Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

the madness of war

We'd all heard about the man in the Highlands who was "building his own gook," parts were the least of his troubles. In Chu Lai some marines pointed a man out to me and sweore to God they'd seen him bayonet a wounded NVA and then lick the bayonet clean. There was a famous story, some reporters asked a door gunner, "How can you shoot women and children?" and he'd answered, "It's easy, you just don't lead them so much." Well, they said you needed a sense of humor, there you go, even the VC had one. Once after an ambush that killed a lot of Americans, they covered the field with copies of a photograph that showed one more young dead American, with the punch line mimeographed on the back, "Your X-rays have just come back from the lab and we think we know what your problem is."

on the Vietnam War, from Dispatches by Michael Herr.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 8:43 PM

why weblogs are good

Ray Ozzie comments on why weblogs are good for discussion. His point is basically the same I was making a few days ago. Maybe we are all reaching a better understanding of what weblogs are, and then we'll be able to improve them along these lines.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 7:45 PM

plan b

The Plan B experiment continues, and I am compiling a list of things that seem to constrain the narrative. It's been interesting so far... A few minutes ago it passed 20,000 hits total in the Salon Rankings page(accumulated in a little more than two weeks), with the Slashdot effect accounting for about 60% of that, in only two days. Many good ideas came out of the slashdot discussion.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 6:38 PM

A client-friendly Java

While Java seems to have established itself well in the server side, it doesn't appear to have made much of a dent on the client side. People say this is because Java is too slow, because Windows doesn't include Java, because Java programs don't integrate well with the local desktop...

All of those reasons are good, but there's one that rarely gets press and that should be the starting point for any "attack on the desktop:" Installation.

The only solution we have today to create an easy-to-install Java app is to bundle the JRE with the application and set everything up in our own installation.

Consider what would happen if you didn't: You have JAR files, optional packages, JREs. If you have multiple JREs, they step on each other, and there's no clear way of specifying one over another programatically (from inside the Java program). If you install both JRE 1.3 and then JRE 1.3.1, they reside in different directories. Installing JRE 1.4 creates another one. And so on.

You could use Java Web Start. But then people have to go to a Sun Micro page with a 5,000 word disclaimer, instructions and more instructions only to install something that has no relation to your application: it's the runtime, but why should the user know there is a runtime?

The Java Runtime should be an invisible component. A user should never see a program group that says "Java Runtime Environment 1.3.1". Why would they be interested in that? They aren't, of course.

So how to fix it? Well, Java Webstart is already close to a good solution, it just needs a few changes. Make it so that if it finds an older version (e.g., 1.4.1 installing over 1.4) the older version will be removed. Make it so the installation is a one-click deal, just like the Java-Plugin for IE.

Then allow the JNLP (Java Network Launching Protocol) to bypass the "Java Webstart mini window" completely. It only adds confusion and groups Java programs together, another thing that an end-user won't understand: people don't care about programming languages.

If this was in place, the cycle to install a Java program would be like this:

A user goes to a webpage and clicks on a link to download the program they want. A script checks on the local machine for the necessary Java Webstart/JRE version. If it doesn't find it, a dialog appears informing the user that a runtime component will be downloaded and installed. One click: Yes or no? If yes, the JRE/JWS downloads and installs automatically, then passing control back to the script. The script then downloads the JAR, creates an icon and a group for the newly installed program, and presto: It's ready to run.

Some day...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 12:04 PM

portable pollution

The UN Environment Programme released a study of a cloud of gases hundreds of square miles in surface and two miles thick, which could travel around the world in a week, doing everything from affecting temperatures and crops to creating acid rain. Just send your request and they'll send some pollution your way...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 11:24 AM

Copyright © Diego Doval 2002-2011.