Almanac: 17 October 2000

By: J.D. Hildebrand

Abstract: Has Linux been too successful? Home networking is next killer app. Linux in the enterprise. Python 2.0 released. SDMI watermarks intact? Latest UI breakthrough: scent.

Almanac: 17 October 2000

By J.D. Hildebrand


Today is the 290th day of 2000; 75 days remain in the year.

Eleven years ago today I was working at my office in San Francisco's South of Market district when my desk took a sickening lurch, the floor rolled, and the lights went out. I heard windows breaking. I heard file cabinets crashing over. Then nothing but silence and dark. I made my way down the stairs through chunks of drywall and fallen ceiling tiles. San Francisco had just been struck by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale.

I ventured out into the street, my shoes crunching shards of plate glass that had fallen from windows in the surrounding office buildings. The electricity was out everywhere. Twilight faded quickly to dark. Sirens wailed and the wind smelled of smoke.

Around the corner a man called to me from the doorway of a darkened tavern. "Hey, give me a hand!" I helped him pull tables and chairs out into the street. I took a seat and he brought me a bottle of beer from inside, waving aside the money I offered. We sat and looked at the destruction around us.

Dazed office workers drifted over and joined us. We huddled around candles and speculated about the damage. Someone had a transistor radio, and every once in a while a whispered rumor swept through our little shell-shocked community. "The Marina is on fire!" "The Bay Bridge has collapsed!" "They've canceled the World Series!" We faced the end of the world in dress shoes and loosened neckties.

HAS LINUX BEEN TOO SUCCESSFUL? eWeek's Peter Galli has taken a fresh look at widely reported delays in the introduction of the Linux 2.4 kernel. The slow-down may not be proof that the Open Source development model is flawed, Galli says, but a sign that Linux is successful. As more companies and individuals adopt Linux, the pressure rises to shoehorn new features into upcoming releases. Moreover, the exploding user base is subjecting Linux to exploding demands: new platforms, new peripherals, new applications...all the stresses that accumulate when you get millions of people using software in ways the creator couldn't have anticipated.

HOME NETWORKING TARGETED AS NEXT KILLER APP. What do Cisco Systems, Sears Roebuck, 3Com, Honeywell, Best Buy, General Motors, Panasonic, and Sun Microsystems have in common? They've all teamed together to form the Internet Home Alliance, a coalition that will set standards and teach consumers what home-networking technology can do. The consortium has its eye on a market that research firm Cahners In-Stat Group projects will grow from $600 million this year to $5.7 billion by 2004. CNet covered the formation of the coalition in this article.

LINUX IN THE ENTERPRISE: A SNAPSHOT. Network World Fusion has put together a suite of articles covering the use of Linux in corporations. This special report includes market-research numbers as well as case histories that illustrate what Linux is good at and what it's not so good at. Plus, there's a pointer to a survey showing which Linux products are most popular. All in all, a useful and interesting report. Find it here

PYTHON 2.0 RELEASED. Have you started messing around with Python yet? I'll be honest, I haven't either. But my old friend Bruce Eckel gave me quite a sales pitch at this year's BorCon, leaving me quite intrigued. The good news is that a major new release of the language is now available from BeOpen's PythonLabs. Nab it here.

SDMI WATERMARKS INTACT? I reported Friday that hackers had successfully met the SDMI coalition's challenge and cracked the proposed watermark copyright-protection scheme it had posted on its Web site. My information came indirectly from the hackers, who forwarded their solutions to Salon and claimed success. SDMI itself, however, has yet to study all of the submitted hacks. The organization is not yet prepared to say that even a single one of the watermarks has been cracked. Here is ZDNet's account of SDMI's side of the story.

THE LATEST UI BREAKTHROUGH: SCENT. HONEST. Get ready -- researchers are getting ready to put a computer-controlled smell machine on your desktop. Every Web site you visit will feature a characteristic scent, and...well, you get the idea. Here is an interview with Digiscents co-founder and CEO Joel Bellenson, as conducted by Enjoy. And be sure to check out the ScentWare Web Development Kit, which will be introduced next week at Internet World in New York. "Digital scent will be added to streaming media, e-mail, online games, e-commerce, and advertising," Bellenson says. "Using the ScentWare WDK, developers can easily create unforgettable Web sites." The WDK reportedly includes ScentWare ActiveX control, Netscape plug-in, and Flash presentation support. To get a copy of the ScentWare WDK, become a registered developer by visiting this page.

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