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IBM received 2,682 US patents last year, up about 40% over 1997 and a new record for any company. Canon (Japan) came in second. [LA Times, 11Jan99. Edupage.]

Sun Microsystems has released a third major version of Java, claimed to be "rock solid." Meanwhile, about a dozen companies are developing their own variants. [Forbes, 11Jan99. Edupage.]

With Java, we may finally have the ability to field AI systems that are developed in various research languages. All that is necessary is that the languages compile to the Java Virtual Machine. A number of such Lisp and Prolog implementations are listed at . Kawa (pronounced "kava") is a Scheme for the JVM, at -- not to be confused with Kawa, the Java IDE.) JESS, the Java Expert System Shell, is at . It started as a CLIPS implementation, but has grown beyond that. [Matt Curtin ,, 21Jan99. John R. Josephson.]

Jinni (Java INference Engine and Networked Interactor) is Sun's new multi-threaded, logic programming language for flexible scripting and quick prototyping of intelligent mobile agents. . [BotSpot, 01Dec98.]

Sun has released the Jini 1.0 source code, including a full discovery/join/lookup protocol, at . Transactional and security features will come later this year. [InternetWeek, 25Jan99. Edupage.]

Sun is also forming an alliance with Sony Corp. and Royal Phillips Electronics NV to integrate Jini with the HAVI (Home Audio Visual Interoperability) standard. The goal is a network of appliances that can communicate with humans and each other via Internet protocols. Microsoft Universal Plug and Play does this in a PC-centric manner; Jini/HAVI is decentralized. [NYT, 19Jan99. Edupage.]

(Bias alert: I bought some Sun stock last month, plus AOL, AT&T, Intel, Microsoft, Compaq, Disney, and other "gorilla" companies. I still own a bit of Apple stock as well. I'm sure I'll pay more attention to news from these companies, even though I don't plan to trade actively. Stock ownership is more personal than mutual fund ownership, perhaps because my ego is more on the line. Playing the game for real may sharpen my business coverage, but don't look to me for investment advice.)

Farallon Communications has a new Home Network website about basic home and small-office networking using Macs. . [TidBITS, 11Jan99.]

Cisco has announced a line of home networking products, including a $1K cable modem adding two phone lines and four high-speed data/video Internet connections to your TV cable -- all on one bill from AT&T. "This is Cisco landing on the beach." [LA Times, 07Jan99. Edupage.]

15M US households have at least two computers, and this is the year that networking them will become practical. (Not that it's ever been much trouble for Mac owners.) Sharing a fast Internet connection is a common use -- no pun intended -- but so are printing, storage servers, and multiplayer games. Systems that communicate via house electrical wiring exist, but are mostly useful for security and climate control. Phone wires provide better bandwidth, and emerging standards permit hardware from different manufacturers to work together. The HomeRun standard from Tut Systems operates at 1Mb/second and will cost about $50 per device. Wireless devices are more convenient and a bit faster, but are more expensive and not as standardized. Wireless PC cards are $150-$200, and a stand-alone Internet gateway costs about $300-$400. [Stephen H. Wildstrom, BW, 18Jan99, p. 22.]

Market penetration depends on marketing gimicks as much as on technology. Register to win an iMac by downloading Internet Explorer 4.5 for the Mac from . [TidBITS, 01Feb99.]

Humorists suggest that we are heading for the "Palmagotchi-gety," a wireless PDA with attitude. Keep it happy and it will introduce you to attractive strangers; neglect it and it may forget your appointments or route your correspondence to the wrong significant other. [Janelle Brown et al., , 04Jan99.]

Adam Engst wasn't personally interested in all the PalmPilot devices on display at Macworld Expo SF '99, but was happy to direct business-card "downloaders" to a colleague, saying "I don't have a PalmPilot, but I have people who do." Now that's status. [, TidBITS, 11Jan99.]