Java 2 brought us Enterprise Java, arguably the first mature version. And yet many shops still prefer common servlets to the more complex EJB architecture, the supposed crown jewel of J2EE. Meanwhile, those who take the J2EE plunge largely sacrifice Java’s write-once, run-anywhere promise in favor of their app server’s proprietary extensions. Today, with even staunch open source developers signing on to competing technologies such as Microsoft’s C# (via Mono), Java’s window of opportunity for world domination may be closing fast.
-- Neil McAllister
Four years ago, when the economy was in full nosedive, the U.S. mobile telcos claimed that wireless broadband delivered over 3G networks was just around the corner. As it turned out, the industry had little stomach for the huge costs of deploying 3G. Instead, using infrastructure upgrades they needed for voice traffic anyway, the carriers trotted out an alphabet soup of so-called 2.5G solutions. But the resulting speeds were closer to dial-up than true broadband -- even though Sprint and Qualcomm liked to call their technology “the first phase of 3G.”
Thankfully, the mobile broadband train is finally arriving in the station. Verizon has already deployed its EvDO (evolution, data optimized) service -- with downstream data rates of 300Kbps to 500Kbps -- to six major U.S. metropolitan areas, and it plans to cover the nation by the end of the year. Sprint will be next, although it lags behind Verizon in EvDO deployment.
Meanwhile, Cingular has inherited UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) technology from its AT&T Wireless acquisition, which is slightly slower than EvDO but also available in six major cities. For faster-than-EvDO speeds, however, Cingular will probably be first, using HSDPA (High Speed Data Packet Access), which also features lower latency.
The caveat for all these services: Users share cell-tower bandwidth; so, the more popular 3G data becomes, the bigger the potential performance hit.
-- Eric Knorr
As far back as the 1960s, people have been using voice recognition to control computers -- well, in the world of science fiction, at least. What’s interesting, however, is that the voice-driven UI of the computers in Star Trek may really not be that far off, as far as technology is concerned.
Dictation software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and IBM ViaVoice, has made dramatic improvements in the computer’s capability of translating spoken sounds into text. Meanwhile, XML-based standards such as VoiceXML and SALT (Speech Application Language Tags) make it easier than ever for companies to integrate speech recognition into their existing application infrastructures.
In March 2004, James Mastan, director of marketing at Microsoft’s speech server group, announced, “Our goal is to make speech-recognition technologies mainstream." You don’t get much more mainstream than an endorsement from Microsoft. And yet, even though Speech Server 2004 is a year old, most of us probably still use a mouse more often than a microphone.