News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 3/2/98

From: jpugh@Adobe.COM (Jon Pugh);
Sent at Tue, 3 Mar 1998 09:45:16 -0800;

Tesler hemmed and hawed. Mike Maples, then a Microsoft exec, was within earshot. He said Tesler, the top R&D guy at Apple didn't have the power to make the decision. I tried lobbying for this idea among Apple execs after Gates's public statement, but all I got was silence. My belief, now, seven years later, is that no one at Apple was empowered to make this kind of decision, amazing as that may seem.

I think you nailed it with this observation. Apple's lack of executive authority was one of the greatest problems I saw when I was at Apple from 92 to 97. In addition to not having anyone firmly in charge, there were plenty of people who weren't afraid to veto action because "you don't have the authority to do that." This is hardly the way to get things done and it's one of the reasons that Apple was so fond of skunkworks projects. If no one knows that you're doing something, they can't try and stop you.

I've always said that Microsoft's greatest strength lies in the fact that Bill is clearly the Boss. Regardless of whether he makes all the decisions; he has the power and he passes that power to his subordinates, who then have the power to make decisions in their realms. In addition, if there's a cross functional decision that needs to be made, it goes up the management chain and gets made. OLE and COM are both fine examples of how decisions are propagated upward and then throughout Microsoft.

Apple executives never had this kind of clear authority. With Sculley, it was Demo of the Week which determined what projects were important, while Heir Diesel couldn't make a decision if Apple's life depended on it. I think Amelio tried to stop the infighting, but he didn't seem to have the chutzpah to carry it off, and inviting Steve back was his final mistake.

I think Apple is currently suffering from Steve's abuse of this decision making power and his inability to share it. He doesn't authorize people to make decisions. In fact, reports indicate that he loves to negate and reverse his underling's decisions. This makes people afraid to act.

I suspect this is the crucial difference which accounts for Microsoft's continued successes and Apple's continual failures.

Of course, Microsoft was blessed at birth too, with IBM as their godfather; while Apple was the hippy son who got rich and moved to a commune. ;)

From: jamie@fast.net (Jamie Scheinblum);
Sent at Tue, 3 Mar 1998 11:25:10 -0500;
SQL -> xml

First off, I'm really, really impressed with your work in XML. It's ground breaking!

Second, in response to your post about SQL -> XML, I started work two days ago on adding an XML interface to http://www.ravedata.com/. This site is powered by the Solid (http://www.solidtech.com/) SQL engine, the Apache webserver, perl, DBI/DBD as the SQL access layer, and custom scripts that output to HTML and shortly XML.

We hope to not only make the results of every search output in XML, but hope to use the libwww-perl (http://www.sn.no/libwww-perl/) library to write basic XML interface to query other related sites.

I'll have a URL for you hopefully tomorrow, but it's possible!

From: kcalder@andrew.cmu.edu (Keith Calder);
Sent at Mon, 2 Mar 1998 09:21:28 -0500;
Re:Clinton and Silicon Valley

When you think it through, we may already live in a police state. You don't know how's reading and archiving your email.

I think that's more the definition of a nosy state, not a police state. I think the best police state test would be, "Can I say that I live in a police state without getting killed by the police?" If the answer is no, then you probably live in a police state. In other words, I think America is quite far from a police state.

From: dippe@ped.gu.se (Gunther Dippe);
Sent at Mon, 2 Mar 1998 04:11:58 -0800;
Re:Clinton and Silicon Valley

We have the same kind of Clinton problem here in Sweden with our goverment so desperately trying to control the citizens.

The moral behind it; because of the few abusers, the majority should suffer (similar to the UN - Iraq conflict).

The way to go is via open dialogue, arguments based on facts, respect for each others' opinions and a real urge to solve the problems. Our kids start learning this in first grade but apparently it's not valid or useful knowledge in the society.

From: steve@woz.org (Steve Wozniak);
Sent at Mon, 2 Mar 1998 04:10:43 -0800;
Re:Clinton and Silicon Valley

Clinton is obviously breaking his word to his wife.

Listening very carefully to what the two of them say publicly, it all fits into a scenario where long ago she accepted what he did. Phrases like "we've been married 22 years" and "you pretty well know the other person after that long" and "I did nothing wrong" all fit an 'open' marriage agreement between spouses. As long as they have some agreement of their own, he's not even violating any domestic vows. Go back as far as you want and everything they say fits this scenario.

Yet any fool knows that if she said "what you do is your business" she also said "as long as you're discrete about it." I don't think that he kept this 'discrete' promise to her.

From: barlow@eff.org (John Perry Barlow);
Sent at Mon, 2 Mar 1998 04:13:41 -0800;
Re:Clinton and Silicon Valley

This is the man with his finger on the button. So when he lives dangerously, the rest of us are too.

What button? Surely you don't think we still have one. The most powerful button in the world is the mouse button, and you may be sure he doesn't have his finger on that. As someone once said of Frederick the Great "We were spared his despotism by his incompetance."

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