Thursday, December 04, 2008

Java Update

The latest version is called Java 6 Update 11. It includes patches for "one or more security vulnerabilities," according to the nearly-incomprehensible-to-mere-mortals release notes.

You can see which version of Java you have installed by visiting this page. The test takes more than a few seconds to run, and it will look like nothing is happening for a bit. Just be patient.

Chances are, once you visit that page, you'll be notified that an update is available and you'll be walked through the process. If not, and you don't have the latest version, you can click the download link at the top of that same page. Or, visit this page to download the new version directly.

In either case, once you get to the actual installation process, be aware that Java would like to install the Yahoo toolbar, too. Uncheck that box before clicking "Next" if you don't want this shovelware. I believe it's the second screen of the installation process.

Once you restart your browser (if you use Firefox), you might be alerted by Firefox that a new add-on has been installed. This is the updated version of the Java Quick Starter, presumably. (The Java Quick Starter is just a little add-on utility to the browser to make Java launch faster the first time you hit a Web page that needs it.)

Brian Krebs has more details. Interestingly, he says at the end:

Of course, one alternative to keeping Java updated is to simply remove it from your system altogether. I'm happy to report I've been living without Java on my Windows Vista system for several months now without any regrets or apparent need for the program.

It does seem that fewer and fewer websites rely on Java these days, so it's something to think about.


Anonymous said...

Yeesh, I way out of date: Version 6, Update 5. I've been deferring the update for a long time. Longer than I'd realized, apparently.

Frankly, and I know this is kind of stupid, but I get sick of the constant demands for updates from every freaking piece of software I have installed. I'm convinced it's a marketing strategy designed to keep various software products in our minds. I mean, really. I update effing Quicktime about six times for every time I use it. And it's always trying to install iTunes. Apple is almost as bad as AOL when it comes to intrusive marketing strategies.

Remember the late 1990s/early 2000s, when AOL was spending millions and millions of dollars shipping out free trial CDs in the mail? Thank God those days are over.

My current problem is that I had to turn off Windows automatic updates about 4-6 months ago because the latest version removes the option of a command line on the taskbar. That is one of the best features of Windows XP, but apparently Microsoft was violating someone else's copyright by enabling it. So, they disabled it in the latest version of Win XP (SP3). I suppose sooner or later I'm going to have to upgrade for one reason or another and will have to learn to live without it.

Anonymous said...


Good luck convincing users that java and javascript are entirely different beasties.

Twin - you are every Eastern European hacker's dream. Hahahaha.

bjkeefe said...


I thought about saying something about the difference, and decided not to. It's not like anyone has to update Javascript. Explicitly, anyway -- that comes with the browser updates, and those are about as pain-free as is possible. And as for those who disable Javascript in their browsers, well, they'll find out soon enough that it breaks the Internet, and then they can leave a nasty comment here, and then I'll try to explain the difference.

Still pissed at whoever named Javascript, though. Flippin' suits.


What Don said -- you're a hacker's dream. If you use a Windows box, you have a responsibility to society to stay up to date with your patches. Granted, it's tiresome, and granted, the Quicktime/iTunes thing is really annoying. (Use VLC!) But software updates are pushed at least 90% of the time for security reasons these days, and 99% in the case of Windows Updates, not promotion. The state of the art of malware these days is such that even being a smart surfer doesn't keep you immune. So, I urge you to bite the bullet.

I feel your pain about the command line on the task bar thing. Not that I use it, being still on Win2K, but I like a handy command line. Maybe investigate a third party shell program and put a shortcut to it in the quick launch bar? I use MSYS on my Windows machines. This is a minimalist Linux/Unix enviroment built for Win32. You get a terminal window that runs Bash (or another shell, if you prefer) and just about all the *nix utilities you need, and you can use it to launch Windows programs, too. You can use it to run shell scripts, and you can optionally install the GNU tools and have a development environment, even. And way less bloat than Cygwin.

I added it as a shortcut to the Windows Start menu (as well as on the quick launch bar), so any time I'm typing away in one window and want a shell and don't want to grab for the mouse, it's just three keystrokes to launch one. It does exactly what I want it to.

bjkeefe said...


One more thing: Doesn't Win XP still have a Run command as a top level menu item once you press the Windows key? That is, doesn't <Windows-key>-r effectively give you the same thing as what you showed in that image?

Not as pretty, I'll grant, but is there something else about that command line?

I know I've seen some third-party super-duper command line things, if my previous recommendation about MSYS didn't appeal. If you want, I'll try to find them again -- I think I bookmarked a couple a while back.

bjkeefe said...

Oh, wait. I just took another look and realized that's a location bar, not a DOS-like command line, right?

Probably my previous suggestions don't help then. Sorry about that, if so.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is described as a location bar, but it functions as a command line, too. I call it a command line because I want people to realize it does more than a location bar.

Don't have time to respond to everything else y'all said right now, but I think you guys may have misunderstood me.

(a) I turned off automatic updates. I still go out to windows updates regularly and install everything that applies to me.

(b) I have been specifically deferring the latest Java patch for about 4 months -- not out of a stubborn refusal to cooperate with the world, but because I didn't feel like it. I did install it after reading your post, however.

(c) I am specifically refusing to install WinXP SP 3 because I don't want to lose the command line.

If I gave you the mistaken impression that I don't update anything ever, I apologize.

Unknown said...

Good luck convincing users that java and javascript are entirely different beasties.

LOL, that's an amusing point. But why do you bring it up here? I didn't see where Brendan tried to convince anyone that they are different...

I work with a guy who's a really good Javascript programmer, and HE thinks it's called Javascript because it's a distillation of Java. I've tried to tell him politely from time to time that there is no relationship (whatsoever), and he doesn't seem to hear me. He just thinks I don't know what I'm talking about, and I can't bring myself to proving the point to him with sources. He's kind of a self-taught programmer, and Javascript is really the only thing he knows (thus his failure to realize that Java is from another planet.

Speaking of suits, most of the bosses I've had over the last 12 years or so have been unable to distinguish between Java and Javascript. I only had one who realized there was a difference.

Visual Basic (VB) and VBScript, on the other hand, are very closely related. Which is cool. VBScript is a great language, though nowadays you can use full Visual Basic in web programming.

The web has come along way since it the simple markup language, HTML.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, did it again:

Twin and Verso are the same person. I usually post here as Twin, but occasionally I forget to click the button for custom name.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI (because I'm kind of OCD), from O'Reilly's 5th Edition of 'JavaScript - The Definitive Guide' by David Flanagan:

"One of the most common misconceptions about JavaScript is that it is a simplified version of Java, the programming language from Sun Microsystems. Other than an incomplete syntactic resemblance and the fact that both Java and JavaScript can provide executable content in web browsers, the two languages are entirely unrelated. The similarity of names is purely a marketing ploy by Netscape and Sun (the language was originally called LiveScript; its name was changed to JavaScript at the last minute). However, JavaScript can, in fact, script Java."

bjkeefe said...


Well, it is described as a location bar, but it functions as a command line, too. I call it a command line because I want people to realize it does more than a location bar.

I just verified that one can type a URL into the Windows→Run command line and cause the proper page to be loaded into the browser, so some of what I said earlier still applies.

Sorry to be so harsh on you or to have misunderstood you about updating. It's a pet peeve of mine, that so many Windows users don't properly maintain their software. I see it as equivalent to someone who runs a car that doesn't pass emissions standards -- such a person is polluting a shared space. This is one of the reasons why I take the trouble to post update notifications here on this blog.


Thanks for that excerpt. However, for any non-geek, such an explanation is likely to induce MEGO. As a geek, though, I thought that last line was funny as hell.

Anonymous said...

Check it out. I just installed it. Seems pretty slick, so far.

I know I've seen some third-party super-duper command line things, if my previous recommendation about MSYS didn't appeal. If you want, I'll try to find them again -- I think I bookmarked a couple a while back.

I'd hate to put you out, and I found the one above, but I'd be interested to see what else is out there if it's no trouble. Always fun looking at new stuff — and some of it is actually useful!

Sorry to be so harsh on you or to have misunderstood you about updating.

Oh, don't worry. It takes a lot more than that to offend me.

O'Reilly's 5th Edition of 'JavaScript - The Definitive Guide' by David Flanagan

I love that book.

Other than an incomplete syntactic resemblance

A lot of people believe that this resemblence proves Javascript is a derivitive of Java, not realizing that the "resemblence" is due only to the fact that both languages follow the syntactic conventions of C.

bjkeefe said...

Looks like just what you ordered.

The only one I see in my bookmarks, at least that jumps out at me, is something called SlickRun. I haven't ever played around with it, so you'll know as much as I know by reading that page.

I guess the others are probably buried somewhere in the bowels of the thousands of "mark as unread" posts on my feed reader, and Bloglines is down right now, so that'll have to do for the moment.

On the Javascript issue: is that the best book to use as a first book to learn the language, would you and Don say? I have experience programing in other languages, so I don't need to, say, be taught what a string or a function is.

On a related note, I am also irritated that some other company made a product called Jscript, because that's what I always want to type, to save keystrokes (as I do for Tbird to describe my choice of email clients, say).

bjkeefe said...

Looks like just what you ordered.

The MuvEnum utility, I meant.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the link to SlickRun.

About the book: I don't really think that is the best book for learning Javascript. Of course, taste is subjective and everyone learns differently, so different books are suited to different minds, etc., but the O'Reilly book, IMO, while an excellent reference, is not well suited for learning the language (IMO).

The one I would recommend is Wrox's Beginning Javascript, current in its 2nd edition.

Another good book is the Javascript & DHTML Cookbook. You wouldn't want this to be your only Javascript book, but it would be a good supplemnt to the Wrox title. It's nice because it shows you in detail how to implement a variety of solutions, from very simple to very advanced.

You also might like, and may prefer, depending on your learning style, video training, such as JavaScript Essential Training, at The whole program is $99, but you can preview samples (the hyperlinked topics) to see if it would be worth the investment. And you can pay $375 to subscribe to the website and have access to all of their training -- a much better deal if you're willing to plunk down that kind of money.

Final thoughts:

(1) All of the aforementioned aside, I imagine that you can find all sorts of good tutorials on teh internets. These have the advantage of being free, of course, and you have more to choose from. If you don't like the style of one site, you can ditch it and find another. But if you don't like the style of a book you've bought, you're kind of screwed.

(2) The feedback comments on for programming books can be extremely useful. You might browse Amazon for different Javascript books, reading the comments as you go. You might discover something better than either the Wrox or O'Reilly books.

bjkeefe said...

Thanks for all the details.

What I really need is to come up with an interesting problem that would force me to have to learn Javascript. I always have the problem with this -- thinking I "should" learn a new language, but finding it hard to get started. Sometimes the right book will get me interested, just from the examples or exercises, as K & R did, long ago.