News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 1/29/98

From: ssl@prefab.com (Scott S. Lawton);
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 11:40:25 -0800;
fascinating story / old lawsuit

Following a thread starting from a Linux note in the current "letters" page, I came across the following.

Microsoft's various anti-competitive practices against DR DOS (developed by Digital Research, purchased by Novell) are detailed here:


Also interesting: Ray Noorda, former (?) CEO of Novell (and probably various other key industry positions) is the main investor in Caldera -- which released the source code to DR DOS and is marketing the executable ... along with Linux and solutions based on it.

That answers the short-term question of how you can build a business around free software like Linux: have a "deep pockets" investor. The long-term question is more interesting....

From: cshotton@biap.com (Chuck Shotton);
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 11:39:49 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

It's gotten to the point in this country that whole generations and segments of the population have been written off as "disposable". You see it paraded as a common belief in the popular press all the time and that certainly makes it a lot easier for society as a whole to "pull the switch". I can't say that I lose sleep over it, as harsh as that might sound. But I DO think Plato had a better idea when he wrote "The Republic".

In short, his belief was that citizenship conveyed certain responsibilities. Criminal behavior was an abrogation of those responsibilities and punishment could take two forms, to be chosen by the convicted. A criminal could chose to accept a period of indentured servitude to the state whose duration matched the severity of the crime. Or, the criminal could choose to permanently lose his citizenship and the right to live and participate in Plato's utopia.

In this day and age of coddled prisoners, with weight rooms, color TVs, special accomodations for "religious beliefs", state funded health care, education, and legal services, it makes one wonder if Plato didn't have a simpler, more effective system. You commit a crime against society and you can either pay for it through the sweat of your brow or you can get out. Simple choice.

From: vocatus@hotmail.com (Vocatus Nonvocatus);
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 09:07:53 PST;
Sanctity of Life

Can we assume from your admirable stance on the death penalty that you have a similar position on abortion...or does the "fetal" form of human life fall into a different category?

I am pro-choice. DW

From: charlie@antipope.org (Charlie Stross);
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 13:11:05 +0000;
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ...

You may remember about a year ago I asked if you planned to port Frontier to Linux? Well, some other Linuxers have gotten so tired of not having Frontier around that they've set out to clone it!

See http://www.ntlug.org/bronco/ for details.

Last time I tried to run Frontier 5 under Linux, WINE was still lacking a couple of critical bits of Win32 support. But I figure Frontier -- or something very similar -- will be running on Linux within a year, whether you port it or not; either under Windows emulation, or as a clone.

Hope you're having fun with the 5.0 release ...

-- Charlie Stross (now permanently off Macs and onto Linux)

From: doc@searls.com (Doc Searls);
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 04:48:13 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

Some quotes from Hal Crowther, one of my favorite writers...

The first is, "You reach a point in death penalty arguments where those in favor can only bare their teeth." That's because the death penalty is about revenge and nothing else. Which is why the affirmative case is so creepy and unconvincing.

"Capital punishment hasn't yielded a stimulating debate," Crowther writes. "Its opponents have articulted a dozen legal, philosophical, sociological and theological arguments, each more compelling and unanswerable than the one before. It's supporters simply howl for revenge -- for raw meat -- like forest predators baying on a hilltop."

He also says "The only way to give a lie the force of truth is to soak it in innocent blood." We buy the lie that execution is justice by soaking it in the blood of victims and heartbroken survivors. We justify war by the same means. But it's still just vengeance.

Killing creates nothing and restores nothing. Executing your uncle's murderers will not fill the hole in your heart or give back the life your uncle lost.

"Thou Shalt Not Kill" makes the matter plain enough. But a deeper reading of Exodus brings up an equally relevant edict (Chapter 23): "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil."

From: stansell@escher.wiltec.twc.com;
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 05:31:14 -0600;
Re:The Tail and the Dog

I've just finished reading your article The Tail and the Dog, and I can't help but respond.

I believe, based on what I've read from your essay, that you have the kind of company I'd want to buy software from, do business with, or even work for. You've created a quality product that sounds like it could take the world by storm. You have rare insight and you're very good at expressing it.

But there's an immense tidal wave that you don't seem to be considering.

It's not that you don't know about it; you've known about it for a long time. I did a search for Linux at scripting.com and received 32 hits. The first I went to


was from one year ago. Consider rereading that message again, in light of what's happening now.

You know already that neither Bill G. nor Bill J. particularly want a company like yours to succeed. It interferes, apparently, with their own plans. You said "Apple taught me that the platform vendor has to agree not to get in the way in order for a new market to develop on their platform." Linux is the platform that doesn't have a vendor in the way. In fact, it has many vendors, all eager to help software developers succeed on their own merits.

Take a look at what Russell Nelson had to say about "Re: Java Loses Netscape"


Then take a look at MSNBC's A Titanic challenge to Microsoft and SunWorld's Linux lines up for the enterprise.

I believe 1998 will be the year your customers ask you for a Linux solution. Consider having it ready before the big request comes in!

I'd recommend you plan on attending the Linux Expo, May 28-30, 1998. You'll be able to meet some of the important developers and retailers. You might meet folks with experience in WINE or Willows TWIN, with ideas about how to jumpstart your MS-Windows product onto Linux. Then make plans to have a booth at the 1998 Atlanta Linux Showcase, immediately after the Atlanta Interop.

From: stevemw@northwest.com (Stephen Wynne);
Sent at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 00:16:41 -0800;
Quote: Instead we'll wire up to Microsoft's Java

First of all, I'd like to say thanks to you for your generosity and openness on your scripting.com web site. But I reacted sadly to your recent exchange with Bill Joy. I think you were a bit harsh on him, and so I write to you now to argue on his behalf.

In the grand scheme of things, Sun is much the lesser of two evils. And in support of Sun, they have a history of upholding the concept of openness that you don't seem to acknowledge. They've continually published the SPARC specifications, and their operating systems and interfaces have consistently been based on open standards.

You may not be satisfied with Sun's license conditions, and you may feel that Java is a closed environment. Furthermore, Sun is making a lot of us unhappy these days with its fumbling with Java. But it is trying to give us something different and innovative, which takes time. I would hope you could at least support them in that endeavor in word, even if you're not interested in targeting their operating system with your products.

Regarding the Java APIs slated for your product, I would hope that you could have worked something out with Sun so that you could avoid the fear of being sued. I don't think you'll ever be able to arrange that with Microsoft no matter how many lawyers you can afford. I suspect you know that. And suggesting that Sun would sue you, as they've sued Microsoft doesn't make sense to me. Microsoft has tried to reinvent Java in their own view of it -- as just another scripting language. Microsoft's attempts to denigrate Java is at the root of Sun's case regarding the Java trademark against them. It's not mere capriciousness on the part of Sun, as you almost seem to suggest.

Good luck in any case, and I hope to continue appreciating your writing for many years to come. When I get time, I'll certainly try Frontier out for myself, too. And I agree with you that it should target Windows users as well as Mac users. How about Solaris and Linux when you've got resources? I'm sure you can someday with such a great idea as Frontier.

From: jake@sonic.com (Jacob Savin);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 19:27:00 -0800;
My Uncle Sam

I totally agree with you that capital punishment is morally wrong... but (oh, isn't there always one?)...

Imagine a situation in which one were living with a very few people, in a confined space, like a desert island. If one of those people began killing the others, and they didn't have the power or resources to contain the murderer, I could justify killing... *Only* as self-defense for the collective group...

However, in a country as large and wealthy as the United States, there's absolutely no way I could justify the state's taking of a life for any crime, no matter how heinous.

I lived in The Netherlands for some time. A Dutch friend of mine made a very interesting remark to me once. She and I were watching a story on CNN about a man (remember this) who'd decided to opt for hanging instead of lethal injection or the electric chair. My friend cocked her head to one side, and asked me, "Is this a joke or something?" I asked her what she meant, and she said, "You mean you [Americans] still do that?" Yes, I told her we do, to which she responded, "What kind of barbarians are you?"


From: mdaw@idirect.com (Matthew Daw);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 17:20:52 -0500 (EST);
XML Namespaces

I think the namespace specification might make more sense if you look at it in terms of XSL style sheets. Assume that an XML document exists which needs to be rendered in browsers as HTML. The author creates an XSL document to define how each XML tag is to be interpreted as HTML. Sounds ideal. However, this creates certain problems.

How does the XML->HTML app know what is a tag in XSL and what is a tag in HTML? The answer is using two namespaces as explained in the specification. With proper schemas (or vocabularies, a term I prefer) the converter application knows specifically which tags to process as XSL, which to process as HTML, and most importantly, which tags to ignore because it doesn't know how to interpret them.

From: mocko@sbvc.com;
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 14:15:21 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

I sympathize with your moral revulsion for the death penalty. On the other hand, being human implies far more than a bipedal stance, the ability to use language, and the ability to use tools to consciously modify one's environment (a gorilla in a back brace and a deaf person would be indistinguishable!). Humanity, to me at least, also requires empathy or calculated restraint. By empathy I mean the ability to sense the fear or pain that one might cause others -- through their eyes -- and thus to avoid, or at least minimize, that harm (this is present, but much less developed in non-human primates). For people with no empathy, calculated restraint seves the same purpose. One weighs the consequences of a harmful action before proceeding with it, and while one might be a serious asshole without empathy, one is usually not a murderer in the face of the societal cost (most chimps and some gorilla species murder without consideration of the consequences). A creature that looks human but has no empathy (or even enjoys the pain of others) and no restraint (or even fear of consequences) is nothing more than a predatory animal in disguise.

While I think that America's justice system is seriously flawed (on a per-capita adjusted basis, black men are twice as likely to get the death penalty as white men for the same crime), I also can't get my head around keeping primates alive that have foresworn their humanity. I think that the vast majority of Americans would not hesitate to "put to sleep" a chimp that had a fondness for dismembering little girls, or throwing little boys out of tenement windows. I believe that most Americans would say "I don't care if the chimp hit its head, or was beaten, as a little chimp, it's now a dangerous animal, beyond reform, and it's a threat needs to be eliminated." I believe that most Americans would balk at paying their share of a hundred thousand dollars a year for the chimp to live out its natural span in a secure facility. I believe that society has already determined that savage creatures can be killed to protect the members of society from further harm, and that there is no moral reason to spend money on keeping savage creatures alive. I don't see PETA members picketing the ASPCA or Animal Control officers when they kill rabid or insane dogs. There are no candle-lit vigils for rottweilers that tear apart little boys.

John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer of boys and young men, was a creature without empathy or restraint. His savagery was all the more chilling for its calculation and the unadorned pleasure he took in it. Jane Goodall observed that chimps feel remorse even after brutal acts, sometimes crying over the bodies of their victims. Gacy got off on the bodies of his victims. In my opinion, John Wayne Gacy was an animal in human form that preyed upon humans. I would no sooner hesitate to pull the switch to kill him than I would to kill a cobra in my garden. Do I care if Gacy was abused as a child? Yes, in the sense that America needs to reform its child welfare system with desparate urgency, but it wouldn't stop me from killing him. A rabid dog may once have been a good pet. A rabid dog may not have been at fault in the event that turned him rabid (bitten by a racoon?). But rabid dogs still need to be killed, and again I believe that society has not questioned that determination to date.

Just because a vicious, predatory creature looks human creates no obligation for other humans to keep it alive. Other humans have every obligation to exercise their wallets, their moral suasion, their personal time, whatever it takes to prevent the appearance of other such creatures (reform of child welfare and foster home system, active intervention in the lives of poor children with irresponsible or drug-addicted families, alternatives to current juvenile halls, reversal of the Reagan-initiated flood of psychotic and other mental patients onto America's streets). Other humans have every obligation to ensure that the termination of predatory creatures does not kill noxious but non-lethal creatures or humans (more fully funded court-appointed attorneys, more pro-bono requirements for private lawyers, restructuring of the three strikes laws, etc.) But I support the desire of humans to live free from predators: a rabid dog or Karla Faye Tucker both need to die.

From: abridge@wheel.dcn.davis.ca.us (Adam Bridge);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:25:29 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

It doesn't matter whether its a man or a woman: the State, in our name, should not be killing people.

Today we have shifted the meaning of justice: it's for the victims and their families. WRONG! It's for the accused. During the Oklahoma City Bombing trials we saw this very clearly: the victims and their families were more important than the process of justice.

This is a problem the media compounds: it's easy to take the side of the victim and it's a convenient social position that being a victim is an okay place to be.

I don't want to be a victim. I doubt if I would attend the trial of a person accused of hurting a member of my family. I'd have to deal with the emotional consequences of that crime and going to court would only string it out. Closure to grief is an emotional process not a physical one. Vengence hides the scars and doesn't heal them.

From: rickeame@microsoft.com (Rick Eames);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:23:38 -0800;
Capital Punishment

I used to be a giant proponent of the death penalty. I, like many others, felt that we were merely eliminating the bad by destroying that which created it. Through the past 10 years, however, I have come to look upon the death penalty as barbaric. The criminals, those who resort to violence as a way of expressing themselves, are not our teachers. We, as a society, should not react with emotion when dealing with this problem. Once captured, the criminal is kept from us.

However, in the personal case, I can guarantee you that if anyone harmed my family in any way, I would hunt them down as best I could and God help them if I get to them before the police do. But that's because I can be expected to react with emotion. Society cannot. I will feel very personally about the situation. Society should not.

I remember reading an essay by C.S. Lewis about this very topic a while back. He argued that society has a fundamental problem when dealing with criminals: to give time based punishment is unfair to society because it is, in effect, saying that "Well, you aren't any better than when you came in, but we're going to let you out anyway." Yet to keep the criminal in on a "When you're better, we'll let you out" basis is equally unnerving because you could end up having folks in prison for many years for stealing an apple simply because they display that they will steal again.

I do believe in inherent Evil. I believe some folks are just built with "Bad" ROMs and that we must protect ourselves from these people. The belief that "we didn't do enough for them" is ludicrous. I have known families with many children where one of them is not like the rest. And that "difference" is noticeable from very early on. Can people be made bad by situation? Sure. Are all bad people caused by bad situations? No. Whether you call it "Evil" or a chemical imbalance is irrelevant -- they are different and not healthy to the rest of us.

From: avh@marimba.com (Arthur van Hoff);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:32:57 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

"The death penalty *is* cruel and unusual punishment. For me. What crime did I commit to deserve this punishment? This makes me angry! Very deeply angry."

I can't agree more. I've always found that life imprisonment without parole was a more appropriate, equally severe, but much more humane punishment.

From: Dirk.Riehle@ubs.com (Dirk Riehle);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:36:07 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

There is no way to determine with absolute certainty that someone is a murderer, cruel or not. Every justice system may fail, every confession may be wrong due to psychological problems.

Knowing that every conviction may be an unjust decision, a verdict like the death penalty is unacceptable, as it is so final and no way of reverting it exists.

From: tlundeen@lundeen.com (tim lundeen);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:37:14 -0800;
Re:As Good As It Gets

"When I got home from Palm Springs an interesting email from Sun founder Bill Joy was waiting; apparently in response to "Good News for Java?" An exchange followed."

This was a great exchange!

Historically, integrating Java into Frontier wasn't possible without a VM license, and Sun obviously couldn't or didn't support everyone who could have used a license. Today the pieces are close (ala Netscape's OpenJava API) to allow Frontier to run Java by hooking into an external VM, and this will be much better than linking with and supporting the VM directly.

You can also allow Frontier to be used from Java by providing appropriate Java classes and native methods that hook into Frontier, except from MSIE of course. Even today though, making Frontier's facilities available in applets is still a non-trivial task for everyone involved: for the user who has to configure things just so with a Java 1.1 browser, for you to get signed JAR files and native libraries in place, etc. So there is still a lot of work to be done on the "infrastructure" of making this all easy, transparent, and universally workable.

Bill Joy doesn't think the world needs a less-restrictive Java source license from Sun, and if it worked right all the time this would be true. But it often doesn't work, particularly in the platform/VM-vendor supplied UI/network code. (The Sun non-commercial source license does right now allow ports to non-supported platforms, which is something.)

If Sun would remove the restrictions on their Java source to allow GPL-style VMs to be built and freely distributed on any platform, and all the operating systems and browsers allowed the user to pick their VM (as seems to be happening), we would all be much better off.

In this environment, Sun could retain ownership of all third-party changes to the VM and incorporate them in their "certified" product, so this should be a major win for everyone. Sun could also require that third-party VMs run Sun's standard Java certification tests in order to be released, so there would be no loss of Sun's control over Java's essential write-once-run-anywhere characteristic. I'm afraid that Sun's VM licensing revenue is preventing this from happening.

From: fen@comedia.com (Fen Labalme);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:32:14 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

"Now is a really good time to discuss capital punishment."

I'm with you. I'd like to see rehabilitation attempts but our prison system -- in a rare display of honesty -- no longer even uses the term. I'd like to see a saner society which didn't drive so many people to violent crime. I'd like to not ever have to put someone to death.

It appears you feel that lifetime incarceration at a cost of about $50K/year is a better idea for people judged to be a permanant menace to society? Is life in prison -- with no rehabilitation -- that much better?

And, the average time before parole for a murderer sentenced to life is about 8 years. This is so that they can make room for all those dangerous pot growers.

I don't know Karla's story, If there is strong evidence that she would kill again, I don't want her out on the streets after 8 years, being just a little more hardened and a little angrier at a society that took her liberty away for that time.

OK - so you're against the death penalty. So am I. But for me, it's a choice between two evils. Without a lot of societal and prison reform, I don't know what I'd choose. We could start by reversing the fascist anti-drug laws, but they obviously have a lot of support or Clinton wouldn't talk about getting tougher during his state of the union address.

You proposed a question. What's the answer?

From: fen@comedia.com (Fen Labalme);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:32:14 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

Now is a really good time to discuss capital punishment.

I'm with you. I'd like to see rehabilitation attempts but our prison system -- in a rare display of honesty -- no longer even uses the term. I'd like to see a saner society which didn't drive so many people to violent crime. I'd like to not ever have to put someone to death.

It appears you feel that lifetime incarceration at a cost of about $50K/year is a better idea for people judged to be a permanant menace to society? Is life in prison -- with no rehabilitation -- that much better?

And, the average time before parole for a murderer sentenced to life is about 8 years. This is so that they can make room for all those dangerous pot growers.

I don't know Karla's story, If there is strong evidence that she would kill again, I don't want her out on the streets after 8 years, being just a little more hardened and a little angrier at a society that took her liberty away for that time.

OK - so you're against the death penalty. So am I. But for me, it's a choice between two evils. Without a lot of societal and prison reform, I don't know what I'd choose. We could start by reversing the fascist anti-drug laws, but they obviously have a lot of support or Clinton wouldn't talk about getting tougher during his state of the union address.

You proposed a question. What's the answer?

From: dimboo@on-the-rox.be (Dimitri Boone);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:20:01 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

I feel the same way about capital punishment. It's very ironic to hear the president of a country who kills its own citizens say: "our leadership in the world is unrivaled".

From: postmaster@meyerjohnson.com (Mark Camp);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:00:46 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

There are those with the will and strength to make a civilization, or a nation, work. Everyone else is a free rider, a weakling. Karla Tucker must die. Not because a sentence is about reform. Sentences are about punishment. Murder must be punished.

Individuals are granted the right of self-defense. Nations and States must also defend themselves from murder. Our nation is falling down because it lacks the will to defend itself, and to punish those who would murder its citizens.

From: jwilliams@starhq.com (John Williams);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 10:00:11 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

Yeah, I read DaveNet for your political writing more than your technical stuff (although I get quite a bit out of that, as well).

I just wanted to write and say that for the most part, I agree with your statements about the death penalty. But I still support it in some cases.

I do think that the death penalty is used much more often than it should be, and is used in the wrong way. When we give ourselves over to revenge and hatred, thinking that it absolves us of responsibility, we're using it for the wrong reason.

Bob Dole said he knew what caused crime. "It's criminals, it's criminals, it's criminals," he said. But I don't think that's true because I can't believe that some people are innately evil. I think many people are criminals because we broke them. We didn't take care of them early on.

We create the Susan Smiths, the Karla Faye Tuckers, the Kazinskis and the Bundys and the McVeighs. We create them through our unwillingness to become involved with others, our insistence that we are individual beings that can and should just take care of ourselves without the aid or intervention of others. We create abusive people when we refuse to intervene when their parents are abusing them. We create them when our personal greed denies others of decent living conditions and education. We create homicidal maniacs when we deny them medical treatment, or fail to recognize them as being dangerous.

That said, however, I feel there are some that we've broken so bad that we have to lock them down in SuperMax prisons, where they'll never talk to anyone ever again, or kill them. We have to, because they're likely to hurt to many other people left alone.

Flawed and culpable as we are, we have to have the right to say "we just can't live with this person any more, regardless." But we must do it recognizing that we're killing one of our own because of our own failure to take care of the people around us. We should see the use of the death penalty as the greatest possible admission of the failure of ourselves as a community, not as the justifiable wrath of innocent people harmed unjustly.

If we did that -- approached it with that attitude -- maybe we wouldn't be so eager to use it at all. And maybe we'd learn to treat people better, so we'd never have to use it again.

From: spector@zeitgeist.com (David HM Spector);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 09:58:41 -0800;
Re:My Uncle Sam

I think that this is by far your best DaveNet piece. Eloquent, direct, and poignant.

There was an interesting quote I ran across a number of years ago, it was atrributed to the late Archbishop Romero of San Savlador (who was gunned down by the CIA trained Contras) who said, with regard to capital punishment, that if its wrong for one man to commit murder, a group of men should not commit murder, and therefore no group of men can authorize their government to commit murder.

I realize I am preaching to choir, but if we want to stop the vast majority of murders we should decide as a country to just stop creating them. Otherwise, no matter how many we execute there will be a never ending kick-line of them.

If we decide that people have more value than objects like cars, movies and congressional junkets perhaps we will start impressing real values on our children. Perhaps a value system that espouses that people only acrue value, and objects amortize to "zero" almost instantaneously. If we decide that people come first and the objects are, well, just things, we get somewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of conspicuous consumption and big-time spending; I'm a software designer and I make a nice living ... but I want to live in a world where everyone has the same opportunities that I do and making that a reality is a question of placing people and their potential over the things.

If we keep going down the road of "the public demands swift and final justice" for those society (whoever THEY are) detests, then we'll very soon wind up with a country that looks a lot like Nazi Germany in 1930's. After all, the Nazis came to power (initailly) via democratic elections.

Seeing how many capital punishment laws are on the books, how law enforcement agencies are demanding the right to spy-on, wiretap (cf Louis Freeh demanding the outlaw of non-escrow crypto), and investigate anyone and everyone for any/no reason and how vicious this society is becoming toward anyone who is poor, sick, elderly or (G-d forbid) thinks differently than our self-righteous congress people, I'd say that it's 1933 and the Reichtag is burning...

From: pka@asic.sc.ti.com (Prashanth);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:11:47 -0600 (CST);
Re:My Uncle Sam

I'll disagree with your statement that you are killing Ms. Tucker. You are not. Your premise is that the govt represents you. No, it doesn't. It represents the majority of the American people. It is not the govt of all people. It is the govt of the majority.

Alexis de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America" calls this the "tyranny of the majority".

If the majority of the American people want the death penalty, they'll get it. There's is little that the minority (you, me, and a lot of other people) can do other than try to convince enough of the majority to change their opinion. We can't get angry over the govt pulling the switch on Ms. Tucker by saying that it is doing what we don't want it to do. The majority does indeed want the plug pulled.

Even though I'm an opponent of the death penalty, these days I actually am supporting the execution of Ms. Tucker. I am angry at the hypocrisy of many supporters of the death penalty opposing executing Ms. Tucker because "we don't kill ladies". What rot! That ain't justice. If you want equal rights for everybody, don't discriminate. Finally, there is case where the legal system has mandated the death-penalty, and the supporters aren't comfortable with that decision.

From: aburgel@andrew.cmu.edu (Alex Burgel);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 08:08:38 -0800;

Those Sun people don't seem to get it. They say Java how great Java is. The usual PR stuff, It slices, it dices, it runs settop boxes. but then when people want to do something different with Java, they won't let them.

I don't see what's the big deal if people want to do their own thing with Java. If Microsoft wants to just have Java as a cool programming language let them. Sun can go their own way and do the Write Once Run Anywhere thing. It may "dilute" the brand, but it'll become much more widely used and much more powerful.

If I was Sun I'd see this as an advantage. They could market Java to everyone because Java can be almost anything. Instead they want to limit its potential and take everyone else along for the ride.

From: durrell@innocence.com (Bryant Durrell);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 07:54:57 -0800 (PST);
Re:My Uncle Sam


And welcome to what I, as an anarchist, see as the biggest moral flaw in a democracy. Capital punishment is a hot button item, so it's really easy to notice it in this context. But there are others. I don't believe drugs should be illegal, for example. I could list a lot of these, and I bet you could too.

Now, I also have to recognize that our lists would be different. It's probable that you believe some things are OK that bother me, and vice versa. Are my moral beliefs any more important than yours? Hmmm. I don't think so.

Democracy is a lot better than most forms of government, but it's still all about giving up what you believe in because you're outnumbered. I find this very strange; we don't put up with it in software and we shouldn't. Why do we put up with it when it comes down to moral issues?

If you gave me a big red button that would magically remove all the government at once (let's say it sends all the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats back where they came from, no death here), I wouldn't push it, because we aren't ready. I can be pragmatic. I think we need to work towards education; we need to think about how we would live if there wasn't any government. What would society be like?

During the Spanish Civil War in this century, a number of villages had to function without the benefit of a government. It worked out OK until the war washed over them. Medieval Ireland had some of the same social traits. It's not impossible if we can stop thinking in the same old ways and do something new.

From: yoz@yoz.com (Yoz Grahame);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 15:16:15 -0000;
Ode to Joy

i wonder, bill, how
you can code all that java
without a shift key


From: jackbell@ricochet.net (Jack Bell);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 06:49:02 -0800;
Java and Bill Joy's responses

I just read the email conversation you had with Bill Joy. Very interesting. Does he really write everything in such a way that it looks like free-form poetry?

One thing I am very surprised at; nowhere did Mr. Joy make what I would see as the obvious recommendation were I in his position. Basically, if you want to incorporate Java intimately into your product then simply rewrite the product in Java.

Of course he may have realized that wasn't an option with you. But if he was that perceptive, why not acknowledge that Frontier's needs as a scripting environment do not fit well into the 100% Java initiative?

And your final answer to him is a response Sun will probably see more and more often over the next year. I wonder if Sun will have enough wisdom to look for ways to turn the lemons into lemonade?

From: dave@scripting.com (Dave Winer);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 05:13:17 -0800;
Re:"Free software and an innocent question..."

Thanks for asking, and I like your conclusion, RPC via XML and TCP cures a lot of ills. If you have a Mac or Windows machine around, you can have an ODB that's integrated into your network app. It works well now, and we'll be doing a lot more building on these interfaces.

We're not Sun or Netscape, with other businesses to support our development work, so we have to allocate our time carefully and aim towards projects that we expect to be able to generate revenue with. There are also technical problems with releasing the source for the ODB. Nothing unsolvable, but it's a matter of focus for our development team.

In a nutshell, the problem is that the ODB Engine release is created with IFDEFs from the entire Frontier source. To totally disconnect it from Frontier at a source level is a significant development project.

For these reasons I have been very careful not to recommend to any other developer that they release source.

Also note that we do release a lot of source. The entire object database that ships with Frontier 5 is released in source, including the website framework. A lot of the functionality of Frontier is implemented in the ODB, and a vibrant community has developed around this system. But we don't release source for the kernel, the editors, the runtime environment.

About versions for Unix, thank you for asking! I like it when people in the Unix world show respect for people who are not there. It's common for Unix people to talk down to us, and I find that very irritating because I came from Unix many years ago, and I know how hard it is to sweat the pixels on graphic machines, such as the Mac, that many Unix people view as toys.

From: roger@umich.edu (Roger Espinosa);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 07:56:02 -0500;
Free software and an innocent question...

I've been following your essays and comments about making Java free, and a tangent thought occured to me -- what's *your* stance regarding the ODB libraries?

With the arrival of Frontier5, I'm not sure how relevant or appropriate that question is, but the ODB is the thing that most amazes me about Frontier. I'dve loved to have seen it linkable to Hyper/SuperCard ... or available on Unix to link with Perl.

Alas, the ODB libraries were only released for Mac and Wintel, sans source. There never was time to *ask* about the ODB and Unix, so this isn't intended as finger pointing, just a curiosity.

(For some of the projects I'm working on, it would be very handy to have users build the data in Frontier, and then serve the content under Apache/Unix. Oh well. Click my sneakers three times and say: "There's no place like XML. There's no place like XML..." :-)

From: dely@earthlink.net (Dave Ely);
Sent at Thu, 29 Jan 1998 04:57:09 -0800;
Re:Netscape to Release Source

It's been a while since I last responded to some of the DaveNet flow, but this one seems entirely worthwhile. Several things come to mind after looking at the messages of the last few days and considering where this really puts us.

Many respondents seem to think this is going to cause chaos in the market. It's a definite possibility, but I don't think that's going to happen, because if Netscape has any idea what it's doing at all, they're going to be the clearing house for new versions.

With Netscape operating as a clearing house type operation, it should actually make it easier to keep platforms in sync. New, platform specific functionality will be submitted in one place, with all binaries echoed elsewhere, so that all platform developers will have the same kind of lead time to make sure that important features are implemented.

Netscape will also need to handle arbitration of cross platform library maintenance. This is the MOST difficult part of the equation. It's possible that much of the cross-platform stuff is already handled by the code in the various NS libs, but if not, it could become the most contentious part of the new distribution scheme.

Standards development is an area where IMO, this a major win for Netscape. It wasn't really possible in the past for a proposed extension to be easily added and tested by the web using community (at least using the current version of a popular browser).

Testing and verification of new proposed features for HTML, etc. is now much more likely to use the Netscape browser code; and nearly by default, these changes and additions will gravitate back to the main code base. This provides the Netscape server team(s) with at least one (or more) reasonable client implementations to test their server against.

The Microsoft response was well worth reading. I found it interesting that the two Microsoft responses were from the trenches. One believes that Netscape has pushed the HTML standard and platform independence envelope and hopes that Microsoft never does something as foolish. The other sees user security concerns as a major issue (and on this we're supposed to trust MS?).

>From my perspective, I see MS as having a new legal hurdle to deal with, at least eventually. IE 4.0.x is free, at least according the latest MS interpretation of free. It is also completely integrated into the desktop experience of Win95, if you install active desktop. Win '98 is aimed at making the 'browser' ubiquitous, and should therefore be made easily replaceable. The legal question I would ask (given the recent activity from the Justice Department), is why can't a free browser whose source is available to anyone be integrated at the same level as the 'free browser' from Microsoft?

The reason is obviously one of API documentation (for developers), but if you have free software competing with other free software, the reason to hide those APIs is gone. So why can't anyone access the APIs?

Java is another area where Netscape gains significantly, in terms of productivity, based on their previous commitments. Why should any browser be held to the stake for the operation of Java applets on a particular system? As long as they handle the basics of instantiating the users chosen Java VM, passing the applet off and handling normal (and abnormal) termination of the applet, anything else is the JVM's problem.

There has never been any good reason for the Navigator VM on the Mac to be different from that used elsewhere, except that at the time they added a lot of code so it generally worked better. These days, Mac users sometimes wish they had a choice. If Java sucks on the Mac, let's finally lay the blame at Apple's doorstep and let them fix it, instead of having multiple workarounds.

As long as the platform has a method of identifying installed VMs, Navigator ought to allow itself to adapt. If no VM is installed, they should just install the latest Sun VM and leave it at that.

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