Lump of Links for April 11

  • The JRE Class White List - Google App Engine
    Whether you agree with Sun policing it or not, Java compatibility has served us all very well for over a decade. That includes being sure as a developer that all core classes are present on all platforms. Creating sub-sets of the core classes in the Java platform was forbidden for a really good reason, and it's wanton and irresponsible to casually flaunt the rules.
    Update: Read my full explanation.
  • e-Voting Fail - Municiple Elections Must Be Rerun in Finland
    Using voting machines, the error rate was 10x that of a normal election. The minister of justice, Tuija Brax, has announced the termination of the trial. She also says that if electronic voting is used in the future, it has to be made more reliable even for a trial, employ a verifiable paper trail, and consider the use of open source software.
  • Police medic in job creation scheme
    No wonder the British police don't want people taking photographs of them. Expect there to be people at future deomstrations specifically initimidating photographers.
  • Sweden targets strippers for tax
    "The search involves tax officials examining websites that feature Swedish strippers, in an effort to identify them and chase them for tax returns. ... 'When we investigated the sites manually it worked better'." Tax inspectors know all the loop-holes. May be the first time in recorded history that applications for jobs as tax inspectors have exceeded vacancies.
  • On Newspapers and Google: What's the Real Problem Here? What Do Readers Want?
    "It is news only if you redefine news as a way to pay the bills. Short term, it might pay some bills, but long term, it kills your news business, because you end up being not very important to anyone and disgusting even yourself."
  • World Builder
    All-round excellent video - visionary futurism, touching story, great video technology. 10 minutes of pure awesome.
Comments:

"flout" not "flaunt"

Posted by Grammar Pacifist on April 13, 2009 at 08:04 AM PDT #

From Wikipedia (emphasis added):
"Java Platform, Micro Edition or Java ME (still commonly referred to by its previous name: Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition or J2ME) is a specification of a \*subset of the Java platform\*"

From your post:
"Creating sub-sets of the core classes in the Java platform was forbidden for a really good reason, and it's wanton and irresponsible to casually flaunt the rules."

So ... do as I say, not as I do?

Posted by Jeremy on April 13, 2009 at 08:28 AM PDT #

Grammerian: Actually, I meant "flaunt", and you'd do well to figure out why as it tells more of the story nicely, but yes, "flout" fits the gap too even if it doesn't result in a meaning I believe.

Jeremy: Those profiles are created as part of the JCP, not as an arbitrary action of a company that finds following the specs inconvenient.

Posted by Simon Phipps on April 13, 2009 at 08:39 AM PDT #

Hello Simon,

Being able to subset arbitrarily is an important feature of free software. If it was not for this, we would not have such a wide range of Linux distributions suited for particular uses.

This is what has empowered Linux-based solutions to create all of these long-tail based configurations where Linux is specially qualified due to its malleability to be employed.

In the Mono universe people constantly take Mono bits and pieces and reuse the pieces that they actually need. For example, Unity picks a subset that fits their needs and they created a gaming platform for it. They took this a step further when they brought Mono to the iPhone which has some unique requirements and in effect every Unity/Mono game has a different subset.

Let us all embrace diversity.

Posted by Miguel de Icaza on April 13, 2009 at 08:59 AM PDT #

I feel embarrassed responding after an eloquent post from a Linux great like Miguel, but I just wanted to respond a little more directly to Simon's point.

J2ME is:
\* a subset of Java
\* created by a company (Sun)
\* using a process (JCP)
\* that said company (Sun) came up with
\* for a specific platform's (mobile's) needs

App Engine's Java is:
\* a subset of Java
\* created by a company (Google)
\* using a process (App Enginge team decides stuff)
\* that said company (Google) came up with
\* for a specific platform's (app engine's) needs

Sure there's a difference between a single company (Google) doing something vs. a committee in an organization that is ultimately controlled by a single company (Sun) doing something ... but that's not really relevant to what Mr. Phipps wrote.

Mr. Phipps wrote that it was "wanton and irresponsible" to prevent people from "being sure as a developer that all core classes are present on all platforms". He said nothing about "unless it's done by a Sun approved committee, in which case those developers can expect squat and like it." ;-)

So, unless he further qualifies his statements, I still don't see how this isn't essentially a rephrasing of "do as I say, not as I do".

Posted by Jeremy on April 13, 2009 at 09:19 AM PDT #

I don't believe for a moment that you actually meant "flaunt". But if so, I'm eager to know why you think Google is ostentatiously displaying Sun's rules.

Posted by Chris on April 13, 2009 at 09:22 AM PDT #

Heh, clearly I didn't have enough coffee this morning. Mr. Phipps, for some reason I didn't realize that you were the one responding; please excuse the confusing wording (referring to "Mr. Phelps" and "Simon" as different people) of my post.

Posted by Jeremy on April 13, 2009 at 09:29 AM PDT #

Sun (ok, Simon) is jealous because someone is actually putting Java to good use?

Try finding any other (cheap) Java hosting solution... good luck.

If Sun had come up with the "app server friendly" 'spec' 10 years ago Java would be everywhere.

Instead we get ASP/PHP/CGI/SSI/etc. JSP hosting can be found but it certainly isn't the norm.

Posted by K S on April 13, 2009 at 09:48 AM PDT #

K S, no kidding. hosting-review dot com's "Top 10" lists had to be renamed to exclude the "10" for "Top JSP Hosting Companies" ... they could only find 7.

Posted by Anon on April 13, 2009 at 09:53 AM PDT #

Google isn't changing the java specs. They're simply saying that if you want them to host your app on \*their\* infrastructure, you have to play by certain rules. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Posted by Steve on April 13, 2009 at 09:54 AM PDT #

Hi Miguel.

I agree with you completely when it comes to implementations. Open source is driven by that freedom and its variants. My unease comes more from Google's market-making power with APIs than from anything at the individual geek level or connected with units of code. And you and I already know we view that sort of thing with differing emphases.

My original comment (which was just a Tweet so hardly the basis for a press article or hermeneutics, but never mind!) flowed from a previous job, at IBM, where I spent a lot of energy helping people see the value of a single set of Java APIs that a developer could be sure would be everywhere. In that context alone, as someone who was there at the start of Java, I think it's a pity that Google has unilateraly defined an arbitrary web profile for the Java platform that will get very widely used and will impact developers and implementors everywhere. I hope they will go on to work at the JCP to formalise a web profile.

Jeremy: Well yes, of course that's what I meant!

Chris: Not going to that pace just yet.

Others: Please avoid slashdot-style comments here, I will delete them. And note I have no idea yet what other people at Sun think about all this, I am on vacation and as it says at the foot of the page speaking only for myself...

Posted by Simon Phipps on April 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM PDT #

I love Sun. But, this is just the kind of attitude that keeps you guys down. First off this is a huge victory for Java. So many people, such as me. have been clamoring for a way to host Java sites (compare the number of places you can host PHP vs. Java, there is no way you can say Java has parity). The options are quite limited. And, most virtulization strategies require you to host a whole OS (please don't hit me with the zone stuff; I'm talking EC2 etc here).

Second, if this is so horrible then why don't you (Sun) come up with a competing offering rather than attacking a potential partner. You have/had a Grid/Cloud offering, you make hardware and OS. Yet, still you guys cannot seem to get it together to build the next step: say a real competitor to EC2. How does belittling a good first pass offering from another company help that?

Last time I checked, and the time before that, Sun was pushing on zero profit, while Google is netting enough to buy Sun in less than a year. Why is that? Its not lack of talent or resources. Its this strange complacent attitude that has overtaken Sun management. This kind of defense of Open Source purity is just an outcropping of that. Again, if you feel that way then build your own. In general, Google seems to be doing ok by Open Source (I know they have failings, but so do you).

To use the standard Java must be the same everywhere argument does not really hold water here. And, frankly judging by the response to Google's offering many other Java devs are excited too (and don't care about that arg). It also dismiss the fact that the Java API's have become vast. Isn't it possible that for performance reasons (and security) there is a good rationale for slimming them down; esp. on a Beta Level service.

Sun needs to face the fact that while it is great at developing new ideas its lousy at monetizing them. The problem here is Sun's not Google's. I say that as someone who loves Solaris, Sun Hardware and all the amazing things Sun has produced. You guys need to start building deeply on your core foundations; not cutting down the efforts of others

Posted by Richard Goodwin on April 13, 2009 at 10:35 AM PDT #

Richard: I'll give you the benefit of the doubt as you were probably typing when I made my earlier comment but to be clear for future posters:
\* I am not making a comment on Sun's behalf here
\* I am speaking from the perspective of someone who did Java advocacy in the late 90s
\* I am not commenting on the merits of Java hosting
\* I have no insight into Sun's cloud product plans
\* I'll likely delete posts like this one that belong on /.

Posted by Simon Phipps on April 13, 2009 at 10:54 AM PDT #

Regardless of vendors changing the core framework of Java (although I do understand the importance of them not doing so), I think it's a much more pressing issue that SUN starts leaning over the shoulder of Apple, which has managed to create a nearly unusable distribution of Java.

A project i've been working on can't be run with the Java 1.6 version due to inconsistencies in how it handles 64-bit JNIs, and with the Java 1.5 VM, it runs at 1/3 the speed of the same code running in 32-bit Java 1.6 on Windows.

Macs have been gaining a true stronghold in Computer Science where I live, and Java happens to be "the tool of the trade" when you need to get something done. Apple has regardless of the need of their customers, managed to mangle the tool, and in the process, soil the good name of SUN.

I may sound bitter, but I've been fighting Apple with torches and pitchforks for half a decade now, and they still don't listen. So my pledge is - SUN - please, lean over and tell them to do it right or take over the process like you do for Windows...

Posted by Thor on April 13, 2009 at 01:43 PM PDT #

"I am not commenting on the merits of Java hosting"

Well then what is the Google App Engine?? The line between application hosting and "cloud computing" is pretty thin and pretty grey.

The reason Java is not synonymous with Web (relative to PHP) is because of the issues Google is trying to rectify here.

Why they didn't do it through a JCP is a separate issue I'd be curious about. Is there bad blood? Is it too complicated? Is it too time consuming? Is it easier to ask for forgiveness after? Is it easier to start the JCP process after a "reference implementation" exists (ala Groovy)? many possibilities.

Posted by K S on April 14, 2009 at 12:07 AM PDT #

Java ME: Mobile Edition
Java SE: "Standard" Edition
Java EE: Enterprise Edition

and now...
Java WE: Web Edition

which is really a hybrid of the three. it is "less not more" like ME, but includes some capabilities and restrictions similar to EE.

Posted by Chris on April 14, 2009 at 12:11 AM PDT #

"The reason Java is not synonymous with Web (relative to PHP) is because of the issues Google is trying to rectify here."

What issues would that be? You mean effectively removing all enterprise features including management and monitoring. So it get the "scalability" but with the ability to actual monitor what your application is doing and to reconcile resource usage with your monthly bill from google.

Posted by William Louth on April 14, 2009 at 03:25 AM PDT #

"The reason Java is not synonymous with Web (relative to PHP) is because of the issues Google is trying to rectify here."

What issues would that be? You mean effectively removing all enterprise features including management and monitoring. So you get the "scalability" but WIHOUT the ability to actual monitor what your application is doing and to reconcile resource usage with your monthly bill from google.

Posted by guest on April 14, 2009 at 03:26 AM PDT #

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