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12/8/1999 -- Thin clients? Thick clients?

Thinking out of the box is a good thing. I'm not completely capable of that, though. Everyone seems to think I'm a computer expert; if something's wrong with their computer, Derek has an idea of what's wrong, and how to fix it. The problem is, I'm not always right (but I'm getting better), and I don't come up with anything more than your average computer-repair-shop person could. I prefer to consider myself an "uberuser." What I exceed at in the world of computers is using computers. I don't design them well, I don't configure Cisco routers, I'm not a U*IX guru, and I've never touched a Novell server. When confronted with a problem regarding the applicability of computers, when put in front of an average user, I'm first to step forward and take command. This gets me respect of supervisors, who think my computer parlor tricks as far-flung tidbits of computer knowledge, and it fills the void beneath the knowledge of the average IS person, whose primary responsibility is making sure today's 1,538 e-mail messages make it through without delay or keeping track of the maze of network cables, hubs, and NICs which make up the nervous system of the company.

But, once in a while I come up with an idea which reaches beyond my everyday computer knowledge and has the potential of being something big -- a "killer app" so to speak. Thing is, I'm not smart enough to apply my ideas, or ever adequately flesh it out. Or, I'm coming at it from the wrong direction, whereas with a bit more background I'd realize why it wasn't done that way in the first place. If you've read my musings on electronic identity, you've seen how my thoughts expand without having the knowledge, background, or resources to truly make my ideas firm and understandable.

You know what? I sat down to write this journal article, where I outlined this new idea I had -- an idea which uses Java as a replacement for XWindows, where a client application is executed on a cheap, low powered terminal, and the majority of the program execution lives on a server someplace, becoming more efficient than having high-powered computers at each users' disposal, each running a different instance of the same application.

While trying to add reference links, I discovered that someone already came up with this idea, and called it "thin client computing", or the idea is at least an aspect of it. See, the NCs that I'd been reading about in the news for a year or so already do this, an I wasted my time & energy theorizing the exact same thing from a few basic principles I picked up along the road sometime.

So, this article is somewhat shorter than I expected, because most of what I had to say has already been said by a bunch of other people, who do this stuff every day, and know a lot more than me. What needs to happen is this: Everyone has to check with me FIRST, before executing any new ideas, to make sure I didn't think of it first. Otherwise, whatever it is will just remain as a brief idea in my head, along with any number of other ill-conceived ideas, incorrect theoretical constructions, and bits of information that I've stored away, in hopes that I will be able to do something with it someday.

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