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Wondering about Google...

Posted by editor on October 7, 2009 at 10:08 AM PDT

Some years ago, on a technology publishers mailing list, I questioned whether Google's "Don't be evil" slogan had any real meaning. I was immediately rebuked once it was discovered that I hadn't even tried out some of the Google services that were under discussion. But, among the reasons I hadn't tried all the services was that I was wary of the massive agglomeration of information of all types that was accruing within Google's databases and servers. This V'GER-like gathering of all the information in the world that can possibly be gathered into one place, to me, seemed to at minimum lay the groundwork for the possibility of misuse in the future. Not that that's happened (to my knowledge). But still, to me, there's always seemed to be a bit of the "bully" in Google's swagger and its approach to extending its tentacles into new markets. And why do you have to explicitly say "Don't be evil?" Isn't that a given?

In more recent years, quite a few other people have come to find some of the behemoth's actions disconcerting. For example, there was the lawsuit over Google's decision to just start scanning in books and presenting their content online. Some thought that was a bit of overreach, possibly a violation of copyright laws.

More recently, people are wondering about Google with regard to the network neutrality debate. Network neutrality as Google would like it to be enforced turns out to be quite beneficial for the Google business model -- while that same "neutrality" ensures that the transport extremely heavy (in byte size) internet content will be paid for in part by people whose use of the web is quite lightweight.

Next, there's Google Android. Is it Java? What about the Java Community Process? As Simon Morris noted, Android "caused a minor stir" when it was initially launched. It seems to me that the stir has only increased over time.

Terrence Barr points out that "Google's Android philosophy may not be exactly what the developer community and open source advocates was hoping it to be" in his recent post Google Andriod: "Cease and Desist". Terrence points to some news that is apparently surprising many people, namely the cease-and-desist order Google has aimed at Cyanogen. "This is a weird one," says Dan Nosowitz in the Gizmodo post he wrote upon seeing the news. The comments people are leaving are quite interesting too.

Maybe the Cyanogen issue is a bit more serious than Microsoft's attack and subsequent gifting of Mike Rowe over his incredibly threatening web site, or the McDonald's fury over one little Malaysian restaurant named "McCurry" (even if the owners were a bit disingenuous in saying the name really stands for "Malaysian Chicken Curry" -- shouldn't it be "MCCurry" in that case?).

Still, for a company that seems to like to barge right into territories that already have established players and rules, and do things the new way, the Google way, making up its own rules as it goes along -- one wonders why they would take such offense when someone wants to use their stuff as a basis for creating something new and unique that Google didn't think of?

Finally, Malcolm Davis just posted a Response to Bruce Eckel's Google Chrome Changes the Game, in which he points out that the road ahead for Chrome is "fraught with perils."

Seems like a lot of people are wondering about Google these days...

In Java Today, Java Champion Manfred Riem has created a minicast on Generating a getter and setter using NetBeans:

If you have ever wondered how to generate a getter and setter automatically using the NetBeans IDE, well view this minicast.

Malcolm Davis has posted a Response to Bruce Eckel’s Google Chrome Changes the Game:

The browser OS was the original concept of the Netscape browser back in the 90's, hence there nothing new about the concept. Google breathing life back into the concept with Chrome can almost be expected. Palm Pre is based on a similar technology footing, the concept of easy entry for developers because it's based on HTML, rather than some propriety type technology of like the iPhone. However the road ahead of Chromes if fraught with perils. As evidenced in the following examples of other's plights to the rode to greatness...

Heather VanCura from the Java Community Process would like people to know that the JCP Executive Committee Elections are upon us:

The 2009 Java Community Process (JCP) program Executive Committee (EC) Elections are here. Nominate yourself today! Nominations run until 14 October. One open seat remains on the Standard/Enterprise Edition Executive Committee and one open seat on the Micro Edition Executive Committee.

In today's Weblogs, Cay Horstmann writes about Recording and serving screencasts:

I just learned how to make Flash screencasts on my Linux system and deliver them (with GlassFish) on a server that the computer science department received as a donation (thanks Sun!!!). Why am I doing this? My publisher wants me to develop screencasts for my books, and I thought it could be useful for my students if I record my lectures. I use a smart board for the lectures, and a screencast that records the "smart" pen and voice works tolerably well.

Carol McDonald continues her series with Top 10 web security vulnerabilities number 2: Injection Flaws:

Number 2 in the Top 10 most critical web application security vulnerabilities identified by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is Injection Flaws. Injection happens whenever an attacker's data is able to modify a query or command sent to a database, LDAP server, operating system or other Interpreter. Types of injections are SQL, LDAP, XPath, XSLT, HTML, XML, OS command... SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting account for more than 80% of the vulnerabilities being discovered against Web applications (SANS Top Cyber Security Risks).

And Bruno Ghisi notes that Java DTV 1.2.1 is out!:

The new version of Java DTV specification, 1.2.1, was released at Java DTV was created in order to prevent some royalty issues from some MHP APIs, like DAVIC e HAVI, in the Ginga-J subsystem of the Brazilian DTV middleware specification, which is also called Ginga. For more information around this soap opera, check this old blog entry...

In the Forums, jeeky has an issue where OGC Sensor Observation Service Binding Dies: "Hi Folks, I am trying to create classes for the OGC SOS. Here's the initial command I am trying to execute: xjc -xmlschema -d..."

prince2 finds the Access Managrer Node NOT appearing on NetBeans 6.5.1 under GlassFishv2 node: "Hello Everyone, I have working on a webservice project for sometimes now and i have problem with implementing the security due to the fact that the Access Manager node does not appear on the server tab. I have installed and configure the..."

And tom01278 has questions about Setting up Voice Bridge with Asterisk: "I've set up an Asterisk server (and connected with X-Lite, to make sure it works), and now I'm trying to get Wonderland to connect to it. I've had a look at the phone setup tutorials here, but can't make it work. I need to know what special..."

Our current Spotlight is the JavaFX Survey. Danny Coward, reporting on the survey, said: "Don't href="">bottle up any href="">unexpressed href="">opinions about href="">JavaFX, take the survey. Mixed in with the usual snoozeville multichoice questions about the
kind of project you work on, you get to rate the current feature set
and rank the importance of new features the team's working on: tooling,
more controls, performance...."

The current Poll asks Which IDE do you use? The poll will run through next Thursday.

Our Feature Articles include Jeff Lowery's A Finite State Machine Supporting Concurrent States, which demonstrates how Java enums and EnumSets can be used as a basis to define and validate application states and state transitions. We're also featuring Jeff Friesen's article Introducing Custom Paints to JavaFX, which shows how you can leverage undocumented JavaFX capabilities to support custom paints in JavaFX Version 1.2.

The latest Java Mobility Podcast is Java Mobile Podcast 88: Robert Virkus of Enough Software: 'A conversation with Robert Virkus of Enough Software about J2MEPolish and the "Mobile Deverloper's Guide to the Galaxy."'

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The "wondering" isn't about Google's technology...

In saying that I and others are "Wondering about Google," I don't see the question as being Google's technology. Google produces great technology. What I "wonder" about is the business attitude. When management flaunts a slogan like "Don't be evil" -- well, clearly, the statement being made is that at least one company that competes with Google is evil. To me that's a bit much. Like, Google execs haven't been highly focused on the market value of GOOG since even before it went public?

If they're saying there's something "evil" about a company endeavoring to be the dominant player in their business realm, then I consider that hypocrisy, since clearly Google wants to be dominant in its various business realms (just like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Yahoo!, AT&T, ...). It's the implication that "we're different in terms of business ethics" that has always bothered me. What I see is: same objective to dominate, just a different strategy (one that has worked quite well in today's technology milieu, clearly).

Google produces great technology. However, I find the Holman Jenkins argument (that the real objective behind Google's advocacy of network neutrality is that the regulations will work to Google's financial advantage) convincing:

for all the grass-roots pose, net neut has always been a weapon in the hands of status-quo companies trying to protect themselves against technological change. First AOL, now Google: A lot of things may be new under the sun, but regulatory incentives aren't one of them.

In terms of their way of doing business, Google doesn't stand out for me as being any less crass than companies like Microsoft that are the frequent recipients of bashing by developers.

But, yes, Google has produced great technology to date!

Android and Java

Well, Android is not exactly Java as specified by the JCP, but so is JDK 7, since there is no JSR. Google did a terrific job with GWT, allowing my Java code to execute as lightweight JavaScript in a browser instead of a - still heavyweight - JVM, and with Android, my Java code can execute in whatever form on a huge mass of future mobile phones. Good news for Java developers.

Is it cool to dis the competition?

Ye who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones. Let ye without sin cast the first stone.


pmattheis: Just to be clear, the editor (me) works for O'Reilly, not Sun. Yes, is a Sun-sponsored site, but the vast majority of contributors to are not Sun employees. So, Google is not "my" competition; nor is it's competition. I've just noticed a lot of recent talk that backs up my early view that, as a business, Google isn't as ethically special as they seem to like to portray themselves as being.