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About the Chipdir

Javascript

The Chipdir pages use Javascript on some of their pages. Why?

Well, because it's useful to use. Mainly for you the viewer. This site is being mirrored to about 30 sites all over the world because of the international internet bandwidth limitations that existed from the start of the WWW. (The required backbone capacity of the Net doubles every three months and the phone companies are already handling more data over their lines than speech for several years now. The required speech capacity doesn't grow exponentially, so it was unavoidable...) Well, because the Chipdir is being mirrored to all kinds of systems and because most of the people managing these sites have busy jobs it's impossible to install search engines on all these sites and because of the bandwidth problem the search engine can also not be located on a central site. (And it would also ruin the concept that the Chipdir is completely CD-ROM'able...).
Well Javascript can make your own browser function quite nicely as a kind of off-line search engine.

Javascript is not Java!

Javascript started as an experiment at NetScape and was called LiveScript. When Java became popular they renamed it hoping to gain from Java's popularity. Now however Javascript suffers from the bad name that Java has among websurfers, but it's all based on misinformation. Javascript doesn't load slowly: It loads together with your normal HTML page and even people who disable Javascript get the program anyway, but they just don't execute it. JS scripts are usually quite small and don't need to load big libraries with subroutines. Javascript isn't a very powerful language, since it can't handle graphics and can hardly do anything with your harddisk or printer or whatever because it was designed to be very safe for the websurfer so there was no trust issue as regards to surfing to unknown sites.

My advice (at 199906): Enable Javascript, but disable Java on slow computers with small memories.

Jörg Wunsch disagrees:

I've been a happy (though occasional) Chipdir user for years now, but sorry, I cannot share your opinion about Javascript vs. Java. I generally do just the opposite: enable Java (at least this machine here is fast enough... :) and disable Javascript. I know of the advantages of Javascript, but it seems there's, by now, no well-thought conception about any web scripting language available that includes security considerations.

Please refer to:
www.cert.org/advisories/CA-2000-02.html
www.bsi.de/activein/aktiv.html - in German

Cookies

Cookies (see elsewhere) have also been designed to be as privacy friendly as possible. They were mainly meant to enable shopping basket applications, so you could order a couple of things on a WWW shop site and then remove them again and pay for them all at once at the end if you so choosed to. A cookie is a line of information that a server (or a Javascript program) leaves in a special file on your computer (in netscape/cookie.txt or something like that) so it can recognize you between the pages that you request. The HTML protocol is purely page by page based and doesn't offer a sure way to recognise people between pages. Besides being able to tag people using a cookie and keeping the data in it's own centralized database it can also ask the browser to store the data on the users computer, which is even less privacy sensitive I think... You're free to erase the complete cookie file whenever you like or even erase it line by line if you so choose. A cookie can only be asked back by the site that placed it, by the way, so it's not a way via which sites can share information. This also makes it less useful for the Chipdir with it's many mirror sites unfortunately. :-(
The relation between cookies and Javascript isn't very strong by the way.
The CGI-scripts of the previous generation could also write and read cookies and could even communicate them with the central database which Javascript can't do (without you using the Send button).

Does the Chipdir use cookies?

No not yet. Why not? It hasn't been worth the effort yet...

[199906: Not true anymore, I introduced them in the 9905 version and haven't had a single complaint... Jaap]

From:    Jaap van Ganswijk <ganswijk@xs4all.nl>
To:      javascript-talk mailing list
Subject: Re: [js-talk] How Learn JS?

At 18:18 1997-07-25 -0400, Arthur Dardia wrote:
>I was wondering...how did all you guys learn javascript. Did you buy a
>book? If so, what book? I barely know anything, but I figured I could
>learn from this mailing list. Please help me.

Buy the Javascript book from O'Reilly:
www.ora.com/

You can also use the on-line JS documentation from NetScape:
www.netscape.com/

The book is clearly based on this NetScape data, but I prefer to learn
from a book and later have it as a reference next to my computer.

Other Javascript books will probably also do, but I don't like:
- Too big characters fonts
- Too many examples
- Quizes
(Which eliminates the books of most other publishers.)

I think the O'Reilly books are generally very serious and good
and plan to buy O'Reilly books only in future (whenever possible).

Oh and the complete Javascript book is accessible on O'Reilly's WWW
site and you can also buy a set of five WWW books on a CD-ROM,
but I really would prefer to have the real books...

(No I'm not associated with O'Reilly...;-)

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