Archive for Aug 2004


Technorati's Policial Happenings

Technorati has been working hard to extract political intelligence (insert bad oxymoron joke here) from blogs at politics.technorati.com. This is cool, but what stands out to me is how much more there is to do. For example, right now its all pretty course grained, Bush vs Kerry when in fact there are thousands of races going on all over the country. True, most of them aren't getting much blog coverage--yet--but when they do, there will be all kinds of interesting data to be had. I've been over to talk to some of the people in BYU's Political Science department
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The Emerging Presence Clearinghouse

Posting at Between the Lines, Chris Jablonski writes about presence technologies in the workplace. One of the things slowing down the adoption of presence is the lack of tools for integrating presence messages to present a clear picture of who in the organization is available and for what. The article points to a research report from Nemertes Research on the emerging presence clearinghouse.
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Creating Data Maps

Parry Atfab has an article in Information Week on building data maps to help manage privacy issues. A data map is the result of a detailed study about how data is collected and used in an organization. Data maps are useful for more than just privacy, however. They are also used for creating access control strategies and determining identity management infrastructure needs. Can you answer these questions about the data collected in your company: What kinds of data are you collecting? How is it being collected and input? Why was it collected? Were special conditions on its use established
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Regulating RFID: Not Yet!

Declan McCullagh has a nice review of efforts around the country to regulate RFID. Like most places where technology and public policy meet, there's plenty of chances for politicos to act in uninformed haste. Utah had an bill sponsored by David Hogue that was thankfully defeated. This is a perfect example of solving problems that don't exist. There are some legitimate privacy concerns, but no one's actually using these devices at retail yet, let alone using them in a way that requires regulation.
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Dan Gordon Blog

On the subject of people starting blogs, I met Dan Gordon at Supernova 2004 when he kindly gave me a ride to the pre-conference dinner. We had a great time talking and getting to know each other. Dan's blog looks like it will be an interesting read. It was actually his request for information on blogging that prompted me to finally write down my advice on how to start a blog.
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Railsback Blog

Kevin Railsback is one of the IT guys at InfoWorld who keep everything going. What's more, he writes a blog. Kevin's blog is full of stories about hard problems he solved. I wish every sysadmin in the world did this. Think of what that, combined with Google, would do for those of us trouble shooting our own problems.
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RSS at the DoD

The Department of Defense has RSS links for AFPS news articles, press advisories, news releases, aontract announcements, transcripts, and speeches.
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Scoble's Corporate Blogger Manifesto

Robert Scoble has published his manifesto for corporate bloggers (PDF). There are some great lessons there from someone who'd lived them all. I've added it to my How to Start a Blog list.
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Googlefight: BYU vs. Notre Dame

BYU plays Notre Dame in its season opener. I asked Googlefight to predict the outcome. Looks like Notre Dame will take it, at least according to Google. Turns out that even using Mark Pilgrim's method (seeing which keyword kills more kittens), Notre Dame still takes it.
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Linda and Service Oriented Architectures

The September issue of Dr. Dobbs has an article (PDF) by Ron Bjornson and Andrew Sherman of TurboWorx on the use of Linda in Grid computing. Ron and Andrew both got their PhDs from Yale where Linda was developed by David Gelernter (As an aside, Gelernter is the Yale CS Prof who almost got blown up by the Unibomber.) If you're not familiar with Linda, its a programming model (i.e. it can be added to existing languages) that does interprocess communication using a free-form tuple space. Tuple spaces offer an alternative to message-oriented service oriented architectures like Web-services. The
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Sixth Myths of IT

This InfoWorld special report on the six myths of IT is generating some heat on the Web. I saw it first on the InfoWorld site earlier in the week, but since then I've seen it referenced all over. Here are the myths and realities: IT Myth 1: Server upgrades matter Reality: Don‚t pay extra for upgradability; you‚ll never need it  IT Myth 2: Eighty percent of corporate data resides on mainframes   Reality: Try 50 percent, or even less  IT Myth 3: All big shops run multiple platforms Reality: This 'myth' is closer to fact than fiction  IT Myth 4:
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O. C. Tanner in the Agile 100

Salt Lake City based O. C. Tanner has been named one of CIO Magazine's Agile 100. Here's what CIO Magazine said about O. C. Tanner: Agile software development methodology used to implement more than 1,000 business systems enhancements in one year. IT enhancements to manufacturing, supply chain and customer-facing processes reduced customer calls by half. From The 100 Agile Honorees - - CIO Magazine Aug 15,2004Referenced Wed Aug 25 2004 07:41:43 GMT-0600 Congratulations to Dave Berg and his team. To see how agile your IT department is, take the CIO Magazine agile quiz.
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Book Review: The Shield of Achilles

When I was at Supernova in June I had dinner one night with John Robb (former CEO of Userland) about his forthcoming book on Global Guerrillas. During the course of the conversation, he said something like "to understand the context of what terrorists are doing, you really ought to read Philip Bobbitt's The Shield of Achilles." I ordered it that night and I've found it fascinating. This isn't a technical book, its history. The subtitle of the book is "War, Peace, and the Course of History." To give you an idea what the book is about, here's the opening
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Browse Happy: The Browser Switching Campaign

With recent recent advisories that users stop using IE, up pops a simple site like Browse Happy that not only tells you why you should switch from IE to some other browser, but also gives stories of people who've switched. Here's Alan's story: The better use of system resources allows me to have more windows open, so not only are there fewer crashes, but I can multi-task more efficiently. While the whole page may not load any quicker, I have a distinct feeling that the text and links load faster, allowing me to surf more quickly. I have just
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Information routing

I'm working on an article on KnowNow for InfoWorld. One of the things that KnowNow enables is the ability to easily create message-oriented (i.e. pub-sub) alerting systems. For example, suppose that whenever a service order is placed on a Web-site, the correct service provider (based on information in the order) needs to be alerted so that they can contact the customer and arrange to provide the service, customize the order, etc. Traditionally we'd have the system fire off an email, but that has a number of pitfalls. FIrst, email has a low signal to noise ratio. More importantly, email
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New Feature: Reading List

I'm experimenting with software for building reading lists using Amazon Web Services. So far, I havent't found anything that really works like I'd want. Mr Rat's Amazon Product Feed software isn't bad. I used it to create this reading list of books I've mentioned on my Weblog. One of the things I'd like to do is create multiple lists and manage them with a database of some kind.
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IT Shops Wary of SP2

A Ziff-Davis Channel Insider story reports that many IT shops are delaying the deployment of SP2 citing concerns over application compatibility. I imagine there will be a fair amount of testing that happens in large IT shops before we see large rollouts.
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Functional Programming in Utah

The International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP) is being held in Snowbird, Utah this year on September 19-22. There's an associated Scheme workshop as well as workshops on Erlang and Haskell on September 23. I'm probably going up to the Scheme workshop if anyone's interested in a ride. As an aside, if you're interested in Scheme, you may be interested in the Scheme MeetUp day on September 14. I'd be interested in putting one together for the Wasatch Front.
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eVoting Round-Up

Here are several current articles on eVoting and its problems: According to a Wired magazine article, DeForest B. Soaries Jr., Chairman of the newly formed Federal Election Assistance Commission told an IEEE audience: "The country owes you a debt of thanks to have taken this challenge of voting systems seriously." He goes on to call for more dialogue between elections officials and Computer Scientists. The Chicago Daily Herald reports on a lecture given by Dan Wallach of Rice University at a FermiLab colloquium. Dan said: "Is it technically feasible for such a person or for a conspiracy of people
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Coming Home

I just returned home from ten days of vacation. We were in Pittsburgh visiting family and friends (my wife's from South Hills). I returned to 2100 email messages. 1690 of them were Spam. Of those, SpamAssassin caught around 1398, or 82%, of them. Of the rest there were probably around 100 that really needed my attention. The balance were notifications I have servers send, announcements, etc.
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Digital Mogadishu

So far, our cyber infrastructure has not suffered from a 9/11-like attack. But that's not the only kind of threat the slow-building quagmire is also able to take us down--a digial Mogadishu, if you will. Bruce Sterling offers four things we can do to protect the nation's electronic frontier: Stamp out SPAM. Let's face it, SPAM is more than a nuisance. SPAM is also the vector by which many of the threats to our computing infrastructure are transported. Protect ordinary citizens. Well-run computing infrastructures in large organizations are pretty well protected. That means that the small-time computing infrastructure is
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Using Wikis at Workshops

This blog entry about using wikis at face-to-face events to create an ongoing dialogue is interesting to me. The piece describes the use of a Wiki to have participants at a workshop create, on-the-fly, a book about the event. There were over 400 pages of content on the Wiki at the end of the event and then the workshop organizers assembled that into a book with ongoing collaboration of the participants. The O'Reilly folks use a wiki at their conferences, but I'm not sure how many people use it after the event.
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Configuring a Linux Server and Building Apache

I've got a collection of posts concerning what I do when I set up a new Linux server. These are not general purpose instructions, but things I do. Here's another few installment on Configuring Linux and Building Apache.
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More on Rumsey's OSCON Presentation

Jon Udell has an excellent write-up on David Rumsey's OSCON presentation last Friday.
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Onion Routing

Ever wanted, or needed, to surf the Web anonymously? Intelligence officers have this need, but so do others. Anonymizing proxies can make it so that the site you visit doesn't know who you are, but they don't protect you from instream eavesdroppers or your own company or ISP. Now there's an open source project you can use to protect your communications called Tor. The Naval Research Lab came up with a concept called "onion routing" to make it difficult for any one entity to be able to piece together traffic information about Web usage to determine who's using the
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Is Your Web Site Out of Date?

This morning I was talking to a company about what they did and told them I'd looked at their Web site. They said "Oh, that's out of date. We're working on an update." Think about the implications of that statement. It means that your treat your Web site as just an online brochure. That's like using a BMW as a dolly for hauling boxes. Blogs are an example of a way to use the Web that never is out of date. Everyday, my blog represents my interests, even as they evolve over time. So, if you ever catch yourself
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Consumer Electronics Lab Focus

PCWorld has an interview with the director of the Consumer Electronics Lab, Michael Bove. The Consumer Electronics Lab is part of MIT's Media Lab. Bove calls out five areas of focus for the CEL: Power Sensors, actuators, and displays Cooperative wireless Self-organizing ecosystems of smart devices New materials Here's an example project on "location-based services with respect to community messaging".
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Fixing OS X: Update Instead of Reinstalling

A few weeks ago my new AirPort Express showed up. To use it, you have to install a new piece of software, the AirPort Express Assistant (the old AirPort Assistant doesn't work). No big deal, however, as I was installing the software, just after the installer started its traditional disk optimization phase, my TiBook shut down. I'd forgotten to plug it in and it picked that moment to run out of juice. I plugged in the power supply and brought the computer back from sleep mode, but the installation had gone horribly awry and so I started it over
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Key Bank Says Four to Six Weeks

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to send away for something by mail order and the standard line was "four to six weeks" for delivery? You may have thought that those days were over but for the nostalgic ones, I'm proud to say they're not. I got my credit card statement yesterday and there was a $550 charge from "Academic and Research Con" in "East Stroudburg, PA." I can't remember what it was and can't find a receipt, so I called up the credit card company, Key Bank, in this case to see what help they
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Virtualization and Development

VMWare offers better performance than Virtual PC in every category. (Click to see full results from ArsTechnica) I'm in the middle of doing a technical performance study of VMWare, so this ARS Technica comparison of VMWare and Virtual PC was interesting to me. This review is primarily concerned with single user copies, not the beefier "server" versions. If you're a developer who needs to run lots of different OS's, this is a great solution. Development groups with this need would do well to buy a copy of virtualization software for each engineer and then create a library of images
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Technorati's Big Month

Dave Sifry discusses what happens to a Web site when CNN calls and asks you to help with the Democratic National Convention just a few weeks before the event. I've been in similar situations before and believe me it's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I'm jealous Dave.
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