I spent two enjoyable days at the Java Technology Conference 2004 here in Tokyo.
In his key note, Jonathan Schwartz demoed the Java Desktop System. On the one hand he presented it as a way to get rid of Microsoft on the desktop. On the other hand he called it “boring”, being just a clone of Windows, so he launched it into the Looking Glass mode: Windows flying around in 3D, a preferences dialog opening on a window’s “back side” and video files playing upside down. The desktop background (a photo of the Grand Canyon) swayed gently whenever the mouse pointer moved. Reminded me of computer games like Quake, where the screen moves slightly when the player stops moving around and just stands there, breathing…
Well, I have news for Jonathan: What people like about the Windows desktop is things like a working copy-and-paste across all applications and decent-looking default fonts. You won’t beat that by renaming the “Start” menu to “Launch” and adding a bunch of useless eye candy. Upside-down videos? Hello?
The reality of UNIX desktops was better represented by some of the machines available for public Internet access: Solaris notebooks with CDE, Netscape 4.73, Java 1.1.6 and half of the keyboard not mapped properly.
My faviorite conference session was the BOF “Sara ni puzzle wo tokou” (”Still More Puzzlers”) by Joshua Bloch, author of the excellent Effective Java Programming Language Guide, and Neal Gafter, primary developer of the Java compiler. Here’s the session abstract:
Joshua Bloch and Neal Gafter present ten more programming puzzles for your entertainment and enlightenment. […] The game show format keeps you on the toes while the puzzles teach you about the subtleties of the Java programming language and its core libraries. Anyone with a working knowledge of the language will be able to understand the puzzles, but even the most seasoned veterans will be challenged. The lessons you take from this session will be directly applicable to your programs and designs. Some of the jokes may even be funny.
Well, the puzzles sure were challenging; humbling even. I only knew the correct answers to three of them. Some were really sneaky. In an interesting way, that is. And yes, the jokes were mostly funny.