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Permanent link to archive for Saturday, March 18, 2000. Saturday, March 18, 2000

Before each night is done, their plan will be unfurled, by the dawning of the sun, they'll take over the world.

Here's a very cool Java applet that allows the user to implode the Seattle KingDome. Well worth the 500K download. Try blowing up some of the neighborhood for fun!

DevX: Distributed Computing With SOAP.

David Dodd: The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.

Edd Dumbill: Fooling with XUL.

Jason Levine: Manila and Daily Links. Thanks for the inspiration! I added the same feature on Scripting News, that's what the little page symbols on each day do, they take you to the archived version of the page. So instead of pointing to the Scripting News home page, now it's easy to point to the archived version. This was a good idea for a UI standard and we're glad to support it on SN and we will support it in Manila as well.

Good news, the palmtop version of Scripting News is working once again. Still diggin!

I played with Firedrop's Zaplets last night, but I swear there isn't an interesting application in sight. I also received a threatening email from their VC, who I thought was a friend. He said that the little guy needs protection. Little guy? Hello? I think we have a bad connection.

According to Firedrop, Kleiner has started companies that are worth $80 billion. I wonder how big they think UserLand is! I also wondered if they would fight us legally, based on a suite of over a dozen patents that might be issued someday, or fight me in the market, which would be be very good for everyone and totally cool. Regardless, I tried to get enthusiastic about competing with them, and haven't managed to muster the juice. Zaplets are boring. Back to the drawing board.

However: When a company advertises unissued patents, they're advertising vulnerability. The plan goes like this. Compete. Get publicity and users. Then the patents are issued. Wait for the demand letter. Tell your users "Sorry, we just got shut down." Give them the URL of the government-sanctioned monopoly. See if the monopolist can make them happy. (Doubtful.)

John Foster on Zaplets: "I looked into Zaplets after made mention of them and gosh, gee, there's it is, another feature from 10 years ago QuickMail from CE Software. We called them 'QM Forms' and they worked two different ways. One was you could use them to send data to a 'collector' account. Useful for gathering name, address, telephone, whatever else information... We got a 'big deal' reaction from customers for these features. Sure they were cool, they made good demos, but nobody used them." Prior Art.

Hunting around the web I think I found the genesis of the Zaplet strategy.

Press release: IBM Leads In U.S. Patents for Seventh Consecutive Year.

While all this patent michegas is brewing, a relationship is blooming between UserLand and IBM. It's actually been blooming longer than I knew, key engineers in their Internet development group have been reading Scripting News and following our advice re XML-RPC. Well what do you know! It turns out they like weblogs too. Oy yoy yoy. Now, IBM, with over $1 billion per year in patent revenues becomes friends with Dave The Hippie who wants to make his users happy and return reasonable value to his shareholders. This is going to be an interesting conversation!

Made even more interesting by my long history with IBM. I was an IBM kid, my father worked in Armonk when I was growing up. Later, when I ran a PC software company I made many trips to Boca Raton, to visit the headquarters of the technology world. Yes, that's where it was in the early-mid 80s! (Hard to believe now, eh?) We shipped the first app for OS/2. I met with Bill Gates at the PS/2 rollout in Miami. Everyone shook their head at the lock-in. And we all headed to the Mac. "I will survive."

Lock-in kills companies. Just ask IBM.

"It's even worse than it appears." -- Jerry Garcia.

Alta Vista has a great picture browser that links into the Corbis database. I just spent 15 minutes browsing their Jerry Garcia collection. Some great photos in there!

About hippies and software. Long tradition there. It took a lot of imagination to be into software in the 70s and 80s. Until the Mac really took hold, software was thought to be a very unimaginative thing. Meanwhile all the really good stuff was created by people with long hair, beards, loud laughs, they listened to Grateful Dead music, and stayed pretty quiet while the suits took the credit and most of the money.


Last update: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 at 2:52 PM Eastern.

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