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TBTF for 1995-11-29: Dissing Java; Netscape 2.0b3; savvy search

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 23:26:24 -0500

A dark cup of Java

You've heard me dieseling on about the coming impact of Java (TBTF for
1995-11-08, 1995-08-25, 1995-07-23, 1995-05-24, and 1995-05-23).

Now for a few dissenting voices.

In the early summer of this year I saw Java christened the "Virus Implemen-
tation Language" in some newsgroup or other (can anyone supply a citation?).
Here is a delicious rant along these lines, reprinted by permission, from
Matthias Neeracher <neeri at iis dot ee dot ethz dot ch>.

> My humble opinion is that it's sort of surprising how many people think
> that computer science as we know it has ended after reading about an as
> yet unproven, prerelease quality variant of C++ with garbage collection
> and a cute alternative to multiple inheritance.
> While Java probably could be made to fit into a SOM world (if you abandon
> garbage collection and most of the native object oriented features), I
> don't see how it could *replace* SOM (It talks Pascal even worse than Mac
> SOM currently does, so Peter Lewis will never use it :-). I'm not aware
> of any Bentoesque library modules being part of Java, so I don't see how
> it could possibly be a replacement for OpenDoc.
> My prediction of the Java timeline is approximately as follows:
> Spring 96: Final release of Java appears, along with approximately 30
> published books about it.
> Summer 96: Bored bonehead writes virus in Java, places it on WWW.
> Oct. 31, 1996: All machines with a WWW client melt down.
> Winter 96: Surviving Webmasters open underground WWW, featuring hourly
> changing ports, banning client side scripting forever. Sun Java team
> granted political asylum by Iraq.
> Remember, you read it here first.
> Matthias

See also Tom Christiansen's "Java Uber Alles?", which takes issue with the
assertion that Java will ever displace tcl and Perl as WWW prototyping lan-
guages -- <http://www.perl.com/perl/versus/java.html>; and Felix Sebastian
Gallo's further elequoent dismembering of Java in favor of new contenders
pgpsafeperl and LPSP -- <http://www.perl.com/perl/versus/java-safeperl.html>.
These emergent language/environments he describes as follows:

> pgpsafeperl allows you to download code off the net (sound familiar?),
> verify both its sender and its creator, assign the code an arbitrary
> set of execution constraints based on the sender/creator, and then
> execute it in a trusted compartment. Limited PSP goes a step further
> by limiting the compartment to provide even further security against
> runaway or aggressor programs. Both provide the code with a full list
> of its allowances and proscriptions through a very simple but com-
> pletely informative API. The wall of security is hard, provided by
> the environment and the operating system, not soft, like algorithmic
> verification.

Note addedTim Marklein <tmarklein at appliedcom dot com>:
"All the more reason to buy Oracle WebSystem with Oracle PowerBrowser. PowerBrowser allows the user to set a wide range of preferences that control when Java applets or other executable files download, so you could restrict the downloads to come from certain companies you trust or have things like virus protection run before the applet launches on your system.

Also, through Oracle's Network Loadable Objects framework, which allows applications and documents to be downloaded on the fly for execution on the client, PowerBrowser supports more than just Java: Adobe Acrobat documents, Macromedia applets (soon), Oracle Power Objects-created applets, and any future popular language. If Java dies, Oracle will be fine but Netscape is in trouble."

Netscape 2.0 beta 3

The third beta is out for all platforms; it expires on 1996-02-04. The Macintosh
version appeared without announcement on Netscape's server in the middle of
last week. (See <http://home.netscape.com/comprod/mirror/index.html>.) Of
interest to developers, Netscape has put up an SDK for creating Navigator
plug-ins, with design specs and code examples.

The 2.0 betas (for Macintosh at least, and I assume for the other platforms
- -- this ought to be core code) are stricter on HREF syntax than previous
versions. For example, missing closing quotes slip through Netscape version
1.1 just fine: <A HREF="test.html> will fail and give odd visual results with
the beta browser.

The HTML hack that let you define multiple backgrounds for a page has been
eliminated (i.e., fixed). Too bad, this was a favorite of mine, guaranteed
to cause jawdrop ("How did they _do_ that?) the first time you saw it on a
Web page. For an example, save the following in a text file and feed it to
your copy of Netscape Navigator 1.1; then try it on a beta Netscape. (Hint:
the first BODY tag wins.)

  <BODY BGCOLOR=#998899> <BODY BGCOLOR=#779977> <BODY BGCOLOR=#66AA66>
There are reports that beta browsers frequently fail to make an FTP connection
to Unix ftp daemons (ftpd).

I certainly can't recommend beta 3 to any but the intrepid. It crashes a lot.
So did betas 1 and 2, but in different places. Netscape is playing the seem-
ingly unavoidable shell game with bugs as they rototill the code toward FCS.

Savvy Search

For the latest wrinkle in Net search engines -- parallel agent power -- check
out Savvy Search at <http://guaraldi.cs.colostate.edu:2000/form/>, the creation
of grad student Daniel Dreilinger <dreiling at cs dot colostate dot edu>. A single click
submits searches in parallel to some subset of

Yahoo, WebCrawler, DejaNews, Galaxy, Lycos, InfoSeek, YellowPages, Pathfinder,
PointSearch, OpenText, Inktomi, SIFT, TribalVoice, CSTR, FTPSearch95, Aliweb,
VirtualSoftwareLib, InternetMovieDatabase, and NIKOS
and integrates the results for easy digestion. Savvy Search tries to determine
which search engines are most likely to return useful results, based on what
kind of search you're requesting.

It also has interfaces in six languages.

Net notary and Net backup

A novel business idea: NetBack <http://www.netback.com/> provides a service
whereby for $6 you can ftp a file (up to a half megabyte) to their computer;
they timestamp and notarize the file and securely store it for 10 years,
longer for more money. (They immediately mirror your file to four computers
miles apart, and once a day store optical disks in two separate bank vaults.)
It is "the world's first, real-time document registration service... a time-
and-date stamped record of when a computer file was first created." They en-
courage you to encrypt files before storing them. The service sounds like a
natural for a writer, artist, inventor, any kind of creator concerned about
proveable copyright. And for patrons of the Fearmonger's Shop... yes, I know
my hard drive is going to fail someday...

Threads Commercial spammers
See also TBTF for
1997-10-20, 1996-10-31, 10-09, 09-08, 08-25, 1995-12-22, 11-29

A lawsuit for spam

>>From Edupage (1995-11-28):

> A Gaithersburg, Md. company is drafting a lawsuit against Philadelphia-
> based Promo Enterprises for using its "reply.net" address in a mass
> commercial e-mailing it sent to 171,000 people. ReplyNet Inc. provides
> a service to companies that send promotional literature online to
> people who request it, giving them a "reply.net" address for return
> mail. ReplyNet's president says Promo Enterprises used its address
> without authorization, and claims its reputation has been ruined as
> evidenced by the deluge of angry e-mail it received after Promo's
> mailing. Apologies and explanations were sent to everyone who wrote,
> but "basically their response was 'Leave us alone -- we don't want to
> hear from ReplyNet ever again.' So the damage has been done," says
> ReplyNet's president. (St. Petersburg Times 25 Nov 95 E8)

Followup: Vermeer Technologies

TBTF for 1995-11-19

>>From the Weekly Recap (1995-11-26):

> Vermeer Technologies Inc. announced an agreement with Open Market
> Inc. to integrate and bundle Vermeer's FrontPage WWW publishing
> tool with Open Market's WebServer and Commerce product lines.
> FrontPage is a client/server Web publishing environment developed
> for non-programmers, and is Vermeer's first product. Vermeer also
> is bundling FrontPage with American Internet's SiteBuilder WWW
> server for Novell NetWare environments. Vermeer also announced
> reseller agreements with BBN Planet Corp. to resell FrontPage as
> part of BBN's Web Advantage services, and with Tribune Media
> Services, to resell FrontPage as part of TMS' WebPoint Internet
> content packages, which enable newspapers and broadcasters to
> augment their Web sites with interactive content.


>>Edupage -- mail listproc@educom.edu without subject
> and with message: subscribe edupage <your name> .

>>Weekly Recap -- mail majordomo@case.wsgr.com without subject
> and with message: subscribe multimedia-list .

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Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com dawson@atria.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.


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