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The Complexity of Java

Java has a well-deserved reputation for complexity, but it did not start out this way. In the beginning, Java flourished in part because it was so much simpler to write programs in Java than in the alternatives, e.g., C++. Garbage collection, collection classes, simple database API, sane networking API, and a simplified threading model combined to make programming in Java delightful. But that was 1995! Ten years later, Java is a complex beast. Writing enterprise programs with J2EE is extremely difficult. Maybe that’s an intrinsic difficulty of enterprise programming, but J2EE is certainly part of the problem. Since Java is getting too complex, programmers are starting to take a look at other technologies, like Ruby. And the Java community is taking notice — see ONJava.com’s discussion on Ruby — and fighting back. Graham Hamilton wrote a recent column where he listed some of the steps the latest version of Java is taking to simplify programming. I like the new constructs, but I’m afraid it’s a little too late for Java. Maybe it’s time to start learning Ruby.
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Tiered Pricing in the Internet Economy

Joel Spolsky of Joel of Software fame wrote a recent article on tiered pricing at the iTunes Music Store (iTMS). His thesis is that record companies want to force iTMS to institute tiered pricing not to raise additional revenue, but to use the different prices as a signal of quality. If a song is priced at $2.50 instead of $0.50, buyers will think it is worth more. The recording industry argues that it is a simple matter of economics, supply and demand. That seems right. I would rather pay $0.99 (iTMS’s current flat price per song) for ZZ Top‘s classic song La Grange than for anything by Hilary Duff. There’s the demand side. But where is the supply side of the equation? iTMS has an unlimited number of copies of both songs. The Internet’s downloading model completely changes the supply equation. So I began to wonder, does tiered pricing make sense in an Internet economy?
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The Internet as an Antidote to Walmart

Walmart has a profound effect on America: It helps to keep prices low, it provides an outlet for foreign goods, it employs people, and it bankrupts small retailers in the communities it enters. Understandably Walmart has been getting a bad wrap from some corners. I disagree with much of what is said about Walmart, although I am not one of its fans. My problem with the criticism is that I think it’s off the mark, directed not at Walmart’s practices, but at its incredible success. I am more concerned about Walmart’s effects on our diversity, and I see these effects as inevitable. Were Walmart to disappear, some other conglomerate would have just as devastating an effect on diversity. But there is a way out: The Internet. I believe the Internet will fill the role that was once played by the neighborhood retailer. In fact, I believe the Internet will save the neighborhood retailer, by making the neighborhood bigger.
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