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  • Q. Why are Java applets no longer popular?

    A. When the Java language was introduced in the mid-’90s, most people were learning the language to write applets. Java was the only way to create interactive programs that ran in a web browser.

    Over the years, alternatives emerged. Macromedia Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and the new web publishing HTML5 standard all offer ways to put programs on web pages.

    Applets were hampered by poor loading time and slow support for new versions of Java by browser developers. A Java plug-in was introduced that could run the current version of Java in browsers, but by that time Java had outgrown its origins and was a sophisticated general-purpose programming language.

  • Q. What’s a Chris Steak House, and why does Ruth have one?

    A. Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the chain of more than 120 upscale steak restaurants across the United States and a handful of other countries, has an odd two-first-name name that reveals its humble origins and the stubborn streak of its founder.

    The chain was founded in 1965 as a solitary New Orleans restaurant owned by Ruth Fertel, a single mother of two sons. Fertel saw a classified ad offering a restaurant for sale and took out a $22,000 home mortgage to buy it (equivalent to around $150,000 in present dollars).

    She reached a deal to keep the name Chris Steak House with original owner Chris Matulich, but later had to relocate after a kitchen fire.

    Fertel’s contract did not permit her to use the Chris Steak House name anywhere but the original location, so she renamed it Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Though she had no restaurant or culinary expertise, the business was so successful that she began offering it as a franchise within 12 years. She disregarded several suggestions over the years to change the name to broaden its appeal.

    “I’ve always hated the name,” she once told a reporter for Fortune magazine, “but we’ve always managed to work around it.”

    Fertel, who died in 2002, was born on Feb. 5, 1927—the same day that Matulich opened the steakhouse.

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