Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

Testing The Issues System

Unlike the situation I found when returning from the Denver AGA, civilization wasn't teetering on the edge of collapse due to mysterious behaviors by some of the computers I'd left running unattended. This time all of the automated systems carried on without me just as they do when I'm here. I feel so unappreciated - the computers ignore me unless they want something. They never call, or send me flowers, or tell me I'm pretty...

I did manage to achieve one of my business objectives in going to Tampa. My latest intellectual challenge has been building the Issues computer aided conflict resolution system. The functional architecture of the Issues System is a distributed virtual machine that uses the Internet as a very long extension cord for the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

The Issues Server Engine is a program written in PDC Prolog that takes in data from HTML forms, figures out the logical response, and then dynamically generates the appropriate HTML instructions to create the desired user interface screen on the local machine's web browser. Tampa provided an opportunity to test the responsiveness of my newly launched Issues System with an entire continent between its browser-hosted user interface and the physical location of the rest of the program.

The hotel had been newly remodeled, and offered Internet connections in every room. I was asked to look something up on the web using a borrowed laptop and AOL account, after which I surfed over to the Issues Server and ran through enough of the system's processes to get a good feel for the response speed. I found the responsiveness through AOL from Tampa quite adequate for usability, at least appearing to indicate that I'm on the right track. The responsiveness should be even better using a conventional ISP connection. My next project will be to apply the internal architecture of the Issues Engine to my primary product, The Inspection Network.

As wireless connections to the Internet become more reliable and cost effective, I think we'll be seeing more distributed applications using web browsers to provide the user interfaces for remote software engines. Distributed applications have the potential of turning a pocket sized cell phone/web browser into a globally networked computer with incredible power and capabilities. That's pretty impressive for a pocket sized gadget that runs on batteries!

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