31 July 2011

Java SE 7 Now Available

Oracle logo        tmpF479

It took well over a year of development under Oracle, but now the new release of Java SE 7 is finally out.

Oracle Press Release

Oracle today announced the availability of Java Platform, Standard Edition 7 (Java SE 7), the first release of the Java platform under Oracle stewardship.

The Java SE 7 release is the result of industry-wide development involving open review, weekly builds and extensive collaboration between Oracle engineers and members of the worldwide Java ecosystem via the OpenJDK Community and the Java Community Process (JCP).

Java SE 7 delivers:

  • Language changes to help increase developer productivity and simplify common programming tasks by reducing the amount of code needed, clarifying syntax and making code easier to read. (JSR 334: Project Coin)
  • Improved support for dynamic languages (including: Ruby, Python and JavaScript), resulting in substantial performance increases on the JVM. (JSR 292: InvokeDynamic)
  • A new multicore-ready API that enables developers to more easily decompose problems into tasks that can then be executed in parallel across arbitrary numbers of processor cores. (JSR 166: Fork/Join Framework)
  • A comprehensive I/O interface for working with file systems that can access a wider array of file attributes and offer more information when errors occur. (JSR 203: NIO.2)
  • New networking and security features
  • Expanded support for internationalization, including Unicode 6.0 support
  • Updated versions of numerous libraries
  • Strong backward compatibility of Java SE 7 with previous versions of the platform preserves the skill sets of current Java software developers and protects Java technology investments.

Developers interested in getting started immediately with the Java SE 7 release can leverage the NetBeans Integrated Development Environment (IDE) 7.0, Eclipse Indigo with the additional Java SE 7 plug-in or IntelliJ IDEA 10.5, which support the latest features of the Java SE 7 platform. Oracle JDeveloper support for JDK 7 is intended for a release later this year.

Now the questions for this new release would be around if Java SE 7 is any good? And for that, the answers would be mostly yes, but not for everyone.  If you read from the press release above in this post. You can see that what is clear about what Oracle decided to do with Java, was to give it a even more Enterprise focus than it already had.  The reason of course being that Oracle mission is now to sell you Java as platform that goes best with Oracle other offerings.   Java as a strong play for their sales pitch. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Business is business.  But if early reviews are to be believed. It looks like the interest of the Open Source community were not central to the the development and testing of Java SE 7. As it appear to have some serious issues with those using Apache. Issues that some say could had been noted and corrected before the final release if Oracle had paid attention.

Java Facts and Figures
  • 97% of enterprise desktops run Java
  • 1 billion Java downloads each year
  • 9 million developers worldwide
  • #1 programming language (TIOBE Programming Community Index)
  • More than 3 billion devices are powered by Java technology

Oracle has given the  figures in the quote above. Figures that serve as more proof of the why they are driving Java the way they are. But that don’t tell a complete story as it don’t provides information on how recent are this numbers. Personally, for me they look to be projected figures for 2011 based on surveyed figures from 2010.  Until stated otherwise, that is how they look to me.  Why do I say that? Because I remember reading some reports during the last months stating other kind of projected numbers and statements contradicting or changing the context of these:

  • 90% of enterprise desktop run java (down from 95%)
  • 67% of consumers desktops run java (Riastats.com puts Java on 64% right now)
  • 1 billion Java related (as in for everything in general? seems low in that context don’t it??) downloads each year
  • 9 million developers worldwide (but this don’t means exclusively Java developers).
  • #1 in TIOBE is right as that is openly accessible online.
  • More than 3 billion devices are powered by Java tech (want to bet they including Android in this?)

Now the facts and figures sure look a bit different don’t it? The problem with both numbers and statements is that beyond the TIOBE PCI fact; both and neither are 100% correct or wrong.  So, take you pic on which one to believe. Unless of course Oracle can back their Facts and Figures above saying that they stand by them. Which would mean nothing definitive as I also say the same thing for mine.

Java SE 7: First Impressions

While I cannot attest on how improved or not it is for development or for running newly made apps. I can share with you my first impressions running  current and older Java apps I have in my desktop and browser from a general perspective.

I installed and tested Java SE 7 overall performance with some apps and applets in Windows XP and Windows 7. This is what I found in my case:

Windows XP  is where I found the biggest improvements with a overall increased performance of 18%-20%. CPU usage in apps looks to be around30% less and RAM  consume seems to have gone down around 10%. That is quite impressive.

Windows 7 is where I found the less improvement with a overall increased performance of 12%-14%. CPU usage looks to be around 20% less and RAM consume seems to have gone down around 10%.  So, whatever they done, it is a improvement beyond adding features to it.  Just remember than mileage can wildly vary and what I state can only be representative from a consumer desktop perspective. 

Should I install it now?

YES. regardless of if it have been improvements or not. You should always update your JAVA SE 7 installation as soon as it is available to stay on top of the security of your OS.  But for those using several Java based apps or sites, I am happy to inform you that Java SE 7 also bring a bit of a performance boost. And any boost to that is always nice to get.

Linkage

Java SE 7                                                                                           <—Download Page

Java Platform                                                                               <—Download Portal

Java SE 7 Launch Webcast On Demand                 <—Video

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29 July 2011

30 Years Of MS-DOS

MS-DOS logo

If there is a piece of software that was pivotal for the rise and spread of Personal Computing, that sure is MS-DOS.

Unlike the slow starting revolution of Windows that took a whole decade to breakout, MS-DOS was a explosive success that kickstarted  the rise of Microsoft into a high gear of not stopping momentum (in every sense of the word) for 25 years.

I will refrain from reiterating the usual history summary of MS-DOS and will leave that to its Wikipedia entry instead:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS

And if you feel more like reading a longer retelling  about MS-DOS 30th birthday, two of the best takes I have read yesterday and today have to be:

El Reg - Tony Smith’s Microsoft's MS-DOS is 30 today that while includes the usual dosage of slanted backhanded pseudo-praising they do in this kind of occasions, It is still a rock solid article.

And the nice bit of nostalgia-infused article from PCmag that posts   the original interview to Bill Gates they published about how MS-DOS came to be. This last one,  is the one I recommend the most for you to also read:

MS-DOS Turns 30: PCMag's Original Interview With Bill Gates

In this interview you can read a often overlooked part of the history of how Bill Gates also had a lot to do with pushing along for better PC hardware. With the how and the why.

Now, given those links cover most of that there is to be said MS-DOS in the context of its 30th. I will instead just give you the timeline of MS-DOS and Post-DOS with year marks plus some a retrospective musings of my own :

MS-DOS Releases Timeline:

  • [1981]     MS-DOS 1.x  
  • Version 1.12 (OEM) - Compaq release of PC-DOS 1.10
    • Version 1.19 (OEM)[7] - Zenith OEM
    • Version 1.25 (OEM) - Microsoft repackaging of PC-DOS 1.10
  • [1983]    MS-DOS 2.x –( Support for 10 MB hard disk drives and tree-structure filing system
    • Version 2.0 (OEM)
    • Version 2.1 (OEM)
    • Version 2.11 (OEM)
    • Version 2.2 (OEM)
    • Version 2.21 (OEM)
  • [1984]   MS-DOS 3.x
    • Version 3.0 (OEM) - Support for larger hard disk drives
    • Version 3.1 (OEM) - Support for Microsoft Networks
    • Version 3.2 (OEM)
    • Version 3.21 (OEM)
    • Version 3.25 (OEM)
    • Version 3.3 (OEM)
    • Version 3.3a (OEM)
    • Version 3.3r (OEM)
    • Version 3.31 (OEM) - Compaq 3.31 supports FAT16 and larger drives.
    • Version 3.35 (OEM)
  • [1988]   MS-DOS 4.x - includes a graphical/mouse interface.
    • Version 4.00 (OEM)
    • Version 4.01 (OEM) - IBM patched Version 4.00 before Microsoft released it.
    • Version 4.01a (OEM)
  • [1991]  MS-DOS 5.x
    • Version 5.0 (Retail) - includes a full-screen editor. A number of bugs required reissue.
    • Version 5.0a (Retail) - With this release, IBM and Microsoft versions diverge.
    • Version 5.0.500 (WinNT) - All Windows NT 32-bit versions ship with files from DOS 5.0
  • [1992]  MS-DOS 6.x
    • Version 6.0 (Retail) - Online help through QBASIC. Disk compression and antivirus included.
    • Version 6.2 (Retail) - Microsoft and IBM alternate versions, IBM has 6.1, 6.3
    • Version 6.21 (Retail) - Stacker-infringing DBLSPACE removed.
    • Version 6.22 (Retail) - New DRVSPACE compression.
  • [1995]  MS-DOS 7.x
    • Version 7.0 (Win95,95A) - Support for long file names. New editor.
    • Version 7.1 (Win95B-Win98SE) - Support for FAT32 file system
  • [2000]  MS-DOS 8.0
    • Version 8.0 (WinME) - Integrated drivers for faster Windows loading.
    • Version 8.0 (WinXP) - DOS boot disks created by XP and later contain files from WinME. The internal DOS is still 5.0

*Yes the timeline comes from the wikipedia entry. I just added the year marks to it*

As you can see from this very general timeline I have year marked. MS-DOS development spreads over for 20 years. But only goes for official general retail as MS-DOS for 12 years, plus 7 years of support after that. How can this be so? Well, because until Windows 2000 and Windows XP,  every single Windows release had MS-DOS as its foundation. And there were actually 3 stages to this:

Stage 1: Windows IS just a skin, a controller and some hacked up add-ons for  MS-DOS (Win 1.0-Win 3.1) from 1985 to 1990

Stage 2: Windows IS a whole exo-construction that uses MS-DOS as its backend. A backend that was still over half of what was important in the OS. (Win 95,Win 98 and Win ME) from 1995 to 2000.

Stage 3: Windows IS with all its parts now a full OS by itself running with a new heart as its core (NT) but with MS-DOS still forming a still important (during the firsts years after they were released at least), yet now just a minor part of it. (Win 2000 – Windows XP) from 2000 to 2001.

Post MS-DOS

After it was known that MS-DOS would not have a separate release for what was going to be named MS-DOS 7.0. A movement started forming around the idea of continuing MS-DOS beyond Microsoft. This was then known as FreeDOS. A project that started in 1997 and took up to 2006 (9 years) to get to a 1.0 state release that essentially takes all there was to it about MS-DOS 6.0 and adds stuff from PdDOS, GNUDOS, and other versions of DOS into account, with its own interpretation of that.  Long before FreeDOS was finalized in 2006, another project, in this case aiming for a fully virtualized PC running MS-DOS is born in 2002 that ended up being called DOSBOX. Which would take a whole 7 years for it to get good enough for it to replace any need of FreeDOS.

But from 2001 and on it is where it gets bit fuzzy. As in a way, thanks to the fact that Windows XP to this very day (jul29) is still being the dominant OS in the world.  MS-DOS happens to continue to be very well alive and well in spirit as MS-DOS regardless of the alternatives to it.  But thanks to the alternatives of FreeDOS and DOSBOX, you can also still in a way be running MS-DOS in a Windows Vista or Windows 7 PC for the foreseeable future . Even if these were the two Windows OS released that finally put the nail in the coffin to Windows MS-DOS support,  by purging it out of the OS insides since 2006.

MS-DOS retrospectively

For me, MS-DOS like with everyone else was the gateway to Microsoft and to computers as something that could be what you made of them. You could use them for Work or for Play. And because there was a clear divide in mindset and perspective of these two uses while you used MS-DOS.  For me it always left me with a different impression than the Commodore and the Amiga. As those ended up being more for play and learning than MS-DOS. It also didn’t hurt that MS-DOS had the winning ecosystem of software, uses and games very rapidly.  By 1989, Commodore and Amiga were a memory and  ecosystems that would never have a chance to ever catch up.  Something that also happened with BeOS.  BeOS at the moment it was released in 1991, was around 5 years ahead in software sophistication and OS management than Windows was. But that didn’t mattered much as MS-DOS still at the moment was king and had already started its  winning tag-teaming with Windows.  By 1995 Windows was catching up to the state of  BeOS. And the combination of the teaming of ecosystems from MS-DOS and Windows was still miles and miles ahead of anything else. Something that to this very day persist to anything else with good reason.  No matter what haters and flamebaiting  IT pundits may want you to believe otherwise.

What is crazy, is that 30 years after the introduction of MS-DOS, it is still alive inside Windows XP thanks to XP resilience . That 30 years later you can still find it being used. Hell, one example comes from one of my local bakery’s that got this old cashier that is running MS-DOS (what I believe is 3.0 or something like that) in it.  And of course beyond Microsoft support of MS-DOS, it will continue to live on thanks to FreeDOS and DOSBOX for anyone that wants it.

MS-DOS has to be one of the most important pieces of software ever still working today, one of the most influential OSes of all time and the OS with the most widespread use that has been used the longest amount of time.  And because of that, I don’t even mind how old that makes me feel. I instead, will have a drink to that. Who is with me?

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27 July 2011

SkyDrive Links Now Resolving Normally Again

SkyDrive Logo Icon

For about a week, the links on posts done here in Appatic with files hosted on SkyDrive were not resolving and just showing an error page.  Thanks to reader Sameer Kunesh for the heads up.  As I was about to change all the links to the new hashbang URL the new Skydrive (wave 5) is using, the links seem to have started working again.

I have checked them in 5 browsers and in both XP and 7. But if you still see any post with files hosted in skydrive that are not resolving, please leave a comment here and let me know. For any other kind of issue in Appatic or general question, you can always use the contact form.

In any way, I will be adding the hashbang url as a backup link access in every new post that requires it and to the old posts too this week.

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