Wednesday, March 09, 2005

.NET and Java on the desktop

I'm out in the boonies for a few days where there is only a phone line (and a slow one at that). My new notebook computer came with a bunch of free AOL hours so I thought I'd try that (although I used AOL many many years ago, I haven't paid attention since then). All I want to do is get on the internet, so I don't care. The signup process works fairly well, but I've noticed that in the last few days my mailblocks anti-spam service has been receiving messages but I've had only intermittent luck sending them. I tried emailing their tech support about this and they suggested that I have too many cookies in my browser. Of course I'm using a non-browser email client and so this is completely inappropriate feedback, but this kind of "support" is consistent with what I've gotten from them since AOL bought them.

So my scheme is to use the AOL SMTP address for sending mail, instead of the mailblocks address. But what could that be? I decide to try the online help, and it comes back and says "You will need to activate Java technology in your browser to use NetAgent - Java Customer Client." The notebook is very new and I haven't, in fact, installed Java yet. But I find this interesting because I can't imagine that most people who need help and click on this is going to have any idea how to "activate Java technology" in their browser. (When I did install Java, the AOL instructions didn't work).

I tried installing the RSSReader on this notebook, and it warned me that I would need .NET installed on the machine in order to use it. I hadn't installed .NET and so I thought I'd see how the system responded if I tried to do it anyway. It installed without any questions, and I discovered that somehow I already had .NET 1.1 on the machine. Without explicitly installing it. Apparently it comes as part of the service pack. Very convenient if you want to distribute a .NET application, but it certainly puts Java at a disadvantage. On the other hand, there are apparently large numbers of unwashed masses still using Windows 95 and 98, so developing any kind of application that doesn't run on those will be problematic.

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