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News November 26th 2002

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The PetStore debacle runs and runs. If I was the The Middleware Company, I'd be saying "Ouch". Whatever you may think about Microsoft, love them or hate them, you have to have respect their marketing department. If you don't, you're letting yourself in for a big fall. The Java world as whole certainly does, and spends significant amounts of time and money battling them. Unfortunately The Middleware Company didn't quite realize that they were being maneuvered by Microsoft. They aren't the first company nor will they be the last to find that a clever idea to use Microsoft to gain publicity is taken over and used against them.

My own analysis of the Pet Store wars showed that Oracle applied valid performance tuning adjustments to increase the performance of the Pet Store by 400 times, and the scalability was improved to many thousands of users. (The analysis is in Chapter 18 of the 2nd edition of my book Java Performance Tuning). Microsoft's competing figures never came near this, instead they simply argued that Oracle's tests were invalid.

In order to level the playing field a bit, here is "The Cheats Guide To Benchmarking", so that you can identify when you are about to get screwed:

  1. Specify the benchmarks that will make your job the easiest. Avoid real-world tests like the plague, they are much harder to fiddle.
  2. Choose the tests and environments that will show your improvements in the best light. This can take a little work, so give yourself more time and resources than any opposition or examining bodies.
  3. Always keep in mind the cheats ideal proverb: "Shoot first, and whatever you hit call the target". An excellent way to do this is to privately try multiple tests until you find the combination that wins for you. Then make only that one public.
  4. The last resort: If you can't achieve the targets (such as beating the opposition), analyze until you can invalidate them in some way. All targets are invalid with respect to some set of criteria, so the trick here is actually to determine a set of criteria which invalidate the targets.

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This month, we've added yet another section to our newsletter. We have started an interview section, and our initial interview is with Dr. Heinz M. Kabutz, the author of the popular "Java Specialists Newsletter". Heinz has some very interesting things to say about Java performance, so don't miss the interview.

In addition, this month we have all our other usual sections. I list a host of quality in articles. Normally, I just list the article categories. Occasionally, I single out articles which really caught my attention as especially worth viewing. This month, I hardly know where to start. Alexandre Polozoff's article, ostensibly about WebSphere performance testing, provides a detailed thorough outline of how to build any performance plan to maximize your chances of attaining your performance targets; Nokia gives an excellent summary of all the techniques needed to get your MIDP application fully efficient; Mauro Marinilli provides a nice clean introduction to issues encouraging an efficient UI design; Gupta and Doyle cover HotSpot GC parameters with admirable detail. This last article shows that while Java GC technology is improving all the time, it's still at least a few years away from maturity. Which is good in one way, because that means there are more efficiencies still to come.

Plus we list many more interesting articles, including all the recent articles with Java performance interest; we extract all the tips from those articles; we have tool reports, new tools, new tips categories, the latest news, ... The roundup is back. Yes really, honestly, its actually there, I promise. Sorry about last month, I really cocked up. And Javva is also here as usual.

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