News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 4/8/97
Thought I'd share with you my own (limited) experience with Sun. We recently requested bids on a big Unix server for running an SQL database. We got responses from IBM, HP, and Sun.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Weathers);
Sent at 4/10/97; 10:31:00 AM;
Some thoughts on Sun's corporate culture
The Sun salespeople were remarkably arrogant. For example, when we asked each bidder for references for other companies that were using their hardware with the same software we intended to use, IBM and HP graciously gave us lists. Sun, on the other hand, asked us "Why do you need references? We both know it's going to work!"
Perhaps it was just those salespeople, or just our local sales office. But there is such a thing as corporate culture. Perhaps our salespeople were arrogant because they work for an arrogant company. It's sure beginning to look like it to me.
I'm down at WWW7 this AM. Wow, what a bunch of geeks! You can tell its an academic run conference when you go to the demo area and find that half the hall is taken up with white boards displaying sample code for proposed standard extensions. There seems to be a mix of academics (mainly from the US) and implementers (mainly from overseas).
From: email@example.com (craig cline);
Sent at 4/9/97; 12:12:59 PM;
I had a quick conversation with Adam Bosworth who's GM of the Internet Platform & Tools Division Internet Explorer group who said Microsoft will support XML extensions in elements of 4.0 and beyond. The ball is now in Netscape's court, which has expressed some interest.
They also have Tim Berner-Lee's original NeXT cube on which he wrote the first HTTP server and browser in a museum of the net experience upstairs. I'm going to go check it out now.
Its worth a few hours of your time if you want to check it out yourself.
You probably know this, but...a sledgehammer is a slang term for a particularly attractive woman with a great deal of...hmmm...charisma? Since this song seems to be an homage to the great R&B acts of the 60's-70's, I suspect that this is the metaphor Mr. Gabriel was using.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alwin Hawkins);
Sent at 4/9/97; 11:43:17 AM;
One of the folks who worked on WebTV's imaging is Cary Clark, formaerly of Rocket Science Games, and before that as the founder of QuickDraw GX at Apple (he worked there for many years). The resolution independent screen model extraordinaire. He was one of the first employees at WebTV, back when they ere secretly known as Artemis at artemis.com, working in an abondoned garage somewhere in the Valley ... fake domain name and all.
From: email@example.com (Kenneth Trueman);
Sent at 4/9/97; 10:13:45 AM;
If you are correct in that NT may displace Solaris, it will be in the classic Dilbert style of buzzwords over technical merit and hype over value.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dylan Northrup);
Sent at 4/9/97; 9:33:58 AM;
I'm a UNIX bigot, I'll say that right off. However, having had to administrate both machines, in my professional opinion Solaris is much easier to secure, administrate, and get the most use out of currently than NT will be for the next 10 years.
Solaris came from the UNIX ideas of openess and availability. The options on a Sun box are almost infinitely configurable. You can also download a host of networking applications that have been tested by thousands if not tens of thousands of people because the networking APIs are as old as the Internet.
NT comes from the Microsoft ideas of proprietary APIs and getting as much of the market as they possibly can. The options on an NT box are configurable as far as the GUI options on NT will let you configure them. The downloadable network applications for NT are much less robust and, for the most part, doesn't come with source code so that you may make your own version, find out why and how it does the thing it does, and improve on it if you so desire (source code for NT wouldn't be nearly as useful as it is on UNIX as most people *don't* have compilers. In the UNIX world, the opposite is the case)
The one benefit of NT (if it can be called a benefit) is it's a point and click server. Almost anyone can set one up and get some use out of it. The danger of this is the false sense of security that one might attest to running a C2 compliant server (which is only C2 as long it's *not* hooked up to a network) based on open systems (and when Microsoft actually has an open system, I'll know that hell's frozen over). Now, middle managers and MBAs can think of themselves as administrators because they can set up a 'server'. How many of these servers are properly secured and providing the optimum benefits for its users is an exercise for the reader.
The benefit of UNIX is that administrators actually have to learn about the machine that they're controlling. You have to actually read documentation! None of this random checking of boxes until it works like you think it should. You actually know it's doing what it's supposed to do because that's the way you configured it to be.
Java's big promise is hardware and operating system independence. It's being able to download a program that was written on a Mac and run it on my BeBox and having my friend run it on his Solaris box. This is the idea that perl implemented quite a while ago without all the marketing hype and without the bias towards supported systems (I'm sure if Sun released the source code to it's JVM, there'd be a lot more security holes found *and* corrected and it would be ported to almost as many operating systems as perl is (I don't think there will be an Amiga or VMS JVM even though there is a demand for it and people who would actually do the port)).
Granted I don't think that promise is the panacea that Sun, Microsoft, or the trade rags think it will be. If you think Word 7 is slow now and takes up a lot of memory, just imagine what it's going to be like with another level of indirection slowing it down.
This is actually a reply to Paul Schwartz. He has a good point. Japan was shipping its machines in Japan bundled with Hypercard until last year. One of the big Japanese Mac magazines had a full page (maybe two) guest commentary about Apple's decision to stop that bundling. It was very critical of Apple and seemed to point out how little the company cared or knew about its customers.
From: email@example.com (Anthony Helm);
Sent at 4/9/97; 12:49:56 AM;
Hypercard is/was very popular with Japanese Mac enthusiasts, and many non-computer people latched onto it. Even today, on the CD Roms enclosed with just about all Japanese Mac magazines, there are plenty of reader contributed stacks!
It is just one more example of how Apple seems to not "get it"!
In the past year I have become an avid AppleScripter. Discovering AppleScript made me remeber why the Mac is such a great machine and why I'll stick with my Mac even if it doesn't have a so-called "modern" operating system for the next 10 years. My AppleScript experiences have also really piqued my interest in HyperCard, so I've been surfing the Internet this past week to find HC info. While I found some great resources including the wonderful "HyperCard Heaven" (http://members.aol.com/hcheaven/index.html), my recent HC investigations have also revealed some disturbing trends.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org> (by way of Dave Winer
Sent at 4/8/97; 9:40:13 AM;
AppleScript, HyperCard and Neglect
Why is Apple neglecting important technologies like AppleScript and HyperCard??? Hey, even if you don't consider something like HyperCard "important", it can still be a LOT of fun to roll-your-own little solution, game, database, whatever! Is anyone really still using HC? It seems like fun, but I can't even find a store that has it in stock (including MacWarehouse!) To me, these are much more important, fun, useful, and "distinguising" technologies than junk like PowerTalk and OpenDoc. If it weren't for stuff like AppleScript, I'd probably be working on QuarkXpress and Photoshop for Windows at work... Once you really start to understand AppleScriting, there is virtually no problem or project that you can't tackle (I love taking on projects that are considered "unfeasible" or impossible by the Windows boys and solving them with AS in a day or so).
Anyone else think that it's kind of strange that all the Performa (and now Power Mac) systems from Apple that come bundled with tons of third party software don't include HyperCard? If they're going to give away all this software (many of them near the price of HC), why not include something like HC which is unique to the Mac and helped make the Mac the choice of educators around the world. I used to work in a university, and it's amazing how many of the professors were still teaching and using HyperCard, even on their big and powerful Power Macs. The kind of stuff Apple gives you with these new home and education machines makes them look like Compaq Presario wanna-bes. Quicken, Virtual Pool and Mech Warrior -- big deal! Those are fun for a few days, but are destined to become instant shelf-ware, and certainly won't help the new Mac owner figure out why he should stick with Apple in these trying times.
HyperCard may have acquired a certain "lame" reputation over the years, but I think this is probably due more to neglect and lack of marketing and development by Apple than to anything directly related to the product itself. While Apple was busy pushing OpenDoc and CyberDog (just what the Mac needed -- another free browser when Netscape and Microsoft already make great ones), their bread-and-butter stuff like education (HyperCard) and publishing (AppleScript) lay rotting and neglected as "uncool" technologies. Too bad -- look at the sucess and public/corporate support Microsoft now has with Visual Basic!
I'd trade an upgraded, Power Mac native, compilable, integrated AppleScript/HyperCard (sound a little like Visual Basic to you?) for all the PowerTalks, QuickDraw GXs, OpenDocs, CyberDogs, eWorlds, MCFs, Appearance Managers, and other such fluff any day.
The MacOS is more than just an operating system -- it's creative people using creative tools to change the world one byte at a time. MechWarrior may be fine for short-term marketing, but will you remember it a month from now? Will your kids?
To Larry Tesler, Apple Computer:
From: email@example.com (Dave Winer);
Sent on Tue, Apr 8, 1997 at 9:01:33 AM by DW;
I read and posted your comments from a couple of days ago.
A heads-up -- you know Frontier is there, but it would be a good idea, for Apple, now, if you got in the loop.
Something important happened in February, we got a streams interface in place for Frontier, so people are doing all kinds of servers in Frontier now. With multi-threading and the object database, all debugged, and high performance, people are doing incredible things, for now, only on Mac OS.
Also Fat Web Pages are hot. Software distribution that's really compatible. Again, for now a Mac-only thing. But that is changing very quickly.
As I said, a heads-up. I don't want the opportunity to build on this to go unnoticed by Apple. I expect that, but I want to leave room for expectations to be exceeded.
A number of years ago when people first started talking about using the vertical blanking interval for sending data, TCI's CEO John Malone stated that the vertical blanking segment of TV signals transmitted over his cable systems was his property.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Barry Frankel);
Sent at 4/8/97; 11:48:18 AM;
Who Owns Vertical Blanking?
He has a point, when more data is added to this portion of the signal, it requires more bandwidth on cable systems.
This issue of ownership of vertical blanking, should be interesting to watch, especially since Malone view's Microsoft's partner DirectTV as a dangerous competitor.