Gosling's Musings

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Gosling's Musings

The high priest of Java, James Gosling, recently addressed researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., on the prospects for the hottest programming language, some of whose devotees are reputedly making upward of $200 per hour writing code.

In an Aug. 19 talk titled, "Random Thoughts on Software Development for the Web, the Java Spin," the vice president and fellow of Sun Microsystems and the lead engineer and chief architect behind the language and the technology, took the packed audience on a verbal journey.

He covered the importance of standards, the work on Java HotSpot and the role of JINI, and encouraged attendees to visit the Web site, java.sun.com, for the latest information.

According to Gosling, the binaries for HotSpot, the next generation virtual machine due out later this year, will be free. He said no more features are being added at this time, and the Java team is "being extra careful before release."

Assuring the Commerce Department researchers that JINI, a technology to network an array of devices such as microwaves and coffee makers, was not an acronym for anything, Gosling touched on the history of the development of Java starting in 1990, and its origin as a tool.

Recent benchmarks on developer productivity show Java is two times more productive than C. Last but not least, intelligent television using Java is at least one year away.

? John Makulowich

The Waiting Game

At least four technology firms postponed their initial public offerings in the past two weeks because of market instability.

PathNet Inc., a Washington-based provider of telecommunications capacity to other telcos, had plans for a $92 million offering. Open Solutions Inc. of Glastonbury, Conn., was looking for as much as $29 million from public investors for its banking software business.

Catapult Communications Corp. of Mountain View, Calif., was seeking $42 million in its IPO to help market and develop its telecommunications testing software. And CitySearch Inc., a Pasadena, Calif., company that develops local city guide Web sites, had a $60 million offering in the works.

There is no word on when any of the companies will reschedule their debuts.

GTE Launches Pentagon Work

A team led by GTE Corp. of Stamford, Conn., should begin work in the next two weeks on a $110 million project to renovate the information technology and telecommunications infrastructure at the Pentagon, it was announced Aug. 20.

More than 100,000 miles of cabling will be replaced during the 10-year project; the team will also install about 135,000 service drops or jacks for computers, phones and other equipment. Major teammates include SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., and Henkels & McCoy Inc. of Lorton, Va.

We're Starting to Lose Track

PSINet Inc. of Herndon, Va., has racked up 10 acquisitions since the beginning of the year.

Last week, the Internet service provider announced it would use some of its $600 million in debt financing to buy Inet Inc., an ISP based in Korea. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Inet acquisition is the latest in a flurry of purchases for PSINet, which has bucked the trend of joining with a telecommunications carrier. Earlier deals involved companies in the United States, Canada, Europe and Hong Kong.

All's Well That Ends Well?

Oracle Corp. of Redwood Shores, Calif., ended Versatility Inc.'s misery last week by grabbing the troubled software company for $16 million in cash.

Some industry observers viewed a sale as the only way to salvage Fairfax, Va.-based Versatility, which makes call-center management software. Last month, the company was delisted by the Nasdaq Stock Market because its net tangible assets fell below the $10 million threshold.

Versatility's problems started earlier this year. In March, the company announced it would restate earnings and revenues for the previous six quarters, completely erasing all profits. Three of the company's top officials subsequently resigned. Six class action lawsuits followed.

The sale to Oracle valued Versatility at $1.50 per share ? far off its December 1996 initial public offering price of $20.

New Group Takes On Uncle Sam

A new group, the Technology Access Action Coalition, plans to wage a fight against what it calls government interference with innovation at technology companies.

The Washington-based coalition plans to educate consumers and lawmakers about tech issues as a way of preventing stifling legislation and antitrust suits. Jay Amato, president of Vanstar Corp., Pleasanton, Calif., has been named chairman.

It's Official

Last issue, Washington Technology reported Federal Sources Inc., McLean, Va., was close to a deal for its sale. As expected, Primedia Inc., New York, bought the market research and consulting firm Aug. 24 for an undisclosed price.

Federal Sources will become part of Primedia's $1.2 billion empire, which includes Seventeen and New York magazines, a variety of trade publications and educational services.

MicroAge Head Steps Down

John Lewis, president of MicroAge Integration, stepped down this week as head of the $1.7 billion a year integration arm of MicroAge Inc. of Tempe, Ariz.

Lewis said he was leaving because "my interests lie elsewhere." He joined the company in 1996, and will work through an unspecified transition period with MicroAge chairman and chief executive Jeffrey McKeever on several projects. Lewis' position will not be filled, the company said.

A Bittersweet Day

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s defense business might be shaky after its failed merger with Lockheed Martin Corp., but the company's systems integration unit just landed a $2.2 billion NASA contract.

On Aug. 24 ? the same day the company announced a defense restructuring and 2,100 layoffs ? Northrop Grumman announced it had won a 10-year project to provide base operations support for NASA Kennedy Space Center and the Air Force's 45th Space Wing.

Northrop Grumman is part of a joint venture to bid on the project that includes ICF Kaiser Defense Programs Inc. of Fairfax, Va., and Wackenhut Services Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The venture will be led by Northrop Grumman Technical Services Inc., a division of Logicon Inc., Herndon, Va., Northrop's systems integration unit. Northrop expects its share of the contract to be at least $1.1 billion.

IBM Touts Breakthrough

Researchers with IBM Corp. and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said they have jointly developed an encryption system that blocks the most aggressive and dangerous Internet hacker attacks.

IBM said the Cramer-Shoup encryption system closes a backdoor approach to attacks by adding another layer of encryption without significantly adding to computing time. Active attacks use a technique of sending a series of messages to a publicly accessible server. By analyzing the servers' responses, an attacker can decode encrypted messages passing through that network.

Copyright 1998 Post-Newsweek Business Information, Inc. All rights reserved

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