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Oracle To Retire Java Browser Plugin

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Oracle has announced it will retire the Java browser plugin. It plans to deprecate the Java browser plugin in JDK 9 and remove the technology from the Oracle JDK and JRE in a future Java SE release, according to a Java Platform Group product management blog.

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The announcement drew numerous comments on social media welcoming the move.

One Facebook comment read: “Good to see Oracle finally acknowledging that applets are obsolete. Although at this point, with the major browsers all removing pluginsupport, it’s rapidly becoming irrelevant what Oracle does with the Javabrowser plugin. Java should have made its exit from the browser years ago.”

PCWorld reported that the Java browser plugin has been a frequent target of attackers.

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By the time that the Java Development Kit (JDK) 9 – the reference implementation of the next version of Java SE – reaches general availability in March 2017, most modern browsers will no longer accept the Java browser plugin, according to PCWorld.

Browsers Ditch Plugins

In October, Mozilla announced it plans to remove support for plugins in Firefox by the end of 2016. In September, Chrome disabled support for plug-ins that, like Silverlight and Java, use the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) standard. Microsoft’s Edge browser also does not support plug-ins.

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With Safari and Internet Explorer the only browsers to continue to accept traditional NPAPI plug-ins after 2016, Oracle is basically forced into this decision, even though Chrome supports a new plug-in technology called Pepper Plug-in API (PPAPI).

The Java Platform Group product management blog said many browser vendors have recently either removed plan to remove standards-based plugin support, eliminating the ability to embed Silverlight, Flash, Java and other plugin-based technologies.

Developers Need Options

With browser vendors working to restrict plugin support in their products, developers of applications relying on the Java browser plugin have to consider alternative options.  These options include migrating from Java Applets which rely on a browser plugin to the plugin-free Java Web Start technology.

Oracle plans to deprecate the Java browser plugin in JDK 9 and it will remove the technology from the Oracle JDK and JRE in a future Java SE release.

Early Access releases of JDK 9 are available for testing and download at http://jdk9.java.net.

The plugin technology will be completely removed from the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and the Oracle Java Development Kit (JDK) in a future Java release to be announced, according to an Oracle white paper. Java Web Start applications do not rely on a browser plugin so they will not be affected by these changes.

How Did We Get Here?

Java began its rise 20 years ago with a tumbling duke applet running in the HotJava browser, the Oracle white paper noted. This preceded Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Applets enabled richer development functionality through a browser plugin when browser capabilities were limited. They provided centralized distribution of applications without requiring users to install or update applications locally.

The Netscape Navigator browser popularized a standards-based plug-in model with the Netscape Plugin API. Many other browsers adopted this API, allowing plugins to extend the capabilities of browsers to provide cross-browser and cross-platform functionality.

As Java became a leading mainstream development platform, the applet’s hosts – the web browsers – did as well.

The growth of web usage on mobile browsers, usually without support for plugins, led browser makers to restrict and remove standards-based plugin support from their products.

The Oracle JRE can support applets on browsers only for as long as browser vendors provide the necessary cross-browser standards-based plugin API support.

Oracle will not provide additional browser-specific plugins since they would require application developers to write browser-specific applets for every browser they want to support. In addition, without a cross-browser API, Oracle could only offer a subset of the required functionality, which would be different from one browser to the next. This would impact both users and application developers.

Also read: Oracle does damage control on blog discussing third party bug researcher

Developers Have Alternatives

If an applet cannot convert to a Java Web Start application, developers can consider alternative approaches, the white paper noted.

The javapackager command enables developers to create stand-alone, native install bundles on Windows, OS X and Linux that don’t require a separate JRE installation. Such an option is suited for desktop applications. In such applications, a user may not have their own JRE installed and just want the program to run. It may not be appropriate for server-based applications where an administrator might want complete control of the environment.

JavaFX has a feature called WebView. This allows applications to use an embedded version of WebKit to render HTML5 content. Developers can create applications that use this browser to access remote applications. A developer could create a miniature web browser making it easier for users to launch remote applications.

Big organizations can have a large number of applications deployed and may not know which are applets to target for conversion. Administrators can use the usage tracking feature of Java Advanced Management Console to build an application inventory and identify these applications.

Administrators in organizations that deploy applications from third parties can use the Java Advanced Management Console to track Java usage within their organization, identifying Web Start, Applet, and other Java application types. Such tracking allows them to identify which Java versions are used by which applications. It also enables them to create deployment rules to manage compatibility between versions.

Images from Shutterstock and Oracle.

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Jamie Dimon May Hate Bitcoin, but J.P. Morgan Is Embracing Blockchain

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J.P. Morgan Chase CEO has made it abundantly clear that he hates bitcoin, but that hasn’t stopped his firm from adopting the technology that underpins the digital currency system.

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J.P. Morgan Launches Pilot Program 

On Monday, America’s biggest bank rolls out the next phase of its blockchain pilot program. The effort will facilitate a faster, more secure transfer of cross border payments between J.P. Morgan and other banks, including Royal Bank of Canada and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Although the new program will not trade cryptocurrency, it will use the landmark record-keeping technology that underpins it. The Wall Street Journal reports that J.P. Morgan will use the same blockchain technology behind digital currency Ethereum.

Despite widespread concern over cryptocurrency, financiers are enamored with blockchain. They, like many others, say the technology can significantly increase the speed of cross-border payments. The system currently in place is extremely complex, and requires multiple streams of communication between various participants. The blockchain has the potential to cut down transaction time from as much as 15 days to mere hours.

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The pilot program aims to achieve a secure distributed ledger across financial institutions, enabling banks to work together to process transactions. Connecting transaction data through a shared network will greatly reduce the number of steps it takes to verify and process transactions.

J.P.’s embrace of blockchain doesn’t mean he’s going to warm up to cryptocurrency. His latest criticism of bitcoin came on Friday when he said it had “no actual value” and that “governments are going to crush it.” He did, however, give a glowing review of blockchain.

“We actually use it. It will be useful for a lot of different things,” Dimon said at a conference in Washington, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “God bless the blockchain.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock 

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Cryptocurrency Adoption Will Lead to Free Money Transfers, According to Top Tech Investor

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The rapid adoption of cryptocurrency will soon pave the way for free global money transfers, according to a top technology investor.

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Cathie Wood, the CEO of Ark Invest, says cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are going to spearhead a system of free money transfers worldwide. She cites the already huge reduction in conversion fees from fiat currencies into crypto and back again. The current rate for those transactions is 2-3%, which is a fraction of the 7-8% money transfer services like Western Union charge.

But Wood says crypto transfer fees could soon fall to zero as companies prioritize valuable transaction information above anything else.

The cryptocurrency market approached record highs over the weekend, hitting a total value of $176.6 billion. Bitcoin’s market cap surged above $90 billion last week and reached a high of $96.7 billion recently. That surpassed the capitalization of major equities like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

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If bitcoin were a stock, it would be the 15th largest member of the Nasdaq and the 58th largest on the New York Stock Exchange.

Computing Power as a Commodity

In Wood’s view, that the growing value of cryptocurrency will lead to the commoditization of bandwidth and computing power.

“It’s interesting that you’ve got corn and oil and copper trading on the exchange but you don’t have computing power, and bandwidth, and storage,” Wood said, according to CNBC. “Well we think that’s going to happen because of blockchain technology and all of the cryptos that are coming along.”

Woods has placed special emphasis on Ethereum, a unique platform that operates more like a “cryptocommodity” than anything else.

Ark Invest is the author of the widely cited whitepaper, Bitcoin: A Disruptive Currency. In it, the firm argues that cryptocurrency has the potential to be the most disruptive development since the Internet. The investment manager controls $1.7 billion of asset funds focused exclusively on emerging technologies.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Jamie Dimon Doesn’t Want to Talk About Bitcoin Anymore

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Jamie Dimon doesn’t have anything to say about bitcoin anymore. The head of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co has been heckled by the blockchain community since he declared cryptocurrency to be a “fraud,” and that he would fire any employee trading it for being “stupid.”

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Bitcoin’s New Record

Dimon also doesn’t think much of bitcoin’s new record high. The virtual currency spiked more than 8% on Thursday to surpass $5,200.00 for the first time.

“I wouldn’t put this high in the category of important things in the world, but I’m not going to talk about bitcoin anymore,” Dimon said Thursday, as noted by Bloomberg.

J.P. Morgan has taken a less adversarial approach to cryptocurrency. In addition to handling bitcoin-related trades – something that came to light after Dimon’s warning – the financial giant is keeping its options open. J.P. remains “very open minded” to possible uses of cryptocurrencies “if they are properly controlled and regulated,” according to Chief Financial Officer Marine Lake.

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Mainstream Appeal Growing

The growth and widespread adoption of cryptocurrency hasn’t been lost on the financial community. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein tweeted that his firm is weighing the possibility of trading cryptocurrency.

Fidelity Investments is also mining cryptocurrency, and making a lot of money doing it. Fidelity says its chief motivation for mining isn’t profit, but learning about the growing cryptocurrency market.

Increased mainstream adoption of bitcoin is seen by many as a necessary precursor to a more stable currency. Countries like Japan are spearheading adoption by introducing favorable regulation of the cryptocurrency space. But regulatory approval has not been uniform.

Russia recently became the third major economy in the span of a month to put the clampdown on cryptocurrency trading. China and South Korea have also implemented new controls on the market, focusing heavily on initial coin offerings.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock 

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