Fun_People Archive
8 Oct
Sun Java, Microsoft I.E. 4.0, Shoebox, & Jargon

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed,  8 Oct 97 17:35:56 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: Sun Java, Microsoft I.E. 4.0, Shoebox, & Jargon

Excerpted-from: TBTF for 10/6/97: Can you dig it?

T a s t y   B i t s   f r o m   t h e   T e c h n o l o g y   F r o n t

Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications
technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994

Your Host: Keith Dawson

This issue: < >

...Sun sues Microsoft over Java incompatibility

  Sun cries fowl after testing IE4's Java implementation;
  Microsoft says "balderdash"

By now you've heard about the lawsuit [1], [2] filed on 10/7; it was
front-page news in the New York Times on 10/8. After testing the Java
implementation in Internet Explorer 4.0, Sun filed suit [3] accusing
Microsoft of false advertising, trademark infringement, and breach of
contract. Microsoft responded aggressively [4], calling Sun's claims
"outrageous." IE4's Java lacks two components in its implementation of
version 1.1 of the Java SDK, and Sun claims it found about 40 modifications
to the Java language, including to its underlying class hierarchy. The
changes seem to be mostly in aid of making Java run faster under Microsoft
operating systems. The fur- ious spinning by both sides obscures the real
dispute, which centers on the exact language of the contract Microsoft
signed with Sun in April 1996. Did Microsoft commit to producing only 100%
pure Java forevermore? The contract is still confidential although both
sides have said they are willing to disclose it publicly.


...IE 4.0: bright spots and shadows

  Microsoft broke records for downloads of its eagerly awaited new
  browser, but a couple of troubling questions have arisen

In the first two days after Microsoft made Internet Explorer 4.0 available,
users downloaded 1.2 million copies [5]. At 20 MB a pop, this represents a
copy every 6 seconds, or an average download band- width equivalent to three
T3s. Many more copies were distributed by 20+ mirror sites -- no central
figures exist. An additional two hun- dred thousand left Redmond on CD-ROM,
and Microsoft announced a deal with Sony to bundle IE4 on Sony music CDs.
(I wonder if, when I buy the latest Fiona Apple CD, Microsoft counts me as
a customer on the way to its stated goal of 50% of the browser market?)

In the midst of the enormous popularity of this software a couple of warning
flags have appeared (in addition to the questions raised by IE4's swift but
deviant Java implementation -- see above). First, IE4 provides a powerful
new way for content providers to log user actions. Second, an early survey
questions the inherent wisdom of Microsoft's strategy of unifying Net and

1. Channel Definition Format. When you subscribe to push information using
IE4's built-in facilities, providers can log your access to their content
even if you went through an anonymizing proxy server, and even if your
access came from your local cache and not over the Net. IE4's channel
definition format [6] includes a feature, LOG- TARGET, that allows a
Web-site provider to command IE4 to deliver logs of your usage via an HTTP
POST or PUT directive. It's not clear whether the provider could include
other sites in its channel defin- ition to obtain, for example, logs of your
usage of competing ser- vices. Below is an extract from Microsoft's site
[7] where the LOGTARGET directive is defined.

      > Logging Declarations

      > Specifies where to upload a client's page-hit log file in Ex-
      > tended Log File Format.

      > HREF="url"
      >     Required. Specifies the URL of where the log file should
      >     be sent.
      > METHOD="POST" | "PUT"
      >     Required. Specifies the HTTP method to be used for sending
      >     the data. [RFC 1945]
      > SCOPE="ALL" | "OFFLINE" | "ONLINE"
      >     Specifies which type of page hits should be logged. Page
      >     hits can be logged for offline (read from local cache)
      >     or online (read from URL) browsing. The default for this
      >     attribute is "ALL", which logs both types of hits.
      >     When the log file is being uploaded, any page hits older
      >     than PURGETIME will not be reported.

      > Example:

      > <LOGTARGET HREF=""
      >     Method="POST" SCOPE="OFFLINE">
      >     <PURGETIME HOUR="12"/>
      > </LOGTARGET>

Thanks to Jamie McCarthy <> for the first forward of
information on this troubling feature.

2. Do users want integration? C|net performed a survey [8] asking users
whether or not they think Web/desktop integration is a good idea. 59% said
no. One user commented:

      > I just wanted a browser! What does wanting to look at
      > Web pages with the latest tech have to do with changing
      > my (somewhat) perfectly working Windows? I like my
      > apartment just fine, thank you. I don't care if my stereo
      > thinks it'd be more convenient if my toilet flushed
      > automatically.


...Funny but no

  When good things happen to bad greeting cards

Today's contender for the most apposite use of the Web is Shoebox
Greetings, which likes to call itself "a tiny little division of
Hallmark." This site [19] saves from oblivion the outtakes of the
Shoebox creative staff -- the gags that might have been a little too
peculiar [20], or a little too offensive [21], for the countenance
of a wholesome, family-oriented publisher of greeting cards. Thanks
to Nina Eppes <> for the pointer.


...Jargon Scout: the preternaturally wired

  Quick, give me a term for people who years ago installed a T1
  line at home

Jargon Scout is an irregular TBTF feature that aims to give you
advance warning -- preferably before Wired Magazine picks it up --
of jargon that is just about ready to hatch into the Net's language.
Jargon Scout also invites your collusion in inventing the jargon du
jour, in those cases in which the concept emerges before its con-
census denomination.

What should we call those folks who, long before the availability
of cable modems or even nailed-down ISDN lines, convinced the
phone company to run a dedicated wire into their house -- 56 Kbps
frame relay or T1 -- for full-time Net connectivity at a fixed IP
address? Ippies, that's what, according to Adam Engst and Geoff

...A fable

  Alice encounters a kingdom whose citizens can export wheels only if
  they have four sides

We'll close on a whimsical note: the fable ([23], alternate at [24])
of a kingdom that wants to limit the export of wheels for reasons of
easier law enforcement, though the neighboring lands all have them,
and so declares that only square wheels can be manufactured for sale
abroad. Any resemblance to laws restricting crypto export is purely
intentional. The fable appeared on the Cypherpunks mailing list last
summer; the author is unknown.


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