Sun Microsystems was very keen to impress us journalists at the JavaOne developers' conference in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago.
The manufacturer provided everything for us, including over 25 Sun press releases and a 23-page photocopy of the court ruling held in its favour against Microsoft and the Java logo. Naturally, this huge document was a waste of paper. It contained one useful sentence and the rest was legal jargon. Or maybe not. Buried on page 21 is a list of precedent-setting cases about consumer confusion which could relate to the Java name. The most important case cited is the famous Church of Scientology International versus Elmira Mission of the Church of Scientology. The former proved that the latter couldn't call itself a church of scientology because it would confuse worshippers into thinking it was the same church of scientology.
There you have it. Hallelujah. God has intervened in Bill Gates' attempt to take over the world using computers.
The pinnacle of success
Microage, the reseller and distributor group, has renamed its distribution arm Pinacor. And get used to it because the company plans to buy its way into Europe. The name was chosen to 'reflect the company's commitment to reaching the pinnacle of convenience and innovation'. I presume the correctly spelled and perfectly acceptable Pinnacle was too obvious a choice of name - a problem which affected UK distributor Pinacl, I seem to remember.
Big Brother in our midst
Silicon Valley addicts harp on about how companies must be based here to be successful, but Microsoft is not a local company. Its massive headquarters are up the coast near Seattle, but there may be changes. The Big Brother of software employs 850 people in Silicon Valley and is rumoured to be looking for a convenient, visible location for a big office here. Microsoft takes advantage of a few things by being based away from Silicon Valley - everything is cheaper and staff can't easily move to a competitor. On the other hand, it is further away from partner companies and potential employees must be persuaded to move to be near it. Or, perhaps Microsoft's lack of presence in Silicon Valley can be explained by one fact; eight of the lawyers hired by the Department of Justice to investigate Microsoft are based in Silicon Valley.
Some unsurprising research was sent to me recently - almost 48 per cent of Americans would get more sleep if they did not have internet access.
And the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that each year 1,500 road deaths are caused by drivers' drowsiness.
Go to bed with a book
Amazon.com may be the great white hope of internet commerce, but some facts show it has not cracked the mass market quite yet. Sources tell me Amazon's two bestselling categories of books are 'Java programming' and 'sex and the single nerd'.
Playing Wall Street
A few weeks ago, I told you about the 9999 problem, which will affect accounting packages next year. A more pressing concern is the so-called D10K problem. It seems the Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to break the 10,000 point mark, which software designers claim will cause havoc in Wall Street because most packages can only handle four-digit fields for the index. Ironically, it is technology shares that have pushed the index to its astronomical level, and technology experts will be paid a lot of money to solve the problem they created, hitting where it hurts - in the wallet. Excellent.
You are our number one
If, like me, you are starting to worry that the internet is not the free, independent entity it once was because it is being taken over by Amazon and other big commercial enterprises, don't. Amazon and Disney were not the fastest growing sites in 1997 - a six-person, ad-free, non-profit site was number one. The site is Blue Mountain Arts, a company that provides free greeting cards online. It has gone from the ability to support two simultaneous users to dumping its site log files because the site gets so many hits they are too large to manage. Sadly, they are set to start ads and may be charging for cards. So enjoy it while you can.
Let's go and party
Regular viewers will know how I am constantly amazed by the lengths Silicon Valley people will go to for their beloved technology, but last week's events take the biscuit, the cookie and even the Twinkie. Netscape's release of its Communicator 5 source code was such a momentous event that there was a party to celebrate it. Not a Netscape party - the company couldn't afford that - but a party organised by private individuals who gave up many hours of their own time to promote it. Through the mozilla.org Website, the organisers kindly answered questions about the event, including everyone's main problem: 'How do I get from the Silicon Valley Linux User's Group to the party?' I find it a little worrying that a so-called party has networked PCs with games, even though it is at a bar, and I find it rather worrying that the main thing some people have to celebrate is the code behind a piece of software. But I find it very worrying that there were six other source code parties, including one in Amsterdam.
Liar, liar, pants on fire
Thankfully, the over-willingness of Americans to sue may not spread as far as the internet. A San Francisco court disagreed with Ken McCarthy's legal action that he should get $5,000 from Stacy McCahan because she called him a liar in a public online forum. I agree, even though McCarthy is a fellow journalist, he should know better.
James Harding is US editor of VNU Newswire, based in San Francisco.
He can be reached at [email protected] or on 00 1 650 306 0879.
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