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There have been lots of reasons bandied about lately about why Java is good or bad or indifferent. I'm afraid I've been too busy to follow the discussions closely, but that rarely stops me from chiming in. Others find my ignorance entertaining; perhaps you will, too.

Blair's Reasons for Being a Java Bigot
1.   Java helps us sell our boxes

Allow me to expand, briefly, on each of these points...

Okay, so it's not much of a list. At least I can remember the whole thing! (And if not, it fits easily on a single 3x5 notecard.)

Well, I guess if we're going to get any value out of this little exercise, we'll have to tease it out of this Lone Reason. ("Scalp 'em, Tantric!") No, wait! Maybe there's a pattern here? Instead of aspiring to create a "List of a Thousand Reasons," we could have a thousand "Lists of One Reason Each." Yeah, that's it! Sorta like refactoring! ...but I digress.

Why does Java help us sell our boxes? Why does it help anyone? Well, clearly, people need to get things done. To do many of these things, they use boxes. On those boxes, for whatever reasons, folks are increasingly choosing Java to assist them. So, to whatever extent some box "does Java" - and does it well - that box will be "in demand." Being in demand is, well, a nice state of being to be in, no?

By the way, can you tell I'm fond of small, easily remembered lists? How about these:

Blair's Reasons for Digging Linux
1.   Linux helps us sell our boxes

Blair's Reasons for Splurging on a Digital Video Camera
1.   Folks are buying our boxes

Blair's Reasons for Honoring Commercial Freight Carriers
1.   Commercial freight carriers help us ship our boxes

The list of Lists goes on and on, but I digress...

I've been privileged to work on the IBM eServer iSeries for most of my professional career, though our box hasn't always been called that. Back before the great rebranding, it was known as the IBM AS/400, with the "AS" proudly standing for "Applications Systems." There are a few hundred thousand of these boxes around the world - in closets and back rooms and raised-floor computing centers - quietly and reliably crunching the payrolls, calculating the profits, offering the products, billing the customers, and changing the world.

Oh, I know. A few hundred thousand boxes isn't all that many. Thankfully, though - and in part owing to our unqualified success integrating Java and its wide functional swath into the machine - that figure is an ever-moving target. Our box does Java well, so we are in demand. Just why we do Java so well is an interesting subject, but I'll have to leave something for next month...

While our box is doing its part to change the world, the box itself is also changing. In the old days, when I started with the company, about all the box could talk to was SNA hosts, 5250 "dumbhead" terminals, and massive "shake and bake" band printers, all in sparkling EBCDIC.

Now, in the endlessly culminating drive for consummate perfection and universal connectivity, it's much easier to enumerate the few things that an iSeries will not talk to. (As far as I know, the only modern language we don't currently support is Klingon. Of course, cats and small children remain impenetrably blasť.)

Of course, when a person starts speaking to the world - any world - it is wise to speak carefully. Back when I thought I was pretty smart, I found what seemed to be a funny tag line on the Usenet. I promptly replaced the Zappa/Feynman/Lehrer/Flintstone quote in my e-mail signature with this newfound gem, which read:

"Hiroshima '45 - Chernobyl '86 - Windows '98"

Yeah. Ha-ha. Very funny, you bet. Cataclysms are always funny. I must've been catatonic.

One day I got a note from a colleague in Japan. In plain English, he told me my signature wasn't funny. I found and activated the one brain cell I then had available, and it was immediately obvious he was right. I humbly apologized for my ignorant insensitivity, he graciously accepted, and I silently thanked my lucky stars he wasn't Klingon! ...but I digress.

So, yup: Java helps us sell our boxes. Java helps me feed my family. Java feeds my head. I'm just thankful I lived well after the Age of COBOL. (What's Klingon for "whew"?)

Author Bio
Blair Wyman is a software engineer working for IBM in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the IBM iSeries. [email protected]

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