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Jacques Martin

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Are Application Servers, XML, and Web Services Fads?

Are Application Servers, XML, and Web Services Fads?

I received a lot of feedback last month on my "Will Every Child Be Left Behind?" editorial. A lot of you related your collective disappointment in the current state of our public schools. What surprised me was the number of readers who thought that application servers, XML, and Web services were current buzzwords, not core foundations of modern technology. One reader in particular thought that application servers, XML, and Web services were about as important as black holes and string theory, which in his view were unnecessary for the basics of knowledge. I think they are also important.

What surprises me is that WebSphere Journal is all about application servers, XML, Web services, and other related technologies that make up the world of modern information technology and its future. I wouldn't have anyone believe that the basic underpinnings of the world economy were anything less than a building block for all young people - not just those planning on entering the economics field - so they have a basic understanding of how things work, and how they may effect them now and in the future.

While I know that technologies will always come and go, it seems to me that application servers, XML, and Web services are now so widely deployed across all industries (and the rollout continues into every nook and cranny) that most people in the field would view this as a long-term trend, not the latest technology du jour. Maybe I'm wrong - I've been wrong before - but I think we'll be living with these technologies for a very long time to come and people should know about them.

Another reader felt that needing to know about application servers, XML, and Web services was like needing to know about catalytic converters and how they operate. Catalytic converters are an excellent example of a key technology that most people don't understand but should.

What comes out of catalytic converters is the leading cause of cancer in most neighborhoods, not cigarette smoking. I know that all of the nonsmokers will howl that cigarettes are the bane of the modern world. Your government (for that matter, everyone around you) will tell you if you are a smoker that the single best thing you can do is to quit. There are countless people who are so intolerant of cigarette smoke they will throw a fit if you light up in front of them, and go on and on about the dangers of secondhand smoke. They're right - cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke are not good for you, but what comes out of a catalytic converter is actually a lot worse, and there is a lot more of it for you to breathe everyday.

The fact is that when you burn anything all you are doing is converting a solid or liquid into a gas. It weighs the same; it is just a gas and no longer solid or liquid - nothing more, nothing less.

A pack of cigarettes weighs just about one ounce including all of the packaging. Most smokers do not smoke the packaging, but I'll throw it into the equation. So if you smoke one pack of cigarettes in its entirety, you have converted one ounce of solid matter to gas - simple. That single ounce goes into the air, people breathe it, and it gets on everything because it is a gas. Breathing cigarette smoke is very bad for your health as it causes cancer.

One gallon of gasoline weighs six pounds and three ounces, which equals 99 ounces. When we use gasoline, we burn every drop of it; it has no packaging. So if you burn one gallon of gasoline in its entirety, you have converted 99 ounces of liquid matter to gas - simple. That 99 ounces goes into the air, people breathe it, and it gets on everything because it is a gas. Breathing gasoline smoke is very bad for your health as it causes cancer.

I know that some of the gasoline and a much smaller part of the cigarette are either used for power conversion or are absorbed, but let's put that aside.

So in simple terms a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon and is driven 12,000 miles a year burns 600 gallons of gasoline, which is 59,400 ounces. You would have to smoke almost 163 packs of cigarettes a day to equal one car's worth of air pollution for the same year. Which is worse for you? If I could only choose one, I would choose to smoke cigarettes. This is why young people should know about catalytic converters and application servers.

More Stories By Jacques Martin

Jack Martin, editor-in-chief of WebSphere Journal, is cofounder and CEO of Simplex Knowledge Company (publisher of Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Journal, an Internet software boutique specializing in WebSphere development. Simplex developed the first remote video transmission system designed specifically for childcare centers, which received worldwide media attention, and the world's first diagnostic quality ultrasound broadcast system. Jack is co-author of Understanding WebSphere, from Prentice Hall.

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