1998 on the Web
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Monday, March 23
SUN PICKY AGAIN
"We feel confident that we're on solid legal ground," said Jim Bell, general manager of HP's Internet software business unit. "Sun has raised no objections and has known all along." Sun executives gave HP the thumbs-up last week because they didn't realize HP was cloning Embedded Java, Kannegaard said. Embedded Java is used for devices that need much less computing power. Instead of licensing Java from Sun, HP has decided to create its own version of Embedded Java from scratch to run on small devices such as pagers and printers. HP developers used the written Java blueprint, or specification, but did not use any technology from Sun. Whatever the outcome, HP has made it clear that it will not use the Java logo in its home-brewed version. Microsoft ran afoul of Sun last fall when it shipped its browser and software development tools with a slightly altered version of Java but didn't remove the high-profile "steaming cup" logo. The companies traded lawsuits and their legal battle is likely to continue for some time.
Thought for the day: "There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets? -Dick Cavett
SIMPLE GIF ANIMATION
BIG DAY FOR
In another development at the JavaOne conference today, Sun announced the commercial availability of its JavaStation network computer (NC) in subdued, almost muted tones. The official announcement of the oft-delayed "thin client" computing device was buried inside a press release about new JavaStation customers. Pricing for a JavaStation with 32MB of memory is $699, including a keyboard and mouse. Monitors and software are sold separately. The announcement comes after a number of product delays and amid competition from Windows-based Terminals and low-priced PCs. A lack of compelling applications has also conspired to make the introduction low-key.
Thought for the day: "Watch for big problems; they disguise big opportunities."
NO WONDER I'M SO TIRED
Thought for the day: "Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?"
GROVE STEPS DOWN
By turning over the day to day tasks to Barrett, Grove frees up his time to study. "I have responsibilities inside pertinent to running of the company that I have to do. Financial reviews, strategic reviews, preparations for this and that. That constrains how much attention I can give to external issues and how much responsiveness I can muster." The top three issues he thinks need studying are bandwidth, network applications, and "the delivery of network computing products and services" to small businesses, an area which he says the computer industry hasn't paid nearly enough attention to. "The information technology industry was developed by large companies for large companies, and the benefits have accrued to large corporations for some time," he said. "Spreading those benefits around and incorporating and invoking small businesses is a major challenge."
For the Redmond, Wash., software giant, the death of DOS comes not a moment too soon. Company programmers have found it increasingly difficult to craft operating systems that can work both with older, DOS-based hardware and software and with the cascade of new features and products characteristic of an increasingly digital world. To do so has required compromises, including one that is painfully clear to most PC users: the operating systems that evolved from DOS crash far too often.
Thought for the day: "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" - Albert Einstein
On the surface, Windows 98 looks just like Windows 95 plus Internet Explorer 4.0. Under the covers, though, are some noteworthy improvements. Weve got the lowdown on the top 10 reasons you should switch.
1. Smart Setup, Easy Upgrades: The retail release of Windows 98 will roll up three years worth of patches, bug fixes, updated drivers and enhanced features -- all on one CD.
2. Better Crash Protection: The most noteworthy Windows 98 improvement in the stability category is the completely rewritten System Information utility. By gathering information from the Registry, from startup files and from running applications, it presents a complete picture of the current system configuration.
3. Reclaim Your Hard Drive: At a nickel per megabyte, the disk space youll recover by converting a typical 2GB drive to the FAT32 format will pay for a major chunk of the Windows 98 upgrade cost.
4. Your PC Will Run (Slightly) Faster: Most of Win98s core components have been fine-tuned for performance: The swap file manages itself more intelligently. A built-in Registry Checker compacts the system Registry when needed. The memory management and cache modules are tuned to work optimally with FAT32s 4K clusters.
5. Hassle-Free Startup: Windows 98 is far more helpful than Windows 95 when you have startup problems. A corrupt hardware driver can still keep your system from booting -- but only once thanks to the Automatic Skip Driver agent.
6. Runs Better on a Notebook: Windows 98 gives you total control over your notebooks power consumption, and if your system is less than a year old youll experience major benefits by upgrading.
7. Double Your Desktop Space: Windows 98 includes a cool capability that can give you more viewable screen area for a fraction of the cost of a large-screen upgrade. Keep your 17-inch monitor, pop in a second PCI video adapter, plug in a second monitor and use both displays simultaneously.
8. Phone Smarts: Look in the Windows 98 Control Panel and youll find a Telephony icon, packed with nifty features designed to help your PC get along better with the telephone network.
9. Web TV on your PC:Microsoft is integrating Web TV into Windows 98. Web TV for Windows works with the Windows Task Scheduler, allowing you to set reminders for shows you want to record.
10. Plug and Play Works (Finally): Plug and Play is still imperfect, but it works much, much better in Windows 98 than ever before.
Thought for the day: "If you think you have it tough, read history books." - Bill Maher
When a user then attempts to launch the program while the Microsoft Office 98 library, which includes the Remove Office 98 utility, is in the Extensions Folder, the operating system mistakenly causes the Systems Folder rather than the Microsoft Office 98 folder to be moved to the Trash. This brings down the Mac OS, the documents said. Once the user attempts to restart the system, the Mac OS becomes inoperable and a boot disk is required to launch and operate the computer. After the Mac OS has been restarted using the boot disk, VARs can correct the OS problem by retrieving the misplaced system files from the Trash, the document said. Microsoft officials said the company is "working on a patch and in the next two days will post an updated Remove Office 98 utility to the Web.
There also are a couple of other glitches in Office 98 for the Mac. Ironically, the problem with the Remove Office utility was discovered because Microsoft technical support representatives were directing users and VARs to remove the program in order to deal with two other small bugs. One of the automated Wizards in Word that helps perform tasks including creating Memos and Resumes was not functioning correctly and causing system freezes. Microsoft said a patch for that problem was posted on its Web site earlier this week. In addition, moving shared library files to the Extension Folder can impair the performance of the application and cause the elements in that shared library to function incorrectly, Price said.
Office 98 for the Mac is part of the much-hyped renewed partnership between Apple Computer Inc. and Microsoft. Office 98 was touted as a milestone because it includes features that the Windows equivalent will not have and it was available on the Mac before Windows. In addition, the Macintosh platform has up until now not had a counterpart to the popular Office 97 for Windows. Last August, Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple and made a commitment whereby the two companies would jointly develop future versions of Office and Internet Explorer as well as Mac-based development tools. As part of the deal, Microsoft also said it would continue to upgrade Office for the Mac for the next five years.
Thought for the day: "Experts are people who know more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing."
WHEN DO YOU WORK?
A developer working for a progressive company where everyone has an office can just reach over and close his or her door when workplace noise and bustle get too distracting. A closed door is also a relatively effective deterrent to folks "just stopping by to say hi" when he or she is in deep concentration and can't be disturbed. But most companies understandably opt for cubicles for most of their employees. For those developers stuck in the vast warren of cubes, programming during normal working hours can be a nightmarish exercise in broken concentration. The normal operations of any business include a variety of phone calls, meetings, non-work related banter, typing, and other noises that contribute to a constant level of background noise. Where cubicle noise is a given, it makes sense to move programming shifts to off-hours, allowing developers to work with fewer distractions.
The argument against off-hours for most employees is clearly that most people need to be reachable to do their jobs. One major purpose of the 9-to-5 workday is to provide a time frame when we can all expect each other to be at our desks and reachable by telephone, e-mail, and fax. This is obviously vital to those who hold sales, marketing, and management jobs that require them to be constantly available and in touch with outside clients and partners. And, admittedly, it's important for most other jobs as well -- almost no one in a company performs his or her job completely alone. Team, employee to manager, and cross-departmental communication are all crucial to successful project completion. While it's true that most IS staff also need to be in during business hours, especially to deal with trouble tickets and network downtime, the same does not apply equally to those whose main job is programming. In fact, the potential for distracting phone calls and office visits can be detrimental to getting code finished on time and with a minimum of errors.
In a sense, you can often just wind up the programmer on project specifications and let him or her go -- as long as you have a decent set of checkpoints and a clear deadline, of course. If your programmers request flexible hours, it's to your benefit to say yes -- with fewer distractions and a workday that best fits their intellectual energy cycles, most developers will be able to turn out better code more quickly.
Thought for the day: "An expert is someone who can take something you already know and make it confusing."
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