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                    Archive for Aug 2006


                    Blogging at Altiris

                    I gave a training session on blogging to Altiris employees yesterday. The PR department there is very progressive and is embracing blogging as a way of enhancing the conversation with their customers. I was very impressed with their attitude and excitement to get out in front of this. The session was well attended and had good executive support. If you're interested in looking at my slides, here they are (PDF). If you'd like the audio to go with them, I'd be happy to come speak to your group. :-) In the meantime, I'm anxious to see some Altiris bloggers
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                    Stop Forgetting Attachments

                    Don't you hate when you send an email that should have an attachment and you forget to attach it? I've often wished my mail client could help me remember. I just found a plug-in for Apple's Mail.app mail client that does just that. This plugin from James Eagan scans outgoing email key words like "attached," "attaching," and so on and warns you if there's no attachment. Cool.
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                    Register for the DIDW IOS

                    If you're planning on attending the Identity Open Space on Sept 11 in Santa Clara, please take a minute and register. We need a good head count before we order lunch. We're perfectly happy to have you sign up late or even just show up on th 11th, but you'll be on your own for lunch. We've only scheduled 30 minutes for lunch, so that will be pretty tight. If you're in the Bay Area and are planning to attend, you can help us keep costs low by bringing a projector. I've added a place at the bottom of
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                    More on Mobile

                    I received lots of comments on my question about what mobile device to buy. I think the conclusion I draw from them is that there's no mobile device that does it all. I'd love to mix and match features and functionality from 3 or 4 devices. Various folks wrote to tell me that they've given up on using these devices as modems for their laptops and just got an EVDO card. Bernard Goldbach wrote a blog post about his thoughts on this issue. There's a bounty of over $500 for anyone who comes up with a solution for tethering
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                    Which Mobile Device Should I Buy?

                    I haven't used an organizer like a Palm since 2002. Once I no longer had someone else keeping my schedule, it was more convenient for me to keep the schedule in iCal on my laptop. The gadget freak in me has looked at Treos and Blackberrys and thought it would be neat to have one, but I've not wanted to carry around a phone as big as a boat anchor for the limited utility I'd get from the organizer functions. Lately, however, the connectivity of these devices has led me to think I might be willing to carry one
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                    Silver Deodorant Status

                    Yesterday Delta notified me that I'm Silver Medallion status now. I used to be Gold every year, but since 2001 or so, I haven't flown as often as I once did. Now that you have to check a bag just to get your toiletries to the same place you're going, there's not as much advantage to boarding first and securing a good overheard bin. I'd be really excited about being Silver if it meant I could bring deodorant on board in my carry on luggage.
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                    Trusting Steve Gillmor

                    One of my favorite shows on IT Conversations was the Gillmor Gang. I say "was" because Steve's show hasn't been on IT Conversations for quite some time. That doesn't mean it's dead, however...The Gillmor Gang lives on at Podshow.com. I like the new Gillmor Gang. Its very unlike most things you hear--presentations or interviews. Listening to the Gillmor Gang is more like being a fly on the wall at a lunch with these guys. I know because I've been at lunch with many of these guys and this is just what it's like. The problem is that I always
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                    Using Amazon's EC2

                    Jon Udell has a screencast of an application he wrote running on Amazon's just announced EC2 metered compute platform. According to Amazon, each instance "predictably provides the equivalent of a system with a 1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth." Need more capacity? Add it right now. I think many large IT shops will be doing similar things soon with virtualization. Rather than buying servers from Dell or someone on demand, they'll order a bunch of servers up front, have an outsourced services provide install them, and then just create virtual
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                    On the Acceptability of Lisp

                    Steve Yegge has a post that I just stumbled across on why Lisp isn't an acceptable Lisp. He hits on some great points, many of which numberless concourses of Lisp programmers would argue with him endlessly on. Nevertheless, good reading. His points: Which Lisp? Worthless Spec CLOS Macros Type System
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                    Publishing with Atom

                    Elias Torres has created a Atom Publishing Protocol (APP) plug-in for WordPress. The service allows you to use Atom to POST, PUT, and DELETE entries as well as other things. You might recall that I interviewed Elias for IT Conversations earlier this month. MovableType supports the APP natively since version 3. Ben Hammersley has a discussion how to use MovableType APP, if you're curious.
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                    Goodbye Ditty

                    Dell has discontinued the DJ Ditty. I'm shocked.
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                    A Non-Working Automator Script for iPod Audiobooks

                    I've been working on an Automator script for converting podcasts into something that my iPod will recognize as an audiobook (and thus let me control the speed of playback). I've been using the script that Dave left in the comments to my post on speeding up podcasts as a model. So far, no luck. The script (see PDF) runs and seems to do what it's supposed to (no errors), but the M4B files it produces aren't recognized by my iPod as audiobooks. My script isn't exactly like Dave's because I've played around trying to get things to work. I'm
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                    Getting Dooced is Overrated

                    I'm still preparing for a 3 hour course I'm teaching next week on blogging. One of the questions people always have is "how will this affect me career?" Dan Farber has a great post at Between the Lines on blogging as a potential career ender. That title probably overstates the case a little. The number of bloggers who get fired because of their blogs, or dooced is small as a percentage. That doesn't mean, however that your blog won't affect your career. I can easily point to the place where my blog has had a positive impact on my
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                    Speeding Up Podcasts

                    As you can imagine, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to everything on IT Conversations, sometimes multiple times as it comes to production, I subscribe to a few other podcasts, and I review audio for inclusion on IT Conversations. One trick that helps, particularly with reviews, is speeding up the audio. As far as I've been able to tell, there's no convenient slider bar for speeding up audio in iTunes. But, you can easily use Quicktime to get the same effect: Right-click the show in iTunes and choose "Show song file." Open the selected song file
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                    August CTO Breakfast

                    This Friday we'll meet again for August's CTO Breakfast. We'll meet at 8am in the food court at Canyon Park Technology Center (former Word Perfect campus). We'll be in the conference room at the west end. Bring your stories, cool discoveries, and other adventures to share. Let me know if there's something you'd like to talk about that would benefit from a projector and I'll round one up. Since we didn't meet in July I expect there will be a lot of pent up demand to share cool stuff you've seen, built, or heard over the last 8 weeks.
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                    Campaign Sign Mashups

                    Bryan Catherman's put an interesting article about Pete Ashdown's campaign sign mashup on UtahPolitics.org. I also mentioned it at Between the Lines.
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                    Reaching Into MySpace

                    Ben Rudofsky at EchoDitto is talking about the web as a power base. He uses a specific example of a blogger who isn't just influencing people's opinions, but more specifically their actions. He then makes the obvious leap into politics and talks about the Lamont-Liebermann race: In the political sphere, the sheer level of activity of the web demographic makes it an ideal target, an example dramatized by the Lamont-Lieberman race in Connecticut. Lamont's web presence was far superior, and the tech-consciousness of his campaign stood in sharp contrast to Lieberman's, which accused opponents of a denial of service
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                    Selling Sprint Short

                    If I owned any stock in Sprint-Nextel, I'd sell it. I just spent 60 minutes on the phone resolving a billing issue. It's too complex to explain in detail, but suffice it to say that Sprint's billing system wasn't up to the task of the change their sales office made on one of my accounts and, as a result, they got a costly support call. 20 minutes of that call was spent by the support rep, who was very nice, and his supervisor hand calculating my bills. If they get calls like this on just a small percentage of
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                    Forget the Frontal Lobe

                    In June, I reported that I was disappointed that a podcast from Moira Gunn was so short. The interview was with Katrina Firlik about her book Another Day in the Frontal Lobe. The interview had several fascinating stories that left me wanting more. So, I bought the book. I was disappointed again. The book was mostly about medical school and the rigors of residency. Fine stuff if you're interested in that, but I was looking for more stories about the brain and how it works. They're there, but it wasn't what I was expecting. My advice: listen to the
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                    Podcast Transcripts Via CastingWords

                    Jon Udell is transcribing his podcasts using CastingWords. (Also see Jon's earlier review of the service.) His bill? $260 for 620 minutes of audio. That's darn cheap. Jon reports that the results are surprisingly accurate, but he edits them to make people read better than they sound and to make them more readable. This process takes an hour or so per episode--almost one-to-one on a time scale. Of course Jon's also spent time editing the audio for the podcast as well. That's a considerable time investment, but the results show quality. Why do this? One answer is that Google
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                    $100 Laptop Design is Firming Up

                    Wired magazine has an update on the design for the $100 laptop. The latest concept has lost the crank for power and has cute little ears that flip up to provide antennae and flip down to cover ports. I covered Alan Kaye's presentation on the $100 laptop at the Univ. of Utah last February. In addition, IT Conversations has audio of a talk on the $100 laptop by Nicholas Negroponte from PopTech! 2005.
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                    Making Public Data Public

                    The form that public data takes is important to me. When governments make data available in the right way, it can be reused--mashed up--by others to create new eGovernment applications that governments don't have the time, interest, or money to create. I wrote about enabling Web services through the use of open standards when I was Utah's CIO (here's a longer paper if you're interested). While my discussion has mainly focused on the technical side of this, there are also important public policy issues. What data should be public, for example. Most governments have a freedom of information act,
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                    MIT Sloan CIO Symposium Audio`

                    Between the Lines has a collection of audio from this year's MIT Sloan CIO Symposium online. So far, there's no RSS link. I'm looking forward to listening to these. I also just posted an article to Between the Lines on the greatest software ever written. Leave a comment and let me know what you think are the greatest feats of programming ever.
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                    OS X Keyboard Preferences Get Lost

                    OS X keyboard preferences(click to enlarge) Why won't my Mac reliably retain modifier key changes in preferences? As shown in the screenshot, I regularly make my CapsLock key into a control key. As an emacs user, that's much better for me. I was very glad when Apple added this as part of the OS. But about one out of three times OS X loses my preference at reboot. This doesn't happen with other preferences, so why this one?
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                    Identity Open Space and DIDW Event: Register Now!

                    We're doing an identity open space on Monday Sept. 11, 2006 in Santa Clara in conjunction with Digital ID World. DIDW starts Monday afternoon and we're going to do 3/4's of a day of open space beforehand to talk about user-centric identity. The format will be largely the same as the Internet Identity Workshops that we've been having--just shorter. If you're coming to DIDW or just in the Bay Area, we'd love to see you there. You can expect good discussion and meetings with people at the fore-front of this emerging area. If you're coming to DIDW and have
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                    Atom as a Case Study Redux

                    I just finished listening to Tim Bray's talk on Atom from ETech. Yeah, I'm behind on listening to IT Conversations--still catching up from vacation. This is an excellent talk for anyone interested in standards, RSS, or Atom. I also went back and read my original notes from the talk (I heard it live too). It's interesting to me that even when I've heard a talk live and blogged it, going back on IT Conversations and listening to it again gives me fresh information. I think it's about context--I hear it now in the context of everything that happened since
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                    Undistinguished Identity and Reputation

                    I just posted an article on undistinguished identity and reputation at Between the Lines. People typically don't want their online activities correlated, but reputation is largely built from such correlations. Understanding and coming to terms with the tension between those two facts is going to be a large part of building reputation systems that work. The principles of reputation that Kevin Tew, Devlin Daley, and I discuss in our paper describing our reputation framework are aimed at lessening that tension.
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                    Management By the Identity Method

                    While he's been on vacation, Joel Spolsky has been airing a set of pre-recorded posts on three management methods which he calls Command and Control management, Econ 101 management, and the Identity Method of management, not to be confused with managing identities. Steve cooking dead cow(click to enlarge) Joel saved the method he recommends, identity management, for last, spending the first few days shooting holes in Command and Control and Econ 101 as management methods. There's nothing here that you haven't read somewhere before, but Joel has a great way of writing and he's speaking about what's worked for
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                    Internet Marketing

                    A fellow Utah blogger, Janet Meiners, also known as Newspapergrl, is sponsoring a conference on Internet marketing. My good friend and Internet marking guru Paul Allen (the lesser) is the keynote speaker. If you're interested in this sort of thing, just hearing Paul speak would be worth the price of admission.
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                    Elias Torres on SPARQL

                    I just published an interview I did with Elias Torres on SPARQL and the semantic Web at IT Conversations. This is part of my personal podcast that I call Technometria to couple it to this blog. Rohit Khare introduced to me to Elias while we were all touring the castle in Edinburgh while at WWW2006 in May. I started talking with him about SPARQL and immediately knew I wanted to know more about it and that he was the right guy to explain it. I think you'll find his interview interesting whether or not you're a fan of the
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                    Changes Big and Small at IT Conversations

                    While I was on vacation, there were some big changes at IT Conversations. Listeners who just download the podcasts won't notice much difference, but the Web site has been redone with a new look. Behind the scenes, the software we use to manage the site has also changed--I've spent the last few days getting reoriented. More significantly, GigaVox Media, IT Conversation's new parent company launched with two new channels in addition to ITC: Open Source Conversations, run by Scott Mace, and Podcast Academy. We announced this move in June--now it's reality. You won't notice much difference in content at
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                    Building Cars With Small Teams

                    Ariel Atom front view(click to enlarge) This video about the Ariel Atom is fun to watch. This would be a great car to drive. The best quote from the video: "anyone who wants to know what a car should be should drive one of these." The reason I mention it here, however, is that the Atom is built by a small team of seven people. It's easy to see how a small team can develop software, but the conventional wisdom is that to manufacture something like a car you have to have a big organization. I chose the word "manufacture"
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                    On The Virtues of Functional Abstraction

                    Joel Spolsky, who I interviewed for IT Conversations last year is talking about virtues of first-class functions and their positive impact on functional abstraction. Ok. I hope you're convinced, by now, that programming languages with first-class functions let you find more opportunities for abstraction, which means your code is smaller, tighter, more reusable, and more scalable. Lots of Google applications use MapReduce and they all benefit whenever someone optimizes it or fixes bugs. From Joel on SoftwareReferenced Mon Aug 07 2006 14:36:35 GMT-0600 (MDT) When I make students learn Scheme in CS330, it's often the first language they've used
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                    Dresdner Bank, BYU's Partner in Germany

                    Dresdner Bank(click to enlarge) In Germany, many of the ATMs were in enclosed vestabules that required a card to enter. Some seemed OK with any bank or credit card, but others apparently needed a specific card (the bank's ATM card, I presume). In Koln, we were in a hurry to get money to catch the train to Munich and the Dresdner Bank was the one closest to the hotel. It is in the latter category, neither my bank card nor my credit card would open the door, even though I was fairly certain that once I was in, either would
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                    My Summer Vacation

                    Sidewalk artist in Koln(click to enlarge) I'm just getting back from 10 days in Europe on vacation with my wife and two oldest kids. We had a great time. Meanwhile, I'm trying to re-enter. I turned my email off while I was gone so I don't have any emails to wade through. If you tried contacting me in the last 10 days or so, please do so again since your email didn't get through. I put together a map of places we visited and I uploaded a selection of photos. Our younger kids were staying with Grandma and I used
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                    The Long View of Identity

                    Andy Oram wrote an entry at OnLamp.com on the long view of identity. The article is good overview of his thoughts after attending the Berkman Identity Mashup. He concludes: I can't end this article without sharing some of the most pessimistic fears aired at the Mashup by some of its most well-informed participants, such as Stefan Brand. Brand admitted to feeling near despair sometimes, because we could easily move into a society where RFIDs are embedded in our bodies and every move is tracked. "I'm afraid that, despite all our best efforts, our technical solutions may drive us into
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                    Provo River Trail on ActiveTrails

                    Bridal Veil Falls(click to enlarge) I frequently ride the Provo River bike trail. It's just a few minutes from my home and offers a great ride through some spectacular scenery. Over the last few years, I've taken pictures of the trail and the scenery surrounding it. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a project one of my students is doing called ActiveTrails at Between the Lines. ActiveTrails let's users submit GPS data for trails they hike. Other users can comment on the trail. Each trail is shown on Google Maps and has elevation data. What's more, there's a USGS
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