Monthly Archives: October 2001

DbVisualizer 2.1/J2SE 1.4 beta 3

DbVisualizer 2.1 is available. Because DbVisualizer is written in Java and uses JDBC it is a database tool that is independent of any particular database or operating system. That comes in mighty handy. Plus it’s just a really good tool for database work. I prefer it to some of the tools that ship with the databases themselves. Let’s hope it keeps improving.
Another nifty release today was the third beta of the Java 2 v1.4 SDK. Code named Merlin, this version adds pieces that were previously separate like Java Web Start, includes new APIs for handling I/O, logging, preferences, etc., and of course fixes bugs that existed in previous releases. Sun earlier said that this new version would be released before the end of the year and it looks like they are on schedule for that.

Email of the Week

Here is the email of the week, or perhaps of the month:

>Are you planning on doing anything with this Domain ??
>Or are you one of those domain selling retarded scum?

Wow, I know that I’m instantly won over to selling this domain or simply giving it outright to the genius sender of that email. Originally Don had hoped that I would come up with some incredibly clever rejoinder to the author but I’m feeling taxed at the moment. Perhaps everyone who reads this can help me out.
For those of you who might be curious (but considerably less rude), ZWave, LLC, of which I’m one of the owners, does in fact own We’ve never used it for anything but it was purchased some years back at the same time as That domain went with the LOLChat software and it was as active as the software until about a year and a half ago when the amount of revenue from it had slowed to a crawl. has never been used for anything though we have at various times talked about using it for a humor site or for a site with games, chat, and personals (kind of like The Globe, but without the gross waste of millions of dollars). Nothing has come to pass yet but sooner or later we will build something on it or sell it to somebody with a sheaf full of cash (the former being much more likely).

iPlanet to be Bundled/MIDP

Sun has decided to follow Microsoft’s lead with Internet Information Server. Microsoft includes IIS (their web server software) with the server level of their operating system. Now Sun includes iPlanet with Solaris. I haven’t decided yet whether I think this is a good, bad, or indifferent thing but it seems like an interesting thing.
Also on the news front is the release (finally!!) of MIDP for the Palm OS. With the MIDP you can write Java applications which run on Palm based handhelds. I haven’t decided yet whether there is anything I really want to write that runs on a Palm but now I know that I can. Of course the libraries that are available on a Palm do not compare to what you can get on a desktop machine but you can do all the things in the Java language itself that you are normally used to doing so developers don’t have to relearn everything to be able to develop for a handheld.

Freenet Status Report

For the first time in about three weeks I have Freenet working. After I took 0.3 down I tried various versions of 0.4 (which will be called 0.5 when it gets stable is and goes into general release). None of them installed properly so I just resolved to try again periodically. Finally, this nightly release worked beautifully.
I can retrieve sites and it’s actually faster than it was before. And that’s with not nearly enough nodes available yet. With a few thousand (or tens of thousands) of nodes available this thing will rock!

Fed Up

I’ve had it. I think today was the final, last, absolutely last straw on this camel’s back.
First off, let me say that I do not like Microsoft Internet Explorer much as a browser. Instead I use Mozilla (some people use Netscape’s branded version of Mozilla called Navigator 6) and I’m very very happy with it. Earlier versions had bugs that were unpleasant in one way or another but the latest versions have been making everything smoother and smoother. I really have no reason to want to use IE for anything anymore.
So, Microsoft decides that they should really own every iota of everything and it was decided a few weeks back that they should abuse the software that they provide called the Microsoft Critical Update Notification. It exists to give you a popup message and otherwise call your attention when Microsoft has a patch for a security hole or major bug in your operating system. But adoption of IE 5.5 Service Pack 2 (which shuts off Java) and IE 6.0 weren’t high enough to suit Microsoft so they decided that they would just declare them “critical updates” and the notifier would go off EVERY DAY until you upgraded to the browsers they want you to run. That’s how Microsoft’s “Critical Update” software got uninstalled from my machine…
Then along rolls October 25th, 2001. The big release of Microsoft Windows XP! Whee…
Time for another decision to make things unfriendly for anyone not using the approved software. Normally whenever you leave HotMail you are shot over to the MSN homepage in order for Microsoft to get a little more traffic and a chance to shill for whatever their latest software or service is. That’s fine to my way of thinking, HotMail is free, I can put up with a little advertising. But today I came up cold. As I logged out of HotMail and it attempted to throw me over to the MSN homepage, I was automatically redirected to another page telling me that my browser needed “upgrading”. Upgrading? Hell my browser follows the HTML, XML, PNG and every other standard better than that piece of shit IE. But I can’t go to MSN anymore because I don’t use the Microsoft house browser.
Well, that’s it for me. I have decided that I am on a new five year plan. By October 25th, 2006 I will not be using Microsoft software. Not Office, not Windows GLE/2006/whatever, not HotMail, nothing. I’m going to find solutions, write software, organize others, and work towards filling in every hole in the alternative operating systems out there so I can leave and it is an appealing move for anyone else as well. Hell, it’s not like it is a huge stretch either. Linux works and works well, it just needs a big UI makeover to make it user friendly. Apple managed to do a gorgeous job of it with Free BSD, now it’s time to do the same with Linux. OpenOffice is out there and getting better all the time, surely it can be made a world class Microsoft Office beater in five years. My development tools are all Java so they will already follow me wherever I go. One of the biggest areas that will have to change is gaming. At present Windows is the gaming powerhouse, every major personal computer game is written to DirectX and that kind of change just might take five years. But the end must come to this. Power corrupts and absolute power has corrupted absolutely.
Don jokingly refers to this as my “jihad” but I feel like I’ve been kicked one time too many. So far I’ve ignored most alternative to Windows and taken the abuse, but I’m not going to do it anymore. I’ve had it.

RedHat 7.2/Celestia

The new RedHat 7.2 release may mark a small turning point for home computer users. Microsoft is going to try and ram Windows XP down everybody’s throat even though it seems chock full of bad features like the removal of Java, an extremely aggressive anti-piracy scheme, and integration of every service under the sun (as long as it comes from Microsoft). But while XP seems to me to offer little but a cosmetic upgrade to the already stable Windows 2000, Linux seems to be making strides toward becoming more and more user friendly. Any move that is made in moving Linux along toward being friendlier, easier to install, easier to administrate, and include more mainstream features is one that will begin slowly eating away at Microsoft’s desktop market. Especially when their latest release seems very much like rearranging the deck chairs as the vessel sinks lower in the water.
I mentioned the astronomy software Celestia some months back but there is a new version and I think it deserves another mention. The updated demo mode really shows off the capabilities of software and its tour of the solar system and the Milky Way galaxy are better looking than ever.

75% Done… Forever

No program is ever really finished. You work on it and you work on it until you get tired of it and abandon it or maybe you never get tired of it and you never stop working on it. I suppose some really trivial programs get finished. Ones that just read a file and spit out another version of that file or something. But I’ve written few that fall into that category, most of my programs are never finished.
HotSheet falls into that category. I’m looking at it and all the work that still remains to be done on it and I just can’t believe it. I am going to do another release of the source code soon but it will probably be the first one I’ve done where I knew there were bugs in it and I needed to just make it available because it was a big improvement over what is already out there, bugs or not. I’m tired of working on it, but if I stop there is no guarantee that anyone else will ever take it over and finish it, and it needs to be finished to really be useful to people. Sigh…

Author, Author!

By the way, bravo for this. It gently lays out every one note, one agenda, right wing, left wing, etc. nut from Jerry Falwell on down who has tried to capitalize on what has happened and twist and turn it to fit their within the framework of their own strident, endless tirades.

AI Outside of Old Star Trek

Although the rest of this writeup of this years Loebner AI Challenge was pretty dry, the ending made me laugh. It’s a short read.
True story related to the above article: Once upon a time, years and years ago, Marvin Minsky came down here to Fort Worth to our Science and History museum. I think we had a big computer history exhibit at the time and he delivered a talk about artificial intelligence and then answered questions from the audience. After his talk I had my question all ready, “Do you consider the Turing Test a valid test of AI in a machine and if not, is there something better?” However, I was just a kid and Minsky apparently decided he would rather pick total freakin’ idiots from the audience than me. The best of the lot was something about “human engrams” (or something like that) being imprinted on machines to give them emotions, personality, etc. Minsky asked the guy where he got his question from and the fellow replied, “a Star Trek episode where they did that.” Uh huh….
I guess the article itself finally answers part of my question because I now know that Minsky thinks the Turing Test is stupid but I still don’t know if he thinks there is something better.

Poseidon UML Tool

They seem totally overwhelmed at the moment so you might want to wait a day or two (or just be very patient while installing) but the first release candidate for Gentleware’s UML tool Poseidon 1.0 is available. If you already have Java Web Start or OpenJNLP installed on your machine you can click here to install and run it.