The Beast's Seattlement, Skins, Transaction Monitors

Do you ride Tandem?

Letters Hello, hello, hello. And a hello and Thank-You to reader "DeeKay", writing from the Liechtenstein, who sends us this note:

Well, you guys obviously love making up new words for current IT-events and companies, eg Itanic, SirCam-Merger, Fluffybucks, Chipzilla, The Beast etc!...

How about calling the M$/DOJ Settlement a "Seattlement"?

So simple, and so true. And universally applicable, too. DeeKay, we'll henceforth adopt the word Seattlement for any kind of shame-faced, gutless cave-in.

While we're dealing with the use and abuse of language, Brazilian reader Leandro Guimarães Faria Corsetti Dutra - and how that must make one enviable fistful of a monogram for one's personal cufflinks - sent us this to put us straight.

Years of writing about objects and middleware makes us lazy, but as Leandro points out...

While you correctly point out that BEA dominance has much older roots than the current web app servers, you fail to note that it is older than CORBA too -- in fact, it comes from the Tuxedo TP monitor.

Not only that, TP monitors are still dominant in the industry, because CORBA has failed to live up to (its) promise, and will be short until we have widespread availability of some standard object models such as Bonobo in the Gnome desktop and any other ones in various server spaces. Not only that, it is probable that the object orientation model won't fit every space, case in which we'd want the old TP monitors to be around for ever and ever.

Not to mention that both ORBs and app servers sometimes just look like glorified TP monitors created by programmers with minds confused by hypes, instead of systems and software architects.

So give due credit to Messrs Chris J Date, Hugh Darwen, Fabian Pascal and Lee Fesperman, at, and countless, superb books and articles from whom I got much of my database, transactions and anti-hype ideas -- not forgetting the father of us all, EF "Ted" Codd.

Which we're glad to do. But hang on, didn't Jimmy Treybig found Tandem to make money from TP monitors, and the new fangled relational databases in the mid-1970s? Tandem is now a mere Compaq URL, but The Register can find places to put this stuff right, so Tandemites, please write in. And remember, as far back as 1997 CNet was still referring to clustering in inverted commas

But the kids don't know this, their heritage lies forgotten and covered with dust, and the only thing that grabs the attention of shallow journalists (hopefully, we're the shallowest, too) is Eye Candy.

When the US military commissioned four skins (we've heard that gag so many times, don't even THINK about pointing it out...) for the Windows XP Media Player, Dan Halford wondered they might be:

This sounds about right - a healthy blend of jingoism and publicity-seeking. However, I have a couple of suggestions of practical ways in which these cheap way to gain a few column inches could be used by the mighty US military:

US Marine Corps
Skin contains a VERY large volume control with a number of settings on it: loud, very loud, extremely loud, and sergeant major. Also would prevent the user from playing anything other than self-effacing ditties praising the US Marine Corps as the best fighting-force known to mankind (well, Americans - which in their view is the same thing).

US Air Force
Skin has a custom gun-sight mouse-cursor and neat animated buttons all shaped to look like the ENEMY. Users would be encourged to use their gun-sight to click or shoot the ENEMY buttons, rather than bits of the interface that look like their own people. In addition, instead of an X to close the application down, you could use a nice picture of your average Chinese Embassy.

US Navy
The skin would include lots of pictures of macho sailors with numerous gorgeous women. Any area in which a macho sailor appeared in close proximity with another macho sailor would, when clicked on, of course close the application down immediately.

US Army
The skin would include pretty pictures - the kind seen on murals on walls in first-graded elementary school walls showing the letters of the alphabet. This would be enormously beneficial to the average US Army user. In addition, it would contain several custom message boxes that the user would have to OK to during installation and use. These could be: "We Won in Vietnam", "We Won in Nicuaragua", "We Won in Haiti", "We Won in Cuba", "We Won ..." ... this list goes on and on.

Of course, you could have other skins devoted to sections of the US military. Delta Force could have an entirely black skin with no error-reporting mechanism, only an auto-uninstall feature when it encounters a problem. The Submarine Corps could have a skin shaped like a Japanese trawler, so they no what to look out for next time...



Scathing stuff. Only, since there's a war on, this probably isn't the best time to point out that the US was fined $11 billion for illegally mining Nicaraguan harbors (a fine subsequently waived by the Nicaraguan government). But some folk are pedants for details. So we'll mention it just the once, and we'll move on...

Two hot topics this week - the ruminations of Watergate jailbird Chuck Colson, and something about Yahoo, French judges, and the First Amendment.

Are they connected? Heavens to Betsy, we hope not. Mail your missives to the Editors, or to your mailbag editor, which is me. ®

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