Monday, June 30, 2003

25th Hour
I watched Spike Lee's 25th Hour last night. I'm not sure what I thought of it. It seemed to have an attention deficit disorder. One minute we're deeply involved in the main character's (Monty, played by Edward Norton) preparation to serve seven years in prison and then the next we're thrust face first into 9-11 memories and anger. Are the two connected? Not from what I was able to put together.

So, I'm leaning towards a thumbs sideways. The characters are all compelling, but the story line gets lost in the mix. In typical Spike Lee fashion, the ending leaves you wondering, which only adds to my frustration. The story is good enough on its own to be told without the distractions of cuts to disconnected scenes of 9-11 angst.

On a scale of 1-10, I give 25th Hour a 6. A bit above average but disappointing in that it had so much potential to be great.
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Addicted to home improvement shows
Jhawk over at The Fury of The Cow! admits he's hooked on reality shows. No, he's not watching the ever so exciting Survivor, American Idol or even Mr. Personality (is it still around?)  Jhawk is watching the TLC channel to catch the latest episodes of Trading Spaces. They say the first step to beating an addiction is admiting you have a problem, so there's hope.
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Asking the wrong question about Microsoft dropping stand alone IE

Ziv Caspi: IMHO, a decision to only add value to IE on future operating systems is simply making a good business move: there's no point in putting high-paid developers on a product that makes no income, right?

Ziv (and the numerous other posts/comments I've read along these lines) is correct. Microsoft sees no gain in putting highly paid developers on a product that makes no money. But, the most important question to ask following that insight is this: Then why did Microsoft devote so many resources to create and enhance Internet Explorer as it stands today? To answer this question one would have to begin to go down the path of Microsoft's legal woes, no?

Face it, Microsoft conquered an emerging market by leveraging a monopoly it already had in another market. They developed Internet Explorer and made it free for everyone.  They even went the extra mile for all of us and preinstalled it on Windows.  They took the lead in the browser market and currently have total domination (at least 90%.)  Now Microsoft has no incentive to pour resources into Internet Explorer.  It accomplished its goal of defeating the competition and can now concentrate on setting a new “standard” for users to adopt in the next version of Windows. That is why I find Microsoft's behavior with Internet Explorer so disturbing.

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What happened to the Nucleus CMS site?
I've been trying (without any success) for the last week or so to reach the site for the excellent Nucleus CMS weblog tool that runs this site. I think the Nucleus project needs to move to Sourceforge. It's too good to die. Sigh.
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PHP5 Beta 1 released

Sterling Hughes announces that PHP 5 Beta 1 is now available for download

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Friday, June 27, 2003

Nothing in particular
I watched the draft last night and it was pretty boring. I'm still wondering why Memphis traded their two first round picks with Boston in order to get two players that would've been taken in the second round. The Cavs proved that they are capable of making great picks and then making very questionable ones with their pick of Jason Kapono in the second round. I could be wrong, but Jason Kapono seems like a guy the Cavs already have taking up space on the bench: Trajan Langdon.

I've decided that most (if not all) of the IT industry has decided there is very little room to grow. The industry isn't mature per se, but most of its biggest players have all but given up on real innovation.

I'm going to a little get together for people in the Marketing department. My wife and I had to shell out $10 to go. I won't say the leader of the pack is cheap if you have to pay to go to a department morale booster. Whoops, I think I just did.

My wife and I joined a small group at church and we're reading Rick Warren's extremely popular The Purpose Driven Life. It's a decent book so far. Of course, I had to notice the title of the book is trademarked which makes me sad. I wonder if the Apostle Paul trademarked his letters that make up a good part of the New Testament?

I have two DVD's waiting for me to watch from NetFlix but no DVD player. Our DVD player is in for repair under warranty. Wouldn't it be cheaper and less painful to buy a new one you ask? Yes it would.
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Thursday, June 26, 2003

The Amazing Baconizer
This is too cool. I saw a pointer to it from Chris Sells' weblog. See how many degrees of separation there are between two items on!
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Inviting Steve Ballmer to lunch

Scoble: Heh. You know, someday soon I'm gonna send him email and offer to buy him lunch. I'll let you know how it goes.

Something tells me that Steve Ballmer is not going to jump on a chance to get a free lunch.  I imagine Steve doesn't pay for many lunches or care if he does. Just a hunch.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

One day before the NBA Draft: Take Carmello
Tim Layden over at Sports Illustrated says he would take Carmello Anthony number one if he weren't feeling the pressure from the entire town of Cleveland to take Lebron James. I agree. The Cavs have to take James. Even if James doesn't pan out, the Cavs are untouchable by the fans (if there are any left) because they wanted James too. If I was any team but Cleveland, I would take Anthony.

Anthony is a winner at the collegiate level. He carried his team to a national championship in his freshman season. He can shoot the ball, post up, pass and rebound. He makes the other players around him better and he plays through the pain of people gunning for him like Texas did in the NCAA tournament. The only question is how well he'll be able to play defense since that's always a question with players coming into the NBA and because Syracuse relied on a wicked 2-3 zone defense that you can't rely on in the NBA (yet.) The same can be said for James though. James has only played defense (and offense) at the high school level. He was lucky to play against half the talent Anthony did during his only college season.

The only concern I've heard about Anthony so far is that he's a bit thin, especially when compared to James. My take on that is that Anthony has yet to hit the weight room in a serious manner. His body has a lot of potential to grow. Just look at Carmello's face and you can tell he's still got a very young look to him. James is not likely to get much bigger. He is a man amongst boys and that will definitely help him face the grueling 82 game NBA season.

Both James and Anthony are likely going to have difficult rookie seasons. They're both going to play on very bad teams. Cleveland, believe it or not, has some talent but I'm not convinced the talent can ever gel, even with “King James” in the mix. Denver has a lot of money to spend in the off season on free agents. They have one solid young player from last year. They will likely sign a point guard and at least one forward/center. If Denver is wise, they will take players that can play well together. Don't get me wrong, Denver will still be pretty bad, but I would be very surprised if they are anywhere near as bad as they were this year. The only thing I can think of Denver holding out on this year for is a shot at signing a big name free agent next year like Kevin Garnett or Elton Brand. I don't think they can afford to do that and I don't think either of those players would want to go to Denver, but you never know.

Both Anthony and James are full of potential. They both offer you unique talents that a team could build around for years to come. The key to any young player making it in pro sports is if they can stay focused on bettering themselves and stay away from all the other stuff. In that regard, I think Anthony has a leg up on James. Anthony has a Mom who has enough influence to get him to go to college for at least one year. Hopefully his Mom will be around for the next few years while Anthony is tempted by all the bad influences off the court. James already has a posse. He will likely have an even greater posse once in the NBA since he will still be close to home. His Mom didn't make a wise decision in buying James the Hummer. How many other unwise decisions will she make or help James make during his first few years? Hopefully not many, but she's not off to a very good start. If the Cavs are smart, they will take James under their wing and surround him with solid people off the court. It sounds strange, but then go ask the 76ers if they wish they had done something like that when Iverson joined the team.

Tomorrow we will see the Cavs take James and Denver, unless they bite on a trade rumor like the one offered by the Kings, will take Anthony. We will see James a lot and will probably see Anthony a little, if at all. I hope I'm wrong and we see both players a lot this season. They bring a lot of excitement to a league that desperately needs some new talent.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

How much for that Bible Bobble Head in the window?
Kevin over at Lean Left makes an observation that I couldn't resist commenting on. Read the article and my comments on Kevin's site.
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Monday, June 23, 2003

It's official: Apple announces G5
MacRumors, among many other web sites at this very moment, is reporting that Steve Jobs just announced the new G5 Macs. These bad boys are going to be fast — very fast. Check out these very early specs:

System - G5 System Controller - dedicated bandwidth to each subsystem. IBM is fabricating it. 6x faster than G4, 8GB bandwidth, 1processor doesn't slow down the other one. 400mhz DDR memory, AGP 8x Pro, 133mhz PCI-X slots. Hypertransport. Serial ATA. 1.5GB/s bandwidth. independent interfaces to each drive. Rest of the i/o - high performance. optical digital i/o and analog i/o, fw800 ,usb 2.0

Oh yeah, it's also 64-bit. You can get your hands on one in August starting at $1699. These specs finally reflect the higher prices Apple charges for its desktop line. Sweet.
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Friday, June 20, 2003

Rock Hall of Fame and a Wilco concert
I disappeared for a couple of days. My wife, son and I went to Ohio to visit family and friends. I had to go now or not go for quite sometime (later fall) due to the projects at work.

Anyway, yesterday I went up to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was at the Rock HOF the first day it opened but haven't been back since. I wanted to go now because of the big U2 exhibit. It was a great time. I spent the whole afternoon there just looking at all the cool stuff they have on all these different artists. I love the things like Jim Morrison's Cub Scout uniform or U2's rejection letters from various record labels. If you ever get a chance to go to the Rock HOF, I highly recommend checking it out if you you're into rock music. The history told there is unlike any other museum I've ever been to.

After the Rock HOF, I met up with a friend at Cleveland's Tower City and we to see Wilco. I paid $5 for both tickets! I got the tickets from ClearChannel thing on eBay. I don't care for ClearChannel, but I'm not going to complain about paying $2.50 per person to get in to see a great band like Wilco. Sonic Youth opened the show and they were ummm...interesting...ummm...they sucked. I never got into their music and now I've confirmed why. They think they're music is so important. They must've played one “song” that consisted of nothing but feedback for about 10 minutes. This was half way through their over one and half hour set. It was painful, but you could tell the band thought it was great and I'm sure they were convinced that it made some sort of artistic statement — whatever. After that lousy “song” (I use that word oh so loosely here) my friend began to boo. My friend is in his mid-40's and enjoys good rock music. What Sonic Youth was playing was not good rock music, so he felt compelled to boo. I laughed when he did it. The guy next to us turned at my friend and said, “Do you know who they are?” My friend says, “Yeah and they still deserve to be booed.” It was perfect. That guy's question summed up the audiences' acceptance of Sonic Youth — they cheered because of who Sonic Youth was, not because of the music they were playing. So, now I know without a shadow of a doubt that Sonic Youth is not my cup of tea. No big deal.

Wilco sounded so good last night. It may have been because of what I went through with Sonic Youth before hand, but they sounded really tight. I noticed they've added a replacement for Jay Bennet, who was pushed out of the band after the making of the last album. I saw Wilco without Jay before and while they sounded good, they lacked a fullness to their sound. Last night the sound was awesome. You had the perfect mix of piano, guitar, percussion and computer generated noise. Plus, the band played a few new songs which made things all the more enjoyable. It was a great show. My friend walked away really impressed with Wilco. I'm going to see him and his brother tonight so I'm interested in seeing what he has to say the day after the show.

On July 3rd my wife, son and I are going to Summerfest in Milwaukee. They have a lot of stuff for kids there during the day and then at night there are fireworks and then a Wilco concert! After last night's show, I'm really looking forward to seeing the band play again.

Well, it's off to play some pool in my parent's basement. I might as well, since the weather outside is down right freezing for June!
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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Amazing Amazon
I ordered a book from last Friday evening. I also purchased a DVD (Toy Story 1 & 2) for my son. The order qualified for free shipping. I expected to see it sometime around next month. OK, at least a week. Monday around 2 PM CST the package arrived! Amazing. I don't normally buy from but I have to admit that their site and service is top notch. Now if they could only lose their attachment to stupid patents I could recommend them without hesitation.
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Carmello Anthony: The new NBA court jester? “I talked to him while the lottery was going on,” Anthony said. “I kind of knew Cleveland was going to get the No. 1 pick. I think they rigged it. No, don't quote me on that.”

“I think they rigged it.” I love it! The NBA desperately needs some new blood with some personality. Tim Duncan is a great player but will never bring about the same entertainment value that a guy like Charles Barkley did. Anthony seems like he could be (that's a big could be there) the next great thing for the league.
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France boycott appears to have worked

LilacRose points to Christopher Johnson's post about how France's trade with the US went from a surplus to a deficit in just one month (March to April.) Like LilacRose, I never thought boycotts worked but maybe they do. Hmmm...

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Python web frameworks

I'm very interested in Python. I haven't had the time to play with it much but have looked at the various ways people are developing applications with Python. I noticed there seemed to be a little confusion when it came to web applications. Python didn't appear to have much in the way of built-in web capabilities ala Java (or other languages like Perl, PHP, .NET, blah, blah, blah) with JSP, Servlets, etc. But, you do have your choices in web frameworks that provide these capabilities. Unfortunately, it wasn't clear to me which framework to go with. Confusion be gone. Alan Green points to Ian Bicking's Python Web Framework Shootout. Very cool.

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Monday, June 16, 2003

Take on another project? No thanks.
A co-worker stopped by just a few minutes ago and asked if I wanted to take the lead on a project he has been charged with heading up. Let me see here, I have three major projects going on right now and they all have deadlines that collide with one another. I'm going to have to pass on that one. When I told the guy this his face dropped. He was now staring down the barrel of actually handling a project, which translates to massaging egos and cleaning up huge messes caused by projects from the past.

Some think turning down a project at work is the kiss of death. I view it in just the opposite way. By turning down this project I'm able to focus on making my current projects successful. Successful projects versus a lot of unsuccesful projects. Hmmm... Which do you choose?
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Destroy your copies of AIX
CNET: SCO said that the termination of the AIX license means that all IBM Unix customers also have no license to use the software. “This termination not only applies to new business by IBM, but also existing copies of AIX that are installed at all customer sites. All of it has to be destroyed,” Sontag said.

Let me get this straight. If I have a server running AIX, I have to shut it down because SCO is accusing IBM of violating SCO's intellectual property? Seems about right to me. I guess we should kiss goodbye the forecasting of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Oh, and let's not forget the systems that help ensure the safety of the US' nuclear weapons. Kiss those goodbye as well. Whatever! Between this case and the one between Oracle and PeopleSoft, I'm not sure we need daytime TV anymore.
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Steve Jobs on the Segway: I think it sucks!
Slashdot is pointing to an excerpt from Steve Kemper's book, Code Name Ginger. The excerpt covers the meeting between Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. Steve Jobs, as always, doesn't hold back his opinion on Kamen's invention. >
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Saturday, June 14, 2003

Finally, the mainstream tech press awards Mozilla

I found this link to PC World awarding Mozilla 1.3 their Best Web Browser award over at MozillaZine.  This is exactly the kind of press Mozilla needs.

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Large Linux clusters

Slashdot points to this PDF article on managing large Linux clusters. I've had to do systems admin from time to time and I always wondered how people manage large clusters. Seemed like an interesting read.

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Friday, June 13, 2003

Spend smarter
Have you ever noticed how when things are going well for a company no one seems to notice spending all that much? I have. The company I work for has noticed that its sales are off by around 10% from last year at this time. The immediate reaction to all this is: stop spending. Cut, cut, cut. In my opinion, this is approaching the problem from the wrong angle. Rather than mandate cutting costs, mandate that people spend smarter. Evaluate what you are spending on. You may find that you need to spend more in a particular area as a result. I'm sure there will be plenty to cut as well, but the main point is to look at how you can best utilize your budget. Spend smarter!
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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Scoble on IE6 misses the point
Scoble: Jeffrey Zeldman pointed to me and decried that IE won't be updated for at least two years. Jeffrey: it's worse than that. You're gonna be stuck with IE's “issues” for at least three years after that. Why? Most people don't upgrade their browsers as soon as something new is out (look at how many people are still using IE5). Is what you're asking for an automatic update capability that's built into the OS and that forces users to keep up with the latest technology?

No Scoble, I don't think Jeffrey is asking for automatic updates. Let me rephrase that, I don't think most of those who are outraged by Microsoft's apparent decision to discontinue development of IE6 are asking for automatic upgrades. We're asking for Microsoft to continue supporting a product they leveraged a monopoly to take over a (at that time) emerging market space. Now that Microsoft has wiped out the competition, they've succeeded at doing what they always wanted to do — get everyone hooked on their browser and then make those users feel forced to go to Microsoft's next big idea. That, in my mind, is atrocious behavior. That is not a customer friendly company. Maybe Microsoft took a tip or two from Oracle lately?
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The PeopleSoft, Oracle, J.D. Edwards saga continues
Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat, Oracle is lead by a loon. Now that I've got that out in the open, let's move on to the latest installment of the soap opera that is the enterprise application market these days.

The Register:   J.D. Edwards has made things personal in the ongoing multibillion dollar spat between Oracle and PeopleSoft.

The company Thursday filed one suit against Oracle in Colorado and another in California against Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and EVP Chuck Phillips. In the action against Oracle the company, J.D. Edwards is seeking $1.7 billion in damages for bad behavior. J.D. Edwards is all set to be scooped up by PeopleSoft and has charged Oracle with using nasty tactics to block the deal.

Normally I hate lawsuits, but I can't blame J.D. Edwards on this one. Oracle is clearly trying to disrupt a deal between PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards and, even worse, causing both of those companies to lose sales by causing extreme FUD.

Personally, I don't see how Oracle realistically expects to buy PeopleSoft. Oracle has been struggling the last few years as well and would have to finance the purchase. Does Oracle really think they'd be able to convert a lot of former PeopleSoft customers over to Oracle after the way Oracle has handled this whole situation? It's crazy.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Legacy systems and web services
Web services are more than just hype. I'm leading a project at work that requires that we interface no less than four major systems within the company. Each of these systems is totally incompatible with the other. Interfaces between them has become a bear and mainly because we have no way to call the business logic/rules remotely. All we can do at this point is try to make the data as correct as possible and hope that the text files are accepted or the ODBC updates/inserts are succesful. Yes, with ODBC we'll at least get errors based on the database logic, but with most of these systems the logic is at another level — deep within the application code. It sucks.

If we could put a wrapper around the business logic of each of these systems to make them accessible via web services, then this part of the project becomes fairly easy. I know there are EAI products out there that help do this sort of thing but it's nice to know that there is a more widely accepted way to do this now with things like XML-RPC and SOAP.

Of course, the biggest challenge in doing this sort of wrapper is actually writing the web services wrapper. No one wants to do it because it can be quite difficult to pull off. Plus, you then have to maintain the web services wrapper. In the end, legacy systems suck. That's the kind of day I've been having.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Frontpage for pros (stop laughing)

ZDNet: After years of playing with amateurs, Microsoft has decided to push its FrontPage Web-authoring software into the big leagues.

One of the worst WYSIWYG editors ever is now going to be a tool for pros — hmmm...

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Monday, June 09, 2003

How smart am I?
I admit it. I got sucked into one of the more annoying yet addictive shows I've seen in a while, Fox's Test The Nation. They're about half way through the answers and I'm doing so-so. I thought I did better on the language questions. As always, I was careless.

In case you didn't waste two hours of your life as I did tonight, Test The Nation is a show that asks 60 IQ like questions. It, of course, has two of the most annoying hosts (who would distract me while trying to read the question.) The lady would give stupid little insights into the questions as the clock would tick down — just enough to throw off your train of thought. It would be like Alex Trebek on Jeopardy chiming in with his thoughts on the big question during “final Jeopardy.” OK, no it wouldn't, but I'll pretend this show had a much deeper meaning.

By the way, I scored a 44 out of 60. According to the chart they showed on TV, my IQ would be 111. An IQ of 120 or higher puts you in the top 2%. I'm above average, but not by much. If I was older and scored a 44, my IQ would be quite a bit higher. I guess they take into account brain cell loss? I probably would have scored a 58 back in 3rd grade. Hehehe...
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Fear the prairie dog!

CNN: Authorities suspect that the disease was passed to humans by prairie dogs sold by a pet distributor in Wisconsin. All four confirmed cases are in Milwaukee, said Raquel Madrid-Berkel, a spokeswoman for the city's Health Department.

Nice. The state I now call home has brought about a disease I thought was a joke when I first read about it. I always wanted a prairie dog. It doesn't look like I'll be getting one anytime soon.

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One thing Carmello Anthony doesn't lack for sure...confidence
Sports Illustrated: “I think I should go one, but things happen,” Anthony said at a pre-draft camp for scouts and team officials at the Moody Bible Institute that ended Saturday.

I think Anthony is right, but I also think he should keep this opinion to himself. I'm really looking forward to seeing this crop of rookies play in the NBA next year. Of course, I'll never see Anthony play if he goes to Denver. Sigh.
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Apple to announce the Power Mac G5 at WWDC
Apple Insider: The new Power Mac G5s will sport a completely new motherboard design utilizing DDR 400 RAM as well as AGP 8x graphics, FireWire 800 (FireWire 2), and USB 2.0, sources said. “In the box” connectivity among the news systems is based on Hypertransport — a universal chip-to-chip interconnect developed by AMD and partners — which provides 64-bit addressing and will replace Apple's multilevel bus architecture found in current systems. This royalty-free technology sports a low manufacturing cost and is capable of transferring data at up to 12.8 Gigabytes per second.

The new Power Macs will be powered by IBM's 64 bit PPC 970 processor, otherwise known to Apple Marketing as the the “G5.” Initial offerings of the Power Mac G5 are said to boast 1.4 to 1.8GHz, single core PPC 970 processors, with the possibility of a dual 1.8GHz chips shortly thereafter.

If this rumor is true, then Apple is finally going to be able to address the speed issue (perception) they currently suffer from on the desktop. My concern about Apple's hardware hasn't been the processor speed as much as it has been the slower bus. Hypertransport definitely addresses this issue. And I guess it's just as cool to mention that it's 64-bit.
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Friday, June 06, 2003

PeopleSoft isn't too happy about the possibility of being purchased by Oracle
ZDNet: In a statement, PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway said the offer amounted to “atrociously bad behavior from a company with a history of atrociously bad behavior. Obviously it is a transparent attempt to disrupt the acquisition of J.D. Edwards by PeopleSoft announced earlier this week.”

Conway is right on about Oracle having a history of atrociously bad behavior. With a CEO like Ellison, Oracle will always have a tendency to do things in the least tactful way, including purchases of other companies.
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Give your tax cut back
Dan Gillmor, please send back your tax cut money once it is received. Ditto for all others that are screaming about the latest round of tax cuts. I would hate for all of you to be so hypocritcal as to lash out at the current economic policies of President Bush and then gladly take the money that comes as a result of those same policies you so harshly criticize. >
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Oracle offers to buy PeopleSoft (no joke)

The Register: Oracle is offering $16 a share for Peoplesoft, valuing the enterprise apps firm at a cool $5.1bn. It has secured bridge financing from Credit Suisse First Boston to help fund the offer.

Yikes! This is not good. Oracle is about lock-in when it comes to their ERP/CRM offerings. While PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards allow you to run on a variety of operating systems and databases, Oracle forces you to go with their own database software. Oh yeah, and they'll also have you running on their application server as well.  Ellison has already hinted that PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications would no longer be sold to new customers.  Oracle does not meet the needs of a company like mine that has bought into J.D. Edwards for IBM's iSeries hardware. Maybe J.D. Edwards will be left alone in this Oracle deal? I doubt it.

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Thursday, June 05, 2003


Fox News: In an open letter published as a full-page ad in USA Today on Thursday, America's homemaker Martha Stewart said, “I want you to know that I am innocent — and that I will fight to clear my name.”

I'm not big on this whole Martha Stewart case, but I know there are strong feelings about her. I caught some of the horrific made-for-TV movie about Stewart and I came away saying she is either: a) one of the most ruthless people around or b) really taking a beating with this weird tv movie. Whether she is ruthless, mischaracterized or a little of both, the fact is that her company now employs a lot of people.  The company is nothing without a positive image of Martha Stewart. I would hate to see a lot of people lose jobs because of one woman's refusal to simply fess up to, at the very least, not knowing she might have done something wrong.
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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Where your browser is at with CSS2 support

John Dowdell points to a great chart which lists the level of support eighteen different browsers have for CSS2. I hope all you Internet Explorer users like where your browser is at on this chart. That's as good as it gets until you're able to upgrade to Longhorn.  I also hope you don't plan on using any W3C emerging standards anytime soon. That's the sad reality of Microsoft having no more use for its web browser.

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J2EE simplified? JCP work begins to simplify EJB, JDBC, and other J2EE specs Five new JSR's have been posted on the JCP which begin the work on major upgrades of significant J2EE specifications such as EJB 3, JDBC 4, JAX-RPC 2.0, JAXB 2.0, etc. All of the new JSR's have ease of development as a major stated goal. Infact, the EJB JSR will try to eliminate deployment descriptors and make EJB's more like plain java classses.

It's clear, Microsoft has put the pressure on Sun and the Java community with .NET.  Yes, J2EE can handle just about any problem you throw at it, but the level of complexity that is often involved implementing a J2EE application makes it difficult to justify on small to medium size projects. Competition is good!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Even with Mono .NET is not cross platform
Without all the features of the .NET framework, Mono is not a sufficient solution to making .NET a viable cross-platform environment. This is why I argue with those that argue that .NET is cross-platform. Until Microsoft supports .NET as a cross platform environment, no one should consider deploying production applications on anything but Windows.
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Job cuts tumble to 30-month low

CNN: The number of job cuts announced by U.S. companies tumbled to its lowest in 30 months in May, a report said Tuesday, a possible sign of improvement in what has been a very weak job market.

Excellent news! Let's just hope it continues.

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Monday, June 02, 2003

More on Internet Explorer's end-of-life
James Snell lets out a big sigh of relief that Microsoft is ending the development of IE as a stand alone application. John Dowdell is looking for more feedback on the whole issue, which I gladly provided him with.
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PeopleSoft to buy J.D. Edwards
ZDNet: Application software company PeopleSoft will acquire J.D. Edwards in a stock deal worth $1.7bn, the companies said on Monday. The merger will create the second-largest business software company.

I think this is a good thing. I kind of like PeopleSoft the best out of all the big ERP/CRM vendors and my company uses J.D. Edwards so it could be a win-win. Then again, I wonder what will happen to the J.D. Edwards software as it does not currently fit PeopleSoft's architecture. J.D. Edwards still uses a Windows client, PeopleSoft uses a web browser. PeopleSoft relies heavily on an application server, J.D. Edwads does not. I prefer PeopleSoft's approach, but I'm not sure a company like mine would appreciate having their newly installed J.D. Edwards system switched over to an entirely new architecture. This will be very interesting to watch as time goes by.
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Sunday, June 01, 2003

The future of Internet Explorer: no longer a stand alone application
If the news at CNet (which I first saw a pointer to at is true, then anyone who cares about the future of the web and the Internet as a whole should seriously consider using any web browser but one put out by Microsoft. Not many people really seemed to care that Microsoft bullied its way to dominance in the web browser market. Now I think we can all see why that move was so dangerous. Microsoft is trying to get everyone to develop Windows applications. That was always the goal.

Here's the Microsoft plan: Make a browser that, at one time, is superior to the competition and bundle it with your operating system that has about 95% market share. Once your share of the web browser market grows, begin to throw in your own “standards” that will tilt the user's preference further in your direction. Of course, you have to convince developers to use these new “standards,” but that will be easy since you'll be providing developers with cool tools and features they didn't have (easy) access to previously on the web. Developers don't pay attention to the dangerous path Microsoft is leading everyone down and soon Internet Explorer's market share is approaching Windows' — a lock on the market. In the mean time, the competition is stumbling to keep up. Netscape can't get a browser out that matches Internet Explorer in speed, functionality or lock-in. Netscape decides to go Open Source but it's too little too late — Microsoft owns the web browser market.

So, we're left with Microsoft's last stand alone web browser, Internet Explorer 6 SP1. Is it really that bad? Only if you care about support for open standards. Sure, these standards may be foolish in jumping ahead of the implementations but at least they're something everyone can agree upon, even if it is begrudgingly. Internet Explorer tends to ignore many of these open standards. I'd like to think this was more of a bug than something done on purpose, but now I have to lean towards a conspiracy of sorts. Microsoft has made Internet Explorer just incompatible enough as to force developers to make a choice: develop for Microsoft or develop for the rest of the web. Most of us decided to develop for Microsoft, at least that's the target we keep first and foremost in our minds when developing web applications. Unfortunately, all this does is help Microsoft make the claim that there is a need for a “next generation” of web applications. What they really mean by that is, “develop for Microsoft and ignore the corner we've painted you in.” After all, the web browser (Internet Explorer) is broke fundamentally and we can only blame these open standards for the problem. There are just too many hassles with developing for a web browser. Now there is a need for a new web client, one that can take advantage of things in a framework like .NET. What's that you ask? .NET isn't an open framework? OK, you got them there, but look at all the cool things you can do with a full development environment provided to you by one vendor...Microsoft!

I believe it is time for everyone who knows the truth now about Internet Explorer and Microsoft's plans for it (or lack thereof) to, at the very least, start using an alternative web browser. Dave Winer especially needs to start using a different web browser other than Internet Explorer. He's said many times that IE is his web browser of choice. It shouldn't be anymore. We can't begin to put serious pressure on Microsoft if we're not even willing to switch the browser we use. We also need to bone up on our HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I know this site doesn't validate and I'm not alone when it comes to writing valid code. We can't ask browser makers to fix bugs if we're not willing to do the same in our code.

The next step is for web developers to support standards based web browsers first and foremost. I think we need to get more aggressive in this area. We need to actively promote the use of web browsers other than Internet Explorer. We should no longer write complete hacks to support IE's disregard for agreed upon standards from organizations like the W3C. We also need to make sure browsers like Opera, Mozilla, Safari, etc. fix the bugs that prevent us from developing to a single standard. And if the bug is in the standard, then we need to make sure things get fixed there so they can populate down.

I normally wouldn't support such drastic action but I'm afraid Microsoft is winning a battle that hurts everyone in the end. We've seen it before with operating systems and now I'm afraid we're going to see it with the web. As a person who has a hand in developing and overseeing development of quite a few commercial web sites, I'm going to stick my neck out on the line and start to champion web browsers and companies that appear to care about keeping the web an open community where competition is welcomed. I will start to try to educate users on the reasons Microsoft is harming the web as we know it and how we can get what we really want (an open web) without sacrificing all that much in return (choosing another web browser.) The tough part will be making executives understand how Microsoft's moves negatively affect their business. I think the key is to point to how the web has operated in its rather short history — in an open manner. We didn't have to pick a particular type of network to log on to (say AOL, Prodigy, MSN, Earthlink, etc.) or choose one vendor's application to get to data. No, we had to log on to the Internet and we could use pretty much any vendor's application as long as it supported certain standards that were open to all to use. Where would the web be if we had to log on to AOL to access what we now know as the web? Or, what would happen if you had to use a (put your favorite software vendor's name here) application to access data on the Internet or provide that data to others? Where would e-commerce be if that was the scenario? Where would powerful tools like search engines and web applications in general be if we couldn't use an open network and applications utilizing open standards? I would say we'd be somewhere along the lines of EDI, which many organizations are trying to rapidly replace with something more open and standards based. Don't tie yourself to a single vendor. That's a pretty simple rule business people can understand. If you rely too heavily on a single vendor and by doing so you've helped that vendor crush the competition, then be prepared for the day when that remaining vendor puts you in a corner that you won't be able to get out of for a long time, if ever.

In the end, the argument against what Microsoft is doing can be said in three words: Competition is good. Let's start reminding everyone that when we talk about what is going on with Microsoft and the web.
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The Colonel