Petreley's column: Down to the Wire

(12/20/99) - Dear Santa,

I'm writing to you with a list of a few things I'd like for the holidays.

First of all, I want time -- an unlimited amount of time.

I want time to learn Zope, the object-oriented Web-applications language. And I want time to relearn Java. I need time to review the tower of products I have stacked up in my office. And I also need time to get through all of my e-mail with time leftover to do other work the same day.

And when I'm done, I want some of that increased leisure time I was promised way back in the early 1960s when schoolteachers preached the benefits of an industrialised society.

I'd like unlimited bandwidth while you're at it. And I want it for everyone. No, this isn't an accidental brush with unselfishness. This is pure greed.

After all, what good would it do to have optic fibre on the Internet if most servers are on T1 lines and most everyone else is using a 56K-bps modem?

Don't bother buying me games. Buy me a system that can run them. How about a system based on one of those AMD Athlon chips? That sort of chip might make some of the newest games I've tried more playable.

GT Interactive's Wheel of Time is a great-looking game, but it's a real pig. And the new Electronic Arts game Ultima IX can barely get out of its own way on the same hardware that runs other high-resolution 3-D games extremely well, such as Red Storm Entertainment's excellent Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.

Most of all, I want that new system to grow at least six months old before it becomes obsolete.

But back to business. I want competition back in the browser market. Innovation in the browser market came to a screeching halt once Microsoft succeeded in choking off Netscape's income from its browsers.

Santa, you might consider getting me a copy of the imaginative browser called Opera ( when it runs on Linux. Opera beats both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator for the most useful Web-browsing features.

It's not free, but I'd gladly pay for my copy for Linux when it is released. That is, if Santa doesn't give it to me as a holiday gift first.

Speaking of innovation, Santa, will you please buy gags all around for the top brass at Microsoft?

Holy ad nauseam: If I hear anyone from Microsoft talk about the freedom to innovate one more time, I think I'll hurl a month's worth of cookies.

Instead of worrying about whether or not the government will stop Microsoft from innovating in the future, the head honchos in Redmond ought to spend some energy trying to figure out what force has prevented them from innovating over the past decade.

And I really want to see a trend back toward Internet standards. Let me spell it out for the clue-impaired. Once upon a time, the cool thing about HTML was that it gave structure to information without forcing that information to be visually rendered exactly the same way on every machine.

Those days are fading fast. It seems as if I have to switch settings for every third or fourth site I visit just to make the site readable. I have to turn on style sheets and increase the fonts for one site. Then I have to turn off style sheets for the next. I have to turn on Javascript for another and turn it off for yet another.

This is not the way it was supposed to be, folks. And unless Santa sends us a solution fast, it will only get worse.

I'd love to see a resurgence of interest in OS/2, Santa. I'm not really that interested in using OS/2 anymore; I just want to annoy the heck out of those journalists who have predicted every year since Version 2.1 that IBM will kill the product.

I'd also like a few dozen servings of crow -- one for every pundit who talked about Unix as if it were dead.

Oh, yeah: If I have to be honest, I would have to admit that I said the same thing several years ago. So make my crow a fricassee, please.

Finally, I was kind of hoping for a few stocking stuffers if you have the time to answer some more realistic requests -- such as world peace and an end to poverty.

Nicholas Petreley, the dreamer, is editorial director of LinuxWorld ( Reach him at, and visit his forum at

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