Explosions and Debris (Week of May 12)

/> From time to time, we all change browsers. It's either to experiment with something new or flee from something distasteful.

This week I fled from Safari.

It's because I visit hundreds of Websites and their links everyday. I go into uncharted territory. My favorite RSS reader, the free, open source Vienna, doesn't care what the selected Website is going to do to my browser, and for too long now I have had just too many crashes with Safari. Of course, that's a real pain in my line of work because my tabs are my queue of stories. After a crash, I have to get back to the state I was in so I can continue to work. As a result, a crash is just plain unacceptable.

For the last week, I have been using OmniWeb 5.7, and it's hasn't crashed once. Nada. Zero. It's been a joy to use thanks to the thumbnail tabs that give me a visual reminder of the pages I want to re-visit and perhaps work on next.

Safari is a great browser, don't get me wrong. Both OmniWeb and Safari use Webkit as their rendering engine, so I'll guess that OmniWeb is just a little better coded. Whatever the case, I'm using OmniWeb and loving it. YMMV.

Last week my wife attended JavaOne in San Francisco. I mentioned a few things in last week's blog, but there's one more item to attend to. At WWDC last year, Apple told developers that there would be no 64-bit Carbon. Only Cocoa would be converted to 64-bit. I was in that session, and wrote about it obliquely at Hidden Dimensions. Basically, you would have thought Apple had executed Al Gore. Apple speakers were cornered, and there were harsh words.

The same thing happened at JavaOne last week in a session devoted to Java and Mac OS X. The two speakers were from Oracle and accompanied by a rather young fellow from Apple who clearly didn't have the authority to speak for Apple. What came up in the session was the fact that, a year after Java 6 was released, Apple finally got around to Java 6 for Mac OS X, but only on Intel and only on 64-bit Intel. That irked a lot of people in the session, and they let the poor Apple and Oracle guys have it.

In my mind, the issue is embracing a community as a partner instead of setting one's own agenda. That's important because Apple has a lot at stake in the Java community. It's a preferred platform for development (Nimbus, for example), a lot of the computers on stage and in the audiences were Macs, and Apple loves to cite how Java just works on Mac OS X.

Back in the days of Classic, it took Apple a year to certify each major release of Java. With the introduction of a UNIX OS, Mac OS X, the gist was that getting new releases of Java certified on the Mac would be a no-brainer. But, regrettably, we're back to a one year delay.

Now, Java 7 is out with some very exciting new capabilities.

So. Back to the partnership issue. When a company works with a community like Java, it's important to assume some responsibility and leadership. Abandoning one segment for inscrutable reasons embarrasses all concerned. You don't just go your own way and lamely say that you don't have the time or resources. You pick your partners and support them. In this case, Apple has made a visible misstep in the Java community, and when that happens the community looks for a new bride, a new champion who works with them instead of acting selfishly.

Did I mention there were more than 15,000 attendees at JavaOne? WWDC has never dreamed of being that big.

There wasn't a lot of secondary news this week, stuff I call debris. However, I did see one article that I really liked that discussed the future of LTE and WiMax. Both standards are available for long range, wireless, high speed communication. Sprint has already rolled out WiMax, but the major carriers, Verizon and AT&T are looking to use Long Term Evolution (LTE) a 4G technology. The prospects, issues and performance of each technology was looked at in detail. For those who have an iPhone and monitor the developments of wireless technology, this Computerworld story is a great read.

Yesterday, Jacqui Cheng at ars technica wrote a story about an incident in which NBC turned on a broadcast flag and kept Vista customers from recording prime-time TV shows. It may have been an accident since DIRECTV customers were apparently not affected. The story serves to remind us that a lot of the invisible code in Vista is geared towards DRM and that the studios are always balancing their own quest for totalitarian control against the screams and howls of customers.

In related event, I had to complain to the CBS affiliate in Denver about NCIS not being broadcast in HD when it should have been. It turned out, according to a KCNC spokesperson I contacted, that on election nights, CBS does what's called a squeezeback to preserve bandwidth and make room for election coverage that rides along in the same bandwidth. As a result, there was none left for NCIS in HD! As in the case of NBC, I think it's a good idea to develop a list of contacts and yell when stuff like this happens. If you don't, the networks have to conclude that no one notices or cares when they cut corners and we keep on paying.

OK. Time for the debris and dust to settle.