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Computing At Chaos Manor:
The Mailbag

Jerry Pournelle jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
Copyright 2010 Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D.

December 30, 2010

Dragon Dictation on your iPhone

You said:

I don't do as much portable computing as I used to. I could use something I can type on to make notes on my daily walks, and that is sort of aiming me toward a smart phone I can use the two-thumb system with because I have not perfected the means of entering text, even short bits of text, on the iPhone without sitting down or leaning against a wall, and even then my one-finger typing is slow. The new Air won't solve that problem.

Have you tried the Dragon Dictation App from the app store? It is amazingly good, even when using the microphone built into the earbuds that come with the iPhone. It is astonishing how well it works on my 3GS, and jaw dropping how well it works on Karen's iPhone 4.

I use it more than I ever thought I would, since like you tell us is the bottom line with cameras, I almost always have my phone with me, but I often forget to take a recorder. It works well on my iPad as well.

The price is right too - it is a free app. :)


I find that intriguing. I was very interested in Dragon Speaking Naturally, and enthusiastically recommended it back when it was strictly a Windows program. It really did work pretty well.

The problem for me is that I don’t dictate well. I never learned to, and I find that I can write faster than I can dictate. When dictating I tend to ramble, which is why I do much better interviews and panel discussions than lectures without feedback.

I really do need to get the Dragon Dictation App, and had intended to do it by now, but other stuff got in the way. Thanks for the reminder. I’m downloading it now, or will be when the iPhone updates about a dozen apps. Apparently I don’t keep things up to date as often as I should.

Actually, I am long overdue to turn in this iPhone 3 for the iPhone 4, and I should do that before I go to CES, but I won’t get around to it. I keep falling further and further behind. I note that the iPhone will continue to update even if you let it turn itself off. I learn something new every week.

Outies, kindle, and e-book formatting.

Dr. Pournelle,

Like another of your correspondents, _Outies_ is my first e-book, and I've quite enjoyed it. It was very well done and I've always enjoyed stories from that particular fictional Universe. I much appreciate the plot tie-in to _King David's Spaceship_ -- always one of my favorites. Please pass along my congratulations and thanks to the other Dr. Pournelle!

I downloaded a PC kindle app and _Outies_ just before Christmas, and enjoyed it enough that a pair of WiFi/3G Kindles became mutual Christmas gifts for my wife and I. We've both finished four books, in my case two Niven/Lerners, a Baen free library _Fallen_Angels_, and am now working on a Terry Pratchett release. I am finding the Kindle addictive, and may learn to regret the capability to by online instantly.

I noted your Chaos Manor mail about Kindle and e-book formatting, and your postings in Chaos Manor reviews. The PC Kindle app had some formatting issues with _Outies_, inexplicably switching to page-centered paragraph styling at about chapter two. Along about Chapter 11, I figured out that my experimenting with the bookmarking function caused a re-pagination. When done at the beginning of a chapter, it somehow picked up and presented the centered text from the chapter heading. The centered "Dingbat" or graphic that was used to separate sections/scenes had the same effect. Changing to a page where the lead line was not centered, selecting, then de-selecting the bookmark function caused it to be re-set to the left-justified presentation. This was only an issue in the PC Kindle app, and was not something I could cause to do with either Niven book (little or no center-justified text). This had no effect on my enjoyment of the book, however.

A nit on the Kindle format: I love the sync function. The formatting for Pratchett's book creates a minor issue, though. He puts wonderfully funny side remarks in footnotes, which are implemented as hyperlinks on the Kindle, rather than printed at the bottom of the page (which would be difficult to do in a form that is always potentially re-paginated to a user's preference. Unfortunately, the hyperlinks are stored at the end of the book, so the "farthest read" point is always the last-visited footnote. I do not think this would be useful behavior in a technical manual or non-fiction, annotated volume -- it is merely annoying on the Kindle (but only then when switching between kindle devices).

My PC Kindle app has a few other issues, perhaps caused or exacerbated by the fact that I am using it within a virtualBox version of Windows -- not the fault of the book formatting, but of the application administration and setup.

Otherwise we both totally enjoyed the Kindle itself, so very much thanks for your recommendations for both the devices and for _Outies_.

Seasons Greetings.



For those who don’t know, OUTIES is a novel by my daughter, Dr. Jennifer Pournelle. It is set in the MOTE universe, and is published with the permission and recommendation of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Jennifer learned a lot about formatting for Amazon and other eBook formats in getting this out for sale.

Word processing software

Scrivener is great - I own it and use it - but for Windows I prefer yWriter.


Tim of Angle

Another vote for Scrivener by a long time reader. If I ever completely convert to the Mac – and there are a lot of good reasons to consider doing that – I’ll give Scrivener a real try. I understand it has a number of interesting features, and I have been intrigued by some of the reviews, particularly “Goodbye Cruel Word”. There is said to be a Windows Scrivener and I think I’ll try that.

I do have to say that I find Word 2010 good enough (one does want to remember the control-F1 trick to hide the ribbon) and with modern computers it’s plenty fast and powerful. It has more features than I need. As to the cork board and other Scrivener features, I tend to create a directory for each of my projects, and keep related files in there; it’s easy to change windows in Word, and to cut and paste across those different files. That may be easier in something like Scrivener, but for me Word remains good enough. As I said above, I write faster than I can dictate.

Word also works fairly well with OneNote, which does a good job of organizing research materials and auxiliary notes and files.

Accessing Device Manager in Windows 7

Jerry –

In “Computing at Chaos Manor, November 29, 2010” you mention that there didn’t seem to be an easy way to get to Device Manager in Windows 7. If you right-click the Computer icon (on the desktop if you have it there or from the Start menu) and pick Manage, the resulting Computer Management window will show Device Manager in the left-hand pane (roughly two-thirds of the way down).

As a side note, the easy way to set whether or not the Computer icon shows on the desktop is also there when you right-click the Computer icon on the Start menu. It is a toggle which is labeled (amazingly enough) “Show on Desktop”. Both these shortcuts have been available in Windows for a long time (I think since Windows 95) but I never see them mentioned anywhere.

Thank you for continuing to do your columns. They are the highlight amongst the various materials I read for work.


Jeffrey D. Elmer
Director, Information Systems
Dairylea Cooperative Inc.

Thank you. I find that I often need reminding of such things; the new Windows is easy to learn from scratch. Alas, I learned the old Windows user interface from Windows 3 on, and it’s hard to unlearn. I can understand why Microsoft took most of the “Classic” options out of Windows 7, and I expect there will come a time when I will thank them for it.

Subject: One reason to break up Microsoft


In your latest column, you ask:

"Microsoft is a profitable company. It doesn't pay large dividends, but it does have real earnings. Why in the world would anyone want to break it up?"

One justification could be to (temporarily) defeat the "Iron Law of Bureaucracy". After all, the Iron Law seems as valid for big companies as big government. Much of what I read about Microsoft these days suggests that the company has become a slow moving behemoth, weighed down by layers of bureaucracy. Recently, an ex-Microsoft executive wrote a revealing editorial about how internal in-fighting among divisions has short-circuited the company's efforts to innovate.

I note that Microsoft has tried for years to get people interested in Windows tablets, and has gotten the cold shoulder from consumers. Now Apple is on a tear with a tablet computer that does not use a 'touchified' version of it's desktop OS - they essentially started over from scratch with the interface.

In the aftermath of the success of the iPad, many have observed that the Zune/Windows Phone 7 interface would be great for a tablet. So far, Microsoft has said little or nothing to indicate they see this as interesting product opportunity. Is that because they have researched the matter, and decided it doesn't make sense for the company? Or do they plan to keep up under wraps until it is ready to ship? Or is it because the people in the Windows Division are being stubborn, protecting their turf, and keeping tablet form factors within their fiefdom? From what I have read about Microsoft, I wouldn't be surprised to find that the latter is true.

To me, the idea of disrupting an entrenched Bureaucracy seems like a lot more sensible argument for break up than the Bean Counter justification of 'unlocking hidden shareholder value'.

CP, Connecticut

You may well be correct here. I do wonder about companies that “grow” by buying their competition, but that isn’t how Microsoft grew.

It does seem that Microsoft has lost its vision; I feared as much when Gates left active management.

The Tablet story is an interesting one. Tablets were the personal project of Gates, and his enthusiasm for them was obvious. One problem is that he got interested too early: the hardware wasn’t really ready for the Tablet. For that matter, Windows wasn’t ready for the Tablet either. For all that, Windows OneNote with a good Tablet was and to some extent still is as good a research tool as existed, particularly when you added a USB connected wand scanner. The whole mess was a bit heavy and difficult to transport, and for a long session in a library you had to find a power arrangement, but there was nothing better available.

My old TabletPC still works, but the problem is that we’re all used to everything being so much faster that the HP TabletPC seems slow and quirky and hard to use. I wish I had my old Tablet’s capability in a modern system, and perhaps I’ll see something at CES that will inspire me. Bluetooth works well now, and there are lots of good Bluetooth small carryable keyboards now – one of the advantages of the old HP Tablet was that the keyboard was quite useful, or could be swung out of the way. I could and did carry that Tablet as my only computer for extended trips, and I filed columns from shows with it. I’ve seen tablets since but none caught my eye; I’ll be looking at the latest Windows 7 versions. Had Apple come out with a MacBook Pro tablet in the past few years I’d probably be using one of those now.

Ray Ozzie and the vision thing

Ray Ozzie didn't have the authority to provide vision to Microsoft. Like it or not, the vision thing has to come to the guy to whom everyone has to answer and that is Ballmer. But he seems to be constitutionally incapable of imposing vision. Or even order.

In my daily life, the most telling evidence of this is the rank incompatibility of Internet Explorer and Office. IE simply will not read docx, xlsx or pptx files. Every other browser will open them in the appropriate office application but IE insists on treating them as generic zip files.

The reason is security. To avoid viruses, IE tries to be smart and look inside the file to determine what it is rather than simply look at the filename extension. Since New Office files are zipped xml files, it is smart enough to detect that they are zipped but not smart enough to detect the nature of that which has been zipped.

So I can count on a flood of email every semester if I fail to remember to save an assignment in Office 97 format, because at least half my students simply default to the browser that came on their PC.

Now to me this speaks of a dispute between divisions of Microsoft. The security interests of the IE team have collided with the document format interests of the Office team and no one is either able or willing to solve the dispute. So each team goes its own way, and we end up in this situation which has gone unresolved for three years now. Gates never would have allowed that to happen.

Dr. Paul J. Camp
Physics Department
Spelman College

I have known Steve Ballmer for a long time although I can’t say we are friends. He has always struck me a highly competent at running a big business, but not particularly fascinated by the business he runs. I could be mistaken.

Managing a company as big as Microsoft is a formidable task. Perhaps that’s the best argument for breaking up that large a company: kindness to the CEO. The problem is, who shall decide when it is time to do that, and do you trust anyone with the power? The shakedown potential would be enormous...

Net Neutrality


Is this psychological warfare or some Orwellian fun house? It seems as though everything said is the opposite of reality. Now, that is reminiscent of the Ministry of Love -- where they engage in torture. It is also reminiscent of basic psychological warfare techniques, such as yelling "this is not an assault" while charging someone with a knife.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to add the Internet to its portfolio of regulated industries. The agency's chairman, Julius Genachowski, announced Wednesday that he circulated draft rules he says will "preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet." No statement could better reflect the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of Obama administration policies.

With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the "freedom" of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been blocked from tinkering with the Web. Ordinarily, it would be appropriate at this point to supply an example from the proposed regulations illustrating the problem. Mr. Genachowski's draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped "non-public, for internal use only" to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for "openness."



Joshua Jordan

I have commented on this elsewhere. I do not believe that the FCC ought to be regulating the Internet, and I do not believe the Internet needs any net neutrality regulation. This is a bureaucratic remedy desperately in search of a problem.

C/C++ and Gary Alston Letter

Hi Jerry,

I just wanted to comment on the Gary Alston letter. [see November mail] My impression is they were not using C/C++ because it was a legacy problem, it was because of a speed problem. We also use C (with a little C++ thrown in) because we do real time programming. Events must happen at a predictable time with in microseconds. In the last 5 to 10 years we have been able to do this in C. Prior to that a mixture of C and assembly was required. I would guess most modern cars run on C/C++. This is true in most embedded systems.

Keep up the good work!


I continue to believe that as hardware gets better the problems caused by opaque languages that lack strong type and range checking and structure cost far more time and money than the slower speed of structured programming languages like Modula-2. I seem to be in a minority in that belief.

Ortek keyboard

" So I paint the letters back on with airplane model paint and that lasts a month or so, or I use a Sharpie and that lasts a week and gets my fingers filthy."

You might try covering the new letters with clear nail polish. I've found it to be durable and inexpensive in other applications.


Interesting thought. Thanks. I am about to paint the letters back on, and I’ll see if I can find some clear polish• They wear off fast, alas.

IBM Many Bills

If you have not seen this, you might want to go and explore it. It looks to me to be an endlessly fascinating, and perhaps really *useful* tool for anyone who wants to get ahold of facts about what our legislature is really doing.

It's like feeding the elephant, every little tidbit leads to more and more interesting things... :)



It really is a fascinating rabbit trail. In theory all laws will go on line before being voted on. Yah. Sure.

December 2010 International column

Dear Jerry,

Merry Christmas!

I have a few comments on your latest column. Full disclosure: I am currently an employee of Google (though not in the ChromeOS division).

I think the idea of ChromeOS and its cloud computing model is to make computing simpler, especially backup difficult things like changing/upgrading your computer.

For me, a home computer upgrade means I spend a lot of time installing software. With the cloud model, this would all go away. I have Windows Home Server for backup at home, but it requires looking after (although not as much as previous solutions). The idea of having the cloud back up everything, and make it available wherever I am, is enticing.

If you have not tried Mobile Broadband AKA tethering, you really need to (I wasn't sure from your column whether you had or not). Hotels (esspecially Vegas hotels) charge a lot for internet access, and Mobile Brodaband is actually cheaper (*much* cheaper!) and far more secure. With Verizon, I can get mobile broadband turned on for a day or two when I travel, thus paying for it only when I need it. This works out to a little under $2 per day.

Best Regards,

Chris Barker

When mobile broadband becomes ubiquitous the pocket computer we put in Mote in God’s Eye will become universal, I expect. But in Mote we also had local storage (in the ship’s library, or at home) of data as well as the cloud. I expect to see something like that.

Subject: What can the OpenBSD IPsec backdoor allegations teach us?


I thought the following comment in the article was interesting:

“Do not trust government involvement in development of secure software. Whether the software is open source or closed, the governmental motivation remains the same: monitoring the activities and secrets of members of the public. Whether you believe their intentions are good (protecting us from terrorists) or corrupt (cracking down on peaceful dissidents), the result is that government is strongly motivated to violate individual privacy — which means compromising security technologies.”


Tracy Walters, CISSP

Information Technology Consultant

Yea, verily.

: NAT Router

Hi Jerry,

In the column, you mentioned: "The bottom line being that I don’t know of any device that would log on to a wireless network as the Zoom connects to an Ethernet access to the Internet, do NAT and firewall functions, and connect with an Ethernet connection to your laptop. That would be a useful device to have."

The Airport Express does that, and it's what I travel with - actually two of them. I have one connect to the hotel wireless, bridge via ethernet to a second, which creates a password protected wireless network. That way I can connect all my devices to it (or my wife's computer), share between devices, and share a single hotel internet among them. Works great (if a bit clunky).

I've run across too many probes when on hotel networks to run unprotected.



Aha. Thanks

Road Warrior Security

"The bottom line being that I don’t know of any device that would log on to a wireless network as the Zoom connects to an Ethernet access to the Internet, do NAT and firewall functions, and connect with an Ethernet connection to your laptop. That would be a useful device to have."

If you don't mind me reminding you, what you're headed toward is the firewall-on-the-motherboard idea that I brought up a couple of years ago. It would be nice if we could convince one of the big manufacturers to add this, so that they could advertise a "More Secure PC." Then, all the others would probably quickly follow suit.

Peter Glaskowsky pointed out a product that provided firewall services in a Wi-Fi USB device. The biggest drawback for that particular product was that it required a subscription.

Of course, as you know, having the firewall/NAT doesn't protect against the cookie stealing exploits like Firesheep. So, until popular websites finish closing up those holes, it's still risky to surf on an open Wi-Fi to any site that's not https secured.

Drake Christensen

I expect to see NAT built into all portable systems reasonably soon. The problem is what happens when you bring it home. That’s not a technical problem, it’s a user education problem.

and wireless routers

Dr. Pournelle,

In your Dec column you say:

The bottom line being that I don’t know of any device that would log on to a wireless network as the Zoom connects to an Ethernet access to the Internet, do NAT and firewall functions, and connect with an Ethernet connection to your laptop. That would be a useful device to have.

I know of one and only one although I keep looking for others as I travel a great deal; it is the Linksys WTR54GS . It may be discontinued as I didn’t pay near this price for it new. It will attach to either a wired or wireless network then provide router services for you. With many if not most hotels going the wireless only route these days, you have that additional option with this device.

Steve, aka steve@foxhughes.us

I’ve never seen one of those. Amazon says it is currently unavailable. Alas. I’ll be looking for something of the sort at CES next month.

Subject: Interesting speculative piece


This is an interesting speculative piece on where Internet privacy is headed — with a holiday flair:


Tracy Walters, CISSP

Toshiba Portege R700 quick report


A quick (but sort of lengthy, sorry) report on my wife's new Toshiba Portege R700. She is anticipating work on a new contract that will require her to have two big monitors attached to her computer, and her current setup with an older Fujitsu laptop and a single HP LP2475w won't cut it. She needed both a second monitor and a new computer that could drive two of these beautiful displays. She doesn't want a desktop cluttering up her work area and she takes her computer with her whenever she travels, so I had to find a 13" class laptop that could handle dual 1920x1200 displays and manipulate large image sets without bogging down. After a lot of searching, I found the R700.

There are a few versions of this computer, from the casual user oriented R705 sold through Best Buy with a core i3 processor, slow hard drive and fewer features, to a very fast core i7 version with an 128GB SSD and all the goodies. We went bought the middle of the road variant, with a nice i5 cpu, 4GB ram, and 320GB 7200 rpm hard drive. It has all the features we could want except for a blu-ray optical drive. 2 external monitor outputs, eSATA, SD card slot, wifi and wimax, wireless HDMI, bluetooth, cardbus slot, and a DVD burner built in. Believe it or not, finding a laptop this size with all these features, a decent cpu, and an internal optical drive, is darn near impossible. Only a handful have these specs and the price varies wildly from around $700 for the R705 to around $3,000 for the sony equivalent. My favorite thinkpad brand doesn't have anything comparable as every model they sell is short by at least one feature I require.

The computer arrived fast enough that online UPS tracking never caught up with the package. The box contents were minimal - the computer, power supply, and some thin pamphlets on why it is a bad idea to use the laptop in a bathtub and why computers shouldn't be thrown away in landfills. The quickstart guide was also minimal, containing instructions to the effect of "turn it on and see what happens, the manual is online whenever you get it running, good luck!". Actually turning on the computer for the first time launches what turns out to be the normal system restore menu, giving me the three options of either installing 64bit or 32 bit windows 7, or wiping the hard drive entirely followed by a phone call to toshiba begging for restore media. We may need more than 4GB of ram later on since my wife's work utilizes huge images, so I went with 64 bit windows and accepted every single default option after that. About 4 hours later (there is a very time consuming series of drivers that are automatically installed), we had a usable win7 laptop. Performance is exactly what you'd expect from an i5 system with 7200 rpm hard drive - fast, responsive, and as attractive as win7 gets.

Pros: System size, weight, and features. This thing is about as good as a thin/light laptop gets with few caveats. Yes the body isn't machined from a single block of titanium, but it weighs about a pound less than a 13" macbook pro while sporting up to an i7 cpu and 8 hrs of battery life. The ability to create backup / restore DVDs is a prominent feature, recommended immediately after system restore or installation. This is a nice change from my IBM T41p where the system restore was on the hard drive only. Features - lots. The ability to hook up 2 external monitors (via HDMI and analog SVGA port) is a great feature. Speed - the i5 cpu is fast, no compromises there.

Cons: The keyboard is chicklet style but not nearly as good as the apple keyboards. I think that a poor chicklet style keyboard is far worse than a poorly made conventional keyboard, so this is a pretty big drawback. In fact, it is probably the only deal killer for a serious writer who might consider and reject this computer since the keyboard pretty much sucks. Toshiba doesn't offer a blu-ray drive with this system, which could be a major drawback for some people. Another con is the usual griping about system bloatware. The computer comes with a handful of useful utilities including a health monitoring system with info on cpu temps, fan speeds, and other nifty things to look at, but they are mixed in with an equal amount of stuff you probably won't care about. Yet another trial version of norton antivirus and office 2010 come pre-loaded, awaiting entry of a license key. 92 processes remained active AFTER killing off most of the stuff I didn't want, but the system is still very responsive and feels quick so I'm not going on a process hunt to further clean it up. Real tech types would of course scrub to bare metal and install from scratch. Finally, the laptop gets a bit hot due to the full-speed i5 cpu and small chassis size. No way around it, dumping all that heat is a huge challenge and while the top of the laptop remains cool, the back left corner gets warm enough to merit safety warnings about not setting the computer down on your lap. We use the laptop sitting on a laptop cooler so system heat isn't a huge issue for us, but it might be for some people depending on where/how you use your computer when not at a desk.

As a last note, I purchased a spyder3 elite monitor calibrator along with the second big monitor. The "elite" version simply denotes an expanded software suite that can handle multiple monitors and some more calibration monitoring features. Although the gadget came with an old version of the software suite, the latest version is a free upgrade. Setup went ok but after calibrating one of the HP monitors and the laptop LCD, I'm not sure I'm doing it right. The laptop screen is a TN panel and is therefore grossly inferior to the wide gamut IPS panel used in the HP monitor, but I expected a simple outdoor photo to look approximately the same on both after calibration. They don't, so I'll probably need to keep fiddling until I get it right. On the gripping hand, I'll be happy if I can get both of the HP monitors to look the same since that will meet my wife's requirements for her job.


Thanks. Sounds like an awesome machine. In the old BYTE days we’d have seen it and had several editors (probably including me) use it and pound on it for a while. Alas, that kind of thing doesn’t happen so often now that the computer magazines have died away.

On Modula-2 like Module Independence in Java

Hi, Jerry.

I agree with CP from Connecticut (in your 30 September Mailbag) about the similarities between Modula-2 modules and Java classes.

Java lets you define private variables and private methods that are not accessible to other code in the system, under essentially any circumstance. With no random memory access supported by Java, you don't have to worry about some piece of code you've never seen disturbing the internal state of your objects.

As in Modula-2, Java classes are obligated to satisfy the API requirements that were agreed upon at the time the respective code modules (classes) were compiled. Java supports the notion of an abstract interface definition which is separate from the actual definition of any specific class, while providing for derivation through inheritance that Modula-2 did not support.

Interestingly, Java has a more dynamic runtime than Modula-2, with the ability to load classes during a program's execution, even over the Internet if need be. Those classes may not have been conceived at the time the loading code was written, but they are guaranteed both to satisfy the interface requirements and to be powerless to harm the internal code or structure of other code modules.

Loading classes dynamically over the Internet obviously implies some pretty significant security risks, but a very great deal of engineering went into the design and implementation of Java's security model, and the risks can be well controlled using the tools on offer.

Java supports verification of digital signatures on loaded code modules, as well as fairly fine-grained controls over what kinds of nefarious activities can be performed from such code.

To your point about self-compilation, several groups have written Java compilers in Java.

What they have not created, to my knowledge, is a full Java runtime written in Java. The considerable strengths that Java has in security present some real limits in what can be done with a pure Java system. Java code has no way to manipulate raw memory, nor any means to transfer execution to arbitrary points in memory.

For such tasks, Java has to call out to raw executable code through a well-controlled and standardized native calling interface.

That low-level code is typically written in C++, but could in principle be written in any compiled language that can satisfy the calling conventions Java demands. Of course, you'd better really trust that code, because all guarantees of memory protection and good behavior are suspended at that point.

All in all, Java really is a fair modern-era Modula-2, even if the language traces the elements of its syntax from the C family of languages.

When you add in its excellent support for multi-threaded programming and the ability to run most Java code on any system with a Java environment without having to recompile anything, it's not greatly surprising that Java caused such a splash in the mid-90's, or that it is so widely used today.


Jonathan Abbey

Interesting. I’m not a Java programmer, but I hadn’t thought that it had strong type and range checking, and declaration requirements?