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I've been thinking a PhD student should consider doing a thesis on the life expectancy of a pen after it's purchased. I've come up with an approximate calculation for mine: LE (Life Expectancy) =DWU (Date of Wanting to Use)-1; in other words, a pen will go missing the day before you really need to use it. There's definitely a paper there somewhere waiting to be written.

This might (or might not) lead you to wonder why someone involved in Java for mobile devices is relying on primitive, tree-killing technology like pens and paper; the short answer to this is that I am still embarrassingly PDA-less. There are, of course, a number of reasons (excuses):

1.   I am still waiting for a Sharp Zaurus to review (and play with). (As you're probably aware, the Zaurus is Sharp's Linux/PersonalJava PDA.) However, it won't be a long-term solution to the problem as, short of changing my name and moving to Antarctica, I'll have to give the unit back. Perhaps the fact that I look shifty has contributed to Sharp's unwillingness to deliver...?

2.   I suffer from a common IT affliction known as "What's-just-around-the-corner-itis." The main symptom of this probably genetic disorder is that whenever I find a device that might "fit the bill," so to speak, I'm immediately hit with the thought, "But wait, what about device X, rumored to be released in a few months? It's slightly faster and can connect directly to my cortex..."

3.   In true Scrooge McDuck fashion, I don't want to dish out the cash.

On top of those three points, I've also suddenly changed my tune on the idea of convergence. Before, I looked at the idea of all-in-one devices as nice but mostly flawed in execution; now I'm starting to see movement in the right direction. Nokia's new 7210 has a color display, FM stereo radio, MMS (Multimedia Messaging) - and Java, of course. Now it's not quite a PDA, but coupled with the right Java applications, it could be close.

Nokia has another phone that also doubles as an MP3 player (the model number temporarily escapes me); if they could somehow merge that phone with the 7210 and add a pop-open cover that hides a touchscreen so you can enter data like a Palm, then I'm sure I'd purchase one on the spot.

As you can see, it's a bad case of What's-just-around-the-corner-itis.

* * *

In the "editor-eats-his-hat" department, after mercilessly "sticking the boot" into Ericsson a few months back for their lack of Java support in the T68 mobile phone (and other models as far as I can tell), it seems the forthcoming P800/802 will include Java support. It should be a damned nice phone with an integrated digital camera, color screen, MMS, and Bluetooth support, among other features. (Note: It seems the new T62u also supports Java.)

* * *

On a more sober note, those of you waiting for the next installment in Bill Swaney's "Jini Surrogate As a Platform for J2ME Games" series will have to wait a bit longer than expected. Bill was recently involved in a horrific car accident, so it will probably be at least a few months before he will be able to complete the next article. Our best wishes go out to Bill for a speedy recovery.

In this month's issue, you'll find a beginner J2ME article from Fred Daoud on OO methodology for adding commands to displayable components within MIDP. Sami Lababidi from Macrospace talks about programming J2ME games. And in the tradition of do-it-yourself-electronics-in-the-garage, Bill Ray discusses controlling MP3 playback through wireless technologies - just the thing for the couch potato who can't be bothered to reach farther than the PDA on the coffee table.

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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