Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sun to acquire MySQL AB for $1bn

Sun (NASDAQ:JAVA) announced today that they will be acquiring MySQL AB, the maker of the popular open-source database MySQL. Sun sees this as further validation of the LAMP technologies. Jonathan Schwartz (CEO of Sun) and James Gosling (father of Java) are both very excited about this. I wonder how Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) will view this given that Oracle already controls Berkeley DB and InnoDB, the two most popular storage backends for MySQL.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Netscape R.I.P.

A few days ago, AOL pulled the plug on Netscape the browser. Yes, Netscape is finally dead. R.I.P.

Netscape has had a colorful history filled with ups and downs. I'll need more than a blog entry to chronicle that history and there are tons of books out there that do a much better job than I can ever hope to do. The history is filled with great programmers, their software, their companies, their stock market fortunes and such.

Personally, I have fond memories of Netscape (despite its bugs and later bloat), having used it since its 1.0 days circa 1994. A few years ago I moved to its progeny like Mozilla (the suite), Mozilla Firefox and now Minefield but Netscape was the browser that opened up the Web to me. I remember spending so much time downloading Netscape releases and browsing the great documentation on DevEdge. To this day, my primary browser has been Netscape or its progeny and Lynx for quick text browsing.

For a trip down memory lane, check out this screenshot tour of how Netscape 0.9b runs on Windows today. The best screenshot for me is the about:mozilla page. Those are the guys that changed the world.

about:mozilla

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Gizmodo's CES Stunt

One of the biggest stories coming out of the just-concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is Gizmodo's infamous stunt. Gizmodo is one of the most popular gadget blogs where the bloggers, in their own words, claim to be "So much in love with shiny new toys, it's unnatural." However at CES they did nothing but demonstrate their immaturity.

At the 2008 CES, Gizmodo reporters went about using the TV-B-Gone infrared remote to turn off exhibitors' TVs displays. They had the gall to do this even during a presentation by Motorola flustering the Motorola presenter and perplexing the technicians. The smug jackasses then posted a video showing off these juvenile antics as if they had done something great.

Despite the widespread condemnation of their vandalism, they continue to defend themselves, calling the whole thing a harmless prank. I bet none of these morons ever did a presentation in public showing off cool products. The whole episode has left me disgusted with Gizmodo. I won't be reading their blog anymore and I hope they never get invited to another gadget show ever again.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Fifty Years of the Communications of the ACM

The ACM is celebrating 50 years of the Communications of the ACM this month. The first issue came out way back in January 1958 with just 20 pages. That issue contained articles about computing square-roots and programming a binary counter for the IBM Type 650 calculator. That was no tiny handheld calculator.

Computing has come a long way in those 50 years that no one even thinks about the content in that first issue! However there are still some gems from the early years of computing that maintain their relevance and provide insights into the Art of Computing. One such example, is the Letter to the Editor of the CACM by Edsger Dijkstra in 1968 entitled "Go To Statement Considered Harmful". That letter sparked a debate that goes on to this date. Whatever be one's point of view about "go to", it is a beautiful insight into the Art of Computing, a dying art that today's programmers are sadly no longer in touch with.

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