The Perils of JavaSchools

Joel Spolsky writes about today’s computer education:

When I started interviewing programmers in 1991, I would generally let them use any language they wanted to solve the coding problems I gave them. 99% of the time, they chose C.

Nowadays, they tend to choose Java.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with Java as an implementation language.

Wait a minute, I want to modify that statement. I’m not claiming, in this particular article, that there’s anything wrong with Java as an implementation language. There are lots of things wrong with it but those will have to wait for a different article.

Instead what I’d like to claim is that Java is not, generally, a hard enough programming language that it can be used to discriminate between great programmers and mediocre programmers. It may be a fine language to work in, but that’s not today’s topic. I would even go so far as to say that the fact that Java is not hard enough is a feature, not a bug, but it does have this one problem.

Microsoft’s Multi-Player Gaming Bet

WSJ writes:

The appeal of online play is that users can quickly find human competitors — whether they’re friends or strangers — without having to gather in someone’s living room. For instance, a user wanting to find a competitor in Electronic Arts Inc.’s Madden football game late at night easily can log on to Xbox Live and find a foe within seconds. Each player would coach a virtual team in the same game.

More than two million users of the original Xbox have subscribed to Xbox Live, or about 10% of the customer base. Adoption has been “much faster than expected,” said Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft’s group marketing manager for Xbox Live, who declined to say whether the service is profitable. With the Xbox 360, Microsoft hopes to persuade 50% of users to hook up to the Internet, he said.

Microsoft’s ability to convince more users to pay for the online service will play a key role in the Xbox’s profitability. While online gaming is growing in popularity U.S. revenue is expected to climb to $1.6 billion next year from $1.1 billion this year, according to Dallas research firm Park Associates — the concept remains unfamiliar to many users of console machines like the Xbox. And while many of the most popular PC games incorporate online play, such features are often included for free. An exception is multiplayer PC games designed for thousands of players, in which publishers typically charge a monthly subscription fee of about $15.