Archive for Oct 2006


Logitech Panic

For a while, I have occasionally had my MacBook Pro panic when I unplugged the USB cable. For you non-Unix geeks, that means the machine stops--dead--and has to be rebooted. OS X hides the reason from you. Even when you restart, it simply asks if you'd like the problem reported to Apple. However, if you push the right buttons on the dialog box, you can see the dump. When I did this, I discovered that it was the Logictech Control Center that was causing the problem. LCC configures Logitech mice and keyboards. I did the usual thing and updated
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More on Online Docs

Jordy has a nice write-up of last week's CTO Breakfast on his blog. He concentrates and adds to the discussion of online word processing and spreadsheet tools. I think online doc sharing just hasn't reached a critical mass yet. It's too new, and too early in the product life cycle, especially when other (albeit clumsy) solutions are already in place. I had the hardest time getting my classmates to use a wiki for collaborative writing, and that was only a year ago. I'm sure that some of them will use them in the workplace or on social networks now
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If You Can't Walk On Water, Write On It

This article about printing on the surface of water amazes me. Having taken my share of undergraduate and graduate fluid mechanics classes and having struggled with waves in engineering physics, it boggles my mind to think someone could control them this well.
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Tin Foil Helmets Don't Help

So...where are you putting your cell phone? Cell phone usage apparently affects sperm quality.
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CXO Bloggers

I'm quoted in a story on CIO bloggers in Information Age by Michelle Price. The article also has profiles on four active CIO bloggers. The biggest problem CXO bloggers face is that it's impossible for people to separate the views expressed on the blog from official policy or decisions. That puts significant pressure on CXO bloggers to weigh their words and is the reason there are so few.
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Ruby and Unicode

Kevin Tew and Devlin Daley, two of my students went over to RubyCon last week. When I asked them how it was, they said the usual things people say about a conference, but they only mentioned one presenter by name: Tim Bray. Tim gave a talk on unicode, internationalization, and multilingual issues in Ruby. He has a post on his blog that talks about those same issues and includes some of the slides from his talk. This is one of those topics that makes most programmers eyes glaze over because it's not all that sexy and it's pretty hard
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CTO Breakfast Report for October

I posted a piece on why mobile data centers matter at Between the Lines. My thoughts were in response to the most recent Gillmor Gang where Sun's new mobile data centers were discussed. Another interesting tidbit from that show was a discussion of Google Office. The consensus of the gang was that Google Office was a winner because of its collaboration features. Calacanis mentioned that he likes to have group editing sessions with people with everyone on a phone conference, getting a document ready. I asked the group at my CTO Breakfast about Google Office this morning. Several had
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Cardinal: Ruby on Parrot

At the next Provo Linux User's Group meeting on the 8th of November, Kevin Tew will be presenting Cardinal, a Ruby implementation on Parrot that he's working on.
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Building Emacs for OS X

I rebuilt Emacs today. I've been relying on a binary I transfered from my old machine. Rosetta is so good, you'd never know it. Boy is EMacs faster when it's built for the Intel chip. I used these instructions and they worked great. No issues at all.
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Matz Talk on Ruby Design Principles

Last week, Matz, the chief designer and creator of the Ruby programming language stopped by BYU on his way to RubyCon. I was fortunate to go to lunch with him and capture the colloquium talk he gave. I've posted his talk on IT Conversations. I'm still working on getting slides to post. Update: Slides from Matz's talk are available.
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First Snow

It's snowing... First snow of the season. None of it's sticking yet, but it's fun to watch outside my window. I hope we have a good winter.
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Quotes from the Software 2006 CIO Panel

Thomas Beck has some thoughts about the CIO panel from Software 2006 that I put up on IT Conversations last week. He pulled out a few key quotes: [On dealmaking] "You've got to remember, the people that cut the deal aren't the people that manage the relationship. I don't care if the [software] salespeople leave with blood coming out of both of their ears. I'm not going to see those guys again." [On the widespread use of wikis and blogs at Motorola] "Where the real work gets done is down in the ranks that interact with each other and
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CTO Breakfast Reminder

Just a reminder that the CTO Breakfast will be held this Thursday at 8am in the Executive Conference room of Building L at Canyon Park Technology Center (the usual location, in other words). Come grab some breakfast at the food court just outside the conference room and join us for a great conversation. From time to time I have people tell me that the name scares them--they feel like the won't fit in with all the CTOs in the room. There are a few CTOs, CIOs, and the like who come, but the most important criteria is not your
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Using OpenID and Liking IT

Norman Walsh is using OpenID in his photodata.org application and liking it. He has Ruby code (not Rails) that you can swipe if you like.
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Audio Podcasts: Competing with Non-consumption

Brett Nordquist likes IT Conversations better than the Scobleshow, although his reasons have little to do with content and much to do with format. Simply put, video podcasts compete with a different segment of the 'Net for user's time that audio podcasts do. Brett comments that when he's at his computer watching video its far more likely to be YouTube than it is a video podcast on technology 'ala the Scobleshow. Audio podcasts compete with radio, music, or, in some cases, non-consumption (i.e. the fill time that the listener wouldn't be listening to anything else). This doesn't change with
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Emacs and Ruby

Jao at Programming Musings linked my my post on tools with a nice article on using powerful editors. Jao's post included a link to a screencast on using emacs and ruby by Marshall Vandegrift. I've been using emacs for 20 years, but I learned a lot of useful little tricks. Vandegrift has a post giving links to the various packages he uses in the screencast. Here's the ones I found interesting. One of the things I've always liked about TextMate is its signature directory listing on the left hand side and the ease with which that allows you to
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My HTML Mode for Emacs

Some people have asked what HTML mode I finally settled on. I'm using a customized version of Daniel Pfeiffer's adaptation of James Clark's sgml-mode. Yeah, there's lots of SGML stuff that I don't use, but it has a set of HTML keybindings and is easy to add things to. For example, here's my code for inserting an image from Amazon: (define-skeleton amazon-image "HTML image tag for an Amazon book" "ASIN: " '(setq input "") "<a href=\\"http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/" str "/windleyofente-20\\"> <img src=\\"http://images.amazon.com/images/P/" str ".01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg\\" border=\\"0\\" align=\\"right\\" hspace=\\"5\\" vspace=\\"5\\" /></a>" ) You can do much more complicated things. For example, I like
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Pop!Tech Live

Pop!Tech is happening now in Camden Maine. We'll have all the sessions on IT Conversations later this year or early next year. If you're interested in listening live, Pop!Tech is streaming conference sessions with video. There's also a blog stream that's fun to read.
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Computer History Museum

My post yesterday about Ralph Griswold's death sparked a comment by Chris Loosely about the Computer History Museum's founders series. David Berlind has a post, with video, from that event. Incidently, we're holding IIW2006B at the Computer History Museum in Dec. We had IIW2006A there in May and it was an excellent venue.
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DHCP Wars

Here's a little gem for you: Vonage sends out the Linksys RTP300 analog telephone adapter (ATA) with DHCP enabled by default. That's handy when it's the only router you've got, but when you plug it into your network and it starts fighting with your other DHCP server, life gets interesting.
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Ralph Griswold Dies

I learned the Icon programming language as a grad student at UC Davis. Ron Olsen, then a new assistant professor had just gotten his Ph.D. from Arizona where Ralph Griswold, Icon's inventor taught and he brought it with him. Icon has a number of interesting programming language features. Griswold was also the inventor of SNOBOL. He died a few weeks ago. Computer Science has always been a discipline where the founders were still around. That's changing.
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When You Pick Your Tools, Pick Those That Can Build Tools

This morning I was listening to Karl Fugel talk about tools developers need and thought about Doug Kaye. Here's why... Yesterday Doug sent out a note to a few friends asking what editor they used to writing code on OS X. I use emacs. not only do I use emacs, but I thrill to emacs for one simple reason: it's infinitely malleable. It can be made to do almost anything and has. I use it for just about everything I do. Programmers should be tool builders. If you're not building tools to make your life easier, you're wasting time.
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The IT Conversations Seal of Approval

This morning I was listening to Marc Senasac's talk about People Aggregator from Mesh Forum. I've been listening to Marc Cantor talk about the People Aggregator for a while now. It felt good to have a description on IT Conversations. My relief, if that's not too strong a word, was based on my belief that IT Conversations is an archive of ideas. We try to choose shows that have a long shelf life and that someone might want to listen to five year or even ten years from now. We don't always succeed in that ambition, but for the
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What To Do After You Lose Your Job

Imagine this scenario: Yikes! You just lost your job! You've been so busy at *work* that you don't feel your network is as strong as you would like it to be! What are you going to do with (and to) your network in the next 6 weeks as you begin an aggressive job search campaign? And, outside of your network, what job search tactics will you employ? Or your best networking tips related to job searches. That's the question put to me by Jason Alba as part of a "blog carnival." At some point he'll link to all the
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Federated Identity Hubs

I put a piece on federated identity hubs like InCommon and Covisint up at Between the Lines.
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Rails, Streamlined, and DabbleDB

I've been playing a little with Rails over the last week. This is the first time I really tried to build something I cared about in Rails as opposed to just running someone else's scripted tutorial. I'm having fun and I continue to be impressed with its power. I've reversed roles in this endeavor--one of my grad students, Devlin Daley, has become the teacher and is kindly answering my questions so I don't end up stuck in too many places. Today he showed me a couple of screencasts of data-drive application builders that left me slack-jawed. The first was
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Matz Speaking at BYU

This Wednesday at 3pm (note the time change), Yukihiro Matsumoto, aka Matz, the creator of Ruby will be giving the colloquium in 1170 TMCB. The colloquium is open to anyone who's interested in attending. I suggest getting there early.
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Decentralizing Security

Gunnar Peterson has a couple of great posts on decentralization and security. He starts off with this thought: Now let's consider security architecture. How many times have you heard a security architect say "if we could just centralize X" our problems would go away? Guess what buddy, your business is not going to centralize everything any time soon, and they REALLY are not going to centralize just so you can roll out your Access Management suite or whatever. From 1 Raindrop: Decentralization and "Good Enough" SecurityReferenced Fri Oct 13 2006 10:29:25 GMT-0600 (MDT) There's lots of tie-ins and cross
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Remembering Ray Noorda

Ray Noorda had a great affect on high-tech in Utah. He took a small, ailing networking company and transformed it into a 12,000 person powerhouse. While he died this week, his struggle with Alzheimer's meant that he's been absent for some time. I never knew him, never even shook his hand, but I've known dozens of people who did. Here are a few remembrances I liked: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols remembers Linux's debt to Noorda Craig Burton calls Noorda an enigma Rocky Mountain Voices records comments from Darl McBride, Ron Heinz, Drew Major, and Ty Mattingly
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Another Batch of Mac Ads

Some people hate them. I happen to think they're very funny. In any event there's a new batch of Mac/PC ads out. Watch the expressions on PCs face when Gisele B√ľndchen walks out in the "Better Results" ad--he's very good.
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The Semasiology of Open Source

I had the privilege of hearing Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz deliver both part I (the thesis) and part II (the antithesis) of his Semasiology of Open Source talk in person at the Open Source Convention. This year, I wasn't able to attend OSCON because I was on vacation, so I was sorry to learn that he'd finished the series with part III (the synthesis), it was a big disappointment. (N.b., the threefold manner of presentation is called a Hegelian dialectic, so having done the "synthesis", r0ml is done with this topic.) Fortunately, IT Conversations has the third part of talk
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Remembering the Beepwear Pager Watch

My old Timex Beepwear watch(click to enlarge) This morning while I was rooting around in a drawer, I found my old Timex Beepwear Pager watch. I bought it back in 1998 when I still wanted a pager and thought it was pretty cool that it would hold my appointments too. It's ugly and I thought it was a boat anchor. I didn't wear it much. By coincidence, I was reading O'Grady's PowerPage blog today and saw an article about Sony Ericsson's BLuetooth watch. The watch definitely looks more stylish than the Beepwear watch, but it's even heavier. The Beepwear is
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Scary Voting

I just put an article up at Between the Lines on why electronic voting is scary.
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OpenID Sightings

Stuffopolis is accepting OpenID for users leaving reviews.
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Web-Based Office Suites Need Some Jujitsu

I know several people who use Google Mail, Yahoo! Calendar, web-based feed readers and the like in an effort to free themselves from any one operating system or any single machine. You'll see them with their Mac one day at a conference and their tablet the next--just because they can. This works OK for them, but they're die-hards--intent on doing it for the sake of know how it works. The big fly in the ointment is the so-called office suite: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation applications. Oliver Rist decided to spend a week using nothing but a browser and
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TubeSock: In Honor of YouTube

In honor of the acquisition of YouTube by Google (which I wrote about on Between the Lines), the app of the day is TubeSock. Tube Sock grabs YouTube video and converts it to run on your iPod or PSP. Now you can take the insanity with you where ever you are and make archives of your favorites. Enjoy...
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Online Communities and Health Care

Last week I put up a show from the Zend PHP conference that featured Adam Bosworth talking about "content" and the fact that it's still King. Adam is thought provoking and entertaining. This talk is no different. Interestingly, Adam talks about content in the context of community (no big surprise there) and spends a great deal of time talking about the health care industry. Adam claims that there's a growing need for tools that allow patients to add value to health-care related communities by sharing information and experiences. These tools could lead to better predictors of health conditions, earlier
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UN Response to North Korea's Nuclear Test

With North Korea's testing of a nuclear device, the UN Security Council will be under pressure to take harsh measures. For example, they might condemn the test in vehement tones.
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Reputation at USU

I had a good time speaking at USU today. I gave a talk on digital identity and the reputation framework. While I was there I met and got to spend a little time with Justin Ball and Dave Wiley from the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning. They've got a project right now that will require them to choose a cross-domain identity (user-centric ID) system. We had a good discussion of the options.
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Digital Identity and a Pint

Stephanie Kesler sent me a link to Isaac Szymanczyk's blog showing a picture of my book. Cheers, Isaac!
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Speaking at USU

I'm going to be speaking today at Utah State University on digital identity. I believe the talk is at noon in room 416 Old Main.
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Announcing IIW2006B

The announcement for IIW2006B has been up for a while, but we really haven't drawn much attention to it. Please put Dec 4-6 on your calendar if you're planning on coming. The format and organization will be about the same as May's IIW: half a day of more tutorial material on Monday followed by two full days of open space/unconference on the 5th and 6th. You can register using the IIW registration page. The costs are the same as last time, $75 for students, $150 for unaffiliated and independents, and $250 for corporate folks. If you're company's going to
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John Furrier and Rock Mountain Voices

I just got done listening to Denise Howell's interview with John Furrier, the founder and CEO of PodTech.net. John will be in Salt Lake on Thursday for a meetup with Rocky Mountain Voices.
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GuruLib Not Hitting on All Cylinders

GuruLib Screenshot(click to enlarge) I don't often put things on my blog that people send me unsolicited, but occasionally it's relevant--or just catches my interest. Not long ago, I got a note about something called GuruLib, an online system for keeping track of your books. A while back I reviewed Delicious Library, an OS X app that I use to manage my library. As you can see from this public library from the creators, GuruLib uses the same "wood grain paneling" mode as Delicious Library, but don't hold that against it--that can be turned off in both. The feature set
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