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Subject: Question for Users of Strange Eons on Mac OS X rss

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Chris Jennings
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My testing of Strange Eons 3 indicates that, like the Windows version (though not as bad), it is much more stable on Java 7 than Java 6.* On the plus side, it also indicates that a long-standing issue with SE on Macs has finally been resolved (the "OS X font bug" that prevents you from being able to properly style typefaces loaded from plug-ins).

Strange Eons currently requires Java 6 or newer, in large part to allow it to run on older Macs. For the above (and other) reasons, I am strongly considering making SE3 require Java 7+. (Indeed, I may not have a choice in the end.)

So here is the question: Java 7 requires OS X 10.7.3 (Lion) or newer. Would that requirement pose a serious hardship for current Mac-based users of Strange Eons?


* Additional background: Where Sun's policy was to continue fixing bugs in older versions of Java for a lengthy period, Oracle's new policy (as I understand it) is to basically abandon older versions other than providing security fixes for a few months. This wouldn't be a problem, except that there were serious bugs introduced in the last few versions of Java 6 that directly affect Strange Eons. How serious? Imagine you are merrily typing along after a few hours of metagaming when, without any warning, *blip* the Strange Eons window disappears and all your unsaved work is gone. So, pretty serious. And given Oracle's policy, unlikely to be fixed.
 
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Jefferson Krogh
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Java has become such a major security headache. I wish Strange Eons were written in something else. Oh, well.
 
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Chris Jennings
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Unfortunately, the word "Java" is a heavily overloaded term; it could refer to the programming language, the platform (programming language plus cross-platform runtime), or the browser plug-in, among other things. Rest assured that the fact that Strange Eons is written in Java doesn't affect the security of your browser. Strange Eons uses Java (the platform), but that is independent of whether Java (the browser plug-in) is enabled in your browser.

That said, I do think that Java (the browser plug-in) has gotten an undeserved (or rather worse-than-deserved) knock as a result of recent events. Perhaps because Java has traditionally had a good reputation security-wise, the press made a bigger-than-usual deal about the recently discovered flaws. Meanwhile, there are fundamental, well-known security flaws in the design of HTML itself that you have probably never heard of: browser vendors have so far refused to deal with them because doing so would break too many legitimate Web sites. The simple truth is, black hats will try to exploit any software that is installed by a large number of people. Right now Java is in the news, but for years it was the browsers themselves, and other (then) less secure plug-ins like Adobe Acrobat or Flash Player. Having picked the low-hanging fruit, they have moved on to other things, like Java (which had been harder to exploit because Sun always took security seriously, even back in the early 90's when browser vendors themselves didn't).

Oracle, which purchased Sun and thus became the "steward" of Java, made a mistake by announcing that the most recent security flaws wouldn't be fixed until the next regular update. But it seems that they learned from this mistake quickly: they ended up releasing a fix ahead of schedule. Hopefully that lesson sticks. But if it doesn't, responsible browser vendors have a pretty good system in place that lets them blacklist vulnerable versions of any plug-in until security issues can be dealt with.

Cheers,
Chris
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Chris Jennings
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I am leaning strongly towards moving to Java 7 and requiring OS X 10.7.3+. Last chance to voice any objections!
 
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