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arrival of the 2.0's, tech term musings

Posted by michael_n on November 12, 2005 at 10:35 PM PST

So... I've been out of town (& country, actually) for the past couple weeks, & am just now catching up on news & events. These days, I go for weeks at a stretch practically incommunicado (traveling, work), which makes time move at a strange (Vonnegut-esque) pace / direction. That, doubled with a magazine that I picked up, which had surprisingly out-dated notions of a variety of common tech-terms: it at once took me back, and yet gave a glimpse of things to come....

First, in the "That's News (To Me)" category: The Arrival of the 2.0's: I'm thrilled to see Maven 2.0 finally out, and also OpenOffice.org has also released its long-awaited (and slightly delayed) OOo 2.0. I had been wanting (and waiting) to "expose" some neophytes to these two tools in particular (gently, ever so gently....). I had been holding off for months in anticipation of a release. (A new tool immediately followed by a major release is too much for some people to take in at once.)

And, in other news: I had been wanting to finally get a digital camera -- yeah, I'm a troglodyte at my core -- and picked up a recent copy of a well-known "consumer reporting" magazine for a long flight. And, I admit, I'm the type of guy who actually reads [for example] the emergency evacuation tri-fold, not for the information, but for entertainment (loved that FightClub scene): so, I was actually reading the glossary of this particular "electronics buying guide" from A to Z (hey, it's like a 12-hour flight). Although good for providing a definition of S-Video, etc. -- it provided some in-flight entertainment of its own when it came to defining other terms... For example,

XML - Extensible Markup Language, a "superset" of HTML that allows Web page designers to incorporate new, interactive objects into their pages.

Huh. I had no idea. Who knew. Perhaps all that XML hype was warranted.

But this next one bothered me a little, having taught Java many years ago, back when JavaScript was well-known but Java was still in its "applets" phase (and Java was receiving all the flack that JavaScript deserved). Guess those misconceptions still remain in someone's database. (And, yes, this says "Java OR JavaScript"):

Java or JavaScript - A programming language that brings animation and interactivity to Web pages by embedding program code that is run on the client PC.

On the bright side, that definition rules out EJB's all together. Perhaps this definition of yesteryear is actually predicting this next wave of Java on the client -- Java WebStart...? (<editorial> And, Java WebStart will be a Good Thing, as long as developers keep those apps judiciously sandboxed! The last thing the world needs is Active-X for Java... </editorial> )

And on yet the brighter side, I was actually relieved to see someone admitting that the emperor is buck naked:

EULA - End-User License Agreement. A legal instrument, accompanying most software [...] typically written in virtually incomprehensible legal jargon, but must often be agreed with by clicking an on-screen "I Agree" button before one can use the software.

The "human readable license agreement" is a movement still in its infancy, but maybe it'll catch on, if it becomes generally acknowledged by the human race that an agreement in "legalese" is as alien a language as... well, an alien language, I guess (which I imagine would look like APL or something).

And, lastly, to take us back to the bridge, this glossary entry gave a quick inadvertent nod to the new OpenOffice document format, OASIS OpenDocument,

Document - Any human-readable file containing information entered by the user. Examples are word-processing files, spreadsheets, and databases.

...Though, not many "databases" are human-readable (yes, sure, a couple odd exceptions), at least now it's possible to have human readable "word-processing files", which certainly was not possible in the days of yore, when Microsoft Word was still used.... (ok, living time backwards again...)

Back to the future,
-Michael

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