A few months ago Alan
mentioned that he had finally shifted to Star Office. As someone who has
been using the software suite since Sun took it over, I applaud his decision
to move away from that other office package. However, the shift doesn’t come
without a few challenges that can be quite annoying when you first make the
Challenges such as SO5.2 trying to take over your
entire desktop (a feature that, luckily, can be bypassed, although not entirely),
and that drawings in a Word document are occasionally decimated when imported
into SO. Certain default shortcuts are different, and the SO way of doing
things is slightly different than the Microsoft way. Not worse, just different.
After a while I decided that I don’t miss MS Office.
I still used it at work (day job, that is), and apart from grammar checking
– the results of which are a bit unpredictable, in my opinion – I can’t think
of one MS Office feature that I wish Star had.
With Star Office 6, the irritating desktop override
is finally going away, and the application has been split into separate components
rather than an integrated word processor, spreadsheet, etc. I haven’t personally
upgraded yet because I found the earlier beta a little buggy on my laptop.
Another piece of software I don’t miss is Internet
Explorer. After trying various other browsers (including Netscape 6) I finally
settled on Mozilla about six months ago, and it seems to improve with every
new release. Performance is almost as good as Explorer (at the very least,
after a few days you don’t notice the difference any more). If some Web sites
don’t work with it, I just don’t go back to them.
You might be wondering what am I getting at here?
Well, since Sun released a version of the J2ME Toolkit that ran on Linux,
I realized there’s no reason for me to be running a specific operating system
anymore. Since I don’t need Windows and I prefer Unix, then I might as well
be running Linux (besides the fact that getting a winmodem working with Linux
is a complete nightmare).
It’s a bit of an eye-opener when you actually sit
down and work out what you’re really using your computer for, what’s available
for the other platforms, and exactly how much it’s costing you to be on the
So what do I use my computer for? Surfing the Net
(plus e-mail), writing, development, occasionally listening to music, and,
very occasionally, playing some games. If we look at each of those in turn:
• Surfing the Net: Mozilla is my choice
(available for Windows, Linux, and various other platforms). The e-mail client
provided is almost perfect for my needs. The only problem I have with it
is the message-rules system, which still seems buggy.
• Writing: Star Office, as mentioned,
suits my minimal needs and is available for Windows, Linux, and Solaris.
• Development: The JDK is obviously
available for numerous platforms. There’s a wide variety of IDEs available
for Java, so the OS is not likely to be a problem. At the very least Jext,
a Java text editor, provides enough functionality for my purposes (www.jext.org).JBoss and Tomcat, my application and
Web server of choice, will pretty much run on anything, and the MIDP emulator
(J2ME Toolkit), as mentioned, runs on Linux, Windows, and Solaris.
• Music: MP3 players are available
for any platform you care to name. Okay, there’s no MP3 player for an abacus.
All right, there’s probably no MP3 player for your Texas Instruments calculator.
• Games: The idea of a games console
used to be anathema to me, but then I looked at the price of the latest and
greatest graphics card, plus remembered prior experiences with cutting-edge
games not running well on my – at the time – cutting-edge computer. So I’ve
changed my tune, hence, the next hardware purchase I make will probably be
I recently worked out the price for a Linux desktop
system, including a Playstation 2, for those moments when I need to wear
my gaming fez (if that means nothing to you, see
www.pvponline.com), and it came to around
65% of the price of the Wintel machine I would need for the same purposes;
of course, this assumes I’d need a cutting-edge machine for Windows. Past
experience with new versions of Windows tells me I would. Interestingly,
the price of a new Mac, with the Unix-based OS X (plus a Playstation 2),
is only slightly more expensive than the Windows box.
So why am I still running Windows? Anyone who has
managed to get past the horrors of the Linux winmodem driver, only to get
stuck with the joys of PPP, please contact a depressed JDJ
editor. I’m starting a support group for laptop owners who are trapped in
Windows hell to support their Internet addiction.
A Star Alternative
A few months ago Alan mentioned that he had finally shifted
to Star Office. As someone who has been using the software suite since Sun took it over,
I applaud his decision to move away from that other office package.
by Jason R. Briggs
Jini Surrogate as a Platform for J2ME Games
Surrogate architecture incorporates smaller devices
by William Swaney
Building End-to-End Palm Applications Using Java
A worthwhile and useful experience
by JP Morgenthal
Leveling the Playing Field
A J2ME co-op could let the little guy come out of the cold
by Jason R. Briggs
Integrating J2ME, GPS, and the Wireless Web
Developing location-based applications
by Shane Isbell
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.”