to Gibson, what ended up on screen bore little resemblance to the original film).

The idea that some people try to read all the Weblogs scares me. Most of them I just can't get into. Besides, it takes long enough to read the sites I do read.

Monday, August 02, 1999

Ooh, I love this. Dave found the rude version of Cluetrain: Attention, Fat Corporate Bastards! "We know about your plans for the Internet. Although you won't listen, we would like to point out how wrong you are now, so we can point out gleefully how right we were later."

EE Times: Sun conjures Java CPU for media apps. I see that they've learned that directly executing bytecode isn't a good idea.

The KDE 2.0 disaster continues. It's only in alpha; there's still time to fix it.

I got my copy of BeOS R4.5 today, but apparently my Permedia 2 vide card isn't VESA 2.0 compliant (or something), so I still don't have color. It looks like a G200 is in my future...

Sunday, August 01, 1999

AlphaWorks has a Java SVG viewer; after I finally got through to the site I noticed that it's based on Java2D, which probably simplifies the code a lot but restricts it to Java 2.

On the GNOME mailing list, Paul Dorman rants about the need for Open Source communities to protect their intellectual property: "If we are actually going to take a leadership role in software design, then we should expect to get appropriate amounts of flak from the rather enormous corporations which are going to die as a result. I hate seeing projects shut down because some company's legal thugs say 'continue with that and we'll sue you'. We can't dodge every proprietry technology out there, and there aren't always alternatives. As software gets more sophisticated we are going to see more occurences of patent infringement by open source projects, and sometimes there isn't an elegant alternative."

Some people are already doing this. For example, you need a license to some of IBM's patents to use Jikes, so the Jikes license lets you use those patents, but only in Jikes (AFAIK). If you wanted to use the same ideas in a non-Jikes project you might have to negotiate a separate license. This is an interesting wrinkle on Open Source software: the code is open, but the ideas are not. I can see long-term disadvantages from such situations; what if you can't rewrite code from scratch?

I also found a cool autogenerated status page for GNOME translations.

James M. Cape has started the GNOME User Interface Improvement Project, which will hopefully be more productive than the previous ill-fated style guide efforts. Update: There is now a Web site. I'm really impressed; this project came together in less than a day!

Java Lobby has a story about a Java mail server that's faster than Sendmail (and probably simpler, too). There seem to be fewer justifications for Unix-style worse-is-better software every day.

Here's Apple's documentation on how QuickTime streaming really works.

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