I've been hearing lately that Bluetooth is making a comeback. Considering that it had hardly gotten started when it was written off in certain quarters, it's amusing to see a comeback prediction so soon. In any case, I can see that short-range wireless protocols, such as Bluetooth, will eventually be enormously useful in the device market.
The other day I was watching someone on the Underground play a game on a Nintendo Game Boy Advance. To play a different game, he had to rummage through his pack to find the cartridge, then plug it in; by the time he'd accomplished this, he had arrived at his station. Contrast this with a Bluetooth - or similar - world, where all your devices can talk to each other (throwing away the idea of convergence for the moment), and it's a different story.
Instead of a bunch of gaming cartridges rattling around in his pack, our gamer will carry a single mobile storage device - the kind of thing I'm thinking of is a fit-in-the-palm-of-the-hand device with a series of ports capable of accepting compact flash cards, including IBM's 1GB microdrive, Dataplay's little CD thingamies, and whatever else fits in the available space. A Java Boy (because, of course, by this time Nintendo will have realized the error of their ways and replaced the Game Boy Advance with a Java device) will then be able to list all the games on the storage device (you don't even have to get it out of your bag) and transfer the selected game. Bored with the current collection, the gamer can download (and pay for, if it's commercial software) another game from the Internet, using a mobile phone/PDA that will then transmit the downloaded file to the storage facility.
All this sounds like a nice idea, and I'm sure I'm not even touching on the possibilities local wireless communications will provide, but still...I wonder when I'll actually see it.
I recently had an interesting conversation with Nazomi Communications. Nazomi has been marketing their Java Accelerator IP for quite some time, but are now launching a Universal Java Accelerator JA108 chip for MIDP-enabled devices. Basically, the JA108 can plug into existing systems on the memory bus between the processor and SRAM/Flash; it then accelerates about 169 bytecodes (Nazomi quotes a 15x-60x acceleration for certain operations, and a 4x-6x acceleration for multimedia applications). With an extremely small form factor, either 7mm x 7mm or 10mm x 10mm, and a per unit cost of U.S.$5.59 per unit for 10,000 units or more, it won't cost manufacturers - or more important, consumers - the world to improve Java execution performance. Java Boy, here we come?
Goodbye, UK - Hello, New Zealand
My time in the UK is rapidly drawing to a close. As you read this missive I shall be - I hope - sitting on a train somewhere in Europe, watching snow-covered hills pass by, before moving on to warmer pastures. (Touring in winter, you ask? What can I say? My wife likes snow.)
While I will miss a number of things about this odd little island, I won't miss the weather, the smog, and the peculiar British predilection for constructing roads so narrow that only a bicyclist would feel comfortable navigating them. Hedgerows are another local tradition that escapes me. Yes, they look nice; no, I would not prefer that English country roads were without them. But combine hedgerows with narrow roads and drivers that hit blind corners at speed, pausing only to tootle their horns before entering an intersection...nope, I can't see myself missing that.
I will, however, miss being able to walk approximately two paces anywhere in London and find a pub (usually called The George). I will also miss the variety of slightly warm beers served within, and the fact that when you've imbibed too many of those beverages, you can wobble two steps back out the door and find some sort of public transport to whisk you home (okay, "whisk" is a bit of an exaggeration...all right, a lot of an exaggeration...okay, okay, I'm lying; you usually stand around waiting forever).
I'll be returning to my country of origin where, yes, it does rain, but at least it's warm; the national sport involves running around with an oval ball rather than a spherical one (for the Americans reading this, that doesn't mean wearing copious quantities of padding); and where the grass is always greener, if only because I'm predisposed to think that way.
So, goodbye, exceedingly cold winters, Tube strikes, and incredibly high living expenses; hello, fresh sweet corn that can be purchased for considerably less than the mortgage on your house, great beaches, and - cross-my-fingers - sun!
Jason R. Briggs is a Java analyst programmer
and - sometimes - architect. He's been officially
developing in Java for almost four years "unofficially for five."