Ted's Radio Weblog
Mission: Interoperable. Competition breeds Innovation. Monopolies breed stagnation. Working Well with Others is Good.

Ted's Radio Weblog

Sunday, February 29, 2004

ComputerWorld reports Web retailers go open-source wrapping up by quoting a Microsoft Gold Partner: "Our customers don't know where Microsoft is headed..."
7:33:24 PM    comment []

OSNews links to an editorial on "Editorial: Why Good Ideas Fail."
2:09:06 PM    comment []

Slashdot speculates "RSS Web-Feeds, The Next Big Thing?" Well, that does that trend. We're mainstream now :)
1:44:50 PM    comment []

Saturday, February 28, 2004

OSNews links to a piece in a Seattle newspaper that reports Microsoft Exec Says Marketing Effort Faltered with Windows XP. It's so nice that they let him have free space to explain what their advertising should have said. The best part was:
In the next version of Windows - codenamed Longhorn - Allchin said Microsoft will be working to make things run more smoothly and easily for customers.
We'll get it right next time. Really. Oh, c'mon.
2:01:01 PM    comment []

Friday, February 27, 2004

In Cringely's weekly column, he figures out what's wrong with the U.S. economy and off-shoring. And decides he doesn't have to move to India. Always interesting reading.
4:52:19 PM    comment []

Microsoft Hints of Future Programs to Stave Off Linux Overseas. Redmond is focused on finding the right price point and feature set for its products in developing countries, says its platform strategy chief. [Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley]
4:35:17 PM    comment []

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Exciting news! Chandler is a Python-based application that aims to provide a world-class PIM for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Just released: version 0.3, a preview of what's coming, and a chance for developers to download, evaluate, comment and kibbitz on the design and implementation.

Open Source 'Chandler' Project Hits Milestone. The Open Source Applications Foundation just announced the release of Chandler version 0.3. Chandler is the combination personal information manager and platform that has enormous potential to help re-energize the stagnant PC desktop software marketplace. Link courtesy pf Dan Gillmor's eJournal
9:29:33 PM    comment []

InfoWorld reports "Real Software is adding the ability to migrate Windows applications to Linux in an upgrade of the company's Realbasic tool."
9:35:33 AM    comment []

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Computerworld News reports Anti-offshore-outsourcing groups banding together. "Major unions and grass-roots organizations that have sprung up around the country to fight the offshoring of IT and manufacturing jobs have formed the Jobs and Trade Network to fight for their cause."

A poster on the ProFox mailing list observed:

I didn't complain when coal mining went offshore because I wasn't a miner, I didn't complain when the steel industry went offshore because I wasn't a steel worker, I didn't complain when ship building went offshore because I wasn't a shipwright, I didn't complain when car manufacture went offshore because I wasn't a car builder, I didn't complain when TV set production went offshore because I didn't work in electronics,

I can hardly complain now that programming is going offshore.
9:55:23 AM    comment []

Monday, February 23, 2004

Bob Frankston writes an essay titled "It's About Connectivity Not The Internet!" on the SATN website. He puts forth an interesting idea that the Internet is becomeing more centralized in control, but that the innovation at the edges is what is far more important: "Rather than building directly upon basic Internet protocols we can and must build upon connectivity and thus avoid dependence upon the IP address and other constructs that limit to early design decisions and work-arounds... It's about connectivity." Interesting read.
8:26:20 PM    comment []

Just a reminder that this Wednesday, February 25th. The main meeting starts at 7 PM, People drift in and the networking and socializing begins around 6:30. We finish by 9 PM.

Guy Pardoe demonstrates the use of selected third party ActiveX controls (from www.DBI-Tech.com) for calendars and scheduling functionality. Solutions::Schedule 7.0 is an excellent component for applications where you need to handle scheduling of resources. He'll cover many of the different views and visual presentations of this control, the ability to work with XML data, and output to JPG images. He'll also take a look at Calendar Tools 3.0: six easy to use, drop-in calendar components, providing functionality for presenting, selecting and managing dates and times.

There are several door prizes and discount offers available to attendees. Directions and more details about the meeting are available at http://www.bostonusergroups.com/vfpboston. Hope to see you there!
8:40:12 AM    comment []

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley asked Is Linux Keeping the Softies Awake at Night? and the answers . "We asked readers if they believed Microsoft's every move is dictated by Linux. Their answers may surprise you."
11:25:12 AM    comment []

Friday, February 20, 2004

In addition to the four FoxPro conferences I already link on my home page, there are two more I've just heard about:

The Prague conference takes place June 22-24, details here. Prague has had many successful years of high attendence. I believe it is the largest FoxPro conference in the world.

The SouthWest FoxPro conference debuts this year, details here.
10:30:40 AM    comment []

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Like the reviewer here, Debian distributions are something I've gotten a bit interested in, since my last LUG meeting, where several attendees mentioned it as their choice. Linux on Laptops Part II: Libranet 2.8.1 is reviewed on OSNews
4:31:31 PM    comment []

A good review of the features available in the new search engine. I especially like the ability to see RSS feeds associated with a found item. ResourceShelf: "We knew the switch was coming. However, we didn't know it was coming so soon." Link via Scripting News
4:18:48 PM    comment []

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

CNET News.com - Front Door reports Source code opens window to old IE flaw. "Security researchers confirm that leaked Windows source code can be used to find flaws in Microsoft's software." Isn't that funny? It's the same reason that Open Source developers release their code
9:30:51 PM    comment []

Garrett Fitzgerald's Blog links to an article that says Witches are uncaptionable. Or at least, so says the Department of Education.
- funding for closed-captioned programs have been cut back, in an unacceptably slanted manner. How is it that the "news" system we pride ourselves on - print, radio and TV - has missed this completely? That's scary!
11:02:55 AM    comment []

Monday, February 16, 2004

Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley notes That Didn't Take Long. February 12: Windows 2000 source code leaks to the Web. February 15: First exploit based on leaked code reported.
3:48:18 PM    comment []

Not just annoying nor intrustive. Consider Malicious E-Cards - An Analysis of Spam In perhaps the most useful post I have ever seen on Slashdot, here's a link the Microsoft KnowledgeBase article that lets you force email to be viewed as text ONLY: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;307594. Bear in mind this might cause some problems. Make sure you document the changes you make and how to undo them, especially of the Windows Registry.
2:57:06 PM    comment []

rof,l! Now that's interoperability!
10:31:51 AM    comment []

Sunday, February 15, 2004

An interesting article posted in the OSDN web site's DevChannel forum. In the first of a series entitled "Rapid application development tools, part 1: Database front ends" Michael "STIBS" Stibane talks about the easy-to-use but limited tools that provide a front end (forms, reports, etc.) to database back ends. There are several intriguing options.
10:13:22 AM    comment []

Saturday, February 14, 2004

A testimonial from a 300-person company that estimates savings of $145,000 by moving to Linux from Windows.
6:37:11 PM    comment []

Cory Doctorow, a talent writer of sci-fi and a technology fan, presented "Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books" at O'Reilly's Emerging Technology conference. Cory observes some of the up- and downsides of ebooks and makes some predictions on their future.
6:35:44 PM    comment []

Software Development magazine features an article this month titled "Free as in Freedom" that describes the progress of free software and features a table of "27 Players Ready for Primetime." Check out their website and you can view the article online with a free registration
6:12:04 PM    comment []

Slashdot reports Amazon.com Pierces Reviewer Anonymity -- a goof-up at Amazon revealed that "A reader from Chicago" was, in fact, the author of the book he praises.

I went shopping for some new books this weekend, and was astounded by the trash heap the reviews have turned into: zero-star comments mercilessly trashing a book and five-star gushing praises so over the top that no one could believe them. It's obviously turned into popularity contest and a mechanism easily exploited. It's disappointing.
5:42:27 PM    comment []

Friday, February 13, 2004

With all of Microsoft's initiatives to "share" their source code under restrictive licenses with companies, universities and countries, it was inevitable that it would leak out. A key difference between closed and open source: with open source, having the source code available is a security feature. With closed source, it's a security liability. Since code leaks are inevitable, which would you prefer? Windows Source Code Leaks Online. Microsoft scrambles to find out how its prized code made its way onto the Internet. Experts say malicious hackers -- and Microsoft competitors -- could have a field day. [Wired News]
9:31:44 AM    comment []

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Art of Unix Programming is Eric S. Raymond's book explaining much of the Unix history, traditions and tools. Available from Addison-Wesley, the book can also be read online at the link above.
7:58:36 PM    comment []

I've driven a few technical editors to drink with my challenging writing: tenses and I don't always see eye to eye, a few split infinitives add rhythm to an essay, and gender-correct "he or she" or "s/he" is correctly written as the singular "they" in my none so humble opinion. So I was enlightened to discover the secret of prepositions in this Dr. Language column: http://www.yourdictionary.com/library/drlang001.html
5:37:05 PM    comment []

I blogged back in July that I'd picked up a charming little Ethernet-to-USB print server from IOGear for $60, and needed to set it up with Linix. Leeman Strout wrote to ask if I'd ever had any success. I wandered over to the Linux workstation to check, and it wasn't set up, so I set to it. The printer is a Lexmark E312, which speaks PostScript natively, making it a bit easier to set up with Linux. Here's the trick I used, thanks to the latest issue of Linux Magazine, March 2004 and http://www.linuxprinting.org. I opened a browser to localhost: 631, the http interface for CUPS. I added a new printer with the following specifications: Device: LPD/LPR Host or Printer, Device URI: lpd: 192.168.1.xx/ - its local address, Make: Postscript, Model: generic postscript printer (en). The trick was realizing that it used an older LPR interface, rather than the more modern Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). Test prints worked great!
5:20:33 PM    comment []

The most common question I am hearing from developers considering bringing Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) into their company is whether people make money doing this. They do. In yet another article where the headline writer should be flogged, CNET reports on Pandora's box for open source. "As the demand for open-source software continues to rise, established companies must figure out how to profit while combining free technology with proprietary products."

The article is rather good. The headline, with its reference to an innocent girl releasing pestilence across the world, is a bit over the top.
11:40:09 AM    comment []

latitudinarian: Dictionary.com Word of the Day. latitudinarian
8:19:17 AM    comment []

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Dan Gillmor's eJournal logs: Google's Syndication Changes: Atom, not RSS. "Google's Jason Shellen confirms that the company is dropping RSS support in favor of Atom. Blogger-created blogs that were using RSS 1.0 before had the chance to keep it going, he says." If you're interested in lots of details, follow the links to Dave's post to Roger's posts.

If you're not, here's the scoop from my standpoint: blogs I was reading in Blogger have disappeared from my news aggregator with no notice or clue. Google, owner of the Blogger software, changed their feed formats from RSS 1.0 to Atom 0.3. Why? I can't understand why they were just cut off. The feeds could have been paralleled, feeding both, perhaps with a nagging note to change to the new format.

It wouldn't be so bad if I thought there was any substantial technical advances being made. It's pretty obvious there are some nasty folks on every side of this debate, and I'm not particularly enamored of any of them. As a consumer, I'm annoyed. As a developer, I feel that more work has been made for me without any notice. A lot of news aggregator developers are staying up late tonight trying to extend their compatibility.

Google, with a mission statement of "Don't be evil,' could have handled this much better.
9:25:19 PM    comment []

Found the flaw with my install last night -- it's right in the post. A dot where there should have been a slash. I thought I had gone back and fixed it, but I did something funny with the line editor in the shell window and duplicated the line, fixing it in the second copy. Left it to cook while Laura and I watched the Westminister Kennel Club show last night, and the wxPython demos work today. Hurrah!
4:30:57 PM    comment []

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Microsoft issued four today, and you should evaluate them carefully to ensure your systems are secure:

  • MS04-004: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer(832894)
  • MS04-005: Vulnerability in Virtual PC for Mac could lead to privilege elevation (835150)
  • MS04-006: Vulnerability in the Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) Could Allow Code Execution (830352)
  • MS04-007: ASN .1 Vulnerability Could Allow Code Execution (828028)

Code Execution means that someone else can run code on your machine, perhaps taking it over. Serious stuff. It's the seventh week of the year. Trustworthy computing continues.

UPDATE:Wired News picks up on the story here: Microsoft: Oops! We Did It Again. "Six months after researchers warned Microsoft about critical security flaws in Windows, the software company alerts users to the problem and offers a patch on its website. One researcher calls the delay 'just totally unacceptable.'" and the New York Times: Technology page features it:Microsoft Warns Software Users of 'Critical' Flaw. "Users of Microsofts operating system software have to patch their systems again, or their computers will be vulnerable to attacks." NYT story by John Schwartz.
8:16:59 PM    comment []

Down but not out. Successfully installed Python and have it running, but wxPython is eluding me. On the last step on the installation instructions, my luck ran out, with error messages:
[root@localhost wxPython]# python setup.py 
build install
Preparing CORE...
Preparing GLCANVAS...
Preparing OGL...
Preparing STC...
Preparing XRC...
Preparing GIZMOS...
Preparing DLLWIDGET...
usage: setup.py [global_opts] cmd1 [cmd1_opts] [cmd2 [cmd2_opts] ...]
   or: setup.py --help [cmd1 cmd2 ...]
   or: setup.py --help-commands
   or: setup.py cmd --help
error: invalid command 'python' (no module named 'distutils.command.python')

Ooof. A quick Google for the bottom error (the cause of the rest, if I read it correctly) points to problems in the distutil package. Attempting to reinstall that from the source brings no joy, with more obscure errors:

[root@localhost Distutils-1.0.2]# python setup.py install
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "setup.py", line 30, in ?
    packages = ['distutils', 'distutils.command'],
  File "/root/Distutils-1.0.2/distutils/core.py", line 101, in setup
    _setup_distribution = dist = klass(attrs)
  File "/root/Distutils-1.0.2/distutils/dist.py", line 130, in __init__
    setattr(self, method_name, getattr(self.metadata, method_name))
AttributeError: DistributionMetadata instance has no attribute 'get___doc__'

So, at the end of the day, the score is tied: I won the Python install, Murphy the wxPython install. Tomorrow's another day.
7:38:30 PM    comment []

Slashdot readers debate the pros and cons of Building A Better Package Manager. As a newbie, I can say I'm certainly frustrated with the experience of trying to install packages on my Linux machines.

I spent some time today installing Python 2.3.3 and wxPython on my development workstation. First, because I'm still afraid of breaking something, I tried downloading the precompiled binarys in RPM (RedHat Package Manager) format, and clicking on them in the Nautilus graphical shell to install them. Dialogs cheerfully appeared and disappeared, progress bars filled, and then,... nothing. Presuming that no news was good news, I try running, and no, version 2.2 is still installed. Grrr. Many fumbles later, the RPM command informs me the package is not installed. I knew that. I wish I had been told, however.

So, I attempt the dreaded "building from source." This involves downloading the source code for the package (typically C code) and running through a series of steps to properly configure it for your system and compile it. Python turned out to be a piece of cake: 3 commands (./configure, make, make install) fill the terminal window with inscrutable stuff, but eventually seem to complete successfully. Bravo to the team that put that together!

wxPython was a little more challenging. The readme file was a bit more intimidating, as the ethusiastic author wanted to make sure I understood more options than I was comfortable with. I'm about halfway through that process now, and while the stuff flying by in the window looks okay to me, we'll see how the process comes out...
6:00:21 PM    comment []

Monday, February 9, 2004

Slashdot notes that Mozilla Firebird gets .8 Release, and New Name, with the usual requisite complaints, slashdotting, links to mirrors and BitTorrent sites (BT worked fast for me!). The Register reports "Public offering for Opera, Mozilla renames browser." and asks "Who says the browser is dead?"
10:52:40 AM    comment []

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Computers just present an unending series of technical difficulties. While I am still enjoying bliss with my (er, Laura's) Mac, and network reconfiguration here at Ted Roche & Associates have made life much better here, Radio Userland seems to be having a failure of its commenting system, causing page responses to slow to a crawl. In an attempt to speed the rendering of my home page, I've turned comments off for a while. If you have suggestions for a better comment server, well, I'd appreciate an email.
7:29:17 PM    comment []

From Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley: Ouch. Two Formerly Profitable MSFT Divisions See Red. F"or its second quarter in fiscal 2004, not only was Microsoft's MSN business unit back in the red, but its Server and Tools division was, as well."
7:24:08 PM    comment []

Saturday, February 7, 2004

iMac 20 inchI bought Laura an iMac for Christmas, and it arrived last Tuesday. What a joy to work with. As the switchers say, "It Just Worked!" Installed with 5 cables, on the internet, registered, reading, writing, rocking to CDs, playing DVD, updating, installing software. Very smooth.
7:27:31 PM    comment []

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Gene Smith: Six tips for better RSS feeds. Link via Scripting News
8:29:48 PM    comment []

Slashdot features a book review of MySQL: Building User Interfaces"If you are a Windows programmer looking to create or move your stand-alone database applications away from Microsoft-specific tools such as Visual Basic, Visual C++, Access or SQL Server, MySQL: Building User Interfaces is written just for you."
8:26:22 PM    comment []

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Some find it hard to believe, but folks actually read that stuff. TedRoche.com is back up and running, with DSL restored from the ISP. While they were out, I took advantage of the downtime to reconfigure the cabling, running the DSL POTS wire downstairs to the "server room" (basement) and putting the DSL modem and firewall router downstairs, clearing a bit of desk space (although losing the pretty lights) and giving me some more options in the wiring down there. Unfortunately, it took a while to get it working. Did you know the Ethernet cable coming out of a ZyZel DSL modem shouldn't be more than six feet long? Me, neither...
8:03:01 PM    comment []

Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley reports Microsoft Funds More 'Facts'. "Microsoft is touting a new "independent" study aimed at helping users make fact-based choices between operating systems. This time, the study was performed by Jupiter Research and commissioned by Microsoft."

Yet another suspicious "study," although the devil's in the details more than the farcical "a mainframe costs more than a bunch of server" study. In this case, there is no "study" really, but a survey of the opinions of people (presumably IS Managers) about what they know about interoperability. That's surely not the same as evaluating what sort of interoperability is out there. I've automated OpenOffice.org from VFP, and you can do so from Perl, Python, Java or C++. I run my SourceSafe files from a Samba share on a Linux box. I can read and write MySQL tables (on any platform) via ODBC or JDBC or Perl libraries or other interfaces. Now, that's interoperable!
7:05:15 PM    comment []

Sorry for the inconvenience. My DSL ISP (TDS Internet) has apparently lost a whole lot of New Hampshire somehow and is trying to get us back on-line. Apologies to those who depend on the RSS feeds. Hope to be back soon.
3:16:20 PM    comment []

Slashdot links to a fascinating report, Creating A Super-Router (For Free), once again highlighting the power of Open Source Software. Linksys uses the Linux OS as the basis for many of their routers, and therefore they must publish the source code for their software. A number of clever programmers have added modifications, enhancements and improvements to the software, giving it additional capabilities or fixing performance nits that might not have been economically feasible for LinkSys to fix and support.
1:59:02 PM    comment []

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Eric S. Raymond tells the tale of when he first, reluctantly, tried Python, and his surprising discoveries.
4:20:23 PM    comment []

Monday, February 2, 2004

Off to the Central NH Linux Users Group (a chapter of the Greater New Hampshire Linux Users Group) tonight for a demo of Ruby and Mepis.
3:18:34 PM    comment []

Sunday, February 1, 2004

The problem with linking to anything from The Register is that their reliability and impartiality is up there with the pulp tabloids you see in the supermarket with badly pasted up pictures of the president shaking hands with an alien. Unfortunately, to me, it's kind of like roadkill - you want to look away, but at the same time you're fascinated. In this story, Small firms fighting Microsoft addiction. "Going cold turkey with Windows," The Reg seems to be pulling material from this Yankee Group press release, entitled "Microsoft Dominance Keeps Small Businesses Awake at Night, Says the Yankee Group" - a document Yankee Group released to promote their upcoming SMB Forum, I suspect. Quite a bit of hyperbole in both documents, but the idea that a large percentage of Microsoft shops are concerned and looking elsewhere is a good thing, I think. Competition and interoperability are necessary for a healthy computing environment.
7:35:24 PM    comment []

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