The following important announcement about corporate efforts in Congress to steal intellectual property rights from creators and consumers via the Digital Future Coalition:
On September 24, 1998, Congress held the first of several meetings, to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (DMCA). These meetings could be completed by the end of this week!You can find out exactly what you can to do to help on the Digital Future Coalition web site.
The DMCA makes significant changes to American copyright law in the name of implementing recent World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties. Unfortunately, some of the proposed changes could upset the uniquely American balance between the users and creators of copyrighted works. The Senate bill lacks adequate protections for fair use, encryption research, and personal privacy. It could also limit the availability of future consumer electronics and computer products. On the other hand, the House version contains many extraneous provisions that have little or nothing to do with implementing the important WIPO treaties. These provisions in the House bill would overturn three consumer-oriented Supreme Court decisions. The Justice department has concluded that one of these provisions, Title V, which creates sweeping new anti-fair-use rights in databases and other collections of information, may well be unconstitutional. (This Title V was previously a separate bill, the "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act.") Now is the time to speak up because these meetings will determine the final form of this legislation as it goes to the President's desk to be signed into law.
If you care about the future of the Internet, you should let your Senators and Representatives know, as soon as possible, how important it is to preserve the essential provisions of the House DMCA, which protects fair use, personal privacy, the availability of consumer products and encryption research - while rejecting its harmful extraneous provisions.
International Data Corporation's latest study claims that Internet Explorer has passed Netscape Navigator as the most used browser. According to IDC, IE has 43.8% market share to Netscape's 41.5%. Figures are for the first half of 1998.
For some work I'm doing with Unicode programs, I need a large quantity of public domain Greek text encoded in Unicode or UTF-8, perhaps something like Homer's Odyssey or Plato's Republic. I could also convert text encoded in ISO 8859-7, Windows 1253, or MacGreek. However, all I've found so far is a variety of Roman transliterations and English and German translations. If you happen to know of such a thing available on the Internet, could you please drop me a line? Cyrillic text (War and Peace? The Brothers Karamazov?) would also be useful, but since I don't speak any Cyrillic languages, I'd prefer to work with Greek.
Live Software has released the first version of its $495 payware JRun Scripting Toolkit, an add-on for the JRun Servlet Engine that supports JRun Server Pages, Dynamic Taglets, and Presentation Templates
Sun's posted the first early access release of XML Library for Java on the Java Developer Connection. It's only available to registered members but registration is free. XML Library is written in Java, and requires JDK 1.1.6 or later. It provides a SAX compliant, namespace aware, XML parser with optional validation, an in-memory object model tree for manipulating and writing XML structured data, and some basic support for integrating JavaBeans with XML.
Members of the House Commerce Committee will vote this Thursday, September 23, on the Oxley bill, a.k.a "CDA II". This bill is yet another unconstitutional intrusion onto our free speech rights. If your representative sits on the House commerce committee, your phone call would be especially appreciated. More information including phone numbers of the members of the House Commerce Committee is available from the Center for Democracy and Tecnology.
Luca Lutterotti has posted a version of Swing EA2 that works (more or less) with Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.x.
Sun's released beta 5 of Java PC, software for converting old, slow DOS PCs into new, slow network computers. This release adds support for application caching, international keyboards, audio cards, TSRs, and the Java Communications API for serial and parallel ports.
Microsoft's market capitalization (stock price times number of shares) reached $261.2 billion at market close yesterday, passing GE ($257.4 billion) to make Microsoft the largest company in America in terms of market cap.
The U.S. v. Microsoft antitrust trial has been delayed until October 15 to give Microsoft more time to prepare.
This seems like a good opportunity to reiterate my opinion of public betas. Beta testing is serious work. Finding and reporting even one bug is likely to take an hour or more of your valuable time. By installing beta software you are risking the stability and preformance of your system and the integrity of your data. A poor beta, especially on Windows, can lead to corruption of your entire system and force you to spend a day or more recreating your setup from scratch.
Personally I won't do this anymore. When asked to beta test products, I insist on being compensated for my time and effort at my customary consulting rates. My time is simply too valuable to spend to give it away to companies that are too cheap to pay for proper quality assurance. Otherwise, I will run beta software only if it's directly relevant to what I'm writing abaut, and I feel the risk of installing the beta is worth the help it gives me in getting my books to market quicker.
However, I haven't always felt this way. When I was graduate student, money for new software was tight and my time was less valuable than it is now. Therefore it seemed a good deal to participate in a variety of beta tests that offered me software I was interested in in exchange for my feedback. And if you feel the same way now, that's certainly OK.
But what is not OK is that many companies now use beta tests as a marketing tool. They ask users to risk the stability of their systems and donate their valuable and productive time to a for-profit enterprise without even a token consideration. The least you should be offered for participating in a beta test is a free copy of the software when it's released. Everyone who sends in even a simple comment (e.g. "Seems to work OK on JDK 1.1.6 on NT 4.0") should get a free copy of the software. T-shirts are some other chatchka would be appreciated as well. Contests where only the top ten testers get a free copy are not acceptable.
Some companies complain that if they did this they couldn't afford 18,000 beta testers. To this I say, "fine". Beta tests are meant to find and fix bugs. They're also helpful to authors, third party developers, and others who need early access to software to do their jobs. But they are not supposed to be a marketing tool. Posting press releases about the latest beta, asking users to download and install your product as if it were finished software, and otherwise acting as though a beta were a shipping product is sure to generate a host of ill will among your potential users when they encounter the inevitable bugs, or when the software expires unexpectedly and leaves them with unreadable files. Beta testers do developers a huge favor by reviewing their work for free. They should be treated as important partners in the development process, not as some nameless face on the other end of the latest piece of marketing spam.
Live Software has released version 2.2 of its free JRun Servlet Engine and $295 payware JRun Pro. JRun adds servlet support to Netscape Enterprise Server, Micrsoft IIS, Microsoft Personal Web Server, Apache, and assorted other web servers. This release runs out-of-process on all platforms as a service on Win32), supports unlimited sized POST, adds an integrated web server, and can run under most Java 1.1 and later virtual machines.
Version 0.3.7 of IBM's Jikes Java compiler is now available. Supported platforms include Linux Intel with libc5, Sparc Solaris, Linux Intel with glibc, AIX, and Windows 95/NT.
I've updated the notes for Week 3, Introduction to Objects, of my Introduction to Java course.
The September 98 update of the Java Spec Report adds a number of new issues relating to the Java specifications including
Proficiency with design patterns is reinforced through participation in a course-wide project in which students analyze, design, and write a program simulating traffic flow at an intersection. The course is $450 with a money back guarantee.
Version 1.1 of Bill Laforge's free Java-XML serialization package coins now supports the latest release of the Docuverse DOM SDK.
Sun's released version 1.1 of the JavaMail API including IMAP and SMTP service providers. This release requires Java 1.1 and the JavaBeans Activation Framework. Sun's also started a javamail-interest list dedicated to JavaMail. To subscribe, send an email message with the words "subscribe javamail-interest FirstName LastName" in the body of your message to email@example.com.
John Flaherty, the special master appointed in Sun's Java lawsuit against Microsoft no oversee unsealing of documents, has recused himself because his law firm's pension fund invests in Microsoft stock.
Apple did post the second early access release (EA2, alpha 1) of Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.1. yesterday. New features in this release include JDK 1.1.6 and Swing compatibility, improved performance, especially with graphics, AppleScript support, the Symantec Just-In-Time Compiler, and the MRJSubports Extension. The applet runner has been moved into the MRJ SDK and 68040 support has been dropped. A PowerMac with Quicktime 2.5 or later and System 7.6.1 or later is required.
IBM's alphaworks has updated XML for Java, an XML processor written in Java. New features include support for the latest DOM and namespaces draft.
The CD arrived a few weeks ago, but I just got around to installing it today. My first attempt to install it failed because I had only 120 megabytes free on my C drive. It got halfway through the install, then ran out of space. Definitely not a good sign, especially for a product that's aimed at resource constrained universities. I exited the install, trashed the files the installer had installed, and started over. This time I aimed it at my D drive with 1.2 gigabytes free, and the install ran to completion.
Next I launched it. While it was launching I played a game of MineSweeper (advanced level). After my game was finished, I noticed that JBuilder was still launching. Suspecting something was wrong, I killed the process (99% CPU usage) from the task manager. Then I rebooted my system, and launched it again.
I'm writing this on my Mac across the room while I wait for JBuilder to finish starting up. It is indeed a really pretty splash screen that's appearing in glorious 24-bit color on my 17 inch monitor, but I just can't see recommending a product for the splash screen alone. Obviously this product is a disaster that is of no use whatsoever. As soon as I finish writing this, I'll go over to my PC, kill the damn thing, dump it in the bit bucket, and wait for the next release.
Now I'm willing to believe that others may have gotten JBuilder to actually run past the splash screen, and it may be a useful product for them. And I might even be able to figure out what's wrong if I spend hours reinstalling software, fiddling with the registry, and otherwise trying to do Borland's QA work for them. But the fact is I don't have time for that, especially when TextPad and the JDK work just fine together. If JBuilder is failing this badly for anyone (especially me), there is no way in hell I'm going to recommend it to anyone. On a scale of 1-10 JBuilder gets a 0.
Mikael Arctaedius has released version 2.0 of Object Plant, a $25 shareware Macintosh object-oriented analysis and design tool. The biggest new feature of this release is reverse engineering of C++ and Java classes.
Apple is expected to post the second early access release (EA2, alpha 1) of Macintosh Runtime for Java 2.1 later today with much improved performance, especially in the AWT, and UDP that actually works, among other bug fixes.
I've updated the notes for Week 1, Basic Java, of my Introduction to Java course.