PACKET RAT

X marks the spot for Rat's bite at Apple

The Rat had forgotten the joys of parenting an infant. But once he got reacquainted with them, he was raring to return to his agency command bunker. It was the only place he could hope to enjoy a few uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Besides, FOSE was coming up, and he wanted to scan the giveaways'er, gather important information about the future of government computing.

As it turned out, however, the whiskered one made a tactical error. Months before, he'd promised his spouse to work flex-time and take care of the miniratling for a few hours at lunchtime on a day he had neglected to mark in his calendaring software: March 20, when the expo opened.

There was only one solution. He would have to sneak his 1-month-old onto the show floor. Otherwise, all the best gimme gear would be snapped up by track-shoe-wearing slackers.

'Is it possible to disguise her carrier as a newfangled computer backpack or something?' he mused while strapping on the marsupial apparatus. 'Maybe as a wearable PC?'

Apart from freebies, the Rat was also eager to grill some of the folks in Apple Computer Inc.'s booth''with a cilantro marinade,' he cackled to his cohorts.

What was behind the sudden high-profile attempt to convert Java developers to the Mac OS X operating system?

'That's some strange brew,' the cyberrodent declared. 'Aqua Java, maybe. Or Javintosh?'
This was the same Apple'and the same Steve Jobs'that once openly rejected the idea of any sort of end-user development tools because Jobs didn't want amateurs messing up his precious interface.

Microsoft Corp. did, of course, calling the result Windows.

When Apple finally did deliver development tools, it was through the acquisition of Jobs' other company, Next Inc., and using that ever so accessible development language, Objective C.

Then, suddenly last summer, Apple an-nounced it would ship Java on Mac OS X and make WebObjects a pure Java development tool. Which, mind you, the Rat is all in favor of; he just has a hard time suspending belief beyond the edges of the Apple Reality Distortion Field.

Maybe that's because the announcement came almost a year ago, and Mac OS X has yet to ship.

Maybe it's because of the Rat's inherent mistrust of the company that built the PowerBook Duo Dock.

Or maybe he's just bitter about the way the company obsolesced all his Apple serial-compatible printers.

Now that Mac OS X is on the cusp of delivery, Apple's Developer Connection program has begun courting Java developers in earnest. They're making a big marketing push on Web sites and in magazines to promote X's virtue as a Java development platform.

The wirebiter figures that's because Apple is finding itself in fierce competition for its remaining sliver of the desktop market'against Linux.

'I know one way they could win back developers,' grinned the Rat as he stuck an attendee badge on his daughter's tiny collar and wheeled her stroller up to the show floor. 'They could give them all free iMacs.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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