Create your own BSOD in Windows XP (on request, that is) [TechRepublic.com 5/18/2005] As puzzling as it may sound, it can be quite useful to create your own Blue Screen Of Death in Windows XP. From troubleshooting your Startup And Recovery settings to demonstrating to end users what to do if they encounter a BSOD, this tip will come in handy. Here's how to create a BSOD: 1. Launch the Registry Editor Regedit.exe. 2. Go to HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesi8042prtParameters. 3. Edit, select New | DWORD Value and name the new value CrashOnCtrlScroll. 4. Double-click the CrashOnCtrlScroll DWORD Value, type 1 in the Value Data textbox, and click OK. 5. Close the Registry Editor and restart Windows XP. When you want to cause a BSOD, press and hold down the [Ctrl] key on the right side of your keyboard, and then tap the [ScrollLock] key twice. Now you should see the BSOD. 5/19/2005 7:06:59 PM
Xbox 360 Unveiled [Slashdot: 5/13/2005; 8:53:27 AM] You may or may not have caught the Xbox 360 unveiling on MTV Thursday night, but the internet will provide. A plethora of sites have photos, videos, commentary, specifications, and interviews about the new system. Your fellow readers have pulled together to provide links to: 1up.com, Joystiq, Gamespot, The BBC, CNN, NYT, Gamespy, Team Xbox, Voodoo Extreme, Anandtech, and eToyChest. The official Xbox 360 site opened last night as well for word straight from the source. For more official images Ourcolony.net has been 'solved', and now features an OurColony specific video preview. Finally, for commentary on the event, the Video Game Ombudsman provides an alternative to the press releases. 5/13/2005 9:15:34 AM
Also: Mark Shuttleworth: Claim Your Bounty!, Public Software Fund, AROS project, ... 5/11/2005 8:30:09 AM
Introducing Agile to a legacy project [Steve Eichert 4/7/2005] Brian Marick recently posted his “talking points” for how to introduce Agile to a legacy project. I think this is something that is often overlooked in the agile community. There is oodles and oodles of documentation about how to run an agile project when you’re starting fresh, but I haven’t seen very much on how to introduce agile into an existing “legacy” project. Usually the team is deciding to give agile a try because of disappointments on previous projects, which are usually still around. This poses some difficult problems since the legacy code usually doesn’t have very many (if any) tests, is likely highly coupled, and possibly a complete mess. Brian’s post provides some good guidance on how to get started when you’re in such an environment. The most important thing to note is that it should be gradual process, you can’t make a project agile in a day or week, but you can begin to see immediate benefits from moving in an agile direction. 5/7/2005 6:40:04 PM
Top 10 Light Therapy Products [About.com 5/6/2005] These products, ranging from $10 to hundreds of dollars, can help you add broad- or full-spectrum or natural lighting to your home or office. Recent studies show strong evidence that exposure to artificial broad-spectrum light is an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in which people become more depressed in the darker days of winter. They're good for your general health, too. 5/7/2005 5:49:37 PM
Criminal Enterprise Moves Into Net [TechWeb 4/27/2005 via W2Knews 5/6/2005] Malware, spam, phishing, spyware, bots and root kits are raking in big bucks and fighting them effectively is a huge challenge. David Aucsmith, Microsoft's Security CTO, said, "We've seen an explosion of criminal enterprise moving onto the Net in the last 18 months or so... It's no longer just for kicks. It is for making money... 70 to 80 percent of all spam comes from bots. These are your moms' machines, compromised by a bot. They're fairly sophisticated now." The "herders" who operate bot networks offer to rent out their bot networks. "People are making a lot of money with spam," he said flatly. The Wall Street Journal had an article on May 5 about true Mafia tactics where e-commerce sites were sent extortion emails, and told to pay up 10 grand protection money, or else be attacked. Looks like true crime has arrived in the neighborhood. 5/6/2005 7:51:29 PM
Interview with James Gosling: "The Man Who Brewed Up Java" [Business Week 5/4/2005 via Boing Boing 5/6/2005] Business Week has a good interview with James Gosling. "The really lucky thing was we ended up reading the tea leaves correctly and guessing the direction things were going to take. "
Q: How has becoming known as "the father of Java" changed your life, personally?
A: In some sense, it kind of ruined my life. I'm absolutely an engineer, a scientist kind of guy. I've kind of learned how to have a public presence. But it doesn't give me the same kind of job satisfaction that building something does. 5/6/2005 7:31:44 PM
- RSS Bandit is a desktop news aggregator written in C# and .NET under active development at SourceForge. See Revamping the RSS Bandit Application for a 2003 MSDN article about RSS Bandit.
- Creating a generic Site-To-RSS tool [9/29/2003] describes a generic HTML-to-RSS scraper tool that uses regular expressions with VB.NET.
- Template Based Scraping [10/28/2002] A quick overview of screen scraping.
- RSSxl is an HTML to RSS converter that will generate an RSS feed from pretty well any HTML web page - with no requirement to edit the source HTML first. It is a free online service that translates HTML to RSS.
We know what you did [CNET HotTopicsNewsletter May 3, 2005] Go to ZabaSearch.com, type in your name, and see what comes up. Are you shocked at the search results? Or are you not surprised? In Pick your battles with Internet privacy, Tom Merritt maintains that ZabaSearch is no evil Big Brother. It's a search aggregator, and a rather efficient one at that. All the information in its database can be found elsewhere on the Web. Its crime, if any, was making personal information supereasy to find. 5/5/2005 9:23:24 AM
Practical auto MP3 (at a realistic price) [Woot! 5/5/2005; 2:52:09 AM] The Omnifi DMP1 20GB Car Media Jukebox (reviewed here) consists of a controller, a removable hard drive, and a wireless adapter. Thanks to the auto sync feature, it can sit out in your garage and fetch the content you want while you're snug in bed. You'll roll off to work every morning armed with a fresh batch of podcasts, tunes, news, audiobooks, whatever. You could buy it at Target for $665.98, which might seem reasonable considering the technology involved, but it's way too much considering a 20G iPod costs $299.99. Today's Woot! special (May 5 only) has it for $139.99, which puts it on the right side of the cost-convenience equation. 5/5/2005 8:34:46 AM
Searching by Image Instead of Keywords [Slashdot: 5/4/2005; 9:53:22 PM] Content based image retrieval (CBIR), the technique to search for images not by keywords, but by comparing features of the images themselves has been the focus of much research for decades. Consider for instance adding CBIR to Google Images, where you would be able to search for images similar to a query image instead of using keywords. A research project at Penn State University has recently been applied to the biggest aviation photo database in the world with close to 800,000 images. You can search for images similar to a photo already in their database (click "View similar photos") or submit your own query image. Some queries generate better results than others but CBIR is certainly here to stay and will be standard in many image applications of the future. 5/5/2005 8:21:34 AM
The Unemployed Working on OSS Projects [Slashdot: 5/5/2005; 2:52:26 AM] In Australia the unemployed have to fulfill a 'mutual obligation' requirement in order to receive welfare payments. What this means is that recipients of welfare payments have to be involved in some sort of activity that improves their chances of finding employment. Until now this has included various types of community service and training and education programs. Recently an organisation called CommunityCode has been established to allow recipients to fulfill this requirement by contributing to OSS projects. 5/5/2005 7:52:57 AM
Utilize MySQL's features through .NET [TechRepublic 5/3/2005] MySQL continues to gain market share due to its ease of use and price. The open source community has extended its reach by developing a connector to be used with the .NET Framework. Learn more about using MySQL in .NET applications and get extended examples of how to work with MySQL data via .NET. 5/4/2005 1:53:17 PM
Why I Don't Use DataSets in My ASP.NET Applications. [4GuysFromRolla 5/4/2005] This article examins the fundamentals of the two data access objects provided by ADO.NET: the DataReader and the DataSet. Both objects have their time and place in .NET applications but, according to Scott Mitchell, DataSets are rarely, if ever, useful in ASP.NET Web applications. There are exceptions, granted, but for the majority of Web applications, DataReaders should be used exclusively. Performance, performance, performance. (There's also a good discussion on this topic going on over at Scott's blog.) 5/4/2005 1:43:00 PM
How to make screen capture work with Windows video
Most people know that when you press the Windows Print Screen (PrtSc) key, nothing (apparently) happens. Some people know that Windows actually takes a snapshot of your computer's screen and copies it into the clipboard, so you can paste it into your favorite graphics processing program, or Paint. A few people even know that pressing Alt+PrtSc copies the currently selected window instead of the full screen. Of course, there are all kinds of screen capture programs to give you more control over the process.
In theory, it should be easy to capture stills from video files, whether paused or streaming, by pressing Atl+PrtSc and pasting the result into your graphics program. However, quite often all you get is a beautiful image of the media player's border and controls, with a blank where the picture of the video is supposed to be.
In Fixing a blank display, the screen capture experts at PixelMetrics explain how to turn off the media player's acceleration while recording. They give instructions for Media Player (7,8,9,10), QuickTime Player, RealPlayer, and WinAmp.
If that doesn't work, they also explain how to disable hardware acceleration system-wide.5/4/2005 9:49:27 AM
Punching the Clock: Hacking an alarm clock to snooze when hit [via Street Tech 5/3/2005] This is a fun hardware hack: a cheapo alarm clock outfitted with an accelerometer so that it will go into snooze mode when you smack it, whack it, punch it, toss it off your nightstand, etc. This application note for the low-cost DE-ACCM[pdf] accelerometer board shows how to reverse engineer an off-the-shelf appliance and modify it so it's much more fun and useful. Dimension Engineering was formed in 2004 by two Carnegie Mellon graduates to sell easy-to-use electronic products to the hobbyist, educational and research markets. 5/4/2005 8:40:31 AM
When Reality Bites the Free Gospel [Free Software Magazine April 2005 via Linux Today 5/3/2005] "In a dream world, all software would be free. However, we spend enough time with our eyes open to realize that some situations call for proprietary software, either as a desktop or as a server application, on a free system... Examine this scenario: you have an Oracle database that’s been running for x years and it’s tweaked so perfectly you can’t afford the time and effort to scrub it and migrate to a free relational database. Rest easy: Oracle is available on free systems, albeit certified only on certain distributions... Another scenario: You’re one of the poor sods who pass your company's Free-OS exemption test because of some esoteric application not available on free systems... OpenOffice.org to the rescue." 5/4/2005 8:36:16 AM
On average, only five make it to interviews: poll [Globe and Mail 5/4/2005] On average, executives only interview five candidates for each job opening, according to a new survey of 100 Canadian executives by OfficeTeam, a unit of Robert Half International Inc.. "Once you secure an interview, you've crossed a major hurdle," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "The key then becomes presenting your skills and talent effectively and building rapport with the hiring manager to distinguish yourself from other candidates." 5/4/2005 8:14:14 AM
Open Document Format Approved [Slashdot: 5/4/2005; 5:52:18 AM] Open Document Format approved! Read all about it!* The OpenDocument format is intended to provide an open alternative to proprietary document formats including the popular DOC, XLS, and PPT formats used by Microsoft Office. Organizations and individuals that store their data in an open format avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out of business or changes their software or licensing terms to something less favorable. The OASIS Group announces that the third Committee Draft [PDF*] of the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 Specification has been approved as an OASIS Standard.
*Acrobat reader required to read open format PDF 5/4/2005 8:08:50 AM
Lobbyists in uproar as Florida Legislature considers banning felons from lobbying. [St. Petersburg Times 5/3/2005 via Fark] Lobbyists were in an uproar Monday over a proposal to ban felons from lobbying the Florida Legislature. It was a last-minute amendment to a bill which would require lobbyists to report the dollars they spend wining and dining lawmakers. The Senate President said he was unaware that any lobbyists had felony records until telephone calls and notes started pouring in. Senator Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, suggested the felony amendment be named in honor of the defibrillators required on the fourth-floor, where lobbyists hang out. 5/4/2005 7:47:09 AM
Data integration can be a hoot with OWL [SearchWebServices.com 2/17/2005] The movement to standards-based computing that XML and Web services herald is eerily analogous to the work done in the first half of the twentieth century to establish international long distance telephone standards. The use of semantic integration technologies, like Web Ontology Language (OWL), can solve the problem of data composition. Using ontologies as an abstraction layer for enabling automated information exchange is analogous to the use of Service contracts to abstract the implementation of service providers from consumers. However, just as SOA requires an advanced investment in architecture, the creation of ontologies are quite time-consuming, and require a leap of faith by implementers before they can realize their value. 5/3/2005 7:41:52 PM
Beating the RSS crunch with aggregation/bloglines [SearchWebServices.com 10/20/2004] Bloglines has created a freely available, simple and straightforward set of APIs that developers can use to access their aggregated blog database and relieve congestion problems. What Bloglines does for RSS feeds is very much like what Google and Yahoo do for popular Web pages and information: they compile this content into their databases, so that accesses to frequently requested pages are satisfied from a local cache, instead of requiring the original server to handle yet another update or access request. 5/3/2005 7:35:14 PM
The Business of Design [Fast Company 5/2/2005] Roger Martin argues that in this turbulent, get-real economy, the advantage goes to those who can outimagine and outcreate their competitors. Traditional companies reward those who prove that something actually operates or that something must be. Design shops reward those with the foresight and courage to act on what might be. "We're telling students that the big bucks are made by administering linear improvements -- getting better and better at doing essentially the same thing," he says. "But the real challenge lies in getting better and better at a different thing: devising clever solutions to wickedly difficult problems." See also: Fast Take: Thinking Like a Designer 5/2/2005 7:34:23 AM
"The result, after six months, is an end to the annoying phone calls ... Yes, they're all still using GNU/Linux. It's what they imagined computing would be in the first place -- no hassles, no threats, no worries. It's like a dream come true, not just for them, but for me too -- no more troubleshooting nightmares and monthly service calls."
Of course, while a static system may be "a dream come true" for support, it may be a different kind of dream for a user who wants to use a new game, camera, or file format ....
"GNU/Linux does not pose the kinds of problems that Windows does. There is no registry to easily corrupt, and the operating system does not fail in generic, catch-all ways. The user has no power to alter the system software, so important files are not accidentally deleted, and potential viruses and spyware programs have no ability to wreck the system."
It's true that Linux currently has fewer installations and fewer attackers, but both of those statistics are changing. As a direct result of Linux's increasing popularity, more and more malware writers are targeting Linux systems -- after all, you're guaranteed that each target system has at least minimal compile/link/load support and scripting, not to mention rootkit support. Security through obscurity is a fool's game.
The point about protecting the system software from the user is an excellent one, though. I wonder if the author has ever heard of Windows XP?
"It takes a knowledgeable, skilled user to keep a Windows system properly maintained. In short, they need an operating system that, for all their trying, they cannot screw up. Windows isn't it."
Mind you, as long as the users are unable to change the operating system, add or remove software, or add or remove hardware, you have an appliance computer. The underlying operating system is almost irrelevant, but in practice it makes much more sense to run a locked down Windows XP installation running in User mode. Windows XP's autoupdate and autorepair mean that with a properly configured antivirus program the system will maintain itself with NO user effort.
Of course, it's not even that simple. I configured a fully locked-down XP system so my mother could use email and browse the web. This worked extremely well for her, but it drove my father nuts. He couldn't change any of the desktop settings, let alone "clean up" the system by moving all the DLLs to the same directory, installing the "right" applications, and deleting "problem" files like kernel32.dll. He finally lost patience, wiped the system, and installed his own highly "optimized" version of Windows 98. He'd probably have done the same thing to Linux. He's happy, she's thrilled any time her email works, and I stopped taking support calls -- so, I guess, that approach works, too.5/1/2005 3:18:22 PM
Near Perfect "Einstein Ring" Discovered. [Universe Today 4/29/2005] Gravitational lensing happens when the gravity of a relatively close galaxy acts as a telescope lens to focus the light from a more distant galaxy. The galaxies are never perfectly lined up, though, and the "natural telescope" is a bit blurry. But now astronomer Remi Cabanac has found one of the most complete lenses ever discovered: a near perfect Einstein Ring, magnifying a distant galaxy with incredible clarity. 5/1/2005 3:09:23 PM
Microsoft Reaches Out to Open-Source Community. [eWeek 4/29/2005] Microsoft Corp. has extended an olive branch to the open-source community, calling for a sit-down to discuss how the software giant can better work with the open-source world. Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, called for bridge building between Microsoft, its competitors and the open-source community. "We will need some new rotations in how we work together, in how we license, in how we share technology or intellectual property rights with each other." Larry Rosen, former general counsel for OSI, said this was the first conciliatory statement to come out of Redmond. Rosen noted that the open-source community helped WWWC develop a royalty-free intellectual property policy, is working with OASIS, and would like to work with Microsoft in the same way. Eric Raymond, an open-source community leader said he too welcomes the conciliatory tone from Microsoft. "Nobody in the open-source world expects Microsoft to open-source their core products; given their business model that would be insane," Raymond said. "But, realistically, they could do some important things... Microsoft has a history of destructive meddling at organizations like the IETF and W3C, and of attempting to hijack standards like Kerberos by making them dependent on proprietary 'extensions.' Simply not doing this would be a huge improvement." 5/1/2005 10:05:24 AM
Space Elevator Group's First Commercial Nanotube Factory opening in June [Universe Today 4/27/2005 via Slashdot: 5/1/2005] LiftPort Group, a consortium dedicated to commercially developing and constructing a space elevator by 2018, will open a commercial-scale carbon nanotube manufacturing plant this June. LiftPort Nanotech will be located in Millville, New Jersey, a community with a history in glass and plastics production. Both the City of Millville and the Cumberland County Empowerment Zone are partnering to provide $100,000 in initial seed money for the new facility. Many expect the LiftPort Group to be a front-runner in NASA's recently-announced Centennial Challenges competitions for space elevator technologies, which begin in September of this year. 5/1/2005 9:50:55 AM
Gilligan's Island: In-depth legal implications, with case law citations. [Santa Clara Law Review (1998) via Fark 4/30/2005; 11:53:54 AM] Gilligan's Island ranks among the most influential television shows of all time. Despite the fact that the last original episode aired thirty years ago, and the series has been the subject of numerous studies, its legal facets are almost never mentioned. As a result, even the show's most ardent fans are rarely mindful of just how much law appeared in the series. Accordingly, this essay seeks to shed some light on the jurisprudence of Gilligan's Island... 4/30/2005 10:04:09 PM
15th Century Blogging Wednesday 30 April 1662. [Pepys' Diary (full) 4/30/2005] This morning Sir G. Carteret came down to the yard, and there we mustered over all the men and determined of some regulations in the yard, and then to dinner, all the officers of the yard with us, and after dinner walk to Portsmouth, there to pay off the Success, which we did pretty early, and so I took leave of Sir W. Pen, he desiring to know whither I went, but I would not tell him. I went to the ladies, and there took them and walked to the Mayor’s to show them the present, and then to the Dock, where Mr. Tippets made much of them, and thence back again, the Doctor being come to us to their lodgings, whither came our supper by my appointment, and we very merry, playing at cards and laughing very merry till 12 o’clock at night, and so having staid so long (which we had resolved to stay till they bade us be gone), which yet they did not do but by consent, we bade them good night, and so past the guards, and went to the Doctor’s lodgings, and there lay with him, our discourse being much about the quality of the lady with Mrs. Pierce, she being somewhat old and handsome, and painted and fine, and had a very handsome maid with her, which we take to be the marks of a bawd. But Mrs. Pierce says she is a stranger to her and met by chance in the coach, and pretends to be a dresser. Her name is Eastwood. So to sleep in a bad bed about one o’clock in the morning. This afternoon after dinner comes Mr. Stephenson, one of the burgesses of the town, to tell me that the Mayor and burgesses did desire my acceptance of a burgess-ship, and were ready at the Mayor’s to make me one. So I went, and there they were all ready, and did with much civility give me my oath, and after the oath, did by custom shake me all by the hand. So I took them to a tavern and made them drink, and paying the reckoning, went away. They having first in the tavern made Mr. Waith also a burgess, he coming in while we were drinking. It cost me a piece in gold to the Town Clerk, and 10s. to the Bayliffes, and spent 6s. 4/30/2005 9:21:26 PM
Innovative fountain pen writes on the nanoscale [ScienceDaily 2005-04-27] The first practical fountain pen was invented in 1884. Now fountain pen history is repeating itself in the tiny world of nanoscale writing. Researchers at Northwestern University have demonstrated writing at the sub-100 nanometer molecular scale in fountain-pen fashion. The ink on the reservoir is driven through the microchannel via capillary action to reach the dispensing tip. At present, the smallest feature width achieved with the device is 40 nanometers. [Small Journal reference; Full article: 177K pdf] 4/28/2005 4:39:33 PM
How to 'Stealth' Microsoft Windows XP Professional [CertificationMag 1/2005] The only true way to ensure the security of a computer is to remove its connectivity to any network altogether -- or keep it turned off. This article shares effective tips, tweaks and suggestions that you can apply quickly and easily to improve the security of any Windows XP Professional box on your network. 4/28/2005 4:12:51 PM
Are We Having Fun Yet? The Benefits of Play [Bernie DeKoven's FunLog 4/28/2005] Mark Harris has graced us with a wonderful article to remind us how essential it is to play. "We wrestle with an undercurrent of belief that play is frivolous. Certainly children are the masters of play. It's what they do. It's also the way they learn, acquire cognitive and motor skills, and just make life interesting and fun. As adults we still play, but less spontaneously. We tend to schedule in our play time. When, that is, we can find time to schedule."
"Athletes refer to moments when they're in 'the zone,' when body, mind, and spirit acquire a kind of transcendent rhythm and performance is at a peak. In the zone of deep, transcendent play there is calm but also alert and focused readiness. Such moments of heightened awareness represent a state of 'flow'. This is the state of mind in which a person becomes so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Awareness to the task at hand acquires a kind of meditative brilliance. Mindfulness zeroes in like a laser beam. Everything feels in harmony. In the flow, we feel satisfied. " Play is essential to health, productivity, creativity.4/28/2005 3:56:13 PM
Thumbprinting at tanning salons, fitness clubs, Statue of Liberty and Disneyland. [Boing Boing 4/28/2005; 1:52:31 PM] Reader Brian says: "I'm shocked, SHOCKED that no one has posted information on how to fake finger prints. You have a story at the Register, another link, and my favorite, step by step picture example." 4/28/2005 3:23:04 PM
Of Outsourcing And Ocelots: The IT World According To John Cleese [InformationWeek 4/6/2005] All outsourcing projects involve some risk: You may not get expected service levels, your vendor may lose personnel that were key to your project, or flood, famine, and pestilence could break out in the country to which you've dispatched your entire IT operation. Should these inconvenient facts keep you from outsourcing? Not in the least, according to Brit comedian-turned-business consultant John Cleese. "A man who is afraid to make mistakes is unlikely to make anything." 4/27/2005 7:03:22 PM
A simple XML data store for your Windows applications [Builder.com] Want to create a Windows application that lets your user edit and view structured data locally without connecting to a remote database? XML is the answer, and with Visual Studio it's a snap. 4/27/2005 6:52:34 PM
Preserving Backward Compatibility [O'Reilly ONLamp 2/17/2005] Change is inevitable, but incompatibility is not. Upgrades are good, but forcing your users to change time after time is unpleasant. A little bit of planning can go a long way toward keeping your users happy. Garrett Rooney offers strategies for preserving backward compatibility, drawing examples from the Subversion project. 4/27/2005 8:27:07 AM
Hackers Write Spyware For Cash, Not Fame [InformationWeek 4/4/2005] More than 70% of virus writers are writing spyware under contract, one more piece of evidence that hacking has evolved from mischievous hobby to moneymaking criminal venture. The bulk of the spyware being created by hackers linked to organized crime. According to Aladdin Knowledge Systems, "They're doing it for financial gain, pure and simple. Unlike in the past, when hackers were mostly 'script kiddies' who had nothing better to do, it's quickly becoming more of an organized crime venture." 4/27/2005 8:21:03 AM
Comments are More Important than Code [ACM Queue March 2005 via Slashdot: 4/26/2005; 10:53:30 PM] Jef Raskin goes through the arguments that seem obvious only in hindsight - that 'self-documenting' code is good but not enough, that we should be able to write code based on good documentation, not the other way around, and that the thing that separates human-written code from computer-generated code is that our stuff is readable to future programmers. The Slashdot discussion is worth reading too. 4/27/2005 8:15:33 AM
A Living or a Life? [Fast Company 4/26/2005] "The trouble with the rat race," the great management guru Lily Tomlin once observed, "is that even if you win, you're still a rat." Most of us must make a fateful choice: should we devote our time and talent to making a living -- or to getting a life? Mark Albion, who chucked a fast-track career at Harvard Business School, proves that there's a third way. The only way to find true "balance" is to make your passion and your work one and the same. "When my doctor asked me how many hours a week I work," says Albion, "my immediate response was, 'I don't know, John. How many hours a week do you breathe?' It's one integrated whole." 4/26/2005 7:27:29 PM
Calculate the cost of a scope change request. [TechRepublic.com 4/26/2005] The project manager and project team are accountable for understanding the total impact of a scope change to a project. This article describes the elements that need your attention. Don't overlook this final factor: Deferred benefits. Your project will result in a benefit to the company. If a scope change request results in the project being delayed, the impact of the scope change should also include the cost of delaying the benefit. 4/26/2005 7:21:53 PM
Can an Open Source Project Be Acquired? [Slashdot: 4/26/2005; 11:52:38 AM] ZDNet's Between The Lines says yes, one just did. Software startup JasperSoft acquired Sourceforge-based project JasperReports, which involved acquiring the copyrights and hiring the lead developer for the project.
[Best comment: You -Really- Don't Get This?]"If I own a piece of code, I can do whatever the hell I want with it--including sell it to somebody else. It doesn't matter whether or not I've licensed it out under the GPL or other such Open Source license. Unless I surrender it to the public domain, I own that code, and I can license a GPL version, sell a closed version, offer a crippled demo, auction off a signed copy of the source code for a million dollars, and build an extra-shiny-and-nifty-for-my-eyes-only version--or whatever else I'd like to do with it."] 4/26/2005 7:17:46 PM
Pegasus Mail and Linux/Open Source. [pmail.com 4/20/2005 via Linux Today 4/25/2005] David Harris, Owner/Author of Pegasus Mail and Mercury Systems, is thinking about moving towards Open Source. "Ideologically, I believe that Open Source and I are a good match, and I would like to consider going that way," he writes. "While Pegasus Mail and Mercury do not require a huge amount of money to develop and support, the fact remains that they *do* require a level of funding, and I am not entirely sure how this would work within an Open Source model."
"Hopefully this update to my position will reduce the amount of hate-mail I have received in the last three years from Open-Source zealots. While I understand the passion and admire the zeal of these people, I would suggest that a positive approach is always going to work better than trying to rip out my liver and feed it to the dogs. After all, this *is* my baby - I have been working on these programs and providing them free of charge for over fifteen years now, and I don't believe it's too much to ask if I expect a little basic human courtesy."4/25/2005 6:51:38 PM
OpenOffice Team Wants IBM Contribution. [vunet 4/25/2005] OpenOffice is a suite of productivity tools for text editing, spreadsheets and drawings. Sun acquired the product in 1999 and released the code in 2000 under an open source licence. It uses the code as the foundation of StarOffice, a commercial version of the suite. Sun is still the largest contributor, with about 100 developers. There are roughly 600 active contributors, comprising individual coders and people working for commercial developers such as Novell and Red Hat. Sun's OpenOffice project leader has gone public to shame IBM, which sells OpenOffice as part of its Workplace suite, into donating developer time to the project. "IBM has refrained from contributing to the development. It has thereby declined to participate in the open source environment," he said. Neener neener. 4/25/2005 5:23:04 PM
Mitch's Must Have Programs. [Lockergnome - Mitchelaneous 4/5/2005] Within the time span of one year I have installed, reinstalled, deleted, and created more than any one person should on one computer. About a week ago I figured it was time I did a little spring cleaning. I totally reformatted my machine and put Windows XP back on just like it came out of the box. So what programs to I make a note of installing first? What do I use most often and what do I find the most effective? Here's my basic list: TweakUI, FeedDemon, Firefox, SmartFTP, Trillian, OpenOffice, NoteTab Pro, Audacity, Spybot, AVG Free ... 4/24/2005 6:40:31 PM
Microsoft releases free new VB 2005 refactoring tool [Scobleizer 4/24/2005] Microsoft has made an agreement with Developer Express to include a fully functional version of Refactor! with VB 2005 and Visual Studio 2005. Refactor! for Visual Basic 2005 Beta 2 is a free plug-in that enables Visual Basic developers to simplify and re-structure source code, making it easier to read and less costly to maintain. Refactor! supports more than 15 individual refactoring features, including operations like Reorder Parameters, Extract Method, Encapsulate Field and Create Overload. 4/24/2005 3:10:25 PM
Novell Insists NetWare is "Not Dead Yet" [eWeek 4/15/2005] With Novell's focus on Linux, many—including sites that depend on NetWare—wonder if it's the end of the road for Novell's once-dominant network operating system. Novell has indeed announced that there will be no further standalone NetWare releases, but the operating system will continue to live on as an underlying platform for Novell's Open Enterprise Server. The work Novell has done to plaster over the differences between NetWare and Linux in OES should extend the life of NetWare as a platform. This is good news for NetWare shops that aren't ready to migrate off this stalwart platform. "I think I'll go for a walk..." 4/24/2005 10:58:36 AM
Microsoft's New Mantra - It Just Works [Fortune 4/21/2005] Windows guru Jim Allchin talks to FORTUNE about Microsoft's next version of its operating system, Longhorn, revealing some of its features for the first time. Allchin, a wiry-built 54-year-old who has been in charge of Windows for almost a decade, is admirably blunt about his own frustrations using the current operating system. “You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time struggling with things,” Allchin said, adding that the number one design goal for Longhorn has been: “It just works.” 4/24/2005 10:41:46 AM
Outsource to Free Up Staff, Not Cut It: [Baseline 4/6/2005] More than 75 percent of the average IT budget is devoted to just keeping the lights on. Think what you could accomplish by outsourcing maintenance and focusing on projects that really matter. Ameritrade is among the new breed of company that sees outsourcing as a way to free up existing staff to focus on developing and delivering services that create a competitive advantage. Jerry Bartlett, Ameritrade's vice president of application development says the online broker has asked outsiders to do software maintenance and non-core development. "What we don't outsource," Bartlett says, "are the aspects we view as our core competencies in delivering the best possible experience to our clients." 4/23/2005 9:46:29 PM
Peeling Away the FUD Wrapping on Linux/Windows "Studies" [Groklaw 4/23/2005 12:17 PM EDT] You just have to read this: The Truth About Linux and Windows. Business Week's Steve Hamm looks more carefully than most at Laura DiDio's latest piece of work and finds it wanting: "I've got a bone to pick with the never-ending stream of studies by tech research outfits comparing Linux to Windows. For starters, it seems like about half of them are paid for by one camp or another. Even when analysts aren't on the payroll, this is really complex stuff—and useful facts are hard come by. And, beyond complexity, some studies just make me scratch my head. For example: a recent one put out by the Yankee Group. I just don’t trust its conclusions." So, finally, the mainstream press is noticing that something is wrong with the methodology of some of these studies, and Hamm carefully documents exactly why he questions the results. He is not a Linux "extremist". Lots more ... 4/23/2005 7:56:32 PM
Can IT be delivered with a monthly utility bill? [Globe and Mail 4/21/2005] Two years ago, Nicholas Carr asserted that information technology doesn't matter. Now he contends that business is at a stage where technology as a corporate function will move to a service delivered by a utility provider. IT outsourcing, one of the industry's hottest trends, has grown from the very idea that IT service providers can achieve an economy of scale through the efficient delivery of ubiquitous computing and IT-enabled process functions, which reduces the cost to customers. Carr says, "When overcapacity is combined with redundant functionality, the conditions are ripe for a shift to centralized supply." ... To his credit, Mr. Carr challenges computing convention, even if the reality of what he believes is a lot more complicated than he's making it sound. 4/23/2005 3:25:12 PM
Could you start a fire with a Coke can and a chocolate bar? [via Boing Boing 4/23/2005via Make Blog 4/23/2005]
Try to figure this one out for yourself before you peek at a solution worthy of MacGuiver. 4/23/2005 2:46:01 PM
McMakeover on fast-food strip [Globe and Mail 4/23/2005; 3:53:59 AM] In 2002, burger giant McDonald's realized its once-loyal consumers were eating elsewhere, gravitating toward healthier offerings from rivals such as Subway. The company had to improve its food and service, and they had to make sure the public knew they had changed. It was an operational as much as a marketing challenge. And it has worked - on both fronts. This week, McDonald's first-quarter profit blew away analysts' estimates.
In Canada, the SaladsPlus menu, which includes salads, yogurt and other "healthier" items, now makes up about 6 per cent of total sales. The company rolled out toasted deli sandwiches this year to huge success and they're expected to hit most U.S. locations in the near future. The new menu items give parents something to eat while they feed their kids McNuggets. Furthermore, the healthier foods are priced higher than traditional fare, with higher margins.
Many restaurants are now being outfitted with wireless Internet equipment and video game systems. The McCafe store-within-a-store concept is also being rolled out across North America, letting customers sit on comfy leather McChairs while sipping McCappuccino or biting into a square of McBaklava.
Like flipping a light switch, McDonald's marketers changed the company's mantra. Gone was the focus solely on kids and families - now the chain would also target young adults and their pockets full of disposable income. Its marketing featured teens skateboarding, offered free music downloads, and began paying rap artists to embed references to the golden arches into their gold records.
Even Ronald McDonald will develop a new attitude and edgy sense of humour as the company tries to make him more "relevant" to young adults and kids. Ronald will change out of his clown suit and into seven different costumes, including an athletic suit and beachwear. Look for him at skateboard parks, hockey rinks, snowboard trails and walking down red carpets at Hollywood events.4/23/2005 9:03:36 AM
Computers in Space Examined [via Slashdot:Science 4/22/2005] Why are we still launching spacecraft with State Of The Ark computers? Three words: need, power, and radiation. Radiation is a big headache for spacecraft system designers. While core is a good solution for memory, ‘hardening’ CPUs means keeping them simple. The lower the component count on a chip (hence the dumber it is), the less susceptible it is to radiation. The Space Shuttle has state of the art computing technology - for the late 70’s. They’re sturdy beasts of silicon burden, not exotic thoroughbreds. Even the International Space Station has less brains than you would think. It stays up there thanks to the phenomenal computing power of - wait for it - an 80-386SX CPU! Can you feel the speed? 4/23/2005 8:39:57 AM
Scientists figure out how caffeine keeps us awake. [via CBS News 4/21/2005] When cells in a certain part of the brain become overworked, a compound in the brain kicks in, telling them to shut down. This causes people to become drowsy and fall asleep. Alter that natural process by adding coffee or tea, and the brain compound - called adenosine - is blocked, and people stay awake. "We knew that coffee kept us awake," Dr. Greene said. "Now we know why: Coffee and tea are blocking the link between the prolonged neural activity of waking and increased levels of adenosine in cells, which is why they prevent us from getting drowsy." Press release: Overworked brains release adenosine to slow cells, trigger sleep process. Neuron article: Adenosine Mediation of Presynaptic Feedback Inhibition of Glutamate Release. 4/22/2005 10:04:17 PM
Best-ever Freeware Utilities [TechSupportAlert 3/1/2005 via Lockergnome 4/22/2005] There are a lot of great freeware products out there. Many are as good or even better than their commercial alternatives. This extensive list features Ian Richards' personal pick of the "best of the best," by category. 4/22/2005 9:05:30 PM
Berkeley Professor explains terrifying consequences for student that stole his laptop. [Boing Boing 4/21/2005; 2:52:53 PM] Mark Frauenfelder: The last few minutes of this video from a biology class at Berkeley is of professor explaining the terrifying consequences that will soon befall the student that stole his laptop. Hell, I'm 500 miles away from Berkeley and I'm scared after watching this. Here's a torrent of the pertinent part of the video (8,000 downloads so far). A transcript of Professor Rine's speech is available here. A lot of blogs have been commenting on the super-advanced anti-theft and tracking technology that Professor Rine says his stolen laptop possesses. This comic strip parody is a hilarious take on the incident. 4/22/2005 9:20:05 AM
GCC 4.0.0 Released [Slashdot: 4/21/2005; 10:53:07 PM] Version 4.0.0 of the GNU Compiler Collection has been released. You can read the changelog or you can download the source tarball. The new version finally features SSA for trees, allowing for a completely new optimization framework. The changelog is pretty lengthy, and there's updates for C, C++, Objective-C, Fortran, Java, and Ada, as well as libraries for these languages (libstdc++, libgcj,...). 4/22/2005 8:30:37 AM
The Red, Red Hills of Mars (updated) JPL has released a large, false-but-almost-real-color view assembled from frames taken by Spirit's panoramic camera on the rover's 454th martian day, or sol (April 13, 2005).
This view shows a region in the "Columbia Hills" slightly downhill from the rover. The view features two interesting outcrops in the middle distance and "Clark Hill" in the left background. The outcrop on the right, with rover tracks leading from it, is "Larry's Lookout." On the left is the Methuselah outcrop, with apparent layering.
More than 15 months and almost 5 km from its landing on Mars, NASA's Spirit rover is still going strong. This is a perspective view of the steepness of the "Columbia Hills," showing sites nicknamed "Tennessee Valley," "Larry's Lookout," "Inner Basin," "Home Plate," and the basin and summit beyond.
Original post: Spirit, Sol 455, Columbia Hills - NavCam, Right - 15:38:38 and 15:44:28 Local Solar. The black and white picture links to a full-sized 989K greyscale image. [Eric Hartwell's NewsStream 4/16/2005]
4/21/2005 11:42:54 AM
The Power of Analogy. [Computerworld 4/11/2005] Q&A: Analogies are efficient strategic tools in the highly ambiguous world of IT, but they can lead you astray if used carelessly. Analogies are to strategy as blueprints are to buildings. Just be sure you've got the right blueprint.
4/20/2005 6:53:36 PM
Low-end chips are to Intel Corp.'s future as concrete reinforcing bars were to U.S. Steel's. Unless you know the history of the steel industry, that analogy will leave you cold. But it compelled former Intel CEO Andy Grove to change his product strategy. Intel for many years resisted entering the low end of the market. U.S. Steel had let minimills take over the low end with cheap concrete reinforcing bars called rebars. This was the beginning of the troubles for the U.S. steel business: once the minimills got a beachhead at the low end, they moved up. At Intel, this really struck a chord. Andy Grove feared if they ceded the low end of the market, the high end might follow. He even began to refer to low-end PCs as "digital rebar," and soon thereafter Intel introduced the Celeron processor to fight it out on the low end and prevent other companies from getting a beachhead. In this case, the analogy wasn't about learning from someone's success but trying to prevent a repeat of someone's failure. It was about what they thought U.S. Steel should have done.
An Update on Prompting a User to Save When Leaving an ASP.NET Page. [4GuysFromRolla.com 4/20/2005] Several months ago I wrote an article titled Using ASP.NET to Prompt a User to Save When Leaving a Page, using the onbeforeunload client-side event, which fires whenever a Web page is being exited. With some clever client-side programming you can use onbeforeunload to to save changes whenever the user is about to leave a page, be it through the user closing the browser window, clicking on a bookmark, clicking on a link in the Web page, or any other task that would cause the Web page to unload. This update deals with auto-postback Web controls (such as DropDownLists or CheckBoxes with their AutoPostBack property set to True); and how to prevent "Unspecified error" script errors that can creep up depending on how, exactly, the page was unloaded. 4/20/2005 6:17:56 PM
Great apes to learn human behaviors [CNN 4/20/2005 14:32 via Boing Boing 4/20/2005] Researchers at the Iowa Great Ape Trust are putting eight intelligent bonobos in a human-like living situation to study how culture may emerge.
The bonobos will be able to cook in their own kitchen, tap vending machines for snacks, go for walks in the woods and communicate with researchers through computer touchscreens. The decor in their $10 million, 13,000-square-foot, 18-room home includes an indoor waterfall and climbing areas 30 feet high. Bonobos, a species of ape from the Congo, are the most like humans. They constantly vocalize "as though they are conversing" and often walk upright. The animals, which have a life span of up to about 50 years, will be allowed to mate and have families -- and develop cultures that will be studied for generations to come. 4/20/2005 4:13:58 PM
Target Remakes the Pill Bottle - sensibly and beautifully [New York Metro 4/18/2005 via Gizmodo, Boing Boing 4/19/2005] The standard-issue amber-cast pharmacy pill bottle has remained virtually unchanged since the second World War. An overhaul is finally coming, courtesy of Deborah Adler, a 29-year-old graphic designer whose ClearRx prescription-packaging system debuts at Target pharmacies May 1.
- Easy I.D. The name of the drug is printed both on the top and side.
- Code red. The bottle is Target’s signature red color - and a symbol for caution.
- Information hierarchy. Most important information (drug name, dosage, intake instructions) above the line, less important data below.
- Flat sides for readability; Upside down to save paper.
- Green is for Grandma. Different colored rubber rings for each family member.
- Info card that’s hard to lose tucked behind the label.
- Take “daily.” Avoids the word "once" on label, since it means eleven in Spanish.
- Clear warnings. Revamped the 25 most important warning symbols.
Demystify scope definition by considering these categories -- a handy checklist -- [TechRepublic.com 4/19/2005; 2:52:13 PM] Defining scope is perhaps the most important part of the upfront definition and planning process. If you don't know what you are delivering and what the boundaries of the project are, you have no chance for success. 4/20/2005 2:03:58 PM
Lack of Developers Delays OpenOffice.org. [LinuxWorld Australia 19/04/2005 11:21:10 via Linux Today 4/19/2005] Open source productivity suite OpenOffice.org may be touted as a viable alternative to Microsoft Office, but there are claims its pace of development and adoption of new features is being stifled by a "monolithic" code base and a developer community still largely controlled by Sun Microsystems. Project contributors speaking at the annual OpenOffice.org miniconference in Canberra this week raised numerous issues, including a lack of independent contributors. OpenOffice.org developer Ken Foskey said the biggest problem with the project is a lack of developers and a code base that is "just too big". "It's 10 million lines of code and takes serious commitment just to compile the thing." 4/20/2005 2:00:29 PM
We Need Better Open-Source E-Mail... Now. [eWeek 4/18/2005 via Linux Today 4/19/2005] If open source is to continue gaining ground with the corporate desktop, it must develop not just an outstanding e-mail client, but an all-out replacement for Outlook on Windows, with all the popular mail-protocol support, Exchange 2000 and 2003 e-mail and calendaring support, GroupWise support, and spam protection. Even more than Firefox, a real Outlook replacement could make a big difference in persuading corporate IT departments that now is the right time for open source on the desktop. 4/20/2005 1:54:44 PM
Building Web Service Wrappers for an XML-based System. [DevX: Latest Enterprise Content 4/20/2005; 12:53:37 AM] Giving external—or internal—clients direct access to existing applications isn't always practical, secure, or flexible. Instead, it's often better to provide Web service wrapper around existing applications. Such wrappers let you safely expose existing systems to both internal and external customers. The wrapper uses a configurable transportation protocol handler and can work with a variety of communication methods through a generic ProtocolHandlerInterface. 4/20/2005 1:47:33 PM
Google's Impact on the Internet [Slashdot: 4/20/2005; 9:52:47 AM] The Globe & Mail and Fortune Magazine [$$] both wrote a piece on Google, one of the most important companies on the Internet. In particular, they mention the effects of Google's recent new services, like Blogger and Maps, as well as their take on how Google threatens the Microsoft Corporation. "If Sergey and Larry stick to their corporate mantra -- Don't be evil -- and are able to stem degeneration into the typically corrupt corporate ethos, who knows, they may just succeed in assuming the fair and honourable dominion over the world's information they so naively set out to achieve eight years ago in their garage." 4/20/2005 10:24:31 AM
What's Update: Massive Attack! [Bungie 4/15/2005 2:16 PM PDT] The Autoupdate will be available on Monday April 18th, to fix cheats, bugs, glitches and gasp – tweak some important weapon balance issues. Next time you log in after it's available (it'll be spread out to mitigate server loads) you'll get a message alerting you to its presence. Don't worry if you don't see it first thing Monday morning, it'll show up in your neighborhood eventually.
Map Downloads Dated! [Bungie 4/18/2005 5:12 PM PDT] The first batch of new, downloadable Halo 2 multiplayer maps will be available on Monday April 25th for download on Xbox Live. Woot! The maps passed through Microsoft's certification process successfully today, which was all we were waiting for! We said we'd tell you as soon as we could, and we found out about an hour ago that they'd passed with flying colors.4/19/2005 8:01:18 AM
If you slept till 5:30 this morning, you slept in [Globe and Mail 4/19/2005; 3:53:00 AM] Azim Jamal gets his best work done "when the world is silent." He usually goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., the same time as his 10-year-old son, and wakes up at about 1 a.m. -- sometimes before his night-owl wife has even hit the sheets. "I think time is the biggest asset we have," he said. "And life is time; if you waste time, you waste life."
People are sleeping less and waking earlier to tackle heavy workloads, gain a competitive edge or squeeze in exercise. However, a U.S. study, which used wrist-motion sensors to track movement, found that while 10 per cent claimed to be up by 5 a.m. only 5 per cent were moving then. People who boast about needing little sleep often nod off and zone out -- sometimes unknowingly -- during the day. "Power naps" are really a sign of bad sleep habits, and our reliance on coffee is a sure sign of sleep-deprivation. Average healthy adults require about 8½ hours of sleep a night. Most people thought seven hours was optimal and obtained only six. And despite workaholics' testimonials about the connection between success and early waking, sleep experts say inadequate slumber costs North America up to $100-billion (U.S.) annually, including health-care costs, accidents and lost productivity. Inadequate sleep also has been linked to poor immune systems, digestive problems, more drug and alcohol use and more cardiovascular disease. 4/19/2005 7:41:37 AM