Notes from the field: Endangered species

Notes from the field: Endangered species

Forget the whales, who's going to save Jini, Scott McNealy and cell phones?

Amber called me at midday, all excited after reading that someone spotted an ivory-billed woodpecker in a Louisiana swamp. "They thought it was extinct 50 years ago," she said. "But now ornithologists uncovered clues that it still may be alive."

Sun secrets

Unfortunately, Sun's Jini might not be so lucky. In every forward-looking presentation by senior technology folks, "Jxta is everywhere, and Jini is nowhere", says one spy. Not to worry, maybe someone will rediscover Jini in some swamp 50 years from now.

Meanwhile, even bigger pressures are mounting in the corner office at Sun. As Intel server systems continue to eat away at Sun's hardware nest, the company needs to transition into a software company to survive. Trouble is that Scott McNealy - even when disguised in baseball cap and ersatz ponytail onstage, chirping that he's a software guy - is undeniably a hardware man. And his tendency to rely on rhetoric rather than substance in Sun's battle with Microsoft has many insiders wondering if it's time for a change.

Simple twist of fate

BEA Systems has been crowing about ECperf benchmark results that show its application server is 47 times faster per transaction than its J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) brethren. But a little birdie told me that throughout the testing process a jealous IBM apparently objected to the methodology. Ironically, the adjustments made because of IBM's objection bought BEA 25 per cent of its 47 per cent speed gain.

It's a bird, it's a plane

Boeing engineers have completed an exhaustive analysis of the effect that wireless devices used by passengers on an aeroplane might have on the plane's avionics, and concluded there would be no possible impact. But don't look for anybody in the cellular phone industry to help make this public.

Turns out the cellular system is designed to handle large amounts of traffic that emanates from the ground. An airborne traffic jam, however, would quickly overwhelm the capacity of the system because multiple antennas would receive every signal from the air, as opposed to ground traffic that is aimed at one antenna. And of course, the carriers like the revenue they get from the onboard cellular phone network built by GTE for the airlines.

Now, it seems, Amber has become quickly obsessed with bird life. "Look at that turkey vulture soaring in the sky," she said over and over. I hope this doesn't get in the way of my plans to ride the Harley come spring. "No way," she answered. "I can watch them from the back of the bike."

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