News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 5/6/98

From: tonys@magna.com.au (Tony Stevenson);
Sent at Thu, 7 May 1998 18:53:41 +1000;
Re:Yo Quiero Scripting News?

I work with BestWare/Data-Tech Software the folks behind M.Y.O.B. - the multi-award winning business accounting software see http://www.myob.com/

Times have changed. Intuit stopped developing QuickBooks for Mac. PeachTree got out of the Mac market. Meanwhile we keep pumping out Mac versions.

The recent Apple/Intuit shenanigans would make you wonder why you would bother. What signals are they trying to send. Perhaps we should put up the white flag too and see how well Apple sweet talk us.

That's not how we do business but unfortunately it seems to work. Oh well such is life in the hands of key platform vendors.

From: hen@oven.com (Henry Bar-Levav);
Sent at Wed, 6 May 1998 16:33:01 -0700;
Re:Yo Quiero Scripting News?

like all dogs that we love, the dog farts. Yay!

Your newsletter has Shakespearean range, speaking eloquently to the software aristocracy, and broadly to those of us in the cheap seats. That's why I'm a loyal reader.


From: jreese@nxt.com (Reese, Jim);
Sent at Wed, 6 May 1998 18:21:46 -0400;
Re:Yo Quiero Scripting News?

It's true that up to a point people make money to buy things. But if you get enough money, you get something else besides "things" -- you get exempted from the rules that everyone else has to obey. (This is part of the definition of "power.") I think this is what motivates some people to put forth extraordinary effort to gain great wealth. Being beyond the rules that apply to "mere mortals" must be quite intoxicating!

From: gmeece@ra.avid.com (Greg Meece);
Sent at Wed, 6 May 1998 14:10:16 -0700;
Re:Yo Quiero Scripting News?

The Taco Bell dog gets his facial emotions via Elastic Reality - created here in Madison, WI. They're closing down this site (and I won't be going with them to the Boston area), but it was nice while it lasted. This software package is still shipping on the Mac, Windows, and SGI.


Some of the movies and TV shows it's been used for:


Fresh from a probably orchestrated victory with Intuit (look, a developer comes back to the Mac), it looks like a great win, but Intuit's CEO is an Apple director and in all likelihood knew exactly what Apple's plans are.

My former supervisor (from a previous company) is/was on the Mac team at Intuit as a lead developer. He says that development on Mac Quicken was actually halted last September. Apparently, Intuit has been sitting on this information since that time. According to my friend, Bill Campbell was quite serious about shutting down Mac development (remember, he used to be with Apple and Claris). I'm not sure what the actual posturing and politics are here, but I think that it was less in Apple's interest to let things escalate like they did than it would have been for Intuit to remain silent. My $.02.

I fully support your right to feel insulted with the Chris Nolan piece, but I do not. No, I don't like to be treated as an inferior or a pet or whatever. No one gender (or race, or whatever) should look down upon another for their differences. Not having read the piece, I don't know if she took a real nasty tone or what, but I know that all of us have certain expectations in relationships.

To some extent, women as a group have different expectations from relationships than men do as a group. All of us tend to be myopic and assume that our perspective is the right one. Even when we're aware of what is happening, we often try to manipulate others to conform to our expectations, especially in close relationships. Thus, a comment about "training" someone else can also be seen as subtle self-deprecating humor.

We all can learn something from each other. My wife had to "train" me in certain areas. I had to "train" her in others. What do I mean? She had certain strengths she has gently (and sometimes, not-so-gently) imparted to me over the 16 years we've been together. And, I to her.

No, let's not degrade each other or dimish our personhood. But let's also try to see beyond the language of the moment, to see what's in someone's heart. And, I appreciate your causing all involved to at least take a look at this issue.

From: markg@albany.net (Mark Gilliland);
Sent at Wed, 6 May 1998 14:03:56 -0700;
Re:Yo Quiero Scripting News?

A fascinating discussion on the Frontier-XML mail list about whether XML is really that juicy or if it will turn out to be another SGML with more headlines? It could go that way, or there could be bridges that make all kinds of things work with XML without a single line of code changing.

Just wanted to point out that companies like Real Networks are betting the farm on SMIL - which is "xml-ish" syntax (as they say). And internal stream control of RealPIX and RealTEXT is all xml-ish.

Supposedly vendors like Macromedia are adding SMIL support to their tools.

From: lcox@neta.com (Larry Cox);
Sent at Wed, 06 May 1998 11:57:58 -0700;
Bill Gates

I suspect that Bill Gates is a great deal like any of the rest of us in many ways. Many times I wish I could influence things that I have absolutely no control over. For a person in Bill's position, influence is the thing that makes a difference at this point. Money may be a measurement of a persons influence but other than that, when one has enough for ones basic needs and a reserve for when one no longer has income, it has no particular value. It is just numbers on a balance sheet.

As a measure of influence, when one controls enough money to put ones competition completely out of business without blatantly breaking the law, one will be listened to. The biggest kid on the block gets to say what game we play even if no one else wants to play that game. It is particularly true if the smaller kids on the block compete to be second in line rather than working together to make their voices heard. In this industry, working together has virtually never been done. While I was working at Sperry, the marketing department decided that the version of UNIX that we were creating must not be compatible with any other version. If we were compatible, our customers would be able to buy systems from other vendors and move their software with very little trouble leaving us without customers. The potential customers stayed away in droves due to the incompatible operating system. Since Burroughs absorbed Sperry, it is impossible to say whether the marketing department was completely wrong. They are gone and so is the product.

What most people fail to realize is that, as an operating system, MS DOS was basically just a broken, non-reentrant subset of UNIX. Windows was just another display manager based on the Xerox research and glued onto the broken base. WIN95 was an attempt to patch up some of the more blatant points of failure. OS2 was an attempt to create a new base but it failed due to political friction between Microsoft and IBM and the number of problems that OS2 had in the first 2 or 3 versions. (Lack of basic operating system knowledge in the development team plus a marketing team that had to much influence.) NT appears in many ways to be a reworked version of VAX VMS. It was obsolete before it was released the first time and hasn't gotten better since. It is important not to confuse the applications with the operating system. Many of the applications that are part of the NT package are very pleasant to work with. However, they are not the system. They are applications that run on the system. If an operating system such as the MACH OS developed at CMU had had even 2% of the development effort put into it that Microsoft has put into their proprietary software, we would have been using ten years ago the computer system that Microsoft portrays in their advertising today but cannot deliver.

As a software developer you know how much time and trouble goes into maintaining a large software base. Microsoft has stated - as if they are proud of the fact - that there are over 20 million lines of code in NT 5.0. If there is one significant bug for each 1000 lines of code, a number that I believe from experience may be an underestimate, there are at least 20,000 significant bugs in NT 5.0. Since it is significantly easier to remove the bugs from a small block of code, the software industry started a conceptual migration away from the monolithic approach to software design more than 10 years ago. The alternatives do not lend themselves to the "lock the customer into the software base" approach nearly as well so it has been growing rather slowly. Microsoft's philosophy, as stated in court, is completely monolithic. Their objective is to incorporate into their basic software package everything that the typical corporate customer may need. This sounds generous on the surface and may have an attractive appearance since everything is designed to work together. As technology changes, it becomes progressively harder to maintain the package. It is therefor in the interests of a company that provides such a package to delay the progress of technology. And since an unreliable software base tends to create unhappy customers, it becomes progressively more important to eliminate competition for that package. If Microsoft can succeed in linking the Internet and MS Windows, replacing Windows software with a better alternative becomes much less likely, even if the Windows system works very poorly.

This is getting rather long and I have work that I have to get done today so I better send this off and wait for another provocation to produce another rant.

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