Archive for Nov 2003


Hilbert No. 16 Partially Solved

In 1900, Professor David Hilbert gave a talk entitled "The Future of Mathematics" before the Second International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris (See Bulliten of the American Mathematical Society, vol. 8, 1902). In his talk Hilbert listed 23 problems that showed the breadth and depth of mathematics and represented challenges for mathematicians in the 20th century. Only three remain unsolved 6, 8, and 16. A Norwegian newspaper is reporting that 21-year old Elin Oxenhielm has solved the second part of problem 16 having to do with boundary cycles for polynomial differential equations. Hilbert is of historic importance to Computer
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Testing Web Apps with HTTPUnit

JUnit provides a framework for building test of Java applications. JUnit is designed, however for testing standalone Java applications and is consequently difficult to use for Java-based Web applications. HTTPUnit solves this problem providing what amounts to a programmable Web client. HTTPUnit can be used in conjunction with JUnit to take advantage of JUnit's reporting and regression features. DevX.com published the first of a two part tutorial on using HTTPUnit
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Republican Hackers

Doc's put out a call for Republican hackers for a story he's doing for Linux Journal. He's actually a bit more particular than just wanting people who program and belong to the Grand Old Party---he's looking for anyone working on the Bush campaign who'll talk to him about what they're doing technology-wise. We're seeing a lot more innovation from the Democratic candidates in their use of the Web this political season than from the Republican side. I suspect that that has to do with the fact that there's going to be a hard-fought primary on the Democratic side. Incumbents
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Open Government Interoperability Project

Tom Adelstein has written a great series of articles on the use of open source software (OSS) in state and local governments. Tom is helping to head a project called the Open Government Interoperability Project whose stated purpose is to provide "a blueprint for government software interoperability, exchange and data access." The project has compiled a list of over 185 local government applications that could be built as open source. The project's position statement ought to be read by every government worker in the US. Note that I didn't say "IT worker." Don't make the mistake of thinking this
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Bookmarklet: See CSS Changes in Real Time

If you ever do any site design and play with CSS stylesheets, you know what a pain it can be to make a change, save it, reload the browser, and repeat until you get the look you want. I found a nifty little bookmarklet that shows CSS stylesheet changes in real time as you make them. It only works in Mozilla and Netscape but its very handy. There are several other Web Development bookmarklets over at squarefree.com that look worthwhile as well.
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Business Driven Identity Management

My November column for Connect is on Business Driven Identity Management. Its nothing I haven't said here many times. I recently had the opportunity to sit with a group of CIOs and others involved in managing information technology and discuss digital identity. What struck me was how much of the conversation was about security and liability rather than identity and opportunity. From Connect :: Resource/Article :: November Columnist - Phil WindleyReferenced Mon Nov 24 2003 10:25:59 GMT-0700 I'm surprised how little information CIOs and IT managers get on how identity can help their business. Go to the bookstore and
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Stop Scaring the DOG!

One of the joys of working a lot from home is getting to see your children at their absolute best. This morning, my 4 year daughter came running in my office screaming at the top of her lungs. When I asked what was going on, she said "JoJo's going to put a snake on me!" I asked her: "Did you see the snake?" "No." "Then why are you screaming?" "He said he had one!" I told her that JoJo didn't have a snake and to stop screaming because it was scaring me and the dog. After spending the last
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Connected Democracy is Philosophically Blind

With respect to the use of technology by the Dean campaign, Tom Mangan writes: I just finished Ed Cone's piece, which seems to be missing one critical point: anything perceived good guy Howard Dean can do with technology can be replicated by his enemies (it's possible I glazed over this part, it's long article). Team Bush has $200 million and six months to play catch-up. It also has talk radio, the Fox Network and all the warbloggers on its side, plus the population's inherent tendency to side with the current prez during wartime. The Web knows no politics, it
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Virtual Convergence

My October column for Connect Magazine has been put online. The column is entltled Convergence and is about how Bluetooth has allowed me to use my T68i phone as a communications hub among other things. I start by discussing the problems with a wireless laptop solution I'd used: First, I had another PC card, another service provider and another bill. Second, I sometimes wanted to use the card in my iPAQ when I didn't have it with me. Also, putting a full form factor PC Card in an iPAQ requires a bulky add-on holster. The whole set up is
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CDXPO Wrap-Up

I'm headed home from CDXPO. I think Jupiter Media had high hopes for this conference. As is usual with a Jupiter Media event, the venue, support, and speakers were first rate. I enjoyed every presentation I went to and learned many new things. One of the best parts of the conference was one track of nothing but Jupiter Research analysts presenting results of their research in various areas. This alone was well worth the price of admission. I hate Las Vegas, but it was nice to be here with many other conferences going on. Monday, I was able to
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CDXPO Presentation on Web Services Intermediaries

I gave my presentation (slides here) this morning to a smaller than I'd expected, but still very interactive crowd. The discussion was about what Web Services Intermediaries are and why they're important to business hoping to scale SOA-based applications. I based most of what I said on things I've written for InfoWorld over the last year. I touched in one slide on a cross-section of vendors in this space and what their strengths are. Its clear that you can't pick a WSI vendor based on feature set. They differ much more clearly in the metaphor they use than the
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Sympathy for Darl

I've gotten some email from people and some comments on the Darl McBride story I wrote who obviously misunderstood my position. They mistook my sympathy for Darl as a person for sympathy for SCO's claims and asked me to somehow back them up. Let me be clear. I am not sympathetic to SCO'S claims. I find them terribly inconvenient for a number of things I'm trying to do and feel that the SCO suit doing a real disservice to open source software (OSS). Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I'm a big supporter of OSS. When I say
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Darl McBride: Linux Won't Remain Free

The evening keynote at CDXPO is by Darl McBride. On the way in they handed out a pamphlet from WIPO entitled "Intellectual Property: A Power Tool for Economic Growth." I'm not sure who decided to hand it out, but I think its a little silly. Darl McBride of SCO speaks at CDXPO. Darl starts out with a history of SCO. He says "SCO = UNIX." (Note: in the interest of my fingers, I'm going to stop typing "he says" and just type the essence of his speech. If I add commentary of my own, I'll note that.) A year
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The Rise of Connected Democracy

If the last 50 years can be called the era of broadcast democracy, fans of the Internet should rightly be asking "when will the era of connected democracy begin?" We've seen eBay bring a new way to scale garage sales and flea markets using the connectedness of the Web. How does the eBay experience inform our views about democracy? The Dean campaign may be the first and best example of how the Web can be used to change the nature of politics. In stark contrast to the standard Raise money Broadcast Vote Rinse and repeat formula of the last
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Michael Gartenberg on Digital Ubiquity

Windows 95 as a watershed event. Before that we worried about people taking enterprise software home and messing up licensing agreements. Now we worry about people bringing in their software from home and messing up out licensing agreements. People now frequently have better computers at home than they have at work. (What they don't have is better connectivity in general.) IT departments are strapped installing security patches. Meanwhile users are out exploring the future of IT. Information co-mingling requires optimized synchronization. The IT universe is not prepared for this data co-mingling. Users cope multiple access venues. Home and office:
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NY Times on Utopia

Today's NY Times contains an article on Utopia, Utah's extensive, government-backed broadband project. Here's some interesting quotes from the article: But private sector competitors and taxpayer groups assert that the cities and their residents face a high level of financial risk for a network that may far exceed their needs. Telephone and cable companies nationwide are scrambling to build networks relying on less expensive, less advanced technology that they argue will be perfectly adequate for many years to come. Jerry Fenn, the president of the Utah division of Qwest, the regional telephone company here that provides its own high-speed
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Morning Keynote: Gail Whipple on Digital Media

The morning's keynote is Gail Whipple, VP of Digital Media for IBM Global Services speaking on Digital Media: Cool to Core. Digital media is unstructured content not stored in traditional databases. Gail see three key trends: Rapid increase in content moving from analog to digital as are devices Increased broadband penetration Lowering of price points, especially in storage (1 minute of digital video is 375MB). By 2005 global digital media spend is $33 billion without including the devices for input and output. On demand is the logical extension of today's business processes growing more mature over time. Demands a
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Who Set's Web Site Strategy?

One of the tracks is individual Jupiter Research analysts discussing issues they've been tracking. I'm attending on on optimizing staffing, spending and technology selection in the Web enterprise. I'm not sure what a "Web enterprise" is. I gather its an organization that depends on a Web presence to do their business. The analyst is David Schatsky. An important first question: Who manages your organization's web site? Your IT department (most companies) or your marketing department? The issue is one of overall Web site governance as well as who's making the final decisions. The problem is that there are often
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CDXPO: Enterprise IT Week

I'm at Jupiter Media's Enterprise IT Week this week in Las Vegas. I didn't fly my plane since it was snowing in Salt Lake. Delta got me there nicely without the weather headaches. CDXPO is Alan Meckler's answer to COMDEX and we'll see how it goes. I suspect it will be slow the first year, even so the program looks pretty good.
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Motorola MPx200 and SmartPhone 2002 Review

My beloved T68i was broken and I ended up sending it in for a replacement (which was very smooth, by the way). I wasn't sure how I'd manage without a phone for a week, but then a friend offered a solution--borrow a spare phone he had laying around. Since GSM network-based phones use a SIM chip (really a punch out from a smart card), I could insert my SIM into his AT&T WS phone and it should work. It did. The phone he had "laying around" happened to be a brand-spanking new Motorola MPx200 phone running the new Microsoft
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Utah Cares: The First Fruits of eREP

Governor Walker launched the Utah Cares portal today. Utah Cares is the first fruits of a multi-agency cooperative effort to rebuild Utah's twenty year old eligibility system. This multi-million dollar IT effort goes by the name eREP. Utah administers about a billion dollars of Federal welfare benefits each year. Part of that process is the determination of recipient eligibility. Over the next few months, successive launches of eREP components will make it easier for State benefits administrators to make better, more consistent eligibility determinations. eREP is a great example of how IT is changing the rules of the game
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The Personal Server

At the Intel Developer Forum in September (yeah, I'm late), Intel Researchers demonstrated a working model of their personal server. What's a personal server? Essentially its an iPOD with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. OK, its a little more than that. It also has the smarts to let other devices hook up to it in meaningful ways. I've always viewed by Bluetooth-enabled T68i as a communications hub and wished I could marry it to an iPOD. Note that this is different from a PDA. In some ways, its less, in some ways, its more. A personal server doesn't necessarily have a
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Why the Bells Should Be Very Scared

A recent article in Business Week discusses the impact of VoIP on the RBOCs. The article highlights IBM's recent announcement to move to a VoIP network: When IBM talks, Corporate America listens. So Big Blue created quite a stir on Nov. 7 when a top exec told a tech conference in Atlanta that it hopes to move 80% of its 300,000 employees to voice-over-IP phone systems by 2008. ... When the largest tech company on the planet announces it no longer needs the phone company to manage its calls, you can bet the communications landscape has fundamentally changed. From
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The Technology Behind the Segway Human Transporter

I attended the BYU CS Department Colloquium today. The speaker was David Robinson from Seqway LLC. David is a BYU grad who got a PhD from MIT and then went to work on the Ginger project which eventually lad to the development of the Segway Human Transporter. David's in the Core Technology Group. The talk is about the technology behind the Segway HT. Balance is the easy part. The Segway is an inverted pendulum which is a classic problem appearing in Chapter 1 of most control textbooks. The motors not only provide the motive force, but also the torque
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Phase 2 of Liberty Alliance Specification

The Liberty Alliance released phase 2 of their work on identity federation. The latest installment is called the Web services framework, ID-WSF (complete list of documents). ID-WSF provides a framework for identity-based Web services in a federated environment. There will likely be some conflict on this between the work of the Liberty Alliance and the WS-I framework proposed by Microsoft, IBM, and others. Liberty adopted the WS-Security specification after it was turned over to OASIS (although there's reason to argue that even that isn't enough). Liberty hasn't adopted WS-Federation, however and last month, published a white paper comparing their
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Open Source Meme Map

Open Source Meme Map (Click to enlarge) O'Reilly's P2P forum has an Open Source meme map that I saw yesterday for the first time and didn't want to loose track of it, so I post it here, as much for my memory as for anything else. This was part of an article by Tim called Remaking the Peer to Peer Meme. There's some interesting ideas here and while none of it is exactly news in 2003, its interesting to see it all in one place and related in this way. Clearly the map is not exhaustive, but meant to
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All Headline News: RSS Feeds from Search

All Headline News is a Web site that aggregates news stories from multiple sources. From their Web site: "All Headline News offers live updated news headlines in more than 300 categories collected from more than 3500 sources. Also offers a free news feed service for websites." The first cool thing about All Headline News is that I can get an RSS feed for any of their categories. The second cool thing is that these RSS feeds can be generated from a search. For example, here's an RSS feed that contains news items related to Mike Leavitt. There are other
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Disposable Email Addresses

There are times when I want to give someone my email address, but worry about where it might end up and whether it will become another source of SPAM. In the past, I've created my own disposable email addresses by simply creating an alias specific to the purpose, knowing I can delete it if it ever becomes a problem. People without access to the email alias file on their mail host use Yahoo! mail and Hotmail for the same reason. A large percentage of the email addresses on my newsletter are Yahoo! or Hotmail addresses. I recently discovered a
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SprintPCS Coverage Maps

I asked for coverage maps and I got them, at least in part. This page from Sprint shows the locations of their towers across the country. You can drill down right into your neighborhood. The problem is that the maps don't show signal strength in various areas, just tower locations. You might still get surprised by dead zones. The friend who sent me the map noted that even though there's a tower close to his office, he still doesn't get great reception. I'd also like to be able to overlay one service provider's map on top of another's. Of
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Demand Informing Supply: I Want a Book

I want this book: Me++. Right now. Not tomorrow. Why can't I find out if my local Border's has it via the Web so I can go down and buy it. Better yet, why can't I let my need be know in some standard way and have the local Barnes & Nobles, Borders, etc. inform me of availbility, delivery options, and so on? Doc Searls calls this "demand informing supply." I think its the future.
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Speaking at the Global MSP Network Conference

I gave the keynote address to the Global MSP Network conference this morning. The GMN was started with backing from Intel in 2001 as an industry group for companies in the managed service provider space. Its not a large group, but I had a very good time speaking to them and getting some of their feedback. I spoke on IT trends (slides in PDF). I've given variations on this talk several times and its always well received. One of the questions I wasn't very well positioned to talk about had to do with grid computing and its future. I
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eGovernment and Open Source Software Usage

Dave Fletcher reports that the four of the five top eGovernment Web sites in the Best of the Web contest run on Linux, Apache, and Resin. I'm not sure Resin's open source, but the point is well taken. Dave also points to the UK's eGovernment office's open source policy (PDF). How many other government's have explicit open source policies? I don't know, but would be interested in compiling a list. If you've got any pointers, send me a note or add a comment below.
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Digital ID World Presentation Slides and Audio

Digital ID World has put the presentation slides and audio for the conference online. This is a great service and an incredible resource. My hats off to Phil, Kathy, and the folks at Digital ID World for going to the trouble to make it happen.
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Mesh Networks: Monitoring Buildings

Mesh networks are interesting to me. I like to think about what you can do with lots of similar, wirelessly connected, sensors. For example, I've envisioned OnStar as an open platform for mobile mesh computing and monitoring. An article at AlwaysOn talks about Buildings That Know Their Limits, a feat made possible with meshes of smart sensors. The company doing it is called Sensametrics. In a nutshell, the Sensametrics architecture is this: off-the shelf heat sensors, vibration sensors, and strain gauges plug into Sensametrics "wireless sensing units." These units have their own accelerometers, to measure shaking, vibration, or swaying,
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Catching Up on Some OS X Apps

A few Mac OS X related items: uControl for Panther, tabbed terminal emulation, using your iSight camera, and the new Finder. I got the latest update to uControl, the utility that let's OS X users turn their CAPSLOCK key into a Control key. Without it, my hand starts to ache from reaching down with my pinky to hit the Control key. Even, when I'm not using Emacs, I'm using Emacs controls in Safari and Mail. This is one of the things that Panther broke when I installed it but the new version seems to work fine now. There are
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Ask the Expert: Patch Management

CIO Magazine's Ask the Expert column features Joe Wang, CEO of Utah-based LANDesk. The topic is patch management. Follow the link, post your question, and watch for the answers.
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Cell Phone Crisis

Just in time for number portability, my cell phone is not working. I don't know if its sun spots, equipment failure, or network problems. All I know is that my ATT GSM phone doesn't get a usable signal anymore. I tried looking on the ATT WS web site to get some indication if they were having network problems (I can hear you laughing already). Of course they don't post that kind of information there---they want to tell me about service plans and how I can download ringtones. Big help. New York Mayor Bloomberg is taking a lesson from the
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Novell Buys SUSE

You've probably heard that Novell's buying SUSE Linux and taking a $50 million investment from IBM. Clearly this shows Novell is looking for be a player in a way that they could never accomplish by just selling applications and system add-ons for Windows. The acquisition of Ximian gave Novell a cache of great Linux products, but that doesn't really help them get out of their funk. Novell still has a large installed base of Netware customers that they need to migrate to a platform with a future---otherwise they'll lose those customers to Microsoft. Now they've got a server they
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Transparency, eVoting, and Copyright

eVoting highlights the trade-offs we make with copyright laws and transparency. To see how, let's think about how regular voting works: you sign your name on the register to prevent more than one person from voting at a time, you get a paper ballot and mark it (either by hand or with a punch), you turn in the ballot, and later its counted. (Sure, I'm simplifying it.) Every geek in the world says "Wow! I can build a system that's snazzier than that!" And that's the $64 question, can we build a computer based system that's got the same
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Time for a Facelift: Renewal Express

Renewal Express, Utah's trusty old eGovernment application, is a good system with lots of great features. For example, the way it helps users locate information on paper forms with pictures tied to actual form entry boxes is Web-GUI magic. I also think the way it lets you print out temporary certificates is very nice. With tens of thousands of user's per year, its Utah's premiere eGovernment application. Even so, Renewal Express is in need of a facelift. I had to renew my wife's car today and I could tell it was showing its age. Because its so heavily used
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