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July 1997 Newsletter of the

Front Range Unix Users Group

The Cndnsd Vrsn: 4pm Tuesday July 22 ACS Rm 123 - Tom Cargill: Java's Remote Method Invocation (RMI) Model


This Month's Meeting: Tom Cargill- Java's Remote Method Invocation (RMI) Model.

Java's RMI is a mechanism that provides communication between distributed Java Virtual Machines. The core mechanism includes service registration, remote object proxies, automatic parameter transmission for remote method invocation, distributed garbage collection and automatic client class loading. Many parts of the core framework are designed to support a variety of possible extensions. The talk will present the core model, identifying its strengths and weaknesses.


Meeting Location

The next meeting of the Front Range UNIX Users Group will be in room 123 of the CU Academic Computing Center building at Arapahoe and Marine Streets in Boulder. Marine St intersects Arapahoe at 38th St; the Computing Center is on the southwest corner.

See <> for map

Our Last Meeting

At the June 5th meeting of the Front Range UNIX Users Group Rob Kolstad, president of Berkeley Software Design, Inc., gave a two-in-one talk on optimizing UNIX-based Web servers and E-mail servers for ultra-high throughput.

See the previous meetings page on the Fruug web site for more detail.

Upcoming Meetings

We have no plan for August yet, but stay tuned.

FRUUG is looking for users of the Apache WWW server on UNIX for a possible Fall meeting on WWW server experience. If anyone is currently running that server or knows anyone who is running it, please contact wwedel at

Contact the FRUUG Executive Committee at fruug at if you have other interesting topic ideas or are interested in presenting a fruug talk.

What's in the damn briefcase in "Pulp Fiction?" -- The Long Explanation.

In the February FRUUG meeting Geoff Thompson presented the Java Event Model. He had promised to answer the briefcase question but ran out of time. Since then, inquiring minds have been bugging the FRUUG committee demanding the answer. So here's Geoff's explanation.

The contents of the briefcase are never revealed. It's not explained in the screenplay either. What we know is that people are willing to go to extremes to get it and keep it, and that when the case is opened it gives all a visible glow. (In both cases when it is opened, it is facing away from the camera.) Also, people are very impressed by what they see when they see it.

Did Quentin Tarantino, the director, screw up? Did he accidentally cut out some line of dialog that explains it? No, the omission was intentional.

The contents of the briefcase is a "MacGuffin," a narrative device that serves to move a story forward. In other movies it is the secret plans, the microfilm, the computer disk, or magic formula. It really doesn't matter what it is, only that characters in the story want it.

The MacGuffin is used by many film makers, but it was popularized by Alfred Hitchcock who used it very effectively. In his interviews with Francois Truffaut he describes how in his earlier movies he would have an explanation of what exactly was the secret plan or vital formula and why it was important. This explanation would come at the end of a movie, after some exciting climatic action. Hitchcock found these scenes were tedious and anti-climatic and later would make them as short as possible. In "Pulp Fiction" Tarantino simply takes the MacGuffin to a logical extreme, he eliminates the explanation all together. By adding the glow it makes all the simple conjectures implausible (drugs, money, guns). It is intentionally ambiguous and unexplained, leaving it to the imagination of the viewers. It's more fun, it tweaks the viewer, it's more effective.

In interviews Tarantino never explained the contents. When John Travolta was asked, he said it was two lights and a battery.

Now, what did all this have to do with Java. Tarantino was operating at a higher level of abstraction. Providing a literal explanation would trivialize it and make it less effective. Likewise, Java operates on a virtual machine, a higher level of abstraction of a computing machine, which is often more effective than the traditional machine dependent, machine language approach.

FRUUG Library Notes

Addison Wesley sent us a copy of Mark Sobell's new book, A Practical Guide to Linux.

The USENIX Association sent us a copy of the proceedings of the Third Conference on Object-Oriented Technologies and Systems (COOTS), Portland, June 1997.

You may check books out using your business card as your library card; you must be on the membership list to check books out. Books are due at the meeting following the one in which they are checked out. If you don't return your library books by the next meeting, you might find yourself on our overdue book list. We count on you returning books on time so that other members may have the chance to use them as well.

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Last Updated: 9 July 1997. Problems? Contact webmaster at

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February 15, 2009

February 2008: FRUUG Enters Quiescent Phase
After 27 years running, we're suspending operations.

Future Meetings:
None planned

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