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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 move.

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 cutting edge.

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. Smart arse.

• 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 a PS2.

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.


J2ME INDEX

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


Author Bio
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.”

[email protected]

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