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On May 19, I flew to Aspen, CO, to attend the first Jini Community Summit. I went to Aspen to learn more about Jini, to see what other people are doing with it, and to attempt to figure out what the Jini community is all about. The first person I met was Torin Sarasas, with whom I had agreed over e-mail to share the expenses of a hotel room. At 6:30 that evening, Torin and I walked over to the community center for an informal cocktail reception. Being rather hungry, I dragged Torin over to a table of cheese, crackers, and vegetables, where I filled up a plate. Then we set out to mingle.
We wandered from group to group, mingling with people and conversing on a variety of topics. One topic that seemed to come up again and again was the rumor that a wireless network of some kind blanketed all of Aspen. I had heard this somewhere before, but I didn't know any details. No one in the groups I landed in seemed to know anything concrete either, but at one point I looked over and recognized somebody who probably would know. "Hey, that's Bill Joy over there," I said to Torin, who said, "Wow." Both Torin and I have always held the utmost respect for Joy because of the high caliber of his technical creations. For a few moments, we both stood and looked at him in awe. Then we rejoined the conversation of our group of people.
Joy was also in a mingling mood, and before long he walked over to our little circle of people. He didn't seem to know anyone in our group, so to get the conversation going, I asked him about the Aspen wireless network rumor. He confirmed the network's existence, informing us that it in fact reaches all the way down to the border of Utah. Even though the wireless network covers about 100 square miles, he told us, it actually consists of a single class C Ethernet network. Joy added that the wireless network works very well, and predicted that every major city will have something like it by 2007. So the rumor was true.
Later that evening, a Jini Community Summit attendee informed me he had checked his e-mail on a small device connected to the Internet via this wireless network. I walked outside onto the patio and located the device and its owner. The gadget in question, which was sitting in the middle of a table on the patio, was a small PC with a tiny keyboard, a tiny screen, and what appeared to be a PCMCIA network card sticking out of its side. I was granted permission to use it, so I leaned over this small PC, fired up telnet to connect to my ISP, ran pine, and read and replied to my e-mail.
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