Just as these days of crisis have made for sparse technology news, the health of the technology industry has gone "from bad to worse," according to a Siliconvalley.com article. Confidence among individual consumers is down (athough I personally witnessed brisk traffic at a local outlet mall over the weekend) but more importantly, businesses are postponing large expenditures of PCs, enterprise software and other high tech equipment.
While high technology has had a major effect on the U.S. military arsenal, strategists warn that high tech weapons may not be enough to achieve importatnt aims in the U.S. war on terrorism. Capturing Osama bin Laden, for example, will likely be achieved only through local help and the old fasioned art of making friends with locals in the know. An Associated Press story outlines some of the major high tech tools to be used by the U.S. military in its search for bin Laden, and their recent track record.
A SiliconValley.com article discusses the latest high tech security devices available today and in the near future. Vendors have been quick to capitalize on the world's paranoia, offering gadgets that range from face recognition systems to microwave powered incapacitation rays to full-body x-ray machines.
PC Makers have already begun taking orders for Windows XP machines, though without much fanfare. Even before the terrorist attacks, the weak economy and dismal PC sales numbers have dampened expectations for the XP roll-out, and analysts have not been particularly ebullient about Windows XP's technical prowess, though it has received favoriable reviews. Analysts note that the PC market is very saturated, and that Windows XP is unlikely to spur huge PC sales. Of course, revenues from sales of Windows XP upgrades to existing Windows users are sure to be a boon to Microsoft, but not to the struggling PC industry. An eWeek article has more information.
With the U.S. government in turmoil over the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, congress will likely be forgetting several pending bills that stood to affect the technology sphere. An ISP News article covers the legislation that's likely to be swept away, like the E-government Act and the National Digital School Districts Act. Alas, other legislation, like broad new wiretapping rules, restriction of encrption technology, and other electronic surveillence-oriented bills have either already been passed or are likely to come to vote in the near future, in order to facilitate intelligence gathering and spycraft in America's new war on terrorism.
Mozilla 0.94 has been released and here you can read the Release Notes. New features, among others, include better IMAP, LDAP and MIME support. The Mozilla team writes: "The Windows-only Quick Launch feature (-turbo) is enabled by default in this release for installer builds, although you can turn it off in the installer or in Advanced Preferences. We are hoping community members will test this feature for us. The performance increase is not as great as it used to be; however, Quick Launch now works with multiple profiles."
Rebol is a very interesting internet-oriented programming language (for example, you can create a brand new instant messaging application with only 5k of source code) but they are now extending their language even more. From the Rebol web site: "REBOL/IOS is an enabling technology, consisting of protocols, concepts, APIs, hierarchies, modules, security models and algorithms etc. REBOL/IOS (Internet Operating System) is not a traditional computer operating system. It is an Internet-wide operating system, providing Internet-wide services and a common framework for distributed, platform-independent applications. IOS is to the Internet what an OS is to a PC. IOS does not replace existing operating systems, but augments them, providing some OS-like services across networks. Products using IOS still need an operating system (or at least some BIOS or other kernel) on whatever machine they run on. IOS is independent of the OS in the sense that it is a separate layer, i.e. it can run on any OS and thus any type of machine, all the way down to hand-held devices with minimal kernels."
"Trolltech is releasing version 1.4 of Qt Palmtop, a complete mobile computing platform for advanced embedded Linux devices. This release provides numerous improvements to the existing Qt Palmtop, including bug fixes, enhanced functionality, and a new user interface. Qt Palmtop provides device manufacturers and hobbyists a stunning set of productivity applications, games, multimedia software, and a Personal Information Management (PIM) suite for cutting-edge mobile computing devices. Qt Palmtop is built with Trolltech's Qt/Embedded, the embedded Linux port of the popular cross-platform application framework, Qt." The rest of the announcement can be found at TrollTech's web site.
"The European Parliament published its report into the Echelon spying system last week in which it concluded it did exist, was against the law and that the UK had a lot of explaining to do. We've sifted through about 100 of the 194 pages and decided that since no one had yet to officially admit its existence, you may be interested in how the European Parliament decided it was definitely out there." Read the rest of the scoop at TheRegister.
NetBSD, the BSD distribution which targets multiple platforms (NetBSD supports currently 21 architectures), released a new version, v1.5.2, a patch release improving stability, fixing bugs in, and adding some features to NetBSD 1.5.1. More information is available in the 1.5.2 release announcement. Many of the FTP mirrors are now carrying the NetBSD 1.5.2
This commentary on ZDNews talks about the need of the Linux development community to build something new and revolutionary, something that Microsoft has not offered to its customers, instead of trying to recreate Ms Office as the main "killer application" that Linux needs in order to go mainstream. One day after the above commentary went live, there is already an answer to it made by the C|Net News.com editorial stuff here. Both editorials are a good read. Our Take: I wrote a similar editorial once, called "The Killer Application Concept", about what BeOS needs to make it through and become mainstream, and I still stand in this opinion and I believe it applies for the Linux situation as well. To summarize: The OS doors are closed, except you do create a real (r)evolution.
Two more Linux companies are taking drastic measures to cope with financial problems. Lineo is ridding itself of more than half of its work force, and Ebiz Enterprises has filed for bankruptcy protection. Get the rest of the scoop at C|Net's News.com.
GNUstep provides an Object-Oriented application development framework and tool set for use on a wide variety of computer platforms. GNUstep is based on the original OpenStep specification provided by NeXT, Inc. (now owned by Apple and incorporated into MacOSX). We are hosting today an interview with Adam Fedor, of the GNUstep project.
The Register writes: "Compaq's iPaq PocketPC development team seems to be so unhappy with the upcoming merger with Hewlett-Packard, they have en masse offered their services to the highest bidder on the online job search site The Vault. Under the headline "iPaq PPC Engineering Team for Hire", the "core iPaq engineering team" says it is "seeking new opportunities and want to design the next winning PPC for your company. This team is responsible for the original iPaq and other designs that are yet to be released. Our team will vault your company ahead of its competitors." Our Take: I wonder if Palm will cancel the deal of the $11 million they would pay to Be, Inc. to just get the Be engineers and send offer letters and Palm Pilots as gifts (but this time, recent models with working batteries) to the iPaq engineers. ;-)
"Databases were once the forgotten stepchild of the open-source family. Companies like Red Hat Inc. included database software with their Linux distribution disks, but the main focus was on the operating system, the kernel and the graphical interface. A database was just another add-on, like a Minesweeper clone. But now, companies and users are scrambling to realize the value locked up in quality, open-source database software," ComputerWorld writes. Following the discussion we had recently on mySQL and PostgreSQL, the article seems to agree that professional closed-source database systems still have the lead on the open source counterparts.
Trumpet Software is mostly known for their Internet communications software package, Trumpet Winsock, which has been adopted by the Internet world back in 1995, at the times where Windows 3.1 and Win95 did not come as standard with full internet connetion capabilities. But the main product these days for Trumpet Software is PetrOS, a 32-bit Operating System, which has the goal to be compatible by all means with Microsoft Windows. We are interviewing the main architect behind the project, Peter Tattam, who talks in depth about PetrOS, and also we feature a world exclusive first screenshot of the PetrOS GUI, a GUI which is still under heavy development.
Bonobo is the component object model of the GNOME project. Bonobo provides a COM-like model, using CORBA as a location-transparent transport. It is the foundation of the GNOME vision to provide a fully Free Gnu Network Object Model Environment. In this series of three articles, Michael Meeks, component software engineer at Ximian, examines Bonobo in more detail: The first article (already published) gives an overview of what Bonobo can do for you and how it works; the second article will focus specifically on the client side and cover how to use components others have written; and the final article of the series will discuss how to write your own components.
For a good weekend reading, amateur and pro programmers can go to Joel On Software where Joel Spolsky gives a big number of extremely valuable hints about the process of engineering software. Joel Spolsky is one of the initiators of VBA, and led its implementation in Excel. He has recently founded his own company, Fog Creek Software. Anyone who wants to become a really good software engineer should pay a lot of attention to his essays, probably starting with The Joel Test.
Amiga.org is organizing the first ever AmigaDE demo competition. Demos may be written in any language of preference, but the end result must be either compiled down to Virtual Processor code or must be Java Bytecode. The demos will be shown at the World of Amiga South East Show, which is being held in the UK on the 3rd of November 2001. Read more for more information regarding the Amiga Digital Environment and Amiga demos. Mike Bouma has the details.
In its drive to be taken seriously by the embedded community, Microsoft Corp. announced this week that it will make a broad offering of the Windows XP Embedded operating system through a special preview aimed at developers. Windows XP Embedded, being developed in parallel with the desktop version of XP, will reportedly be unveiled as a product late this year. The company said this week, however, that it is now offering the second beta edition of XP Embedded on its Web site. Developers visiting the site can also order a CD (priced at approximately $8 USD) containing the operating system. Microsoft executives said they offered the beta version as a result of demand from developers.