Monthly Archives: April 2003

Out-of-the-Box 2.0


I downloaded an interesting thing yesterday that I had meant to try before. It’s Out-of-the-Box 2.0, a piece of software designed to automatically install numerous pieces of open source Java development software on a Windows or Linux machine (I didn’t see any mention of OS X but I’d hope they are working on that as well).
They have both a free edition and a commercial one which differ primarily in the number of different pieces of software they can install (four times as much for the commercial one) and how many example projects they provide to demonstrate the different libraries and tools working together.
After having played with the free edition for a while I have to say that I’m impressed but with a big proviso. It works but it can be a little confusing. For example, when it says it has “installed” software like BCEL, JUnit, etc. and it’s not one of the primary pieces of software, they don’t mean installed in quite the same way that I would. To me, those things would be installed if all of their documentation and examples had been installed as well, not just the Jar file necessary to make their other projects run. But that’s exactly what they mean for most of what they class as mandatory. They are there in spirit but if you want to use something like BeanShell or the Bean Scripting Framework then you’ll need to acquire the download separately or go to their online documentation. I’d really like to see that change so that you could install all of the documentation for any of these libraries (maybe another checkbox column) and a set of links to the various important documents would show up on a “master documentation” page. Then I would have one place to go to for documentation on all of these things.
Even without that, they have apparently improved Out-of-the-Box a lot between versions 1.0 and 2.0 and I think it holds a lot of promise. I’m likely to pay a one month download fee (just a few bucks) so I can download the commercial version to try it out and post a review here.

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I Killed Jonathan Meyer

I killed Jonathan Meyer (ed. note: the link won’t work if you don’t run Freenet) of #115 1142 Mesa Alta Ave, Dallas Texas. His driver’s license says that he’s 5’8″, 164 lbs, brown hair, brown eyes with a restriction for corrective lenses. He has a AAA card, 3 credit cards, a Blockbuster membership, and I’d relay his SSN but I respect his privacy, even post mortum. The report in the Dallas Observer said that the victum was stabbed 15 times. He was actually stabbed 17 times: 4 times in the stomach, 2 times in the neck, 5 times in the back below the rib cage, 2 times in the back in the rib cage, 1 time in the left leg, and 3 times in the pelvic region.

So begins a brand new webpage just recently added to Freenet. Before you become too terribly alarmed, if you open up the HTML for the page and look at it you’ll notice that the comments explain that it is not true but that it is there to make a point.
The point in this case is not that people will likely go absolutely nuts anytime something like this happens (esp. if it involves the murder of a child) but that the we really have no way of knowing whether or not any system in our lives is really anonymous anymore. Can I go somewhere and say things that are actually illegal in some places (speech in my country is generally free but there are definite limits even here) without feeling like I have to look over my shoulder. While this page, which is just there to make a point, won’t find that out a page which threatens the president would. After all, the Secret Service is required to investigate any threats to the president and they have often done so even when the threats were clearly made in jest. Explicit threats of harm would have to be taken seriously and investigated. If no one was arrested I guess you’d know you finally had real anonymity somewhere and for some reason, the thought that I really could say anything I liked somewhere, even if I never intended to use the ability, is comforting.
So I guess the question is, does anybody feel brave enough to risk imprisonment to find out how much anonymity we can really have?
Click through to the extended entry to read the full text that was hidden in the HTML by the page’s author.

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Java Begins Updating Their Downloads Page Again

I complained to Sun about a month ago because they never bothered to update the page they used to keep up to date whenever new downloads or early release downloads for developers became available. It was an excellent place to watch every week and see what all had been released.
Then, last August, it just stopped. After I sent my email they sent back half a dozen replies from different people explaining that they were working on some new page and that it would be available “real soon now”. I just checked today and finally you can once again go to their New Downloads and get up-to-date information on new APIs, reference implementations, and JSR specs as they get released.

Java Web Start Meet Plucker

I’ve mentioned Plucker before because it represents an open source alternative to Avant Go for gettng HTML documents downloaded (and automatically resynced) with a Palm. Along comes BlogPluck to give you a way to automatically get RSS newsfeeds and convert them to documents that Plucker can read on your Palm.
Installation is via Java Web Start so it is pretty much trivial on whichever platform you normally run. I look forward to when the author releases the source.

Well, Isn’t That Special

The very source that I referred to just days ago for good war news is in the headlines for another reason: Wired News: Noted War Blogger Cops to Copying. Apparently a considerable amount of his material was taken from a commercial email newsletter on the war.
Surprisingly the source of the material wasn’t as hopping mad as I would expect and they actually came to an agreement that still allows him to use some of their material as long as it is properly attributed.

Rearranging The Deck Chairs

Showing that they have reached a level of both desperation and total disconnection from reality that is almost unprecedented, the RIAA has decided to sue four individual college students for copyright infringement for trading music files. Even better is that they are asking for $150K for each instance of “copyright infrigement” (how they will calculate that without checking to see who owns which CDs is beyond me, I’m guessing they’ll pull a number out of the air like they usually do).
College students are the people who go to the grocery store and try to decide whether they can splurge on both beer and the ramen noodles in a cup or they should just buy the ones in a plastic package they have to put in a bowl. $150K per “infringement”. Yeah.
How they imagine this is going to acheive their desired effect of chilling file trading is utterly beyond me, but it does show that they are heading to utter irrelevance in the future. My best guess is that the next bizarre request they will make is for a handout from the government to stem the tide of their “losses“.