A strange accident occurred on my flight back to New Zealand. Somehow, the plane flew through a rip in space-time and we wound up in a freak alternate dimension. The thing is, it was initially very difficult to tell that we weren't in the right dimension anymore, because everything was pretty much the same. But then I picked up an Australian computer magazine and read an editorial in which the writer, I'll call him Mr. KnowNothing, was talking about how Bill Gates had underestimated the Internet initially but eventually had turned Microsoft around to become a technology leader with its .NET strategies.
That's when I knew something must have happened on that 747 bound from Sydney to Auckland (and it explains the severe turbulence). Because in my universe, .NET was still in beta, and as far as I'm concerned, the battle certainly wasn't over.... Hell, we were just starting to warm up. As I think Alan has mentioned before (in this dimension he's world famous as the character Blane Evans, on "Days of our Lives"), all Microsoft has done is repackage ideas that have been around for a long time (a process I believe they refer to as "innovation"), which hardly qualifies them as a technology leader. But it seems, according to Mr. KnowNothing, in this dimension Microsoft has won the war.
In desperation I've invented a machine in my garage - mainly constructed from old computers, car stereo parts, the laser component from a DVD player, and a hyperactive hamster called Gerald (to provide power) - that will transport me back to my original dimension. My one worry is that if I miscalculate, I could end up in the dimension where Visual Basic became the only language for serious computer work, or (shudder) Modula-2. It doesn't bear thinking about really.
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Since coming home I've had a vivid illustration of just how far Java has to go. Everyone knows Microsoft, of course. An almost microscopic percentage of those who don't work in the industry (i.e., one person) have even heard about .NET, but Java still brings blank faces, or thoughts of Indonesian islands and coffee to the majority (this is not to say that people in my small hometown are ignorant compared to Londoners, rather that when returning home, you are invariably asked by all and sundry what you've been doing for the past few years).
In the past, I haven't worried that Java wasn't too well known. In fact I've personally been hoping the profile stays low - at least in the wireless space - but that penetration of the market will become more widespread. Now I'm not so sure. As Rick Ross, president of JavaLobby, says, there are 200,000,000 reasons to take .NET seriously. And while you might not think that .NET will have any impact on J2ME, with a company that has the resources to spend that much money just on marketing, you do have to wonder.
Now I want Java logos on everything.
Just in case.
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High-performance - not something you might typically associate with a MIDP application. But a press release from esmertec recently caught my eye with a project that might have a chance to change that, at least for Intel-based (PXA250
and PXA210) mobile devices. esmertec's announcement that they would be working with Intel Corp. to "deliver optimized Java solutions for high-performance mobile computing using the Intel XScale microarchitecture and Intel Flash Data Integrator (FDI)" is another of those flowery phrases that marketing people love littering press releases with. But it means that another big player (Intel), which hasn't generally been that visible in the Java world, is, at the very least, thinking about J2ME as a viable platform. Hopefully at the end of it, we'll see more devices on the market capable of running MIDP apps at better speeds. I'm still waiting for "MIDP Quake" on a mobile phone....no let me qualify that... "MIDP Quake" running at a high speed on a mobile phone. Go esmertec!
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In this month's J2ME section, Dan Pilone talks about distributed computing in the J2ME world, while James White discusses some of the issues you should be thinking about before starting on a mobile or wireless application.
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."